Europe covers a huge area of the world where prices can fluctuate widely. For 20 euros, you can get a private room in Greece. For 20 euros in Paris, you may get 16 person dorm room. You can eat for a few Euros in Spain or Greece but a sit down meal in Italy will cost around 15 Euros. So thinking about how to budget for your European trip can be quite difficult. But let me share my experience and the prices I recently saw.
I’ve been going to Europe for 4 years now and I’ve visited a lot of places. Europe isn’t cheap but there are plenty of ways to cut down costs. Recently, I went through Amsterdam, Greece, Italy, and Hungary. In 59 days of traveling, I spent 4,317 Euros, which averages out to 73.17 Euros per day. That includes a few flights, many a nice meal, too many drinks on Ios, a few nights of private rooms (it was my birthday after all!), and having some unexpected purchases (a jacket, a new iphone charger, and new headphones).
Overall, I think for a budget traveler moving around Western Europe, this is a realistic daily budget. While the cost of Europe can fluctuate, the cheap and expensive countries average out to this. In Greece, you can spend 40 Euros or less per day. In Italy or France, 70 Euros will cut it if you aren’t going to eat out. In London, the pound can eat into your wallet quicker than you can put money into it. Here are some general costs:
- Accommodation: In most Western European countries, expect to pay between 20-30 Euros per night for a dorm room. (Though in Greece and Spain, it is cheaper at 10-20 Euros per night.) In Scandinavia, expect to pay around 30-35 Euros per night. In England, prices are usually around 15-20 pounds per night.
- Food: Food costs vary as wildly as accommodation costs. Cheap fast food meals cost 6-8 Euros while restaurants meals cost around 15-20 Euros. Nicer establishments will cost 30 Euros or more. You can cook your food for a week at around 40-50 euros.
- Transportation: The easiest way to get around Europe is by train. Trains connect every major part of Europe and they are often very cheap. High speed trains through can cost over 100 Euros. Try to get the regional or slow trains for cheaper prices! With the rise of cheap airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Transavia, have all made flying around Europe in a hurry really cheap. For flights, expect to pay around 50 Euros if you book in advance. Transportation around most cities is only 1-2 Euros.
- Activities: Most museums and tours start at around 10 Euros. It’s cheaper of course in eastern Europe. Full day tours cost between 30-50 Euros. Prices vary drastically per country so it’s hard to give a good general cost of this budget item.
So how can you save money in Europe? There’s plenty of ways to save money on a trip through Europe. For starters, the situation with Greece has made traveling to Europe very cheap. The Euro is very weak right now and you’ll gain a lot of extra money just based on the currency exchange.
How to Save Money in Western Europe
- Picnic. Europe has a lot of little tiny shops where you can be pre-made sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Buy some food, eat outside, and watch the city go by. It’s a much more enjoyable and cheaper way to eat.
- Eat Local and Cheap. Not into picnicking? That’s OK, there are other ways to save money on food. Eat a local sandwich shops, pizza parlors, Maoz, Wok to Walks, outdoor street vendors, and the like. Avoiding restaurants and eating at a lot of the local “grab n’ go” places will give you a taste of the local cuisine at a much cheaper price.
- Couchsurf. Hostels can add up really quick in Europe. If you don’t have any friends you can stay with, consider using the service Couchsurfing, which lets you connect with locals who will let you stay with them for free.
- Fly Cheap. If you know where you are going and a train won’t do, try to book flights early. You can often get one euro fares from many of the discount airlines like Transavia, Easyjet, Air Berlin, and Ryanair. Watch out for fees though. There are many cheap ways to get across Europe.
- Drink Less. Those 5 Euro beers really add up. Hit happy hour or pick and choose when you party. Hostel bars are a good place to get cheap drinks or buy your alcohol at the supermarket. Partying your way across the continent will destroy your bank balance in no time.
- Take the Free 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, get history, and learn your bearings without spending any money.
I feel 70 Euros is a good planning budget given the cost of food, drinking, activities, and transportation. I’ve had friends get by on much less. Last year, I met people who got by on 50 Euros a per day. They had a very tight budget that consisted of no eating out and limited sightseeing. I’ve seen a lot of people do it for 60 Euros per day, which included a bit more eating out and a few more activities. Yes, on a tight budget, you can do it for less than 70 Euros. However, under budgeting is never a good idea. What if something happens or you decide last minute to do a wine tour? Plan for 70 Euro a day and have some piece of mind. You won’t spend that much but it just helps to ensure you don’t run out of money.
For more information, visit my page on backpacking Europe.