7 Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
Last Updated: 5/10/2022 | May 10th, 2022
Traveling around Europe can be expensive. Airline tickets, high-speed trains, overnight trains, ferries — they all eat into your limited (and precious) travel budget.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around Europe on a budget. The sharing economy, new bus options, discounted train passes, and lots of budget airlines — there are tons of options for navigating Europe without breaking the bank.
I’ve been traveling Europe since I started backpacking there in 2006 and have seen so many things change over that time period. I’ve watched travel hacks come and go and prices change and change again. While COVID has impacted things, as the continent slowly reopens, I can honestly say that it’s never been easier to get around Europe because there are so many new cheap ways to travel the continent.
Here are the best ways to travel around Europe on a budget:
1. Traveling Europe by FlixBus
Over the last few years, a new company has entered the market and totally changed the bus system in Europe. German-based FlixBus acquired Megabus Europe and has routes all around the continent. Prices start as low as 5 EUR and their buses include Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, free baggage, and comfy seats. They’re comparable to Megabus in pretty much every respect (Megabus still runs in the UK).
FlixBus quickly became my favorite non-train way to get across Europe cheaply. It’s not fancy by any means, but it’s the cheapest way to get around.
2. Traveling Europe by Busabout
Busabout is a hop-on/hop-off bus service. You can get on and off whenever you want along one of their set routes.
You can buy tickets that let you travel their whole network with a set number of stops. They have short passes for trips of 5-12 days as well as passes that last 6 months.
When you consider the soft benefits of a guide, the day trips included in your pass, and the ease of meeting people, Busabout becomes price comparable to trains and flights (though still more expensive than a regular public bus). The only downside to Busabout is that if you want to visit a city that is not on one of their routes, you have to make your own way there at an added cost.
Note: Busabout suspended its service in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19. Service will re-start in 2023.
3. Traveling Europe by Budget Airline
By far one of the cheapest ways to travel long-distance in Europe is by budget airline. These airlines are hugely prolific on the continent and competition has led to incredibly cheap fares. It’s not uncommon to find flights for as little as 10 EUR!
I use Skyscanner and Momondo to search for the best deals. They do all the legwork!
Just remember that budget airlines make most of their money through fees. They are very strict about baggage limits or and many will ding you if you forget to print your boarding pass. Don’t expect any complimentary drinks or meals either. But if you follow the rules and know what to expect you can save a ton of money!
Some of the budget airlines to check for cheap flights in Europe are:
- Wizz Air
- Norwegian Air
4. Traveling Europe with a Eurail Pass
I love traveling by train: sitting in a big seat, relaxing with a book, and watching the stunning landscape go by. It’s more comfortable than a bus and much less stressful than air travel. And the European rail system is one of the best and most extensive in the world.
If you’re going to travel by train, it’s hard to beat them on price and convenience for short city-to-city travel. For longer journeys (overnight journeys, between countries, or rides that require a high-speed line, like Paris to Bordeaux or Berlin to Munich), trains tend to be very expensive.
If you plan to travel around Europe and don’t want to fly, getting a rail pass is your best money-saving travel option. Your cost per trip will be a lot lower than if you were to buy these tickets separately.
5. Traveling Europe Using BlaBlaCar
The rise of the sharing economy has allowed people to hitch a ride with locals going their way, and BlaBlaCar is the reigning king of this service. It’s hugely popular and widespread in Europe, and I’ve used this service many times. It lets you rideshare with people who have extra space in their car. You find a ride, they agree to take you, and off you go. You just have to pay a small fee, which essentially covers the gas. You can find rides for as little as 5 EUR.
This is the BEST paid way to get around Europe because you get to meet a local, have a friendly conversation, save money, and get to where you’re going faster. It’s available in close to 20 countries in Europe.
While BlaBlaCar may not always be cheaper than the bus (FlixBus can be super cheap!) it’s usually way faster and way more interesting!
6. Traveling Europe by Rental Car/Campervan
If you’re traveling around a single country or small region of Europe, renting a car or campervan might be worth the price — especially if you can split the costs with someone. Car rentals can be found for as little as 25 EUR per day, making it a very affordable way to explore. While gas can be expensive, the border-free Schengen Area makes multi-country trips a breeze.
Campervans are particularly popular in countries like Iceland, Scotland, and Norway since those destinations offer a lot of hiking and camping opportunities. You can find campervans for as little as 60 EUR a day — super affordable when split with a travel partner! Use the app “park4night” to find free (and cheap) overnight parking all around Europe.
Note: Many countries in Europe require foreign drivers to have an International Driving Permit. You can get one in your home country before you arrive for around 20 EUR. (It’s essentially just a copy of your license in other languages).
7. The Cheapest Way To Travel Europe: Hitchhiking
The best way to travel Europe cheaply is to not pay for it at all! Hitching is quite common — and a lot safer than you think. I’ve met tons of travelers who have done it without incident. I myself traveled this way in Bulgaria and Iceland without any problems.
Just keep in mind that it’s important to use your head when hitchhiking. Always trust your instinct and use common sense. Keep your valuables on you in case you forget your bag in the car and never hesitate to text a friend or family member with the license plate before you get in. Write your destination on a sign and look presentable. That will help you find a ride faster.
Use the website Hitchwiki for tips to help ensure you have a fun and safe experience.
The BEST Way to Travel Europe: Mix and Match Your Transportation
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to get around Europe on a budget. But the best way is to MIX AND MATCH YOUR TRANSPORTATION. The key to traveling around Europe on the cheap is to know when to use each one of the listed transportation methods. For short trips, I like trains and BlaBlaCar. For medium-length trips (i.e. half a day), I’ll take a bus, BlaBlaBla car, or train. For long distances, I fly or take a high-speed train or an overnight bus.
Too many travelers think it’s an all-or-nothing thing. Like one way is always better than the other. That’s not true. There’s no one way to travel Europe. There are a ton — and you need to know when to use which method.
Ask yourself: What’s more valuable? Time or money?
If you have more time, take the slower cheaper routes.
If you have more money and a shorter trip, fly and take the train.
