Backpacking Europe on a Budget of Under $50 a Day: It Is Possible!
You won’t need to sleep on couches or at train stations to travel in Europe for under $50 a day. You won’t even need to skip attractions or eat plain rice 3 times a day — just follow these tips.
Don’t be scared of cheap airlines
Travelling on cost cutting airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet might not be as glamorous as taking scenic train rides, but it can save you a lot of money. We flew from Venice to Naples for €45, Barcelona to Lisbon for €35 (we flew with Iberia) and Porto to Paris for €28. I wouldn’t recommend flying all the time as taking the train is one of the best parts of travelling in Europe, but pick your battles and take the occasional flight.
Book hotels in advance
This goes against my travel instincts, but there are great deals to be had on sites like booking.com. We found a nice room in Barcelona for €20, one in Santorini for €18 and even one in Porto for €12. Finding a place on arrival isn’t as easy as in Asia or Latin America either as accommodation is a bit more spread out, so booking ahead also makes for a more relaxing arrival to a city. You can also get pretty cheap dorms all over Europe — if you’re willing to sleep in a room with 15 other people you can really keep the costs down.
Stay in places with kitchens
Eating out all the time can easily burn a hole in your budget, so try and find hostels and hotels with kitchens. We managed to find rooms in Romania, Slovenia and Greece that had their own private kitchen – not only was it a great way to save money but it also made us feel at home (luckily I have a girlfriend that likes to cook though).
Travel in Low season
We started our European adventure in October, and although the days were cold they were also cheap (ish). Travelling in autumn and winter in Europe isn’t so bad. Tourist attractions aren’t too busy and hotel rates are so much cheaper. Romania in October was freezing but everywhere else was manageable. Italy was pleasant (particularly the Amalfi Coast) and Spain, Greece and Portugal were warm enough even in December and January. The only place we had a sustained period of bad weather was in Bled, Slovenia. Unless you’re obsessed with beaches and getting a tan, the weather in Europe in low season shouldn’t put you off.
Rainy Lake Bled
Go to Greece and Portugal
Greece and Portugal were probably the cheapest countries we visited during our 3 month trip to Europe. It was also nice to escape the cold months of December and January — the weather in Greece and Portugal (and Spain) was perfect for sightseeing and it almost never rained.
Sunset in Lisbon
Take a detour to Morocco
A great way to keep the costs down while travelling in Europe is to take a quick detour to Morocco. We spent just over 2 weeks in Morocco and it was definitely cheaper than anywhere in Europe. It’s also good to get some variety — Morocco is such an interesting country and was one of the highlights of our round the world trip.
Although we tried to travel Europe on a budget, we didn’t leave out the places we really wanted to see. We went to expensive cities like Rome, Venice and Paris, but also spent some time in more affordable places. Here’s a quick look at our itinerary.
- A week in England: We spent most of our time in London but we also travelled to Bristol for a weekend and visited Bath and Stonehenge.
- A week in Romania: We spent most of our time in Transylvania, using Brasov as our base.
- A week in Budapest and Prague: We spent a few nights each in both of these cities. Budapest is my favourite city in Europe and Prague is right up there as well; don’t miss them if you’re planning a trip to Europe.
A bridge in Budapest
- Two nights in Vienna: We caught up with some friends and ended up drinking a lot — we hardly saw any of Vienna’s sights!
- A week in Slovenia: We spent a couple of days in Ljubljana and 5 relaxing days in Bled. Bled was one of the highlights of our trip to Europe, even though it rained almost every day.
- 10 days in Italy: We visited Venice, Rome, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. We barely scratched the surface of Italy and I can’t wait to go back.
- 2 weeks in Greece: We spent a couple of days in Athens and the rest of our time was split between Santorini, Naxos, Paros and Ios. There were so few other tourists on the islands in early December; we didn’t see any during our 3 days on Paros.
- 2 weeks in Morocco: We flew back to Rome and then straight to Fez. We visited some amazing places in Morocco, including the Sahara Desert and Chefchaouen.
- 10 days in Spain: We flew from Marrakech to Seville and made our way to Barcelona via Cordoba and Granada. We spent 4 days in Granada — it’s one of my favourite cities in Europe. We missed out on Spain’s beaches but next time we’ll be travelling to the Canary Islands — Tenerife flights can be cheap and it’s a year round destination.
- 5 days in Portugal: We hadn’t planned on visiting Portugal but we found a cheap flight to Lisbon from Barcelona and another cheap flight from Porto to Paris. We loved the 3 places we visited: Lisbon, Sintra and Porto.
- 2 days in Paris: We ended our European adventure in Paris, one of the world’s most iconic cities. We did some extreme sightseeing and then boarded a plane headed for Thailand — we travelled pretty quickly through Europe and needed to warm up our tired bodies on some nice beaches.
As you can see from our itinerary, we moved quickly and visited a huge variety of places. It was the perfect first trip to Europe for us and it was definitely affordable. We averaged around $45 USD (€40) each per day (not counting the 2 weeks in Morocco), which is less than the $50 we had planned for. Visiting Europe on a budget is easily doable (as long as you follow my tips), so don’t let its expensive reputation put you off.
Have you travelled through Europe on a budget? How much did you spend? Let me know in the comments below!