14 Cheapest beach destinations in Europe
Every July and/or August, Europeans famously flock to their beaches for a long rest in the sunshine. The well-heeled tend to head to the south of France or Italy, or even a beach area in their own country that has a couple months of reliably warm weather each year. But the budget-travel crowd generally has to fly off to Europe's edges to find affordable hotels, and fortunately there are now dozens of low-cost airlines ready to take them there for a low fare.
As with almost everything else, the cheapest option isn't necessarily the best option, but we thought it would be interesting to rank them by price anyway. So below you'll find a list of all of the cheapest beach destinations in (and very near) Europe, along with a bit of information to help you decide whether they are a good fit for your purposes.
Ranking Europe's cheapest beach destinations
The list of destinations below are ranked by typical costs once you arrive for budget-oriented travelers. Hotel prices are nightly averages for a full week in July, so if you go outside of the peak season they are likely to be lower. The costs of food, drinks, and activities were also considered, but airfare costs were not included so a cheap hotel might not be a bargain if it takes an expensive flight to get there.
In several cases, such as the Greek Islands, the destinations listed are good examples of a wider variety of nearby choices. In other words, you are likely to find more choices in similar price ranges not far from the ones listed. As a result, the list below better represents regions rather than the specific cheapest beaches.
Consider an all-inclusive resort holiday
The list of cheap beach destinations below is for 3-star hotels that you book yourself. Amazingly enough, you can get even better deals at all-inclusive resorts, primarily in Greece, Turkey, and Spain.
14 Cheapest beach towns and destinations in Europe
The example hotels listed for each destination are:
- 3-Star or above
- Well located
- Well reviewed
- Very good choices in their price range
1 – Ulcinj, Velika Plaza, Montenegro
- Nearest airport: Podgorica Airport (TGD)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Apartments Doktor
- July nightly rate for two people: €30.10
South of Croatia along the Adriatic coast, Montenegro doesn't get much play in the travel press for most Western tourists, but those looking for a beach bargain might consider it. The most popular beach resort area in the country is actually a town called Budva, yet the beaches tend to be sandier and nicer if you go south, almost to the border of Albania.
A 14-kilometer sandy beach called Velika Plaza is just south of the town of Ulcinj, and there you'll find a string of private (but still cheap) beach clubs that are a pleasant alternative to the crowded beach in town. This area is particularly popular with Serbians, Russians, and others from within the region, partly because food and drinks are quite cheap to go along with the very affordable beach hotels and apartments.
2 – Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
- Nearest airport: Burgas Airport (BOJ)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Slavyanski Hotel
- July nightly rate for two people: €36.40
Unlike the beaches of Montenegro, the word on Bulgaria's Black Sea beaches has gotten out and for many years they've drawn a mix of Brits, Germans, Scandinavians in addition to the eastern Europeans who've been coming since Soviet days. So getting by only in English isn't much of a challenge here, for better or worse.
Sunny Beach is only about 5 kilometers long and many consider it a victim of its own success after years of unbridled growth. There are now nearly 1,000 hotels in the area with fierce competition among the many bars and clubs that go almost until dawn. The happy hour deals and such help keep it cheap as long as you don't mind a very crowded beach and a generic spring break feeling.
3 – Sarandë, Albania
- Nearest airport: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (TIA)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Hotel Blue Sky
- July nightly rate for two people: €39.90
While many of its neighboring countries have worked to draw in more visitors from the rich areas of Europe, Albania is still mostly in the starting gate. This poor and isolated country south of Montenegro does have some lovely beaches, but you won't find many cheap flights or a very solid tourist infrastructure so it tends to mainly draw beachgoers from nearby.
The town of Sarandë in the south is arguably the highlight of the Albanian Riviera, and part of its appeal is that it's just across the channel from the (also modestly priced) Greek island of Corfu. Perhaps one day it will be competing for the mass market cheap holidaymaker, so it could be a good choice for those who like to go to those places first so they can complain about the development later.