In any given trip, I will take at least four of the above methods when getting around Europe! It’s a mix and match kind of thing. One way isn’t good 100% of the time.
If you have no preference on how you travel — and you just want the cheapest option (which is usually what I do) — use a website like Rome2Rio or Omio. All you have to do is enter where you are going and these sites will mix and match the various ways to get around the continent for the least amount of money. They will string together buses and trains and planes to construct the quickest trip for the least amount of money.
Remember: no one method works 100% of the time! Mix and match! Do that and you’ll save tons of time and money!
Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!
My detailed 200+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel while in Europe. It has suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips, and much more! Click here to learn more and get your copy today.
Book Your Trip to Europe: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
For suggestions on where to stay during your trip, here are my favorite hostels in Europe!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for fifteen years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- (for everyone below 70) (for those over 70) (for additional repatriation coverage)
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.
Want More Information on Europe?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Europe for even more planning tips!
8 of the Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe
But at the end of this post, you will have THE answer!
Europe is one of my top travel destinations. When I travel Europe cheap, often at a fraction of the price, it only makes it better. It is also one place that people ask me about the most. One question that they have asked me over and over is, “Just how expensive is it to travel across Europe?”.
Although it is one of my favorite destinations, I have to be honest. There are much cheaper places in the world to visit, but the chance to travel Europe is absolutely wonderful and should be experienced at least once by everyone. Basically, if you let the cost of traveling Europe dampen your sense of adventure, you will be missing out on a spectacular part of the world.
Plus, there are many ways to cut costs and travel Europe at a fraction of the price.
Let’s dive into a few travel tips and give your wallet a much-needed rest and get you around both Western Europe and Eastern Europe.
This travel guide will equip you with two things.
1- The best ways to travel Europe
2- Cheapest way to travel Europe
CHEAPEST WAYS TO TRAVEL EUROPE
MEGA BUS (In Europe Called FlixBus)
If you get the right ticket, this is by far your cheapest option for getting around. At the moment, Mega Bus (Flixbus) covers only the UK and a few surrounding countries in Western Europe, but you can’t argue with the price. It is a cheap way to get around on your Europe trip.
A trip can cost 1.50 Euro, however, it usually requires that you book at least a month in advance, especially when you travel popular tourist routes and major cities. This is by far one of the cheapest ways to travel Europe.
Some tickets from London to Paris only cost $10. That is borderline insanity! Hands-down, nothing is cheaper than the Megabus when you want to travel to Amsterdam, Paris, and Brussels. It is a wonderful service to look at when backpacking Europe. It is one of the best ways to travel around Europe.
If you have limited time and want to move around quickly, Eurail is the best option. Eurail Passes offers a variety to fit almost any need. You can choose between regional passes, global passes, (every country), or “build your own” passes. One of the top advantages of using Eurail to travel Europe is the amount of freedom you have. Even with budget travel you can still see and explore a lot.
Unlike Busabout which has set stops, Eurail allows you to choose your stops as you go. This great feature permits you to discover Europe at your own pace and style. I love this aspect so much that Eurail is my favorite way to travel in Europe.
However, I strongly suggest using your Eurail pass only for traveling long distances so that you can make the most of it.
Of course, that doesn’t apply if you have unlimited travel days. Also, remember the passes give you a set number of days to travel the train networks.
The number of days depends on the pass but ranges from a minimum of three to as long as unlimited travel for 3 months. It’s the Ultimate Europe train ticket. Train travel is also my favorite way to travel around Europe.
Act now and get EXTRA days on your Eurail Pass
You can also save money on accommodation on an overnight train.
Overall, European train tickets can rack up quickly so if you are planning on hopping around a lot of train stations then a Eurail Pass is the way to go.
This is a very popular mode of transportation among backpackers. Busabout has set routes throughout Europe, and most of their passes let you hop on and hop off whenever you want.
There are over 33 stops which cover many of the most popular places, as well as, a few cities off the beaten track. One of the best things about Busabout is that you see the same people repeatedly. This allows you to really get to know other travelers and even develop long-lasting travel friendships.
My first experience on Busabout was over 5 years ago, and I still am good friends with many of the people I met. Check out my full Busabout Review
Explore Europe cheap with Busabout!
Budget airlines may be the best way to travel Europe on a limited budget. A budget airline is a company like Easy Jet, Ryan Air, Wizz Air, as well as a few others, compete in offering the cheapest fare deals throughout Europe. I usually look at the airlines directly or use websites like Skyscanner and Orbitz to find cheap deals. Check out my full list of budget airlines in Europe.
Some of them are almost unbelievable; for example, fares can be as low as $25 for a trip from Rome to Barcelona. Just remember to read the fine print to avoid last-minute hassles.
Not following their rules could cost you a stiff fee in terms of penalty payments. Also, while it might be the cheapest way to travel Europe, it is my least favorite option for a couple of reasons.
1- You don’t get to see the stunning European landscape. One of the best parts about traveling around Europe is the vast and scenic beauty it offers.
2- Trains are a magnificent platform to meet other travelers and locals.
Personally, taking the trains has provided me with many opportunities and unique experiences. I have some glorious memories of random dinners, epic nights out, great conversation, and unexpected hospitality from traveling buddies. While there it isn’t the cheapest ways to travel Europe on the list, it is the most fun!
BIKE AROUND EUROPE
Rising in popularity is taking a few months and cycling around. This is one of the cheapest Europe Travel experiences you can have as the price of transportation is free, and the only limit of distance is how far and fast your legs can carry you.
I know some people that have cycled Europe and they loved it. The only downside they said is often they were biking alone and this lead to them being lonely. However, if you have a partner then it shouldn’t be a problem.
Biking around Europe is also an amazing way to avoid gaining that travel weight.
This is Europe’s national bus service, Eurolines, and falls under an umbrella organization for international travel. Countries in Europe have national buses meant to be used in their area, but for traveling across Europe, it’s not the best option.
Bus rides are always one of the cheapest ways to travel Europe.
Buses cost less than taking trains. A train from Berlin to Paris cost $248 while a bus ride on the same route will only cost $100.
