Every year, Europe attracts millions of tourists around the world. According to the statistics, around 450 million foreign tourist visited EU countries in year 2021. In year 2018 (before Covid), the yearly number of visitors was 1414 million. Following increase in number of tourists visiting Europe, prices of hotels, flights, trains and buses are getting higher. Therefore, it is becoming challenging for budget travelers to explore Europe.
Budget travel is all about finding cheapest modes of travel and stay during the trip. Its not about the cheapest places to travel or finding cheap vacation spots. There is no cheapest country in Europe to travel. Its all about knowing the tricks on how not to waste money.
Europe is costly, but if you know the tricks, then you can still manage to make a budget trip in Europe. We have published separate articles related to “How to find best Budget hotel in Europe” and “Europe by trains: ultimate guide for Budget travel”. Please read these articles additionally since these topics will not be covered in detail in this article.
This article will cover tricks and tips to save money if you are on budget trip.
1. Stick to the off seasons
The favorite season for most of the tourists to Visit Europe is usually summer period (form June to September).
In addition, the Spring and autumn time is also becoming favourite for Tourists due to its pleasant weather and less crowd as compared to summer. Generally, April and may during the spring while September and October in Autumn is the period mostly preferred by tourist visiting Europe.
Therefore, if we exclude 7 favourite months of April, May, June, July, August, September, and October, then we are left with the 5 least favourite months of the year i.e., January, February, March, November, and December (excluding Christmas and new year). Therefore, these 5 months are off-season period in Europe. Generally, we can say the Colder days in Europe are less preferred by tourist.
If you are on budget, the off-season period will offer great deals for your trip to Europe. Due to the less number of tourists, the prices for hotels, flights, trains and buses are less as compared to the other times of the year. Also, as a brownie point, most of the countries offers discount on travel passes during the off-seasons to attract the tourists (e.g. Swiss travel pass is cheaper during the winter time). You can take advantages of such offers.
We have described here the month wise recommendations for countries/places you can visit during off-season time of the year. Consider that, you can visit any place you want during off seasons. However, following are our favourites. The key is Stick to the Off-season to avoid crowds and eventually save money.
January is a peak wintertime in Europe. At the beginning of the month of January, Europe continues celebrating Christmas and new year vacations (typically till end of first week of January). Consequently, the winter attractions are crowded at the beginning of January. Therefore, to be on the safer side, you should plan your visit to Europe for winter attractions ideally after 10th of January to get the less crowd.
The best budget places to visit during month of January are northern lights of Scandinavia (such as Finland’s, Norway, Sweden, Iceland) and winter wonderlands of Europe (such as Rovaniemi, Zermatt, alpine ski resorts of Switzerland, Italy, Austria, France etc.). In addition, you can also visit other popular places at this time which typically has less crowd during these period of the year such as Rome, Florence, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Greek Islands, Istanbul etc.
February and November:
The Month of February and November usually shares the same weather and same crowd of tourist. February is start of Springtime and November is end of autumn. The Crowd in month of February and November is usually less compared to all other months of the year. Therefore, if you are budget traveller, February and November would be the cheapest month of the year to visit Europe. The temperature varies in different regions of Europe during these period; therefore, we will not go in that depth. However, the thumb rule is “Northern cities are colder than southern cities throughout the year”.
From our opinion, all places in Europe are ideal to visit during month of February and November if you are on budget and ready for the colder weather. Some of our favourite places for budget travellers are Paris, Rome, Malta, Santorini, Mykonos, Barcelona, Milan, Croatia, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Florence, Venice, Lisbon, Zurich etc.
Avoid Visiting Venice in Month of February since it is usually time of Venice carnival. Therefore, city gets crowded and costlier than any other time of the year. However, day trip from the cities like Milan and Florence to witness the Venice carnival would be rewarding.
March is peak time of Spring. It is warmer than January and February. Therefore, the crowd during month of March is usually less but it is little crowder than January and February. Therefore, the prices of hotels, flights, trains, buses etc. are little costlier than January and February but still much cheaper than peak summertime.
Also, during month of March you can visit any places of your choice in Europe. Some of our favourite picks for budget travellers during month of march are London, Edinburg, Paris, Porto, French Riviera, Amalfi and Ligurian coast, Sicily, Dubrovnik, Bled, Berlin, Frankfurt, Innsbruck, Valencia, Plitvice national park etc.
You should avoid staying in places like Munich and Amsterdam during this period since Munich celebrates the famous beer festival during this time and Amsterdam opens the Tulip gardens. However, day trips from nearby cities to witness these festivals would be rewarding.
December is Christmas time and European Christmas is always magical. Therefore, people from around the world loves to experience European Christmas. Therefore, this month usually do not favor the budget travelers as compared to January, February, March and November. However, you can still make a good use of 1st 15 days of the month which are usually quieter and less crowded in non-popular cities. During this period, you can also witness early Christmas markets in major European cities.
There are plenty of places you can visit in Europe during 1st half of December, however our picks for budget travellers are Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Zagreb, Sofia, London, Zurich, Colmar, Strasberg, Milan, etc.
2. Make your bookings in Advance
Making your bookings in advance is rewarding. In Europe, high speed train prices are directly proportional to the demands. If the demand is higher, prices gets higher eventually. Therefore, it’s always beneficial to book the train in Advance even before the site algorithm fetches the increase in demand.
