Europe Travel Guide

Europe Travel Guide

The vast continent of Europe has everything most travelers may ever want. Awe-inspiring castles, ancient cathedrals, the rich diversity of architecture, history, art, and landscape. From Portugal to Poland and Russia, Europe is filled with vibrant cities and secluded romantic getaways. This part of the world is especially popular with backpackers, making their way through the continent to enjoy the Greek islands, the vast spaces of Eastern Europe and relatively cheap Spain islands like Mallorca.

There are a lot of places in Europe you can visit without spending tons of money! Every country here has its own spirit and features. I can spend countless hours describing them but the list just goes on and on. You have to experience them yourself. First-timers may find visiting Europe overwhelming. With so many possible options available you have to set up a budget and stick to it. Countries like Switzerland or Norway will require much more money than Hungary or Greece. The travel guide I have put together aims to provide you with tips on how to make Europe more accessible and keep your wallet fat!

DESTINATION GUIDES FOR EUROPE

Austria Germany Malta Russia
Belgium Greece Montenegro Serbia
Cyprus The Netherlands Norway Spain
Denmark Hungary Poland United Kingdom
France Italy Portugal
Europe Location

Getting Around in Europe

As I travel a lot around Europe, I still prefer public transport. Whether it is a bus or local metro system, you can expect a one-way ticket to be under 3 EUR in countries like the Netherlands or Germany, and under 2 EUR in Greece or Spain. Intercity trains (IC) can be expensive if you are tight on time and pick a high-speed train. Trains are really popular in Europe. If you prefer the monotonous sound of the train wheels, your best bet is Eurail pass that covers the bulk of slow trains and allows to travel through several countries with a reduced ticket price. If you are under 27, than the Eurail Youthpass should fit your needs. You can get these tickets in the United States or Australia before you depart because they will be somehow cheaper than if you buy in Europe.

Buses are another reliable way of getting around in most European countries. While they are generally cheaper than trains, you shouldn’t expect them to be fast either. Buses are good when you need to reach remote areas and villages that don’t have railways. You can find various companies providing bus services, however, Eurolines and Ecolines are two main bus carriers in Europe. Eurolines offer pass that allows you to visit 50 major European cities over a 15- or 30-day period.

If you are planning to visit some outlying regions that are only accessible by sea, then ferry might come in handy. Consider reaching Greek Islands, outlying islands of Scotland, the Balearic Islands, and Sicily by ferry to save extra money on airfare (sometimes ferry ride is cheaper).

Accommodation in Europe

With a broad range of accommodation in Europe, there is always an option that should fit your needs. Hotels can be a quite reasonable accommodation type sometimes. Depending on the season and country, you can expect prices start from 30 EUR per night for two. Even low-end hotels usually provide amenities like breakfast, private bathrooms, and Wi-Fi. If you’re an avid traveler then you probably know how to book a hotel. Finding some great options isn’t a problem nowadays, just compare and book the options online. As I often stay in hotels (well, actually in hostels, too!), I need to know what to expect. Be sure to check the reviews, convenient location and hidden fees in order to get a positive experience.

Prices for dorm rooms in hostels fluctuate between 15-45 EUR. Southern and Eastern Europe tend to provide cheaper prices, thus attracting backpackers from around the world. Hostels in Paris and Amsterdam are among the most expensive in Europe. Campsites are great, you can find a lot of serene places with spectacular views for 10-18 EUR per night p/p.

Airbnb provides great options for those on a tight budget. Shared rooms start from 15 EUR per night and go up from there. Renting an entire apartment will set you back around 25 EUR in countries like Greece and Spain. The further north you go, the more expensive it gets. B&B is an option if you find yourself in rural areas. Not necessarily having a convenient location and tend to be few and far between in most cities, they are good for short stays.

Food In Europe

Supermarkets and small shops offer a wide range of pre-made food for 3-8 EUR. With the excellent quality of items in stock, you can hardly have an upset stomach. Several large chains like Nordsee in Germany, Auchan in France and Lidl throughout Western Europe, keep prices generally lower than in smaller shops. However, small shops are almost always at hand so you can find them near train stations and pedestrian zones, they also tend to provide fresh regional produce and more personal service.

