Looking to find the best cheap accommodations in Europe?
Then you’ve come to the right place!
Though not known for being an overall wallet-friendly continent, finding cheap places to stay in Europe (that are still clean and nice) can be easily done with a little pre-planning.
Apart from posh hotel rooms that seem to dominate the market, Europe is full of backpacker hostels, budget hotels, homestays, long-term rentals, and so much more.
In my experience, choosing affordable destinations, working in exchange for lodging, and keeping a detailed backpacking budget are some of the best things you can do to decrease your spend per night.
Of course, prices vary by country and what’s considered inexpensive in one destination could be high-end in another.
In this article, we’ll cover where to find cheap places to stay, 5 essential budget lodging tips, and so much more.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 10 Ways to Find Cheap Places to Stay in Europe
- Tips for Staying Cheaply in Europe
- Cheap Places to Stay in Europe FAQ
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10 Ways to Find Cheap Places to Stay in Europe
#1 – Stay in Hostels
A tried and true budget traveler staple, choosing to stay in a hostel is one of the cheapest lodging options available.
Far from the dingy experiences of decades past, hostels come in all shapes and sizes ranging from extreme budget to downright luxurious. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can either nab a spot in a dorm with two dozen beds or have a private room all to yourself.
Though you’ll have to deal with a shared bathroom situation, hostels often offer free breakfast, cooking facilities, wifi, lockers, book exchanges, and laundry services.
Plus, hostels are easily the most social lodging option out there. From bar crawls to hikes and free walking tours, chances are you’ll meet some awesome like-minded travelers to hang out with.
🔎 First-time backpacking abroad? If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, check out our beginner’s guide to backpacking in Europe!
#2 – Work in Hostels
If you want to make your hostel experience even more budget-friendly, then why not get paid to stay in one?
Working in a hostel is an awesome way for travelers to make a few bucks while getting free accommodation, making long-lasting friendships, and diving deep into an area. You can use services like Worldpackers or Workaway to find gigs in hostels, or loads of other opportunities abroad.
Worldpackers has been my personal go-to service for finding hostel jobs. You can check out our full Worldpacker review for more details, but basically, it’s a platform dedicated to helping people travel safely while volunteering and working abroad. And the best part is that Worldpackers includes a ton of awesome European opportunities for budget conscious travelers.
Not only will they give you a detailed list of hostels that are actively looking for nomadic workers, but they’ll also give you access to reviews, job searches based on title, and opportunities to chat to the hostel staff prior to your stay.
I used Worldpackers to get a gig as a cook and tour guide at a hostel in Spain a few years ago and I loved that they had a support team, tons of articles on how to plan for your stay, and step-by-step assistance.
My “job” was essentially putting out breakfast in the morning, giving basic tours around the area, cooking meals in the evening, and then having the rest of the day to explore as I pleased.
✨ Check out Worldpackers here. Be sure to enter code TRAVELLEMMING at checkout for $10 off your membership!
#3 – Opt For a Homestay
Feel like staying with a local family while traveling? Then a homestay is your best bet.
With this option, you’ll be assigned to a local family where you’ll get a room in their house — sometimes in exchange for work, sometimes with no strings attached except for standard household chores.
Homestays are awesome if you truly want to feel what it’s like to live like a local in your chosen country while getting a free place to stay in the process. And though popular among the student crowd, homestays come in all varieties and can be for any age demographic.
Worldpackers has a whole section on their website that lists homestay opportunities, including commonly asked questions about the experience and how to prepare. Current homestay opportunities include content creation, teaching English, caring for children, and gardening.
#4 – Consider Budget Hotels
If having the privacy of a hotel appeals to you but you’re turned off by the cost, then staying in a budget hotel is an awesome alternative that will meet you halfway.
Often, budget hotels exist within easy reach of historic sites and activities and are more toned down versions of their more luxurious counterparts (while still being clean and well-managed).
What kind of bang for your buck you’ll get depends on what country you’re visiting, whether you’re in a metro area or the country, and what kind of amenities you prefer, but overall they’re a great affordable room option.
#5 – Short Term Apartment Rentals
Staying in a short-term apartment rental can be one of the best ways to travel the world cheaper and longer.
You’ll get to know what it’s like to live like a local, have all the conveniences of home but with a European flair, and sometimes even have built-in hosts/tour guides.
Short term apartment rentals can either mean renting out a room in someone’s home or having an entire apartment to yourself, and there’s really no limit on how inexpensive or extravagant they can be.
There are quite a few short-term apartment rental sites out there, but the key thing to keep in mind with this option is reviews. Treat reviews from other travelers like gold, take note of any consistent raves or disadvantages, and always be cognizant of any safety features on the property (locks, keypads, safes, etc.).
🧳 Wondering what luggage to take on your European adventure? We’ve ranked the 7 best travel backpacks and detailed the pros and cons of each.
#6 – Go Camping
If you’re up for a more rustic experience, then plan for the ultimate European camping adventure. There are endless campgrounds and backcountry options, many of which are extremely cheap or free, and will put you within arms reach of gorgeous natural sites.
However, camping around Europe doesn’t mean you have to be a solo agent the whole time. Worldpackers has a section of their site designed to help you source a work-based camping experience. Jobs at campgrounds often include maintenance, social media, gardening, housekeeping, and reception.
