Europe is a beautiful continent with a number of countries with incredible landmarks and cities that everyone would like to visit.
But for backpackers who want to travel on a budget, they sometimes skip it due to the fact that it is expensive to travel in compared to some other parts of the world – no wonder most backpackers opt for cheap countries in Asia.
However, you don’t have to write it off because there are ways on how to travel Europe on a budget.
There are a number of cheap ways to travel Europe that range from when you’re at the stage of planning your trip to when you’re actually traveling in Europe.
For easy navigation, I’ll be breaking down the tips for traveling Europe on a budget at every stage of your trip. So without any delays, let’s find out exactly how to travel Europe on a budget.
How to travel Europe on a budget
Europe on a budget: Things to do before your trip
Before you even travel to Europe, there are certain things you need to do at your trip planning stage to make sure that you travel on a budget.
So let’s look at those things you need to take into consideration as you plan your trip to Europe.
Save, save and save some more
In all honesty, Europe is not the cheapest continent to travel in and the best way to make sure you have enough money is to save.
Having some money on your travel funds account will put you at ease while you enjoy Europe.
The best way to save for Europe is to have a goal – this can be saving a certain amount of money every month towards your travels.
What I like to do is to have a separate account for my travel funds – if this works for you, you could do the same.
Choose cheap destinations in Europe
Like anywhere else, countries in Europe are not made equal. Some are more expensive than others.
So since the goal is to find the cheapest ways to travel to Europe, your best bet at succeeding is to opt for cheap destinations in Europe.
For most of these destinations, you can expect to spend an average of $35-$55 dollars a day taking into account the food, accommodation, transportation, and activities.
So below are some of the cheap destinations in Europe you can consider traveling to plus their expected daily budgets.
- Greece: If you want to enjoy good weather all year round, enjoy the beautiful beaches on the many islands or even see one of the major Unesco historical sites in the world while still traveling on a budget, then visit Greece. A day in Greece can set you back an average of $40-$50 daily.
- Portugal: Don’t want to go far from Western Europe? Then travel to Portugal. Dive into Portugal’s culture as you relax on its long beautiful beaches for cheaps. Depending on the city you visit, you can plan for $45-$55 a day.
- Czech Republic: If you’re into big bustling cities in Europe, then visiting Prague in the Czech Republic will reward you with an incredible experience while staying right under your European budget. You can expect to spend around $35 -$40 in the Czech Republic.
- Turkey: This Eurasian country that is full of history, culture, and incredible tourist attractions needs to be added to places to visit in Europe on a budget. Whether it is exploring the megapolis city of Istanbul or going for a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, you can plan to go as far behind as $45-$55 a day.
- Other cheap destinations in Europe include Slovakia, Poland, and Ukraine and their daily budget can all range between $40-$50.
Related post: How to travel to Istanbul on a budget
Travel during the off-peak season
Though summertime is ideal to travel to Europe due to the great weather, the costs and crowds that come with it make it challenging for backpackers to travel there.
This means that the best way to travel Europe cheaply is to travel during the low or shoulder season when everything from flights, accommodation, activities and the general costs of living are low.
In Europe, the offseason is during the winter months from November to March.
And while some people shun away from traveling during this time of the year, there are a number of reasons to travel to Europe in winter, and traveling at a low budget is one of them.
However, if you can’t brave up for winter, you can still travel during the shoulder season during early fall (September – October) and early spring (March-May).
During this time, the high rates of literally everything in summer will have reduced and the crowds gone, which means that you’ll get a better experience when visiting the popular sites and enjoy lower travel rates.
Find cheap flights to Europe
The advantage of traveling to Europe is that there are a number of budget airlines that can save you a couple of bucks that you can use on something else.
You can use Skyscanner to research cheap flights to Europe.
You can also work out the best city to fly into first if you plan to visit a number of countries in Europe.
The advantage of using Skyscanner is that it will give you all the options of airlines that operate in Europe with their estimated rates.
The trick for this is to first research a one-way route instead of a round ticket.
If you’re unable to get the best deal on Skyscanner (which is highly unlikely, you can check out specific budget airlines).
