What are some ways to travel in Europe on a budget?

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Answered by: Erin, An Expert in the Travel - Top Budget Travel Tips Category
Traveling in Europe is notoriously expensive, due to a high cost of living, extensive western conveniences, and abundance of tourist attractions. As thousands of backpackers can attest, however, it is possible to travel through Europe on a budget. With a bit of planning, flexibility, and a willingness to sacrifice some luxuries, any travel can travel in Europe without breaking the bank.


Hostels are usually the cheapest and most comfortable options for budget travelers in Europe. The hosteling industry is well-established in both Western and Eastern Europe, and you will find establishments in most cities. Hostel prices are usually about one quarter of the cost of a hotel. If you are on a very tight budget, consider staying at a hostel with a campsite for the lowest prices.

Eastern Europe vs. Western Europe

In general, Western Europe is more expensive than Eastern Europe. Eastern European countries like Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary are more budget-friendly than popular spots in Western Europe, like England and France. In general, cities with major tourist attractions tend to be more expensive than off-the-beaten path locations. Prague is a notable exception; there, you can find cheap street food and hostels for under $10 a night.


A Eurail train pass was once the cheapest transportation option for travel in Europe, but the advent of cheap airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet changed all that. A better option is to use these airlines to fly long distances, and use cheap local trains and buses for short distances. If you look for fare sales, fly with carry-on baggage and stick to weight and size limits, you can often fly for under $10. Many hostels will store your larger bags while you take shorter trips. If you prefer ground transportation, local trains and buses are usually cheaper than express trains.


While Europe is home to many expensive restaurants, travelers on a budget will be better off getting food from cheaper sources. Consider street stalls, small cafes, and try to cook some of your meals in hostel kitchens. When in doubt, aim to eat like the locals: buy fresh food at markets, avoid restaurants that advertise English-speaking servers and choose fast food occasionally.

Special Deals

If you research in advance, you can learn about special deals to get into attractions without busting your budget. Many countries, for example, offer entrance to two attractions with one ticket, or are free on certain Sundays. In Italy, most museums are free on the first Sunday of each month. In Scotland, all of the state-operated museums are open to the public and do not charge an admission fee. If you are visiting multiple attractions in a single city, look for a single-fee card that offers reduced admission to a variety of places.

Inside Information

By traveling with a budget-oriented mindset, you will meet other budget travelers--often, they are the best source for cheap travel ideas. Hostels in Europe are packed with people who want to save their money and extend their travel; make friends with other people and hostel employees and don't hesitate to share stories and tips. Traveling in Europe on a budget is best accomplished with first-hand advice.

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