10 hidden secret destinations in Europe on a budget

This post may contain affiliate links. We may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase. Read Disclosure.

Hidden secret destinations in Europe on a budget?

Is that even possible anymore?

Sometimes I feel like there are no parts left of the world to explore. With the popularity of blogs and social media, it feels as if the world knows all there is to know about travel now.

Every destination seems to have been photographed and shared a million times.

I’m so grateful I was able to travel at a time when postcards were the norm as I feel I had the chance to experience many hidden gems.

Places like Portugal, Sumatra, Croatia, Namibia, and the Czech Republic which are popular now were so exotic back in the late nineties.

But lucky we do live in a very big world that still offers the hungry traveler those hidden secret destination experiences on a budget.

Thankfully, there are people out there researching and uncovering them for us.

Norway_Tromsø Europe on a budget
Norway – Tromsø makes the affordable European destination list! © Anibal Trejo / stock.adobe.com

MasterCard unveiled 44 Top Hidden Treasures for your Europe trip. They are highlighting the most special, less known and affordable travel destinations in Europe

The Top Hidden Treasures in Europe have been identified using MasterCard data as well as information from local travel bloggers and tourism experts.

They were ranked according to beauty, crowdedness, payment acceptance, the cost of stay and convenience.

Top 10 Hidden Secret Destinations in Europe on a Budget

1. Asturias and Covadonga convent, Spain

Spain_Covadonga Europe on the cheap
Spain – Covadonga © mrks_v / stock.adobe.com

In the middle of Spain’s north coast near the Bay of Biscay, is the Asturias region. It may be small in space, but it’s big on travel value. One-third of the Asturias region is protected and UNESCO has recognized four biosphere reserves within it.

The beaches are uncrowded, there is plenty of hiking in complete wilderness as well as cities to explore and cultural highlights. The Covadonga Convent is is a must see and considered one of the most important historical locations in Spain.

Foreign tourists haven’t discovered Asturias yet and so it remains affordable with accommodation at just €25 and dining out at approx €18. Find accommodation in Asturias with our affiliate partner, Booking.com 

2. Mdina & Zebbug, Malta

Malta Mdina and Zebbug destination in Europe on a budget
Malta – Mdina and Zebbug © PhotoWorks / 123rf.com

Malta has been on my list since I first started remembering. My mother’s best friends are Maltese and every time we’d visit they’d sit us down to a gigantic feast of delicious food. We were not to leave the table until we ate it all.

They were full of warmth, love and constant laughter and chitter chatter. And that has never changed as I’ve gotten older. That’s a culture and country I want to know more of.

A Mediterranean jewel and ninth smallest country in the world, Malta attracts travelers with breathtaking landscapes and a stunning coastline, a rich medieval heritage, and of course delicious food.

In Mdina, you can visit grand palaces, cultural treasures and baroque architecture. Zebbu has a fascinating Arabic influence and is famous for a three-day (or more) “festa” that draws in hundreds of people in celebration.

Check out why it made MasterCard’s Top 15 hidden treasures in Europe on a budget  – eating out costs €25 and you can find a room in a guesthouse for as little as €24. . Find accommodation in Mdina Malta with our affiliate partner, Booking.com 

3. Salzkammergut region, Austria

Austria Hallstatt destination in Europe on a budget
Austria – Hallstatt © mRGB / stock.adobe.com

Austria has alpine goodness well wrapped up. Hidden in the Salzkammergut region is Lake Hallstatt, one of the most beautiful Alpine lakes in Austria. It’s an outdoor adventure playground in both summer and winter and, with those stunning views, you’ll want to return again and again.

A mountain railway connects Hallstatt to a historic salt mine, while the Dachstein Ice Caves and the Mammoth Cave in Obertraun can both be reached by cable car.

Locally sourced, delicious meals are typically priced around €25, and accommodation can be found for a reasonable €35 . Find accommodation in Salzkammergut  with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

Check out the most extreme water park in the world at Area 47 Otztal in the Tirol Region of Austria.

4. The Azores, Portugal

Portugal Azores visit Europe on a budget
Portugal – Azores © vickysp / stock.adobe.com

Portugal is definitely the hot flavor for Europe travel in 2017. I recognized its sparkle all the way back in 1998.

The Algarve is no longer a hidden secret or a budget destination in Europe, but the Azores is and it sounds just as divine.

The Azores is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the mid-Atlantic 800 miles off the coast of Portugal.

Breathtaking landscapes, volcanoes, crater lakes, fishing villages, and waterfalls are waiting for you. No wonder UNESCO listed the Abores a Biosphere Reserve in 2009.

The Azores has been referred to as Europe’s answer to Hawaii. Out of this list of destinations in Europe on a budget, this is the most exciting to me.