Local open-air markets are well-renowned for their fresh and cheap food. In Italy, you can find at least one market a week. Daily markets are held in large cities. In France, there is a number of regional specialties that can be bought outside their area of origin. Going on an eating spree is easy in Central France and Provence, famous for cured meats, Roquefort cheese, pates and olive oil. Most alcoholic beverages in France are associated with particular regions.

While visiting Germany, Wochenmarkt is the place to buy vegetables, cheeses, fresh fruits and some everyday items. This kind of weekly market is held in many German towns. Some will only set up stalls in the market square, while larger cities have a designated squares in different neighborhoods. While restaurant meals can be expensive, cheap eateries like osteria, tavola calda or rosticceria in Italy will keep you full and won’t break the bank.

Europe Travel

How To Do Europe On a Budget

Attend a Free Walking Tour

In most major cities in Europe you can attend free walking tours that are run by residents. This is one of the best ways to get acquainted with local culture, architecture and history. IТve taken tours in Madrid and Budapest and it was time well invested. Apart from companies, some hostels provide free tour service, which is great if you want to hang out with people of your age. If you love their service you can tip them, but is always optional.

Fly with Low-Cost Airlines

With so many discount airlines today having their hubs throughout the Europe, you can reach almost any corner for less than 30 EUR sometimes! If you’re flexible with your dates and book in advance you can even get even lower prices! Nowadays, it doesn’t matter whether you book a one-way flight or round trip, you most certainly will get a good price. Backpackers opt for low-cost airlines when they want to visit several spots and save money on it. Always search for the airports nearby to compare flights and get the best deal!

Share Your Trip With Others

Ridesharing is an affordable way to switch between cities and countries in Europe. You share a ride with a verified car owner and the entire service slightly reminds of Couchsurfing but set its basis on money and cars. It is important to stay flexible with your dates to catch the sweetest rides with services like BlaBlaCar.

Eat At Family Owned Businesses

These small, cozy taverns, osterias and trattorias usually offer much lower prices for delicious local meals. Go off the beaten path and you will find menus printed in a foreign language (with no translation), staff speaking only a few English words if not speaking it at all. Such spots are just awesome to feel the spirit of the country and maybe practise your language skills.

Eat Outside

With so many nice squares, embankments and city parks where you can sit on the grass, it would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Grab some pre-made food in the supermarket or get pizza slices from a street vendor and have some fun in the park. Well, actually picnics aren’t only about saving money, but about communication as well!

Become a House Sitter (Or a Pet Sitter)

Becoming a house sitter involves some responsibilities and can be considered a job. It allows you to significantly cut down expenses on accommodation. You get an apartment or an entire house for free for a predetermined amount of time, but once you into it you have to run housekeeping and sometimes look after the pets. With several websites out there, house sitting agreements may vary, and sometimes involve utilities coverage or a certain amount of work. Sign up for their newsletter to catch the best deals!

Withdraw Money from a Foreign ATM Wisely

You probably know this, but when it comes to exchanging currency, the worst deals are always at the airport. If you have reached your destination without foreign currency, finding a good deal might cause some troubles. Check if your bank has a partner in foreign countries so you can withdraw cash with low fees or no fees at all. In some countries you can find ATM’s charging flat fees, so make sure you visit ATM only once or twice and withdraw larger amounts if your bank charges ATM fees.

Save Money with a Local City Card

If you plan on visiting a lot of attractions or other places listed in local tourist information centres, then city card might be your best bet. You may need this card for saving money on local public transportation and getting some discounts at restaurants, but the main thing is about free admission to museums and tours. Make sure you want to visit plenty of sites and go on a city tours in order to get your moneyТs worth.

Stick To a Rail Pass

Eurail pass is a great tool for travelers willing to travel through several countries. The only thing you have to do before you get your pass is to pick the countries you will be traveling through, choose your travel class and category. Youthpass offers discounts for everyone under 27 years.

Do Some Couchsurf

Yes, I know couchsurfing has many cons like uncertainty with your host, feeling uncomfortable at some points or even sexsurfing (yep, that exist too!), but it has a lot of pros as well! Think you don’t have any friends in a city you’d like to visit. Not much money either. Hostel isn’t an option sometimes. You get a free couch for one night and move along in the morning. I believe that is a great deal!

