Do you think visiting the old continent is expensive? Here are some tips on how to travel Europe on a budget while spending little money.
There is a lot of talk about how expensive it can be to travel in Europe. However, there are many options to make the trip cheaper and save a lot of money, always keeping in mind the flexibility and anticipation for the purchase.
Here aresome tips on how to travel to Europe on a budget. We have divided it into two parts: before the trip and during the trip. I hope they help you in your planning!
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
How can I travel in Europe on a budget: tips before the trip
If you have already decided to travel to Europe cheap, it is important to make decisions in advance of your trip as this will save you money. Here are some tips to save money on your trip to Europe:
1) What is the cheapest month to travel to Europe?
One of the ways to travel to Europe on a budget is to visit the continent in the low to mid-season months where prices are lower than the rest of the year.
The high season in Europe coincides with the summer months. From mid-June to mid-September, the movement of tourists between European countries is high. This leads to an increase in prices, mainly for lodging and transportation, added to the difficulty of finding availability in the main tourist destinations.
🔝 Don’t know which cities to visit in Europe? Check out this article on where to go to Europe for the first time.
The months from April to the beginning of June and from the end of September to November are the best time to travel to Europe if you want to spend little money. The weather in most countries will remain pleasant and you can even go to the beach on the Mediterranean coast at much lower prices than in the middle of the European summer.
Winter in Europe, with the exception of the Christmas and New Year’s weeks, also has low prices, although the weather is already cold in most of the continent.
On your trip to Europe you will need travel insurance. Check out this article on tips and whether insurance is mandatory for traveling to Europe.
2) What are the cheapest countries to go to Europe?
When choosing your itinerary, if you want to spend little money to travel to Europe it is best to choose countries where the cost of living is lower and consequently your food, lodging and transportation expenses on the trip.
The Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are the most expensive. In an intermediate range are France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia.
The cheapest countries in Europe to travel to are those located in the East, such as Poland, Hungary, Greece (except for the islands), Serbia, Albania, Romania and the Czech Republic. In Western Europe, Portugal is an ideal destination to spend little money.
🔝 Looking for destinations to travel to Europe on a budget? Check out this article on the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
3) Discounts on lodging for booking in advance
In the age of technology there are several accommodation search engines, one of them is Booking. This type of search engine allows you to select your travel dates well in advance and see the reference prices of hotels in the city or region you are looking for.
Normally, if you search at least two months in advance, there are usually many accommodation offers that can be found in the search engine, which even allow you to save up to 30% of the normal price.
4) Travel with low cost airlines
The phenomenon of low-cost flights is now fully established in the market. Many airlines offer low fares in exchange for the relegation of in-flight amenities such as in-flight meals, seat selection and checked baggage.
This phenomenon, which became very strong in Europe with companies such as Ryanair, Easyjet, Vuelling or Wizz Air, has already extended to international flights with several companies that have implemented low fares to fly between continents, such as Level or Norwegian.
One of the best ways to travel with little money in Europe is to connect the cities you want to visit with these airlines. There are fares for inter-city flights that start at €15 each way, to which an extra charge must be added for cabin baggage, provided it does not exceed 10 kg.
🔝 Check out this article on how much it costs to travel to Europe.
5) See which is the cheapest option to travel between cities in Europe.
For short journeys, the ideal is to travel by train or bus. There are many websites that allow you to compare prices of different transportation options between two cities, one of them is Omio.
As well as low cost airlines, many bus companies have low prices, such as Flixbus.
We travel from Valencia to Barcelona by bus for €4 each. They are modern buses but with not so comfortable seats.
As for the train, the national train companies of each country usually have discounted prices if the ticket is purchased in advance. Nowadays, new train companies such as Ouigo have emerged with affordable fares.
If you are under 26 years old or traveling with your family, one option to travel cheaply to Europe by train is to buy the Eurail, a ticket that includes a certain number of trips during a certain period of time. For trips of 15 days or more it is usually very convenient.
🔝 Check out our Interrail/Eurail articles: how to organize a train trip in Europe, and 15 days, 22 days and one month routes in Europe.
🚊 Buy your Interrail and Eurail pass! This pass is a train ticket with which you can travel on almost all trains in Europe. With it you have access to 40 rail and ferry companies in 33 countries. Absolute freedom to discover Europe at your own rhythm. See our Interrail and Eurail Guide here.
- Buy Interrail Pass here (for those with residence in Europe)
- Buy Eurail Pass here (for those NOT residing in Europe)
6) Search for the cheapest accommodations based on the people traveling.
Hostels have always been associated with cheap accommodation. This is true for young people traveling alone, who often share a room with other guests of similar age and get to know each other and share walks and pubs.
For couples looking for a bit of privacy, the ideal is to book a double room in a hostel or in a hotel with good value for money. There are cheap double rooms in Europe in which you only have to share the bathroom with other guests.
For families, perhaps the best option is not a hotel, since you will have to book triple or quadruple rooms with the consequent extra payment. In our case, since we are 4 people, we always stay in apartments that we rent through Airbnb or Booking. This way, you can cook in the apartment saving money and it is an advantage with small children at night when they are tired and go to bed early.
7) Look for accommodations in the less touristy areas of the city.