Some of the budget airlines you can check out include;
- Ryanair: This the most known low-cost airline flying to a number of European destinations and outside Europe.
- Easyjet: Another popular budget airline in Europe you can check out.
- Aer Lingus
- Norwegian Air and so many others.
Pro tip* To get the best out of this tip, make sure that you book your flights way in advance as most tickets tend to be cheaper way before the travel dates. Also some of the low cost airlines have tight restritions on luggage, so make sure you’re ok with that before you book.
On top of using low-cost airlines, you can gather your frequent flier miles and you never know you might end up saving some money off your flight.
Cheapest ways to travel around Europe: Transportation
One of the ways on how to travel Europe on a budget is by saving on transportation and public transportation is the best way to go about that.
So below we’re going to look at some of the different ways to travel around Europe cheaply.
By train using a Eurail Pass
The best part about Europe is that it has a well-connected rail system that can help you travel all around the continent on just a train.
Though you can buy individual tickets for each train ride, it’s much easier and cheaper to buy tickets in a batch – or a Eurail Pass for that matter.
For the Eurail Pass, you’ll need to buy it before you go to Europe and it will be sent over to you via email, and as soon as you use it for your first ride, it will immediately be activated.
The Eurail Pass will save you a lot of money as you travel from one European city to another.
You can book your Eurail Pass from here to get the most of Europe as you still continue to travel on a budget.
By Using BlaBla car
BlaBla car is a famous car-sharing service that helps travelers who need rides connect with people who have extra space in their car and are headed to the same destination.
It’s a cheap way to travel across Europe and all you have to do is to sign up, put in your request and you’ll be able to find new carpooling buddies for an undeniably low price.
Though most people are skeptical about hitchhiking through Europe, it’s actually the cheapest way to travel in Europe.
Though buses are much slower compared to trains, they’re some of the best ways for touring Europe on a budget.
In this regard, not all Bus companies in Europe are created equal, some are fairly priced and others, not so much.
In order to get the best bargain for a bus ticket, you can check out companies like Flix Bus which works in over 20 European countries and thousands of cities in the same.
If you plan to concentrate in the Uk or majorly some countries in Western Europe, then you’ll be able to score cheap bus tickets with MegaBus.
On top of Flix Bus and MegaBus, local Public buses in certain countries are always cheaper compared to other means of transportation and will help you save money while traveling in Europe.
Yes, you read it right, walk! Obviously not to get to Europe but if you’re heading from one place to another and it is a walkable distance, skip the train or taxi and just walk!
Unlike in some parts of Africa, most parts of Europe have proper cobblestone sidewalks that pedestrians can use easily without any hassles.
This also means that you have to pack proper walking shoes to be able to walk for longer distances.
Save money on accommodation in Europe
We all know that accommodation takes a big percentage of any budget when it comes to planning a trip.
This means that one of the best ways to travel to Europe on a budget is to spend less on accommodation.
And how exactly do you do that? Below are some ways to make sure you save some bucks on accommodation.
Stay in Hostels instead of Hotels
Most hotels in Europe can be expensive and your best bet at saving money on accommodation is opting for hostels.
You don’t have to be worried especially if you’re staying in a hostel for the first time since most hostels in Europe are in good shape.
And if you require some privacy, most hostels have private rooms too, not just dorm rooms.
You can use Hostel World to search for hostels all across Europe depending on what you’d want in a hostel.
Rent a room/apartment with Air BnB
If you’re not a fan of hostels, then you can try out Air BnB since sometimes they can be cheaper than hotels.
In the same way, if you’re traveling with a group of friends or as a couple and require some bit of privacy, renting out an apartment can be a better deal at saving on accommodation.
However, as you make your booking, check out the prices very well as sometimes the price listed on Air BnB can seem low yet there are hidden fees of water, electricity, and laundry – so make sure that the price listed includes all that.
And before you book an apartment, make sure that you also read the reviews very well as a bad host can mess up your entire European trip.
Try out Couchsurfing
Europe has embraced the idea of Couchsurfing and the friendly people of Europe are always open to hosting travelers.