The big difference between these fares might be enough for you to think about foregoing the luxury of having a roomy space on a train or a cramped one on the bus. It’s your choice and your money.
There are several websites like Bla Bla Car that offer hitchhiking rides throughout Europe for little payment plus the price of fuel. You basically find a ride on a website where people post where they are going. This mode of travel isn’t as consistent as Europe trains, cheap flights, or companies like Busabout; but it is cheap and entertaining.
This route is not totally free, but it is safer than hitchhiking as you can get references from previous travelers.
It is a cheap and easy way to see Europe, and you also a good way to meet locals or other travelers. Travelling Europe with ride share is a fun, and cheap way to get around.
I am not recommending Hitchhiking. Because it can be dangerous. But it is a cheap way to get around Europe if you choose to go that route.
The best things in life are free and hitchhiking is free travel. Hitchhiking is popular in Europe, but still, as the saying goes, better safe than sorry, and always remember, there is no rule that says you have to get in a total stranger’s car just because he stops. I’ve known a lot of travelers that have hitchhiked around Europe and been completely fine.
When Hitchhiking you should always listen to your gut. It’s important when traveling around some of the best places to visit in Europe.
If you get an uneasy feeling about a ride then don’t take it. Europe is very safe overall, but that doesn’t mean that hitchhiking doesn’t care about certain risks.
Like anywhere, booking a month before is the best way to get the cheapest prices when traveling Europe. Budget airlines, Mega Bus, and National Buses top the list of cheap travel but have less charm than Busabout and Eurail.
Sometimes booking last minute means you get rock-bottom prices, but it is never certain.
It pays to have a plan and an itinerary to follow, especially when you are on a tight budget.
If you understand your options, you can be thrifty and yet enjoy, explore, and be adventurous. After all, that is what traveling is all about. So there you have it.
Europe is accessible, affordable, and waiting for your arrival. and travel Europe is cheap and easy if you know what you are doing.
Other cheap ways to get around in Europe are tours. A couple of tour companies in Europe I love are G-Adventures ( G Adventure Tours that are 25% Off ) and Intrepid Travel (Up to 25% Off Intrepid Tours)
Answers to Your Questions About The Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe
Use Credit Card Airline Points
Airline points are a great way to travel for free or at a reduced cost. Credit cards that offer airline points reward customers for spending money on their cards. The more money spent, the more points earned. We can then redeem these points for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related expenses.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a credit card that offers airline points. First, it is important to make sure that the card offers points that can be transferred to major airlines. Second, it is important to check the redemption rates to see how many points we need for a free flight or other Redemption options.
Finally, some cards have an annual fee while others do not so it is important to weigh all of these factors before selecting a credit card. The best way to maximize airline points is to use them for off-peak travel times and dates. Weekdays are typically cheaper than weekends and mid-week travel is often less expensive than peak holiday periods. Another tip is to book in advance as prices tend to rise closer to departure dates.
And finally, using multiple airlines may result in fewer choices of flights but could save hundreds of dollars in airfare costs! There are a lot of options from American Express to Chase.
How to Save Money Traveling Europe
Assuming that you would like to travel to Europe on a budget, there are a few ways that you can save money. Firstly, research is key – know which countries you want to visit and plan your route accordingly.
Secondly, consider alternative accommodation options such as hostels, Couchsurfing, or Airbnb instead of hotels. Finally, take advantage of free walking tours, public transport, and local markets to explore each destination without spending too much money.
With a little bit of planning and research ahead of time, it is possible to visit Europe without breaking the bank. By considering alternative accommodation options and taking advantage of free activities in each destination, travelers can make the most of their trip without spending too much money. With a little bit of effort, anyone can enjoy all that Europe has to offer without emptying their wallet.
Use Public Transportation to Save Money
Public transportation in Europe is an efficient and affordable way to get around. With a little planning, you can save money and avoid the hassles of driving and parking. The best way to use public transportation is to purchase a pass that covers all or most of the cities you’ll be visiting.
This can often be done online in advance, and it will save you money compared to buying individual tickets each time you ride. If you’re staying in one city for an extended period of time, consider getting a monthly pass.
In many European countries, there are discount cards available for tourists that entitle holders to free or reduced-fare rides on public transportation. These cards are usually valid for a certain number of days, so be sure to check the details before you purchase one.
Cheapest Place to Travel in Europe
With a huge range of diverse destinations, Europe is a continent that has something to offer everyone. If you’re looking for an affordable place to travel in Europe, there are plenty of options available.
Here are just a few of the cheapest places to travel in Europe: Bulgaria – With its beautiful Black Sea coastline and stunning mountain scenery, Bulgaria is a great value destination. Accommodation and food are both very cheap, making it one of the most affordable places to travel in Europe. Romania – Another great value destination, Romania has a lot to offer visitors on a budget.
From the vibrant city of Bucharest to the stunning Transylvanian countryside, there are plenty of things to see and do. And again, accommodation and food costs are very reasonable. Greece – Greece is another popular destination that doesn’t have to break the bank.
The Islands such as Crete and Corfu offer lovely beaches and a relaxed atmosphere, while mainland destinations like Athens and Thessaloniki provide interesting history and culture. Overall, Eastern Europe and Central Europe are cheaper than Western Europe. The cheapest European Country is Romania Czech Republic is also a very cheap country. Also, visiting smaller cities, they are much cheaper than the bigger cities. But this is a general rule no matter where you travel from South America to South Africa, to the Middle East.
How to Find a Cheap Flight to Europe
There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for cheap flights to Europe. First, consider booking your flight during the off-season. Traveling during the shoulder seasons (April-May and September-October) can often be cheaper than flying during the peak summer months.
Secondly, be flexible with your travel dates and departure city. Searching for flights with multiple departure cities or dates can help you find the cheapest option possible.
Finally, sign up for fare alerts with your favorite airlines or travel websites so you can be notified of any price drops or special deals on flights to Europe. By following these tips, you should be able to find an affordable flight that fits your schedule and budget. Use sites like google flights, or Kayak Explore to find a cheap flight.
If you are coming from the United States, you can also flight out of major airports, which are cheaper, like New York. Or try to find a cheap flight to the United Kingdom. London is usually cheap to fly into. And then find a cheap ticket to where you want to really go.
