HomeEuropeEurope Off the Beaten Track: 14 Summer Destinations for Backpackers

Europe Off the Beaten Track: 14 Summer Destinations for Backpackers

Summer vacation is on the horizon, and the wanderlust is kicking in, but is your bank account is hyperventilating at the mere thought? Well, here’s the silver lining: it’s doable, as long as you’re up for an adventure off the beaten path and making a few compromises! Because let’s face it, backpacking is all about the thrill of stumbling upon hidden gems, and living authentically without breaking the bank.

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Forget about the typical European summer hotspots like Iceland, Norway, France, the UK, Croatia, Italy, and Greece; instead, get ready to uncover lesser-known destinations that offer more bang for your buck, comparable to backpacking in Latin America or Southeast Asia!

Here are 14 budget-friendly summer destinations in Europe to add to your bucket list:

1. Albania

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Just across the water from Italy, Albania remains one of Europe’s most underrated and affordable destinations!

You can bask in the beach life and coastal wonders that rival Greece but at a fraction of the cost.

Beyond the beaches, head inland to Shkodër, a charming town brimming with Ottoman relics and delicious yet cheap eateries. Hostels are plentiful, of high quality, and easy on the wallet.

It’s also the perfect base for a multi-day trek in the Albanian Alps (dubbed the Accursed Mountains). Along the way, hop on the ferry for a ride across the majestic, crystal-blue Lake Koman.

2. Montenegro

Monténégro - Nomad Junkies
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Staying in the Balkans? Consider a stint in Montenegro! It’s the new star destination of the Balkans and the Mediterranean, boasting stunning national parks and remnants of the former Yugoslavia.

Montenegro is the place to be this summer for the perfect blend of jet-set glamour (think yacht parties) and outdoor activities.

Avoid the crowds of beach resorts and head to Zabljak, nestled at the foot of the UNESCO-listed Durmitor National Park. You’ll be spoiled for choice with breathtaking hikes and swims in incredibly clear lakes.

3. Bosnia-Herzegovina

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In Bosnia, kick off your journey in Mostar, where the iconic Stari Most bridge spans the historic city, offering breathtaking views of the Neretva River and the stone houses lining its banks. Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of this historically rich city, where East meets West, and every corner reveals fascinating tales.

Venture to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where buildings bear witness to a tumultuous past. You’ll love the rock music vibe resonating in every café.

You absolutely must take a guided tour of the Sarajevo Tunnel. It’s an immersive experience revealing the remnants of the Bosnian War, which played a vital role in the survival of the besieged city.

Also, explore Sarajevo’s Olympic sites from the 1984 Winter Olympics, leaving an indelible mark on this city full of contrasts.

4. Czech Republic

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For an authentic and affordable European adventure, opt for the Czech Republic! This landlocked country is brimming with medieval fortresses, Gothic architecture, and a historical ambiance. It’s teeming with castles, dirt-cheap delicious beers, and remarkable 9th-century architecture!

Whether getting lost in the streets of the old town or bar-hopping, Prague is a place that’ll capture your heart! Must-see spots include Hradčany Castle Quarter, the iconic Charles Bridge (Karluv Most), the Lennon Wall, the astronomical clock tower, and Kampa Island.

For a hip experience, grab a drink or a bite at the Manifesto Outdoor Food Market! And for unmissable bars (there are hundreds), check out Groove Bar, Tynska Bar and Books, and Hemingway Bar, to name a few!

5. Bulgaria 

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For beauty on a budget, Bulgaria is a European destination you don’t want to miss this summer. The capital, Sofia, is a hidden gem blending ancient history with a burgeoning contemporary art scene.

You can wander its cobblestone streets, visit iconic sites like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and savour traditional dishes in picturesque restaurants.

If you’re craving mountains and history, Bansko, the pearl of the Bulgarian mountains, is the perfect place for you. It’s a hotspot for digital nomads. Get ready to explore epic hiking trails, dive into a rich history, and indulge in delicious Bulgarian cuisine, all while keeping your backpacker budget intact.

6. Portugal 

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Enjoy an unforgettable experience on a shoestring budget in Portugal! If you’re backpacking, it’s one of the places in the world where you’ll get the most bang for your buck in terms of hostel quality.

The hostels are top-notch, and getting around the country is a breeze. If you’re travelling solo, you’ll easily meet other travellers, and rest assured, safety is a strong point.

