Europe is a dream destination for many people, but it’s ain’t cheap. I’ve traveled to more than 20 countries in Europe, and here are some of my top money-saving tips for traveling in Europe on a budget.
1. Join free walking tours
Most large cities in Europe have free walking tours, so don’t hesitate to join one.
When participating, you just have to arrive on time and follow the guide. While it’s free, it’s a nice gesture to tip the tour guide a few euros. After all, it’s much cheaper than hire a tour guide or join a day tour.
You can search on Google any free walking tours by typing “Free Walking Tour + Name of the city”.
2. Avoid traveling in high season
The high tourist season in Europe is summer (July and August) and winter (December). During these times, prices are generally higher than in other periods, and there’s a big crowd and long lines in most attractions.
The best time to visit Europe is from April to May or September to November.
3. Get a daily pass
A great way to save money while traveling Europe is to get a Daily Pass.
The daily pass usually includes public transportation and entrance tickets to most of the attractions in 1, 2, or 3 days depending on your purchase.
For example, in Rome, you can use the Roma pass for unlimited use of the city’s public, free museum entrances, and skip the line to the Colosseum.
4. Use Eurail Pass
If you want flexibility and you will be traveling a lot in Europe, then the Eurail Pass will save you hundreds of dollars on train travel costs.
With the pass, you can travel with ease in 33 countries. It’s especially cost-effective if you visit multiple cities located far apart.
If you are flexible and proactive in your travels, you can use BlaBlaCar and catch a ride with locals between cities.
When using this service, you can save money while meeting interesting people and learning more about the local culture.
6. Book flight tickets on promotions
If you’re planning to visit Europe, don’t forget to check airline promotions. Airlines usually have their promotions during the year to Europe.
To keep track of the promotion, you can follow each airline’s fan page. Usually, the promotions are applicable for round trip tickets, not for multiple city tickets.
You can also create alerts on Skyscanner as well. I usually create alerts for the city I want to fly to, then receive emails when there’s a good deal.
7. Compare train, bus, and plane prices while traveling within Europe
GoEuro.com is a great website to compare train, bus, and flight prices in Europe.
You can fly very cheaply between cities in Europe, and sometimes it’s cheaper than taking a bus or train. For example, you can fly from Barcelona to Porto for about $20 on Ryanair. If you book them in advance, it’s very cheap.
Some budget airlines I usually take are
How about train and bus?
Even though trains may be more expensive than buses, sometimes the difference is not much, and train travel time is much shorter.
For budget buses, I use Flixbus. I took Flixbus several times and was often happy with the service. There were a few times my bus was late, though.
8. Buy a Metro Pass instead of a single ticket
The metro system in each city in Europe is different. So if you don’t have a Daily city pass, I recommend buying a metro pass valid for 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days depending on your destination.
You’ll save money, and if you get lost or go to the wrong station, you won’t have to pay extra.
For example, buying a metro pass a day for 3 central zones is only 14.50 euros in Paris. Meanwhile, the minimum metro ticket is 1.90 euros already. So if you travel a lot all day, you should buy a metro pass at train stations.
9. Take the night bus when traveling between cities
You can save a hotel night when taking a long-distant night bus. Also, the cost of taking the bus is usually cheaper than trains too.
10. Take advantage of free places
Not every attraction in Europe asks for an entrance fee, and most parks and monuments of each city are free to visit.
For example, London is packed with free museums, such as the National Gallery and Science Museum. Also, you can just wander at the foot of the Eiffel tower and admire its design without spending time in a queue.
14. Take advantage of discounts for students and ages
If you are under 18 years old, you will be able to visit the museum for free, and the train ticket is also cheaper. Also, if you are a student (remember to bring your student card), you get a discount.
15. Get snacks supermarket
I usually get a quick bite at a convenience store or local supermarket. They usually have ready-to-go sandwiches or bread, which is just around 2 to 3 euros.
Also, if you visit after 5 pm, supermarkets usually offer significant discounts of up to 50%. I had lots of good deals when I visited Netto in Copenhagen. They had delicious chicken salads at affordable prices.
16. Stay away from restaurants on main roads
If you plan to eat out, avoid the main roads and tourist areas. Champs-Élysses in Paris or Via de Mercanti in Milan are examples of expensive streets.
You can usually find much cheaper deals just a bit off from main roads. Ask the locals where they eat, and you’ll save a bunch while still enjoying delicious dishes.
17. Eat luxury in cheap countries, eat sparingly inexpensive countries
That is what I’ve learned from backpacking around Europe.
In big cities like Stockholms or Reykjavik, eating frugally equals the price of luxury food in cheaper cities like Krakow or Bratislava in Slovakia.
In Europe, there is a saying, “The Easter you go, the cheaper it gets.” For example, I had a huge meal in Bratislava at just 5 euros.
18. Check your card fee
You may have to pay a high conversion fee if you use your card for payment. So check with your bank before your trip.
Otherwise, withdraw some money from the ATM for your usage. Using cash also helps you know if you are spending too much money or not.
19. Prepare medicines
While you can get some medicines at the counters, they may ask for a doctor’s subscription, and the cost may be high. So to save money and time, pack essential medicines during your Europe trip.
If you go alone, try staying at a hostel and dorm, you’ll save up a lot of the accommodation cost. Hostels in Europe generally cost from 10 to 20 euros, except 35 euros in Switzerland or more expensive in Iceland.
Hotel rooms are usually expensive, and if you plan to go sightseeing most of the day, it’s not worth it if you travel Europe on a budget.
21. Share a meal with friends
If you travel alone, try to meet some people at your hostels or join Meet-up events in town. You can order more dishes and share them, so you can try more local dishes without spending a ton.
Above are some good tips to help save money for your trip to Europe. Hopefully, you’ll have useful travel experiences and a reasonable budget plan for your upcoming trip.
By carefully planning your trip and travel expenses, you can easily manage your budget and spend more rationally.