Which transport method is the quickest in Europe?
There are many transport methods available in Europe, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. So, which transport method is the quickest? For long distances, the quickest transport method is undoubtedly air travel. Planes can cover enormous distances in a relatively short amount of time, making it ideal for those who need to get from one place to another quickly.
However, air travel can be expensive and may not always be the most practical option depending on your destination. If you’re looking for a quicker transport method that’s also more affordable, then rail travel might be the best option. Trains can cover enormous distances fairly quickly and are often cheaper than flying.
However, they can be subject to delays depending on the route and may not always be the most comfortable option for longer journeys. Finally, there’s road travel. This is usually the slowest option out of the three listed here but it has the advantage of being able to stop at multiple destinations along the way if needed. It’s also usually the most affordable option if you’re travelling alone or with a small group.
Do I need Travel Insurance for Europe?
No one knows what the future holds, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything. For travel, that means having travel insurance. But do you really need it when traveling within Europe? The answer is: maybe. It depends on a few factors, such as your own health insurance coverage and whether or not you’re comfortable taking risks. If you have comprehensive health insurance at home, then you may not need travel insurance for Europe. Your regular policy might cover you while abroad, although there may be some restrictions.
Be sure to check with your insurer before your trip to find out exactly what is and is not covered. If you don’t have health insurance or if your coverage is limited, then travel insurance can give you some peace of mind while abroad. It can help cover medical expenses if you get sick or injured while on your trip. Ultimately, whether or not you need travel insurance for Europe is up to you. If you’re comfortable taking risks, then you might not need it. But if you want some extra protection against unexpected costs, then buying a policy is worth considering. World Nomads is great!
Use Free Walking Tours in Europe
The summertime is the perfect season to travel to Europe and explore all of the historical landmarks and natural beauty that the continent offers. One great way to see a lot of what Europe offers is by taking advantage of the many free walking tours that are available in major cities throughout the region.
Walking tours are a fantastic way to get an up-close and view of a city, while also learning about its history, culture, and attractions from knowledgeable tour guides.
In European cities like Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, and Florence, there are plenty of free walking tour options available for visitors to choose from.
Whether you’re interested in exploring a city’s ancient ruins or getting lost in its winding streets and beautiful architecture, taking a free walking tour is a great way to make the most out of your European vacation.
Europe Travel Guide
From beautiful Paris to smoke-filled coffeeshops in Amsterdam, Oktoberfest to La Tomatina, Europe is a massive, diverse continent with an unlimited assortment of things to see and do. You won’t have any problem filling your time, whether you’re backpacking Europe for a few months on a budget or just spending a few weeks there on a well-earned vacation.
The continent boasts wonderful beaches, historical architecture, amazing wine, and tons of world-class festivals. Every country is incredibly different from the next too, providing limitless variety in what you do during your trip.
I first backpacked Europe in 2006 and was hooked immediately. I’ve been visiting every year since, have run tours around the continent, and even wrote a book on traveling in Europe. It’s a destination I love and never get tired of exploring.
This guide will give you an overview of Europe and the tips and tricks you need to start planning your trip. I’ve also written extensive travel guides to each country on the continent (linked below in this post) so you can get more in-depth information for your specific itinerary too!
Table of Contents
Click Here for Country Guides
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Europe
1. Tour the Greek Islands
These islands are the mecca of summer beach fun. The island of Ios is party central, Kos and Crete are popular destinations for Brits, Santorini has history, Mykonos has luxurious, and Naxos is quiet. With hundreds of islands, you can always find what you are looking for!
2. Ride the rails
Europe is famous for its international rail system. Rail passes like the Eurail pass make it easy to get from country to country on a relatively small budget (and with lots of flexibility). Riding the European rails is one of the best ways to get around and see the continent!
3. Get lost in Paris
The city of lights is everything people say it is. I fell in love with it the first time I stepped foot in Paris. The food, the wine, the atmosphere, the history; it’s hard not to see the magic. It would take years to see everything here, but you can get a good feel of the city in a few days.
4. Go city hopping
There are so many amazing cities in Europe that we’d need a top 100 to list them all. Some of my personal favorites and must see cities are: London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Barcelona, Lisbon, Prague, Tallin, Florence, and Stockholm. Criss cross the continent, take in the culture, and enjoy all the historic cities!
5. Hit the Alps
Whether you go skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the Alps hold some of the most breathtaking views in all the world. The alps are great whether you’re in Italy, France, or Switzerland — you can’t go wrong no matter where you go as they are one of the greatest natural attractions on the continent!
Other Things to See and Do in Europe
1. Tour Amsterdam
I love Amsterdam so much that I lived here for a short period of time in 2006. Here cobblestone and brick streets weave around lovely canals as people ride their bikes to and fro. Amsterdam has a vibrant art and music scene and there’s a ton of museums here like the Anne Frank house, FOAM, the history museum, and the hemp museum. Be sure you get out of the center into Jordaan and Oost with their wonderful outdoor cafes and fewer tourists.
2. Hang out in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city that goes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It truly could give NYC a run for the “city that never sleeps” title. Be prepared for late-night dinners and parties until dawn. Besides a great food and nightlife scene, there is a wonderful beach, tons of Gaudi architecture (including the iconic Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction for over 100 years!), incredible food tours, one of the best history museums in the country, and lots of outdoor spaces.
3. Visit Berlin
Hip and trendy Berlin is an energetic destination. It is one of Europe’s most affordable capital cities, with a vibrant music and art scene and a growing foodie movement. Be sure to spend some time learning about the city’s darker history via the many excellent museums, memorials, and landmarks. The East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that’s now painted with murals, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe are two especially powerful reminders of Germany’s past. For all periods of German history, don’t miss the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) – it’s one of the best history museums in the world. Once you’ve had your fill of history, relax in Berlin’s many green spaces, from Tempelhof Field, the site of a former airfield and popular local hangout spot, to Tiergarten, a tree-covered former hunting ground for 17th-century aristocrats.
