BACKPACKING EUROPE: How to Plan Your Dream Euro Tour on a Budget

BACKPACKING EUROPE: How to Plan Your Dream Euro Tour on a Budget

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I’m writing this at four in the morning. Wrapped in a thick blanket and sipping a cup of tea, I have given up on catching some sleep tonight. I seem to have left my mind in Europe, unable to adjust. Every time I close my eyes, I am bombarded with an endless succession of wonderful memories from our Euro trip. I still can’t believe two months went by that quickly. It feels like it was just yesterday. It’s been a week but I still look at prices and count in euro. It’s been a week but it’s like I could still sense the sweet scent of truffle and waffles. Water tastes like beer. Or wine.

It’s been a week since we wrapped up our two-month backpacking journey around Europe, the first of three Euro trips that we’ve been planning for the next couple of years in an effort to visit all countries in Europe. On this leg, we visited 16 countries. It took careful, meticulous planning because we wanted to do as much as we could within the short time the embassy allowed.

As soon as we announced we were in Europe, our inbox was flooded with inquiries asking for more details. We promised to share our full itinerary and cost in a blog post. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this post is NOT it. Not yet. We’ll share the details of our entire two months in another post soon. In the meantime, we’ll tell you HOW we planned our trip and HOW you can plan yours, instead of simply posting our itinerary. Here are the reasons for that:

  • We all have different dreams and tastes. There are items in our bucket list that may not be in yours. There are experiences we would love to try but you wouldn’t even dare.
  • We all have different budget and time restrictions. We were allowed to stay in Europe by the German embassy for 60 days. Initially, we wanted to stay longer —- our original plan is 3 months! —- but our budget forced us to trim it down to just 2.
  • If you have a bigger or smaller budget and your dream destinations vary greatly from ours, there really is no point in simply sharing our itinerary. Besides, planning a trip to Europe goes beyond simply building an itinerary. There are a lot of things to consider. The cost of living, climate, language, and the culture in general vary from country to country, which will all affect your preparation.

Anyway, here’s the method we took in order to successfully fulfill our dream European adventure, presented as a step-by-step guide!

WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?

1. Determine your budget.

First things first: How much is your budget?

Your budget will dictate how long you can stay in Europe, where you will be staying, and what places you can visit.

Let’s assume that you have a P135,000 budget for this trip.

  Immediately, let’s subtract P30,000 from your budget for your airfare. Trust me, you can find roundtrip fares for many major cities in Europe for less than P30,000 if you book in advance.

europe trip budget philippines

2. Determine WHEN you want to go.

The summer months of June-August are considered high season (peak season) in most parts of Europe. Because of the sunshiny skies, it is the most touristy time of the year. Hence, prices go up! If you’re on a budget, you might want to avoid this and consider the shoulder months of September-November instead.

But the weather isn’t the only thing you need to take into account. Is there any event you would like to experience but can only be enjoyed at certain times of the year? If you would like to experience Oktoberfest, go to Munich in mid-September (but expect the hotel and tour rates to skyrocket)! If you want to see the Northern Lights in the Nordic countries, visit between mid-September to mid-March but consider the moon’s brightness too for greater chances of seeing the aurora.

If you have events you MUST MUST MUST experience, use it as your starting point and work from there.

If you don’t have any, then you can be much more flexible.

3. List down all your must-visits !

Are there any destinations you’ve always dreamed of visiting? Is Paris something you can’t miss? Did you make a vow to attend the papal mass at the Vatican? Are you a big fan of the Sound of Music and you just NEED to see the locations in person?

For this exercise, let’s call them “must-visits.” These are your non-negotiables. Meaning, whatever happens, you HAVE TO make a stop at these cities. These are the reasons you’re traveling to Europe in the first place.

europe-key-cities

List them all down. Don’t edit it yet. It’s easy to travel within Europe, so just write them down and we’ll figure it out later.

For example, let’s say that here are your must-visits:

4. Find out lodging costs.

Cost of accommodations varies greatly from one city to another. For example, hotels in Prague are unbelievably cheap while Reykjavik seems like it wants your soul with your money. There are A LOT of cheap lodging options in Europe. It doesn’t always have to be a full-service hotel. There are no-frills hotels, hostels, dorms, and AirBnB options!

At this point, you should already know if you’re traveling alone or part of a group. This will affect your expenses and accommodation choices significantly.

  • If you’re traveling alone and you’re concerned about the budget, consider booking dorm beds. It’s waaay cheaper than booking a private room. (Even single rooms can be pricey.) It’s also a great way to meet other travelers and make new friends.
  • If you’re a pair, you may consider booking two dorm beds or a private room, depends on the situation. If you’re a duo wanting to meet people, the dorm is still a good choice. If you’re a couple on a romantic getaway or a honeymoon, my god, please get a private room (haha!). Note, though, that in many hostels, the bedrooms may be private but the toilet and bath are sometimes shared. Check the arrangement before booking.
  • If you’re a group of three, know that Triple Rooms are not uncommon in Europe. You may also check their policy on extra person on Double/Twin rooms. It’s a great way to save!

Since by now you have an idea of your travel dates, it’s best to go to Booking.com and check hotel rates per night for your must-visit’s. (Why Booking.com? I’ll explain later below.)

DON’T BOOK YET . Just check the rates first. We’re only budgeting at this point and figuring out the allocations.

But to give you an idea, here are the price ranges for some key cities in Europe for a September-December stay.

CITY DORM (EUR Per Bed) DOUBLE/TWIN (EUR Per Room) Amsterdam 16-55 40+ Barcelona 10-45 44+ Copenhagen 25-30 56+ Florence 10-30 30+ Munich 14-30 51+ Paris 20-25 45+ Prague 5-10 18+ Reykjavik 30-60 79+ Rome 9-25 20+ Zurich 40-60 75+

Decide on how long you would want to stay at each of these stops. Let’s assume you’re staying at each of your must-visits for 5 days and 4 nights and you’re traveling with a friend. That means staying for a total of 12 nights in your must-visit cities, and dividing the room cost by 2.

Using our example above, the following will be your accommodations expenses:

CITY COST PER NIGHT (EUR) NO. OF NIGHTS TOTAL COST (EUR) Paris 55 4 220 Florence 50 4 200 Prague 30 4 120 TOTAL EUR 540 TOTAL PER PERSON EUR 270

That’s PHP 15,000 per person for 12 nights!

Again, these are just for the purpose of budgeting. You can find more affordable options. (AirBnB provides cheaper options!)

Okay, let’s do a recap: Airfare: P30,000 Hotels so far: P15,000 Total so far: P45,000

4. Plot your route.

It’s time to build our itinerary!

First, get a map of Europe and mark all your must-visits. In our case, we have marked Paris, Prague and Florence.

Then, look at the nearby areas. Are there any other places that you would want to see? Let’s call these “nice-to-have’s.” They’re not really your must-visit places, but it would be great if you get to see them too if your time and budget allow. If not, it’s okay too. Not the end of the world for you.

I highly recommend considering cities that are along the route connecting your must-visits. For example, if Amsterdam and Paris are in your must-visit list, you’ll find that Brussels (in Belgium) sits comfortably in between! If Copenhagen and Prague are your must-visits, know that Berlin is smack in the middle!

You may also consider going on a day tour to another city. If Vienna is a must-visit for you, it wouldn’t hurt to also check out Bratislava, Slovakia, or Budapest, Hungary. The beauty of this is that you don’t have your bulky, heavy luggage with you.

Let’s use our Paris-Prague-Florence example. To get to Florence from Prague by train, you might want to stop in Vienna, Munich or Zurich! Let’s stay that you spend 3 nights each in Munich and Zurich. And since you’re already in Florence, why not end the trip in Rome? Flights to Manila are cheaper from Rome because it’s a major hub.

Here’s our lodging cost so far:

CITY COST PER ROOM (EUR) NO. OF NIGHTS TOTAL COST (EUR) Paris 55 4 220 Prague 30 4 120 Munich 60 3 180 Zurich 75 3 225 Florence 50 4 200 Rome 35 4 140 TOTAL EUR 1085 TOTAL PER PERSON EUR 542.5

That’s P29,000 per person!

Time for another recap: Airfare: P30,000 Hotels so far: P29,000 Total cost so far: P59,000

5. Reserve hotel/hostel rooms.

If you’re happy with your itinerary, it’s time to reserve the rooms. RESERVE, don’t book yet.

This is why I highly recommend BOOKING.COM . They let you reserve rooms for a long time without charging you a cent. (Just choose properties that are marked with FREE CANCELLATION.) Remember, you don’t have a visa yet. This gives you the flexibility to cancel in case your application get denied or in case you change your mind.

During our trip, we made a number of changes to our itinerary and we were able to modify our bookings without additional cost.

When choosing accommodations, always check the location. You’ll be surprised that there are A LOT of affordable options that are in the city center! Of our 12 hotels on our Euro Trip, only one was far from all the action and that’s because we booked too late (Hello, Zurich!). It’s also wise to pick hotels near the train station.

6. Apply for a visa.

Okay, the hard part: getting a visa.

If you’re traveling within the Schengen Area, you will need a visa.

The Schengen Visa itself is a complicated animal. Let me explain: The Schengen Visa is a travel document that allows the holder to enter any of the 26 states that are part of the Schengen agreement. Think of it as an almost all-access pass to many countries in Europe, eliminating the immigration borders within the Schengen zone and the hassle of having to apply for a visa for each individual country. These are the countries who are part of the Schengen Zone:

But hold your horses. You can’t apply just anywhere. You need to figure out which embassy to lodge your application, and it will depend on the purpose of your trip or your overall European itinerary. The rule is, you should apply at the embassy of the country where you will stay the longest.

In our sample itinerary so far, we will be staying in Italy the longest. This requires you to apply at the Italian Embassy.

All good? Good.

But here’s the thing. The Italian Embassy, along with the Spanish Embassy, is notorious for being extra strict. In my travel circles, the Dutch and German Embassies are widely regarded as the most forgiving and most considerate.

Many applicants would deliberately modify their itineraries in order to stay longer in the Netherlands or Germany. Do I recommend that? Sure! They are beautiful countries! It’s up to you if you will follow the itinerary you submitted to the embassy or not, should it get approved. But my personal recommendation is to be honest to avoid any complications. If you’re applying at the French Embassy, stay the longest in France. Bear in mind that you will be interviewed during the application and they will know if you’re lying. Still, if you change your mind after you get the visa, no one’s stopping you from deviating from your itinerary a little bit.

More info about applying for a Schengen Visa below:

  • via French Embassy
  • via German Embassy
  • via Greek Embassy
  • via Italian Embassy

If you’re visiting countries outside Schengen zone, make sure you have the corresponding visa. Some countries will accept your Schengen visa as long as it allows you multiple entry. Always check with the embassy of that country.

If we stick to our sample itinerary and apply at the Italian Embassy, here are additional fees we need to take into account:

Visa fee : EUR 60 (PHP 3200) Service fee : EUR 26 (PHP 1400) Travel Insurance : EUR (PHP 1500)

Sub-total of all Visa Fees: P6,100

Time for another recap: Airfare: P30,000 Hotels so far: P29,000 Visa fees: P6,100 Total so far: 65,100

7. Book flights, trains, and hotels.

Once your visa is approved, book the flights and hotels that you had reserved!

You might also need to book additional flights. Traveling by air within Europe is cheaper than you think. You’ll find Paris-Rome flights for only P1000 (via Ryan Air), Paris-Barcelona for P1700 (via RyanAir), and Paris-Prague for only P3000 (Czech Airlines). You just need to book in advance.

Consider trains and buses too! In Europe, I prefer the train to the plane for many reasons. First, I don’t need to show up at least an hour before. Second, I don’t need to check in baggage and wait for pickup. Lastly, most main train stations are located at the heart of the city. All these saves me time, effort, and money.

In our sample itinerary, let’s assume that we’re flying from Paris to Prague and then take the train all the way to Rome, making stops along the way.

ROUTE MODE COST (EUR) Paris to Prague Plane 57 Prague to Munich Train 15 Munich to Zurich Train 39 Zurich to Florence Train 28 Florence to Rome Train 19

Subtotal of additional transportation expenses: 158 Euro or P8320

It’s also time to book some attractions and tours. I say SOME because you don’t need to book everything. Book only those that require advance booking like the Eiffel Tower, Vatican tickets, and food tours. For the others, you’ll most likely find cheaper tours when you get to that destination.

Time for another recap: Airfare: P30,000 Hotels so far: P29,000 Visa fees: P6,100 Transportation Expenses: P8320 Total so far: 65,100

8. Allocate money for food and tours.

Food and tours will take the biggest fraction of your budget. To keep our expenses low, what I do is follow this rule:

Keep daily FOOD expenses below EUR 20, and tour expenses below EUR 20.

That’s actually way above our actual cost per day, but it’s better to have a good allowance for possible overspending than to run short.

One of the first things we do when we arrive in the city is hit the supermarket and shop for food: bread, biscuits, fruits, and drinks. It’s so much cheaper than eating out. Your EUR10 here can last for days, even in expensive cities like Zurich, Copenhagen, and Reykjavik. In Paris, there are places where you can buy a whole chicken for EUR5! Yet, we still want to try traditional food! So here’s how we do it:

If you decide to splurge on dinner one day and spend more than EUR20, avoid eating out the next day.

The same applies to activities. The EUR20 per day budget should already include transportation (if any) and miscellaneous expenses (bottle of water, snacks, etc). If you really want to save up, you can skip the guided tours and just do it on your own. There are several city apps that have self-guided walking trails. You may also join FREE walking tours so you only have to worry about the tip.

BUT we like guided tours! It’s the best way to appreciate the sites we visit. We love hearing anecdotes and funny stories about places and important people that we would never have read online or in textbooks. So we follow the same rule:

If you decide to take a guided tour that costs more than EUR 20 one day, do a self-guided walking tour the next day.

This rule has kept us afloat during our stay while still enjoying the best of what the city has to offer.

Again, that’s EUR 20 (PHP1100) per day on food and EUR20 on tours.

So if you’re staying in Europe for 23 days, here’s how it looks: Airfare: P30,000 Hotels so far: P29,000 Visa fees: P6,100 Transportation Expenses: P8320 Food Expenses: P24,200 Tour Expenses: P24,200 TOTAL: P121,820

That gives you an additional P13,180 allowance to cover incidental expenses, city taxes (Rome and Florence) and others we might have missed.

So here’s our final sample itinerary:

DAY STOP ACTIVITY 0 En Route Manila to Paris 1 Paris Le Marais to Latin Quarter, Eiffel Tower 2 Paris Louvre 3 Paris Versailles (Self guided) 4 Paris Champs Elysees (Self-guided) 5 Prague En Route, Check in, Free Time 6 Prague Walking Tour (Self-guided) and River Cruise 7 Prague World War II & Communism Tour 8 Prague Choose another Tour 9 Munich En Route, Check in, Free Time 10 Munich Neuschwanstein Castle (Self-guided) 11 Munich Dachau Tour 12 Zurich En Route, Check In, Free time 13 Zurich Old Town Walking Tour (Self-guided) 14 Zurich Choose another tour 15 Florence En Route, Check in, Free Time 16 Florence Walking Tour (Self-guided), Museums 17 Florence Venice Day Tour 18 Florence Choose another tour 19 Rome En Route, Check in, Free Time 20 Rome Vatican Tours 21 Rome Ancient Rome + Colosseum Walking Tour 22 Rome Pasalubong! (If you have leftover cash) 23 En Route Back to Manila

This is just a sample itinerary to demonstrate the process I detailed above. You can use the same process to come up with your own itinerary based on your own requirements, needs, and restrictions.

More Tips for the Poor Traveler

  • You can still reduce the cost significantly by pulling a DIY (self-guided) for tours and spending much less on food . But again, we love trying local food and learning from our guides and that’s what we recommend.
  • Visit cheaper destinations . In general, Northern Europe is the most expensive while Eastern Europe is the cheapest. If you have a much smaller budget, head to the eastern side of the sub-continent!
  • Download city apps . Like I said above, most key cities in Europe have an app that will help you explore the city more efficiently. These may be subway apps or walking trail apps.
  • Hit the grocery at least once per stop . Eating out in Europe is expensive. The cheapest is to shop for supplies on your first day to cover breakfast and another meal. Eat out only once per day, at most.
  • Get a credit card . You’ll be surprised that most transactions in many European cities are done via credit card, although cash is still accepted. Having a credit card not only allows you to do online transactions, it also gives you a backup in case you run short on cash.
  • Avoid money changers . In our 2 months in Europe, we found that the best way to get local currency is by withdrawing from ATMs.

