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 a 16person 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 experiences and the prices I recently saw.
I’ve been going to Europe for four 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 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 Eu-rope can fluctuate, the cheap and expensive countries average out. In Greece, you can spend 40 euros or less per day. In Italy or France, 70 euros will cut it if you don’t 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 20–30 euros per night for a dorm room. (Though in Greece and Spain, it’s only 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 for around 40–50 euros.
- Transportation: The easiest way to get around Europe is by train. Trains connect every major part of Europe, and they’re often very cheap. High-speed trains, though, can cost over 100 euros. Try to get the regional or slow trains for cheaper pric-es! The rise of cheap airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Transavia, s 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 east-ern Europe. Full-day tours cost 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 are plenty of ways. 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 tiny shops where you can be premade sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Buy some food, eat outside, and watch the city go by. It’s a cheaper and more enjoyable way to eat.
- Eat Local and Cheap. Not into picnicking? That’s OK, there are other ways to save money on food. Eat at local sand-wich 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’re 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 five-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 you can 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, learn some history, and get 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 euros a day and have some piece of mind. You won’t spend that much, but over-budgeting helps ensure you won’t run out of money.
For more information, visit my page on backpacking Europe.