Prices are also very affordable, with meals at around €15, and accommodation at €25. Find accommodation in The Azores  with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

5. Perast, Montenegro

Montenegro Perast European destination on a budget
Montenegro – Perast © radzonimo / stock.adobe.com

MasterCard are calling Perast – Beauty at a Bargain! This is the place to go deluxe without overspending. Perast, a quaint town on the coast of Montenegro, is just waiting for beach enthusiasts to discover this hidden European gem.

This is the place to go deluxe without overspending. Perast, a quaint town on the coast of Montenegro, is just waiting for beach enthusiasts to discover this hidden European gem.

Just offshore are two spectacular settings: the island of St. George, and the Adriatic’s only artificial island, Our Lady of the Rocks. Perast is also known for its Venetian-heritage buildings.

It’s a bargain alright, you can buy a meal for €13, and accommodation for just €12. Takes me back to my European tour in 19989. Those are the prices I’m talking about! Find accommodation in Perast with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

6. Lednice-Valtice, Czech Republic

Czech Republic Lednice Valtice destination in Europe on a budget
Czech Republic – Lednice-Valtice © Saile26 | Dreamstime.com

I’ve been hearing about travel gems in the Czech Republic for years. I didn’t make it past the charming city of Prague – which back then was an ultra budget European destination. 20 pence for a beer. Hello, Czech Republic!

Did you know that the 200 km Lednice-Valtice region in the Czech Republic is Europe’s largest artificial geographical area and known a the Garden of Europe?

A major attraction is Lednice Castle, a palace built on a Renaissance chateau and Gothic fort. You can take a fairytale walk and enjoy the stunning views after climbing the 60-meter high minaret or relax on a boat trip down the river.

Valtice Chateau is known for its beauty and long tradition of wine making. The grape vines are said to be brought by the Romain legion of Marcus Aurelius.

Prices are very affordable in Lednice-Valtice, with meals around €10, and accommodation for approx. €20. Find accommodation in Lednice-Valtice  with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

7. Pag Island, Croatia

Croatia Pag Island European destination on a budget
Croatia – Pag Island © xbrchx / 123rf.com

Croatia was once a hidden European destination, but now it’s very popular with tourists. There are still some areas you can visit on a budget and aren’t as popular yet.

The island of Pag is one of the most striking and unique spots on the Croatian Adriatic coast.

Known for its moon-like landscapes and salt, lace and cheese production, the heat of hot summer days is helpfully reduced by a light sea breeze. And look at the color of that water!

Croatians welcome guests with big smiles and medium prices – €13 for a meal, and accommodation for less than €30. Find accommodation in Pag Island with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

8. Saaremaa Island, Estonia

Estonia Saaremaa European destination on a budget
Estonia – Saaremaa Island © Simone Vasta / 500px.com

Estonia is a destination in Europe that has been getting a bit of attention lately.

If you like beer and windmills this island (Estonia’s largest) located in the Baltic Sea is for you. The famous local home brew and windmills are Saaremaa’s symbols. I love it!

Apart from that, Saaremaa has the Kaali craters – the result of several meteorites that impacted some 3,500 years ago – the largest forming the unique, green-colored Kaali Lake.

Kuressaare is the island’s only town and features a medieval and bishopric castle dating from the 13th century.

Eating out in Saaremaa, Estonia will cost €18, and accommodation approx. €23. Find accommodation in Saaremaa with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

9. Volos & Pelion region, Greece

Greece Volos and Pelion region european destination on a budget
Greece_Volos and Pelion region © George Tace / 500px.com

If you loved the movie Mamma Mia than you already have an inkling of what is in store fro you in the Volos & Pelion region of Greece. The movie was filmed in Damouhari, the only natural harbor on the East Pelion coast.

Volos is halfway between Athens and Thessaloniki in the Pagasetic Gulf. It has rich historical and architectural sites, good restaurants and a vibrant nightlife, and is bordered by beautiful beaches on one side, and by Mount Pelion on the other.

The Pelion region isn’t overcrowded, and prices are very reasonable; around €15 for a meal out, and just under €25 for accommodation. Find accommodation in Volce & Pelion with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

10. Kamnik Alps, Slovenia

Slovenia Kamnik Alps where to visit Europe on budget

Slovenia may be tiny but there are many beautiful places to visit. The breathtaking Velika Planina uplands in the Kamnik Alps is one of those.

Velika Lanina is just an hour from Ljubljana or the wooden huts of the oldest preserved herdsmen settlement in Europe which will give you the illusion of time travel.

Plus, Slovenians love to party – there are numerous festivities and events, and the Kamnik Alps region hosts over 60 festivals in just one season!

Eating out in the Kamnik Alps is around €15, and accommodation costs up to €40. Find accommodation in Kamnik Alps with our affiliate partner, Booking.com

But wait there’s more. You can check out what other countries made the list in this Hidden Treasures Roadbook.

Tips to remember when using your Credit Card to pay for travel

As MasterCard has found in extensive research, travelers are using cards more and more to book and pay for their travel experiences – 55% pre-trip, and 45% on their trip.

