Are you planning a trip to the Old Continent and wondering how to travel for cheap in Europe? We are here to help!
Europe is not as expensive as you may think. It’s all down to organisation. Most people visiting Europe (especially first timers) are not aware enough of the local habits and tend to go for the easy option instead of going for the cheaper option.
If you know how to get around and where to book everything, you will be in a much better position to save money while travelling.
In this article, you will discover all my tips to travel for cheap in Europe.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
How to find cheap flights to and in Europe
1. Use Skyscanner
Skyscanner is a game-changer when it comes to booking flights. It’s a flight comparison website that works extremely well for flights to and around Europe.
Skyscanner is a Scottish company. It’s based in Edinburgh and when it comes to finding the best fares in Europe, it sets the standard.
Not only will it find all the flights available but there are also many hacks you can use to find the best flights.
The website is very intuitive and has very unique functionalities.
For example, instead of searching for a specific destination and dates, you can:
- Search for the cheapest month
- Search for the cheapest dates (in a chosen month)
- Include nearby airports
- Choose a country as a destination or departure location
- Search for “Everywhere” and it will show you the cheapest flights everywhere in the world
This means that if you want to get the best flights deals, you can just search “To: Everywhere”, “When: Cheapest dates” and it will show you all the options.
This tool is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and truly is all you need to get the best flight deals to Europe.
Here are some examples of deals I got in the past using Skyscanner:
- Toulouse – London (single): 8 euros
- Manchester – Dublin (return): £19
- Manchester – Warsaw (single): £10
- Manchester – Cagliari (return): £40
- Manchester – Brussels (return): £28
Please note that Skyscanner also offers comparison tools for car hires.
2. Be flexible with your travelling dates
This one is probably the best travel money-saving tip of them all.
Flights, trains, buses and hotels tend to get expensive when you are not flexible with dates and destinations.
If you want to go to Spain in July, it will obviously be more expensive than going there in March. Because everyone wants to be in Spain in July.
Same thing, if you want that flight on friday evening so you get to have the whole weekend there and not have to take the friday off, well that will be more expensive than a flight on tuesday at 2pm.
And that’s normal, we all want that! We all want to get the most of it without having to take more days off.
But because there is high demand and low offering, prices shoot up! It’s basically like the stock market.
If you want to get the best travel deals, you have to be flexible on:
- the destination
- the dates (don’t go during the high season, school holidays or bank holiday)
- the day of the week (Thursday to monday are generally more expensive, tuesday and wednesday are way cheaper)
- the time (early morning and late evening flights are more expensive, flights in the middle of the day are the cheapest).
Basically book what others don’t want!
Of course, this is not always possible but as all the other tips to save money while travelling, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it or not!
As a general thing, here are some things you should be looking for:
- Book flights for June or September. The weather in Europe is excellent in June and September but they are less popular months because the kids are still at school. This means that prices are lower, the weather is nice and it’s less crowded. The dream!
- Look for flights on a Wednesday. Flights on Wednesdays are less demanded so they are usually much cheaper. Alternatively, look for Tuesdays and Thursdays.
3. Check out the European low cost airlines
In Europe, we are lucky to have so many low cost airlines. You can find fares for as cheap as $10!
This also includes flights from the USA!
Although Skyscanner should pick up all fares, it’s always worth having a quick look at the airlines’ website as sometimes they run very interesting promotions. Here are the ones you should keep in mind:
- Ryanair. This is the ultimate cheap airline. It’s an Irish company but they have flights to literally everywhere in Europe and even North Africa. They also have loads of flights to smaller airports which can be very interesting. Their baggage policy though is pretty bad.
- Icelandair. If you are flying from the USA, Icelandair will be the perfect airline to get cheap flights.
- Volotea. If you are thinking about visiting Spain, France or Italy, this one is for you! They are super cheap!
- Vueling. Ideal for flights to Southern Europe, especially Spain.
- Easyjet. Similar to Ryanair. They have flights everywhere in Europe but their baggage policy is much better than Ryanair.
Tips to save money on currency exchange
There are 50 countries in Europe and only 19 of them uses the Euro. This means that you will probably have to juggle between different currencies.
