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Travel to Europe on a budget
Written by Dikshya Shaw on August 5, 2021 Share on

Travel To Europe On A Budget

If you think traveling to Europe is expensive, you might want to change your thought. A “Europe Trip package” might actually win for being the most ‘bucket listed’ item in the world. Everyone from old-aged people to youngsters harbors the dream of a trip to the planet’s most visited continent. So many people keep waiting for their bank balance to go over the roof before they are willing to take one. The simple truth is that you can travel to Europe on a budget if you follow a few basic money-saving tricks. 

It’s pretty common to find $400 round-trip flights from the US to the EU. For this, all budget travelers alike can now afford to hop on that plane and get their adventure start. Europe can still cost you big if you plan poorly. You can save hundreds of dollars traveling through Europe in various ways without skimping on the quality of your travels. You can travel to Europe on a lower budget from lots of budget airlines to discounted train passes.

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Europe On A Budget: When & Where

Visit Central and Eastern Europe

Europe, Travel to Europe on a budget
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While traveling everywhere in Europe, keep in mind that not all of Europe is expensive. While touring famous cities such as ParisRome, Copenhagen, and London, it’s advisable to keep in mind that these cities don’t come cheap. If you want to stretch your budget, head eastward.

Prices in countries like Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and Albania are a part of what you’ll pay in the Western or Northern countries. These lesser-crowded countries have so much to see, which is why costs are still pretty low. If you think Europe on a budget is hard, you are wrong.

Can’t bear to miss out on the more popular destination cities? Don’t worry, and consider doing some mixing and matching to optimize your spending. Try out some days in Western Europe, scattering with some days in Central Europe.

Also Read: Top 7 Countries to Visit in Eastern Europe

Go in the shoulder season

Cochem, Germany, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Long summer nights in Europe are heavenly. But, summer travel comes with sweltering hot and humid afternoons, enormous crowds, long queues everywhere, and steep high-season expenses. As a result, hotel prices and even admission prices to top attractions shoot up. Moreover, Europeans tend to flee their home country during August as they take off for holidays themselves. That means you’ll be faced with wide-scale closures of shops and restaurants.

It’s always better to travel off-season for a more local experience. Europe’s shoulder season falls in early fall (September–October) and early spring (March-May). During these periods, you’ll find pleasant weather. Also, flights and lodging costs are significantly cheaper than what you’ll pay in the summer. Moreover, you’ll not be disappointed by the wide-scale closures that occur during the summer months when many Europeans take off for holidays themselves.

Also Read: Europe in March – Weather, Places to Visit in March & More

Stay longer in one place

Venice, Italy, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Do not cram as many cities or countries into your itinerary as possible. We all know traveling to a place requires time, and in a massive continent like Europe, it requires more than the planned time. Slow down as you’ll be able to spend more time absorbing yourself in the local culture of a destination. This is far better than hitting the top attractions right before you head to the airport for the bazillion time. Indulge in their cuisine, see their different neighborhoods, and observe people in their everyday lives. Stay in a destination city for 3-5 nights minimum, depending on the size of the city.

Also Read: A Quick Checklist for your first Europe Trip

Don’t miss the smaller cities and towns

Enjoying a day trip in Parma, a 30-minute train ride away from Bologna, Italy
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You’re going to have to hit up the major cities like London, Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. It’s true major cities have a lot of attractions. But, have you ever considered looking into smaller towns 1-2 hours away from these cities? Do a quick day trip to a smaller town by bus or train and experience something a little more intimate. So, it’s always better to incorporate some of the smaller cities and towns into your itinerary that can give you a completely different cultural experience. Is it now fun to travel to Europe on a budget?!

Also Read: Best of Europe’s Storybook Villages

Europe On A Budget: Accomodation & Lodging

Sleep cheap, splurge elsewhere

Mongerbino, Bagheria, Palermo, Italy, Sicily, Southern Europe
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Let’s be honest. How much time are you really going to spend inside your hotel room versus exploring a new European city? Sacrifice staying somewhere cheap and splurge elsewhere. Spend the money you have saved on accommodation at a fancy restaurant, a rooftop bar, on a bag you have been eyeing, or on a spa treatment. 

Also Read: Top Trends in Travel Destinations 2024- Explore EUROPE!✈

Skip the hotel, rent an apartment

Marquês de Pombal, Lisbon, Portugal, Apartments in Europe
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Hotels offer very little in terms of personalization and local flavor. But still, they’re often your most expensive accommodation option. Staying in a hotel means you’ll likely be paying higher tourist prices at restaurants and shops. Go with apartment rentals that can save you a significant amount of money and get a taste of the local life.

Also Read: 5 Unusual Hotels in Europe On Your Europe Trip in 2024

Stay at a hostel, they have private rooms too

Gdańsk, Poland, Hostels in Europe
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If you are looking for even cheaper alternatives than apartments, you should consider staying in hostels. The stereotype of hostels being dirty is not true anymore, especially for solo travelers.