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guest

Great tips! Planning a trip to Europe on a budget is doable, but you will have to plan much more. Even though, that’s the only way I could afford all the trips. ;)

Jennifer Berroya

Goooaaallss! Haaay its really my dream na makapag travel sa Europe haaay. How long bago po kayo nakapag save ng budget for your Euro trip Sirs?

Jed

Thank you for this guide! Time to make this Europe trip a reality! :)

Yosh Dimen

Have fun planning! :)

Grace

Hi, i was wondering if you can recommend any prepaid sims just for data use when travelling around europe? Can 1 sim cover different euro countries?

Marielle Olitoquit

Thank you for this info. Very helpful. Im planning to travel Amsterdam – Brussels – Luxembourg. Do you have tips on what to do in Luxembourg? I cant find that much travel blog about this country. Also hpw about the internet? Does Europe have pocket wifi rental service?

ivy

Thank your for this guide. May I regarding withdrawing money from ATMs, do you have any issue using debit card with 6-pin digits only? Thanks. :)

Hi Ivy, yung saken 6-digit pin. Wala naman ako naaalala na naging issue na pin-related.

Patrick

Hello! Planning to go to Europe Next July 2019.. What is a good time to apply for a shengen visa?

3 months before.

Jessica

Hi Yoshke Just new to your channel.Im planning to visit europe for 2 weeks.Can you suggest an itinerary for country Paris,Barcelona,Florence/Venice,Prague,We just want to see the major attractions And accommodation you can recommend.Restaurants/cafe. You’re video is a lot of help like us traveling first time in Europe.

Hi Jessica, your destinations are far apart so if you want to save on time (and money), you can just fly with a low cost airline. Regarding itinerary, where are you flying from? Do you already have an entry point/exit point?

For the accommodations, you may check out this post: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2016/12/where-to-stay-cheap-in-europe-hotel-review/

TJ

Hey Yoshke,

I’m thinking if I should get Eurail passes. I know this is not the cheapest choice but can you recommend some train carriers that offer the cheapest rides like what you mentioned in the article?

Hi TJ, what country?

Kb

Same question. My main itinerary is France, Belgium, Amsterdam, Switzerland and Italy (Rome and Venice). Any suggestions regarding transport among these countries?

Hi Kb, Paris to Belgium and Amsterdam, Thalys is the most popular choice. It’s high speed and very comfortable, even the standard seats. If you’re going to Brussels, there is a low-cost train called Izy but I haven’t tried that.

Switzerland to Venice… where in Switzerland? If Zurich, there used to be a direct EuroCity train from Zurich to Venice. But I’m not sure if it’s still operational. Most of the journeys I find make a stop either in Milan or Munich. Travel time from Milan: 1h40; Fare from €9.90.

Venice to Rome, high speed trains take 3 hours and 45 minutes. It’s usually either Frecciargento or Frecciarossa (Trenitalia). Fares start at €19.90.

Dessa

Hello, I just want to ask regarding your health insurance which one of the requirements in getting the schengen visa. May i know the details which company offers the cheapest? Thanks :)

Hi Dessa, I’m not sure which company offers the cheapest but I got mine from Pacific Cross.

Carla

Hi. When applying for a visa do you need to reserve tickets leaving and returning to Manila or all tickets (trains, buses, planes) when transferring to other countries covered by the Schengen Visa? We’re starting from Greece then our last stop will be Germany before going back to the Philippines.

Hi Carla, it depends on the specific embassy. At which embassy will you be lodging your application?

We’ll apply at the German Embassy. We’ll stay there the longest. Our route will be Manila-Athens-Rome-Paris-Berlin- Manila.

Hi Carla, based on my and my friend’s experience, di kami nagsubmit ng transfers. Wala namang naging problem. Di ko lang sure if okay lang sya in general or natapat lang kami sa medyo maluwag na nag-assess/interview.

K-anne

Can you give me a list of budget airlines to Europe aside from scoot?

Hi K-anne, just use flight comparison websites/apps. The cheapest is not necessarily from a budget airline. When we traveled to Europe, the cheapest we found was offered by Qatar Airways! So be sure to check even full-service airlines because you’ll never know.

Kat

Hi! Thanks for this useful guide.

Your 250K budget, was that for one person for two months?

Yep, 1 person. But we were really on budget. We stayed in hostels and rarely ate out. :)

Thanks for the reply. =)

Gino

Hello, have you shared your itinerary for the 16 countries you visited? I’m sorry i cant find it in your site. You said you will share it soon But couldn’t find it.

No problem!

Glenda

Hi.. maybi ask lng po kung pagkukuha ng visa need ba magpresent ng show money? Tska ung tinatawag na mga rootedness?thanks

Maj

Hi there! In applying for VISA, did you already book your roundtrip flights? I read somewhere that this is not recommended and I’m so paranoid because we already booked ours. Thank you!

Hi Maj, no, I applied for a visa first before booking the tickets. But I submitted flight reservations.

Luz

Hi Yoshke! I’ve always booked flights in advance whenever I traveled (because I always booked sale flights), and this might be the first time I will submit just a flight reservation as you recommended.

I’ll be touring Central Europe sometime in October 2019, entering through Berlin,. Do you have any ball park figure at how much the plane tickets would cost me (roundrip Manila-Berlin or Manila-Berlin and Budapest-Manila) if I book my plane ticket sometime in July (after I get the visa). I previously traveled across Italy and got my roundtrip tickets via Rome for about 490USD via Qatar Airways. I was just wondering how much more I may need to prepare if I will be booking just 3 months before the trip. Also, which airline would you recommend if I will be booking the flight in July. Thanks!

Better search na lang using Skyscanner for the latest rates. Medyo tricky kasi yung case mo kasi baka pumatak sa Oktoberfest yung flight mo. (I remember when I was planning my trip, nung nagtry ako magbook ng hotels in Germany during Oktoberfest, sobrang mahal. Not sure if ganun din ang flights.)

Thanks for the response. And oh no! Hahaha. Just hoping we get approved para di sayang tickets.

Hello Again.. You said Italian embassy is extra strict.. what do you mean by that? compared to other embassies. Do they ask for a lot of documents? Thanks in advance.

Hi Patrick, they have a high rejection rate.

Arthur

Hi, This is very informative. I just checked Air France and their trip from NL to CDG is 7k cheaper than what have you posted. I’d like to pattern my tour with yours, + Amsterdam and the Netherlands (though still have to figure out if its possible). btw, what is your airline going back to Manila from Rome. Many thanks

Hi Arthur, the itinerary here is just a sample. In reality, our trip was much, much longer.

But our flight back to Manila was with Qatar Airways.

Opps. Amsterdam isin the Netherlands. my bad.

CJ Lee

Thank you for this info. It would be very helpful for me. Maybe, you can also help me. I’m also planning 2-week trips to Europe. How much do you think I would spend all in? Thanks for the help.

Hi CJ, it’s very hard for me to estimate how much you will be spending because, as said in the article, it depends on your route (countries to be visited) and your travel style.

patrick

Hello do I need to book already train rides or flights? for example, from venice to paris via easy jet? bec. these websites does not allow cancellation of booking.

Depende sa kung anong embassy ka apply. Pero usually, nirerequire din un ng most embassies.

Alex

Hi Just a clarification, you said you went on a 2 month trip and spent 250k but im confused cause you also laid out on the itinerary that it was only a 23 days but already spent 125k How much was your budget for the whole 2 month trip really

Hi Alex, like I said, the itinerary and budget in this post are just samples, not the actual cost, just to show my planning process. The budget in this post is padded and rounded off.

In reality, I stayed in Europe for 2 months and spent only 250K.

Karla Jacosalem

Your post is really helpful. Planning to do a DIY trip too. Can you share your itinerary? What mode of transportation did you use the most from one country to another?

Kim

I’m a huge fan of you guys! I’m a solo female traveller and your site has really helped me a lot and kept me alive. I’m planning my first trip to Europe but I’m a little afraid because I’ll be so far from home. In north america at least i had some family but in Europe I really don’t know anyone. How do you get around from one tourist site to another? Did you encounter racism like people spitting on you and stuff?

Between cities, we traveled either by train or by plane (longer distances). But within a city, we usually either joined group tours or walked on our own.

We never experienced any form of racism during the trip. We were put on the spot because of the PH president many times but nothing race-motivated. :)

Thanks for your reply. Keep up the great work!

Frances

Hello po. May I ask if you’ve already shared your actual full itinerary and cost? Thank you po.

Ophe

Anong tour company ang inavail mo while you’re in Eu. Thank you :)

Nyleva22

Hi. Just wondering if saan pedeng makabili ng sim card?

Hi Nyvela, for local data SIM, usually sa mga telco branches/stores. For example, when we were in Italy, we went to a Vodafone branch. There are also SIM available on Klook but make sure there are pickup option in the airport where you will land.

LA

Thanks for the informative post! I hope I can travel to Europe too!

Ronaldo Armildez

Thank you for this. May I ask if your air ticket is round trip MNL-CDG-MNL? From your itenerary, you exit port is Rome. Thanks

Best if hindi roundtrip yung ticket. In our case, nung first time namin, MNL-CDG tapos FCO-MNL.

Kate

Hello Yoshke! Can you please share how much yung one way ticket price nyo on MNL-CDG and FCO-MNL? I would like to use this as a baseline.

Hi Kate, it was around P32,000 (Qatar Airways). We actually saw P28,000 tickets before but then the fare went up by the time the visa was released.

Thank you for the info y prompt response, Yosh. Regards

Katrina

Hi! Is it okay to change plans and accommodations after getting the schengen visa?

Hi Katrina.

Yes, that’s fine. However, my only guidance is to have the proof that you will stay longer in the country that gave you your visa because you’ll never know when Immigration Officers will ask for it.

Okay, thank you!! So I can just cancel my accommodation bookings after getting thru the immigration office? Also, can I stay longer than planned? I asked for a 39-day single entry visa and I was given a 54-day multiple entry visa. So im planning of using up the extra days granted to me.

Hi Katrina, as far as I know, yes, as long as you don’t exceed the validity period and allowed length of stay.

By the way, which embassy? Kasi ang French Embassy minsan asks that you return to the embassy after the trip for verification. Pero most other embassies, wala paki.

My point of entry is Austria and point of exit is Czech Republic.

Katrina

Austrian embassy. My only concern is the number of stay indicated in my visa is “39” pero they gave me a visa valid from March 15 to May 05. Am i supposed to be there lang talaga for 39 days within those dates given to me?

If the visa states that you are only allowed 39 DAYS, then you can only stay for 39 days even if the visa is still within the validity period.

Restless Pinay

Thank you so much for this love. However, i have one q. are you using an ATM of a philippine bank> and which one is it?

Grace

Hi I would like to ask what Credit card are being accepted there?

Jessie

Question po, if i will be granted a visa thru german embassy, but my point of entry is France,will i havr a problem in the immigration? Will stay longer in germany and exit point too.

Happened to me once. I applied via German Embassy but I entered via Paris CDG Airport. Didn’t have any problem. My first trip, I had a French Schengen Via, I entered via Amsterdam. No issues. My last trip, had an Italian visa, entered via Athens. No issues. Actually, out of my Euro trips, once lang nagmatch ung entry point and ung visa provider. Afaik, yung longest stay talaga ang nagma-matter, not the point of entry.

Jonah

Hi. Im just wondering if your airline ticket as advertised was from CDO to Paris, Paris to CDO? What if your flying back to CDO from other country different from your 1st destination country? is P30K RT ticket possible?

Hi Jonah, not sure about CDO. We only checked flights from Manila when we booked.

Roy Sabalbaro

Hello po, yun flight example nyo po sa taas round trip po yun?

Deng Gonzales

Thank you for your blog and your guides. Very helpful. Just a question, hope you can help. We applied for Schengen Visa in Switzerland Embassy here in Manila. Since it will not be the last country in Europe I will visit, is it okay to start in France and end in Rome? Switzerland in the middle of the trip?

Hi Deng! I think so po. 3 out of the 4 Euro backpacking trips po namin so far, nasa gitna ng itinerary yung country that granted us the visa. :)

beeone

Hello anong company po Schengen insurance nyo?

Grace

Hi Yoshke! May I ask if you used a Eurail pass during your EU trip? If yes, is it worth it?

On my second Euro trip, yes, we used a Eurail pass. It was worth it because we had an extremely hectic itinerary then and we really used trains a lot. But on our 3rd and 4th tours, our itinerary didn’t really call for a pass. I guess it really depends on your iti and the time of the year of your trip.

JaySam

Saan po kayo nagbobook ng flights pa-Europe na Hindi need magbayad while Wala pang visa approval?

Sa travel agencies po.

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Europe Travel Guide

Last Updated: April 18, 2024

The historic city of Prague with its classic stunning architecture

From beautiful Paris to smoke-filled coffeeshops in Amsterdam, Oktoberfest to La Tomatina, Europe is a massive, diverse continent with an unlimited assortment of things to see and do. You won’t have any problem filling your time, whether you’re backpacking Europe for a few months on a budget or just spending a few weeks there on a well-earned vacation.

The continent boasts wonderful beaches, historical architecture, amazing wine, and tons of world-class festivals. Every country is incredibly different from the next too, providing limitless variety in what you do during your trip.

I first backpacked Europe in 2006 and was hooked immediately. I’ve been visiting every year since, have run tours around the continent, and even wrote a book on traveling in Europe . It’s a destination I love and never get tired of exploring.

This guide will give you an overview of Europe and the tips and tricks you need to start planning your trip. I’ve also written extensive travel guides to each country on the continent (linked below in this post) so you can get more in-depth information for your specific itinerary too!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Europe

Click Here for Country Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in europe.

Aerial view of Greek town along the Mediterranean ocean, with mountains in the background

1. Tour the Greek Islands

These islands are the mecca of summer beach fun and each is unique in its own great way. There’s Ios (beach party central with archeological ruins and awesome boat tours); Kos (ancient ruins and nature); Crete (Bronze Age ruins of Knossos, hiking, beaches, and wine), Santorini (iconic blue water, white buildings, and local wineries); Mykonos , (the upscale party island with beautiful beaches, villages, and sunsets), Naxos (best island in the Cyclades). Plus, Milos, Corfu, Lemnos, Zakynthos, and so many more! With hundreds of islands in the country, you can always find what you are looking for!

2. Ride the rails

Europe is famous for its international rail system. Rail passes like the Eurail Pass have been around forever and still make it very easy to get from country to country on a relatively small budget (and with lots of flexibility). Europe has some of the fastest trains in the world that travel up to an incredible 217 mph (350 kph). The whole continent is connected by trains and there’s a growing push for even more connections and long-distance, high-speed trains in order to reduce flying and help combat climate change. There’s nothing more quintessential than riding the trains in Europe and I encourage you to take as many trains as possible. It’s one of the best ways to see the continent.

3. Get lost in Paris

The “City of Lights” is everything people say it is. I fell in love with it the first time I stepped foot in Paris . The city is just magical. You have a ton of museums, cafes, jazz clubs, famous art, and beautiful architecture. I love just strolling around the streets of the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) or Montmartre neighborhood as it makes for a breathtaking day. Another one of my favorite things to do here is just sit in the Jardin des Champs-Élysées park and picnic like the Parisians. For something a bit different, check out the famous Catacombs and Paris Sewer Museum. With so much to offer in the way of culture, history, and gastronomy, it would take years to see everything here but you can still get a good feel of the city in a few days.

4. Go city hopping

There are so many amazing cities in Europe that we’d need a top 100 to list them all. Here are some of my personal favorites and must-see cities: London is rich in history, culture, and the famous Big Ben clock; Edinburgh is a vibrant medieval city with cozy pubs and a famous castle with a huge New Year’s Eve Party; Amsterdam has cozy coffee shops and canopied tree-covered canals; Berlin has a wild party scene, street art, and the Berlin Wall; Barcelona has tapas, beach, and unique Gaudi architecture; coastal Lisbon has colorful tiles, old tramcars, cobblestone streets and plenty of fresh seafood; Prague has a beautiful intact Old Town, incredible architecture and eclectic bars; Tallinn Estonia has beautiful medieval buildings with colorful roofs. Florence  is a mecca for Italian Renaissance architecture, art history, and gelato; Stockholm mixes medieval architecture and modern art and design. Crisscross the continent, take in the culture, and enjoy all the historic cities!