#7 – Rent a Campervan
If you’re not up for roughing it in a tent but still want the flexibility of moving around, then opt for renting a campervan.
Getting your own home on wheels will allow you to stay in both cities and the countryside while never worrying about hotels, as long as you find a place to park.
#8 – Volunteer On a Farm
Similar to a homestay, volunteering on a farm will have you staying with a family or organization as you work for your lodging and meals.
The perfect experience for someone who wants to learn more about farming, permaculture, and sustainability, these experiences include everything from ranching experiences to gardening and landscaping. Plus, they’re a ton of fun.
Worldpackers has a ton of highly-rated farm opportunities — many are volunteer-based in exchange for lodging, but there are some paid as well.
#9 – Sign Up for Surf Camp
Does spending your days surfing on a beach in Spain or Greece sounds like an absolute dream?
Well, as luck would have it, you can find countless surf camps around the world via Worldpackers, many with built-in worker programs designed to cut your costs. Working at a surf camp could mean teaching the sport (if you’re a talented surfer, of course), doing maintenance, housekeeping and social media.
#10 – Go Back to School
Regardless of whether you’re actively pursuing academics, signing up to stay at a European school is a great way to cut down on accommodation costs and get a great local experience.
Germany, Spain, and Poland are especially known for their school-related opportunities, offering jobs such as a custodian, cook, or English teacher in exchange for room and board.
Most of these gigs require a commitment of at least 25 hours/week, but that still leaves a lot of time to enjoy your trip!
👉 Taking a Gap Year? Check out my epic list of the best gap year destinations for some inspiration on where to go!
Tips for Staying Cheaply in Europe
Tip #1 – Travel in the Shoulder Season
If you’re being wallet-savvy, then when you choose to visit Europe is just as important as where you go.
Though high-season in Europe differs by country, typically June through September is the time of year when tourists descend upon the continent. Accommodation rates rocket, tours sell out, and some cities struggle under the weight of the influx.
In order to get the best bang for your buck, experience the best activities, and travel sustainably, plan your trip in spring, fall, or even winter. Many of the most popular cities clear-out visitors during these months and booking rates are much more reasonable as a result.
The glaring exception to this rule are places where the locals leave during summer. Parts of France, Italy, Germany, and Spain all have cities wherein a substantial portion of the population leave their city homes when the weather is nice, opting for countryside and beach vacations.
This is an awesome opportunity to nab some budget lodging during European summer.
Tip #2 – Stay Outside the City Center
Though staying as central as possible is the most convenient option, if you’re looking to save a few bucks then expand your lodging search to outside of bustling metro areas.
Though not a foolproof method, this can be one of the easiest ways to lower your per night costs and spend your money on the things that matter most.
Of course, the exception to this is if your inconveniently-located lodgings require an added spend in travel costs. You don’t want the money you saved on your hotel to go straight to daily taxis.
Tip #3 – Go Slow
If you’re the type to race around the world and then wonder why your wallet leaves much to be desired, then read on. Not only is slow travel perfect for getting to know a destination in-depth, but it’s also great for getting the best prices.
Oftentimes you’ll find that hotels and even apartment rentals will give you discounts the longer you stay. I’ve absolutely gotten 15%-20% discounts when I book either a week or a month at one place.
Additionally, traveling the world slowly will let you cook your own meals, save on transportation, and visit more of the small-towns in the area.
Tip #4 – Travel With Others
As fulfilling as solo travel can be, it’s no secret that traveling with others will substantially decrease your spend on accommodations per night — especially if you opt out of hostels.
Traveling with friends, family, or your significant other means that you can split costs on lodgings, food, and rental cars.
Tip #5 – Choose Accommodations with Great Facilities
If you’ll be in a location for any length of time, then make a point to choose a place to stay that has facilities, amenities, and activities.
Examples of this include hostels or apartments with laundry, kitchens, free bikes, continental breakfast, and restaurants and historic sites nearby.
✨ Want More? Check Worldpackers here. Be sure to enter code TRAVELLEMMING for $10 off your membership!
Cheap Places to Stay in Europe FAQ
Which is the cheapest country to visit in Europe?
Though prices fluctuate depending on season and demand, some of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe are Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Montenegro, Portugal, Greece, and Georgia.
Are hotels expensive in Europe?
Tourist hotels can be very expensive in Europe depending on amenities and the level of luxury. If you’re looking for budget lodging then book a hostel, homestay, budget hotel, or apartment rental for a fraction of the price.
What is a hostel in Europe?
Generally catering to the 20-35 year old demographic, hostels in Europe are cheap accommodations featuring dorm rooms, shared bathrooms, common areas, and activities.
What is the cheapest city in Europe to visit?
Some of the cheapest cities in Europe for tourists include Bratislava, Slovakia, Budapest, Hungary, Zagreb, Croatia, Sofia, Bulgaria, Bucharest, Romania, and Athens, Greece.
That’s it for my guide to the cheapest places to stay in Europe!
Traveling can be expensive, but following these few simple tips can go a long way in keeping your wallet happy.
For more inspiration on budget travel, check out my mega guide to backpacking Europe!
Have fun in Europe!