It’s an incredible adventure to backpack through Europe, and if you’re tinkering with the idea of taking the journey it’s reasonable to ask, “how much does backpacking through Europe Cost?”
When I first backpacked in Europe I didn’t know too much about all the associated costs and it ended up putting a bigger dent in my wallet than expected. But it was well worth it. An experience I will never forget and one that keeps me going back to Europe whenever I can.
This guide will help you better understand the costs associated with traveling to Europe so that you better budget your travel plans. And hopefully do it better than I did on my first go.
Backpacking Through Europe Cost: Cities Matter
Although Europe has joined together under the banner of a united European Union the costs of traveling within Europe are not singular. Each city has different daily costs; lodging, food, and entertainment vary greatly.
To that end, we’ve created a bunch of individual city guides with the intent to break down the average costs you can expect to spend in some of the most popular European destinations.
General Pre-Trip Expenses
If you’ve never traveled anywhere before, there are some critical things you need to get.
- Passport: $135 If you don’t have a passport you’ll need to get one ASAP. Traveling to Europe requires one. Applying for a US Passport costs $135 if you’re will to wait – if you need one in less than 4-6 weeks an expedited charge of $60 is added.
- Backpack: $75 – $300 You can’t backpack without a travel backpack! There are plenty of different packs out there.
- Travel Accessories: $50+ There are tons of things you can bring along with you on your trip to make your experience more enjoyable. Accessories can include electrical plug adapters, books, cameras, journals, etc.
- Travel Insurance: $30/week Travel insurance is a nice level of safety to have in the event you run into any medical issues or travel disputes while overseas. Some insurance plans even cover personal item loss and rental car collision coverage.
- Airfare Tickets: $700-$1500 Getting to Europe is costly. Tickets will vary in price by Airline and traveling season but you can expect to pay around $1,000 round-trip.
Day-to-day Travel Costs
The largest costs associated with travel include accommodation, food, sightseeing, and transportation.
If you’re very frugal, you can hostel hop around Western Europe for around $75-$100 per day and $45-$75 per day in Eastern Europe.
There are a large variety of lodging options in Europe. Since backpacking is about being budget conscious, we’ve outline the cheaper options available.
Hostels are traditionally the cheapest options around when it comes to lodging. Their prices will vary by city location but below is a sample list of average hostel prices throughout:
- London: $25-$45
- Paris: $30-$50
- Dublin: $20-$30
- Amsterdam: $25-$60
- Munich: $25-$50
- Berlin: $20-$50
- Krakow: $20-$40
- Budapest: $15-$35
- Barcelona: $20-$30
There are plenty of cheap hotels throughout Europe – but their price tags will vary immensely. Finding a cheap hotel isn’t always the easiest task but with today’s technology it’s much easier. And if you’re able to find another person to share a room with – you might be better off in a hotel than a hostel.
The Airbnb revolution is huge. There are tons of rental apartments in many cities that are often priced similarly to cheap hotels. I’ve found that rental apartments offer a better bang for buck as they tend to be larger living areas, cleaner, with a kitchen, and offer a more authentic experience.
Food and Drinks
Food and drinks are large factors in your budgeting. You should budget more than you expect for food as there will certainly be moments you’ll want to indulge in a great local meal.
It’s also very hard to shop smart when you’re not familiar with the city. Finding a cheap grocery store or knowing what product is best makes being a budget traveler much harder.
That said, you can expect your daily food cost to fall anywhere between $15 and $50.
If you’re willing to penny pinch and cook most of your own meals, you can even fall under this range – but given that food is such a large part of experiencing a country’s culture – it would be an awful shame to miss out.
There is an abundant amount of great beer, wine and liquor to try on your trip. So sample all that you can!
In truth, drinking and having fun is a large part of traveling around. Like everywhere, big nights can cost you a fortune. Be smart and buy alcohol from grocery stores instead of bars when you can. Pre-game before celebrating off into the night too.
- London (pint of beer) : $3 – $7
- Paris (wine) : $8 -$15 for a decent bottle of wine from a store
- Munich (mug of beer) : $9- $10 at a beer garden
Sightseeing and Attractions Costs
Most attractions in Europe charge an admissions fees. The fees aren’t high for the most part but they do add up. Many spots offer student/youth discounts so plan ahead or inquire on the spot for these. Statravel.com is a great place to find reduced travel and booking rates if your a student.
You should budget around $15 per day for sightseeing.
- Louvre Museum – Paris : $17
- Centre Pompidou Museum – Paris – $18
- Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam : $20
European public transportation is typically excellent in large and medium sized cities. So subways, buses, and trams will be your methods for traveling around. Expect to walk a lot too!
Most cities sell a range of tick and travel passes. This can include single use tickets, day passes (1,3,5,7 days), month passes, etc. It’s wise to do a little research before your trip to find the best option for you. Sometimes a single use ticket makes the most sense, whereas other time a multi-use pass can save you money.
- London Subway (the tube): $4 off peak single fare or $14 all day
- Paris Subway (Metro): $19 for 10 one-ride tickets
- Amsterdam (Tram): $23 for 3 days of unlimited travel
- Barcelona Subway (Metro) : $1.40 for a one-ride ticket
Trains are amazing in Europe – they’re typically affordable and allow you to reach further destinations with greater ease and comfort versus a bus.
Note, many countries charge by distance traveled – by also factor in time of day, availability, and type of train (high speed or normal). Since you’re a backpacker you should plan accordingly to take advantage of the lowest rates.
The Eurail train is also an option available to you. There are dozens of different passes available to suite about any need or budget (i.e. global pass, select pass, regional pass, one country pass) Prices start around $68 for a one country pass. The select pass for use in 4 bordering countries starts from $105.
Car or Bus
Traveling via automobile is simple. If you want to see small towns or rural areas you’ll probably need to rent out a car but I’ve been surprised by certain bus routes – so always check!
Most cars in Europe are stick shift manual transmission. You’ll be able to cut your rental costs by learning to drive stick. If not, expect your car rental costs to be an upward 25-50% greater.
Air travel within Europe is quite affordable and quick. It’s not uncommon to find one-way tickets from Paris to Berlin for under $75 and from London to Barcelona for under $60.