Want to travel Europe but don’t know where to start? If you’re looking for cheap places to visit in Europe and the best time to travel to Europe, start here.
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.
- Like a scenic view but don’t want to spend too much? Choose train.
- Spending an extended time in Europe slow travelling through different cities? Get a train pass.
- Looking to stay in remote locations off the tourist path? Carpool and housesit for the best experience.
You’ll get all these valuable tips and more in detail in that post!
Want a rough guide on how much it costs to travel Europe? This post details my cost breakdown.
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. 🙂
As for accommodation, I found HotelsCombined to provide the most comprehensive, unbiased comparison of different hotel sites. 🙂 Airbnb is another reliable one for accommodation. Use this link to get $62 off!
Protect yourself against mishaps & misadventures with World Nomads travel insurance.
- HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO EUROPE – NAVIGATING IN EUROPE
- BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO EUROPE
- CHEAP PLACES TO VISIT IN EUROPE
- OTHER IMPORTANT EUROPE TRAVEL TIPS
- Get a Europe Travel Adapter
- Shops Are Closed On Sundays
- Do Your Homework
- 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
- Save Money on Currency Exchange Fees
- Protect Yourself from Foreign ATM Scams
- Get A European SIM Card
- Navigate Expertly with this Paris Arrondissement Map Guide!
- 36 Hours In Berlin – Top Things To Do In Berlin, Germany
- Sailing Holidays In Europe – Hidden Paradises To Set Sail On!
- What Is Sweden Known For?
- Guide to Living in Prague, Czech Republic
- 3 Days in Prague, Czech Republic – A No-Frill Prague Itinerary
- 16 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Prague, Czech Republic
- A Complete Guide to Things to Do in Budapest, Hungary
HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO EUROPE – NAVIGATING IN EUROPE
Download Google Maps
Google Maps has a feature that allows its users to download offline maps.
Sarah from Borders & Bucket Lists says that for example, say you are visiting Paris, you’ll simply go to the Google Maps app, type in “Lausanne, Switzerland”, tap the ellipses in the top right hand corner, and press download!
This tip doesn’t work in all countries (it doesn’t work in Japan), but it works across all of Europe!
This means that if you don’t have a data plan or are in an area without Wi-Fi, you can still have access to directions due to your downloaded Google Maps.
Do note that you will need to complete the download of your desired areas WHILE YOU ARE CONNECTED TO WI-FI before you lose that Wi-Fi access.
Don’t hire an expensive satellite navigation (sat-nav). Instead, download maps.me into your phone so you can use it offline. I’ve used maps.me throughout my New Zealand road trip without once paying for a SIM card or activating data roaming – that’s how reliable it is!
Focus on a specific destination
Yes, Europe is the second smallest continent on Earth, but that does not mean it’s small!
If you plan to snow sled in Lapland, explore artistic Helsinki, cross the English channel by ferry, take a selfie at Neuschwanstein Castle, and climb the Parthenon in Athens all in one week, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment.
When visiting Europe for the first time, focus on a specific European region. Pick a place or two, depending on the time and budget you have to explore Europe, and really experience it.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO EUROPE
Plan A Trip in the Off Peak Season
One of my favourite travel tips for Europe is to visit during off peak season. That is when there are no crowds, accommodation is cheaper, and you don’t have to stand in long queues to see attractions (like I did when visiting the all-too-famous Alhambra in Spain.
Sure, we all love the romance of Italian holidays. While most Italian itineraries are set in summer, Northern Italy in November is also a wonderful idea – no crazy summer crowds, no long museum lines, no inflated hotel prices, generous shaving of truffle at every restaurant and bonus is, you get to see some gorgeous fall colours!
Similarly, while visiting Greece in the thick of summer is enticing, the Greek islands are equally well-loved in October without the insane tourist crowds.
If you’re looking to have a much more relaxed and cheaper experience in Europe but you still want nice weather, Ann and Rick from The Road Is Life recommends visiting between the months of April – June, so that you don’t have to pay more than you have to.
Best Time To Visit Tallinn, Estonia
The absolute best time to visit Tallinn, Estonia is late June to mid-July. It’s peak festival season and not too hot (average highs are in the low 20’s).
One specific highlight is the Midsummer’s Eve Festival at the Estonian Open Air Museum — lots of bonfires, music, food, and a fair bit of alcohol until the sun goes down.
Best Time To Visit Croatia
The best time to visit Croatia is at the end of May through early June. Red White Adventures suggest that if you go at the end of May, a lot of the tickets (flights, activities, accommodation, etc.) are cheaper and you avoid the tourist peak season.
The pro of going in June is that the water starts warming up at this time of the year, so if you love being in the ocean, you don’t want to go too early in the season.
Best Time To Visit Italy
Lesley from Freedom56Travel visited Italy in July and learned that July is definitely not the best time, especially if you don’t love the heat and humidity. Rome is particularly hot and humid in the peak summer months and there are few places with good air conditioning.
The best time to visit Italy is April-May and late September-October. Crowds are smaller and temperatures are much more humane!
Best Time To Visit Palma de Mallorca, Spain
The Travelling Stomach recommends to visit Palma de Mallorca in November for gorgeous sunny days and the perfect temperature to explore. You’ll be able to score cheap flights and stay in beautiful boutique hotels at bargain rates and won’t have to hustle through the crowds to see La Seu, the iconic cathedral.
CHEAP PLACES 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.
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. 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, mix 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.
Places such as Ulm, a quiet homely town in Germany, or the cute village of Colmar, France, offer history, fine architecture, superb hospitality and nature – plus they’re way cheaper than major centres such as Granada or Dresden.
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, 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 IMPORTANT EUROPE TRAVEL TIPS
Get a Europe Travel Adapter
Consider buying a travel adapter (plug) specifically for Europe for convenience’s sake. All of Europe operates on the same 2 round outlets, except for the UK.
Shops Are Closed On Sundays
In some European countries (e.g. Germany, Poland) shops, markets and malls are closed on Sunday. If you forget about it, you can always do small shopping at the gas station, albeit pricier.
Do Your Homework
Everyday Wanderer suggests: Some Americans are notoriously ignorant about the world outside of our borders. Rise above the reputation and take the time to educate yourself in advance about the places you’re visiting in Europe. At a minimum, you should know historical highlights, key cities, the currency, and the languages spoken.
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.
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.
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.
Protect Yourself from Foreign ATM Scams
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!
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. 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.
Alternatively, you can hop on to Airalo, the world’s first eSIM store which eliminates the need for roaming plans or the hassle of hunting for physical SIM cards. Travellers can have access to local electronic SIMs from over 160+ countries through their website.
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. 😉
There you have it! When you can stretch your budget, you can enjoy yourself more, such as the chance to sample Michelin-star food in Budapest for as low as 13€.
Now tell me, what’s the most surprising tip you’ve gleaned from this post?