4 – Mamaia, Romania
- Nearest airport: Mihail Kogălniceanu International Airport (CND)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Hotel Tomis
- July nightly rate for two people: €47.60
Rounding out this corner of southern Europe, Mamaia is Romania's answer to Sunny Beach in Bulgaria. With only about 200 hotels in the area, it's smaller and not as competitive in price, so things tend to be a bit more expensive here. Evidently many middle class Romanians continue to go to Bulgaria for a sunshine holiday, so Mamaia and the beach towns nearby still have a ways to go.
This beach community is just north of the large town of Constanța, which is the largest port on the Black Sea. So though it's quite affordable by most European standards, it might not be an ideal choice for English speakers just looking for a cheap room near the sand.
5 – Kos Island, Greece
- Nearest airport: Kos Island International Airport (KGS)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Kris Mari Hotel
- July nightly rate for two people: €45.50
There are dozens of Greek Islands in this similar price range, but we are listing Kos here because it's one of the larger and better developed of this cheaper group. Kos draws crowds partly due to the very cheap flights from Germany and Italy on Ryanair, but it's also popular with package tourists from many European countries coming to the various all-inclusives and large beach resorts.
The hotels are generally affordable and offer good value here due to strong competition, though prices of food and alcohol won't be as cheap as the resort areas mentioned above. Greece needs tourists and prices in many places have dropped so this could be a good choice for the coming years.
6 – Milos Island, Greece
- Nearest airport: Athens International Airport (ATH) + 3-hour ferry ride
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Dionisis Hotel
- July nightly rate for two people: €49.00
Again, there are dozens of Greek Islands in this general price range, and Milos is included here as a smaller one that is known for its excellent beaches. There are only about 100 hotels on the island, so it doesn't have that big resort feel of the ones with major airports and multi-story blocks lining the sand.
Another advantage of Milos is that it's one that is best reached by a 3-hour ferry ride from Athens, making it quite easy to combine a short visit to the capital and a sunny and low-key beach stay. It's also easy to find cheap flights into Athens from many cities all over the world, so Milos is a good example of these smaller islands within easy reach of the port of Piraeus near the main airport.
7 – Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
- Nearest airport: Tenerife South Airport (TFS)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Aparthotel Panorámica
- July nightly rate for two people: €48.30
Tenerife is certainly no secret to Brits and Germans who stream here pretty much all year round, but even during the high season months of July and August it's quite good value. Other islands within the Canaries are similar in price and could easily be substituted, though for English speakers Tenerife is likely the best and most relaxing choice among them.
Of course the island is loaded with expensive resorts and hotels as well, so this isn't to say that everything is cheap. More it's that there are many very good options in the lower price ranges, and prices of food and alcohol are similar to those in Spain, which are reasonable by European standards.
8 – Rhodes Island, Greece
- Nearest airport: Rhodes International Airport (RHO)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Agla Hotel
- July nightly rate for two people: €54.60
One of the largest and most popular Greek Islands, Rhodes has close to 500 hotels, but generally specializes in the lower price ranges. Many of the cheaper places are quite simple, yet value here is quite solid, especially as Greece needs to price things more aggressively. Santorini is also in this general price range, and you might find cheaper flights depending on your starting point.
You'll find many Brits, Germans, Italians, and Scandinavians here, likely flown in on cheap nonstop flights from most major cities in those countries. Rhodes is also popular for its archaeological sites as well as its well preserved medieval town. But if you just want sun and sand at a package hotel you won't have trouble finding it here.
9 – Antalya, Turkey
- Nearest airport: Antalya Airport (AYT)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: The Corner Park Hotel
- July nightly rate for two people: €61.60
Obviously Antalya is not technically in Europe, as it's deep into the Asian part of Turkey, but it earns a spot here because it's an increasingly popular player in the European sunshine holiday market. Brits and Germans have been coming here for quite some time, and more recently there has been a large wave of Russians who come to newer hotels catering specifically to them.