You will find new breeds of family-friendly hostels and even luxury hostels popping up across Europe. So, anywhere you are traveling, get a hotel-like experience whether you are traveling solo, with family, or with friends.

Also Read: All About Wellness Travel In Europe: For A Perfect Holistic Getaway!

Stay centrally

Stay centrally, Travel to Europe on a budget
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It is usually a good idea to stay near the city center, or in a neighborhood you like. But, keep a check on your pockets as it may cost you slightly more than staying on the outskirts of town. You always have the option of staying further from the city center. But do make sure you’re close to a train, metro, or bus route.

Do the math before traveling to Europe cause Europe on a budget is an art. Be sensible and stay in a centrally located accommodation, if you foresee spending a lot on transportation.

Try Couchsurfing

Europe crowded city street, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Are you a solo budget traveler or the one who will be traveling with 1-2 others? If yes, then this could be a great free accommodation option for you. Do you want to know the idea behind Couchsurfing? “Couchsurfers” leverage the hospitality of friendly people around the world who open their homes to travelers. Follow this to meet other like-minded travelers and locals who may also be willing to make time to show you around their city.

Also Read: An Amazing 9-day Central Europe Trip Across Vienna, Salzburg & Prague

Try a work exchange

Try a work exchange, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Another great way to do Europe on a budget is by trying a work exchange. It is an ideal way to save money on lodging if you go traveling for over a few weeks at a time. Workaway, an international hospitality service, allows members to contact one another. It is done to organize homestays and cultural exchange. “Workawayers” have to work a few hours of their day in exchange for lodging and food.

Some of these projects include babysitting, teaching English, helping with home improvement tasks, and working as a staff member in a hostel. If you can stay put for longer, you have a better shot at getting approved by the host.

Also Read: Know British Slang Before Traveling to Europe

Try housesitting

Try housesitting, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Another way to avoid spending anything on lodging and accommodation while your travel to Europe on a budget is housesitting. Are you flexible with dates for lodging and accommodation? If so, then take a look at housesitting as an option. Housesitting is an exchange in which a person stays at someone’s home and cares for their pets or property while they are away.

To make this work, you need to make sure you are flexible with travel dates.

Also Read: 10 Amazing Things To Do In Europe In Summer

Europe On A Budget: Transportation

Take public transportation from the airport

Take public transportation from the airport, Travel to Europe on a budget
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If you want to travel to Europe on a budget, it’s best to get a train or a bus from the airport to the city center. It will save you a ton of money. Many airport websites provide clear information on how to buy tickets and get to the center. Don’t spend $30+ for a taxi; just take the train for well under $10 in most destination cities.

Also Read: Top 10 Places to Visit in Europe in January

Travel between cities and countries by train/bus

London, United Kingdom, Travel between cities and countries by train/bus
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Trains run throughout Europe. It is one of the most efficient and enjoyable experiences. Sometimes, the travel time can be longer, but it can also be more enjoyable and leisurely than pulling through the chaos of airport security. There are no surcharges for baggage, wifi is likely provided, and you get to see the landscape that you’re passing through. Do indulge in taking the scenic route and enjoy a book or a movie on your way.

Also Read: 15 Most Romantic Things To Do In Europe

Book an overnight sleeper train

Book an overnight sleeper train, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Sleep throughout one country and wake up in another. Book an overnight sleeper train for the most comfortable experience. Before planning your travel to Europe, check out whether any sleeper train routes link two cities on your itinerary. Opting for this option cuts out the need for a flight and a one-night hotel.

Additionally, the couchettes provide free bottles of water, toothbrushes, slippers, and even breakfast. Booking a private couchette can be very expensive. It’s preferable to book your place a few months in advance to secure the best deals.

Consider a European rail pass

Consider a European rail pass, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Are you planning a longer European vacation with the intent of hitting a multitude of cities or countries? If yes, then consider getting a rail pass. A variety of passes are available, from a single country pass to an all-inclusive Europe rail pass. The “all-inclusive Europe rail pass” lets you ride trains anywhere in Europe.

Save a lot of euros, if you know you’ll be traveling a lot. Non-Europeans can bring back most rail passes only outside Europe, so sketch out your itinerary and calculate transportation costs before your trip.

Also Read: 10 Cities in Europe for the Best Nightlife Experience

Tourist passes with free transportation

Tourist passes with free transportation, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Lots of European cities offer multi-day tourist passes for travelers. Oftentimes, public transport use is included. The Berlin Pass gives you entry to 60+ top Berlin attractions, hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours, and an optional travel card for unlimited transportation.

Likewise, London offers passes ranging from 1–6 days. In addition, it provides free entrance to 80+ attractions, skip-the-line access, hop-on hop-off bus tickets, and valuable shopping and dining discounts.

