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How to Travel around Europe on a Budget

Dreaming of climbing the Eiffel Tower, eating pizza in Italy, and seeing the Fjord of Norway, but think you can’t afford to travel in Europe? It is actually possible to tour Europe even if you have a very tight budget if you know how.


Here are some top tips for traveling around Europe on a budget.


eric marty IZunjrb3soo unsplash 1
Photo by Eric Marty on Unsplash


Europe on a Budget

Head East


If you’re worried about the high prices in Western European destinations such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany, look at Eastern Europe instead.


You’ll be able to find accommodation, food, and activities at the fraction of the cost in many Eastern European countries.


Furthermore, these places have many of the same advantages to offer the visitor, such as historic sites, lively cities, beautiful nature and delicious food. 


Thinking of the cobblestone streets of France? Head to the charming old town of Warsaw, Poland instead. Dreaming of the Alps?


Consider the stunning mountains of Albania. Some great picks for affordable yet spectacular destinations include Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Hungary.


In Bulgaria for example, you can expect to pay around $25 a day as a backpacker, compared to $60 a day in Madrid. 


European Restaurant, Europe on a Budget
Photo by Dan Novac on Unsplash


Avoid Tourist Restaurants


In general, seeking out the places and activities that locals frequent is a great travel tip. This will not only save you a lot of money, but it also provides more genuine cultural experiences.


What’s more, this tip counts for double when it comes to food and drink.


Avoid restaurants and bars geared toward tourists, as the greatly hike up their prices for the tourist market. Look for pubs and bars that are filled with locals: these will usually have happy hour and other specials.


In Italy, order the “wine of the house”, and in Spain and France choose the daily menu. Shop in local markets and make your own food as much as you can.


Take Free Walking Tours


When you arrive in a new city, you naturally want to see as much of it can. However, tours, particularly in Europe, can be very expensive.


The exception to this rule is walking tours: you can usually find a free or at least very cheap walking tour in every European city.


This is a great way to see the city, learn about popular sights and some local history, and get a bit of exercise at the same time.


If you can’t find a good free walking tour in the city you’re visiting you can usually download audio tours or routes online to make your own self-guided walking tour.


Spain, Europe on a Budget
Photo by Tomáš Nožina on Unsplash


Plan Ahead


You can often save significantly when traveling around Europe by doing your research and planning ahead.


Ticket prices at the entrance to major attractions such as the Alhambra in Spain, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Coliseum in Rome are often sold out or inflated, especially in high season.


On the other hand, you can book tickets to the Alhambra online, giving you more options when tickets at the gate may be limited.


By doing some research and planning ahead you give yourself more options and may very well save you some significant cash. You’ll often find attractions and events that are free or have a small entrance fee only.


And if there are a few famous attractions you don’t want to miss, you might be able to get tickets cheaper by booking them ahead of time.


Venice Italy, Europe on a Budget
Photo by Damiano Baschiera on Unsplash


Use Different Types of Transportation


There are many ways to get around in Europe: train, bus, metro, plane, car, cycling… the list goes on. What’s more, each type of transport varies in cost from country to country, so you can save a lot by using the cheapest form of transport depending on where you are.


For example, you can get very cheap flights between different cities and countries thanks to budget airlines such as Easy Jet and Ryan Air. Trains can be great value in France, but in Spain, the bus has more routes and is cheaper.


Checking websites like Rome2Rio is a great way to compare transport options.


Eiffel Tower, Europe on a Budget
Photo by Tom King on Unsplash


Travel in Low Season


Avoiding peak season can saving you a lot of money wherever you travel, but this is particularly true in Europe, where prices are often significantly reduced during the low season.


The exact timing varies depending on the country you travel to, but generally, the summer months of June to August are peak season across Europe. 


At this time, hotels, food, tours and more will be more expensive. Traveling in the shoulder season, or the low season winter months if you can, will not only save you cash.


You’ll also find it easier to book accommodation, will have shorter lines to deal with at sights, and won’t be pushing your way through crowds of tourists the whole time.


Magical trees
Photo by Filip Zrnzević on Unsplash


In Closing


You don’t have to eat your heart out on Pinterest or cry yourself to sleep because wanderlust is calling you (but your wallet isn’t answering). You can totally do Europe on a budget you can afford!

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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