Have you always dreamed of a vacation to Europe?
Everyone wants to see Europe, but not everyone can afford to. We’ve all seen inspirational backpackers hitchhike across the continent on a shoe-string budget. Yet, traveling Europe on a budget seems out of reach or even dangerous for most of us.
Luckily, you don’t need to hitchhike or sleep under the stars every night to explore Europe. With enough planning and flexibility, it’s possible to see Europe for cheap. Read on to find out how.
Look for Cheap Flights
Before you can explore Europe, you first need to figure out how to get there. Flights can be pretty expensive if you are planning on traveling Europe on a budget. The way to keep your budget low is to scour the web for the best deals possible.
The first thing you should do is look early and look often. Then, plan your trip way so you can track prices and land the best deal. Use free price scanning sites and Google to compare prices.
When it comes to flying, there are plenty of great deals if you know where to look. Consider multiple entry destinations, even if it isn’t your main one. Often it’s cheaper to fly into a different country and then move on to the one you want.
If you persevere and are lucky, you can find round-trip tickets from New York to Madrid for around $360. Once you land inside Europe, the tickets and transportation prices become cheaper. For example, you can fly one way from Madrid to Milan for an insane $15.
Milan to Athens is $26, and Athens to Berlin is $60. Country-hopping like this allows you to see more of Europe for the same or lower price. A direct flight from Madrid to Berlin is around $100, and you wouldn’t get to see the beauty of these other countries.
The most expensive ticket will be the one that gets you into Europe. Use the cheap flights inside Europe to your advantage.
Consider Late Fall to Early Spring
It should come as no surprise that the most expensive time to go to Europe is in summer. This is peak tourism season, and the prices of almost everything will reflect that. However, you’ll save tons of money on flights and accommodation if you book outside of the summer.
November to March tends to be relatively cheap, as it avoids the rush. If the beach season isn’t necessary to you, the several hundred dollars you save will be worth it. If you opt to go in the winter, be careful around Christmas as prices tend to skyrocket.
If you hate cold weather, you can still go around April or September. Many beaches in Spain, Greece, and Croatia are still warm enough to swim by then. Of course, you won’t save as much money as in the colder months, but it’s still cheaper and less busy than June – August.
Utilize Europe’s High-speed Rail Network
A great way to get around Europe is by using its extensive high-speed rail network. Services like Eurail offer a pass good for 33 countries, multiple uses, and a 1-3 month duration.
It tends to be more expensive than using cheap flights to country hop. However, it’s more flexible and gives you a chance to see the European countryside.
Popular options include 4 uses for $220 or 10 for $358. Although expensive, you can use these for long-distance travel across Europe. So you could go from Spain to Greece, then to Finland and over to England for $220.
With these passes, you can spread out your trip however you want. For example, if traveling with family for a two-month journey, the discounts for children and seniors make the ten use tickets worth it. This is because children under 12 ride free, while youth under 27 and seniors get reduced prices.
If a scenic journey across the heart of Europe sounds like your cup of tea, but your budget is tight, then don’t worry. It’s easy to get a travel loan with Plenti. They make family travel to Europe on a budget and group trips with friends accessible and relaxing.
Public Transportation and Ridesharing
You’ve made it to Europe, and you’ve planned out your routes. Now it’s time to explore the locales you’ll be visiting. One of the best ways for how to travel Europe on a budget is with public transit.
Public transportation is cheap, especially in the European Union. A few dollars can take you around most cities, while budget services like Flixbus or Flixtrain will go from Berlin to Munich for $12 – $16. Local trains are also an affordable way to see the surrounding area and countryside.
Most of Europe has cheap ride-sharing options as well. For example, BlaBlaCar can take you from Milan to Genoa for $9, and they’re flexible. When compared to standard taxi prices, ridesharing services are a no-brainer.
If using local buses, trains, or ridesharing, try to plan ahead. Know where you want to go, what stops you need to watch out for, and any transfers you need. In many metropolitan areas, you’ll be able to find signs in English or a knowledgeable person to help you.
Exploring the rural countryside of France or Italy is a different story. Here, language barriers may make using public transportation or getting directions difficult.
So be prepared just in case you get lost or want to make a detour. It will save you wasted money and tickets.
Have an itinerary or a map of the transit system ready, and know the names of landmarks you want to visit. Asking locals for help is always cheaper than a taxi driver.
Go Off the Beaten Path
This may come as a shock, but not all European countries are expensive. Germany, France, the UK, and Italy all have reputations for being tourist hotspots. This makes them costly and renders them full of money traps for tourists.
If you want to know what places to travel in Europe on a budget, then you have to look off the beaten path. Except for Spain’s remote areas, some of the cheapest countries are in South-eastern Europe. The Balkan Peninsula and the nations surrounding it are beautiful, rich in culture, and full of hidden European gems for a fraction of the cost.
Greece is often the star of the show, but its popularity has made it a minefield that is cheap and expensive. Food and alcohol are cheap if you know where to look, but there’s no shortage of services ready to gouge you. Ferries and cruises are plentiful but often expensive, making cheap island hoping difficult.
Croatia offers many of the charms of Greece while being more budget-friendly. A gorgeous coast, historic towns like Dubrovnik, and picturesque islands and beaches are common. Daily expenses and transportation are cheap, and right across the Adriatic sits Italy.
Other standout mentions include Serbia, Romania, and Hungary. This region has cheap food and transportation and plenty of natural and historical landmarks to explore. However, ensure to be careful of exorbitant tourist prices, especially for some accommodations.
Hotels, Hostels, and Airbnb
While exploring all the beauty of Europe has to offer, you need a place to sleep. Aside from transportation costs, this is what usually eats up most of your budget. However, if you are creative and flexible, it doesn’t have to be.
Hotels are the gold standard of traveling, but they are expensive, often starting at $100 a night. Not only that, but they usually remove you from experience. It’s cheaper and more enjoyable to go out into the city and experience local life.
Airbnb is a unique experience, especially when traveling in a culturally different country. You get to immerse yourself in the streets and neighborhoods and do as the Romans do. But, rather than a sterile hotel room, you get to live like the locals–and some hosts even invite you to eat or tour with them.
Staying in accommodations like this puts you close to iconic landmarks for cheap. For example, waterfront views in Dubrovnik are $33 a night. The heart of Florence or Athens with all its attractions is $40 and $32.
If you want to go even lower, one of the best tips to travel Europe on a budget is to stay at hostels. This is one of the preferred options for backpackers and hitchhikers. Some areas are cheap as $10-$20 a night if you get a shared dorm, and you get to meet people from around the world.
Make sure if you opt for a hostel, you keep your valuables secure and don’t expect luxury.
Traveling Europe on a Budget Is Easy
You don’t have to break the bank or go deep into debt to explore the beauty of Europe. Traveling Europe on a budget is definitely doable. With a bit of planning and a flexible mindset, you can tour the continent with ease.
Are you looking for even more tips and advice on exploring Europe on the cheap? Our site has plenty of extra information for you to check out.