5. Hit the Alps

Whether you go skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the Alps hold some of the most breathtaking views in all the world. You don’t even need to be an expert hiker because there are mountain trails for all levels and crystal-clear Alpine lakes. Check out the spectacular Eibsee trail loop in Bavaria at the foot of Die Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, for the clearest, multi-colored, sparkling lake you’ve ever seen. Or the Männlichen Kleine Scheidegg Panorama trail in Switzerland’s stunning green and snow-capped Alps. Or visit Italy’s Dolomites in South Tyrol for the scenic Seceda trail. The Alps have trails for every fitness level and in every season.

Other Things to See and Do in Europe

1. tour amsterdam.

I love Amsterdam so much that I lived here for a short period of time in 2006. Here cobblestone and brick streets weave around lovely canals as people ride their bikes to and fro. My favorite things to enjoy here are Amsterdam’s vibrant art and music scene and there are also a ton of interesting museums here like the Anne Frank House, FOAM, the history museum, and the hemp museum. Be sure you get out of the center into Jordaan and Oost with their wonderful outdoor cafes and fewer tourists. Also, a visit to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without a canal cruise to visit the many islands and there are many to choose from that include snacks and drinks, sunset cruises, live guided tours, and more.

2. Hang out in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that goes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It truly could give NYC a run for the “city that never sleeps” title. Be prepared for late-night dinners and parties until dawn. Besides a great food and nightlife scene, there is a wonderful beach, tons of Gaudi architecture (including the fairytale-like Parc Güell, as well as the iconic Sagrada Familia , which has been under construction for over 100 years!), incredible food tours, one of the best history museums in the country, and lots of outdoor spaces. What I love about Barcelona is that when you’re ready to chill, you can wander around Parc de la Ciutadella and marvel at the majestic fountains, plant life, and buildings created from an ornate military fortress.

3. Visit Berlin

Hip and trendy Berlin is an energetic destination. It is one of Europe’s most affordable capital cities, with a vibrant music and art scene and a growing foodie movement. Be sure to spend some time learning about the city’s darker history via the many excellent museums, memorials, and landmarks. The East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that’s now painted with murals, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe are two especially powerful reminders of Germany’s past. For all periods of German history, don’t miss the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) – it’s one of the best history museums in the world. Once you’ve had your fill of history, relax in Berlin’s many green spaces, from Tempelhof Field, the site of a former airfield and popular local hangout spot, to Tiergarten, a tree-covered former hunting ground for 17th-century aristocrats.

4. Drink beer at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a must for anyone going to Germany at the end of September. While not a budget option since beers now cost 15 € a maß, I love the energy and friendly camaraderie this event inspires. For two weeks, millions of people from all over the world gather for lots of beer, excitement, music, and wild fun. Watching thousands of people sing together, raising quart-sized beer mugs for endless toasts, and enjoying the general party atmosphere makes you feel good about the world. (Or maybe that’s just the beer?) Just be sure to book your accommodation well in advance and be prepared to pay top prices for them. If you don’t have an outfit, don’t worry, there are plenty of shops even at the main train station where you can buy a Bavarian dirndl dress and men’s lederhosen.

5. Experience London

Get a taste of English culture in diverse London . The museums here are some of the best in the world (most are free) and include the Tate, the British Museum, the City Museum, the National Gallery, the Historical Museum. There’s no shortage of iconic sights here as well, with Big Ben, the House of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and of course, Buckingham Palace. I love London’s diversity because of the countless international eateries with great food and wonderful pub culture, perfect for after a long day seeing the sights. Head to Brick Lane on the weekends for some amazing food and craft markets. I prefer Paris to London, but there is something sophisticated and fun about London. Just watch those pints — London is not a cheap destination!

6. Get outdoors in Scandinavia

My favorite region in Europe is Scandinavia. The quality of life here is high, the people are beautiful and friendly, and the cities are clean and historic. Cycling the cities, taking canal tours, hiking the vast forested areas, archipelago hopping, enjoying fika (a Swedish coffee break), and warming up in saunas are just a few of the popular activities that await you here. True, this area of Europe is not cheap, but there are plenty of ways to reduce your expenses. Don’t let the high prices scare you away. Highlights for me include Copenhagen , Stockholm , Gotland, Norway’s fjords, and Lapland in Finland .

7. Get enchanted in Prague

Prague has an amazing history and is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities I’ve ever seen. Highlights include the 9th-century Prague Castle, the magnificent Charles Bridge (built in the 14th century and one of the oldest standing bridges in the world), the 10th-century old square with its iconic astronomical clock, and the winding Jewish Quarter. Even if you only have a few days there don’t miss the free walking tour which is one of my favorites in Europe and the best way to learn about the Old Town and the tragic history of the city that went from thriving Bohemian capital of art, music, and literature to part of the Iron Curtain after WWII. Some of my favorite gems here include the fantastic black light theater shows in 4D and the one-of-a-kind medieval dinner show in an old tavern complete with musicians and jugglers not to mention hearty food and drinks. During the weekends it heaves with people enjoying the bars, cheap beer, and delicious food so try to visit during the week (and in the spring or fall) to beat the crowds.

8. Relax on the French Riviera

Here, you can pretend to live the high life for a little bit. Have fun in the sun, relax on the beach, swim in azure blue water, hobnob with the rich and famous, and sail on (or gaze at) gigantic yachts. As for cities, Nice is nice with its palm-tree-lined promenade, old town, and many art museums. If you want to go see how the rich and famous live, spend an afternoon checking out Cannes to soak up some glamorous vibes on La Croisette where they hold the famous Cannes Film Festival. The kingdom of Monaco with its tiny streets, beautiful buildings, and world-famous casino is just a skip away too.

9. Enjoy the great outdoors in Interlaken

Located in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, Interlaken is a gorgeous place to unwind with fantastic hiking, delicious hot chocolate, and plenty of outdoor sports. The area is full of natural attractions to explore, including the St. Beatus Caves (complete with a legendary dragon), the cascading 500-meter-high (1,640 feet) Giessbach Waterfalls, the Jungfraujoch mountain railway (which leads to the highest train station on the continent), and a plethora of lakes (hence the town’s name). It’s a good alternative to all the cities and museums. Interlaken is also a popular party destination for backpackers and other young travelers. By far, my favorite scenic and visually stunning trail was the Oberberghorn panoramic hike, where you can wander the green mountain ridge ogling the amazing views and the turquoise-blue Brienzersee.

10. Experience history in Rome

In this thriving historical city, you can’t walk two feet without stumbling over a ruin, making Rome a history buff’s dream. Its tiny streets are perfect for wandering as you explore the Colosseum, see the Forum and Palatine Hill, visit the Pantheon, spend time in Vatican City, admire the Spanish Steps, and toss coins into the famous Trevi Fountain. The skip-the-line tickets can definitely be worth it so you don’t waste time waiting outside attractions. Rome also has amazing food (it’s Italy, after all) and nightlife. Visit the Trastevere area for a taste of “local” Rome and chill bars. It’s my favorite area in the city because you feel like you’re in a small village in the middle of a big city.

11. Hike around the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is my favorite part of Italy. These five beautiful cliffside towns are perched near warm waters and beautiful olive and grape groves. There are wondrous and strenuous hikes in these hills; for a real challenge, take trail #8. Or just walk the coastline for something less difficult. Many activities here revolve around the coastline: kayaking, swimming, having a beach picnic or visiting the Technical Naval Museum. If you happen to be here in December or January, don’t miss the Nativity Manarola, the world’s biggest lighted nativity scene.

12. Tour Krakow

Krakow looks like it stepped out of a medieval postcard. It’s a hip, trendy, and youthful city that’s the center of education in Poland, meaning there are a lot of university students here. Most travelers come to party here (the vodka is cheap) but try to enjoy the city’s history and food besides just the bars. Walk the Royal Road through the Old Town to the 13th-century Wawel Castle, tour Schindler’s Factory (where Schindler saved over 1,200 Jews during World War II), and visit the sobering Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. You can also take a fascinating day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Wieliczka Salt Mine, a 13th-century mine with cavernous chambers, statues, chapels, chandeliers, and cathedrals all carved out of salt.

13. Visit the ruin bars in Budapest

The coolest nightlife in all of Europe is found in Budapest . Built in abandoned buildings, ruin bars feature funky art installations, repurposed furniture, and quirky decor. They are amazing, fun, and great places to meet locals, as people of all ages flock here. Open since 2001, Szimpla Kert is the original ruin bar and one of my favorites, along with Instant-Fogas Complex, which takes up an entire building and is actually many different bars in one. Don’t skip the ruin bars — they’re one of the most unique things about the city!

14. Explore Cornwall

The best part of England is outside London, yet unfortunately, not a lot of travelers leave London. Head west to the area of Cornwall for cheaper prices, welcoming locals, natural beauty, great hiking, rolling hills, plenty of medieval castles, and picturesque small towns. If you like biking, the Camel Trail from Bodmin to Padstow is worth the trip and you even pass by a local vineyard. It’s an easy way to spend a day (and it’s pretty flat so it’s not too hard to do.) Plus, I had the best fish and chips in Cornwall! Overall, it’s what you think of as “traditional England.”

15. Walk the Camino

El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is an ancient pilgrimage route that stretches from France all the way across northern Spain. It is a 500 mile (800 km) trail that winds through incredible terrain, ending in Santiago de Compostela at the cathedral where St. James is supposedly buried. As a pilgrim, you get a “pilgrim’s passport” which allows you to stay in affordable pilgrim-only hostels, making this a surprisingly budget-friendly adventure. While it usually takes over a month to complete, you can just walk a section if you don’t have the time. To receive a “Compostela” (certificate of completion), you just need to walk the last 62 miles (100 km), which generally takes 4-5 days.

16. Throw tomatoes during La Tomatina

By far my favorite festival, the largest food fight in the world happens during the last Wednesday of August in Bunol, Spain. What started in 1945 as a local brawl has turned into a massive event drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world. For about an hour, everyone throws tomatoes at each other, leaving streets ankle-deep in tomato juice. Afterward, everyone walks down to the river, cleans off, and then heads to the town square for sangria and music.

17. Find Dracula in Romania

Not a lot of people visit Romania but this underrated country in Eastern Europe has undiscovered yet picturesque medieval towns like Brasov (home to “Dracula’s castle”), Sighisoara, and Sibiu; gorgeous beaches on the Black Sea; and incredible hiking in the Fagaras Mountains — all at dirt-cheap prices. Other major sights include frescoed Byzantine monasteries, the steepled wooden churches of Transylvania, the hip university town Cluj-Napoca, the post-communist capital of Bucharest, and the Danube Delta, a huge nature reserve.

18. Drink whisky in Islay

Whisky has a long history on Islay , an island off Scotland’s west coast. It’s been made there since the 16th-century — first in backyards and then, starting in the 19th-century, in large distilleries. Over the years, whisky from the island came to be considered a specialty and was used to flavor a lot of other blends on the mainland. There are currently nine working distilleries on the island, all located along the island’s shores, with Laphroaig, Ardbeg, and Lagavulin being the most famous. Most distilleries here make single-malt Scotch, meaning that only one type of grain (barley) is used. My visit here was amazing and, even if you don’t like whisky, there are tons of good hikes and walks throughout this magnificent island.

19. Explore Iceland

Iceland is a magical country with majestic waterfalls, hidden hot springs around every corner, and sweeping vistas unlike anywhere else in the world. After my first visit, the country quickly became one of my favorite countries. With whale watching in the summer, the northern lights in the winter, and geothermal baths for soaking in year-round, there really is no bad time to visit! While Iceland’s main draw is the epic natural landscapes, it’s worth spending a couple of days in Reykjavik with its café culture, artsy feel, and brightly colored wooden row houses.

20. Sail the Croatian coast

With calm winds, short distances, a coastline littered with over 1,000 islands, and countless historical sites, Croatia is one of the world’s best sailing destinations. If you can, go during the shoulder season when you can find some great deals. Plan to stay at least a couple of days on one of the islands, with the most popular being Brac, Hvar, Krk, Cres, and Lošinj. However, don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser-known islands such as Silba, Vis, and Lastovo. If you want to splash out and spend a week partying on a yacht, check out The Yacht Week, which hosts week-long parties, complete with DJs, from May-September. You can book a full boat to share with friends or just a cabin if you’re traveling solo. Prices start at 5,250 HRK per person and go up to 9,300 HRK.

21. Explore the Balkans

While the Balkans have become more popular with backpackers in recent years, it’s still largely overlooked by most budget travelers, despite being an extremely budget-friendly region. The Balkan peninsula is home to great (and again, overlooked) wine, beautiful medieval towns like Kotor and Mostar, stunning mountainous landscapes, beautiful pebble beaches, coffee culture, fresh, hearty yet inexpensive food, and museums covering the area’s history, including the most recent turbulent events of the early 1990s. I especially loved my time in Albania . Don’t miss the beautiful beaches in Ksamil, nicknamed the “Maldives of Europe’ as well as the mountain village of Gjirokastër, which was occupied by Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. The Balkans have so much to offer for every budget and every country has its unique cultural flavor.

22. Take a wine tour in the Loire Valley

Located in central France, the picturesque Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and stretches 280 kilometers (174 miles) along the Loire River. One of the major wine-producing regions of France, the area is home to some of the best wines in the world, with over 1,000 vineyards open to the public. Even those who don’t drink wine will enjoy the beautiful small towns, great food, and the region’s over 300 impressive chateaux. I loved the medieval Chenonceau Castle and Chateau Villandry and the small villages like Saint-Florent-le-Vieil. Spring and Autumn are my favorite times to visit because you can go biking and do outdoor activities when it’s not too hot and there are fewer people. It’s an area not to be missed.

23. See Fado in Portugal

Fado is an important musical tradition in Portugal , originating in Lisbon and stretching back some 200 years. The word “fado” likely stems from the Latin word for fate, and it’s very haunting, poetic, and emotional music. Most of the songs follow themes of loss and mourning, and the music was popular with the working class (especially sailors). Performances normally take place in restaurants during dinner. In Lisbon, head to Clube de Fado, Tasca do Chico, Parreirinha de Alfama, or Senhor Vinho.

24. Tour green Slovenia

Slovenia is one of Europe’s least-visited destinations, which is mind-blowing to me because it’s an amazing place to visit. Slovenia offers all the beauty of Western Europe but at a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the crowds. Perfect for outdoor adventure lovers, Slovenia offers rugged mountains, untouched landscapes, fantastic ski resorts, plentiful wine, sprawling cave systems, incredible food, and postcard-perfect lakes, such as the famous Lake Bled with its castle on an island. I loved Piran, Slovenia’s often overlooked coastal Venetian-style harbor town that was actually founded 3000 years ago. Stroll around its beautiful windy cobble-stoned streets, beautiful plazas, and take advantage of the many affordable restaurants right on the water. Make sure to also spend a few days in the country’s capital, Ljubljana, known as one of the continent’s greenest and most livable cities. Take a river cruise to see the city and enjoy the friendliness of the locals.

  For more information on specific countries in Europe, check out the guides below:

  • Albania Travel Guide
  • Austria Travel Guide
  • Belgium Travel Guide
  • Belarus Travel Guide
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina Travel Guide
  • Bulgaria Travel Guide
  • Czechia Travel Guide
  • Croatia Travel Guide
  • Denmark Travel Guide
  • England Travel Guide
  • Estonia Travel Guide
  • Finland Travel Guide
  • France Travel Guide
  • Germany Travel Guide
  • Greece Travel Guide
  • Hungary Travel Guide
  • Iceland Travel Guide
  • Ireland Travel Guide
  • Italy Travel Guide
  • Latvia Travel Guide
  • Lithuania Travel Guide
  • Malta Travel Guide
  • Moldova Travel Guide
  • Montenegro Travel Guide
  • Netherlands Travel Guide
  • Norway Travel Guide
  • Portugal Travel Guide
  • Poland Travel Guide
  • Romania Travel Guide
  • Scotland Travel Guide
  • Slovakia Travel Guide
  • Slovenia Travel Guide
  • Spain Travel Guide
  • Sweden Travel Guide
  • Switzerland Travel Guide
  • Ukraine Travel Guide

Europe Travel Costs

a traditional Austrian home overlooking the snow capped mountains and rolling hills in the Austria countryside

Accommodation – Accommodation prices vary greatly by region. In Western Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 25-45 EUR per night, depending on the room’s size and the popularity of the hostel. I stayed in a 6-bed dorm in Berlin for 20 EUR, while the same one would have cost me around 45 EUR in Paris. A room in Paris costs on the higher end and a room in cheaper Athens costs on the lower end.

