How to travel Europe on a budget
Whether you’re planning to take a gap year after studying and have very little to spend, or you’d just like to take a break without breaking the bank, traveling around Europe is a fantastic experience that can most definitely be done within every price range.
Europe is a hugely expansive continent, so you have many options to choose from, be it history and culture, beautiful landscapes, or lazy beaches.
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Opinions are always my own and I’ll never promote something I don’t use or believe in. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The first thing you need to think about when planning to travel to Europe is when you will go. Countries across Europe tend to suffer from the worldwide problem of seasonality. In the high season, between April and October, prices generally soar for flights and accommodation; even the food and attractions can be more costly at this time.
You should definitely research the places you’d like to visit first, but you’re likely to get the best for your money if you’re willing to be flexible on dates. Just remember that the best things to see won’t be closed just because it’s not the best weather.
Also, late holiday deals tend to be cheap. Even if it means leaving it until a couple of weeks before you plan to travel, prices can drop hugely in that time.
If you’re looking for a city break in Europe, try to pick a cheaper option rather than one of the pricier capitals such as Rome or Paris. Your best bet would be to look at Eastern European cities such as Istanbul and Dubrovnik.
Since they are not as well known, they are a lot less likely to be overcrowded with tourists, but still have fantastic histories and beautiful buildings.
When you arrive at your chosen destination, the number one way that you can start saving money on your trip is not to be picky with accommodation. If you’re travelling alone, you should consider staying in a hostel. They may not have the best reputation, but you’re guaranteed a warm bed and as long as you head for a better one, they’re guaranteed to be safe and clean.
If the thought of this overwhelms you a little, skip the hotels but stay at a local B&B. They’re generally far cheaper than a hotel while still being unique, and you’re more likely to get a taste of an authentic breakfast at one.
On the topic of food, another way to save money is to choose where you eat well. You don’t want to go around looking for cheap restaurants that may or may not serve you dodgy food, but you should be on the lookout for places where the locals go to eat.
Eateries off the beaten tourist track are generally much more suitable for a budget and they’ll offer up authentic delicacies just as the locals would eat them, not changed to cater to foreign taste buds. Even better, buy your food from a market or store and cook it up yourself. Most hostels will have a kitchen for visitors to use, and B&Bs may also offer the same.
A final tip is to watch out for free attractions; not everything you see and do has to cost you. Museums are the best example of this: if you’re in London, all the big museums such as the British Museum and the Science Museum are free for everyone all the time.
In Paris, if you’re under 26, the Louvre is free. And most major museums throughout Europe will offer a free day around once a month, so make sure to research them and head for those. There are plenty of other sights to see for free, all you need to do is walk a few trails and hike a few hills.
Europe need not be an expensive trip if you follow these few simple tips.
How about you? Have more ideas for saving money on a trip to Europe?
Excellent food advice. I love eating street food while I’m traveling. It helps me meet more locals and learn far more about traditional dishes than I do in restaurants. Although a long lazy western meal can help cure any frustrations brought on by a long day of traveling. Have you ever rented an apartment during a trip? It’s getting really common but i’ve yet to go down that road.
@TheNomad, I have not rented an apartment, but have rented hotel rooms that have full kitchens, and considering the advantages of that, I am sure apartment renting is fantastic, plus you get to live like a local!
You mentioned Dubrovnik as one of cheap solutions in Eastern Europe. Although I agree to some point, rest of Croatian coast is nothing less beautiful, yet even cheaper than Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is considered to be one of the most luxurious destinations in Croatia, while you have less known destinations such as island of Hvar, Brac or Korcula, Makarska to Split where you can rent a self catering apartment from 20 – 30 € per night.
@BolCroatia, thank you for providing additional places to check out in Croatia!
Buying food at markets is really a good idea, it is a bargain most of the time! Moreover, usually those places are beautiful, whether it is Barcelona or London! But seeing your pictures, the Great Market Hall in Budapest is definitely next on my list! You should always check out the low cost airline prices too, you can often find many awesome offers!
I enjoyed your advice about eating on vacation. I always love to check reviews on Trip Advisor or Fodor’s for international restaurant recommendations. And Belgium is another travel destination with several city options that are most cost effective than Rome/Paris/London!
I have never traveled outside the country but your fabulous photos and terrific descriptions could make anyone want to pack up and GO! I would love to visit England and you tips for saving money on travel are great!
My husband and I have not thought much of world travel, but we have a sneaking suspicion our youngest will be pushing to study abroad. The caboose of 6, she just has that drive to see it all, and more so experience it all. Europe will be one sure thing for her. The others have never had that travel the world bug. Since travel out of the US will undoubtedly be expensive, we better start saving. Thanks for the good hints. Probably not travel hostel style but the B& B sounds nice. Never have done either.
I enjoyed a lot in my Europe tour. It’s really a great fun to visit Europe.
I liked the advice about eating like a local and staying at a Bed and Breakfast rather than a pricey hotel.
I did a six week wander around Europe (many years ago) and the B&B/small inns were great. Also, the prices are cheaper further from the city center. I’ve also stayed in hostels and enjoyed all the people I met!
Interesting post, someday I hope to make it to Europe, somewhere! I always read about it, get tips, so if I ever get to go I should have some good ideas! Thanks for the tips and I love the pictures!
My boyfriend and I love to travel very much. We are from Sweden. We were in London, Barcelona, Paris, but the best was Dubrovnik. London and Paris are very nice, but they are also very expensive. In Dubrovnik we went through a travel agency Adriatic explore, they have organized our accommodation. The agency Adriatic explore for one-day trips have different offers. We went to Brac and Hvar. However, I especially liked the food in Dubrovnik. Especially their traditional cake Rozata. Also we tried the seafood and it was good. People are kindly. One day we met one old fisherman, we asked him how he feels while catching fish and how long he fishing. After conversation, he offered us that we go with him and to feel that. It was wonderful experience. One day we were going to Mostar. Mostar is city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina borders with Croatia. We heard that the bus travels 4 hours, but with car takes 2 hours. We heard that there are a lot of good transfers, but we take Transfers Dubrovnik, and they were very good for us. We hadn’t any problems. In Mostar we tasted their traditional food like cevap and pie. We visited the antiquities in both cities and we were going around their old fortress. We were sunning and swimming in Dubrovnik. Sea was beautiful, clean and warm. On question, Where to go in Europe?, my advice is : definitely in Dubrovnik, because Dubrovnik is not very expensive, also has history and natural beauty, that does’t exist in Europe.
Awesome post! I’m glad that I found your blog. I’m going on a trip to Europe this coming month and train travel is on our itinerary. Thanks!