Europe (credit: Thinkstock)
Many believe a vacation to Europe can be a bit expensive. Due to exchange rates and higher price tags many European cities can be very expensive to visit. However, with a little creative planning and learning money saving tips, you could enjoy a European adventure of your own.
Inexpensive Countries To Visit
Just like any other region you travel to, you will find countries in Europe that are more affordable to visit than others. Many of the affordable European cities make this list because they are home to hotels, tours, activities and businesses which are very budget friendly. If you plan to visit Europe and will be on a budget, the following cities should make it on your itinerary:
- Brussels: Outside of higher priced accommodations, food and attractions are inexpensive.
- Budapest: Beautiful destination that is still affordable for a budget conscious traveler.
- Bucharest: Charming town with few tourists making prices less inflated that touristy regions.
- Istanbul: Caters to tourists offering affordable accommodations and attractions.
- Krakow: Budget-friendly everything – hotels, restaurants and attractions.
- Lisbon: Affordable hotels without sacrificing quality.
- Prague: Good eats and cheap drinks are easy to find.
- Sofia: Outside of flights to Sofia, everything else is very inexpensive.
- Vilnius: Everything throughout the city is very affordable.
You will find a variety of affordable accommodations throughout Europe, including hotels and hostels. But what is the difference between the two? And what is the best option for your travel budget and plans. Hostels differ greatly from hotels mostly because when staying there you will only be given a bed versus an entire room. Meaning you may have to share the room with another traveler. Hostels are definitely no-frills accommodation options that are very affordable.
Positive things about staying in a hostel include:
- Less expensive for single travelers and those traveling with just one companion
- Get to meet a lot of different people
- Access to kitchen facilities
- Communal spaces equipped with televisions and pool tables.
Positive things about staying in a hotel:
- Room costs the same for two to four travelers (or just a small additional fee for each additional person)
- Lots of privacy, including a private bathroom
- Clean sheets and towels
- Breakfast buffet is generally included in price at most hotels
There are many different ways you can travel throughout Europe. Many of which are very affordable. How you travel from city to city will greatly depend upon your personal travel preferences, your travel budget and transportation options available in your area. Here is a look at the differences between the various forms of transportation available in Europe:
- Train: The Eurail train pass makes it possible to visit 28 European countries with one single pass. This is one of the most affordable means of transportation you will find during your visit. Other means of train transportation include the Britrail, Inter-Rail and EuroStar. Just about every town in Europe is connected to the rail system.
- Bus: Sometimes bus passes are less expensive than train and the buses go to many of the popular travel destinations in Europe.
- Car: Traveling by car can be a bit more expensive than train or bus, however, it gives you the freedom to get around on your schedule, not someone else’s. However, there are a lot of hidden fees associated with renting and driving a car in Europe.
- Flying: There are many budget airlines in Europe offering budget-friendly airfare. This is the best option if you are traveling long distance and have a limited time frame.
When trying to determine how to travel while in Europe, you will need to consider how much time you have and what your budget is. If you do not have a lot of time, renting a car or flying to your next destination would be best. However, if you are on a tight budget and have plenty of time, consider taking a bus or train to get to your next destination.
Visitors are welcome to tour Europe year round. However, depending upon the time of year you travel, cities can be crowded and prices tend to go up during these peak seasons. The peak travel season in Europe tends to run generally from mid-June through the end of August. This is a good time to travel, if you can deal with the crowds, higher temperatures and inflated costs.
If you are looking for the least expensive time to travel to Europe consider visiting from November through March. During this time frame, airfare and accommodations will be cheaper and just about everything else you plan to do will be less expensive during these months. However, this time of year it gets colder and starts getting dark around 5 p.m.
Saving money when you eat will help extend your overall European vacation budget. Here are some places where you will find cheap eats while in Europe:
- Bakeries and sandwich shops offer cheap and basic food options.
- Cafeterias, featuring self-service dining options, such as salad bars, sandwiches and other prepared meals set out cafeteria-style.
- Ethnic eateries offer unique food options and can be very affordable.
- Farmers’ markets offer a place where you can get healthy food items for a more affordable price than at a store or restaurant.
- Fast food restaurants offer less expensive meal options than table-service restaurants.
- Grocery stores make it possible to get what you need to put together a sandwich or grab prepackaged food options for a fraction of the cost.
- Institution-affiliated eateries, such as those at a local university, city hall, hospital or senior center.
- Restaurants that offer budget friendly menu items make is possible to enjoy a sit down meal.
- Street food vendors are less expensive than dine-in restaurants.
As you can see it is possible to enjoy a European vacation while still keeping within your budget. Before you leave, set your budget, do your research and you are sure to have an enjoyable and affordable vacation.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.