Europe is one of the most popular tourist destinations for travelers from all over the world.
For those of us worried about the cost, thankfully there are plenty of ways to visit Europe while sticking to a budget.
Given the beauty of European cities and natural areas it’s not surprising that backpacking through Europe is high on the bucket list for most travelers.
With so many things to do in Europe, it’s a huge goal for just about every traveler to spend time backpacking in Europe.
Just like with any backpacking trip, it’s important to learn about the best ways to see Europe on a budget.
This way you can keep your finances in check and explore the best beautiful European travel spots without constantly worrying about money.
In this post, let’s take a took at some of the best budget travel tips for Europe to save you money, time, and to get you out exploring as soon as as possible!
Accommodation: How to Find Budget Accommodation in Europe
At the top of most travelers expense list is accommodation.
Hotels are expensive and not the ideal place to stay if you’re looking to save money.
Here are the best options for travellers looking for budget accommodation while backpacking or traveling in Europe.
AirBnb Private Rooms
You’ve probably heard of AirBnb by now.
If not, head on over and sign up for AirBnb through this link to save up to $45 on your first booking!
Airbnb is one of the best ways to save money while traveling, especially if you’re traveling with another person.
On the platform you can book private rooms in people’s homes, anywhere in the cities are visiting, for much less than a hotel.
The prices for private rooms are competitive, even against hostels where you’re stuck sharing a room with other people.
In most cities, even places like Paris and Vienna, you can find private rooms starting at $25 per night.
Hostels in Europe
Hostels are the most popular form of accommodation for people looking for the best ways to see Europe on a budget.
While some of them are designed for the younger, party-oriented crowd, most hostels accommodate all types of travelers.
Along with shared rooms with bunk beds there are also private rooms at hostels (offering a better price than if you were to stay at a hotel).
Those of you enjoying the benefits of solo travel are the ones most able to take advantage of the cheap hostel dorms in Europe.
Don’t forget to read reviews before booking anything to avoid any issues with the hostel if you’re interested in.
Camping and Couchsurfing
Camping and Couchsurfing in Europe are reserved for all but the most budget-savvy travelers.
With a limit on vacation and travel time, most people won’t be interested in camping.
The same goes for couchsurfing where you have to spend time messaging hosts without any guarantees on accommodation.
These two options provide lower prices compared to hostels and AirBnb although there was more upfront work and planning required.
Eating: How to Find Cheap Food in Europe
Eating out can be another expensive part of your backpacking trip to Europe.
Here are a few tips on how to save money on food when you’re traveling:
Cook Your Own Food
If you’re staying at a hotel or AirBnb you might have access to a kitchen and cooking supplies.
Preparing meals on your own is the best way to keep expenses down.
It’s easy to buy fresh and quickly prepared food from the grocery store that you can make back at the hostel or apartment.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy although there are some great options for reasonable prices at most grocery stores in Europe.
Things like salads, pasta, soups, and sandwiches are some foods you can quickly prepare without spending much money.
Sitting down to eat also take some valuable travel time!
Eat at Local Spots
Restaurants in popular tourist areas are always going to be more expensive and provide a lesser quality of food.
If you want to eat out, head into smaller local neighborhoods and find a spot where the locals are going.
You can usually find these budget-friendly places a few blocks away from the tourist traps.
Alternatively, head online and look for a “cheap eats guide” for the cities you’re visiting for more inspiration on places to go.
Grab Street Food
One of my personal favorite things to do when I’m traveling is to try out all of the different local street food.
Most European cities will have street food stalls and vendors selling items for much less than you would find at nearby restaurants.
For example, you can save money in Paris by picking up a crepe or a fresh French sandwich from one of the vendors around the city.
In Rome, you can grab pizza just about anywhere from vendor stalls to tiny shops.
With street food you’re only limited by your imagination and ability to explore to find the best places.
Transportation: Budget Transportation in Europe
One of the cheapest ways to get around Europe is by taking the bus.
You might have been told that getting a Eurail pass or taking the train in Europe is a good choice for budget travelers.
In most cases, the train is more expensive and slower than taking the bus.
Many European bus companies offer highly competitive ticket prices, especially if you’re one of the first people to book a ticket.
Even longer overnight routes will rarely exceed thirty to forty dollars regardless of where you’re travelling.
Keep in mind the later that you book the more expensive the tickets will be.
Book your bus tickets as far as advanced as possible to get the best rates.
Another one of my favorite ways to get around on a budget is to take advantage of the budget airlines in Europe.
These airlines include:
All of the budget airlines offer competitive rates and cheap prices for people making one-way trips.
For example, you can find flights from Paris to Berlin for as little as $10 depending on how early you book.
National airlines are starting to offer competitive rates as well as they try to break into the budget airline market.
Make sure to read the ticket details carefully as some of the flights don’t offer luggage, seat selection, or other features found on most airlines.
Car Sharing (Ride-Sharing)
There are some interesting car sharing services in Europe that aren’t found many other places.
One of the most popular ones is Bla Bla Car.
The way it works is you get connected with people driving from the city you’re in to the destination you want to visit.
Some of the rides are free while others might require you to pay a few dollars.
Any trip with Bla Bla Car will end up being significantly cheaper than taking the train, bus, or even a budget flight depending on where you’re going.
The problem with the service is that you have to rely on the kindness of others to get where you want to go.
If you can get it to work for you Bla Bla Car is a great way to travel across Europe on a budget.
The Cheapest Cities in Europe to Visit (Best European Cities to Travel on a Budget)
Europe is full of amazing faces and European cities to visit on a budget.
Here’s the secret – the further south and east you travel the cheaper things start to get.
It’s no surprise that cities in eastern and southeastern Europe are topping this list of budget European destinations.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorites!
Topping the list is the beautiful city of Lviv, Ukraine.
This is one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe.
With hostels going for as little as $5 per night and an entire AirBnb apartment for ~$15 you can hardly go wrong.
And in case you’re wondering – Yes, it’s completely safe in Lviv.
The city is located an hour from the Polish border and more than a thousand miles from any of the Ukrainian conflict.
With easy access from Poland and cheap flights from all over Europe, Lviv is my most recommended city if you’re traveling Europe on a budget!
On a whim I decided to spend three months in Belgrade at the beginning of my digital nomad journey.
Since then I’ve fallen in love with Serbia and have been back many times.
For a budget destination it’s hard to go wrong with Belgrade.
You can find hostels for around $7 to $10 with private rooms in AirBnb’s going for $15 to $20.
Street food is readily available for next to nothing and it’s hard to spend more than $10 at any mid-range restaurant.
Take a look at my post on things to do in Belgrade if you’re planning a trip here!
Brasov and the Transylvania region have exploded in popularity over the past few years.
While accommodation isn’t as cheap as it once was, especially for long-term travelers, there is still plenty to be found for a budget.
Everything else including food and transportation remains reasonably priced.
It’s not hard to get by on $20 to $25 per day in Brasov, especially if you’re staying in hostels and eating locally.
Check out my post on things to do in Brasov for a better idea of what to expect in this beautiful town.
Krakow is well known for being a budget-friendly travel destination in Europe.
Whether you’re visiting for a few days or planning spending a month – there’s plenty of things to do in Krakow to occupy your time.
Compared to Warsaw, you’ll find Krakow 10-25% cheaper for accommodation, eating out, and most other travel-related expenses.
Another great thing about Krakow is its prime location in the heart of Europe.
From here you can easily hop on to a budget flight or bus to dozens of other interesting and affordable European destinations.
In Krakow expect to spend $15+ for a hostel and $3 to $10 per meal.
You can get away with a daily budget of $20 to $25 here.
Looking for somewhere to stay? Take a look at my Aparthotel Yarden Review.
Budapest is one of my favorite cities in the world.
It’s easily accessible from Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, and most of Central Europe.
This makes it a popular destination for budget travelers looking to stretch their dollars a bit further.
There are a lot of free things to do in Budapest so you can wander around and explore all day without spending much money.
Both hostels and private AirBnb’s are reasonably priced with some great options for budget hotels
You can expect to spend $15 to $30 per day on a budget trip to Budapest.
You don’t hear about Riga too often, but it’s a great place to visit if you’re hoping to explore Europe on a tight budget.
The Baltic countries, which include Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, are very affordable compared to Western European standards.
Latvia is one of the countries where your dollar goes the furthest and Riga makes a great base to start exploring.
During my trip to Riga I spent a week in an AirBnb for less than $170.
There’s plenty of cheap food and free things to do in Riga making it a great destination for budget travelers.
The Baltics are well-connected with public transportation, especially the bus, so it’s easy to hop to the next country when you’re ready to go.
Most visitors to Croatia head to Split or Zadar to spend time on the coast.
Don’t get me wrong, the beaches in Croatia are beautiful, especially in places like Omis on the Makarska Coast.
However, these destinations tend to be more expensive since their main focus is on tourism.
For a budget trip to Croatia I recommend heading to Zagreb.
In the lovely Croatian capital you’ll find plenty of things to do regardless of the time of year to visit.
During the summer or you can walk around the well-preserved old town that looks more like Vienna than somewhere in the Balkans.
In the winter, there’s the Zagreb Christmas Market – one of the best in Europe!
From informative walking tours to easy hiking opportunities, Zagreb has a lot to offer for its visitors.
You can expect to spend $15 to $25 per day on a budget trip to Zagreb.