Also, most of the fast train tickets in Europe has categories in prices and comfort (for e.g. Italian fast trains has category of Super Economy tickets, Economy tickets, standard tickets and business tickets). The super Economic is cheapest one and it usually gets sold out faster. Then comes Economy, standard and business. Therefore, be in the first line when it comes to the booking of train tickets. Always book in advance to get the cheapest ticket. Do read our blog for “Europe by trains: Ultimate guide for budget travel”.
Same goes with the hotels. The prices of hotels are also directly proportional to demand. Therefore, it is important to book hotels in advance even before the site algorithm fetches the demand. For the tips and tricks to choose best budget hotel in Europe, Do read our blog for “How to find best budget Hotels in Europe”.
3. Travel by Flixbus:
Flixbus is a bus company in Europe with wide network covering almost every country within Europe. There are various bus companies operating in Europe but the flixbus is reliable and also affordable. Bus is a cheapest mode of transport in Europe. You can save almost more than half of your train fare if you chose to travel by bus.
Consider that You will have to compromise in travel time if you go for buses as compared to trains. Buses are slower than trains, therefore, on an average, you could consider 15 mins extra travel time per hour of your journey if you chose bus over trains. In front of the price difference, it is a worth deal.
4. Check prices for Budget airlines:
Ryanair and easyJet are cheapest airlines in Europe. They have great connectivity covering almost every major city in Europe.
The tickets for these budget airlines open at as low as 9 euros and then starts increasing thereafter. Therefore, before making any booking, make sure to check prices of flights and then compare with buses and trains. If you are lucky, you may find flight as a cheapest option.
In Europe, there are different tools which can be used to compare your trips for cheapest and fastest options for flights, but Omio is our favourite one. It is very reliable and trustworthy platform that you can use to compare and book your flights with cheapest airlines. Click here to check your flights with Omio. Skyscanner is another tool that will help you to find the cheapest flights among all other trip booking sites. Click here to book your flight with skyscanner,
5. Prefer Hostels instead of Hotels:-
Hostels are always the cheapest option in Europe, anywhere you go. You can choose rooms based on your comfort and privacy. If you are solo female traveler, then you may want to choose the bed in Only female dorm room. Most of the Hostels are equipped with kitchen. Therefore, you can also cook for yourself to save some more money on food.
Check out our blog for "How to find best budget hotels in Europe" for more information on booking cheapest place to stay.
6. Don’t eat or shop near the main attractions:
It is a key for saving Money if you are on budget trip. The food, and shops at main attractions are costlier than the less crowded areas. Always walk an extra mile far from the main tourist attraction when it comes to buying food or shopping. You will definitely see the difference in prices.
7. Do your research:
Always do your research before visiting any new place in Europe. Especially, if you are on budget trip, you should at least do your research on following parameters:-
City transport system: The transports within the cities are important factor to consider before visiting any city and deciding duration for your visit. The public transports in European cities are Metro, Buses, trams etc. Check the prices of their 1 day, 2 day, 3 day unlimited passes instead of buying individual ticket for each trip. Compare prices and buy your tickets accordingly.
As an option, walk as much as you can. In some European cities, you may not need to buy city transport tickets if you are comfortable with walking around the city.
Monuments/Museums you want to visit: European cities are rich in art and full of museums and unique architectures. Therefore, make your research and decide where you want to go since you would need to pay considerable price for Museums/Monument entries. Not everyone likes painting, not everyone is a fan of archaeology, consequently, not everyone has same taste when it comes to the art. Therefore, based on your interests, make your research before buying any tickets of museums and monument entry.
Special event: If you are visiting any city in Europe, make your research for any special event or festival in the city before you plan your itinerary (for. e.g., football match, music concert, fashion week etc.). Avoid visiting any European city during any of such events to save money.
Places to eat: Check the places where you will get quality food without spending unnecessary money on fancy restaurants. Make your research on internet for the great food in cheapest price in the city you are visiting.
8. Get professional help and tools:
Get professional help if its your first time for travelling Europe and if your are not confident of planning a trip by yourself in budget. You can get professional advice/guidance from Guidemyvoyage who has team of professionals with wide experience of travelling in Europe.
Travel ticket booking platforms/tools:-
In Europe, there are different travel ticket booking platforms available in market. Its important to know which one to chose in order to avoid any hidden charges and save money. Our favourites tools for booking travel tickets are Trainline and Omio.
Trainline is great platform for booking train tickets and different rail passes in Europe. They offer amazing prices and discounts on train ticket booking. Trainline will also show you most relevant connections from start till the end of your journey. If you want to save money by availing exiting offers, we recommend using Trainline for your train ticket bookings. Click here to book your tickets with trainline.
Omio (formerly GoEuro) is another trustworthy and reliable platform for booking your travel tickets. The speciality of Omio is you can compare the prices of all modes of transports (i.e. Trains, buses, flights etc) and book the cheapest option available. Its our personal favourite platform when it comes to comparing and booking cheapest option available. Click here to make your comparison and book your tickets with Omio.
Skyscanner is widely used for Comparing flight tickets with all other ticket booking platforms/sites. When it comes to the flight, always check your flight prices in Skyscanner and then proceed for bookings through skyscanner. It usually costs less than booking flights directly with airlines.
We hope that this article will be helpful for you if you are planning to visit Europe in budget. Let us know in the comment section if you liked this article. Also, if you need any professional support for booking your trips, then do let us know in the comment section or reach out to us by filling up Enquire form.
Also, check our our blogs for "Europe by Trains: Ultimate Guide for budget travel", "Best places to visit in Europe: Ultimate month wise Guide" and "How to find best budget hotel in Europe.