4. Drink beer at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is a must for anyone going to Germany at the end of September. For two weeks, millions of people from all over the world gather for lots of beer, excitement, music, and wild fun. Watching thousands of people sing together, raising pint glasses for endless toasts, and the enjoying general party atmosphere makes you feel good about the world. (Or maybe that’s just the beer?) Just be sure to book your accommodation well in advance and be prepared to pay top prices for them.
5. Experience London
Get a taste of English culture in diverse London. The museums here are some of the best in the world (most are free) and include the Tate, the British Museum, the City Museum, the National Gallery, the Historical Museum. There’s no shortage of iconic sights here as well, with Big Ben, the House of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and of course, Buckingham Palace. The city also offers great food and wonderful pub culture, perfect for after a long day seeing the sights. Head to Brick Lane on the weekends for some amazing food and craft markets. I prefer Paris to London, but there is something sophisticated and fun about London. Just watch those pints — London is not a cheap destination!
6. Get outdoors in Scandinavia
My favorite region in Europe is Scandinavia. The quality of life here is high, the people are beautiful and friendly, and the cities are clean and historic. Cycling the cities, taking canal tours, hiking the vast forested areas, archipelago hopping, enjoying fika (a Swedish coffee break), and warming up in saunas are just a few of the popular activities that await you here. True, this area of Europe is not cheap, but there are plenty of ways to reduce your expenses. Don’t let the high prices scare you away. Highlights for me include Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gotland, Norway’s fjords, and Lapland in Finland.
7. Get enchanted in Prague
Prague has an amazing history and is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities I’ve ever seen. Highlights include the 9th-century Prague Castle, the magnificent Charles Bridge (built in the 14th century and one of the oldest standing bridges in the world), the 10th-century old square with its iconic astronomical clock, and the winding Jewish Quarter. During the weekends it heaves with people enjoying the bars, cheap beer, and delicious food so try to visit during the week (and in the spring or fall) to beat the crowds
8. Relax on the French Riviera
Here, you can pretend to live the high life for a little bit. Have fun in the sun, relax on the beach, swim in azure blue water, hobnob with the rich and famous, and sail on (or gaze at) gigantic yachts. As for cities, Nice is nice with its palm-tree-lined promenade, old town, and many art museums. The kingdom of Monaco with its tiny streets, beautiful buildings, and world-famous casino is just a skip away too.
9. Enjoy the great outdoors in Interlaken
Located in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, Interlaken is a gorgeous place to unwind with fantastic hiking, delicious hot chocolate, and plenty of outdoor sports. The area is full of natural attractions to explore, including the St. Beatus Caves (complete with a legendary dragon), the cascading 500-meter-high (1,640 feet) Giessbach Waterfalls, the Jungfraujoch mountain railway (which leads to the highest train station on the continent), and a plethora of lakes (hence the town’s name). It’s a good alternative to all the cities and museums. Interlaken is also a popular party destination for backpackers and other young travelers.
10. Experience history in Rome
In this thriving historical city, you can’t walk two feet without stumbling over a ruin, making Rome a history buff’s dream. Its tiny streets are perfect for wandering as you explore the Colosseum, see the Forum and Palatine Hill, visit the Pantheon, spend time in Vatican City, admire the Spanish Steps, and toss coins into the famous Trevi Fountain. Rome also has amazing food (it’s Italy, after all) and nightlife. Visit the Trastevere area for a taste of “local” Rome and chill bars. It’s my favorite area in the city.
11. Hike around the Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is my favorite part of Italy. These five beautiful cliffside towns are perched near warm waters and beautiful olive and grape groves. There are wondrous and strenuous hikes in these hills; for a real challenge, take trail #8. Or just walk the coastline for something less difficult. Many activities here revolve around the coastline: kayaking, swimming, having a beach picnic, or visiting the Technical Naval Museum. If you happen to be here in December or January, don’t miss the Nativity Manarola, the world’s biggest lighted nativity scene.
12. Tour Krakow
Krakow looks like it stepped out of a medieval postcard. It’s a hip, trendy, and youthful city that’s the center of education in Poland, meaning there are a lot of university students here. Most travelers come to party here (the vodka is cheap) but try to enjoy the city’s history and food besides just the bars. Walk the Royal Road through the Old Town to the 13th-century Wawel Castle, tour Schindler’s Factory (where Schindler saved over 1,200 Jews during World War II), and visit the sobering Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. You can also take a fascinating day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Wieliczka Salt Mine, a 13th-century mine with cavernous chambers, statues, chapels, chandeliers, and cathedrals all carved out of salt.
13. Visit the ruin bars in Budapest
The coolest nightlife in all of Europe is found in Budapest. Built in abandoned buildings, ruin bars feature funky art installations, repurposed furniture, and quirky decor. They are amazing, fun, and great places to meet locals, as people of all ages flock here. Open since 2001, Szimpla Kert is the original ruin bar and one of my favorites, along with Instant-Fogas Complex, which takes up an entire building and is actually many different bars in one. Don’t skip the ruin bars — they’re one of the most unique things about the city!
14. Explore Cornwall
The best part of England is outside London, yet unfortunately, not a lot of travelers leave London. Head west to the area of Cornwall for cheaper prices, welcoming locals, natural beauty, great hiking, rolling hills, plenty of medieval castles, and picturesque small towns. Overall, it’s what you think of as “traditional England.”
15. Walk the Camino
El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is an ancient pilgrimage route that stretches from France all the way across northern Spain. It is an 800 kilometer (500 miles) trail that winds through incredible terrain, ending in Santiago de Compostela at the cathedral where St. James is supposedly buried. As a pilgrim, you get a “pilgrim’s passport” which allows you to stay in affordable pilgrim-only hostels, making this a surprisingly budget-friendly adventure. While it usually takes over a month to complete, you can just walk a section if you don’t have the time. To receive a “Compostela” (certificate of completion), you just need to walk the last 100 kilometers (62 miles), which generally takes 4-5 days.
16. Throw tomatoes during La Tomatina
By far my favorite festival, the largest food fight in the world happens during the last Wednesday of August in Bunol, Spain. What started in 1945 as a local brawl has turned into a massive event drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world. For about an hour, everyone throws tomatoes at each other, leaving streets ankle deep in tomato juice. Afterward, everyone walks down to the river, cleans off, and then heads to the town square for sangria and music.