Start with Lisbon, which will charm you with its stunning architecture, delicious food, lively nightlife, and intriguing history.

And you can’t miss the Algarve with its breathtaking beaches and spectacular cliffs, a true paradise for surfers with its 300 days of sunshine per year.

7. Spain

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If you dream of paella, fiesta, and playa, Spain has you covered! It’s the perfect destination for backpackers seeking sun, culture, and adventure on a budget.

Start your journey in Alicante, where you’ll find the perfect mix of sparkling beaches, picturesque alleys, and fiery Spanish fiestas.

Then, head to Barcelona, an iconic city where cosmopolitan vibes, historical sights, and endless nights promise unforgettable memories.

But don’t forget Valencia either, with its expansive beaches, impressive architecture, and delicious local cuisine.

Tour du monde en 2019 - Nomad Junkies
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And much more!

8. North Macedonia: In North Macedonia, you’ll discover a captivating blend of quaint villages, crystal-clear lakes, and well-preserved historical sites. And the best part? It’s all budget-friendly for you, the adventure-seeking backpacker. Don’t miss Skopje for its unique ambiance with tons of statues scattered throughout the city and Ohrid for its timeless natural beauty.

9. Poland: Poland welcomes you with its cultural treasures, fascinating history, and lively nightlife without breaking the bank, making it an ideal destination if you’re in search of unique experiences this summer. Explore Krakow for its vibrant atmosphere and Gdańsk, an emerging city on the Baltic Sea, for its unique maritime charm.

10. Lithuania: In Lithuania, you’ll be dazzled by its enchanting landscapes, well-preserved medieval cities, and laid-back vibe, all at a cheap price for your summer in Europe. Check out Vilnius for its quirky mix of ancient charm and hipster vibes, and don’t miss Kaunas, where the energy is as lively as its street art!

11. Estonia: Estonia awaits you with its charming old towns, vast forests, and breathtaking Baltic coastlines, all perfectly priced for your backpacker budget. This summer, make this underrated European gem your go-to destination. Wander through Tallinn’s fairy-tale streets and soak up the lively atmosphere in Tartu, a vibrant student city.

12. Latvia: Don’t break the bank this summer—head to Latvia, where the buzz of its capital Riga, the purity of its pristine beaches, and the beauty of its national parks will enchant you.

13. Slovenia: For an affordable adventure that won’t disappoint, add Slovenia to your itinerary. Dive into the charm of Ljubljana, the capital that’s as friendly as it is picturesque, and don’t miss Bled, with its stunning lake and fairytale castle.

14. Slovakia: In Slovakia, get ready to hike through jaw-dropping mountains, explore hidden castles, and soak in steaming thermal springs at a price that won’t make you regret your travel choice this summer. Explore Bratislava, a budget-friendly and lively destination for backpackers with plenty of hostel options, and discover Poprad, a gateway to the High Tatras mountains.

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What’s the Best Travel Insurance for a Trip to Europe This Summer?

If you haven’t heard of soNomad yet, it’s time to get on board! This Canadian company is shaking up the travel insurance world with a unique and budget-friendly approach.

On average, you can save up to 25% compared to other insurance companies. And with soNomad, there are no hidden fees, no nasty surprises to expect!

You’ll also have 24/7 assistance in English or French to support you in tricky situations, even in the middle of the night. Exclusive guarantees, like coverage in case of lost luggage, are also included.

And the cherry on top: soNomad‘s prices are unbeatable, allowing you to fully enjoy your Canadian experience without breaking the bank.

Booking online is quick and easy as pie. In less than 2 minutes, you’re insured and ready to hop on a flight tonight if you want!

Get your travel insurance now with soNomad

Explore Europe on a budget this summer!

Don’t buy into the general opinion: sure, travelling during peak season to the most popular European destinations can cost an arm and a leg.

But you’ll have much more fun opting for the beaches of Poland, the exhilarating atmosphere of Sarajevo, or the cultural treasures of Prague.

Venture off the beaten path this summer, and never forget to get travel insurance with soNomad before you go.

Nomad Junkies’ founders are proud to be ambassadors for soNomad and on a mission to reduce travel insurance costs for all!

Emilie Robichaud
Emilie Robichaud
Je suis accro au mode de vie nomade! J’ai quitté ma zone de confort pour voyager à temps plein. Mon tour du monde sans fin compte plus de 71 pays et ça continue! Le voyage, c'est un style de vie et un état d'esprit!
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