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Europe Backpacking Budget Planner (How Much Will It Cost?)

Backpacking through Europe is one of the most epic travel experiences you can have. The continent is culturally diverse, offers a well-established backpacker trail, and is relatively easy to navigate.

But … how much does it cost to backpack Europe?

I’ve backpacked through different parts of Europe on multiple occasions, each time on a different timeframe and budget. I’ve gone on guided tours, stayed and worked in hostels, splurged on hotels and first-class train rides, and have traveled both with friends and solo.

With all my first-hand experience, I’m here to spill the tea on how much backpacking Europe will cost depending on your expectations and comfort level

In this article, we’ll cover approximated travel costs for:

Plus, if you scroll to the bottom of this article, I’ll give you my seven top tips for keeping your average daily expenses down while backpacking Europe.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!

How Much to Budget for Backpacking Europe

The author sitting outside the Saint Étienne du Mont church

All-in, you should expect to spend the bulk of your daily budget on accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. 

While your exact expenses depend on a lot of factors, here is the short answer to the question: how much do I need to budget for backpacking Europe?

Backpackers should expect to spend between $40 – $70 USD/day in Eastern Europe, $70 – $100/day in Western Europe, and $150 – $200/day in the Nordic countries. This is in addition to airfare to and from Europe, and assumes you stay in hostels, cook most of your meals, and splurge on activities and entertainment now and then.

Of course, you can slash your average daily cost even more by getting a job or volunteer opportunity via the Worldpackers exchange platform. Visit our full Worldpackers review for more details, but it’s essentially a platform for connecting you with hosts around the world. You can use it to get work in hostels, on a farm, as a party planner, in social media, or even as a surfing guide. They also have volunteer opportunities as well.

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Really, the opportunities are endless, and Worldpackers will help you out with sourcing the best opportunities for your specific goals.

Backpacking Europe Costs by Region

If you want to save money as much as possible, where you go to backpack in Europe will make all the difference. 

Though not a hard and fast rule, the eastern side of Europe tends to offer cheaper places to stay than the west, and you’ll find that the Nordic countries are the most expensive of all.

Getting off the beaten path can also work for you or against you depending on where you go, as not every small town or rural area has affordable accommodation.

So, with that in mind, let’s break down the Europe cost summary by region:

Eastern Europe Travel Costs

The author posing for a picture in front of a graffiti wall

The most budget-friendly region of the continent, frugal backpackers should have a daily budget between $40 – $70 in Eastern European countries. Across the board, you’ll find your money will go further in accommodations, food, and activities.

Countries in this category include Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, Moldova, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, and Ukraine, among some others.

Western Europe Travel Costs

The author in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

Slightly pricier than its Eastern counterpart, budget backpackers in Western Europe can expect to spend $70 – $100 / day

Though your dollar won’t go quite as far as it would elsewhere, traveling slowly and working in hostels can drastically reduce your spending. 

Countries in this category include Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland, among some others.

👉 Love Hostels?  Ever wonder what working at a hostel actually looks like? Check out this list of the most common hostel jobs for inspiration in your search!

Nordic Countries Travel Costs

View of the Old Town in Stockholm, Sweden

Regardless of your travel style, backpacking Europe’s Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland – will generally cost you the most. Even backpackers should expect to spend between $150 and $200/day

In fact, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland routinely make the list of the most expensive countries in the world.

Even staying in a dorm bed could cost you between $50 – $100/night! Now, you could drastically cut that figure if you find alternative accommodations and cook your meals. 

If you are really committed to seeing the Nordic countries (which have a lot to offer, despite the price tag), then a great way to cut down costs is to use the Worldpackers service.

Budgeting for Accommodation in Europe

View of Lugano, the lakefront city in Switzerland

Accommodation costs in Europe vary widely depending on the city, time of year, and amenities. It’s definitely possible to find cheap places to stay almost anywhere, though, if you know where to look.

Let’s break down the expected costs of some of the most popular accommodation options:

Hotels (Most Expensive)

View of the entrance to Hotel Capitol in Bucharest

Most Europe backpackers skip hotels because, unsurprisingly, hotels are the most expensive accommodation option. This is true regardless of where in Europe you go. That said, there are options ranging from the top luxury properties in the world to truly dingy stays.

Here is an average breakdown of nightly hotel prices for some popular European cities:

  • London, UK: $80-$120
  • Paris, France: $80-$120
  • Lisbon, Portugal: $60 – $100
  • Oslo, Norway: $110 – $160
  • Athens, Greece: $60 – $90
  • Split, Croatia: $80 – $110
  • Bucharest, Romania: $50 – $80
  • Budapest, Hungary:$40 – $90
  • Berlin, Germany: $80 – $120

Hostels (Most Popular)

The interior of one of the Hostel room in Europe

As any seasoned backpacker will tell you, hostels give great bang for your buck. Unlike their often low-caliber reputations, you’ll find hostels of all shapes and sizes and levels of luxury. Just be sure to check the reviews before you commit to a stay.

