From underrated cultural capitols to spendy cities with economic issues, these destinations have high value.

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When you’re planning a European vacation, paying for expensive airline tickets is almost always an unfortunate necessity. But once you’ve taken care of the flight, it’s time to make your money work for you — and there are plenty of destinations in Europe where you’ll be surprised at how far the dollar stretches.

From favorable exchange rates and cheaper costs of living to economic uncertainty and political upheaval, there are plenty of factors driving prices lower than in recent years, in both familiar and unexpected destinations.

Here are our picks for the best budget destinations in Europe right now.

London, England

While many viewed the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union as a disaster, the flip side is that U.S. vacationers to London are going to see their dollars go much further thanks to the crash of the pound. It may be one of Europe’s most expensive cities, but now’s the time to get a “budget” trip, as the dollar reaches a high against the pound not seen since 1985.

 

The Parliament glows at night in Budapest.
The Parliament glows at night in Budapest.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is showing up on more European-getaway wish lists than ever before, and cost is clearly an appealing factor. The Hungarian capital is the second cheapest vacation city in Europe (After Vilnius, Lithuania).

Its abundance of historic architectural beauty makes it a great alternative to the more popular Prague, while its unusual bars, great coffee shops and vibrant culture have seen it crowned by some as the “new Berlin.”

 

Krakow, Poland, is one of Europe’s most underrated cities.
Krakow, Poland, is one of Europe’s most underrated cities.

Krakow, Poland

Since Krakow is Poland’s most beautiful city (don’t tell Warsaw we said that), and one of Europe’s most underrated cities, the quality-to-cost ratio of a visit there is excellent.

The city has a grand old town with plenty of historic architecture — Wawel Castle and St. Mary’s Basilica are just two spots to visit — and a lively café culture you could mistake for the Parisian Left Bank circa 1905.

 

The beach in Carvoeiro town in the Algarve region of Portugal.
The beach in Carvoeiro town in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Algarve, Portugal

While Lisbon and Porto snap up tourists looking for Portugal’s cultural attractions, the Algarve draws visitors seeking beachside relaxation thanks to its mild, year-round climate, stunning coastline and plentiful resorts.

Ranked No. 1 on the UK Post Office’s annual Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer, a study of common vacation purchases like the price of a meal for two, drinks in a café and more, the Algarve is the best place for a budget getaway in Portugal. With mid-range hotels starting below $50 a night, the cost of accommodations is super to surprise.

 

The Slovakian capital of Bratislava is one of the best values in Europe.
The Slovakian capital of Bratislava is one of the best values in Europe.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Despite the fact that they are two of the closest capital cities in Europe, the cost of visiting Bratislava and Vienna is vastly different. Which means if you want a budget getaway with the option of something a little more luxurious on the side — in the form of Vienna (just 40 minutes away by train) — then the Slovakian capital of Bratislava is for you.

The continued weakness of the euro against the dollar means Europe as a whole is cheap for U.S. travelers, but the old Soviet countries continue to prove the best places for value. Accommodation is cheap, with the average cost of upscale properties costing around $99 a night. Food and drink is equally affordable, with the price of domestic beer at about €1.50 a pint.

Bratislava is relatively small, so explore the old town, take advantage of the Soviet legacy that has left clubs created from old bunkers and some fine communist architecture, and then head on to Vienna for a day or two to spend all the money you saved.

Read the original story, 5 Amazing Budget Destinations in Europe, by Toby Orton, on Oyster.com