Top Things To See and Places to Visit in Europe

Check Out Berlin

A cultural capital of Germany by day with an impressive list of museums, cool galleries and attractions, Berlin turns into one of the most buzzing nightlife centers in Europe by night. There is always something to discover in Berlin. From the remnants of the Wall and cheap street food to cutting-edge art and historic neighborhoods, you’ll definitely fall in love with this city.

Enjoy The Architecture of Riga

During my previous journeys, I spent several days wandering around the historical center in Riga enjoying statues of cats, wooden buildings and Gothic cathedrals. Apart from an astonishing medieval Old Town filled with narrow streets and lovely squares, Riga is renowned for its Quiet Center also referred to as Art Nouveau District. You can take awesome photos near the Blackheads house, and grab some food at Central Market and in Kalnciema Quarter where the weekly market takes place on Saturdays.

Visit Stockholm

Sweden is much more than just Swedish meatballs or IKEA. The country that is steeped in history has its capital located an archipelago consisting of several thousand islands. You can start your trip around Stockholm from the Church of St. Nicholas and the Royal Palace to end up with, well who knows, a rooftop tour. Depending on the time you visit Stockholm, there is a number of activities to take part in. Summer is the period when midnight sun shines and Midsummer celebration at its height, while winter offers endless opportunities to enjoy skating, skiing or maybe hiking.

Spend Some Time in Copenhagen

The happiest nation on earth has long been known as creative individuals riding bikes and enjoying life. Copenhagen is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, as you will be able to see some of its sites and not overspend. Copenhagen isn’t a cheap city and even eating out in most restaurants can add up quickly. But don’t let Copenhagen slide off your radar! Explore parks, castles and churches with City Card, and take great photos of Nyhavn’s old houses for free! Stick to numerous street food stalls to reduce food expenses and get a bike to see as much of Copenhagen as possible!

Hang Out in Budapest

If you haven’t been to Budapest, here are some reasons why you should go! With the fall of the Iron Curtain, Hungary turned into great alternative to Berlin and Paris for those on a tight budget. Amazing architecture, rich cultural heritage and awesome thermal baths all over the country, not to mention the buzzing nightlife of Kazinczy street and cheap food make Budapest an ideal destination for backpackers. Not into backpacking? The cheapest hotel room here can be found for as low as 25 EUR!

Admire Sunsets in Santorini

Why go to Santorini? Is it because Thira is among the top island destinations in Greece? Or because of these seaside houses with gorgeous blue domes? Actually, both features are matter when enjoyed and seen in front of sunset at Oia! Situated among the group of the Cyclades islands, Santorini gives you the freedom and the chance to explore the beaches of any color imaginable (white, black, red or pebble), tiny villages with incredible views of the Aegean Sea and discover the ancient history of the island through hiking and scuba diving!

Enjoy Florence

If you find yourself in Italy, make sure not to skip Florence. This concerns art-lovers in the first place! There are just too many things to see and places to visit. Florence is filled with cathedrals, gorgeous Renaissance churches, museums and some of the best gelato in Italy. Start your trip around Florence from climbing 463 steps to the top of Il Duomo to experience the breathtaking view.

If you get tired of this countless “top things to see” art list, there are wonderful Boboli Gardens with long alleyways and scenic English landscape. Take a boat trip along the Arno River or attend a Florence free tour. Florence is a popular study abroad destination, so you can expect a buzzing nightlife. Florence can be a little bit touristy, but it is totally worth a visit!

Get Lost in Dubrovnik

If you want both (actually, there is much more) – pure, pristine waters and medieval charm with mighty fortress over the enticing Old Town, then Dubrovnik is your best bet! Located in southern Croatia on the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is a popular travel destination with the pedestrian old town and outstanding rocky coast. While some travelers visit Dubrovnik while cruising, it definitely deserves several days for exploration.

There are a bunch of secret back lanes and narrow streets, hidden throughout the old town, so consider spending a day exploring. Gradac Park, St. Blaize’s Church and the Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence) Fortress are the main sites here. Walking along the city walls and Game of Thrones Tour won’t let you get bored. July and August are the busiest months with tourists all around. October is the right time to avoid crowds and enjoy the warm sea.