In Eastern Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 10-15 EUR per night depending on the size of the dorm room and the popularity of the hostel. The further east you go, the cheaper it gets. Expect to pay around 30-60 EUR per night for a private room that sleeps two.

In Scandinavia, hostel dorm beds cost around 25-45 EUR, while private rooms are 65-80 EUR. Budget hotels start around 85 EUR.

Most accommodations offer free linens, free Wi-Fi, and a lot offer free breakfast, but it’s important to check specific websites for exact amenities.

Campsites cost between 10-15 EUR per night for a basic plot for two without electricity.

Food – Food traditions in Europe run deep, stretching back centuries to become integral parts of each country’s culture. From baguettes in France to tapas in Spain, from hearty Eastern European stews and goulash to the fresh vegetables and olive oils of the Mediterranean, European cuisine varies as much as the countries themselves. Food prices differ greatly across the continent, so check individual country guides for specifics.

But no matter where you are, even in the more expensive countries, finding places to eat within your budget is easier than you might think. Throughout Western Europe, you can find small shops, street food stalls, or food trucks where you can get sandwiches, gyros, kebabs, slices of pizza, or sausages for between 3-7 EUR. These shops are most often found in train stations, bus stations, and main pedestrian areas, and offer cheap food alternatives that can have you eating on 12-17 EUR per day. Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 7-10 EUR for a combo meal.

Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Vietnamese eateries abound in Germany, while Indian food is incredible and everywhere in the United Kingdom. Meals at these restaurants usually cost between 8-12 EUR.

Restaurant meals in casual, traditional eateries generally cost around 13-25 EUR for a main dish and drink. Food is much cheaper in the east than in the west, and in the west, northern regions like Scandinavia and the UK are more expensive than southern countries like Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

In Eastern Europe, even if you are eating out for all your meals, you can still get by on a food budget of as little as 15 EUR per day.

For drinks, a pint of beer is 2-5 EUR, a glass of wine is 2-7 EUR, a cappuccino is 2-5 EUR, and cocktails range from 6-14 EUR.

If you eat out, do so at lunch and get the prix-fixe menu (two-course or three-course set menu). Restaurants offer this set menu during lunch, and with prices between 10-20 EUR, it’s a way better deal than the regular dinner menu. You can also get affordable lunches at outdoor markets. So many European cities have huge fresh food markets throughout town.

You can cook your own food for around 45-65 EUR per week. This gets you basic staples like rice, pasta, seasonal produce, bread, and some meat. You can save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Profi, Lidl, Aldi, and Penny Market.

If you want to save big money on meals, head to one of the markets, pick up some cheese, wine, bread, meats, or anything else, and go to the park for a picnic. (Or grab a sandwich for later!) You’ll find the locals doing the same thing, and it’s one of the cheaper ways to get a true taste of local food.

Backpacking Europe Suggested Budgets

Prices for travel in Europe vary greatly depending on how far north, east, south, or west you travel. If you stick to the budget accommodations, food, and tours listed here and use all my tips on saving money, you need about 65-110 EUR per day in Western Europe, 40-50 EUR in Eastern Europe, and about 85-130 EUR in Scandinavia.

Those numbers reflect a traveler who stays in hostels, cooks some meals and eats out cheaply, enjoys a few drinks, and sticks to free and cheap activities like hiking, walking tours, and enjoying nature. This is your typical backpacker budget. You aren’t going to have a fancy time, but you aren’t going to want for anything either.

However, by getting tourist cards and rail passes, avoiding flights, occasionally Couchsurfing or camping, cooking all your meals, and not drinking, you can travel a lot cheaper. On this budget, you could do Western Europe on 35-45 EUR per day, Eastern Europe on 20-25 EUR, and Scandinavia on 50-65 EUR. That would require you to take a train or a bus or hitchhike everywhere, skip most museums, and limit how often you go out.

Generally, the suggested daily budget for Europe is 80-120 EUR. You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Europe Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Individual country guides have more specific information on how to save money in them but here are some general tips on cutting your costs while you explore Europe:

  • Picnic – This continent has a lot of little shops where you can buy pre-made sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Many supermarkets have delis as well where you can get food to go. Buy some food, eat outside, and watch the city and its people go by. It’s a much more enjoyable and cheaper way to eat.
  • Eat local and cheap – Not into picnicking? Eat at local sandwich shops, pizza parlors, Maoz, Wok to Walks, and outdoor street vendors. Avoiding restaurants and eating at a lot of the local “grab n’ go” places gives you a taste of the local cuisine at a much cheaper price. If you’re really on a budget, use your creative cooking skills to prepare meals at the hostel as well.
  • Stay with a local – Hostels can add up really quickly. If you don’t have any friends with whom you can stay, consider using Couchsurfing , which connects you with locals who let you stay with them for free. Plus, they tend to also have meetups to meet other locals and travelers. It’s a great way to save on accommodation and meet a local who can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Camp in a garden – A very good camping service specific to Europe is Campspace , which allows you to pitch a tent in someone’s backyard for free or for a small fee (around 10-20 EUR). All of the garden owners have profiles that tell you what services and facilities they offer. Also, many countries allow wild camping (like Sweden), which can save you a fortune if you have a tent.
  • Take the bus – Budget bus companies like Flixbus can take you across the continent for cheap. I personally feel it’s best for day travel as sitting up for an overnight bus isn’t really ideal for sleeping. It isn’t glamorous, but with tickets starting at 5 EUR, you really can’t complain!
  • Get a Rail Pass – Eurail Passes have saved me hundreds of dollars. If you are traveling far distances and through many countries, they are a great deal.
  • Take the free city tours – One of the great things about Europe is that you can find free walking tours in all the major cities. They can be a great way to see the city attractions, take in some history, and learn your bearings without spending any money. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!
  • Plan accordingly – Plan your trip around Europe so you avoid doubling back. Transportation is a big expense so proper planning can save you a lot of money (and time). Go in a straight line or a loop. Booking your accommodation ahead helps you save as well since cheap, good places unsurprisingly get reserved first. One thing I’ve learned is that waiting until the last minute means you get stuck with expensive places or cheap places no one wants.
  • Fly cheap – If you know where you are going and a train won’t do, try to book flights early. You can often get round trip fares for as little as 5 EUR from many of the European discount airlines like Ryanair or Wizz. Many capital cities have smaller airports farther from the city with ‘inconvenient’ times but cheaper fares. Keep in mind you might need to factor in an early morning Uber or taxi if the busses aren’t running and you have an early flight!
  • Drink less – Those 5 EUR beers add up. Hit happy hours or pick and choose when you party. Hostel bars are a good place to get cheap drinks or buy your alcohol at the supermarket. Plus, in Europe, it’s legal to drink outside in parks, plazas, by the lakes or rivers. You’ll find you can save a lot of money by not going to bars and clubs. Partying your way across the continent will destroy your bank balance in no time.
  • Get a city tourist card – Many local tourism offices sell a tourism card for all their attractions, tours, and restaurants. This card gives you free entry and substantial discounts on all the attractions and tours in a city, free local public transportation (a huge plus), and discounts at a few restaurants and shopping malls. They save a ton of money. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, get one of these cards.
  • Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar to catch rides with locals between cities (or countries) by paying a small fee. It’s like Airbnb but for rides. I used this service in Switzerland and, not only did I save a lot of money, but I got to meet interesting people and learn about local culture and life. Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe, though sometimes rides cancel at the last minute (which is why you need to be flexible). Check their ratings first and try to use rides where the person has done many trips.
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water is safe to drink in most of Europe, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
  • Get a HostelPass – HostelPass is a discount membership for hostels in Europe. Members get 10-20% off select hostels around Europe, as well as perks like free breakfast or free drinks. There are discounts on tours and activities too. It’s a great way to save money if you’re bouncing around Europe as they have hostels in 18 countries around the continent.

Where to Stay in Europe

Europe has a ton of budget accommodation options. The individual country and city guides have tons of recommendations but here’s a short list of some of my favorite budget hostels and hotels around Europe:

  • The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Hotel 54 (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Generator Hostel (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Harcourt Hotel (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Castle Rock (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Ios Palm Pansion (Ios, Greece)
  • Greg and Tom’s Party Hostel (Krakow, Poland)
  • Largo da Sé Guest House (Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Sophie’s Hostel (Prague, Czech Republic)
  • The Yellow (Rome, Italy)
  • City Backpackers (Stockholm, Sweden)

How to Get Around Europe

The famous steam train from Harry Potter crossing an old bridge in Scotland

Public transportation – Transportation around most European cities is by tram, subway, or bus. Prices are typically around 2 EUR for a one-way ticket in Western Europe and closer to 1 EUR in Eastern Europe. Most large cities also have day passes available that offer unlimited public transportation. These passes are usually 5-12 EUR per day.

In large cities with international airports, there is usually a bus or train available that ferries travelers from the downtown core to the airport. Expect to pay around 5-15 EUR to get to/from the airport.

Bus – Buses are not quite as comfortable as Europe’s trains, although certain lines do have great amenities (like roomy seats and Wi-Fi). While buses are not the most efficient way to travel around the continent, they’re certainly dependable, reliable, and cheap. You can find last-minute rides for as little as 5 EUR. A route from Berlin to Munich is about 25 EUR, while Paris to Bordeaux can be as low as 10 EUR. Longer routes, like Amsterdam to Copenhagen, start at around 47 EUR.

Each country has its own national bus service, but some lines also take you long distances internationally. Megabus and Flixbus (which now owns Eurolines) are the most popular companies.

Train – Train travel is a great way to see Europe. Intercity train prices vary wildly from country to country, depending on whether you take the slow train or a high-speed train and how far in advance you book. For example, a high-speed train from Berlin to Munich costs around 38-60 EUR, Bordeaux to Paris is about 50-85 EUR, and Madrid to Barcelona ranges from 45-85 EUR. Non-high-speed trains and other intercity lines are a lot cheaper, generally costing about 40-50% of the price of high-speed trains. Eastern Europe inter-country trains usually cost between 45-100 EUR when the ticket is booked last minute. Short train rides of 2-3 hours within countries cost about 27 EUR.

To find routes and prices for trains around Europe, use Trainline .

You may also want to consider getting a Eurail Pass , which allows travelers to explore Europe by providing a set number of stops in a specific time period. These passes are continent-wide, country-specific, or regional. It can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

Ridesharing/Car sharing – If your schedule is flexible, use a ridesharing service and catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe. BlaBlaCar is the most popular.

If you’d rather rent a car yourself and find passengers to share a ride with, use Discover Cars to find the best car rental prices.

Flying – Budget airlines are so prolific that competition helps keep fares low. You can often find tickets where the fare is just 5 EUR round-trip! Companies like EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz, and Vueling offer mind-blowingly cheap flights throughout Europe. Book at least a month early to scoop up great deals.

Make sure that the airport they fly into isn’t too far out of your way (transportation from the secondary airport sometimes negates the savings from using the budget airline itself).

Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay to check your baggage on these cheap flights. It costs about 25-39 EUR for one checked bag. If you wait to pay for your luggage at the gate, you end up paying almost double. Travel carry-on only to avoid this added cost.

Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Europe is very safe, but it’s not for everyone. Hitching is quite common around the continent and I’ve met a number of travelers who have done it (I, myself, traveled this way in Bulgaria and Iceland). Some countries are very supportive (Romania, Iceland, Germany) while others may be a bit more time-consuming (Italy, Spain). HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking info.

Here are my suggested articles for how to get around Europe:

  • 7 Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
  • Are Eurail Passes a Giant Scam or Do They Save You Money?
  • The Ultimate Guide to Finding Cheap Flights

When to Go to Europe

There’s no wrong time to visit Europe. Peak season is summer, when Europe gets crowded and August is the time most European families are at the beach so everything becomes more crowded and expensive. But the overall atmosphere and weather are great during this time, so it’s still worth visiting during peak season (just book your accommodation in advance — especially in August). Keep in mind it’s much hotter in summer so if you like AC, be sure to check that your hostel or hotel has it before you book. You can expect the most crowds in Western Europe. For this reason, I feel summer is a great time to visit the Balkans and the Baltics because many people head to the beaches in Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and Greece.

Shoulder season is spring and fall (April-May and September-October). It’s still warm during this time but there aren’t as many crowds and prices are cheaper. This is my favorite time to visit hotspot places like Spain, Croatia and Greece, where it’s still hot enough to swim in the sea but you have way more room on the beach. It’s also a good time to go hiking in the Alps in Germany, northern Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland because it’s cooler during the day so you’re much less sweaty on the mountain without shade. The weather is good, the crowds are smaller, and the prices lower.

Winter is from November to February but in much of Central Europe, it’s wet and cold until March or April. It gets cold, even as far south as it gets (like Greece). On the other hand, the Christmas season has Christmas markets and festivals galore! Even if it’s cold, this is a cultural tradition you can’t miss and why I love Europe in December. There is hot mulled wine, sweets, and plenty of hot snacks, which vary by country. One of my favorites is Prague because the Old Town Square is lit up with a gigantic tree with aromas of crispy cinnamon pastries and mulled wine. Berlin takes their Christmas markets very seriously, so there are around 80 different markets with special themes.

Winter is fantastic in Europe for skiing and snowboarding but it doesn’t have to break the bank if you plan carefully. While Switzerland and France are probably the most famous, they are also expensive, but there are plenty of budget winter options.

How to Stay Safe in Europe

Europe is very safe for backpacking and solo traveling, even if you’re traveling solo, and even as a solo female traveler. Violent crimes against tourists are very rare. In fact, some of the safest countries in the world are in Europe. (I wrote a whole article about how Europe is safe to visit right now .)

That said, there are scams and petty crimes you should watch out for, especially around popular tourist landmarks. The most important thing to be aware of is pickpockets in crowds and on public transportation. Zip your bags and don’t put your mobile phone in a jacket pocket where someone could quickly take it. This should be obvious but don’t flash your money to let everyone know you have a huge wad of cash.

When choosing a hostel, look for ones with lockers. It’s always a good idea to carry around a padlock or combination lock. Most hostels are safe and travelers respect each other and I’ve rarely seen things happen to people’s valuables. Nevertheless, I always think that prevention is better.

As anywhere, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). When at the bar, always keep an eye on your drink. Avoid walking home alone at night if you’re intoxicated.

For female travelers in particular, it’s always a good idea to have a bit of extra money on you just in case you need to take an Uber or taxi back by yourself so you don’t take unnecessary risks to save money. If you’re using apps to date people while traveling, please use common sense and meet in public places. Since I’m not a female traveler, please check out the numerous female bloggers who have first hand knowledge of this.

If you’re worried about scams, you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.

If you rent a vehicle, don’t leave any valuables in it overnight. Break-ins are rare, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Be aware that the UK drives on the left and that most rental cars in Europe will have manual transmissions unless you request otherwise.

When hiking, always bring water, sunscreen, and bandaids or foot plasters. There is nothing worse than being halfway up the mountain with a blister and nothing you can do about it!

Likewise, when at the coast, don’t forget not only to wear sunscreen! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people get burnt to a crisp the first day. Be sure to check the weather before you depart and dress accordingly.

If you do experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary to loved ones so they know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Europe Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

GO DEEPER: Nomadic Matt’s In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to Europe

While I have a lot of free tips on Europe, I also wrote an entire book that goes into great detail on everything you need to plan a trip here on a budget! You’ll get suggested itineraries, budgets, even more ways to save money, my favorite restaurants, prices, practical information (i.e. phone numbers, websites, prices, safety advice, etc etc), and cultural tips.

I’ll give the insider view of Europe that I got from years of traveling and living here! The downloadable guide can be used on your Kindle, iPad, phone, or computer so you can have it with you when you go. Click here to learn more about my book on Europe!

Europe Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more tips for your trip? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Europe travel and continue planning your trip:

The 7 Best Hotels in London

The 7 Best Hotels in London

10 Scotland Road Trip Tips You Need to Know Before You Go

10 Scotland Road Trip Tips You Need to Know Before You Go

The Perfect 7-Day Croatia Itinerary

The Perfect 7-Day Croatia Itinerary

The 6 Best Hotels in Copenhagen

The 6 Best Hotels in Copenhagen

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

The 7 Best Hotels in Madrid

The 7 Best Hotels in Madrid

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europe trip budget philippines

The Poor Traveler's tips to traveling around Europe on a budget

By Kara Santos Published Jun 29, 2022 6:04 pm

Europe is generally known as a very expensive travel destination. For many Filipino travelers, countries like France, Italy, Greece and Iceland are places on their bucketlist that they would love to visit if only they had the cash to spare. 

