Europe can be as expensive as it is beautiful. You have to deal with outrageous hotel prices in many major cities and very high cost of living in some counties, where meals and public transportation can be hard to afford. Despite all that, there are a few ways to still see the Old Continent and not go broke. Take a look at some strategies we gathered for you:
Get rates in home currency
When planning your trip and when actually traveling, try to pay with your home currency as much as you can. This will ensure you really know how much you are paying for everything to avoid confusion.
Europe can be a wonderland given everything it has to offer, but avoid bouncing all over the place and instead focus on one or two regions in depth. You will understand Europe better, will spend less time in traffic, and will reduce transportation costs significantly. You can always come back for another country or another region.
Try to find out what museums offer free night and when, because they all do at some point, and plan to visit them then.
Local parks, churches, and plazas often hold free concerts during spring-fall months, so be on the lookout for those. You can find information about them in local newspapers or ask at your hotel.
If you plan to see a lot of attractions at any particular city, consider getting a City Pass, which is full of coupons and discounted prices for museums, local attractions, tours, and public transportation. It only makes financial sense if you want to see more than two museums.
Use ATMs for money
Avoid all exchange bureaus at all costs. If you need cash, get it from an ATM, at a bank. This way you will only be charged 1-2% exchange fee and get best rates. Take large amount of cash each time.
Make sure you find out in advance what fees your credit card charges for foreign transactions, it’s usually 1-3%. Use it only if the fee is low or none. Also make sure your hotel and other businesses don’t charge extra authorization fees.
If you absolutely have to use exchange bureaus, avoid the ones in airports and train stations. Find a bank for that and get as little money as you can. Use ATM later and when available.
Don’t travel with a lot of cash
Get foreign money only when you get to the country and try spending them all to avoid reverse exchange rate fees. This is especially applicable for coins as no bank in the US will bother with them. If nothing else, convert them to paper before coming back home.
Don’t do it at department stores, but definitely engage in negotiation on the street markets and outdoor sales points.
Don’t rent a car
Most European cities have amazing public transportation systems, so take advantage of them and don’t rent a car. You will save your nerves and money in the process. Rent only if you want to have a road trip in the countryside and only for those days.
Don’t get a cab
This is the worst way of transportation is Europe. They will rip you off and can cause all kinds of problems. European airports and train/bus stations are served by various public transportation options, so use those. Also – pack light, use Uber/Lyft, and walk a lot.
If you want to hop from country to country or even within one country, consider purchasing Eurail Pass for significant discounts. Short distances are pretty cheap and don’t need any pass, so do the planning before buying.
- Up to 60% on Your Trip when You Book Bus, Train or Flight Tickets
- 55% on Selected Bus Tickets when You Book 1 Week in Advance
- 20% on Select Bus & Train Tickets when You Book 1 Day in Advance
Do long journeys on the train at night – you won’t waste daylight and will save on night lodging.
Go to local grocery stores for water, fruit, and snacks. Avoid tourist shops.
Make lunch big, make it last as dinner, and save. You can do the same with just breakfast and dinner while skipping lunch. Whatever way you go, avoid eating three times a day while traveling because it takes a lot of time and money.
Don’t tip too much
Europe is not America. People in service industry are paid more and thus 10% tip is perfectly acceptable.
Load up on it if it’s included in your hotel price. Otherwise leave the hotel in the morning and find something tasty and affordable outside.
House wine is amazing in Italy and France, so skip fancy brands. Get a bottle at the nearest grocery store and enjoy it at your hotel after a day of sightseeing.
To save money and to eat authentic food, walk a few blocks away from the major tourist destinations and join locals at their favorite restaurants. Street food is amazing too, so don’t be afraid of it.
- Up to 50% OFF Rail Passes
- Up to 50% OFF City Passes
Home away from home
Consider AirBnb and Homeaway to find some spectacular deals, stay at people’s houses and avoid pricey hotels if you can. You can even cook for yourself there, which is another level of savings.
Hostels are not what they used to be. You can now get a private room with a private bathroom and still a lot cheaper than hotel rooms, so don’t discount them.
Stay away from the city center, but close to a public transportation line to save money.