Getting ready for a grand trip to backpack through Europe? Europe was our first backpacking trip together, and it’s a fantastic place to travel when you’re young (or old!) Doesn’t matter – it’s a great place to travel any time of year at any age!
We’ve been to almost every single country in Europe. With over two years of our lives backpacking across Europe, we know a thing or two about getting around the continent and what it costs to travel. It’s one of the most common questions we receive.
“How much does it cost to go backpacking through Europe?”
This backpacking through Europe cost guide should help you budget for your first backpacking trip in Europe. We’ll cover typical costs of a trip to Europe such as transportation, food, gear, and accommodation. This way, you come prepared with enough cash in the bank account.
Backpacking Europe: How Should You Budget?
Before you read the details, I know you want an actual number in your head. When we backpack, we strive to travel on a budget of €50/day, no matter what country. If you’re frugal, it is easy to come under this budget. We believe that even in the most expensive countries, it is possible to keep your Europe trip costs at €50/day.
Note that this does not include your pre-trip expenses like purchasing flights, insurance, and gear; of course, this is season-dependent and depends on your comfort level. For this price, you won’t be staying at the Ritz in Copenhagen, but a 12-bed hostel? Yup!
With a modest budget of €20/day on accommodation in Europe and an allocation of €10-15 for food, the rest can be left over for transport or fun things (like beer and good wine!).
In countries like Norway and France, a budget like this will require more legwork and planning. In countries like Bosnia and Serbia, you will have to try hard to hit €50 for the day. Your daily budget for a Europe trip should include transport costs, accommodation, food, and activities.
How Much Will Backpacking Through Europe Cost?
Backpacking Through Europe Pre-trip Expenses
There are several items and things you’ll need to do before you travel to Europe. Obvious things like getting a passport and booking flights are an essential step. We also suggest that you always travel with insurance. It’s easily overlooked, and we love adventure sports, so it’s not worth the risk.
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The first thing you’ll need to include in your Europe trip cost is a passport; if you’re American, that doesn’t come cheap. Both a new passport and a renewal passport will run you €110. Make sure to allow yourself at least two to three months for the passport to arrive in the mail, or you could end up paying €60 to have it expedited.
This will most likely be your most significant pre-trip expense for Europe. The good news is that flights to Europe are becoming cheaper than ever. The bad news is a good deal usually requires you to be flexible with your travel planning.
That being said, there are some great low-cost carriers these days. Check out Norwegian Air and Wizz Air for one-way flights to Europe as low as €69! If you plan to travel to multiple destinations, look for the cheapest flight to Europe, then plan your trip from there. Easyjet and Ryanair are great for low-cost carriers once in Europe.
If you are backpacking through Europe, you’re going to need a backpack. We break down the best backpacks for Europe here, but two of our favorites are NOMATIC and Knack Bags. Put aside between €100-€200 for a good travel backpack.
You’ll want to be prepared before you land, from adapters to walking shoes to even a good travel towel. If you’re coming from North America, I suggest buying all these items online before your European trip as most items will cost more in Europe. Check out our ultimate European packing list for ideas.
It’s always a good idea to set yourself up with travel insurance before your trip. We personally never travel without it. We like to travel with insurance from Heymondo.
This is not a full expense. However, you should practice good travel banking habits as it will save you a lot of money. Getting the right checking account that minimizes fees saving you money when withdrawing cash. Check out how we suggest saving money for travel.
Backpacking Through Europe Transportation Cost
This is going to be your most significant expense while backpacking through Europe, but if you’re smart about it and plan, you can get around cheaply. Train travel is the easiest and most convenient way to backpack through Europe.
Eurail Pass & Trains
I backpacked for about three months around Western Europe on a Global Eurail pass. The pass wasn’t cheap; it cost me €1100 for three months of unlimited travel through Europe. It was a bargain considering the area I was traveling through and how much I was hopping around on trains. You can buy your rail pass and determine which is best here.
Europe is not only traveled by train, but there is also an extensive bus network that connects most countries. I like to use GoEuro to compare bus vs. train costs. Traveling throughout parts of Croatia, Romania, and Poland by bus can cost as little as €8 a bus ticket. FlixBus is our favorite bus company for backpacking Europe.
Low Cost Air Carriers
I’m sure you’ve also heard of Ryan Air. Ryan Air is a low-cost carrier that services almost all of Europe. If you have the time check Skyscanner and Google Flights and look for cheap flights. We got flights from Rome to Marrakech for €12 before and recently flew from Rome to Corfu with Ryan Air for €25. Other no-frills/ low-cost carriers are Wizz Air and Easy Jet.
