Backpacking Europe is a fun adventure everyone should do at least once in their life, but while actually in Europe it can be easy to spend, spend, spend! Budgeting your money is an important skill to have while traveling, and if you can save money on certain things it’s an added bonus! Read on for 12 tips on how to save money backpacking Europe for first time travelers!
Stay at Hostels
Staying at hostels while travelling in Europe will help you save a lot of money for a few reasons:
- A lot of hostels have free breakfast
- Most hostels have a communal kitchen where you can cook your own food
- Accommodation prices are typically cheaper than hotels
- A lot of hostels offer free walking tours
- Reception typically has great recommendations for the best places to eat at a more affordable price – just ask!
I book and browse hostels through hostelworld.com
Take Overnight Buses
If you take an overnight bus, you will save money on a night’s expense of accommodation! And you’ll save a full days worth of travel time by traveling through the night 🙂
Travel in the Off Season
Because there are less tourists in Europe during the off season and the shoulder season, you can usually find discounts and just an overall cheaper price to try to attract more tourists to these locations. During high season (summer), prices tend to go up because there a lot more tourists and attractions, accommodation, and basically everything is a lot more in demand.
Visit “Cheaper Cities”
If you plan your trip to visit some of the “cheaper cities”, you will just save more money travelling through Europe in general! A few of my favourite affordable cities to visit are Prague, Budapest, and Warsaw. Your money will go a lot farther in these cities/countries, compared to cities like London, Paris, and Zurich.
Base Yourself in a Less Expensive City, and Take Day Trips to the More Expensive Cities
You definitely should still visit these more expensive cities though, because they are 100% worth it! In order to save money while visiting these cities, basing yourself in a cheaper city close by and taking the bus in as a day trip will save you some money on the expensive accommodation (as long as you can get a good price for the bus). This trick will take a but pf planning and price comparing, but it has helped me save money in the past!
Bring Your Student ID to Save Money
Sometimes there are student prices for attractions, but you need to prove that you qualify for the discount! I’ve found some places won’t accept the student ID from countries outside of the EU, but my student ID from Canada has been accepted a few times and saved me some money!
Take the Bus Instead of the Train
Another trick that might take a bit of price comparing, but typically, taking the bus is cheaper than the train. There are trade offs though with taking the bus – it usually takes a lot longer, can be less comfortable, and you risk getting stuck in traffic!
Research Free Activities in the City You’re Visiting
A lot of cities have free attractions on offer, as well as paid attractions. In order to save money while travelling Europe, plan to do a lot of the free options, and splurge on the paid attractions that you really want to do! Some examples of free attractions across Europe are:
- Free walking tours/ghost tours (but don’t forget to tip if you think it’s worth it!)
- Museums are free in London and Dublin
- Viewpoints & Rooftops
- Admiring attractions from the outside – The Duomo in Florence, Big Ben in London, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Coliseum/Trevi Fountain in Rome, The Reichstag in Berlin
- If you book beforehand, you can enter the Reichstag for free and take a tour at no cost!
Don’t Stay Too Far From the City Center
If you book your accommodation really far from the city center and the main sites you want to see because it appears cheaper, do your research! If you have to spend a ton of time and money commuting each day in and out of the city to get to different attractions, it could cost you more in the long run (and it’s just a general pain!). Usually I’ll spend a little more on accommodation if it means I can easily walk everywhere and won’t have to spend on expensive ubers or train rides to get into town each day.
Walk or Rent Bikes to Get Around the City
This brings me to my next point – a lot of highlights are in city centers and are typically easy to walk to! Depending on the season though, this may be slightly harder with snow on the ground and cold temperatures. But if you’re able to, then walk the shorter distances and rent a bike to travel longer distances! Plus on a bike you can stop whenever you see something awesome!
Beware of Foreign Transaction Fees on Your Card (& Plan Accordingly)
Something a lot of first time travellers overlook is the foreign transaction fees charged by their banks while oversees. For this reason, I typically take out a lot of cash every once in a while to avoid being charged copious amounts of fees (you are charged each time you use your card). If you are taking out a ton of cash, be safe and smart about it. If you can get a card that advertises no foreign transaction fees, this is hands down the best option!
Ask the Locals Where to Eat
A lot of restaurants in the city centre are marketed towards tourists, and if the restaurant is marketed towards tourists, it’s probably more expensive! Ask the locals or the receptionist where you’re staying to give you some advice on the best places to eat for the best price!
Hopefully, this post helps any first time travelers out with how to save money backpacking Europe! Have you traveled Europe before and have any tips to share to save money while backpacking Europe? Leave any comments or recommendations below! Feel free to send me an email as well with any questions, requests, or just to say hi!