Try To Find Free Things to Do in Oslo

Everyone knows that Norway (as well as Oslo) is an expensive country. However, even the smallest Scandinavian capital has some free things to offer, apart from searching for trolls under the bridges! City Hall, Parliament House, the Opera House, Akershus Fortress and Oslo Cathedral can be done for free, providing great opportunities for taking a step back in history and exploring Norwegian culture. I did a lot of walking when I visited Oslo for the first time! While some sites come for free, for visiting expensive ones you can consider using Oslo Pass.

Feel the Spirit of History In Cesky Krumlov

This UNESCO site is situated in southern Czech Republic and almost as cute as Prague is! Being very popular with tourists during hot summer months, you can find Cesky Krumlov to be less crowded as Fall begins. Known as the venue for several summer festivals, Cesky Krumlov boasts an impressive Krumlov Castle, the Minorite Monastery and the towering St Vitus Church. Stroll the maze of narrow Medieval streets to explore the pearl of South Bohemia. The town is easily accessible from Prague by car, train or bus.

Locate All Georgian Doors In Dublin

You don’t need the luck of the Irish to explore the Georgian doors in Dublin. These fancy doors were a result of the strict architectural uniformity of Georgian Dublin. Due to this fact, residents started adding individual features to their doorways and painting them in all colors imaginable. You can find these historical masterpieces throughout the central Dublin, while the best examples can be enjoyed in Leeson Street. Apart from exploring Dublin architecture and hitting pubs, there is a bunch of things to do. Stroll around Trinity College or visit the Dublin Castle. During my first visit to Dublin, I really enjoyed people watching in the Temple bar neighborhood and the St. Patrick’s day parade.

Spend a Weekend in Lviv

As any other city in Ukraine, Lviv is a really cheap. You can get a decent meal for two in an inexpensive restaurant for less than 11 EUR! Home to delicious chocolate and coffee, Lviv somehow reminds of Austria or Budapest, but has it all even cheaper! Being quite an underrated destination (however, this is changing rapidly, so be quick!), Lviv offers a number of great museums. Be sure to explore the charming Old Town with cobblestone streets around the Ploshcha Rynek (Market Square). Lviv is a safe city with lots of cathedrals and outdoor cafés, which can be easily discovered on foot.

Date The Great Enchantress

Barcelona seems to have everything for everyone. Listed among the most attractive cities in Europe, the Catalan capital is a well-renowned destination for backpackers, beloved place to relax for families and mecca for the culture lovers. With a wide range of activities to choose from you can start your day from strolling La Ramblas and finish it hanging out in beachside nightclubs. This vibrant cosmopolitan city is home to La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell and the Gothic Quarter. Thanks to great (and cheap) food and wine in Barcelona, I prefer staying here for as long as I can!

Explore Krakow

Like the old saying has it: “All roads lead to Rome”, all roads in Krakow lead to the Old Town. With a bunch of awesome sights, such as the Town Hall, the Basilica of St. Mary and the Cloth Hall located here, Rynek Glowny square seems to be a logical starting point for exploring Krakow. The main market square is always buzzing, with many tourists and street performances in the evening. As Krakow is home to several universities, students are everywhere. The Old Town and the nearby districts are totally walkable, so you can save extra money for more remote areas.

Head To Lisbon

Quiet, winding streets of Lisbon can be best explored on foot or with 28 tram from Campo Ourique to Martim Moniz. While riding a tram is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon, which can be crowded during peak hours, it is still a cool way of getting around. This incredible city offers you not only old neighborhoods, but also amazing spirit of the westernmost point of mainland Europe. If you are an avid surfer then Lisbon is where you should head to! Beaches like Bafureira, Carcavelos and Praia de Poca are great for surfing!

Visit Rotterdam

This city isn’t just about being the world’s largest port. I believe this is less interesting part about Rotterdam. Since the entire city was completely destroyed by German air attacks during WW2, it was rebuilt after the war and now boasts some of the most modern and unusual architecture in Europe. It doesn’t take much to prove it. Erasmus Bridge, the Cube Houses, Euromast Tower and even the Markthal are the most futuristic buildings I have ever seen! However, there is still Medieval spirit in it! Great St. Lawrence Church, Delfshaven and Schoonhoven districts make Rotterdam a very diverse city.

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