Three friends travelling Budapest, Europe.

How to Do Europe on a Shoestring – Like a Pro

7 August 2017
Read Time: 6.0 mins

A dollar is a dollar. A euro is a euro. A pound is a precious pound. They may not be created equal, but you’ve got to save one, two, three – 100, even – wherever you can.

As any wanderlusty traveller needing to do Europe on a shoestring knows, every little bit adds up. Chill. We’ve got you covered.

From one budget-savvy traveller to the next, these legit easy travel tricks will have you nailing Europe on a budget – like a pro. 

Sailing Montenegro. Sailing around Montenegro sound good? Start saving!

Student discounts all the way…

If you’ve got it, flaunt it! A student ID card can save you many a precious euro at attractions, hostels, tours, on transport and sometimes even food as well. Just be sure you’ve got a proper student ID card for travelling – i.e. not your regular uni ID card (who has a good pic anyway?).

Walk, walk, walk…

Need we say more? And the best part is you’ll see and feel so much more of the city on foot.

Woman looking at map in Croatia. Explore on foot and see more.

Do bother with public transport…

If a quick look at the map shows it’s definitely too far to walk, public transport is ALWAYS your next best bet. It’s usually pretty easy to figure out so don’t be put off trying – just ask a local attendant to give you a hand and ta-da, off you go!

Free museum days for days…

Travelling Europe often means museums, museums, and more museums. Thankfully then a whole stack of them offer free days (or nights) where it doesn’t cost a single thing! This includes some of Europe’s most famous cultured stops, like the Berlin Wall Memorial, Museo del Prado in Spain and London’s National Gallery.

Just do a little travel research to be in the know for these (and more) easy freebies on the road.

Never pay for WiFi…

You can always track down a free connection. Try your hostel, city squares, at transport hubs and, well, practically every McDonalds and Starbucks across Europe.  

Friends taking a selfie in Europe. Memories and photos make the best souvenirs and they don't cost a cent!

Skip the souvenirs…

Trust us… you’ll get home at the end of your trip and be like, “WTF was I thinking?”. Those baby clogs from Amsterdam, that mini Eiffel Tower from Paris or noisy pair of castanets from Seville may seem like a good idea at the time, but once you get home you’ll have way more fun reminiscing on your Insta feed.

UNLESS… The souvenir is actually useful on the road (and lightweight). Like a water bottle, a new beach towel or bikini, or a nifty bottle opener you can fit in your pocket.

Pack a picnic…

Restaurants can be so over-rated. Why would you want to pay to sit inside a tourist trap when you can be outside, with a beautiful view, eating authentic food straight from a local deli, supermarket or fresh produce market?

Pack a little picnic and find a nice spot by the river, in a leafy park or wherever else looks eat-worthy to save mega euros.

Just think – wouldn’t a basket of bakery-fresh baguettes, cheese and ham go down a treat in the Jardins du Trocadero with the Eiffel Tower in the background? Every city has its own iconic foods-and-views combos to indulge in.

Psssst… seriously, you can buy wine off the supermarket shelf in Paris for a little as three euros a bottle!

Eating french food near Eiffel Tower. Eat authentic food... in authentic locations!

Carry water everywhere…

Sounds obvious but it’s a huge – and really easy – money-saving tip. Buy your own refillable water bottle (a pretty souvenir perhaps?) and leave your hostel every morning with it already filled. If you need a top up, keep an eye out for free fountains as you go.

Then if you run out and need more, channel Marie Antoinette – because why drink water when you can drink beer (or wine)?

Catch the free city tours…

So many of Europe’s cities have free local walking tours you can jump in on (they usually finish it off by asking for a coin or pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth kind of donation if you must). This is probably the best way to start out in each new city, get some interesting historical perspective and a few insider tips to take away with you too.

If you’re hitting the road on a Europe tour, your travel guide will probably be already leading the charge on this one!

Group watching sunset in Rome. Going on tour makes budgeting easy... and friends come free!

Do all (or parts) of Europe on tour…

Travelling Europe on a budget doesn’t have to mean roughing it alone. Many people don’t realise this, but an organised tour of Europe could be just the trick. How? In many ways, a Europe tour or hop-on hop-off Europe adventure is a GOOD thing for your bank account.

Get down with currency exchange…

Don’t change all your hard-earned cash at the airport – the rates will be inflated and commission cut high. Convert just get enough to see you safely to the city centre or your hostel.

Also, download a currency converter app to keep you in the know as you go.

Jumping into water in Bulgaria. Follow the cheap prices east. Places like Bulgaria flaunt fab summer adventures too!

Go east…

Like adventure, you say? As a general rule of thumb, Western Europe is more developed and expensive than Eastern Europe. So consider circling a few stops on the East of that map of Europe for some cheaper alternatives, like Poland, Serbia, Hungary or Czech Republic.

Avoid weekends in the big cities…

Remember: Europeans like holidays too. And unlike us Aussies, it’s super easy for them simply ‘duck overseas’ for a quick, cultured getaway. Sigh.

Big cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Barcelona and party-central Ibiza are just some of the big European drawcards so avoiding joining the mass weekend crowds to escape the hiked up prices.

View of Canary Islands in Spain. Avoid the tourist traps at weekends especially. The Canary Islands in Spain make a pretty escape!

Always do as the locals do…

Nobody knows a place better than the ones who call it home. They’re bound to know all the secret spots to go, eat, drink and shop. Go ahead and ask them straight up where it’s at (or casually follow them - in a non-stalkerish kind of way).

If the locals go there you just know it’s going to be good – and not a rip off either.

We've got bargain deals on Europe flights and tours right now. Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 to find out more.


Tijana Jaksic

Tijana loves new adventures as much as she enjoys reliving old ones. Favourite stops on the map so far include Greece (beyond the islands!), Mexico City (hello ancient ruins and wonderful art), Poland (for the history and off-the-beaten-track finds), Berlin (so artsy and chilled) and Bosnia (ahhh the natural beauty). Choosing is always hard though - that's why her list is so long and she spends her 'real life' time writing about travel until she's out there on the road again.