10 Tips for Budget Travel in Europe



Traveling through Europe doesn’t have to break the bank. With some savvy planning and insider tips, it’s possible to experience the continent’s iconic cities, historic sights, and vibrant culture without draining your life savings. Here are 10 essential strategies to help make your dream euro trip affordable and within reach.

  1. Take Advantage of Low-Cost Carriers

Budget airlines like RyanAir, EasyJet, and Vueling offer steeply discounted fares across Europe. Buy tickets well in advance and prepare to travel light for the rock-bottom prices. 

  1. Purchase a Eurail Pass

For longer, multi-country trips, Eurail passes provide unlimited rail travel at significant cost savings versus buying individual train tickets. Consider passes valid for a set number of travel days.

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  1. Eat Like a Local

Skip touristy restaurants near major attractions and seek out beloved local joints for affordable prix-fixe lunch menus and delicious local fare. Splurge on nicer dinners less frequently.

  1. Find Apartment and Hostel Deals

Rent an Airbnb, budget apartment, or even hostel dorm rather than costly hotels, especially in expensive cities. The savings can stretch your budget considerably.

  1. Invest in a City Tourist Card

Municipal tourist cards like the London Pass provide free entry and skip-the-line access to top attractions. Do the math as they often pay for themselves quickly.

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  1. Take Free Walking Tours

Free tours by student guides or tour companies are found in virtually every major European city. Pay what you can in tips after experiencing the sights.

  1. Consider Ridesharing Apps

Apps like BlaBlaCar facilitate affordable long-distance ridesharing across Europe between budget travelers and locals alike.

  1. Pack Snacks and Water

Transport picnic supplies to keep you fueled between meals rather than purchasing overpriced convenience store snacks and beverages daily.  

  1. Avoid Currency Exchange Fees

Withdraw cash in local currencies directly from ATMs rather than exchanging currency and incurring steep fees from banks.

  1. Stay in Smaller Cities

Opt to spend more nights in smaller, lesser-touristed cities and towns where accommodation, food, and entertainment are typically much cheaper than major capital cities.

By employing smart tactics, it’s entirely possible to globetrot through Europe’s top destinations from Barcelona to Berlin without paying through the nose. The biggest expense is often the transatlantic airfare, so once overseas, make the most of cost-cutting tips to ensure your money goes as far as possible on the ground. With some wallet wisdom, that affordable European adventure can become a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of year for budget travel in Europe?

The shoulder seasons of spring and fall typically offer more reasonable prices on flights and accommodations compared to the busy summer months when demand peaks. Winter can be the cheapest for cities but the weather is cold.

Do budget tips differ for Eastern vs Western Europe? 

While the overall strategies apply across Europe, cities in Eastern Europe like Prague, Budapest, and Krakow tend to be even more affordable than their Western counterparts for food, lodging, and activities.

Is it cheaper to stay in one location for a longer period or keep moving?

Generally, picking 2-3 key cities to use as bases and taking short side trips is more economical than constantly transiting between cities every couple days. Transportation adds up quickly.

Should I purchase travel insurance as a budget traveler?

Even on a shoestring budget, travel insurance providing emergency medical and trip protection coverage is advisable in case something goes wrong during your European travels.

Can I travel to Europe without knowing the local languages?

While learning a few basic phrases is polite, English is fairly widespread at major tourist sights and venues across Europe. Apps and phrasebooks can help, but you’ll likely get by without total fluency.


From the canals of Venice to the museums of Madrid, Europe’s wealth of world-class cultural treasures, iconic architecture, and celebrated cuisine has lured travelers for centuries. While globetrotting across the continent was once reserved for the elite and well-to-do, today’s explorer has a wealth of tools and savvy tips at their disposal to make the adventures affordable. By embracing budget airlines, public transportation, apartment stays, dining like locals, and other cost-saving hacks, even those on a modest income can experience Europe’s grand capitals and charming villages without denting their life savings. With some flexibility, prioritizing, and smart planning, a trip for the memory books awaits in countries spanning Ireland to Greece to the far reaches of Eastern Europe and beyond. So go ahead and map that shoestring eurotrip – seeing the splendors of the Old World is entirely within reach.

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