Antalya has a lovely historic town center that is worth spending some time in, and maybe a couple of days, but there are sandy beaches in both directions lined with hotels and guesthouses. The area east of the town center is where you'll find most of the luxury 4-star resorts, which actually can be quite expensive, so bargain seekers will want to concentrate on the beach areas to the west of Antalya itself.
10 – Split, Croatia
- Nearest airport: Split Airport (SPU)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Pansion Epetium
- July nightly rate for two people: €63.00
If this list were created 10 years ago you'd find several Croatian beach towns much higher than this. The truth is that the word is out on how Croatia is like a much cheaper and similarly lovely version of Italy, so prices have moved well into the mid range.
Split is the largest of Croatia's coastal resort towns, with Dubrovnik being a bit smaller and also a bit more expensive. Hotels are still good value compared to Italy or France, and food and drinks are within more budgets as well. Even though it's not exactly cheap anymore, people are still waxing on about how wonderful Croatia is, which isn't true of all of the cheaper places on this list.
11 – Malaga, Costa del Sol, Spain
- Nearest airport: Málaga Airport (AGP)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Sol Timor Apartamentos
- July nightly rate for two people: €63.70
For budget-oriented Europeans, the Costa del Sol area in southern Spain has become something of a punchline, but it's still extremely popular and most things are very good value. Malaga is the largest city and home to the airport so it also tends to have many of the better deals, though if you are booking a package with transportation included there's no reason to limit yourself to this small part of the region.
Much of the Costa del Sol is lined with new and nearly identical hotels, so charm, history, and any sense of Spain are hard to find. And Malaga's airport is one of Spain's busiest with cheap flights coming in from all over, so the affordable package deals should carry on indefinitely.
12 – Quarteira, Algarve, Portugal
- Nearest airport: Faro Airport (FAO)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Hotel Praia Sol
- July nightly rate for two people: €69.30
Another that is well known by almost everyone, Portugal's southern coast is known as The Algarve, and it's long been famous as an affordable and charming destination for sunshine holidays. Faro is the largest city and home to the airport you'll likely fly into, but Quarteira is a better example of a hotel area for budget travelers to consider.
The Algarve itself is about 200 kilometers long, including a wide variety of sleepy villages and party towns, so there is something for everyone. It's also mostly less overdeveloped than the main resort areas in Spain, so it gets extra points for authenticity if that's important to you. English is also widely spoken so it's an easy place to visit for most Northern Europeans and Brits.
13 – Cala d’Or, Mallorca Island, Spain
- Nearest airport: Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Es Ravells D'or
- July nightly rate for two people: €70.00
Certainly among Europe's most famous holiday islands, Mallorca is not far from Ibiza in the Balearics, and it remains a good place to search for bargains even in high season. There are well over 1,000 hotels on the island in all categories, so there's certainly no shortage of posh and expensive resorts, but plenty of good mid-range places as well.
The main airport on the island is easily one of the busiest in all of Europe during the summer months, and you can fly in on almost any European airline you can think of, including the major low cost carriers. This is another major player in the package holiday seen for those still using high-street travel agents, and fortunately prices are competitive.
14 – Benidorm, Costa Blanca, Spain
- Nearest airport: Alicante Airport (ALC)
- Cheap, well-reviewed 3-star hotel: Les Dunes Suites
- July nightly rate for two people: €78.40
Moving slightly up the price scale but still on the affordable side, Benidorm is one of the most famous beach towns on the Costa Blanca along Spain's east coast. Costa Blanca goes for 200 kilometers in and near the city of Alicante, so there are plenty of options well beyond Benidorm itself.
This area has long been a favorite for Brits and Germans, but in recent years it's also become popular with mid-range holiday makers from many other corners of Europe, including Russia. Obviously with such a long coast you'll have a wide variety of options, including many high-end resort areas, but generally things are still good value.
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