Exchanging money can be both expensive and a hassle. Stressing about getting money (or spending the money you got) is not pleasant. Also, your bank might charge you insane fees for paying or withdrawing money abroad. This can be avoided!
Here are some tips to save money on currency exchange.
1. Use the Wise (FKA Transferwise) App and Debit Card
Over the years, I tried pretty much every possible way to exchange currency including local bureau de change, banks, debit & credit cards, Travelex… Although some were better than others, my world literally changed once I discovered Wise (FKA Transferwise)!
Wise is a website and mobile app that enables you to create an account where you can keep several currency wallets for free.
You can also get a Master card debit card for a very small fee.
You can add as many wallets as you need which means that you can keep dozens of currencies onto the same card and app. You can add as much money as you want and convert it as you go.
But it doesn’t stop here, you can also make international transfers for a very little fee!
It’s absolutely brilliant because the fees are up to 10 times cheaper than with your banks and the exchange rate so much better. For the same amount of money, you get so much more! To compare the price difference, click here.
Here is how it works! Wise has bank accounts in each currency they provide. They never actually change the money, which is why they can provide such awesome rates, they just get money in one place and send it to you from another one.
For instance, you want to change 100 GBP to USD. From your bank account, you send your £100 to a UK bank account belonging to Transferwise. Once they get it (which is pretty instant), they send to your USD wallet or USD bank account of your choice, the USD equivalent from their USD account.
Here are the advantages of using Wise:
- you get a better exchange rate
- you pay less fees
- the account is free
- it’s quick and easy
- The prepaid debit card is super cheap
- you can keep track of everything in the mobile app
Tips to save money on transport in Europe
1. Use public transport instead of taking a taxi
Taxis are always the most expensive transport you can take. Even if you go for a cheaper alternative such as Uber or Lyft, it’s still quite a budget!
The cheaper way to go around is always to take public transport. Especially since our network of public transport is so awesome in Europe!
A $25 ride is generally about $2 via public transport, may it be underground, bus or tram.
You should only use taxis when you don’t have any other options. For example, your flight lands very late at night or on the contrary, you’ve got to get to the airport very early.
Public transport will generally cost you maximum $15 a day (and yet that would be for an expensive city such as London). This amount of money would barely pay for one taxi ride.
You can literally go everywhere you need during a whole week with public transport for the same money that you would spend in taxis in a day.
It’s also worth noting that most cities offer discounts if you take a day or week pass.
Finally, here is another advantage of taking public transport: it’s often quicker!
In Paris or London for example, there is no need to even think about renting a car or taxis, underground stations are everywhere and will bring you anywhere you need in no time.
Last thing, if there is one place from where you should always prioritize public transport it’s from the airport.
Taxis and Ubers always charge you a lot more for rides to and from the airport. Most of the time, it’s an expense you can spare as all airports have shuttles or trains to the city centre.
2. Walk as much as you can
There is another medium of transportation that is literally as cheap as it can get: walking! Walking is completely free! (and good for your health if I may add).
When you travel in Europe, try to walk as much as you can! Walking is great for two reasons:
- It’s free (and we love free stuff)
- You can get to discover so much more when you walk. That’s how you experience a place the best. Just walk around and get lost!
- European cities of full of famous and hidden gems. Unless you want to visit a completely different area, you can easily walk for hours without noticing it.
Of course, I am nowhere near implying that you should be walking everywhere! There is only so much walking one can do.
But sometimes, instead of taking an uber or a bus, just walk there. If it’s less than 25 minutes walk, it’s generally not that far. Also, you will see so much more along the way!
Another little tip. When you plan your itineraries, try to gather all activities depending on their location. If you gather the one that are near to each other, you will be able to walk from one to another. This will both save you time and money!
3. Opt for low cost coach travel
If you want to visit several European cities, you should consider taking a bus instead of flying or taking the train. There are many low cost coach companies and their tickets are cheap as chips!
The buses are very comfortable as well and there is free Wi-Fi. Admittedly, the journeys can be a bit long but it’s so cheap that it’s worth it.
