Europe continues to be a favored destination for many world travelers – from the newbies to the returnees. If you’ve been fortunate to have visited this region, it is easy to understand why. It is a fantastic blend of cultures with its rich history indicative by impressive gothic architecture, quaint squares and courtyards and colorful cobble-street cities. Everywhere you turn, you will find many English speaking stylist residents who are laid back, generally friendly and welcoming. But the continent is not necessarily the cheapest getaway.
Traveling around Europe can be fairly expensive. Airline tickets, high-speed trains, overnight trains, ferries — they can all eat into your limited and precious travel budget.
However, a few recent trends that have helped travelers get around Europe cheaper: weaker currency exchange rates, the rise of the sharing economy, new bus options, and lots of new budget airlines. There are now tons of cheap ways to get around Europe because of all these changes.
How To Travel Europe For Cheap
Find the best budget airline deals
Europe is blessed with many things and one of those things are that distances between countries are small and there is so much competition in the airline industry to sell seats which ultimately drive the prices down. These smaller airlines are what are known as low-cost carriers and they’re a no frills way to get around Europe for cheap.
Sure, you’re not going to get a world-class experience and they will probably nickel and dime you for every bag and every pound you’re overweight but when flights only cost less than 50 Euros or say 25 Pounds to get from A to B, you’re laughing! In a way you get what you pay for so brace yourself for a little bit of discomfort but you really can’t complain about these ridiculously cheap fares.
Another trade-off you might have to make is that these low cost carriers sometimes fly out of smaller airports (not the big international ones) so make sure you double check before to make sure you’re going to the right one on the day of.
Book A Looong Layover
Research layover rules for different airlines. Most folks dread the thought of layovers but they are simply missing out! Not only are layovers often cheaper, some major airlines will provide free hotel accommodations, transfers and meals given a lengthy layover! If you purposely select a long layover, chances are, you may get to experience a new city for FREE! I’ve managed to spend 2 days in Dubai and a full day in Amsterdam for free through smart layover bookings! You simply want to ensure that your layovers will place you in your connecting city during the daytime and not overnight. All major airports have a place to store luggage for pretty small fees. Just don’t forget to pay attention to which countries will require a visa for you to leave the airport and be in their city.
Train travel is not only one of the most comfortable ways to travel, but it’s also often the most convenient. Europe’s major cities are all connected by an intricate network of rails. And while often more pricey than a budget airline, you won’t be nickel-and-dimed. A Eurostar ticket, for example, includes free Wi-Fi, up to two full-size bags, and charging outlets at your seat. Look out for regular deals.
Keep travelling between countries.
Europe is so compact, and the international infrastructure so efficient, that it’s easy to visit two, three, even four countries in any given trip. If you have no idea where to start, our Europe tour packages will bring you to the most iconic cities hassle-free.
If you have your own list of must-see sites, there are plenty of ways to get from point A to point B without breaking the bank. The Euro Rail is a fast and scenic option, but not necessarily the cheapest way to travel Europe. Keep an eye out for student discounts on train tickets.
Another way to hop from country to country is through international budget flights. A plain ticket from Paris to Rome will only set you back about $24. Buses can take you across borders for as little as $13. Check out Megabus and Eurolines for specific routes.
Budget Daily Activities
Luckily, Europe offers many free sights and attractions. Many top museums in London, Paris and Madrid, for example, will cost you nothing. Many European tourist offices will even offer you discount passes for public transportation and sightseeing. From experience, purchasing All-Day train/bus passes give you the most bang for your buck when commuting within a new city. You should also take advantage of free tours! Just search Google to find tours like Hearplanet, a great Iphone/Android app, that you can download to provide free talking tours. No need to pay money to learn about a new city you are in! There are also numerous cool activities waiting for you to pounce on them listed on platforms like Groupon or Living Social. We often tend to use these within our home cities – but whoever said you can’t capitalize on them when you travel? Chances are you’ll save a ton of money on activities like boat cruises, kayaking, walking/Segway tours and dining as well. I have saved a ton of money this way. If you use apps, simply switch your city/location to your destination. Matter-of-fact, start researching way in advance to see what is available – just in case a great deal disappears by the time the actual trip comes around. Only purchase activities in advance if you are absolutely sure you can follow through.
Munching on smaller meals and going grocery shopping for snacks can keep your energy high all day, plus it keeps you away from big bills at tourist trap bistros. Don’t forget that ordering to go costs less, and eating in a park with a bottle of wine is more romantic than a busy terrace with sub-par service.
Know where and when to stretch your dollar.
Through very strategic planning, you can experience any city on a budget. Spend your days touring Stockholm’s Old Town, climbing up Arthur’s Seat to get a bird’s-eye-view of Edinburgh, all of which are free. That being said, some places are particularly easy on the wallet. Location could be the difference between a week long trip and a month long trip, so visit more affordable cities like Prague and Budapest to get the most from your trip to Europe. Remember to research current exchange rates as well — where is the dollar strongest, what opportunities are out there right now?
Timing is also important in finding the best deals. Avoid travelling during peak season and never fly around European holidays. This schedule varies depending on your destination, so be diligent and do your research before you book. If you want a longer European experience, consider volunteering or working abroad to balance your expenses.