While the cost of living and travel is admittedly higher than in Southeast Asian countries, some Pinoy travelers have proven that it is possible to go backpacking around Europe even on a budget.

Yosh Dimen, who runs the award-winning Philippine-based travel blog The Poor Traveler along with Vins Carlos, has gone on three multi-country backpacking trips around Europe and visited 28 countries there.

europe trip budget philippines

With Pinoys finally planning their vacations again for the first time in two years, the content creator talks to PhilSTAR L!fe about the cheapest countries in Europe to visit, budget travel tips, and the challenges of preparing for a multi-country backpacking journey.

Consider the timing and season

According to Yosh, the most important factors to consider when you want to stick to a budget while traveling to Europe is the timing and season.

“ Some seasons are way more expensive than others. So far, I have been to Europe in summer, autumn, and winter. And the difference in prices between seasons is considerable. Unsurprisingly, summer is the peak of the high season, so everything — from airfare to hotels to tours — is expensive. But costs go down significantly when autumn kicks in,” shared Yosh.

He recounted a recent trip that happened in September to November, when they went on a group tour in Croatia’s Dalmatian region on September 30. 

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Yosh Dimen (@yoshke)

“We were so shocked to find out that had we booked that same tour on October 1, we would’ve paid half of the September 30 price.”

For those who can stand colder temperatures, winter travel comes out cheaper, but the downside is that days are shorter and some establishments close earlier. 

“Some destinations are not as alive as they would’ve been in other seasons. For example, it was winter when we visited Santorini and we stayed in Oia. Problem was, only a few restaurants and stores were open,” he added.

Pick underrated or lesser-known European destinations

Not all countries in Europe have the same cost of living and travel. While most people immediately think of France and Italy when planning a European vacation, Europe actually has 44 countries according to the the United Nations.  The Shengen Visa allows Filipino travelers to visit 26 countries in Europe.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by thepoortraveler (@thepoortraveler)

“Europe is incredibly diverse. For example, Iceland and Poland are worlds apart in terms of costs. Switzerland and Czechia, too. Nordic countries like Norway and Sweden are generally more expensive than Central and Eastern European countries,” said Yosh.

Yosh does admit that their team hasn’t had a chance to explore much of Eastern Europe yet, which is known for being “significantly more budget-friendly.” Their team was set to travel there in 2020 but the pandemic forced them to cancel their trip, so the tips they share cover mostly the western and central parts of Europe. 

“But out of all the countries we did set foot in, I’d say pinaka-sulit ang Portugal, Czechia (also known as the Czech Republic), Poland, Greece, and Hungary. These are not the cheapest, but the cost of travel is low enough and we still got to see a lot of amazing attractions with the budget that we had,” said Yosh.

Stay in hostels and limit dining out

Seasoned travelers know enough to veer away from luxury hotels and opt for lower cost accommodations.

“For accommodations, we usually stay at hostels and budget hotels which are abundant in most European cities. Free walking tours are also available,” said Yosh.

However, a huge chunk of one’s budget is usually spent on food, which literally eats into one’s travel budget.

“ For that, try to limit dining out at restaurants. Choose accommodations that have a kitchen or at least a refrigerator and microwave, so you could hit the grocery and cook your own meals most days. Most European servings are also huge — bigger than what I would normally eat at one seating so when I grab takeouts, I just keep the leftover in the fridge and reheat them another day,” said Yosh.

However, Yosh stressed that it’s important for travelers to experience the restaurant scene and dig into local cuisine too every once in a while, as it’s an important aspect of travel.

“But if you have to eat out, pick lunch. Lunches are generally less expensive than dinners,” he added.

Be flexible enough to accept mishaps

Even before the pandemic happened, it was challenging enough to prepare for a multi-country trip. Aside from the visa restrictions and costs, travelers now have to keep in mind the ever-changing health and entry guiddelines of each country they want to visit. Yosh recommends being flexible with one’s itinerary and always having room for adjustments.

“I know that for many Filipinos, Europe is a once-in-a-lifetime dream. Pinag-iipunan natin ‘yan . Most of us have a list of countries that we must visit when we’re in Europe. There’s always that tendency to plan every little detail and make it perfect. But I have found over the years that the more you make things rigid, the more they tend to break and fall apart,” said Yosh.

He suggests travelers keen an open mind and adjust their travel plans accordingly when the inevitable travel mishaps happen.

“Unexpected events happen every now and then — we had missed hotel check-in cut-off, we had miscalculated train arrival times, we had lost belongings along the way, there’s even this one time that the airline we booked closed down and filed for bankruptcy the day before our flight. To lessen the impact, your plan should be flexible enough to accommodate mishaps. That should reflect on most aspects of your trip — Book accommodation and transportation options with FREE cancellation or rebooking policy. And most importantly, choose reliable/appropriate insurance plans!,” said Yosh.

According to Yosh, enjoying the journey, including all the unexpected parts of it, all boils down to one’s travel mindset. 

“Don’t think this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip because that only adds pressure to see everything within a short time. Instead, think as though you plan on returning someday, so if you miss one country on your list, you won’t feel too bad about it. Just think you’ll be able to visit next time. It makes planning less challenging and the actual traveling more fun,” he said.

Weigh the pros and cons of going DIY vs. availing of package tours

Traveling DIY-style and availing of package tours appeal to two very different markets, both of which offer good value depending on your travel style, according to Yosh.

“DIY offers freedom, flexibility, and lower cost. DIY means you have total control of your time and schedule. If you change your mind at any point, you may do so. If you wish to stay longer somewhere and totally skip another, you could. However, that doesn’t mean that DIY is better than package tours across the board. It’s just a completely different travel style," he said.

With the ongoing  pandemic and ever-shifting travel requirements, package tours can help eliminate some of the unknowns of "new normal" travel.

“There’s value in it (package tours), especially for those who don’t have the time or energy to deal with every single aspect of the trip on their own. In fact, there are moments in certain destinations when we wished we booked a packaged tour instead. These days, I’d be more confident traveling when there’s another party checking to see if I meet all the requirements,” said Yosh.

Be open to other possibilities and entry points in Europe

With all the ongoing seat sales, and promos being offered left and right, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when making travel plans. The Poor Traveler recommends staying open to other options and entry points, even if they may not the be at the top of your travel list.

“ Even when you’re dead set on one thing but you find a great deal on another, consider! I’ve met fellow travelers in Europe who were able to travel because of promos they found at travel expos. One of them dreamt of touring France but the cheapest deal he found was for Barcelona. He grabbed it, flew to Barcelona, and was still able to tour France from there,” said Yosh.

“We also met another backpacker who didn’t think she would enjoy Austria and the Czech Republic but that’s the best deal they found and they totally fell in love with these two destinations,” he added

Take your time and travel at your own pace

A lot of Pinoys have been travel-deprived the past two years and are hell-bent on revenge travel, aiming to visit as many destinations as possible to make up for all the lost time spent indoors during various stages of lockdowns.

Yosh recommends that people travel, not just for the sake of traveling and going somewhere, but only when they’re ready with the resources — both time and money included.

“I always believe that there’s a right time for everything, even travel, especially travel. There are far more important things to prioritize. The pandemic hit all of us hard. Most of us lost a lot of savings, some lost their jobs, some lost loved ones. (Most of) these places are not going anywhere. The last thing you want is force a trip and not enjoy it. This is not a race. Take your time, travel at your own pace, and go when you’re ready,” said Yosh.

But for Filipino travelers who feel like they’re ready, Europe can offer a life-changing destination.

“If you think you’re ready for it, then go for it! Travel is a great healer and teacher. But I can’t say whether Europe would be worth it for you . Only you can determine what’s worth your time and money. I adore Paris and Florence, but some of my friends disagree and think they’re absolutely overrated. Some sing high praises for Athens and Barcelona, but others don’t find them too compelling. The good news is, Europe is diverse so you’ll probably find something for you. It’s just a matter of building a route that you think is for you.”

Even if you can't travel immediately, working now to save up for future trips and being thrifty is always a good idea.

“For me, while our 2020 Euro trip was cancelled because of the pandemic, I don’t have the means yet to return this soon, as my funds have been reappropriated for more pressing matters over the past two years. But I’m getting there!” he added.

Want more practical travel tips? Check out The Poor Traveler’s comprehensive list of budget tips for backpackers for Europe on their website here .

TAGS: EUROPE Budget travel backpacking The Poor Traveler

Kara Santos

Kara Santos is a freelance writer and photographer based in Manila. Her blog at www.traveling-up.com is where she writes about travel, motorcycling, and food trips.

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Wanderlust Movement | A South Africa Travel Blog

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide

July 24, 2018 by Lauren Melnick

Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by Lauren Melnick

europe trip budget philippines

Ah, Europe.

The land home to ancient history, pizza, beautiful beaches and first world public transportation.

In my teens, I dreamt of travelling to France and living out my own Passport to Paris fantasy. I wanted to go on a subway, peer through the gates of Buckingham Palace, and see my favourite bands play live at Download Festival.

For years, it remained a dream I never acted upon.

I knew Europe wasn’t a cheap place and had the mindset that I’d never have enough money to go.

Fast forward almost a decade later, and I’ve been to Europe not once, not twice but three times.

And I didn’t have to sell everything I own or work crazy long shifts in shitty retail jobs to make it happen.

Curious about how to visit Europe on a budget?

You just need a dash of flexibility, a sprinkle of planning and a cup of frugality to get the most out of your Rands.

Here’s how to travel Europe on a budget!

Table of Contents

How to Find Cheap Flights From South Africa to Europe

When is the best time to travel to europe on a budget, fly with budget airlines, travel europe via train, use cheap bus travel in europe, save time finding the cheapest transport option, try out blabla car, use public transportation, hit the pavements, find deals on booking.com, live like a local with airbnb, become the ultimate backpacker with couchsurfing, cook your own meals, stay at a hotel or hostel that offers a free breakfast, keep an eye out for lunch specials, eat where the locals eat, eat street food, visit the cheaper european destinations, compare tourist passes, cheap things to do in europe, use atms instead of currency counters, get yourself a credit card that doesn’t charge for international withdrawals, use your credit or debit cards, travel with two cards and keep them separate, travelling europe on a budget is possible.

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

Have you experienced the phenomena of internally sobbing while typing in each digit and watching your bank account run dry?

You’re not alone.

Before I discovered flight comparison site Skyscanner , I thought the only way I could go to Europe was if I signed up for those ridiculously priced Contiki Tours.

Since then, I’ve picked up a few other tricks on the way that have helped me find return flights to Portugal and Italy for under R 5000.00.

How did I do it?

I’ve written an in-depth 9-step process blog post , but the main tool in my cheap flight arsenal is Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” tool.

All you need to do is enter your departing destination as “South Africa” and your arrival destination as “Everywhere”.

The search engine will then find the cheapest flights departing from South Africa. It’s an easy way to see what deals are flying around and which European destination will be the most affordable entry point.

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

The best time to visit Europe on a budget is during its low season. From November to March, you’ll find low hotel rates, cheap flights and far fewer people hogging the best sites. It’s the perfect trifecta if you want to stretch your money as much as possible while travelling Europe on a budget.

Plus, it’s winter. So you can finally see snow!

Get ready to make those snow angels, learn the lyrics to “ Do You Want To Build a Snowman ” and develop an appreciation for thermal underwear.

The only exception during low season is the Christmas and New Year holidays. Prices do peak again especially in countries like Germany that are famous for their Christmas markets and traditions.

If you’re more of a summer child or you hate wearing layers, plan your trip to Europe between April to May or September to October.

These are Europe’s two shoulder seasons. Temperatures and prices are slightly higher for these months, but it’s still way more affordable than Europe’s popular high season.

Speaking of the high season, that’s the one you want to avoid if you’re travelling Europe on a budget. From June to August, prices skyrocket.

I’m talking R 2000+ for a one hour flight that’s typically R200-R300.

With so many people heading to Europe for summer, hotels and hostels double their prices.

I paid EUR 50 for the shittiest dorm room in Rome that’s usually less than half that price.

But if you can’t avoid travelling to Europe in the summer, then it all comes down to picking the right destination.

More about that below.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Travel Europe?

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

You know what’s a great feeling?

Paying R 300 for a RETURN flight between Italy and Germany.

But if you want to reap those savings, you need to book your flights in advance – especially if you’re travelling Europe during high season.

For example, that same exact flight will end up costing you around R 1,400 in July.

With so many budget airlines, flying is the best way to travel Europe on a budget. Plus, it will help you get to your next destination faster!

Read More:  3 Insanely Cheap Ways to Travel Europe in 2022

Want to explore Europe at a slower pace?

Hop on board one of the hundreds of trains that zigzag across the region!

Take a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Belgium, travel around Italy or use it as a way to see more of the countryside.

The only downside is that train travel is that it’s not the best option for transportation in Europe on a budget.

Greg and I paid EUR 100 (R1,500) for our train trip from Berlin to Amsterdam (full guide dedicated to train travel in Europe is coming soon!).

The high season definitely impacted the cost of our ticket. In fact, when I checked back a week later, the price had almost doubled.

If you want to explore multiple European countries by train, the Eurorail Pass can work in your favour. It’s valid for 28 countries and offers multiple days of travel extended over a month or two.

But it will make you poor.

Keep a look out for discounts if you’re under 26 and book your tickets well in advance to maximise your savings.

Bus travel in Europe is not for everyone – but it’s cheap.

You can travel from Munich to Nuremberg for as little as EUR 6 (R 94.00) with Flixibus, making it the best way to see Europe on a budget if you’re not on a time crunch.

I used them for my trip between Berlin and Krakow.

Eurolines is another affordable long-distance bus I used to get back to Berlin from Amsterdam.

That trip cost me EUR 25 (R 394.00).

Want to save even MORE money?

Book an overnight bus or train and save on a nights accommodation.

With so many budget flights, trains and bus companies – finding the cheapest way to travel Europe is a pain.

Unless you use Rome2Rio .

It quickly became the butter to my bread pre-trip and during my adventures around Europe.

All you need to do is pop in your departure and arrival destination, and the search engine will find the cheapest flights, train and bus fares.

Never heard of BlaBla Car ?

It’s a carpooling service in Europe that connects drivers with empty seats to people travelling the same way.

For most South Africans, that just sounds like a bad idea.

But it’s a thing in Europe and people actually get to their destination in one piece.

So when in Rome…

Select your driver based on their level of chattiness (introverts who hate small talk unite!), their music preferences, smoking or non-smoking and even if pets are in the car.

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

Public transport in European cities is extensive and cheap.

It’s one of my favourite things.

I don’t know what it is about subways, but I love them.

If you’re planning to use it a lot, do some research to see if there is a day pass you can buy.

Italy, Berlin and Amsterdam all had various options I used while in those countries.

  • It cost me EUR 7 (R 110.00) for a 24-hour pass in Rome ;
  • In Amsterdam, I bought a 48-hour pass for EUR 12.50 ( R197.00) and;
  • In Berlin, I spent EUR 2.80 ( R44.00) for a 2-hour ticket and EUR 7 ( R110.00) for a day pass.

In some countries, the day pass will include public transportation to and from the airport.

If you buy a tourist travel card, like the Berlin Welcome Card, you’ll get unlimited public transportation included in the price.

More about the tourist cards later on.

But the ultimate way to keep your transportation costs low while travelling Europe on a budget is to walk EVERYWHERE .

The good news is that a lot of European cities are terribly flat.

Factor in that a lot of the attractions around the city centres aren’t that far apart, and your Samsung Health App step count won’t know what hit it.

How to Find Budget Accommodation in Europe

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

Okay, so besides your flights, accommodation is going to be your biggest cost.

If you’re struggling to find hotels within in your budget, consider staying outside of the city or in a smaller town and commuting in.

Below, I’ve listed the sites I use the most while travelling on a budget in Europe.

Booking.com is by FAR my favourite accommodation site.

It has everything from low-budget hostels to swanky five-star hotels. You can filter the search results to see places that offer free breakfast or are a close distance to a particular landmark and more.

If you use the site often enough, you’ll eventually unlock their Genius tier and get discounts as well as special perks.