Here are some of the companies you should look at:
- Megabus. This is the most famous one. They go a bit everywhere in Western Europe but as it’s a British company, most of their routes start in the UK.
- National Express. A second British company. They offer the same sort of tickets and routes.
- Flixbus. This is a European company and they go absolutely everywhere in Europe. They are very well priced.
Tips for saving money on accommodation in Europe
Accommodation is always the biggest expense so it’s important to choose it wisely. Here are some tip to get cheap (or excellent value for money) accommodation in Europe.
1. Choose hotels with breakfast included
Food is very important when you travel and can be a big budget but it’s also something you can save money on.
Of course, nobody is implying you shouldn’t eat. But there are ways to includes some of your food expenses in your accommodation budget.
If you book a hotel with breakfast included that can help you save a lot of money. I’m not talking about a crappy brekkie with one piece of bread here. I’m talking real brekkie! You know with toast, jam, butter, beans, eggs, croissants … you know, the GOOD STUFF!
Besides the fact that they are amazing, these breakfasts are generally very filling which means you won’t feel the need for snacking.
A breakfast in Europe will cost between 3 and 10 euros (depending on the country and what you choose to eat). If you are spending a week, you can easily save up to 70 euros per person.
It also means that you won’t be wasting time looking for a place to eat in the morning.
2. Choose your hotel location wisely
When you look for a hotel to book, you will notice that the further you go from the city centre, the cheapest it gets. Makes sense right?
Well, before you go ahead and just book the cheapest you can see, think that through a tiny bit.
You should always calculate the total cost rather than just looking at the hotel price. This includes the cost of transport to go from your hotel to the places you want to visit, running times of public transport, prices of a taxi to bring you back if you missed the last train/bus and the time spent in transportation.
Let’s say you find a hotel for £40 a night in North London. You will spend £12 per head each day in public transport and it will take you at least 1 hour to get to the centre. That means, 2 hours of your life you will never have back. I can’t put a price on time, but just imagine the things you could do during these 2 hours. Also, let’s say you are 2 people travelling, that means your “cheap” hotel actually costs you £64 per day. If you were staying in the centre, you could walk and wouldn’t have to pay that much in transportation. So if you see a hotel for £60 in a convenient location, it will actually work out cheaper.
It’s not always the case but just remember to look at the bigger picture as it could make a big difference.
3. Go on a camping trip
Camping is to accommodation what walking is to transport. (Alright not quite, camping is not always free! But you see my point).
If you are a nature lover and like the outdoors, why not go on a camping trip?
It’s a great way to experience a new place and it works out way cheaper than any other kind of accommodation.
Of course, you wouldn’t go camping in the middle of a big city but if you are going somewhere a bit more outdoorsy, it’s definitely a great thing to do.
I flew to Sardinia, Italy, in 2018, hired a car and camped every day! And it was AMAZING!
I took a mattress, pump and tent with me (and managed to fit all of that plus my clothes in a 40L backpack).
If you like camping, then you should definitely plan more travels that way. If, on the other hand, you hate camping, that’s fine, just skip to the next point!
4. Book a flat with a kitchen
If you want your privacy, there is nothing better than having a whole flat for yourself. You can book a flat via Airbnb, Booking.com or Agoda. The good thing about it is that you will get a kitchen.
Having a kitchen means that you can cook your own meals, store food and prepare sandwiches for the next day.
I appreciate that you might not want to cook much during your holidays and this is fine. You don’t have to! But having a kitchen gives you the possibility to do so. If you go to the supermarket and get yourself some stuff to make a few sandwiches, that’s a couple of lunches sorted and restaurants avoided.
It’s also great for breakfasts. If you have your breakfast and coffee at the flat it’s at least $5/£5 per head saved everyday. So if you are 2 people going on a week long holiday, it’s minimum $70/£70 saved.
So you see? It wasn’t that hard! There are many things you can do to save money while travelling! You don’t have to do all of these things obviously but just try some from time to time and you will see, it will make a difference.
Tips for saving money on activities in Europe
1. Go on walking tours
Free walking tours are a great option to discover a new city! I am a huge fan of them and explain everything in my article about free walking tours.