Also Read: European Countries With The Least Travel Restrictions

Biking or walking

Woman riding a bike in Italian city, Torino, Italia
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Do you truly want to immerse yourself in a European country or a city? If really, then explore by bicycle or on your own two feet. These are the two cheapest ways available to you. It helps you to save money but also improves your health while traveling abroad.

Take the train/bus as little as possible and walk everywhere you can. A big advantage to this is that you can eat unlimited amounts of delightful pastries and pasta. Also, it will be beneficial to pack a pair of lightweight walking/running shoes if you want to travel to Europe on a budget.

Also Read: Top 5 Walking Tours In Europe

Fly with budget airlines

Bratislava, Slovakia, Fly with budget airlines
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Two extremely affordable options for inter-Europe flights are Ryanair and EasyJet. These are often used by travelers who visit Europe on a budget. You can get from one country to another for under $50.

You’ll be nickeled and dimed for all other add-ons, such as choosing a seat, checking your luggage, etc. So, pack light and be flexible with seating to take advantage of the super cheap fares. It is now not a bucket full of worries to travel to Europe on a budget.

Also Read: City Breaks From Newcastle Airport To Some Heavenly Places In Europe

Europe On A Budget: Food & Dining

Don’t eat at restaurants three times a day

Louis-Hansel Restaurant, Don’t eat at restaurants three times a day
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Dine out once a day to be most efficient with your money, twice a day at most. If you sit down at a restaurant to have a meal, it will cost you $12-25 per person. If you are eating out three times a day, your cost is likely to increase. Why not grab something portable from the cafe, the supermarket, or the food truck?

If eating out in a restaurant is your favorite, many restaurants offer an affordable “menu of the day” option. It often comprises three courses and a coffee or dessert, so keep an eye out for these specials if you want to travel to Europe on a budget.

Also Read: How Much to Budget for Food in Europe?

Make lunch your main meal

Make lunch your main meal, Travel to Europe on a budget
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Lunchtime meals tend to be cheaper than dinner time meals, even for the same portion of the same food. It depends on timing, so take advantage of it. If you’re a foodie looking to spree on a meal at a gourmet restaurant, the same rule applies. You’ll also find great value set menus, business lunch sets, and even the same options served during dinner time for a fraction of the cost in many restaurants.

Also, fuel up for your post-lunch exploration. Why delve into a big meal for dinner when you’ll likely just be going to sleep right after?

Also Read: 10 Must-Try Regional French Dishes in Europe

Tips for Your Europe Travel

  1. You probably don’t need to tip. European servers, taxi drivers, and everyone else is paid full livable wages. It’s nearly universal that a service fee will be included in your bill.
  2. Change your money once you get here. Most of the time, it is better to exchange your money in the country you’re going to. Get the best exchange rates at banks, post offices, and possibly hotels. Try to avoid the foreign exchange stands you’ll see everywhere in airports, train stations, and touristy areas.
  3. Use credit cards without a foreign transaction fee. Use credit cards whenever possible for large purchases such as hotel bills, tickets, and car rentals. Make sure you get charged in the local currency, not your home currency.
  4. Get an ATM fee-free banking card. You’ll find most credit and debit card issuers charging foreign-transaction fees, typically running between 2% and 3% of the purchase price, as well as ATM fees. It might seem like a minor expense per transaction, but all those extra charges can add up.
  5. Look for all-inclusive passes in your destination city. The major European destination cities have multi-day passes that give you access to major attractions, museums, and even public transportations. Get yourself one of these all-inclusive passes. Also, don’t forget to check out the assortment of welcome cards, offering free public transportation, admission to museums, as well as discounts to additional sights, tours, and restaurants.

Also Read: A Week-Long Europe Trip: How To Plan and Top Places To Visit

Frequently Asked Questions for Your Europe Trip

In Spain, which food should I take advantage of?

When in Spain, take advantage of the menu del dia. Saunter the streets during lunchtime, keeping an eye out for chalkboards and posters with the handwritten menu del dia offer. Also, take advantage of the free tapas you’ll get with the purchase of every drink. Enjoy free tapas in your best cities, such as Granada, Leon, and Almeria.

Where should I get free walking tours in Europe?

The best walking tour company in Europe is Sandeman. These tours usually provide you with the city’s history and give you insight into the local culture.

Where will I get to see free concerts, movies, and festivals?

Do a quick search on Facebook Events or Google to see if any local events are happening at the time you’ll be visiting Europe. Just like anywhere in the world, there will often be some free local events happening.

What should I do for discounted admission in Europe?

When visiting museums and other notable sites in Europe, always ask if special rates are available for students, seniors, or small groups. Don’t forget to always carry your student ID cards with you!

When are some free museum days in Europe?

In Paris, the first Sunday of the month is when all the main museums are free. In Rome, the last Sunday of every month is when the Vatican Museums are open for free.

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