I stayed in an Airbnb apartment during my 3-week trip to Sicily. It had everything I needed and quickly felt like home.

Prices on Airbnb aren’t that expensive especially if you travelling with a friend. Some cities even have “hostels” where hosts have a room with multiple bed bunks.

I found one in Paris within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, and it didn’t cost my entire salary.

So if you’re not a fan of hostels and want to blend in with the locals, browse through the listings to see what’s available for your travel dates.

Couchsurfing is the mecca for backpackers.

It’s a way to stay in a city without paying a single Euro for your board.

Yip. FREE accommodation in Europe!

All you need to do is sign up, create an account and start reaching out to hosts available during your travelling dates.

If you’re worried about safety, only stay with hosts that have been verified by Couchsurfing and have tons of positive reviews by other surfers.

I’ve couch surfed in South Africa, Turkey and kinda in Germany and the Netherlands.

One of my followers on Instagram offered to host me in Amsterdam. For Berlin, Greg’s old colleague from South Africa happened to be in town and had a spare bed.

That still counts, right?

How to Save on Food Costs in Europe

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

Head to the nearest supermarket, grab your favourite things and get your chef on.

It’s the cheapest way to feed yourself in Europe.

I spent EUR 20-25 ( R 315.00 – R 394.00) on groceries that lasted me the entire 3-weeks I stayed in Sicily.

And yes, the majority of my meals were some kind of pasta.

Breakfasts at hostels are usually continental.

But free food is free food, and it should keep you fuelled up until lunchtime.

If you’re staying at a more posh hostel or a hotel, your breakfast will probably include a continental with a few other things like eggs, baked beans and some meat.

If you’re travelling to Rome , save money by taking advantage of the city’s lunch specials.

For EUR 10 (R 157.00), you can get a starter, a main and your choice of beer or house wine.

With most main meals costing EUR 8 and a glass of wine usually around EUR 6-7 (R 94.00 – R110.00), it’s an excellent deal.

Stray from the well-trodden path and find restaurants that are full of locals instead of other tourists.

The prices are usually lower, and you’ll have a more authentic experience.

If you’re going to Europe on a budget, street food will make its way into your diet.

From the delicious arancini balls in Italy to Poland’s famous Maczanka sandwich – there are cheap eats for your taste buds to discover in every country.

Read More:  50+ Genius Ways To Save Money for Travel

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

Not all European countries are created equal.

Some like the Netherlands will evaporate all your hard-earned savings in the blink of an eye.

While your money will stretch much further in countries like Poland or Romania.

Where to travel in Europe on a budget: 

  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Gdansk, Poland
  • Rome, Italy
  • Porto, Portugal
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Tallinn, Estonia
  • Transylvania, Romania
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Saranda, Albania

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

Tourist Passes are travel cards specifically designed for, well, tourists.

The perks of buying one include:

  • Unlimited use of public transportation.
  • Free entry to specific museums or attractions in that city.
  • Discounts for restaurants, tours and other attractions.
  • Transportation to and from the airport.
  • Access to the city’s hop-on-hop-off bus.

If you’re only in one city for 24, 48 or 72 hours, these cards pack A LOT of value.

But before you flip open your purse and pop out your credit card, do your research to see if it’s actually WORTH the money.

If you’re a museum geek and you want to go to the museums that come with the card – it’s a no-brainer.

But when you’re travelling Europe on a budget, it might work out cheaper to skip the card and do your own thing.

That’s what I did for Rome.

Instead of getting the Roma Card, I walked everywhere, bought one 24 transport ticket and only went to the free attractions .

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

You don’t need to spend a hella lot of money.

There are loads of free things to do.

And that’s music to any cash-strapped South African’s ears travelling Europe on a budget.

Here are just SOME of the things you can do for mahala:

  • Visit museums and galleries with no entrance fee.
  • Check to see which day the museums are free. For, e.g. The Vatican Museums are open for free on the last Sunday of every month.
  • Sign up for a free walking tour.
  • Explore some of the ancient cathedrals and churches.
  • Go to a free concert. E.g. Amsterdam hosts free shows every Tuesday from September to May.
  • Wander past a city’s free monuments. E.g. The Trevi Fountain in Rome won’t cost you a dime and neither will that iconic selfie with the Eiffel Tower.
  • Head for the hills and go on a hike.
  • Grab your bikini and catch some rays at the beach.

Read More:  How To Travel Rome on a Budget (& Still See the Top Sights!)

Managing Your Money For a Budget Trip to Europe

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

When you’re dealing with the terrifying exchange rate that is Rand to Euro – you need to make every last penny count.

Here are a few simple money tips to use while travelling Europe on a budget:

You’ll get a better rate of exchange. Currency counters at airports add a markup for their services that you don’t need in your life. Call up your bank before you leave South Africa, and unblock your card for international usage.

All those little fees start to add up each time you go to the ATM. If you can’t get a card that doesn’t charge, try to find one that has minimal fees or limit the number of times you withdraw cash.

Most credit and debit cards have a strong exchange rate. Try to get a card that doesn’t include fees for foreign purchases or has the lowest surcharge.

I learnt this lesson in Chiang Mai. Three days before my flight back to South Africa, an ATM ate my card, and I only had THB 2,000 to my name. I still had to buy food, pay for accommodation and transportation to the airport. Since then, I make a point to travel with two unlocked cards and keep one in my suitcase and the other in my purse.

Read More:  A Magical 2-Days in Lisbon Itinerary (Including a Sintra Day Trip)

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

That was a monster of a post.

If you’ve made it this far down, kudos to you my friend.

I hope you’ve found it useful and you feel budget travel in Europe is possible for you!

Enjoy your trip and remember, it’s totally acceptable to eat your weight in gelato while you’re there.

Want more Europe travel inspiration? Check out my other posts:

  • How to Travel Rome on a Budget as a South African
  • Amsterdam Coffeeshops: How to Get Stoned Like a Pro
  • How to Get From Paris to Versailles & Plan The Perfect Day Trip
  • How To Visit The Vatican (A Massive Travel Guide)
  • How to Apply for Your Schengen Visa
  • 16 of the Best Rand-Friendly Holidays Destinations in Europe

Did you find this post useful? Save it for later on Pinterest!

How To Travel Europe on a Budget: A Complete Guide | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #europe #traveltips #eurotrip #europeonabudget

About Lauren Melnick

Lauren Melnick is the founder of Wanderlust Movement, Wander to Here and is a South Africa travel blogger. She's been travelling the world as a full-time freelance writer since 2016 and has visited over 40 countries.

When she isn't typing up a storm, you can find her conquering overnight hikes around the Western Cape, rock climbing, and hosting sold out group travel trips around South Africa, Namibia and Morocco.

Reader Interactions

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July 28, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Very informative post! Great tip to take buses! Love trains, but buses are probably cheaper.

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March 1, 2019 at 10:43 am

I would strongly recommend traveling through Europe on foot. Because Europe is such a densely packed continent there’s always something to explore, especially when you are hitchhiking.

Just make sure to bring a few essentials with you. Some rain gear is a good idea, though many just decide to sit out the rain. Sometimes you might not be anywhere near a hotel or inn when it’s getting dark. That’s why you should bring a small tent and sleeping bag with you.

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March 7, 2019 at 9:38 am

Coming from a country like South Africa, I don’t think I would be able to wrap my head around hitchhiking and not getting murdered lol

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April 12, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Hey, so I’ll be travelling around Europe and I’ve been look at Stoke Travel for accommodation. Thoughts? have you ever heard of them or stayed with before?

April 15, 2019 at 8:41 am

Hey! I’ve never heard of them before, but it does look interesting if you’re wanting to experience the music festivals and parties of Europe 🙂

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February 18, 2020 at 4:14 pm

aLOVE the info. baie dankie

February 18, 2020 at 4:24 pm

Glad you found it useful 🙂

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January 11, 2023 at 3:11 am

I love this blog! It’s so helpful and informative. I’m currently planning my first trip to Europe and this blog has been a huge help!

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May 26, 2023 at 2:58 pm

thanks for all the infos, its very hard sometimes to travell when you dont have money :/ i also start using this app and i can highly recommend it to you 🙂 its called “ATM Fee saver” and its soo good and easy to use. its shows me atm around wiht no or low fees for withdrawing money. thats how i also save a bit of money while travelling

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5 exciting day trips across europe: perfect europe trip itinerary.

5 Exciting Day Trips Across Europe: Perfect Europe Trip Itinerary

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1 comment :.

Planning to visit Schengen area next year. What place should we start to visit? Is it possible France then to suburb countries and what are they? Thank you.

Looking for Budget Travel Guide Blogs, Hotel Reviews, and Sample DIY Itineraries? Welcome to Pinoy Adventurista, "Your Next Ultimate Adventure Starts Here!" Pinoy Adventurista is one of the Top Travel Blogs in the Philippines and the World. In 2013, he visited all the 81 provinces in the Philippines.

Three Week Traveller

Europe in 3 Weeks: 6 Itineraries

DISCLAIMER: This post might have links to travel services and products that we enjoy. We might make a commission from it at no extra cost to you.

I am confident many people have Europe on their bucket list of places to visit. This continent is filled with preserved historical sites, famous landmarks, UNESCO-certified heritage sites, various natural scenery, and diverse cultures from people of different nationalities.

There are tons of activities that you can do here as well. However, if you plan to stay a little longer than the usual vacation duration, it might cost you a lot, especially if you aren’t familiar with places to go without spending too much. 

This guide is for people planning to travel around Europe in 3 weeks . Whether you are on a budget or looking to splurge a little, there’s something for everyone. In this guide, I am covering central and southern Europe – both have famous destinations. I also have itineraries for the eastern region for affordable, nordic areas for unique culture, and off-the-beaten path of Europe.

I want to ensure you spend the 3-week holiday that suits you. If you are new to travelling on a budget, check out these tips for budget travel . You can also read in below our estimate of how much a 3-week in Europe trip might cost.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO EUROPE

4 images - top left aerial shot of Dubrovnik, Croatia, top right is a map of Europe with pins on it, bottom right is a castle in Finland, bottom left is Spanish food - EUROPE IN 3 WEEKS ON A BUDGET

If you plan a trip for 3 weeks in Europe, stay with me as I lay down tips on travelling there on a budget. Decide where you want to go, when, how much you will spend, and what you plan to do once you go there. 

I created a detailed outline to help you plan your 3-week Europe trip or you can also consider a 3-week cruise around Europe.

Where to go in Europe for 3 weeks

If you want a hassle-free trip, y ou could visit countries that share land borders or are near each other. You can also limit your visit to 3 countries to spend at least a week in each. 

For example, France, Italy, and Spain are super popular and are easy to get from one to another. The same goes for Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. The Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) is another example of Hungary, Croatia, and Greece/

That way, you could experience what each country offers without rushing. You wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the new cultural experiences and frequent environmental changes.  You should check our compilation of 3-week travel itineraries for different (each) European countries .

When to go to Europe

This actually depends on what activities you want to do. For instance, summer would be perfect if you like swimming , various water activities, open-air concerts, and museums. If you’re going to try skiing, ice skating, sledging and see frozen waterfalls and snow in general, you should go during winter.

You can go hiking in spring and discover diverse flora and fauna along the way, as most flowers bloom during springtime. Europe also has various music and cooking festivals, while during fall, you can attend their world-famous festivals, enjoy the changing of the tree colours, and do lots of hiking and museum visits.

However, if you ask me, I like visiting Europe during late spring or late autumn, from March to April or September to October. These are shoulder seasons; the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, there are fewer tourists, and accommodation prices are a bit lower.

Check our list of best destinations to go for a beach trip and t op places to spend winter for 3 weeks .

You don’t have to write your itinerary from start to finish, day by day, but writing some sort of guideline will help you visualise your trip. You can check which destinations you can afford to book a private room and which places you have to book dorm rooms.

Y ou can join free walking tours in Europe, which are widespread . The great thing about this is that you only need to give a tip to the tour guide according to your satisfaction. You can also take local transportation such as trains, buses, or subways (they call them metro in Europe).

You can also check if you can rent bicycles. This means of transportation is enjoyable, and you would be able to appreciate the places you visit more when riding a bike.

Another way to save money when taking public transportation is by booking a shared ride (either from your hotel to the airport or the following city/country).

Pack lightweight

There are so many cheap flights across Europe, but the catch is that the baggage cost on flights often doubles the ticket costs.

That’s why you need only to bring the essentials and pack light. In this way, you also could move faster because you don’t need to rearranging your belongings or drag a heavy suitcase or backpack. 

We have an amazing packing list for general travel , which comes with a free printable checklist. You can also check our packing list for summer or the packing list for winter .

Basic travel tools and sites

When planning your trip, check different sites for the most affordable and budget-friendly travel services, such as flights, accommodations, and even travel insurance. If your trip is not final, look for sites that offer flexible cancellations if anything changes.

For those sure of their trip, booking your hotels and flights in advance is best to have more options, especially affordable ones.

These are the websites and tools I personally use when booking my trip. The ones I book right away are flights (for international/intercontinental), hotels (to find the best deals), and car rentals.

3 WEEKS IN EUROPE AVERAGE COST

On average, one person should plan around $2,000 for 20 days in Europe . You should be able to stay in a private room and eat out most of the time. But that still depends on where you plan to go.

If you’re on a backpacker’s budget, you should be able to do it for $1,500 . Plan to stay in dorm rooms and cook when you can.

If you want to splurge, $4,500 for 3 weeks in Europe is very comfortable. You can book five-star hotels, eat at fancier restaurants, and book private tours.

Pro tip: Don’t include your airfare when computing your budget because airfares change drastically . You can also try to book during non-peak seasons to save more or wait for promos.

When computing how much a 3-week Europe trip costs, you should consider food, accommodation, and tours. Last-minute bookings are the most expensive. Hence if possible, book as early as three months before your planned trip.

How much is it really to travel to Europe for 3 weeks? It depends on the person, of course. However, personally, I spent about $1,200 on one summer. I also visited during winter, where I paid $1,000 in 3 weeks, mostly because I decided to head to East Europe . I also backpacked around for three months and spent about $2000.

In my opinion, Europe is not that expensive compared to North America or even Oceania. But it would help if you had a good plan and were okay with not always eating in fancy places. The great thing about Europe is the hostel community, it’s affordable and a great way to socialise.

I mainly stayed in hostels around Europe, took public transportation, walked a lot, ate street food and went to local grocery stores. I also made sure to see as many places as possible and enjoy some “luxury” here and there.

You can also book this 7-day tour of central Europe , which covers Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Switzerland. Transportation, accommodation, tour manager, and breakfast are all included.

PINNED MAP OF DIFFERENT ITINERARIES

Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google

EUROPE IN 3 WEEKS ITINERARIES

I created a list of various destinations according to season and budget preference. I included itemised lists of how much a 3-week Europe trip costs so you could know what you could do with specific budget ranges. Please note that this budget is for one person only, and you can adjust the cost according to the number of people.

>> We also have an article on affordable destinations to spend your 3-week vacation

Most Affordable Winter Destination – Portugal, Spain, Italy

2 images - Wawel Castle and Venice Canals

If you want to visit Europe during winter, consider visiting Portugal, Spain and Italy. These three are close to each other. They also have affordable accommodations and generally have fewer tourists during this season.

In Italy, you can enjoy the Colosseum without crowds , explore the mountains, and spend time in museums. You will also have the luxury of spending the entire 3 weeks in Italy , covering north to south. From mountains, vineyards, and historical places, to Mediterranean beaches. If you are foody, you definitely have to try these best Italian desserts .

On the other hand, Portugal doesn’t suffer from freezing temperatures even in the middle of the winter season, so you can still enjoy the sunlight and do various outdoor activities such as hiking. There are popular Instagrammable spots in Portugal that are worth a visit, and of course, wine and food.

You want to see Porto and Lisbon, especially if you want to hike the popular Santiago de Compostela route. Once you get to Porto, stay near a bus or metro stop, both budget-friendly ways to move around. If you don’t know where to stay in Porto, near the historic centre of Ribeira District, both offer affordable options.

Don’t forget Lagos; it offers such wonderful water activities. This is an incredible destination if you plan to visit during summer. Lagos is located in the Algarve region, a popular area for its coastal features. If the water is too cold during winter in the Algarve, there are other things you can do, such as hiking, visiting chapels, enjoy a road trip.

If you are heading to the capital, decide on the activities, from museums, beaches, hiking, and even night-out parties. Knowing what to pack for Lisbon will ensure you don’t waste your time and money. Check our itinerary for 3 weeks in Portugal .