You will find them in almost every city. They generally run a couple of times per day. You can join the tour for free. A tour guide will bring you all around the city and explains to you what their city is all about.
These tour guides are actually freelancers, which means that they rely on tips to make a living. This also means that the tour is not actually free as you should be tipping your guide. However, you are free to give whatever you think the tour was worth. I generally give between £5 and £10 depending on the country and how good the guide was.
This is a great way to explore a city, learn plenty of things about it while not having to pay a fortune.
If there are no free walking tours where you are, I’d still recommend to go on a walking tour. You can book walking tour for less than $/£15 on Get your guide. The reason why I recommend walking tours (free or not) is that you get a lot for your money. It will help you to understand the culture of the city and country, see the main landmarks, get some historic facts, tips on where to eat and most of all, it’s a very time-efficient solution. Within a couple of hours, you will know so much!
How to eat for cheap in Europe
1. Eat like the locals
“Do in Rome what the Romans do” they say! This could not be more accurate. When you travel, you should always try to stick to local food. 2 reasons why:
- It’s the best food you will get
- it’s the cheapest food you can get.
Besides the fact that it will be absolutely delicious, local food is always the cheapest. If you stick to local food during your travels, you will save so much money.
If you are trying to get welsh lamb in Thailand, you will pay an absolute fortune and it probably won’t be good. If you get welsh lamb in Wales, you will pay a reasonable price and it will blow your mind.
So leave your normal food at home and try some new things!
At the end of the day, regardless of the financial aspect, it’s one of the best things about travelling and you shouldn’t miss out on that.
2. Buy food in supermarkets instead of eating out
As tempting as eating out might be, this is something you can easily cut down in order to save some money.
Eating in a restaurant will generally cost you at least 3 times more than if you get food from a supermarket.
If you go to a supermarket, you will find plenty of food ready to be eaten such as sandwiches or wraps. For less than $5 you’ve got your lunch sorted.
If you want to make it even cheaper, you can even make your sandwich yourself. Here is what I do when I travel with someone. We go to the supermarket and buy:
- A baguette
- Sliced cheese
This generally works out about $5 all together!
Then we go to a park and find a cosy bench and just put the ham and cheese in the bread! Easy peasy!
Obviously you wouldn’t want to do that if it’s raining or very cold but you might find another place such as a library.
It’s easy, cheap and saves us both time and money.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that but finding a restaurant can be a nightmare. Sometimes we end up debating for hours where to go! And even when you finally find something, a sitting meal is generally quite long.
So a quick supermarket sandwich is ideal with you have a limited amount of time and want to make the best of your day.
Of course I’m not saying to do that for every single meal. This is your holiday and you should treat yourself! Also restaurants are the best place to try local food.
Just don’t do it 3 times a day.
It’s a question of balance 😉 A balance that can save you $20/£20 per day.
Personally I like to do that for lunch and then treat myself for dinner.
Another thing you can do that will both save you money and make you experience local food is to go to the supermarket and take a selection of small things to bring back to the hotel. Basically making your own tapas with local products.
Everytime I go to Italy for example, I always do that. I love italian products and you don’t get to try them all in restaurants. More food, less money… what else can I ask.
What I generally do is: I go to the supermarket and take a selection of cheese, salami, bread and other snacks (olives, peppers…). Bring everything back to the hotel and we munch a bit on everything. Most of the time there is also enough left to make a sandwich for the day after so I hit 2 birds with one stone.
3. Buy drinks in supermarkets and have a drink at your hotel before going out
When you are travelling, drinks can become an important part of your spending. A coffee there, a martini here… it adds up quickly!
A bit like with food, it’s a budget you can reduce by buying some of your drinks in supermarkets rather than going to a cafe or a bar.
It’s perfectly normal wanting to have breakfast at the terrace of a cafe or drinks on a night out. However, you don’t have to take all your drinks there! You can also buy them in a shop and have a drink at your hotel before going out. In some cities such as Lisbon, you are even allowed to drink in the streets which means that you can make your own drinks at the hotel and go outside with it!
This is pretty awesome!
If you do that, you can reduce easily your “drinks” budget by half. Depending on how much you usually drink, it can make a massive difference.