15 Safe and Affordable European Cities That Retirees Love

Explore the best retirement havens in Europe, where safety and affordability meet.

senior tourists reviewing map while traveling
Updated May 28, 2024
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With retirement comes nearly endless potential for your next phase of life. You now have the financial freedom and unlimited spare time to do everything you’ve dreamed of, including building a life where you can travel when you want

Maybe that includes visiting Europe, which is often high on many people’s bucket lists. But it can be costly and potentially dangerous. 

That doesn’t mean you should scratch it from your itinerary, though. Instead, look into visiting the following 15 safe and affordable European cities.

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Ljubljana, Slovenia

nataliaderiabina/Adobe female tourist exploring city on bicycle

Your bank account won’t get homesick traveling to Ljubljana, Slovenia, one of the safest and most affordable European destinations. Aside from being rich in history and culture, the city also prides itself on being green.

The only major safety concern comes from pickpockets, though this can be expected at any tourist destination. The average daily cost to visit, including accommodations and food, ranges from $45 to $54.

Lisbon, Portugal

mlehmann78/Adobe gloria funicular in lisbon

Another great budget European destination is Lisbon, Portugal. The average daily cost is around $143, including transportation, food, and accommodations.

As for safety, it’s hard to beat the city’s ranking. Again, pickpockets and scams are the most significant risks at play, so just be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Zagreb, Croatia

xbrchx/Adobe main square and cathedral in zagreb

Head to Zagreb, Croatia, if you love unique sightseeing opportunities, including historical cemeteries, vibrant arts and culinary scenes, museums, and more.

Zagreb is a very safe city if you take precautions against the local pickpockets. The average cost per day is just $86 a person.

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Tallinn, Estonia

Scanrail/Adobe tallinn estonia with turquoise water

If you want to spend your retirement enriching yourself in medieval history, look no further than Tallinn, Estonia. The city is steeped in history, from cathedrals to castles and more.

Including accommodations and food, you can expect to spend around $44 to $56 per day in the city. While the city is safe, you will need to remain vigilant against pickpockets and scams, especially transportation scams.

Istanbul, Turkey

MehmetOZB/Adobe topkapi palace from golden horn

Another breathtakingly gorgeous and historical city is Istanbul, Turkey. The average cost per day is low at just $47, and many free attractions and sightseeing opportunities exist.

Being a large, popular city, Istanbul can be less safe than other quieter destinations. Petty theft is the biggest risk, so as long as you’re aware of your surroundings, you should be fine. 

However, be aware of the city’s political climate before booking your flight, as this could pose a safety risk for travelers.

Porto, Portugal

lubero/Adobe female friends enjoying vacation together

Another Portuguese city perfect for retirees is Porto — average daily costs range from $43 to $58. You can visit 12th-century churches, gorgeous riverfronts, cafes, shops, and more.

Scams and pickpockets are cause for concern, but being aware and on guard can help prevent these petty crimes.

Bavaria, Germany

Boris Stroujko/Adobe colorful half timbered houses in rothenburg

Bavaria is not only one of the most gorgeous places to visit in Germany but also one of the safest. In fact, it has the lowest crime rate in the whole country. It’s also in Germany’s countryside, making it a lovely, lowkey spot for retirees.

It costs around $166 per day for food, transportation, and accommodation, but this is a reasonable number compared to other European destinations.

Andalusia, Spain

Alex Tihonov/Adobe white washed homes in Mijas

Spain is a gorgeous and relaxed country perfect for retirees, but many destinations are simply too expensive. Andalusia, and specifically the city of Málaga, is safe and affordable.

Aside from petty theft like pickpocketing, it’s incredibly safe for visiting retirees. As for the cost, expect an average of $138 per day.

Kotor, Montenegro

smallredgirl/Adobe perast town in kotor bay

Another beautiful, affordable, and safe destination for retirees is yet again in the Balkans — this time in Kotor, Montenegro.

Montenegro is generally very safe, sans the occasional scam or pickpocket. Budget around $108 per day for transportation, food, and a place to stay, plus a little extra for shopping or sightseeing.

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Palermo, Sicily

Serenity-H/Adobe gulf of mondello and monte pellegrino,

Italy is another highly coveted destination for retirees, but many cities are unattainably expensive and can be dangerous in dense tourist destinations.

Palermo, Sicily, though, is a wonderful middle ground between the two. While scammers, pickpockets, and other petty criminals abound like any other travel site, it’s largely safe as long as you’re vigilant. 

As for cost, it’s roughly $101 per day for accommodation, food, and transportation.

The Peloponnese, Greece

kuznetsov_konsta/Adobe couple canoeing in ocean with mountains

Another Mediterranean destination retirees love is Greece. However, scammers run rampant in popular tourist sites, which are generally very pricey.

The Peloponnese, though, is both safe and affordable. Any city in the region is a great idea. The cost per day in Nafplio is around $122, for example. 

While some political unease exists in Athens and other Grecian destinations, the Peloponnese is a laid-back, rural site safe for visitors.

Klagenfurt, Austria

biletskiyevgeniy.com/Adobe tourist couple exploring mountains

Another gorgeous medieval European city is Klagenfurt, Austria, which is both safe and affordable for retirees.

Klagenfurt is a safe city, but be aware that it’s close to the local airport, so petty theft may be more significant than other destinations. As for cost, a two-week trip for two is around $4,000, which comes out to around $143 per day per person.

Riga, Latvia

chamillew/Adobe saint peters church on riga city

Riga, Latvia, is a culture-rich European destination with lots of free or cheap things to enjoy as a retiree, including live music, local restaurants, museums and historical sites, and paddleboard tours.

The most significant risk in Riga is petty theft, like pickpocketing and scams. Scams usually involve being convinced to visit certain bars and then being grossly overcharged, so keep your wits about you.

Brasov, Romania

rh2010/Adobe green brasov cityscape in romania

If you’re a fan of literature or history, visit Brasov, Romania — the home of Bran Castle, where Count Dracula's legend gained footing.

Not only is the city itself affordable to visit, but there are tons of free and inexpensive sightseeing options, like walking tours or cable cars that take you into the mountains. 

Again, pickpockets and scams are common but the only major source of crime, so be aware and alert.

Tbilisi, Georgia

vvvita/Adobe panoramic view of Tbilisi at sunset

Grab one of the best travel credit cards and head to the city of Tbilisi in Georgia. This is a wonderfully affordable travel option for retirees, with accommodations as low as $25 per night.

Tbilisi is also the largest city in, as well as the capital of, Georgia, making it a wonderfully busy place to sightsee. 

Even though it’s a popular tourist spot, it’s one of the safest cities not just in the country but on the continent. Common issues like pickpockets and scams are reported in very low numbers.

Bottom line

Song_about_summer/Adobe senior couple having fun exploring italy

There’s no better time to travel Europe than during retirement. With essentially unlimited free time, you can enjoy your destination at a slow pace tailored to your wants and needs.

You can also avoid wasting money on pricier destinations without compromising your safety. There are plenty of destinations that fit a reasonable or even tight budget and are safe and welcoming to all visitors.

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Lucy Clark

Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.