Lastly, Spain holds some of the best festivals on the continent during this season . During winter, the best places to visit in Spain are Seville, Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, the Canary Islands, and Costa del Sol.

There are so many places to see in Madrid, and probably a good 5 days here is the perfect spot. At the same time, Barcelona for 2 days will allow you to cover too many attractions.

But please, do not miss the Canary Islands – like no other in Europe. We have 3 weeks in Spain. Below are the budget ranges you should allocate for food, guided tours and accommodation. You can also check out our 3 weeks in France, Italy, and Spain itinerary .

  • food budget per day: $20
  • guided tours cost per day: $15-$30
  • accommodation cost per day: $25-$45 as a backpacker or $70+ for mid-range
  • 3-week budget: $1,200-$1,800 (excluding flights to and back)

Mid-range – UK, France, Germany

If you want to spend more, visit the UK, France and Germany. These countries are rich in history and are close to each other, so much so that you can take trains to cross borders. They also have great wine and beers, so this option is perfect for wine and beer enthusiasts.

Check out our 3 weeks in Central Europe itinerary, which features Germany, Poland, Czechia, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. But if you prefer the West, we also have an itinerary for 3 weeks in Western Europe or a sole 3 weeks in Germany post.

If this is the region you want to visit, it’s best to come during the off-season, which is either from March to May or September to November. The prices are lower, and there are fewer crowds.

If you visit the UK, you can finally see Big Ben in London and London Bridge . You can spend your holiday in England, which hosts festive Christmas markets and drink hot chocolate while wandering about or seeing the world-famous Isle of Skye in Scotland. 

There are many ways to explore the UK. We have a guide for 3 weeks in England only, or you can also explore the entire country and do 3 weeks in the UK .

However, if you have been to the UK before, you probably want to visit Ireland this tim e. You can combine Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. Please look at our 3 weeks in the UK and Ireland itinerary .

In France, you can take a picture of the Eiffel Tower or visit the Louvre if you’re a museum enthusiast. You can also try out their seasonal cuisines and go on a shopping spree as they have a government-mandated citywide sale during this season, also known as “soldes”. And yes, we have an itinerary for 3 weeks in France .

In Germany, you can go to thermal bathhouses to experience their outdoor pools and saunas . You can also ride their historic cable car, Merkurbergbahn, to see the snow-covered pine trees. Here are the daily price ranges for food, accommodation and tours. 

  • food budget per day: $25-$35
  • guided tours cost per day: $30-$50
  • accommodation cost per day: $35-$50 for backpackers or $80+ for mid-range
  • 3-week budget: $1,900-$2,800 (excluding flights to and back)

Affordable Summer Destination – Italy, Croatia, Greece

2 images - Dubrovnik and Eiffel Tower

For affordable summer destinations, Italy, Croatia, and Greece are must-visits. They are not necessarily next to each other or affordable. Italy is expensive, but Greece and Croatia are a bit more affordable so that balances it out.

Another thing is that flights between these three countries are affordable. Plus, it’s in Southern Europe ; there’s no better place for a beach vacation in this region.

These 3 destinations serve great food, wine, and beer and are rich in natural scenic spots like beaches and mountains. Personally, I would say this is the best way to explore Europe in 3 weeks on a budget.

Italy is known for their fantastic food. You can go on a gondola ride in Venice and have wine tastings in Sorrento, which sounds like a perfect summer getaway. Venice is not really a budget-friendly destination.

But, if you want to make this trip affordable, check out the coastal cities on the southeast side of Italy. Not only are they cheaper for vacation in this expensive country, but they are also less crowded.

Greece is a famous summer spot as well. You can visit Mycenae, an ageless arch made with monumental stones that was once a dwelling place of some of the most famous people in Grecian history, including Agamemnon, Electra, and Orestes. You can also have a road trip with your friends around Pelion or just chill and have a slow day in Hydra.

This country is an excellent choice if you want to experience the Mediterranean Sea but want to do Europe in 3 weeks on a budget. 3 weeks in Greece is a little more affordable than Spain, France, and Italy.

Croatia is now known for its location in Game of Thrones, but it has more to offer. You can go coral diving during the summer season. You can also avail yourself of a boat trip, hike, swim, cycle or sail; honestly, the sky’s the limit with the number of things you could do here.

It’s another more affordable destination but located ion on the Mediterranean Sea. You can check our 3 weeks in Croatia itinerary too.

  • accommodation cost per day: $25-$35 or $50 and up for mid-range
  • 3-week budget: $1,000-$1,800(excluding flights to and back)

Drinks and Beach – France, Poland, Greece

If you are the type of person who wants to lounge along the beach while drinking wine or beer, then this triad is perfect for you . Aside from that, these countries are rich in historical artefacts and landmarks, and flight tickets are cheap.

One of the most famous beaches in France is Plage de la Cote des Basques in Biarritz, which you’ve probably read about in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises . Another famous beach is the Deauville beach in Normandy, where Coco Chanel opened her first clothing store and held historical value .

Sopot is one of the most famous beaches in Poland , especially for the locals, because aside from chilling and sipping wine along the bay, you can also take boat rides, and there are spas and saunas nearby.

Swinoujscie Beach is famous for its water sports because of the constant wind and waves. It also has a windmill nearby which is considered its most famous landmark. Greece has the most beautiful beaches in Europe, so you won’t have difficulty looking for a great beach there. Some of the most beautiful beaches are Mykonos, Crete and Santorini.

  • accommodation cost per day: $25-$50
  • 3-week budget: $1,700-$2,800 (excluding flights to and back)

CHECK-OUT: Best itineraries for 3 weeks in East Europe

A bit of splurge – Iceland, Norway, Denmark

2 images - Trolltunga and Nyhavn

I know Scandinavia or the Nordic region doesn’t scream Europe in 3 weeks on a budget. But if you have a larger budget and want to splurge a little, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark are the perfect places to visit. The best way to make this plan affordable is to rent a car rather than relying on domestic flights, trains, or even buses.

Not super cheap, but it can be affordable if you plan and look for great deals. Remember these tips for visiting Iceland and travelling to Scandinavia for first-time travellers to this region.

You should look at flights and book accommodations 4-6 months in advance . Travelling in the northern hemisphere during the off-season, fall or winter, would be best.

Book hotels in advance to save money and also use local transportation. For instance, if you plan to go during the summer, flights are cheaper if you book them during the winter.

You can enjoy many free or affordable activities like hiking, sightseeing, or road-tripping. You can also enjoy their street foods at a lower price than at their restaurants.

If you are curious, some of the most famous places in Iceland include the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, a geothermal spa and Strokkur Geysir, where spectacular geysers are found. You can also witness the northern lights if you’re lucky, as the time of their appearance is quite unpredictable.

Meanwhile, in Norway, you can visit the Lofoten Islands or the scenic city of Bergen, which form an archipelago and go to the Lofoten War Memorial Museum. Bygdoy Peninsula is also home to some of Oslo’s top tourist attractions.

In Denmark, you can visit the Tivoli Gardens found in Copenhagen and Nyhavn, the model of most postcards and can also be found in Copenhagen. Here, you will also see the statue of the Little Mermaid, yep, that story was written by the Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen.

Do you know that you can spend 3 weeks in Scandinavia and cover Norway, Denmark, and Sweden on the same trip? We also have 3 weeks in Iceland itinerary if that’s something you have in mind and a Norway itinerary .

  • food budget per day: $30-$50
  • guided tours cost per day: $50-$70
  • accommodation cost per day: $45-$60 for backpackers or $100+ for mid-range
  • 3-week budget: $2,400-$3,500 (excluding flights to and back)

The Baltics – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

2 images - Trakai Castle and Bran Castle

If I’m on a budget, these three countries are my favourite European destinations for Europe in 3 weeks . These places offer a calm and relaxing vibe, from beaches to hiking, to castles, without spending too much.

You can cross the borders via train or bus, saving you money instead of flying. I’m not going to lie. The Baltic beaches are not stunning, but they offer a tranquil scene and few tourists.

I recommend you enter either through Vilnius or Tallinn and make your way north or south. Don’t forget to try cider from this region. It’s one of the best in Europe. Few do this, but road-tripping through the Baltics is the best way to explore this area. It’s more affordable and gives you so much more freedom.

In Lithuania, make sure to visit Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda. These two cities offer different activities from one another. Vilnius for the cultural and historical experiences and the best nightlife in Lithuania. In comparison, Kaunas is known for its creative and street arts.

Even though it’s a small city, many things to do in Kaunas are related to art. Last but not least, Klaipeda for the beach and other water activities. Make sure to visit Trakai Castle and Uzupis.

From there, make your way to Riga, the coastal capital of Latvia. Enjoy museums, castles, fortresses, and the beach during summer. You can also visit Rezekne, where Raznas National Park is located. Here, you can enjoy hiking, fishing, and even canoeing.

And lastly, Tallinn. A vibrant and modern city, Estonia’s capital and known for being the leading digital powerhouse of the Baltics. Estonia is the pioneer of digital residencies and the first country to welcome digital nomads. Many museums show Estonia’s history and culture. Being on the coast, you can enjoy the beach during warm weather and other water activities.

  • food budget per day: $15-$30
  • accommodation cost per day: $35-$50 for backpackers and $60+ for mid-range hotels
  • 3-week budget: $1,400-$2,300 (excluding flights to and back)

SUMMARY OF EUROPE IN 3 WEEKS

Europe might be expensive in general, but with enough planning and research, you should be able to create a travel plan for Europe without spending too much.

Our own guide to Europe in 3 weeks on a budget, consists of our personal list of places that I visited and perhaps you can visit them as well depending on your budget, season and activity preference.

These budget ranges are for participating in group tours and eating in bazaars, holiday fairs or mobile food carts instead of going to fancy restaurants. 

Next summer, I plan to be in Europe for 3 weeks visiting Italy (can never get enough!, Slovenia, and Czechia.

We hope reading this has been enjoyable and informative for you as much as compiling this list has been delightful. We also hope you would consider going to Europe because there are many famous scenic spots and hidden gems just waiting to be visited.

SAVE THIS TRAVEL ITINERARY ON YOUR PINTEREST:

Backpacking Europe on a budget involves exploring charming cities, historic landmarks, and stunning landscapes while managing expenses. Stay in hostels, use public transportation, eat local food, and seek free attractions to fully experience Europe's diversity without breaking the bank. via @threeweektraveller

When In Manila Search

Where php150k can take you on an 18-day europe trip.

Like most people, I’ve always dreamt of going to Europe but never got around to doing it for one main reason: expenses. We all have a notion of how expensive travelling to Europe can be. As such, I had put aside this dream and had occasional trips within Asia instead because it’s more affordable.

However, since I got married over a year ago, other couples kept coming up to us and telling us to travel while we still don’t have kids. And then recently there was a health scare with a loved one that made me realize how short life is.

So, husband and I started talking about finally exploring Europe together. If not now, when? When we have toddlers to look after? When we are older and it’s harder to walk around with aching knees and backs? If not now, when? With this in mind, my husband and I adopted the mantras “life is short” and “just do it”. Fortunately, an airline promo came up and we finally booked our 18-day trip to Europe.  

Of course, we wanted to enjoy and maximize our vacation without burning holes in our pockets. With online research and recommendations from family and friends who have been there, we were able to limit our budget to 150,000 pesos per person for an 18-day Europe Trip. Yes, 150K is still a lot of money, but it’s reasonable considering the following:

6. We flew via Singapore Airlines during Holy Week which is a peak season. 

Where Php150K Can Take You on an 18-Day Europe Trip

5. We travelled to 4 cities in 3 countries by train and plane.

Where Php150K Can Take You on an 18-Day Europe Trip

Florence, Italy:

Where Php150K Can Take You on an 18-Day Europe Trip

Barcelona, Spain:

Where Php150K Can Take You on an 18-Day Europe Trip

Paris, France:

Where Php150K Can Take You on an 18-Day Europe Trip

About The Author

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Valerie Tan is a TV and events host, blogger and enterpreneur. Check out her beauty, lifestyle and travel blog https://MissValerieTan.com. Keep in touch with her via Facebook.com/ThisIsValerieTan, Twitter and Instagram : @MissValerieTan

Traveling to Europe using points and miles in 2024

Ariana Arghandewal

May 23, 2024 • 17 min read

europe trip budget philippines

Read on for the best miles and points conversion to stay at the iconic Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam © Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with  The Points Guy .

Advertiser Disclosure:  This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. 

All information about the American Express® Green Card*, the Citi Premier® Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ credit card, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card,  the World of Hyatt Credit Card, the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card, and the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card   has been collected independently by Lonely Planet. These cards are not available through Lonely Planet.

Since pandemic-era travel restrictions have lifted, tourists have been flocking to Europe all summer. While summer has always been a popular time to visit cities like London, Rome and Paris, this resurgence in travel demand has been unprecedented. If you’re looking to travel to Europe at any time this year or next, you’ll see a marked increase in airfare and hotel prices. An excellent workaround for dealing with steep prices is by collecting points and miles . 

Not only can you save money by using points for your next trip to Europe, you can fly in premium cabins and stay at some of the best hotels in the world. All at a fraction of the cost of a budget vacation. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Europe using points and miles.

How to make a travel budget using points and miles

shutterstock_644797780.jpg

The cheapest award flights to Europe

Flying to Europe can be expensive, but points and miles can save you a substantial sum – especially if you’re flexible with your travel dates. The cheapest award flights to Europe are typically found during off-peak travel season (typically winter and early spring). Airlines like American, British Airways and Air France offer discounted award tickets during these times, saving you money and points.

But even if you hope to travel in the summer, you can find decent award space by booking far in advance. Meanwhile, Lufthansa has been known to release award space within 1-2 weeks of travel for business and first-class travel. Knowing these things can make booking flights to Europe with miles a less stressful experience. 

Here’s a look at the cheapest award flights to Europe and how to earn enough miles for a redemption:

  • Cheapest economy class ticket to Europe: From 20,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles round-trip to the UK.
  • Cheapest business class ticket to Europe: From 68,000 Iberia Avios round-trip to Spain.
  • Cheapest first-class ticket to Europe: 165,000 ANA Mileage Club miles round-trip.

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Downtown London

Award space to London is usually plentiful due to a slightly annoying reason: fuel surcharges. Airlines like Virgin Atlantic and British Airways add these pesky fees to flights passing through UK airports like London Heathrow (LHR). Fuel surcharges are egregiously high on business and first-class tickets (which can go well over $1,500 round-trip). However, they’re not too bad on economy flights or flights originating in cities outside of the UK.

A popular way to avoid fuel surcharges is by flying into London and then returning from Paris, which has much more reasonable taxes. Virgin Atlantic offers the cheapest economy flights to London, at just 20,000 miles roundtrip. 

If you want to upgrade to business class, All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club offers a bargain of just 88,000 miles round-trip. A first-class ticket will set you back 165,000 ANA miles. At this rate, you’re better off sticking to business class for a flatbed seat that offers plenty of comfort on the transatlantic flight. Here are the best rates by class for travel to London: 

  • Economy class: From 20,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles round-trip
  • Business class: 88,000 ANA Mileage Club miles round-trip
  • First class: 165,000 ANA miles round-trip

A British Airways flight takes off from LAX

How to earn miles for a flight to London

Virgin Atlantic miles are easy to earn, thanks to transfer partnerships with American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards and the Citi ThankYou rewards.

If you’re not a Bilt cardholder, you can transfer points to Flying Club at a 1:1 ratio with the following credit cards:

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express *:  Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Platinum Card® from American Express *: Earn 80,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first six months of card membership.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • American Express® Business Gold Card *: Earn 70,000 points after spending $10,000 within the first three months of card membership.
  • American Express® Gold Card *: Earn 60,000 points after spending $6,000 within the first six months of card membership.
  • American Express® Green Card: Earn 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first six months of card membership.
  • Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® : Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card : Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Meanwhile, ANA Mileage Club only partners with Amex Membership Rewards. You can transfer points earned from the Amex Platinum, Gold and Green cards.

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A street scene of cafes and bars in Madrid, Spain

Between the art scene of Barcelona and the sandy beaches of Majorca, Spain has much to offer travelers. Iberia Airways offers one of the best ways to fly to Spain on points and miles, with direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona. 

Iberia Airways offers especially great deals on air to Spain in the off-season. Even award tickets are incredibly affordable, with round-trip business class costing the same as most airlines charge for one-way business class awards. 