This also goes for if you’re looking to work at a hostel through Worldpackers. Previous workers’ reviews are truly invaluable when searching for a gig overseas, so they’re worth combing through.

Here’s an average daily hostel dorm bed breakdown for popular European cities:

  • London, UK: $30 – $50
  • Paris, France: $40 – $50
  • Lisbon, Portugal: $15 – $30
  • Oslo, Norway: $90 – $100
  • Athens, Greece: $10 – $30 
  • Split, Croatia: $10 – $40
  • Bucharest, Romania: $10 – $30
  • Budapest, Hungary: $15 – $30
  • Berlin, Germany: $20 – $40

Apartment Rentals (Best for Groups)

Aerial view of colorful houses in Kiev

If you love the idea of living like a local on your trip to Europe, then an apartment rental is a great accommodation option to cut trip expenses. 

With this, you can either rent out a whole apartment or a room in somebody’s home. Airbnb is the most popular source for these, but there are tons of options out there.

I find that apartment rentals can be just as cheap (or cheaper) than hostels, and they have comfort built right in. 

Personally, I love mixing my travels with hostels, hotels, and apartment rentals. I find each has such a unique vibe to offer and, as much fun as hostels can be, sometimes I just need to recharge my batteries in an apartment.

Working Abroad (Most Budget Friendly)

View of a receptionist welcoming a guest at the front desk

I mentioned working in hostels above, but have you ever considered other working abroad options?

Some of the most popular ones include working on a farm, becoming an au pair (essentially being a nanny while learning your host language), living as a digital nomad, teaching English, teaching yoga, and working on a cruise ship.

Worldpackers has a ton of farm, teaching English, party planning, and social media jobs on their website, so that’s a great place to start looking for these opportunities.

👉 Try out Worldpackers here – and be sure to enter the code TRAVELLEMMING at checkout for $10 off your membership!

Budgeting for Food in Europe

View of a typical Café in Europe

When traveling, food is truly the area where you have the most control over your budget. 

If you want to spend mere pennies and eat nothing but spaghetti the whole time, then you can totally do that. Or, if you want to dine like royalty the entire trip, power to you.

That said, I do have some tips for eating great food while keeping your daily budget in check.

First of all, eat where the locals do. If you see a restaurant is busy with local clientele, then it’s probably a good spot for a reasonably-priced meal.

Secondly, don’t be afraid of food stalls and trucks. So many cities have amazing street food that costs a fraction of that in restaurants. Again, look for the line-ups to get the best options.

Overall though, I’d suggest you budget between $20-$50 a day for food in Europe.

This is assuming you take advantage of hostel breakfasts, cook some of your meals, and dine out roughly once a day. $20 a day is obviously on the very low end of the spectrum in Europe, but doable if you’re on a very tight budget.

Budgeting for Activities in Europe

View of the Prague Castle and the colorful sky at sunset

Though it may seem like an extraneous cost upfront, you are going to Europe to see the sites and experience the culture, after all.

For this reason, I recommend budgeting $10-$30 a day on seeing Europe’s attractions. 

That said, look up exactly how much each of your must-do activities cost before you travel. For example, know exactly how much you need for getting into the Colosseum in Rome, climbing to the top of the Eiffel tower, or taking a surfing lesson in Portugal. 

Book as many activities as you can beforehand and make sure your camera batteries are fully charged!

Also, though it can be viewed as an extra expense for the most frugal of backpackers, budgeting some funds for entertainment is a must to truly experience the best of Europe.

Even setting aside $200 a month can allot for musical performances, theatre productions, or nights out on the town (which includes alcohol). 

Budgeting for Transportation in Europe

View of a Elevador da Bica with passengers on it

If you travel quickly and want to see a ton of Europe in a short amount of time, then transportation is going to be one of your greatest expenses. 

The easiest way to cut down your transportation costs is to, of course, travel slowly and stay awhile in each location you visit. Bus travel costs tend to range between $10 and $50 for a one-way ticket, while train costs are slightly higher at $30 – $70 for an inter-country trip.

That said, other ways to reduce your average daily expenses in Europe are to take public transport, use a ridesharing program, search budget airlines, and do the math on rail passes.

In regards to that last point, you may have come across something called the Eurail Pass — a pre-purchased public transport pass that allows you to hop on and hop off the rail system, seeing much of Europe with ease.

In my opinion, there are pros and cons to this pass, but the biggest factor to the pass will be making sure you’ll actually use what you pay for.

Though riding trains throughout Europe can sound awfully picturesque, oftentimes taking individual bus rides is way more economical than any other mode of transportation. The bus systems in Europe are extensive, well-maintained, and easy to follow.

In short, stack up your options before committing to anything.