On average, you can typically pick up a cheap flight for under €100. Just keep in mind these prices are this low because they expect you to pay for baggage. Even carry-on bags on these carriers are not free and often come with an extra €30-€50 price tag.
How open are you to hitchhiking? Doing so can significantly reduce your Europe trip cost. In America, this is seen as a big no-no; However, in Europe, it is pretty common. If you want something a little more secure, try sharing platforms like BlaBlaCar, similar to hitchhiking, except it is prearranged and you chip in for gas.
If you’re traveling as a group, a rental car is a perfect option for traveling around Europe. We’ve scored deals in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Scotland, and more for less than €30 a day. I generally like to check comparison sites so I can get the best prices. My favorites to look at are:
- RentalCars.com: Provides comparisons for car rentals in Europe.
- Discover Car Hire: Searches rental car prices around the globe.
What is the Best Transport Method for Backpacking Europe?
How much time do you have to go backpacking across Europe? Transport will be your largest expense, especially if you are moving a lot. Remember that the slower you travel, the lower your transportation costs.
A week in Barcelona will cost less than hopping all around Spain. Traveling at a slower pace through fewer places will drastically cut your costs and increase your understanding of the region you’re in.
There is also a give and take with cost versus comfort. If there is a 10-hour train ride that costs €20, and a 2-hour train ride that costs €50, it’s up to you to decide where you spend your cash. If you’re willing to sacrifice comfort, you can save a lot of money.
Accommodation Costs While Backpacking Through Europe
At the end of the day, you will need to find somewhere to lay your head down. Accommodation is the second highest cost of backpacking through Europe. In terms of cost for comfort, your best option will be a hostel. Although, in the cheaper countries, you can find affordable hotel rooms and guesthouses with ease.
Backpacking Europe Cost: Hostels
In parts of Western Europe, you will be paying more for a brand new hostel in the city center. In the heat of the summer season, some places in Scandinavia or Switzerland cost €40-60/night for a dorm bed. This is insane! In general, in Western Europe, I would expect to pay about €30/night for a dorm bed. In Eastern Europe, hostel beds can run you as little as €10/night. I use Hotels.com to find most of the accommodation in Europe.
I know what you’re thinking; this is still a massive chunk of my budget, and you’re right. Accommodation isn’t cheap, but honestly, a hostel bed in Oslo still costs me significantly less than my one-bedroom apartment in NYC did per month.
Backpacking Europe Cost: Airbnb
Truth be told, we have our qualms with Airbnb in the short-term rental market. However, if you’re using it as a backpacker and getting a private room, you can get a great deal or if you are traveling with a large group, you can sometimes get a pretty splashy pad for cheap when it’s all split evenly.
Plus, many hosts are great at welcoming you to a new city. They can provide insight into the city, and you get a chance to connect with a local. Always beware of high cleaning fees and Airbnbs high service fee, as it can really affect your budget. We often find properties on Airbnb for $100+ than on Booking or Hotels.com. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, we have some awesome tips on how to get started.
Backpacking Europe Cost: Hotels
This is the most expensive option. However, in Eastern European countries, we’ve found many great deals on sites like Booking.com. It’s possible to find rooms in hotels and guesthouses for around €25-50 in the off-season if you’re a couple; that’s the price of a dorm bed with a lot more comfort and personal space.
Backpacking Europe Cost: Couchsurfing
One of the top ways to save money backpacking through Europe is by Couchsurfing. You can find accommodation for free too. Sites like Couchsurfing connect locals and travelers, and many Europeans offer up their couches in exchange for cultural exchange. I spent €100 for a week in Iceland because I Couchsurfed the whole time. Remember to always check the reviews first, especially for female travelers; the internet is full of creeps.
Food & Drink Costs while Backpacking Through Europe
This is the most manageable expense to let get out of control when you are backpacking Europe. Multiple drinks at the bar can eat up your budget. You should save a little for some meals out as eating the local cuisine is one of the reasons we travel. food is one of the most important facets of every culture in the world!
A mid-range meal in Paris may run you €20 a plate, while nice meals in Poland will cost you around €10. Take away can typically always be found. Our cheap takeaway staple is Indian and pizza.
If you’re looking to cut costs cooking your own food will be sure to make your money go further. Eating your meals in can cost as little as €10 a day, and if you’re splitting your food with others, expect this cost to be even less.
However, you’ll need a kitchen to cook all this food, so that is something to consider when booking accommodation. Often we will pay a bit more for accommodation with a kitchen because we know we will save money by cooking dinner in it every night. At the very least, when we are trying to save money, we will make sure there is a fridge in the room. That way, we can store yogurts for breakfast and meats and cheese for charcuterie at night.
