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The best destinations in Eastern Europe for an affordable city break in 2024

Simon Calder’s Travel

Planning a European city break on a budget? It’s time to bypass the big hitters like Paris, Rome and Copenhagen in the west – your money stretches further in the cities of the east.

This fact might not be a new one, but as prices hike in the most beloved urban hubs, consistently low costs for transport, accommodation and meals in eastern destinations mean thrifty travellers should be taking short stays across the Balkans and Baltics more seriously.

With buzzing nightlife scenes, Soviet echoes in the fortified old towns and traditional–meets–modern restaurants serving regional delicacies, cost-effective cultural endeavours scatter the streets and there’s even the option for travel by climate-conscious sleeper trains.

From Bucharest to Belgrade, these cities are rich in sightseeing, history and active pursuits in every season. Here are some of Eastern Europe’s most affordable capitals for a cheap city break.

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Bucharest, Romania

Bathe in Europe’s biggest spa in bargain Bucharest (Getty Images)

In the pre-communist era, the Romania’s capital was hailed as the ‘Paris of the East’ for its romantic French architecture, and bargain Bucharest certainly offers a different side of Romania than Transylvania’s verdant vampire valleys. Explore the old town, a hub of dining and energetic nightlife complete with busts of Vlad the Impaler, take in the sheer scale of the mammoth Palace of the Parliament – one of the largest buildings in the world – and attend orthodox mass complete with an acapella choir at the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral to see Bucharest at its best.

To truly soak in the city, Europe’s biggest spa Therme also welcomes visitors for the ultimate budget spa break – picture everything from themed saunas to clay mask and scrub rituals. A one-day pass with access to all areas costs just £29 between Monday to Thursday, and is well worth the pennies.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Save on travel with a trip to Sofia (Getty Images)

Sofia, the spirited Bulgarian capital, makes for an economical city break – and it’s best explored on foot. Amid relics of the Communist era, including the green-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, red-brick Ottoman mosques and broad avenues, the Balkan nation has outstanding value for all things sightseeing and even skiing. The nearby peaks of Vitosha,…

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