On top of saving you accommodation fee, Couchsurfing is a great way of making friends while traveling that might even become life long friends.
All you have to do is to sign up and create a profile with Couchsurfing, add photos that will “sell” you and stat requesting locals if you could stay at their homes for a couple of days.
It’s always better to request locals way in advance as it’s popular and if you delay, you might end up not getting where to crash.
But if you get lucky, offer something to the locals so that they also feel appreciated.
This can range from buying some food at home and leaving them with souvenirs – whatever works for you.
Camping is a great way of traveling Europe on a budget especially if you’re visiting in summer.
You can carry your own tent and I’m sure you’ll find a number of free camping spots.
And if you can find free ones, you can look out for proper campsites that also come at an affordable price.
Exchange your services for free accommodation
When I was in Cairo Egypt, I met a number of travelers at the hostel I stayed at who were offering their services in exchange for free accommodation.
Even in Europe, most places especially Hostels are willing to offer free accommodation in exchange for a few hours of your time (this could be as a bartender, waiting tables, etc).
This is a good way of traveling around Europe on a budget but can also rob you of a few hours of your travel time.
So before you go for this option, make sure that you have enough time on your hands to work for a few hours and at the same time travel around the place.
How to save money in Europe on Food
Unlike in Asia where you can get a proper meal at $4 in a restaurant, food in Europe can take you as far behind as $10-$15 for a proper meal.
This shows how much food can run up your budget pretty fast.
So let’s look at how you can travel to Europe cheaply by saving money on food.
Cook your own Meals
If you opted to sleep at an Air BnB or a Hostel, chances are that they will come with a kitchen and this will help you make your meals.
The food at fresh vegetable markets is usually cheaper – so if you’re staying in a place for a couple of days, you can stock up some groceries and make yourself quick meals.
Stay at Hostels that provide free breakfast
Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s very unlikely that you’d want to miss it and that also means spending money on it.
However, staying at a hostel that gives free breakfast is a huge plus as you’ll not have to worry about budgeting for it.
Don’t eat at restaurants near the popular tourist attractions
One of the mistakes travelers make in Europe is eating at exquisite restaurants they might have seen in guide books and on Instagram.
I mean there is nothing wrong with eating at such places but if you’re on a budget, you might end up eating away all you money.
Restaurants near popular places are usually extremely expensive and some of them don’t prepare the best dishes.
But if you feel like eating at a restaurant, try to look for one that is a bit far from the popular spots in Europe.
Opt for street food
Europe is blessed with a number of delicious cuisines you can easily find on the food stalls dotted around the streets.
Street food is always way cheaper than restaurant food and you get to indulge yourself in the local cuisine of the country you’re traveling in.
Pack a sandwich for your lunch
Another way you can travel Europe on a budget is by saving money on lunch.
Even though you can prepare your meals, lunch is likely to find you outside exploring the beautiful places in Europe which means that you’ll have to spend on lunch.
The best way to avoid this cost is to pack a sandwich for lunch!
It’s always way cheaper to buy your own sandwich stuff (bread, cheese, etc) from a local supermarket and make your own sandwich than buying almost the same sandwich at a higher price in a restaurant.
How to save money on Sightseeing in Europe
Join the free walking tours
The gospel of free walking tours has been spread across all Europe and it’s hard to find a city in Europe that doesn’t have one.
These free walking tours are normally conducted by young people who are passionate about tourism in their city.
The tours run for a couple of hours sometimes two to three where the natives show you all the popular attractions in their city and answer all the questions you might have.
Since its a free city tour, you’re not required to pay any specific amount but a tip is always appreciated at the end of the tour.
So as a backpacker, I’d advise you to sign up for free walking tours in the city you’re visiting and you can tip any amount you feel like.
Opt for free or cheap things to do in a certain city
The good thing about traveling to Europe is that you can still do a number of things without even touching your wallet.
So if you’re visiting a particular city, just google “free things to do in city X” and you’ll be surprised by how many things you can do without paying anything.