A decent meal ranges anywhere from €20-30 in Western Europe and €5-15 in Eastern Europe. For example, you can get a nice meal in Italy for €25 or a full meze dinner on the Greek Islands for €10. Our favorite cheap grocery stores in Europe are Aldi and Lidl.
If you’re backpacking through Europe, you’ll probably want to have a beer in Amsterdam or a glass of vino in Italy. Alcohol can be the end-all and be all of a budget, but it doesn’t have to be! Consider picking up your beer and wine from the grocery store or drink with your new friends at the hostel bars.
Outstanding wine in Italy and France can cost as little as €2 a bottle, and you can get great beer in Belgium for €1 a bottle. In most European countries you can legally drink in public like the streets and public parks.
Backpacking Through Europe Activity Costs
Alright, so you’ve gotten to Europe, found your accommodation, and put some food in your stomach, so now you have to fill your days with awesomeness! Some of the top ways we like to save money when we backpack through Europe are as follows.
Free Walking Tours
Most major European cities have free walking tours every day. We love these tours when as they’re a great way to get to know a city. It gets me acquainted with the place and also is a great way to meet people when traveling alone. Although these walking tours are free, a tip is expected for the guide at the end; €5 a person is pretty standard for these tours.
Many museums around Europe have free entrance times and dates. Always check online ahead of time to take advantage of this.
Europe also has some pretty amazing parks and mountains. People always say that Switzerland is expensive, but consider just spending your days exploring the mountains. We love to go hiking wherever we are at. We spent a whole month last summer hiking in Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. And while the accommodation was high, we never spent money on activities – nature is free (as long as you avoid the gondolas)!
This is where you can eat up a budget real quick. Snowboarding is awesome, bungee jumping is rad, scuba diving is unreal, but only cliff diving is free. If you have hobbies or want to do something special be prepared to budget for it in advance. Otherwise, look for free or cheap things like bike rentals or hiking.
How to Save Money Backpacking Through Europe
If you’ve made it to the end of this post and are ready to hop on the next flight out, then take away these main tips to really save money not just in Europe, but everywhere.
- Consider staying longer in places to cut back on transport costs. Move with a purpose, don’t backtrack and always calculate the cheapest ways to travel.
- Regarding accommodation, you get what you pay for. The more central hostel locations are usually going to cost more, perhaps it’s worth it to stay outside the city center, and walk-in or take public transport. Higher reviewed and exceptionally clean places cost more, dirtier and dated places cost less.
- Eating at grocery stores can really save your budget. I’ve lived off pre-packaged salads and sandwiches in many countries. If I want to cook my food I make sure to book an apartment or hostel with a good kitchen.
- Just walking and exploring a new city can really fill your day and it’s free!
Where To Backpack Around Europe?
If it’s your first time backpacking through Europe, catch a flight to Western Europe and move a little quicker through it. Countries like France, Sweden, Austria, and Ireland are great, but they are expensive.
My favorite region to travel through in Europe are the Balkans. Countries like Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia are beautiful and inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe.
Generally speaking, the more east you get in Europe, the cheaper the country. Where you are at is crucial to your European travel budget. I also find that countries using the Euro are going to cost more than countries with their own currency (besides Scandinavia).
When is the Best Time to Backpack Through Europe?
High season (June – early September): Many places in Europe suffer from extreme heat and overtourism during these months. Despite this, the summer is still high season in Europe and what many consider the best time to travel here. School holidays bring many American families over to cities like Florence, Paris, and Amsterdam. And there is the backpacker crowd on a gap year making their rounds around the continent. In other words, it’s busy – and expensive. Still, this is your best chance for sunny days, though in recent years, it’s been brutally hot.
Shoulder Season (September, October, May, June): Tourism is lower during this time, and temperatures aren’t brutally hot, which means better prices and fewer tourists. In my opinion, it’s the best time to travel around Europe.
Low Season (November-April): Unless you’re on a ski holiday or it’s Christmas/New Years this is the low season in Europe. It’s cold in many countries, some more than others. Still, it’s quiet, and nothing can quite beat that feeling of a nice winter day in Europe. Prices are at their lowest (except ski destinations or for the holidays), and you’ll likely be able to score some good deals!
Average Backpacking Europe Trip Costs
|Paris, France||Krakow, Poland||Note:|
|Transport||€30||€13||Routes are International: Amsterdam>Paris Budapest>Krakow|
|Accommodation||€25||€6||Hostel Dorm Bed Prices|
|Activities||€10||€4||Price of Louvre Entrance vs. Price of Entrance to Wawel Castle|
Cost To Travel Regions in Europe
- Green: crazy expensive countries
- Blue: expensive countries
- Pink: affordable countries
- Purple: budget countries
Where do all the Europe trip costs go?
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get ultra low.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.