👉 Looking to take a full gap year? These 10 fun gap year ideas include the best locations in Europe and around the world!

Budgeting for Backpacking Gear

Your daily expenses aren’t the only costs to consider when budgeting for backpacking Europe. In addition to the aforementioned airfare costs to get to the continent in the first place, you should also plan to save up some money for the gear you’ll need to backpack Europe. 

Though you probably already have a lot of what you’ll need in your closet, there are a few purchases every backpacker needs to make before a big Euro trip. 

Check among these is a great backpack. Having the right luggage can really make or break a trip. This ranking of the 7 best travel backpacks for Europe will make sure you don’t deal with broken zippers or split seams on the go.

Typically speaking, a good backpack will cost between $150 and $350 USD. 

Budgeting Tips for Backpackers

Tip #1 – Work Abroad

View of a vineyard and a clear blue sky in Europe

By far the easiest way to go backpacking through Europe for cheap is to get a gig.

Worldpackers has been my go-to service for finding hostel jobs (I once worked at a hostel in Spain using them), and there are a plethora of opportunities available no matter your travel style.

Not only is Worldpackers great for those who want the experience of working in a hostel, but they also have niche opportunities for building work experience, taking a gap year, getting close to nature on a farm, and so much more.

Tip #2 – Get Travel Insurance

A traveler couple holding hands while walking on a street

It’s one of those expenses that will cost a bit upfront, but that could pay off huge in the long run. Whether you get sick abroad, lose your luggage, get your camera equipment stolen, or run into any other issue, insurance will have your back.

Personally, I use World Nomads for my travel insurance needs but do your own research. You can start by checking out our articles covering the best travel insurance for Ireland, Greece, Spain, or for Croatia.

Tip #3 – Search for Travel Deals

View of a tourist bus crossing a small bridge

Unlike the norm in North America, travel deals in Europe can be extreme. If you keep your schedule flexible, flights can go for mere pocket change and activity expenses can be drastically reduced. 

My recommendation is to set alerts on your favorite travel websites so that you’re notified when prices drop.

Tip #4 – Choose Your Destination Wisely

The author admiring the view on Diocletian's Palace

As I mentioned above, where you go in Europe can drastically impact your budget and the level of luxury your backpacking trip will afford you.

No two counties are created equal in Europe, and make sure to search general costs for your country and specific area before you travel.

👉 Pro Tip: If you’re looking to stretch out your trip, then check out these 15 epic gap year destinations! They include destinations around Europe and beyond.

Tip #5 – Travel Slowly

View of a train and the rays of sun in a train station

As I mentioned above, traveling slowly is one of the easiest ways to cut your daily budget on your backpacking trip.

Even if you don’t plan to work while you travel, booking accommodation for a week or even a month at a time could lend you some heavy discounts, not to mention you’ll be able to buy food in bulk, save on transportation, and be able to scope out the best bang for your buck restaurants.

Tip #6 – Take Free Tours

View of a photographer taking photos near the Eiffel Tower

A travel tip you should hold fast no matter your daily budget — scope out the free walking tours.

Almost every city in Europe hosts free English-speaking walking tours and you’ll be able to find them through reception at your accommodation or through a quick google search.

I’ve taken these tours in Hamburg, Porto, Madrid, Amsterdam, Split, and more.

Though you don’t have to pay to sign up for these tours, gratuities are always appreciated and booking in advance is usually required.

Tip #7 – Book in the Shoulder Season

View of a vineyard during autumn season

Sometimes I feel like a broken record for this one, but booking in the shoulder season is really a solid way to cut your travel costs when backpacking through Europe.

Peak season (usually summer) is often jam-packed with other tourists — driving up the prices of pretty much everything. On the other hand, the off-season of your chosen destination may not have all accommodations open and activities running.

The shoulder season often boasts great weather, fewer tourists, your choice of activities and accommodation, and cheaper prices. Check out my full article on when to visit Europe for detailed info.

Backpacking Europe Cost FAQ

How much should I budget per day in Europe?

A backpacker’s average daily budget should be between $40 and $70 USD per day in the east and between $70 and $100 per day in the west.

How much does it cost for two months in Europe?

While sticking to a budget, a two-month Europe trip will cost between $2,480 and $6,200 USD. The exact amount will depend on where you go, the activities you do, and how luxuriously you travel.

How many countries can you visit in Europe in two weeks?

Due to proximity, you can technically travel to quite a few European destinations in two weeks, although I recommend taking it much slower. Either use those two weeks to fully dive into one place, or split your time between two.

👉 Check Out Worldpackers – and enter discount code TRAVELLEMMING at checkout for $10 off a membership!

***

That’s it for my guide on backpacking through Europe on a budget! I hope this helped you set a realistic expectation of how much it will cost to backpack and how much to save. 

For more articles on backpacking Europe, be sure to read our Backpacking Europe: The Ultimate Guide.

Have fun backpacking Europe!

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