“How much does it cost to backpack Europe?” is a question many travelers ponder.
As a fervent traveler and lover of all things outdoors.
Drawing from my passion for camping, hiking, and those unforgettable campfire nights, I’m diving deep into the expenses of European backpacking, hoping to guide you on your next big adventure!
Why Europe for Backpacking?
Europe is a dream come true for backpackers. With its rich history, diverse cultures, and exquisite cuisines, there’s something for everyone. The continent offers a mix of big cities full of impressive architecture and vibrant nightlife, quaint towns that seem frozen in time, and breathtaking natural landscapes ranging from sun-kissed beaches to snow-capped mountains. Add in the well-organized and efficient public transportation, traveler-friendly facilities, and the ease of crossing borders, and you have an ideal backpacking destination. But how much will all this cost? Let’s find out!
Factors That Affect Backpacking Costs in Europe
Seasonality and Timing
The time of year you choose to backpack Europe can significantly impact your budget. During peak tourist season (typically summer), everything from airfares and accommodation to restaurant prices can skyrocket. On the other hand, backpacking in the off-season can mean lower costs, but you may have to deal with unpredictable weather and fewer open attractions. The sweet spot? Consider shoulder seasons (spring and early autumn) when the weather is still agreeable, the crowds have thinned, and prices are more reasonable.
Destinations within Europe
Europe is a continent of contrasts, and the cost of living varies widely across countries. Scandinavia and Western Europe (think Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and France) are known for their high living standards and, correspondingly, high prices. On the flip side, Eastern and Southern Europe (think Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, and Portugal) are generally more affordable. So, carefully selecting your destinations can have a profound impact on your overall expenses.
Your Travel Style and Preferences
Everyone has their unique style of travel and preferences. If you’re a luxury seeker who loves fine dining, prefers private rooms in top-rated hostels or hotels, and can’t resist the high-end attractions, you’re naturally going to spend more. However, if you’re the frugal, adventurous type who is content with street food, doesn’t mind staying in shared hostel dorms, and enjoys free or low-cost activities like hiking or exploring local markets, you can backpack Europe on a relatively modest budget.
Duration of Your Trip
Last but not least, the length of your backpacking trip matters. The longer you travel, the more you’ll spend overall. However, it’s also true that long-term travel can reduce your daily expenditure. With more time, you can take advantage of weekly or monthly rates on accommodation, take slower (and cheaper) forms of transportation, and cook your own meals, to name a few money-saving tactics.
How Much Does It Cost to Backpack Europe
Knowing what to expect in terms of expenses is vital when planning a trip. To give you a clearer picture of how much you might spend backpacking Europe, let’s break down the costs into different categories.
Travel within a country can range from a couple of euros for a metro ticket to around €50 for a long-distance train ride. Many European cities have efficient and affordable public transportation systems. For instance, you could hop on a tram in Amsterdam or ride the U-Bahn in Berlin for less than €3 per journey. Consider investing in day or week passes if you’re planning to use public transportation frequently.
Europe’s interconnected nature makes it ideal for cross-border exploration. Budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet offer cheap flights, often starting from as little as €20-€30 if booked in advance. Alternatively, long-distance buses like Flixbus or trains (think Interrail or Eurail passes) are also popular modes of transportation, with costs varying depending on distance and route.
Hostels are a go-to option for many backpackers. They are not only affordable, with dorm beds typically ranging from €10-€30 per night, but they also provide a great opportunity to meet fellow travelers. Cities like Lisbon, Prague, or Budapest offer some of the best value for money in terms of hostel accommodations.
For those wanting a little more privacy, budget hotels are an option, though they’re generally more expensive than hostels. Prices vary widely, but you can expect to pay anywhere from €30-€100 per night, depending on location and season.
Camping is another cost-effective accommodation option, especially during the summer months. Campsite prices vary but you could find places as cheap as €5-€10 per night, depending on the country and how basic the site is.