We rarely use cash to pay for our travel anymore either. It’s not just because of the convenience of a credit card, but also for the reward points you can collect when you do use it.

To ensure the traveler’s peace of mind during their holiday, MasterCard provides them with tips and tricks to remember:

  • Know the services linked to your card, like security, travel and leisure services that could make your trip even more special.
  • Tell your bank or financial institution where you’re heading so they can help you faster if anything goes wrong.
  • Save the ‘Lost & Stolen Card’ number to your phone if you need to block it.
  • When paying with your card at a restaurant or a café, ask the waiter to bring the card reader or go with the waiter to the reader at the check-out;
  • Never write down your PIN code on a piece of paper and do not save it into your phone.
  • When you pay with your card abroad, always pay in local currency to get the best exchange /conversion rate
  • Check your statements and report fraudulent charges within 30 days. If something looks suspicious, call the bank
  • MasterCard zero liability protects you from unauthorized transactions – those purchases you did not make

Cool infographic coming up!

Hidden treasures in Europe

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to jump on a plane and travel to Europe. Writing this post on hidden secret destinations in Europe on a budget has inspired some serious European wanderlust within me.

Every time I think I’m ready to settle down, something comes along to show me, travel is the only lifestyle for me.

Thank you to MasterCard for conducting the research to help us eager travelers find destinations in Europe on a budget. This is a fantastic list and we’re happy to partner with MasterCard to share it.

It blows my mind that you can visit stunning regions like this in Europe for less than €30 a night on accommodation!

Which hidden secret destination in Europe on a budget has inspired your wanderlust the most?

Plan Your Trip to Europe

We’ve been traveling 20 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights, and car rental. Below are our preferred partners. If you book through these links, we do receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps us continue to provide inspiring and helpful travel content for free on this site.

Booking accommodation in Europe

Booking flights to Europe

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).

Booking a Car Rental in Europe

  • RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.

Tours in Europe

Pin to share to Pinterest:

Ready to travel to Europe? These 10 secret hidden destinations in Europe on a budget will make you happy. We're talking accommodation less than €30 a night
Ready to travel to Europe? These 10 secret hidden destinations in Europe on a budget will make you happy. We're talking accommodation less than €30 a night

18 thoughts on “10 hidden secret destinations in Europe on a budget”

  1. I really enjoyed the info-graphics. It’s always fascinating to me to see the spending patterns as well as travel trends. A little surprised that only 10% go towards accommodation as I thought it’d be higher. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I didn’t realize Montenegro is such a bargain. As well as going to the Adriatic beaches I would like to see the Ostrog Monastery. Hope you get to fulfill your European wanderlust soon!

  3. Love the info-graphic and thanks for sharing your amazing experience. I am going to bookmark your blog that will help me a lot while planning my next trip for Europe.

  4. Hi Caz and Craig,

    I really enjoyed your post. I am from Europe and even I did not know about half of these places.

    Nevertheless, I just want to tell you about another hidden and dangerously cheap place in Czech republic. Lednice-Valtice is an awesome area, close to it is a area called Palava. Awesome countryside, a lot of wineries and amazing walks.

    But the true treasure is in the north part of Bohemia. It is actually my home town Decin with its natural rock formation Pravcicka brana. It is the biggest natural sandstone arch in Europe and it was almost voted in for a new 7 wonders of the world. You could even see it in a movie The Chronicles of Narnia. The whole area is very nice, countryside and a lot of things to do around. Very affordable and very easy to reach from Prague, even for a day trip. So check it out 🙂

    Have a nice day

    Tereza
    One and Half backpacks

      1. Great, I am glad I could tell you this 🙂 If you decide to visit it one day, let me know, I can show you around or write you more places that are worth visiting 🙂

  5. Hi Caz & Craig, this is a great article. The places are amazing & the photos are simply fantastic. The lake in Portugal looks a bit like Patagonia. I have my marriage next year, now I have a few more places on my list to go out & travel with my partner 🙂

    On a side note, can I ask a quick question, since you both been travelling for a long time you understand both sides of the coin, is it better to travel to these places alone or with your partner, just curious. I feel alone might perhaps be better. What do you suggest?

    Anyways, thanks for the awesome article, really enjoyed it

    1. IT really depends on what kind of experience you want and who you are traveling with. It’s different for everyone so I can’t really say what’s best! You’ll have a great time either way I’m sure

  6. Well I wouldn’t say Hallstatt and it’s regions are a hidden secret. There are so many tourists around the year. Believe me as I live there!!! Enjoy every other hidden lakes in Austria.

  7. I have visited Mdina three months ago.
    It’s a very nice and quiet place but only before 10am. After that, plenty of tourist arrived by bus to visit the city !
    So if you can, visit Mdina early in the morning or after 16pm.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.