Related post: Romantic things to do in Europe
Take advantage of free days for some major attractions
There are some tourist attractions in Europe like museums which are free for all tourists on specific days whether it is the first Sunday of the month or every Friday.
Look out for such offers and if you’re lucky and they fall around the time you’re in that particular part of Europe, you’ll be able to save that money.
Take your Student/ ID card if you’re below 26
If you’re still below the age of 26 years and from the EU, take your ID or student’s ID because a number of attractions in Europe are free for you and in other cases, the tickets are extremely subsidized.
Other than students and youths under 26 years, some professions can also help you get discounts at some attractions in Europe.
Depending on the country you’re visiting, sometimes teachers and military professionals can be given discounts. So if you fall under that category, also carry your work ID.
Money tips to help you travel to Europe on a budget
Don’t exchange money at the airport
Exchange offices at the airport are always a rip-off. It might seem like a little percentage, but if you’re exchanging a lot of money, you’ll realize that you’re losing a lot of money.
What you should do is to wait until you reach the city center and you can exchange your money from there. Also, avoid exchange offices in fancy tourist places, their rates tend to be low hence losing money.
Or you can even stay away from exchange offices generally and just withdraw local currency from the ATM machines as sometimes it is cheaper.
Avoid roaming while in Europe
Though this might seem like less work, not worrying about buying a different Simcard for every country you visit.
It is a total mistake and it will cost you a lot of money in data and voice.
So the best way to save money on this is by buying a different Simcard for each country you visit.
You’ll actually end up getting better deals on mobile data instead of roaming.
Do not tip too much
I know it’s good practice to tip when you’ve received a service especially one that was exceptional but don’t tip away all your money.
Imagine if you’re tipping $5-$10 every time you eat at a restaurant.
Without even realizing it, the money will accumulate to $25-$50 on just tipping when you go to a restaurant 5 times.
Now that’s a lot of money you would have used for sightseeing.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t tip at all when you receive amazing service, you should but a rather reason tip.
In any case, tipping is not a must, if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it altogether.
Pack all your essentials
Packing all the travel essentials means that you won’t spend money on buying what you didn’t carry.
You can always make your travel checklist to make sure that you have everything you’ll need in Europe.
If you plan to travel to Europe in winter, this Europe winter packing list will show you everything you should take.
And to make sure that you don’t leave anything behind, below are some of the essentials that you should pack for your European trip.
- A universal travel adapter: Since some of the countries in Europe use a different adapter, I’d advise you to buy a universal travel adapter to cater to all regions. You can buy one from here if you don’t have it yet.
- A power Bank: One of the things you should never leave behind while traveling to Europe is the Powerbank!
Phones have now become a great deal of our lives that we need to use them for so many important things.
So take a power bank with you so that you don’t run out of battery. This power bank is small, light and has the capability to charge your phone and other devices multiple times.
- Microfibre travel towel – I always opt for this microfibre travel towel because it is super lightweight, easy to wash and dries easily.–
- First Aid kit: Regardless of where you’re traveling to in Europe, you’ll need to pack a First Aid kit for emergencies that might arise while on the road. Remember it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Just make sure that the one you pack has all the essentials and that it is small and light enough to fit in any kind of backpack.
This first aid kit actually fits all the qualities mentioned above plus it is really cheap for what it offers.
- Collapsible water bottle: I always prefer carrying a water bottle while traveling so that I can just refill it when I run out of water.
It also helps be a responsible traveler since you won’t have to use tones of disposable plastic bottles which are not great for our environment. Any water bottle can work but I prefer this collapsible one as it doesn’t take a lot of space in my bag.
It will also save you money instead of buying bottled water all the time.
- A Head Lamp
There you have it, those are the practical ways on how to travel Europe on a budget!
Do you have other ways that helped you save some bucks while in Europe, share them in the comment section.
More posts to inspire you to travel to Europe
- Best landmarks to visit in Europe
- Most beautiful cities in Europe
- Cheap ski resorts in Europe
- Best winter sun destinations in Europe
- Romantic places to visit in Europe
- Romantic things to do in Europe
- Best places to see the Northern Lights in Europe
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