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How to visit top European cities on a budget

Prague

From November to March you’ll find low hotel rates, cheap flights and fewer people hogging all the best sites.

Europe is one of the most culturally diverse continents in the world. You can’t help but feel wistful at the thought of taking a trip through the amazing countries and cities that it has to offer. Planning for this trip can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Before you can take in the piazzas in Rome, the city of love or even the charm of Prague, you need to come up with a plan that’ll ease your endeavour. It is no doubt that travelling through Europe can be fairly expensive, however euphoric the experience may be. No worries though, there have been a few recent trends that have made getting around Europe easier and cheaper. Here are some budget friendly tips that’ll help you plan your Europe trip.

Visit Europe during its low season
This is the perfect plan if you want to stretch your money as much as possible while travelling across Europe on a budget. From November to March you’ll find low hotel rates, cheap flights and fewer people hogging all the best sites. It will be during winter, so the only exception will be the Christmas and New Year holidays. Prices may peak just a little especially in countries that are famous for their Christmas traditions like Germany. If you don’t appreciate the cold season, plan your trip between April to May and September to October. 

Book your accommodations early
Making prior arrangements on your accommodation will ensure you get the best and cheap deals. Find deals on Booking.com. It has everything from low-budget hostels to luxurious five-star hotels. You can filter your search to find places that offer free breakfast or are close to eateries. Omio, a search and booking platform, compiled a list of Europe’s cities ranked for freebies. However, there are some other options that you should consider such as:

AirBnB: You can consider staying like a local. The prices aren’t that expensive plus you’ll have everything and feel at home.

Couchsurfing: If you’re travelling backpacker style and you don’t mind putting in a bit more effort in finding cheap accommodation, this is for you. However, you should only stay with hosts that have been verified by Couchsurfing and have tons of positive reviews by other surfers.

Cheap means of transport
Your itinerary may include visiting cities and countries such as Paris, Italy, Rome or even Budapest. This can be a tall order to execute but with the right and affordable means of transport you will hack it. So, I cannot stress enough how vital it is to find cheap/affordable means of transport across Europe. Here are some ideas for transportation:

Consider budget airlines: This is by far one of the cheapest ways to travel long-distance in Europe. Some of the budget airlines that accord cheap fares are; Ryanair, Eurowings, Easy Jet, Vueling or Norwegian Air. You should use Skyscanner or Momondo to search for the best deals. This will greatly enhance your chances of getting the best and cheap deals. It’s important to remember that these airlines make most of their money from fees, so the second you mess up, they whack you with a fee. They are also very strict with the baggage limits or petty mistakes like forgetting to print out your boarding pass. However, these are things that you could easily remember hence, you should book them in advance to get the best rates.

Get a Eurail pass: Imagine sitting in a big spacious seat, with a book, watching the stunning landscape go by. This is a luxury only found by travelling using trains. It’s more comfortable than a bus but much more stressful. And the European rail system is one of the best and most extensive in the world. It can be expensive for longer journeys for instance between countries, or rides that require a high-speed line. So, if you’ll be travelling across vast distances and don’t want to fly, getting a rail pass will be your best money-saving travel option.

Consider shared rides: The advent of the shared economy has allowed people to get rides with locals going their way and BlaBlaCar is the reigning king of this service. It’s hugely popular and widespread in Europe hence very convenient. It lets you share a ride with people who have extra space in their car. This is the best paid way to get around Europe since you can find a really cheap ride thereby saving tons of money over bus and train travel.

Use cheap bus services: There’re cheap and convenient non-train ways to get around Europe. Bus services such as Busabout and FlixBus have made travelling through Europe easy and cheap. This is due to their flexible rates, cheap fares and fun routes. For instance, Busabout has a nine-day flex pass that gives you nine stops from your starting city. The pass also comes with a guide and may include group activities. FlixBus on the other hand has routes in 20 European countries and thousands of cities with prices starting as low as 5 euros. I mean, how convenient can that get?

Hitchhiking: If you really want to avoid paying for any means of transport, then you can consider hitchhiking. It is quite common in Europe, but it’s important to be very careful and follow your intuition. If a situation does not feel right, bail out immediately.

Save on food costs 
Notably, food does play a major role in your expenditure. Here are some tips on saving on food costs while travelling through Europe; 

Cook your own meals– this especially applies if you’re using AirBnB.

Eat where the locals eat– find restaurants that locals go to. The prices here are lower plus you’ll have a more authentic experience.

Eat street food– from the delectable arancini balls in Italy to Poland’s famous Maczanka sandwich, there will be cheap bites for you to discover in every country. 

Stay at a hotel or hostel that offers free breakfast– this should keep you fuelled up till lunch with the upside of having spent nothing.

As you can see, there are various ways to get around Europe on a budget. Regardless of your itinerary, whether it’s a 10-day trip or even up to 6 months, you can implement these hacks to get you through your trip within your budget.

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