17. Find Dracula in Romania
Not a lot of people visit Romania but this underrated country in Eastern Europe has undiscovered yet picturesque medieval towns like Brasov (home to “Dracula’s castle”), Sighisoara, and Sibiu; gorgeous beaches on the Black Sea; and incredible hiking in the Fagaras Mountains — all at dirt-cheap prices. Other major sights include frescoed Byzantine monasteries, the steepled wooden churches of Transylvania, the hip university town Cluj-Napoca, the post-communist capital of Bucharest, and the Danube Delta, a huge nature reserve.
18. Drink whisky in Islay
Whisky has a long history on Islay, an island off Scotland’s west coast. It’s been made there since the 16th-century — first in backyards and then, starting in the 19th-century, in large distilleries. Over the years, whisky from the island came to be considered a specialty and was used to flavor a lot of other blends on the mainland. There are currently nine working distilleries on the island, all located along the island’s shores, with Laphroaig, Ardbeg, and Lagavulin being the most famous. Most distilleries here make single malt Scotch, meaning that only one type of grain (barley) is used. My visit here was amazing and, even if you don’t like whisky, there are tons of good hikes and walks throughout this magnificent island.
19. Explore Iceland
Iceland is a magical country with majestic waterfalls, hidden hot springs around every corner, and sweeping vistas unlike anywhere else in the world. After my first visit, the country quickly became one of my favorite countries. With whale watching in the summer, the northern lights in the winter, and geothermal baths for soaking in year-round, there really is no bad time to visit! While Iceland’s main draw is the epic natural landscapes, it’s worth spending a couple of days in Reykjavik with its café culture, artsy feel, and brightly colored wooden row houses.
20. Sail the Croatian coast
With calm winds, short distances, a coastline littered with over 1,000 islands, and countless historical sites, Croatia is one of the world’s best sailing destinations. If you can, go during the shoulder season, when you can find some great deals. Plan to stay at least a couple of days on one of the islands, with the most popular being Brac, Hvar, Krk, Cres, and Lošinj. However, don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser-known islands such as Silba, Vis, and Lastovo. If you want to splash out and spend a week partying on a yacht, check out The Yacht Week, which hosts week-long parties, complete with DJs, from May-September. You can book a full boat to share with friends or just a cabin if you’re traveling solo. Prices start at 5,250 HRK per person and go up to 9,300 HRK.
21. Explore the Balkans
While the Balkans have become more popular with backpackers in recent years, it’s still largely overlooked by most budget travelers, despite being an extremely budget-friendly region. The Balkan peninsula is home to great (and again, overlooked) wine, beautiful medieval towns like Kotor and Mostar, stunning mountainous landscapes, coffee culture, hearty yet inexpensive food, and museums covering the area’s history, including the most recent turbulent events of the early 1990s. I especially loved my time in Albania.
22. Take a wine tour in the Loire Valley
Located in central France, the picturesque Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and stretches 280 kilometers (174 miles) along the Loire River. One of the major wine-producing regions of France, the area is home to some of the best wine in the world, with over 1,000 vineyards open to the public. Even those who don’t drink wine will enjoy the beautiful small towns, great food, and the region’s over 300 impressive chateaux. It’s an area not to be missed.
23.See Fado in Portugal
Fado is an important musical tradition in Portugal, originating in Lisbon and stretching back some 200 years. The word “fado” likely stems from the Latin word for fate, and it’s very haunting, poetic, and emotional music. Most of the songs follow themes of loss and mourning, and the music was popular with the working class (especially sailors). Performances normally take place in restaurants during dinner. In Lisbon, head to Clube de Fado, Tasca do Chico, Parreirinha de Alfama, or Senhor Vinho.
24. Tour green Slovenia
Slovenia is one of Europe’s least-visited destinations, which is mind-blowing to me because it’s an amazing place to visit. Slovenia offers all the beauty of Western Europe but at a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the crowds. Perfect for outdoor adventure lovers, Slovenia offers rugged mountains, untouched landscapes, fantastic ski resorts, plentiful wine, sprawling cave systems, incredible food, and postcard-perfect lakes, such as the famous Lake Bled with its castle on an island. Make sure to also spend a few days in the country’s capital, Ljubljana, known as one of the continent’s greenest and most livable cities.
For more information on specific countries in Europe, check out the guides below:
Europe Travel Costs
Accommodation – Accommodation pricing vary greatly by region.
In Western Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 15-35 EUR per night, depending on the room’s size and the popularity of the hostel. I stayed in a 6-bed dorm in Berlin for 15 EUR, while the same one would have cost me around 32 EUR in Paris. A room in Paris costs on the higher end and a room in cheaper Athens costs on the lower end.
In Eastern Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 6-15 EUR per night depending on the size of the dorm room and the popularity of the hostel. The further east you go, the cheaper it gets. Expect to pay around 27-55 EUR per night for a private room that sleeps two.
In Scandinavia, hostel dorm beds cost around 22-42 EUR, while private rooms are 65-80 EUR. Budget hotels start around 85 EUR.
Most accommodations offer free linens, free Wi-Fi, and a lot offer free breakfast, but it’s important to check specific websites for exact amenities.
Campsites cost between 9-15 EUR per night for a basic plot for two without electricity.
Food – Food traditions in Europe run deep, stretching back centuries to become integral parts of each country’s culture. From baguettes in France to tapas in Spain, from hearty Eastern European stews and goulash to the fresh vegetables and olive oils of the Mediterranean, European cuisine varies as much as the countries themselves. Food prices differ greatly across the continent, so check individual country guides for specifics.
But no matter where you are, even in the more expensive countries, finding places to eat within your budget is easier than you might think. Throughout Western Europe, you can find small shops, street food stalls, or food trucks where you can get sandwiches, gyros, kebabs, slices of pizza, or sausages for between 3-7 EUR. These shops are most often found in train stations, bus stations, and main pedestrian areas, and offer cheap food alternatives that can have you eating on 9-15 EUR per day. Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 7-10 EUR for a combo meal.
Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Vietnamese eateries abound in Germany, while Indian food is incredible and everywhere in the United Kingdom. Meals at these restaurants usually cost between 6-12 EUR.
Restaurant meals in casual, traditional eateries generally cost around 13-25 EUR for a main dish and drink. Food is much cheaper in the east than in the west, and in the west, northern regions like Scandinavia and the UK are more expensive than southern countries like Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
In Eastern Europe, even if you are eating out for all your meals, you can still get by on a food budget of as little as 10 EUR per day.
For drinks, a pint of beer is 2-5 EUR, a glass of wine is 2-7 EUR, a cappuccino is 2-5 EUR, and cocktails range from 4-10 EUR.
If you eat out, do so at lunch and get the prix-fixe menu (two-course or three-course set menu). Restaurants offer this set menu during lunch, and with prices between 10-20 EUR, it’s a way better deal than the regular dinner menu. You can also get affordable lunches at outdoor markets. So many European cities have huge fresh food markets throughout town.
You can cook your own food for around 45-65 EUR per week. This gets you basic staples like rice, pasta, seasonal produce, bread, and some meat. You can save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Profi, Lidl, Aldi, and Penny Market.
If you want to save big money on meals, head to one of the markets, pick up some cheese, wine, bread, meats, or anything else, and go to the park for a picnic. (Or grab a sandwich for later!) You’ll find the locals doing the same thing, and it’s one of the cheaper ways to get a true taste of local food.
Activities – Wine tours are likely the priciest activity at around 90-120 EUR per day. Going up the Eiffel Tower costs 16-26 EUR and visiting the Versailles Palace and Gardens costs 27 EUR. The Tower of London is about 35 EUR. Bike tours and river cruises cost 24-40 EUR. Most museums and tours start at around 14 EUR (it’s cheaper of course in the east). Full-day tours cost between 55-100 EUR. Prices vary drastically per country, so it’s hard to give a good general cost. See country information for more details.
Backpacking Europe Suggested Budgets
Prices for travel in Europe vary greatly depending on how far north, east, south, or west you travel.
If you stick to the budget accommodations, food, and tours listed here and ignore all my tips on saving money, you need about 65 EUR per day in Western Europe, 40 EUR in Eastern Europe, and about 85 EUR in Scandinavia.
Those numbers reflect a traveler who stays in hostels, cooks some meals and eats out cheaply, enjoys a few drinks, and sticks to free and cheap activities like hiking, walking tours, and enjoying nature. This is your typical backpacker budget. You aren’t going to have a fancy time, but you aren’t going to want for anything either.
However, by getting tourist cards and rail passes, avoiding flights, occasionally Couchsurfing or camping, cooking all your meals, and not drinking, you can travel a lot cheaper. On this budget, you could do Western Europe on 35 EUR per day, Eastern Europe on 20 EUR, and Scandinavia on 50 EUR. That would require you to take a train or a bus or hitchhike everywhere, skip most museums, and limit how often you go out.
Generally, the suggested daily budget for Europe is 35-70 EUR. You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Prices are in EUR.
Europe Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Individual country guides have more specific information on how to save money in them but here are some general tips on cutting your costs while you explore Europe:
- Picnic – This continent has a lot of little shops where you can buy pre-made sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Buy some food, eat outside, and watch the city and its people go by. It’s a much more enjoyable and cheaper way to eat.
- Eat local and cheap – Not into picnicking? Eat at local sandwich shops, pizza parlors, Maoz, Wok to Walks, and outdoor street vendors. Avoiding restaurants and eating at a lot of the local “grab n’ go” places gives you a taste of the local cuisine at a much cheaper price.
- Stay with a local – Hostels can add up really quickly. If you don’t have any friends with whom you can stay, consider using Couchsurfing, which connects you with locals who let you stay with them for free. It’s a great way to save on accommodation and meet a local who can share their insider tips and advice.
- Camp in a garden – A very good camping service specific to Europe is Campspace, which allows you to pitch a tent in someone’s backyard for free or a small fee (around 10-20 EUR). All of the garden owners have profiles that tell you what services and facilities they offer. Also, many countries allow wild camping (like Sweden), which can save you a fortune if you have a tent.
- Take the bus – Budget bus companies like Flixbus can take you across the continent for cheap. It isn’t glamorous, but with tickets starting at 5 EUR, you really can’t complain!
- Get a Rail Pass – Eurail Passes have saved me hundreds of dollars. If you are traveling far distances and through many countries, they are a great deal.
- Take the free city 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, take in some history, and learn your bearings without spending any money. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!
- Plan accordingly – Plan your trip around Europe so you avoid doubling back. Transportation is a big expense so proper planning can save you a lot of money (and time). Go in a straight line or a loop.
- Fly cheap – If you know where you are going and a train won’t do, try to book flights early. You can often get round trip fares for as little as 5 EUR from many of the European discount airlines like Ryanair or Wizz.
- Drink less – Those 5 EUR beers add up. Hit happy hours or pick and choose when you party. Hostel bars are a good place to get cheap drinks or buy your alcohol at the supermarket. Partying your way across the continent will destroy your bank balance in no time.
- Get a city tourist card – Many local tourism offices sell a tourism card for all their attractions, tours, and restaurants. This card gives you free entry and substantial discounts on all the attractions and tours in a city, free local public transportation (a huge plus), and discounts at a few restaurants and shopping malls. They save a ton of money. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, get one of these cards.
- Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar to catch rides with locals between cities (or countries) by paying a small fee. It’s like Airbnb but for rides. I used this service in Switzerland and, not only did I save a lot of money, but I got to meet interesting people to and learn about local culture and life. Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe (though sometimes rides don’t show up (which is why you need to be flexible).
