The article aims to reveal the importance of the structural funds of the European Union for the development of rural and sustainable tourism. The attention is drawn to tourism as a key instrument for the development of the rural areas. It is outlined as an essential tool for the support and survival of the weak economic regions. Its role for the sustainable development of new workplaces, support of the business and landscape and natural resources is emphasized. A special space is dedicated to the European Union’s policy on sustainable tourism and development of rural areas. The working out and managing of projects for grants, aimed at the growth of tourism, seeking for its popularization and preservation of heritage, is reviewed as a prerequisite for the successful development of the rural areas. The basic financial instruments of the EU, identified as opportunities for funding of sustainable tourism and the preservation of the rural areas’ heritage, are the structural funds. The development of rural and sustainable tourism requires coordination with the common objectives for improvement of those areas and that is how the European Union structural funding tools can be used to this end.