With a history dating back over 2000 years, the chance to explore numerous cultures in a relatively short space of time, and the ability to see some of the most famous and iconic sites in the world, together with fantastic food and a world-class nightlife, it’s easy to understand why Europe is on so many traveller’s wish lists.
The one drawback is that Europe is also one of the most expensive destinations for travellers. Its main cities, including London and Paris, are amongst some of the most expensive in the world, while Scandinavia is renowned for being a costly destination.
Unless you’ve hit the lottery you’re probably going to be heading to Europe on a tight budget and so will be looking for ways to make your money go further. To help you plan your trip here are some tips to budget travelling in Europe:
One of your biggest expenses when in Europe is going to be where you stay. There is no getting away from the fact that city-centre hotels are expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget they are better avoided. Instead look for small hotels and B&Bs that are located on the outskirts of major cities. Often they are much more affordable and are close to transport routes into the city.
Another popular backpacker option is, of course, the hostel. Not only are they great for a low cost place to stay but they are also a fantastic way of meeting fellow travellers.
Alternatively, if you are heading out of a city, consider camping. Europe, especially Western Europe, has many campsites that include facilities such as shower blocks and even on-site restaurants and swimming pools. Just remember that Northern Europe can get very cold, wet and muddy.
One of the great advantages of Europe is that it is easy to get from one country to another. There are frequent, reliable and safe ferries that connect many of Europe’s ports, while an efficient and comprehensive rail network spans most of the Continent.
Many of Europe’s large cities have great public transport systems, from underground trains to overland trams and bus services, and most are relatively cheap to use.
When travelling by public transport try and avoid using them during peak times (normally the morning and evening rush hours) as ticket prices will sometimes increase at these times. It is often possible to get reductions on ticket prices if you book in advance, and also look out for discount cards and deals.
If you want to try the local cuisine but don’t want to pay tourist prices look for restaurants and cafes off the main tourist routes and preferably one full of locals. Or try heading to markets and street vendors – these often sell food aimed at locals and, as such, are normally much more reasonably priced.
Another alternative is to find a supermarket, small food store, or market where you can buy basic food such as cheese and bread that you can store in your hotel or hostel – and make sure you stock up before travelling as food at train stations and airports are often more expensive.
Many travellers often overlook the amount they will spend just getting into the main tourist sites. Europe is famous for its historical buildings, museums and art galleries, but most cost money to enter.
Although there is no getting away from the fact that you’re going to have to pay these prices, but researching which are worth the price and which are not beforehand will help prevent you making a costly mistake. Look at online travel guides for advice before you go and speak to other travellers you meet along the way for their recommendations.
Many cities will also have lesser known places that are free to enter and sometimes finding these hidden gems can be better than visiting an over-crowded well-known tourist site.
Whether you’re pub-crawling in Dublin or dancing in a trendy club in Berlin, it is likely that if you’re in Europe you’re going to be sampling the nightlife. The trouble is once you’ve had a drink or two (or seven!) it can be hard to keep track of the amount you’re spending.
The best advice here is to be sensible and only take out a small amount of money with you, leaving the rest along with your cards securely locked away in your hotel or hostel. This way once your sober-set budget for the night runs dry you have to head back.
Written by Derin Clark, a writer, editor and blogger