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water is safe to drink in most of Europe, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Europe
Looking for the best hostel in Europe? Check out this list of favorites (and for an even deeper selection of favorites, visit our specific city and country guides for even more options):
- (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) (Barcelona, Spain) (Barcelona, Spain) (Brasov, Romania) (Bruges, Belgium) (Copenhagen, Denmark) (Dublin, Ireland) (Edinburgh, Scotland) (Ios, Greece) (Kiev, Ukraine) (Krakow, Poland) (Lisbon, Portugal) (Porto, Portugal) (Prague, Czech Republic) (Rome, Italy) (Sofia, Bulgaria) (Stockholm, Sweden) (Stockholm, Sweden) (Tallinn, Estonia)
How to Get Around Europe
A key part of backpacking Europe is choosing how you’re going to travel to your next destination. Transportation around most European cities by local tram, subway, or bus is typically under 2 EUR for a one-way ticket. Intercity transportation varies widely.
Here’s a breakdown of each option:
Budget Airlines – Budget airlines are so prolific that competition helps keep fares low. You can often find tickets where the fare is just 5 EUR round-trip! Companies like EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz, and Vueling offer mind-blowingly cheap flights throughout Europe. Book at least a month early to scoop up great deals.
Make sure that the airport they fly into isn’t too far out of your way (transportation from the secondary airport sometimes negates the savings from using the budget airline itself).
Also, keep in mind that you’ll have to pay to check your baggage on these cheap flights. It costs about 25-39 EUR for one checked bag. If you wait to pay for your luggage at the gate, you end up paying almost double. Travel carry-on only to avoid this added cost.
Buses – Buses are not quite as comfortable as Europe’s trains, although certain lines do have great amenities (like roomy seats and Wi-Fi). They also take a lot longer than trains. While buses are not the most efficient way to travel around the continent, they’re certainly dependable, reliable, and cheap. You can find last-minute rides for as little as 5 EUR. A route from Berlin to Munich is about 25 EUR, while Paris to Bordeaux can be as low as 10 EUR. Longer routes, like Amsterdam to Copenhagen, start at around 47 EUR.
Each country has its own national bus service, but some lines also take you long distances internationally. Megabus, Eurolines, Flixbus, and Busabout are some of the most popular companies.
Trains – Train travel is a great way to see Europe, albeit sometimes not the most cost-effective or efficient. Most European rail companies allow customers to purchase tickets online in advance, which is recommended for faster trains or popular trains like France’s TGV and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn. Intercity train prices vary wildly from country to country, depending on whether you take the slow train or a high-speed train, and how far in advance you book.
For example, a high-speed train from Berlin to Munich costs around 38-60 EUR, Bordeaux to Paris is about 50-85 EUR, and Madrid to Barcelona ranges from 45-85 EUR. Non-high-speed trains and other intercity lines are a lot cheaper, generally costing about 40-50% of the price of high-speed trains. Eastern Europe inter-country trains usually cost between 45-100 EUR when the ticket is booked last minute. Short trains rides of 2-3 hours within countries cost about 27 EUR.
You may also want to consider getting a Eurail Pass, which allows travelers to explore Europe by providing a set number of stops in a specific time period. These passes are continent-wide, country specific, or regional. It can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
Ridesharing/Car sharing – If your schedule is flexible, use a ridesharing service and catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe. BlaBlaCar is the most popular.
Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Europe is very safe, but it’s not for everyone. Hitching is quite common around the continent and I’ve met a number of travelers who have done it (I, myself, traveled this way in Bulgaria and Iceland). Some countries are very supportive (Romania, Iceland, Germany) while others may be a bit more time-consuming (Italy, Spain). HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking info.
Here are my suggested articles for how to get around Europe:
When to Go to Europe
There’s no wrong time to visit Europe. Peak season is summertime when Europe gets crowded. Prices increase during this time as well. But the overall atmosphere and weather are great during this time, so it’s still worth visiting during peak season (just book your accommodation in advance — especially in August). Expect the most crowds in Western Europe.
Shoulder season is spring and fall (April-May and September-October). It’s still warm during this time but there aren’t as many crowds and prices are cheaper. This is my favorite time to visit Europe. The weather is good, the crowds fewer, and the prices lower.
Winter is from November to February. It gets cold, even as far south as it gets (like Greece). On the other hand, the Christmas season has a fantastic season, with Christmas markets and festivals galore! Daylight hours are shorter north, however, especially in Scandinavia. Unless you’re here for holiday markets or winter sports, I’d stick to the countries in southern Europe (Greece, Malta, Italy, Spain) to avoid the worst of the cold.
How to Stay Safe in Europe
Europe is very safe for backpacking and solo traveling, even if you’re traveling solo, and even as a solo female traveler. Violent crimes against tourists are very rare.
That said, there are scams and petty crimes you should watch out for, especially around popular tourist landmarks. Always keep your valuables out of reach on public transportation and in crowds just to be safe.
If you’re worried about scams, you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.
If you rent a vehicle, don’t leave any valuables in it overnight. Break-ins are rare, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also, be aware that the UK drives on the left and that most rental cars in Europe will have manual transmissions unless you request otherwise.
When hiking, always bring water and sunscreen. Be sure to check the weather before you depart and dress accordingly.
When at the bar, always keep an eye on your drink. Avoid walking home alone at night if you’re intoxicated.
If you do experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.
Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.
For more information, I wrote a whole article about how Europe is safe to visit right now.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Europe Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability. – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do group tours, go with Intrepid. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get exclusive discounts with them too! – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more! – If you are going to Europe and taking a lot of high speed or long distance trains, get a rail pass. I’ve used a rail pass three times and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works. – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site. – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost. – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag. – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
Europe Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
What’s the best backpack for traveling long-term? I recommend the REI Flash 45 Pack. It’s light and comfy, top loading, and fits perfectly in an airplane’s overhead bin.
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of TNN+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important. )
- (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry) (this applies to everyone) (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
GO DEEPER: Nomadic Matt’s In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!
There’s a lot of free information online but do you want to spend days searching for information? Prob not! That’s why guidebooks exist.
While I have a lot of free tips on Europe, I also wrote an entire book that goes into great detail on everything you need to plan a trip here on a budget! You’ll get suggested itineraries, budgets, even more ways to save money, my favorite restaurants, prices, practical information (i.e. phone numbers, websites, prices, safety advice, etc etc), and cultural tips.
Europe Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more tips for your trip? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Europe travel and continue planning your trip: