This is the most comprehensive post you can find online talking about all the Europe travel tips in one place! (It will be continuously updated as I uncover more travel tips for Europe as I go.)
If you’re wondering how to plan a trip to Europe the best way possible – so that it’s time-efficient and cost-efficient – you can find the best way to travel Europe depending on the places you’re visiting in this post. It goes into detail every single mode of transport in Europe so that you can find one that suits your preferences and budget.
In between researching and travelling this past 6 months in Europe, I’ve found little tricks that have gone a long way to every penny I saved around Europe. Finding out about the cheapest ways to travel Europe has allowed me to travel Europe on a budget and visit 55 cities and 16 countries.
If you’re looking for how to travel Europe cheap, this list is for you.
These websites and resources below are the best ways to travel Europe, and I always use them each time I begin my travel planning around Europe. Note that they are written in the context of the European region.
Are you ready to get mind-blown by all these travel tips for Europe? Get a pen and paper ready! Or better yet, pin or bookmark this post so that you can always refer back to it later. 🙂
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – FLIGHT
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – TRAIN
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – BUS
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – CARPOOL
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – DRIVE
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – PUBLIC TRANSPORT
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – CYCLE
- CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – WALK
- CHEAPEST PLACES TO STAY IN EUROPE
- CHEAP COUNTRIES TO VISIT IN EUROPE
- Other Europe Travel Tips to Travel Europe Cheap
- Save Money on Food – Download Too Good To Go
- Save Money on Food – Eat Street Food
- Save Money on Food – Check out Withlocals
- Save Money on Attractions/ Museums – Go on Free Entry Days
- Save Money on Attractions/ Museums – Book Tickets in Advance
- It’s Okay to Skip Attractions That You Aren’t Interested In
- Save Money With A Waitrose Loyalty Card
- Get A European SIM Card
- Protect Yourself from Foreign ATM Scams
- Save Money on Currency Exchange Fees
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – FLIGHT
A flight that takes easily a quarter of the time taken by bus (with some luck) might even be CHEAPER so always check the budget airlines!
Note that some of these airlines fly out of the smaller airports, so make sure to check that before booking.
Of course, budget flights do have certain bag restrictions and other hidden costs, so I encourage you to read the fine print carefully or else you might get a rude shock! Instead of buying the luggage option, opt-in for the priority ticket – it will let you carry a reasonably big bag alongside a smaller laptop bag/purse.
Consider Airports Away From The Capital
Check other airports than the ones in the capital as they can have better prices than the main ones. In Denmark, try Billund airport, in Sweden, try flying to the cities of Malmo or Goteborg.
Check In Later To Get Good Seats
There is an easy trick to get a great, random seat in the plane without having to purchase it.
Just delay your online check-in to a few hours before the deadline. The airline algorithm would’ve already allocated all the bad seats, and the chances you’re going to end up with a window or extra leg seat are higher. 😉
If you’re looking for the cheapest way to travel Europe, use Rome2Rio to compare different route options.
This site finds the available routes from Point A to Point B by all forms of transport. It gives you the estimate time taken and price all on one page so you can weigh many options at once.
However, only some of the links on the site allow for a booking, which means you might have to search again to book with the respective companies directly. It is still a useful site as it is applicable for worldwide travel and gives you a quick breakdown on which type of transport to take you to your destination!
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – TRAIN
While trains are not the cheapest option as compared to buses, they are slightly more comfortable, more punctual and the ride offers a better view. It is also faster than the bus and drops you right in the city centre, making it very convenient.
Always check the train station you are travelling to by Googling the address and confirm that is where you want to be. It is quite easy to overlook and book the wrong station.
Travel With Eurail
Some argue that the best way to get around Europe is by train, with high-speed trains connecting most major cities, overnight options with sleeper carriages and routes with insanely gorgeous views.
Seriously, most places can be reached by train and if you can buy your tickets 3 months in advance, you save tons.
Some high-speed services and reservations cost an additional fee but the convenience, views and overall cost still makes European trains the best way to get around. Make sure that you also check your desired journey for any specific seat reservation requirements.
Keep in mind that heavily discounted train tickets are non-refundable though. Laura, from the Traveler’s Universe, says that one of her best travel tips is to plan your itinerary wisely and give yourself plenty of time in each location before you move to the next.
Besides cheap flights, the next best thing when it comes to travelling around Europe is the extensive rail network that trains offer.
Travelling through Scandinavia could be quite expensive, but if you want to move from town to town by train, plan forward and have a look national railways.
For example, in Denmark, you can buy train tickets that are up to 3x cheaper than normal if you look for special tickets called ‘Orange’ tickets. They sometimes sell out 4 weeks in advance. Albi, from Ginger Around the Globe, says that it is similar all over Scandinavia.
In the UK:
For travelling around the UK, I like to use The Trainline. Buy your passes online and collect them at the train station. Fast and easy.
Get a Train Pass
You can pick up an Interrail pass to cover majority of your train travel. However I advise working out your rough route in advance and booking any longer journeys or overnight cabins in advance as they can sell out in peak season.
Overnight Travel With Eurail
If you’re travelling with Eurail Pass, consider taking a train after 7PM which reaches your destination after 4AM.
There are two benefits. One you save on accommodation costs and two, you are allowed to mark the day you arrive your destination as the travel start date and use the Eurail pass the whole of the next day up to midnight. This helps in doing a couple of side trips from the main destination at no extra travel costs.
Save Money with Omio
Always check Omio.com for a bus or train which will save you money and show you more of the continent.
Formerly known as GoEuro, input where you are and where you want to go and it generates an entire list of buses, trains and flights, with prices and timings included. You can book directly on the site, download the ticket into your phone and you are good to go!
Global Castaway says that crossing the most borders in Europe is now hassle-free, and you can find incredible low-cost deals (example Brussel – Paris for 5€) through Omio.
Getting Train Tickets
On most trains which do not require reservation in advance, you may buy the ticket on board the train, especially if you are in a hurry and do not find time to buy tickets at the station.
Validate Your Ticket
Ticket inspectors on trains and buses don’t take kindly to ignorance as an excuse from tourists. While some cities make buying a ticket more challenging than other, it’s always your responsibility to have a ticket when boarding (or ensure you can buy a ticket onboard ahead of time).
Validating them can be easily overlooked in the bustle and scenery. An unvalidated ticket, to ticket inspectors, is the same as no ticket at all.
Some countries require that you not only buy a ticket, but validate it as well – some countries even require two validations! Be familiar with the specifics in your destination.
Look for the brightly coloured boxes at eye level at most entrances, and watch the locals to see what they do.
In Paris, Amsterdam or Cologne:
Travel with Thalys
Tickets are released 4 months before the trip and in order to score the cheapest fare, better be quick. A one way ticket in 2nd class can be as low as 35€!
In the UK:
Get A Railcard/ Coachcard
Nabiha, from Verses By A Voyager, recommends if you are considering staying in the UK for a longer period of time with frequent travel, do invest in buying a Railcard and a Coachcard. These cards give you 1/3 prices on train tickets and bus tickets, respectively. Moreover, having a railcard gives you discounted prices on Oyster card for London transport.
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – BUS
Compare bus routes on Busradar
Similar to Skyscanner, but for buses, Busradar compares all the prices and companies for the cheapest route to travel!
Save Money With FlixBus
If you have heard of people RAVING about the €2 buses they took to travel, this is probably where they got the ticket from.
You can even change or cancel your bus for €1 so if you just HAVE to stay at a place for an extra day, it wouldn’t hurt your pocket. Do download the app on your phone as it makes it so much easier.
Flixbus has a ticket called Interflix that allows you to travel to 5 European countries for €99 – perfect for long-term travellers. This is valid for a good 3 months.
Save Money With Megabus
In the UK:
Keep an eye out on Megabus or National Express fares and offers in advance if you are planning to travel around the UK and want a cheaper option to travel. I would say they are more punctual than FlixBus, but naturally also a little more expensive.
They sometimes have limited seats for £1 sold months in advance.
Some routes like Edinburgh to Glasgow and return can be bought for £1 even a few days ahead of your trip. Also, Megabus has now signed up with Hotels.com and you can get 5% off on your hotels booking when you travel with Megabus!
Further, according to A World to Travel, these low-cost bus companies allow you to country hop without the huge environmental costs attached to the aviation industry (whether we are talking about 10€ flights across the old continent or regularly priced ones).
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – CARPOOL
Not only can you save expensive transport costs, you can keep the carbon footprint attached to your transportation as low as possible. Consider ride-share services such as Blablacar and Mitfahrgelegenheit. Its concept is similar to Grabhitch where the site matches you to a driver and other passengers going the same way. It is a more comfortable ride than a bus and likely to be faster.
Also, if you like meeting and talking to other people, this is a great way!
For example: London to Manchester
- Blablacar – £25, 5hr 20 min
- Bus (National Express) – £20, 6hr
- Train – £70 – £100, 2hr 30 min
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – DRIVE
Driving in England
If you’re visiting England from a country that drives on the right, you might be worried about driving in England and driving on the left side. Not to mention that most vehicles have standard transmissions and you’ll have to get used to driving from the right and shifting with your left hand!
I’m here to tell you that you really shouldn’t be too concerned about the differences. It takes only a few minutes to adjust, and it will soon feel quite natural to drive on the left. Your mind adjusts quickly!
Get an automatic car if possible to make the adjustment easier, and do your first driving in a quiet area.
Take your time to get a feel for the car. Minimize distractions, focus on the road and you’ll do just fine.
Check Each Country’s Driving Laws and Regulations
Anna, from Twins and Travels, suggests that if you are hiring a car, make sure you check each countries laws and regulations on driving because they are all different. Some require you to have certain documents on you at all times, whilst others a warning triangle and breathalyzer which could be different from the country you live in.
Bring Your Own Car Phone Holder
Don’t forget to bring your own car air vent holder for your phone to use it hands free while driving so you don’t have to pay extra renting it when renting your car!
Get a Third-Party Insurance
Leanne, from The Globetrotter GP, discovered recently on one of my road trips in Italy a great way to save money on car hire in Europe.
Often there are many hidden expenses including pricey insurance policies. However, you can save a small fortune by getting your car hire insurance with a 3rd party insurer like ICarHireInsurance.
For around £40, you can get an annual policy which will cover you on multiple road trips in multiple countries across Europe.
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Public Transit Passes
Most European cities have a 3-day, a 7-day, and a monthly pass for their public transportation.
Since most tourists will just buy whatever’s convenient for their immediate needs, these options aren’t always as prominently placed or known about. Now that you know this Europe travel tip, you can easily learn about these passes on their respective websites. Even if you can’t buy it online, you at least know what to ask for at the shop.
In Czech Republic:
According to Dom & Jo, Red White Adventures, If you’re planning on traveling around the Czech Republic the best way to go about it is by taking public transport. It’s super easy and super cheap!
The best way to plan your trip and to get cheap tickets is by using the app called Můj vlak (My Train) for trains for both buses and trains.
The app Omio also works in Czech Republic.
If you have an ISIC card, you get 75% off (!!!) most tickets.
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – CYCLE
Traveling Tulls’ favourite way to explore Europe is on a bike. Walking is great for cities but to truly experience a country, you need to escape the city and go where the locals go.
We love finding little off-the-tourist-trail-spots to enjoy a picnic. Further, all that cycling allows you an extra treat or two in the evening. 😉
If you’re uncomfortable finding your own way, try a guided cycling tour.
- Cycling tour in Madrid, Spain
- Cycling tour in Krakow, Poland
- Cycling tour in Split, Croatia
- Cycling tour in Berlin, Germany
CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL EUROPE – WALK
Enjoy Free Walking Tours
In every major cities of Europe, there are free walking tours which work on the basis of nominal donations and is inexpensive when compared to paid walking tours. Many are led by volunteers who just love showing people around their city. A small tip at the end is customary but not compulsory.
CHEAPEST PLACES TO STAY IN EUROPE
It is definitely the cheapest way to stay in Europe because it is free! I know that as a female solo traveller, there are many hesitations to try it, but if you are thinking about it, try it just for a night! Just remember to take necessary precautions.
Sites for couchsurfing in Europe are:
Membership is also free!
For A More Authentic Experience, Don’t Stay In A Hotel
This is a no-brainer. Don’t stay in a hotel. Jade, The Migrant Yogi, says for the most authentic experience, rent an Airbnb in an area that’s not overly saturated with tourist attractions. Airbnbs get you out of the touristy areas and into where the locals stay.
Talk to them and get to know the hidden local hangouts! You’ll get the feeling of living like a local even if you can’t stay too long.
Book Accommodation On Third-Party Sites
A go-to for many travellers as these sites usually have pretty good prices on pretty much any hostel or hotel you’re looking for. Hostels are also great for meeting new people and it is the cheapest way to travel in Europe (and all around the world) if you are travelling alone.
Sites for cheap accommodation in Europe:
HotelsCombined, if you are new to it, it’s a site that compares all the top accommodation sites (such as Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com and Agoda) and present the best offers with just a click of a search button. They also offer a best-price guarantee, which means they promise to return the difference to you if you find a lower rate somewhere else. It sure makes the search for accommodation less time-consuming now.
This is another way to stay in someone’s house for a low cost! I would recommend doing this if you will be backpacking around Europe for an extended period of time because of the membership fee you have to pay.
In return, you would have to do a couple of small chores for example, tend to the plants or pets. Do ask specifically what you might have to do and if there are any other hidden costs that you are expected to pay for such as utilities.
This still however, saves you a ton of money and you might find hidden gems!
House sitting sites in Europe:
- House Sit Match (Membership is USD35/year)
- Luxury House Sitting (Membership is USD25/year)
- House Carers (Membership is USD50/year)
CHEAP COUNTRIES TO VISIT IN EUROPE
Travel to Eastern Europe If On A Budget
If you’re looking for the cheapest countries to visit in Europe, look no further than East Europe.
While most visitors to the continent tend to focus on Western Europe, the Eastern European countries can offer much better value, and without the hordes of tourists. In the Eastern European countries, prices are significantly lower than in Western European countries and Scandinavia.
Wendy, The Nomadic Vegan, says that cities like Minsk in Belarus or Brno in the Czech Republic provide a more authentic, off-the-beaten-track experience than over-touristy London or Paris. According to Marta and Milosz, of Backpackers.WRO, a loaf of bread in Poland costs an equivalent of 1€ while in Denmark, you will pay an equivalent of 3-4€.
Mix Western Countries With Eastern Countries
If the appeal of Western Europe is too much for you to miss out on, Dayna, from Happily Ever Travels, suggests mixing Western Europe countries with Eastern Europe countries to bring the overall cost of your trip down.
By the end of your trip, the cheaper countries should bring down your daily costs considerably!
Don’t Forget To Visit Smaller Towns
When you’re travelling to Europe, don’t get so caught up in the big cities that you miss out on the allure of smaller towns.
Wandering Carol recommends places such as Baden-Baden, an elegant spa town in Germany, or the cute villages of the Cotswolds in England offer history, fine architecture, superb hospitality and nature – plus they are way cheaper than major centres such as Barcelona or Berlin.
Visit Poland If On A Budget
Poland is a relatively cheap country to visit in Europe, with a great diverse range of locations to visit, including the gothic spires of Krakow, the snow topped mountains of Zakopane, the beach resorts of Sopot and my favourite Wroclaw where you can spot little gnome statues everywhere!
To keep costs down, consider travelling by Flixbus – the buses are of great quality and connect most major destinations.
Visit Tbilisi, Georgia If On A Budget
As far as affordability goes, Chris, from Worthy Go, thinks Tbilisi, Georgia is surprisingly one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe and increasingly tourist-oriented… and I haven’t even gotten to the food yet.
Head to Machakhela for great Georgian food — it’s a chain restaurant with a large English menu. Look for day tours in the (heavily reconstructed) Old Town area, but skip the touts.
Visit Portugal If On A Budget
Despite its recent boom in tourism, Portugal remains the cheapest country in Western Europe by a fair margin, and one of the best places to travel in Europe in my opinion.
Porto in particular, the second-largest city, is significantly cheaper than Lisbon, the capital.
Entry to most Porto museums only costs a couple of Euros, and many of them are free on the weekends!
Visit Prizren, Kosovo If On A Budget
Kosovo was formerly only known as a conflict-zone, and was only recognized as its own independent country in 2008.
For an interesting history and culture lesson, head to Kosovo and Prizren, an Islamic haven in the heart of the majority Orthodox Christian Balkans.
A small river cuts through town with many picturesque bridges crossing over it.
In the centre of town is a large mosque that broadcasts a sing-song call to prayer five times per day.
For a viewpoint over the surrounding mountain range and over Prizren itself, hike up to the Prizren fortress. It’s a favourite spot for both locals and tourists to experience sunset and sunrise.
Hostels in Prizren cost no more than USD8 per night for fabulous locations, and meals can be had at bakeries and local restaurants for USD5-USD10 per person.
Visit Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina If On A Budget
Just a day-trip distance from touristy Dubrovnik is Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
This small town is famous for its massive stone bridge that arcs 24m above the Neretva River. On both sides of the bridge are medieval towers, and from there spans Mostar’s old town.
Cobblestone streets reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire era are lined with shops selling Bosnian coffee (similar to Turkish coffee), sparkling stained-glass lamps, and handmade jewellery.
Wandering through town is a history lesson in itself, as you see buildings with gaping holes in the sides from cannons, and bullet-ridden façades.
Hostels and restaurants are cheaper here than in neighbouring Croatia and the rest of Europe. Get a dorm bed for less than USD8, a coffee for USD1 and a full meal for less than USD10!
Other Europe Travel Tips to Travel Europe Cheap
Save Money on Food – Download Too Good To Go
If you want to eat cheap around Europe, download the app Too Good To Go. The app itself is for saving food that is still too good to throw out, but expiry date says otherwise.
In the morning, check businesses around and see what you would like for dinner.
You can very often have a portion for two for about USD2 or less even in Scandinavian countries, which are normally very expensive.
Save Money on Food – Eat Street Food
Street food in most Eastern European countries like, Czech, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania are very cheap, delicious and quite filling.
Save Money on Food – Check out Withlocals
Withlocals is a site where you can meet locals that would kindly share a home-cooked meal with you for a much cheaper price than a restaurant.
Save Money on Attractions/ Museums – Go on Free Entry Days
Europe has some of the best museums in the world, but their entry fee is often expensive. A thing most people don’t know is almost every museum has a free entrance day!
Before starting to design your itinerary for a city break in Europe, check the official website of all the attractions you want to visit.
A lot of them have a ‘free access day’ or a ‘free access hour’. For example you have free entry at the Vatican museums every last Sunday of the month. Prado is free every day in the last 2 working hours
Save Money on Attractions/ Museums – Book Tickets in Advance
The major countries in Europe entertain millions of tourist from all around the world. Once you have finalized your dates and destinations, start purchasing some of the hotter sightseeing tickets in advance online when visiting Europe.
If ascending the Eiffel Tower is on your sightseeing list, purchasing skip-the-line tickets in advance can save you hours of time wasted waiting in line.
Here are some popular attractions that you’ll have to spend HOURS queueing if you don’t have a ticket:
- Skip-the-Line at Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
- Skip-the-Line at Louvre, Paris, France
- Skip-the-Line at Versailles, France
- Skip-the-Line at Colosseum, Rome, Italy
- Skip-the-Line at Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain
- Skip-the-Line at Acropolis, Athens, Greece
That said, don’t pre-book every single activity, leaving you no room for flexibility or adjustments based on the weather.
It’s Okay to Skip Attractions That You Aren’t Interested In
It doesn’t matter if an attraction is popular. If it doesn’t interest you, it’s totally fine to skip it when you visit Europe. That way, you’ll have more time (and budget) for the activities that matter most to you.
Save Money With A Waitrose Loyalty Card
If you are staying in close vicinity of a Waitrose store, do sign up for a Waitrose loyalty card. Along with other discounts on your purchase, you can also grab a FREE coffee or a tea every day with this loyalty card, whenever you visit Waitrose store.
Get A European SIM Card
When travelling abroad a local SIM card could save you a lot of money and time. First of all, you can call people, hotels, activities at a cheaper price. Furthermore, you can activate some data package if you want to remain connected and update your social media without hunting for Wi-Fi, which might not be always available in some areas.
Lastly, I highly recommend you to purchase a European SIM Card because from June 2017, there are no roaming costs in all the countries. This means that you no longer have to buy a new SIM Card in every country you visit.
Unfortunately, SIM Cards cost differently in European countries. Rest and Recuperation says that in Italy, it can cost as much as 30€ and if you do not activate a bundle it will cost you a lot. I highly recommend you do not buy one there.
On the contrary, France is usually a cheaper option. But DO NOT buy it online beforehand, or they will charge you too much money for one of their European Holidays plans. Buy one in a boutique when you are in the country, it will be much cheaper. So start practicing a bit of French, you will need it. 😉
Protect Yourself from Foreign ATM Scams
Eager2Travel says that Euronet is one of the commonly used ATMs in tourist destinations of Europe. What happens is, when you insert your card, it can detect it’s a foreign ATM and immediately the scam starts.
Let’s take an example of the Czech Republic. When you enter your foreign ATM card, it will force you to withdraw a very a large sum of money starting from 10,000CZK to 20,000CZK, which is nearly the average salary in Czech republic and as a tourist, you spend two days in Prague and you obviously don’t need that kind of cash.
Even if you choose the lowest amount, they offer you a very bad rate for your currency and also the additional transaction charge. You would lose almost 15% of your money.
Everyone warns you of charges of currency exchange places but no one warns you of this. You can lose up to one-third of your money if you use these ATMs!
Save Money on Currency Exchange Fees
Whenever you withdraw money from an ATM, when asked do you want to go with our conversion or decline, always decline it. Also, if you are paying at some restaurant or cafe and they ask you at the terminal of your transaction whether you want to pay in Czech currency or your local currency, always choose the local currency.
I hope this guide gives you a good amount of information and more importantly, inspiration, to start that European adventure. I set aside a budget and made it happen as a student, so you can too!
Need more motivation to start planning, maybe read more about my 6 month European adventure, starting here!