  • Economy class: From 34,000 Avios round-trip on Iberia Airways
  • Business class: From 68,000 Avios round-trip on Iberia Airways

How to travel to Spain using points and miles

How to earn miles for a flight to Madrid

The Iberia Plus program earns Avios, which you can transfer from your British Airways or Aer Lingus account. This also means you get access to a vast network of transferable currencies you can tap into to earn those miles. Iberia Plus is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can earn points from cards like the Amex Gold or Chase Sapphire Preferred. 

Iberia also has its own Iberia Visa Signature® Card, which has a $95 annual fee and features a time offer to earn 85,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn an additional 25,000 Avios after you spend $20,000 within the first 12 months of account opening.

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The bustling Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Italy

If you have dreams of visiting a fashion-forward city , exploring the picturesque countryside and refilling your water bottle in a historical fountain (just kidding, don’t do that!), then Rome is a great place to start your European adventure . Thanks to ANA Mileage Club, you can fly to Rome on a Star Alliance carrier like United or Lufthansa from just 55,000 miles round-trip. Business class is your best bet at 88,000 miles. It’s worth noting that ANA doesn’t allow one-way award redemptions, so you need the total miles for a round-trip to be able to book these flights.

  • Economy class: 55,000 ANA miles round-trip
  • Business class: 88,000 ANA miles round-trip

How to travel to Italy with points and miles

The scene outside the Colosseum

How to earn miles for a flight to Rome

You can earn enough miles for a round-trip flight to Rome by transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to ANA MileageClub at a 1:1 ratio. With the welcome bonus from The Business Platinum Card® from American Express , you can cover up to two round-trip economy class tickets or one business class. 

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An afternoon stroll through the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France

Amsterdam or Paris

Thanks to Air France and KLM’s joint Flying Blue loyalty program, using points for flights to Amsterdam and Paris is fairly easy. The program prices out award flights differently based on distance, but there isn’t a massive difference in price for West Coast vs. East Coast flights. Flying Blue’s rates are already affordable, but you can save even more with Promo Rewards . These discounted fares are updated monthly and offer savings as high as 50%.

  • Economy class: From 30,000 miles round-trip
  • Business class: From 113,000 miles round-trip 

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How to earn miles for a flight to Amsterdam or Paris

Transfer partnerships allow you to stock up on Flying Blue miles for award tickets to Amsterdam or Paris. Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou rewards. With the right credit card, you can easily cover at least one round-trip flight with points – maybe even two. 

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express : Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express : Earn 80,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first six months of card membership.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card : Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card : Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • American Express Business Gold Card : Earn 70,000 points after spending $10,000 within the first three months of card membership.
  • American Express® Gold Card : Earn 60,000 points after spending $6,000 within the first six months of card membership.

Should you book travel with cash or points?

The facade of The St. Regis Rome

Iconic hotels you can book with points 

Now that airfare is covered, it’s time to focus on hotels. No matter where you travel to in Europe, the continent has a massive hotel market, so you’re bound to find something for your budget and travel needs. When using points, you can’t go wrong with IHG, Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott – these chains have thousands of properties worldwide, including some of the most iconic hotels in Europe. These hotels are especially attainable if you sign up for a new hotel credit card .

If you’re looking for an upscale experience and don’t want to pay the high price tag, there are lots of exceptional hotels to choose from. Here’s a look at some of the most upscale European hotels you can book with points and miles :

10 amazing hotels around the world you can book with points

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London is a landmark property that opened in 1873 and combines grandeur with convenient access to everything the city offers. The hotel shares a building with St. Pancras station, from which you can hop a train to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and more. It’s an ideal base to explore Europe without stepping foot in an airport.

Guests can enjoy resort-like amenities, including the on-site gym, spa, pool, sauna and steam room. For 44,000 Marriott points per night, you can book a Deluxe room in the Barlow House wing with soundproof windows and beds fitted with down mattress toppers and Egyptian cotton sheets.

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How to earn points

You can earn Marriott points by transferring them from Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards. Marriott also has six different credit cards offering welcome bonuses as high as 150,000 bonus points:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card : Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card : Earn 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ credit card: Earn 85,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card :  Limited Time Offer: Earn 5 Free Night Awards, valued at up to 50K points each for eligible stays. Offer ends 7/10. Resort fees & terms apply.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card : Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® credit card : Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months from account opening. Plus, earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at thousands of hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.

The lobby of the St. Regis Rome

St. Regis Rome

When in Rome, you might want a hotel that provides the opulence of a 19th-century palazzo. The award-winning St Regis Rome delivers just that. Built in 1894, the hotel offers lavishly appointed rooms with marble bathrooms, nightly turndown and butler service. Rates start at 80,000 points per night. While steep, you can save 20% by taking advantage of Marriott’s fifth-night free benefit on award stays.

The hotel is within walking distance of the National Gallery of Ancient Art and close to tourist attractions like the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum.

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The Principal Madrid

The Principal Madrid

Hyatt has some great hotel options in Madrid at very reasonable rates. The Principal Madrid Hotel hotel is a great choice, with rooms starting at just 21,000 Hyatt points per night. Standard rooms are relatively small at just over 200 sqft but boast plenty of natural light. The Principal has the distinction of being the first five-star hotel in Madrid’s famed Gran Via, close to shopping and tourist attractions.

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How to earn Hyatt points

Earning Hyatt points for a stay at The Principal Madrid is as easy as transferring Bilt or Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can also top up your account with one of Hyatt’s co-branded credit cards, which can cover up to three nights at this hotel.

  • World of Hyatt Credit Card:  Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.
  • World of Hyatt Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4 Bonus Points per $1 on qualified purchases at Hyatt hotels & up to 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member.

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Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

The Waldorf Amsterdam strikes a perfect balance between embodying the city’s renowned charm in a luxury setting. The hotel is located inside six 17th and 18th-century palaces on the UNESCO heritage site of Herengracht Canal. The hotel boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants and provides easy access to the city’s main tourist attractions, like the Hermitage Museum. Guests are also just a 12-minute tram ride from the city’s Centraal Station, making getting around the city and to the airport easy. 

Award rates start at 110,000 Hilton points per night for a Superior Room, which is spacious by European standards at 301-355 sqft. Superior rooms are outfitted with Egyptian cotton sheets, a marble bathroom and large windows to let in lots of natural light.

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How to earn Hilton points

The Hilton Honors program is a 1:2 transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, though this isn’t the best use of points. A better way to boost your Hilton points balance is by acquiring one of the Hilton credit cards. You can piece together multiple nights with the welcome bonus, annual spending bonus and generous earn rates on everyday spending. You’ll even get valuable elite status perks that can translate to room upgrades, complimentary breakfast and other enhancements to your travel experience.

  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $6,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card :  Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024.
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card within the first six months of Card Membership.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card : Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024.

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Intercontinental Paris Le Grand

Intercontinental Paris Le Grand

Paris has no shortage of exceptional hotels that provide grandeur and comfort. If you’re looking for old-world luxury with a historical background, you can’t go wrong with the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand. This hotel opened in 1862 (sans the Intercontinental brand) and hosts the famed Café de la Paix, the preferred hangout spot for renowned writers like Ernest Hemingway and Victor Hugo.

Award rates at this iconic property start at 66,000 IHG One points per night for a 215 sqft. “Cozy room” with a courtyard view. The hotel boasts an excellent location across the street from Palais Garnier and a short walk to tourist hot spots like the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre. Whether it’s your first time visiting The City of Lights or your tenth, the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand is an excellent choice for a point stay.

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How to earn IHG points

If you want to earn enough IHG points for a stay at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or Bilt points to IHG at a 1:1 ratio. Alternatively, you can pick up an IHG credit card to earn 140,000 points and elite status perks. Cardholders also get the fourth night free on award stays, along with other valuable perks.

  • IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card : Earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card : Earn 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Night city view of Amsterdam

Bottom line

Travel to Europe is more expensive than ever, but you can reduce the cost with points and miles. A European vacation can fit anyone's budget with flights starting at just 20,000 miles round-trip and luxury hotel options like the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand.

How to get major perks at global events and concerts with your credit card

* Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit  americanexpress.com/benefitsguide  for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit  americanexpress.com  to learn more.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

This article was first published Sep 8, 2023 and updated May 23, 2024.

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Wondering How Much a Trip to Europe Costs? Find Out What to Expect in 2024

W hen I first starting taking my family to Europe, I got a lot of side eye from other parents. You could almost see the thought bubble that says, “you must be rich.” There were also a lot of off-hand comments about how they couldn’t afford to go to Europe (from families that frequently dropped a few thousand dollars on trips to Disney.) TL;DR, we aren’t rich, but we do prioritize spending money on travel. The fact is, there are some misconceptions around how much a trip to Europe costs.

There were actually times when we decided to go to Europe because the flight was cheaper than getting to Florida! Of course, when, where, and how you travel can greatly impact your European trip budget. But after visiting 14 European countries, many multiple times, I’ve learned a lot about how much a trip to Europe costs.

Now I won’t lie, it can get REALLY expensive, especially if you are traveling with a family and need two or more rooms (this is why we have used Airbnb ), prefer private tours (worth it with kids!), or if you can only travel during the expensive summer months.

But, I have some tips to help you lower those costs and choose more affordable destinations. I’ll also walk you through average costs for a European vacation , including airfare, accommodations, activities, food, and transportation .

First, if you are interested in a specific country, I have very detailed cost breakdowns for:

  • Iceland trip cost
  • Ireland trip cost
  • Scotland trip cost
  • London trip cost
  • Amsterdam trip cost
  • Paris trip cost
  • Portugal trip cost
  • Italy trip cost
  • Greece trip cost

Ways to Save on Your European Trip Cost

f you are looking for ways to save some money on your trip to Europe cost, here are some ideas;

Visit Less Expensive Countries

If you want to go to Iceland or Scandinavia, you are going to need a healthy budget. Even places that used to be considered budget-friendly, such as Portugal, have gotten pricier in the last few years as tourism has increased (although it is still cheaper than other Western European countries.).

However, if you go the bit off-the-beaten path, you can find great deals, it may just be a bit trickier to find direct flights. Look at destinations like Scotland , Wales , and Eastern European countries like Hungary or Slovenia.

Avoid Big Cities

Everyone wants to visit Paris , London , and Rome , but the less time you spend in these large European capitals, the better it is for your budget. Sevilla is going to be cheaper than Barcelona, and so on.

You can also stay in less-popular countryside destinations, like Piedmont or Umbria instead of Tuscany in Italy or Languedoc instead of Provence in France. We have stayed in gorgeous chateaus in the Languedoc region of France for half the cost of our hotel in Paris.

Stay in Rentals

If you are visiting Europe with kids , one way to save money is to find an apartment or villa rental through Airbnb, vrbo, or other vacation rental alternatives . Since it is hard to find family rooms in Europe that sleep four or more, often the cost of a two or three-bedroom apartment is cheaper than renting two hotel rooms or an expensive hotel suite.

Even couples will benefit from staying in agriturismos, which are farms that offer accommodations on-site in Italy, or something similar.

Travel Outside of Peak Season

I know it is hard to travel during shoulder season or low season if you have kids, but remember that Europe has different holidays and school schedules. You can find great deals around our U.S. Thanksgiving. And, if your kids get out of school early, you can still find better deals and availability in June than July or August, when European schools have summer break.

If you have more flexibility, traveling in late October through May (outside of holiday weeks) will save you some money. Just do some research about half-term or school break weeks.

Use Points and Miles or Low-Cost Carriers

There are a lot of ways to hack your way to free flights to Europe using sign up bonuses and flexible points transfers if you can easily meet the minimum spend amounts with your current spending. However, even if that isn’t an option, you can often find great deals on flights to Europe.

We have flown to London and Vienna for under $500 each. I highly recommend signing up for a  flight deal subscription service such as Going . With the premium level you can set up your preferred airports and dream destinations and receive alerts on airfare sales and even points deals.

There are also a number of low cost carriers that offer flights from the United States including Norse Atlantic Airways, Condor, and French Bee. You can also use Play Airlines, which connects through Iceland.

Fly to a Hub and Then Use a Low Cost Carrier

If you find a great flight deal to a major European city, you can then use a low-cost carrier such as Ryan Air, EasyJet, Vueling, or others to connect to your final destination. These flights are typically under $100 per person, but make sure you are aware of the luggage restrictions on weight and size, which are different from U.S. carriers.

Trains are also another option, but don’t assume they will be cheap, especially if you book first class with assigned seats and luggage storage. Be sure to research your options before you book.

How Much Does a Trip to Europe Cost

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Now let’s look at some average costs for a trip to Europe. I’ve based these on two people traveling to Europe from the United States for a one week (7 night) trip.

Airfare to Europe Cost

Airfare from the United States to Europe can range from $500 per person (if you find a great deal) to over $2,000 (if you book late and travel during high season on a standard carrier.) As I mentioned above, you can save money by looking for flight deals, traveling off-season, or using low-cost carriers or connecting flights.

However, you can assume an average cost of $1,000 per person.

Total Airfare Cost = $2,000 ($1,000 x 2 people)

European Accommodations Cost

Accommodation costs can vary greatly depending on if you are staying in a big city or elsewhere, or if you are in a luxury hotel or a rustic rental. You will usually want to split your trip between a city and somewhere in the countryside. If you only have a week, I’d suggest three nights in the city and four nights elsewhere. Think Rome or Florence + Tuscany, Milan + Piedmont, Paris + Burgundy, Edinburgh + Highlands, London + Wales, etc.

In the city, expect to spend $250-500 per night and $150-350 per night in another location. Remember, you can refer to each of my detailed cost breakdowns for specific hotel and itinerary recommendations for those various destinations.

Total Accommodations Cost = $2,050 ($350 x 3 nights + $250 x 4 nights)

European Transportation Cost

Even if you plan to stay in one city for your entire trip to Europe, you will still need to spend some money on transportation. For example, when we went to Amsterdam for three days, we walked all over the city but we still took a transfer to and from the airport. So whether it is Uber, taxis, public transportation, or private transfers, you will need to budget for transportation expenses.

More likely, you will need to also either rent a car or take a train between destinations. If you are renting a car, be sure to book it early as the prices go up the closer you get to your arrival. Automatic transmission cars are also more expensive than manual transmission. Try to pack in carry on suitcases if possible so that you can rent a small to mid-size car. Driving in some countries (especially Ireland, the UK, and parts of Italy) can be challenging on small roads so you will appreciate it for more than the price point! Also keep in mind that gas is more expensive in Europe than the United States.

Total transportation cost = $800 (estimated)

European Activities Cost

Your activity costs vary greatly depending on where you go in Europe. For example, if you are visiting Scotland or Wales and you just want to spend a lot of time in the outdoors and maybe visit a few castles, your expenses will be minimal. But if you are going to Paris or Rome and you want to explore historic sites and museums and get the most of the experience, you will want to take a tour.

When in Greece, you can spend your days by the pool or the beach, but you will probably want to at least take a sunset sail and maybe a food or wine tour. I know it can get expensive, but don’t skimp on your activities. This is what you will remember most about your trip. More than your hotel. More than your airplane ride. It is also what matters the most when visiting a foreign country. After all, you want to experience the local culture. You want to learn more about the destination’s history. And you will want to see what makes a place unique.

Total Activities Cost = $1000

European Food Costs

It used to be that food in Europe was more expensive than in the United States but in the last couple of years, I have not found that to be the case. You can still spend a bundle on food if you elect for hotel breakfasts or fancy chef’s tasting menus. But in general, you can find affordable meals especially in destinations like Scotland, Wales, Portugal, and Italy.

You can also save money by preparing some of your own meals if you rent an apartment or stay in an aparthotel with a kitchenette. Remember, you don’t need to tip as much in Europe (or sometimes at all) and the alcohol is usually a lot cheaper because it isn’t marked up as much. These factors can make a big difference in your bottom line.

As a rule of thumb, plan to spend:

  • $10 per person for breakfast (stop at a bakery for pastry and coffee or juice)
  • $15-20 per person for lunch (think pizza, sandwiches, or street food)
  • $25-50 per person for dinner (maybe plan for one splurge dinner too of up to $100 pp)

Total Food Cost = $1150

You may also want to budget some money for souvenirs and travel insurance.

Total Trip to Europe Cost

A seven-night trip to Europe for two people will cost an average of $7,900, or $564 per person, per day.

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How much does a trip to Europe cost? Be sure to read this when planning your vacation to create your European trip budget.

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