An excellent alternative to travel cheap in Europe is to book accommodations in less touristic areas of a big city, which will have more affordable prices.
Generally, the lodgings located in the center of the city are the most expensive and the more we stay in the center, the lower the price will be. Of course, it is necessary to take into account the displacement to the center, since it will be the place where the attractions to see are concentrated. If you are in a big city like Paris, Barcelona or London you will want to book near a subway station or bus stop that will take you to the center.
In Paris we stayed near the La Defense metro station and paid €50 per night for a triple room in a three-star hotel, when prices in the heart of Paris did not go below €80 per night.
8) Find free accommodation
Yes, as you read it. Many platforms, after registration and creation of a personal profile, offer free hosting.
One is the case of Couchsurfing where the host offers a couch, bed or space in their home for the guest to stay in.
“surfer” can spend one or several nights. It is as simple as that, but in reality it implies more: a cultural exchange, a sharing, a journey from the very life of a local, living like them and having them show you their reality apart from any tourist attraction.
Another platform is Housesitting or Petsitting, in which for a certain period of time you will take care of someone’ s house while they are away, doing maintenance work (mowing the lawn for example) and almost certainly you will also take care of the pet of the house.
How to travel Europe on a budget, travel tips during the trip
Already during the trip to Europe there are many ways to spend little money. Here are our tips:
9) Walk or rent a bicycle per day.
The cheapest way to get around a city is to walk. Of course, many times it can be done and at other times, due to the distances, it is more complicated. Cities such as Rome, Prague, Florence or Venice can be seen on foot without the need for public transportation.
Even London or Paris can be done by walking, doing it by zones every day and taking the subway to move around.
Most European cities already have bicycle rentals. It is an excellent way to get to know the tourist attractions in a cheap and environmentally friendly way.
10) Take advantage of discounts for minors, students or senior citizens.
If you are a student, do not forget to bring your school or university ID. In fact, there are many countries in which, due to a language issue, they do not recognize the type of license you are presenting to them, so a driving license or a library card is fine.
Discounts are available for minors and seniors on transportation and at certain attractions. Keep this in mind and bring your ID for verification at the ticket office.
In Spain, for those who are unemployed, with proof of unemployment, you can enter free of charge to various sites of interest.
11) Visit museums free of charge
Most European museums are fee-paying, but they usually have a day of the week or a specific schedule where access is free. As a general rule, the free hours are usually close to museum closing time, so focus on seeing the essentials.
On each of the museums’ websites you will find information about the days and hours of free access.
On the other hand, some museums are free every day like most of the city of London.
12) Taxi prohibited
If you want to travel cheaply in Europe you should avoid using cabs or minimize their use. Cabs will increase your budget significantly.
Some alternatives are Uber or Cabify, which are cheaper and you can pay directly online through the platform. Otherwise, as mentioned above, the use of public transport or bicycles are ideal for spending little money in Europe.
13) Evaluate if it is convenient to purchase city passes
The most important tourist destinations in Europe have the passes, cards that are purchased and include free access to many attractions, discounts, unlimited public transportation and even bonuses at places to eat.
Depending on what you want to see in a city and how long you want to stay, it is necessary to evaluate whether it is convenient to purchase the pass compared to buying the tickets separately.
Check out these articles about the Paris Pass, the Rome Pass, Swiss Pass.
14) Buy food in supermarkets or eat daily menus.
One of the best ways to save on food is to shop at the supermarket, especially for prepared food. In all countries, the price of food prepared in a supermarket is much more affordable than eating in a restaurant. There are even several supermarket chains that have inside their stores a space with tables and chairs to eat what you buy right there.
If you are going to eat in a restaurant, you should take advantage of the daily set menus offered from Monday to Friday at noon. The menu consists of a starter, main course, dessert and beverage option and is very abundant. The price ranges from € 10 to € 18 depending on the country.
Finally, fast food chains are also a good way to spend little money in Europe on food. Major international firms have stores in all countries and major cities.
15) Take free tours if you want to travel cheap in Europe.
If you don’t want to pay for a guided tour, the free tours are excellent for a tour of the city center and get to know the main attractions with the explanation of an expert guide. Payment to the guide is at will, usually between five to ten euros.
Currently, the use of free tours is widespread in Europe, so you will have several available and with different themes in the main tourist cities of the continent.
Some of the best free tours to do in Europe are the following:
16) Don’t change money in the first place you find it.
Especially if you are at the airport. The worst place, although sometimes necessary, to change money is at the airport, train or bus station. Change as little as you need to get to your accommodation, and then, with more calm and patience, change money in a money exchange office or bank.
17) Sleep in local people’s houses without prior reservation and save money.
Some countries, mostly in Eastern Europe, offer accommodation in the form of rooms, houses or entire apartments of local citizens.
The best example is in Croatia, where at the bus station or the port of the city if you arrive by ferry, there are locals offering their houses or rooms to tourists with the corresponding photos. The prices of these accommodations called sobes are negotiated on the spot with the owner of the property. You can even go to see it before renting it.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
- Rent a car with Auto Europe
- Interrail Pass
- Eurail Pass
- Train Tickets with OMIO
- Bus tickets with OMIO
- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
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