• Home  / 
  • Budget Tips
  •  /  The Cheapest Way To Travel Europe: A Guide On How To Travel Europe On A Budget

The Cheapest Way To Travel Europe: A Guide On How To Travel Europe On A Budget

The cheapest way to travel Europe: Introduction

It is not difficult to budget travel Europe like a seasoned pro. While North-Western Europe is a tough cookie for those looking for the cheapest way to travel Europe, there are many hidden gems in the South and South-East of the continent that will not break the bank.

Now we are sure you have heard Stockholm is all the rage, and London and Amsterdam are not to be missed. Truth is all three of them are fantastic destinations, but the budget minded traveler will be smart to look a bit further.

We want to break down for you how you can save your hard earned cash by being smart about where and how to travel. First off, let us suggest a few of our favorite budget conscious travel destinations in Europe.

Vecriga, the old city of Riga, Latvia

Vecriga, the old city of Riga, Latvia

The Baltics

The small countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are tucked away in the northeastern corner of Europe, bordering Russia. While none have the allure of Rome or Barcelona, the cities in these tiny states have much going for them.

Estonia’s capital Tallinn is a throw-back into medieval times, with real castle walls surrounding the old city. You can feast on boar in one the themed medieval restaurants, while checking your email on the free superfast wifi network provided throughout the city.

Riga, capital of Latvia, is more cosmopolitan than its northern neighbor. A green city full of parks, it boasts a beautiful historic old town celebrating its Hanseatic heritage. Head outside of the center for amazing Art Nouveau architecture and hipper-than-life coffee houses.

Tourism to Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, has begun to pick up quite a bit in the last few years. Rightfully so, since the old town is beautiful and very walkable, and, most importantly, extremely affordable.

Polish Cities

It is hard to believe how one country can harbor so many beautifully diverse cities. From the old port town of Gdansk to the former capital of Krakow, you could spend weeks travelling around this underestimated country and never get bored.

The capital Warsaw is a sprawling giant definitely worth a visit. Aforementioned Krakow is a must, with nearby nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau a place of pilgrimage for those remembering the Holocaust. More exotic options include Wroclaw, a green-filled student town with some of the best nightlife in Poland, and Lublin, close to the Ukrainian border.

Istria, The Slovenian and Croatian Peninsula Beauty

If there is one place we would recommend all year through for affordability, ease of travel and, most importantly, sheer beauty, it is Istria. Apart from the picturesque coastal towns like Rovinj and Pula, one can see how the Habsburg Monarchy spent its spa getaways in the plush town of Opatija.

Party people can live it large in Rijeka on the eastern edge of the peninsula, and its interior is blanketed with quaint artist towns and wine fields. Again, most importantly, your trip here will not break the bank.

Poznan, Poland

Poznan, Poland

The Cheapest Way To Travel In Europe: Planes, Trains, Buses and Thumbs

Planes

Although travel in Europe can still be quite expensive, you could save big by planning ahead. Who would have thought 10 years ago that flying would be the cheapest way to travel around Europe? Since the advent of budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizzair, even €20 might be enough to get you to where you need to go.

Both airlines have a decent number of flights to lesser-known destinations, but this is actually where the fun starts since these are also the cheapest. Especially during weekdays, it is rather easy to find cheap flights to different corners of the continent.

Ryanair is Europe’s biggest airline and truly blankets the European map with its enormous amount of destinations. Not all of them are that cheap though, so it pays to seek out lesser-known cities to include in your itinerary.

Wizzair is a younger airline which mostly caters to Eastern Europe. As shown above, in our opinion this is actually where the most hidden gems and affordable destinations are, so take a look at their airport map and plan ahead.

There are some other low cost companies like Easyjet and Norwegian, but these mostly fly to the more expensive parts of Europe like Great Britain and Scandinavia.

Trains

A rail pass could be a good option, but it is not the cheapest way to travel around Europe anymore. It could be very cheap within certain countries, but you really need a rail pass if you plan on taking night trains and crossing borders.

Buses

A new wave of low cost buses is conquering Europe. Eurolines has always been the mainstay, but has seen its dominance being challenged by newcomers Megabus and Busabout. In our opinion, bus travel can be quite exhausting, especially overnight ones, but with fares starting at €1,50 for a trip from Amsterdam to London when booking far ahead, there is not much more a budget traveler can ask for.

Thumbing Your Way Through Europe

Hitchhiking is much more commonplace in Europe than in the US for example. More and more internet sites are popping up to make using your virtual thumb to travel and hitching a ride that much easier. Above all, it is very cheap of course!

Rovinj, Croatia by night

Rovinj, Croatia by night

Travel Europe On A Budget: Beds and Couches

To travel Europe on a budget has become that much easier with sites like Couchsurfing and Global Freeloaders. These are definitely the prime answers for the question of how to travel Europe on a budget. More importantly, staying at someone’s house rather than a hostel or hotel opens up local culture and makes the experience that much more rewarding.

Another heaven sent for those on a budget but wanting a bit more privacy are the peer-to-peer travel accommodation sites like AirBnB and its German counterpart Wimdu. These provide great options for the budget minded traveler. The same as above applies here, in that your host could become your new best friend, at least for the time of your stay.

The cheapest way to travel to Europe: putting it all together

So far we have covered a few interesting destinations, as well as means to get and stay there. One sample itinerary that would not break your Europe travel budget could look like this:

  • Fly into London, in many cases the cheapest gateway to Europe.
  • Take the Megabus to Amsterdam (book way in advance for best prices!) and stay in the beautiful center at a couch surfing host.
  • Take the train to Eindhoven airport, about 75 minutes from Amsterdam. From here, both Ryanair and Wizzair provide many cheap flights.
  • Fly to Riga in Latvia, and enjoy cheap eats, drinks, culture and nightlife.
  • Take another cheap bus to Vilnius, Lithuania. Repeat above.
  • Another bus trip will take you to Warsaw, the capital of Poland.
  • Now the fun really only gets started. There are so many options, like the other above mentioned Polish cities, or take another cheap Wizzair flight to Budapest, Hungary.
  • Marvel at Budapest, the Paris of the East. It is actually much more affordable than its French counterpart, but rivals it in cultural offerings.
  • Take a cheap flight back to London, or make a detour through Southern Europe. The continent is your oyster!

Of course, this is just an idea and only the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. In short: fly cheap, make use of peer-to-peer accommodation, and pick your destinations according to affordability. This will make your Europe travel budget last for much longer than you could have thought possible.

​We wish you all the fun in the world planning your trip to Europe on a budget! Not ready to cross the big pond just yet? We have got a guide on fun getaways in Ohio as well.

About the author

Steve