Food and Drink Costs
The cost of eating out in Europe varies dramatically. A sit-down meal at a restaurant in Paris or Rome could cost around €20-€30, while in cities like Krakow or Athens, you can have a hearty meal for less than €10. Don’t forget the street food, which is often a delicious and economical choice!
If you have access to a kitchen, self-catering is an excellent way to save money. Groceries for a week might cost around €20-€40 depending on your diet and where you shop.
Sightseeing and Attractions
Many cities offer city cards (like the Paris Pass or Rome’s Roma Pass) that give you free entry or discounts to major attractions, often for around €40-€60 for a two-day pass. Museums often have free entry days, so it’s worth checking this before your visit.
The cost of nightlife can vary widely, from €1-€2 for a pint of beer in Prague to €10-€15 for a cocktail in a swanky Parisian bar. Most clubs have entry fees, so factor this in if you plan on dancing the night away.
Never underestimate the importance of travel insurance. Costs vary based on your coverage, but budget for around €10-€20 per week.
Cellphone and Internet
Consider getting a local SIM card for your phone, which can be more cost-effective than roaming charges. Expect to pay around €10-€20 for a decent data package.
Souvenirs and Shopping
Souvenir and shopping costs will depend on your personal preferences. But remember, Europe is home to some fantastic markets where you can find unique gifts and keepsakes without breaking the bank!
How to Budget for Your Backpacking Trip
Creating and sticking to a budget is one of the most important steps to ensuring a successful and stress-free backpacking experience. Here’s how to go about it.
Tips and Strategies for Saving Money While Backpacking in Europe
- Plan in Advance: The earlier you start planning, the better deals you can score on flights, accommodation, and attractions.
- Pack Smart: Avoid extra baggage fees by packing light. Also, carrying a reusable water bottle and snacks can save you money on the go.
- Cook Your Own Meals: If you have access to a kitchen, consider cooking. It’s healthier, and you can experiment with local ingredients.
- Walk or Cycle: Many European cities are compact and ideal for walking or cycling. This not only saves money but also allows you to experience the city more intimately.
- Use Student or Youth Discounts: If you’re eligible, don’t forget to leverage these discounts, which are widely available across Europe.
Apps and Resources for Budget Planning and Tracking
- Travel Wallet: This app allows you to track your travel expenses and stay within budget.
- Hostelworld: Find and compare budget accommodations with this app.
- Skyscanner or Momondo: These apps help you find the cheapest flights.
- Rome2rio: This platform shows you all the transport options from one city to another, helping you choose the most cost-effective route.
Learn more: What Size Backpack for Travelling to Choose
Backpacking Budgets for Different European Regions
This region includes countries like France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Expect to budget around €50-€100 per day, given the relatively high cost of living.
Countries like Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic fall under this region. Here, you can expect to spend between €20-€40 per day.
This region includes Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, known for their high living costs. Expect a budget of around €60-€120 per day.
Countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece are more affordable, and you can expect to spend around €40-€80 per day.
Know more: What Material is a Backpack Made Of
Additional Tips for a Cost-Efficient Backpacking Trip in Europe
Travelling during the off-peak season can significantly reduce costs. You’ll find cheaper flights and accommodation, plus you’ll avoid the tourist crowds.
Taking Advantage of Free or Low-Cost Activities
Many cities offer free walking tours, free museum days, and other low-cost activities. Also, simply strolling around, people-watching, or picnicking in a park are free!
Making Use of Public Transportation
Skip taxis and opt for public transportation. Consider getting a transportation card if you’re staying in a city for a few days.
To know more: How Much is Parking at Camping World Stadium
Backpacking through Europe can be a thrilling adventure that doesn’t have to break the bank. Remember, thoughtful planning and budgeting are key. From understanding the factors affecting costs, breaking down the expected expenses, to exploring different strategies to save money, every bit of preparation counts.
So go ahead, plan wisely, and soon you’ll be creating incredible memories in the charming streets of Europe. Happy travels!
Read next: How to Pack a Backpack for Hiking in Comfort