Are you hoping to breathe life into those awe-inspiring alps, brilliant beaches, tantalising food and breath-taking adventures on your Europe bucket list?
Yes… then read on!
Travel Bloggers are a mine of information when it comes to Budget Travel Tips for Europe. With this in mind I’ve asked them for their budget saving tips to catapult your Europe Bucket List from dream to reality.
It’s not so much about where to go and what to do, as it is about innovative ways to travel smarter and experience a destination in an interesting yet affordable way.
The result is a compilation of tried and true money saving ideas for your Europe holiday list. It’s a smorgasbord of big ticket items and nitty gritty solutions for travelling Europe on a budget, so dig in and explore.
- The Islands of Greece and Turkey are at the top of many a Europe bucket list (including mine) so lets get the ball rolling in the salty blue of the Mediterranean.
- Albania – A beach holiday at Ksamil Albania
- Armenia – Drink Affordable Delicious European Wine
- Czech Republic
- France Bucket List
- Iceland on a Budget
- Italian Bucket List
- Capri on a Budget
- Florence, Italy
- Eating Street Food in Old Town Naples Italy.
- The hidden gem of Puglia Italy minus the high price tags.
- Aperitivo in Milan Italy – happy hour and dinner for less than 12 Euros
- How to use the Trentino Guest Card to go hiking in the Dolomites Italy
- Moldova and Transinistria
- Cycling in Scandinavia
- Switzerland – Hiking in Switzerland
- UK Bucket List Tips
- Explore Europe by Campervan
- Lovely – you’re still here.
The Islands of Greece and Turkey are at the top of many a Europe bucket list (including mine) so lets get the ball rolling in the salty blue of the Mediterranean.
Greek Islands near Santorini
Sandy from Tray Tables Away suggests two Greek Islands that aren’t Santorini or Mykonos.
Greece has always been a budget traveler’s dream but with the global financial crisis and severe austerity measures introduced, prices have had to go up in recent years.
Also, there are a few islands that, whilst undeniably beautiful, are magnets for the rich and famous and as a result are not really affordable for the average traveler. A night or two on Santorini and Mykonos is about all most people can afford. So how can you experience the charm and beauty of those islands ? Its really not that hard and the answer can be found just a ferry ride or two away.
The Greek Islands of Paros and Naxos are close neighbours and positioned midway between Santorini and Mykonos. There is a town on Paros called Naoussa that has a party vibe and feel that is similar to Mykonos although many people say it is like it was there 10 years ago. Both islands offer a lot to see and do and can budget for the cheapest traveler to those who still want some boutique luxury. One of the nicest places we’ve ever stayed was on Naxos and the rooms were less than 50euro a night – in peak season !
All of these islands are all in the group called the Cyclades and it is still possible to do a day trip to Mykonos and Santorini on the high speed ferries. You can also visit Anti-paros and the Small Cyclades including Koufanissia by small ferry. Both islands are serviced by cheap local buses and there is no shortage of family run tavernas and cafe where you can get a cheap meal, a carafe of good local wine and a free Ouzo. Opa !
Sailing The Göcek Islands of Turkey
Kathy from 50 Shades of Age suggests four days sailing in Turkey.
Göcek’s twelve islands and many bays, clear and clean water, green pine and amber forests and pristine beaches were on the menu for our sailing trip out of Fethiye on the Turquoise Coast of Turkey.
We spent four perfect days and three balmy nights aboard the yacht called “Ros”, named after her Australian-born owner, with Before Lunch Cruises. The four day/three night cruise cost us around $750 AUD per couple in 2012, which we considered to be very reasonable.
The yacht had 6 double cabins and one family cabin for 4, all with private ensuites, and one bunk cabin with shared bathroom and it accommodated 16 people on board, with Captain and two crew.
Our four days were absolutely scintillating. Our cabin was comfortable and well equipped, although we spent most nights along with all of the other passengers sleeping on deck on one of the sunbeds, as it was too hot to sleep below. We were experiencing temperatures in the high 30’s to low 40’s each day during late August to early September.
The uphill hikes on both islands that we moored at were challenging and exhausting but the ruins and the views were well worth the discomfort. Swimming and snorkelling in the clean clear water was amazing. I would highly recommend this sailing trip as a Europe Bucket List item.
2018 prices range from 275 to 350 Euro per person for a 3 night cruise. You can see the Before Lunch Website here.
A Message from Jan.
From here on in, tips are listed alphabetically by Country. You can read the Table of Contents above to find a particular country, or minimise it if not. If are interested in taking a campervan around Europe, there is a special entry at the end of the blog post that you won’t want to miss!
Albania – A beach holiday at Ksamil Albania
Alex from Swedish Nomad. A beach holiday is tops on many summer bucket lists and Alex recommends Ksamil Beach Albania for an inexpensive beach holiday.
Ksamil is one of the most beautiful places to go if you want to relax and sunbathe. The beaches here are some of the best in all of Europe, with crystal clear turquoise water and white sand. In addition to beautiful scenery, the prices here are cheaper than other popular destinations such as Italy, Spain and France.
You can easily get a meal in a restaurant for 2.5 – 8 Euro per person. There are many pizzerias here, which are perfect if you want to grab something quick for lunch while you’re at the beach. If you want to save some money I recommend that you don’t choose the restaruants that are right next to the beach as they will be pricier.
Also, if you want to visit Saranda, Himara or Butrint, take the local bus instead of a taxi – it’s super cheap and they go frequently. As for accommodation, most places are quite cheap as the hotels are family-owned.
Near Ksamil, is the historical site of Butrint, with roots dating back to Julius Caesar himself and even further back in time. Another place not to be missed are the four islands, reached by boat from Ksamil. The boat trip only takes a few minutes, and at the islands, you can snorkel or just enjoy a nice paradise beach.
Around the beaches, there are various kinds of watersports available. The best part is that you can choose between crowded lively beaches and more secluded smaller beaches here at Ksamil.
Armenia – Drink Affordable Delicious European Wine
Megan from Megan Starr talks about Armenian Wine.
One of my favourite things to do in Europe (and anywhere else in the world) is to indulge in Armenian wine. Armenian wine is some of the best that I have had and their grapes are different than anywhere else I’ve tried, giving them a unique and extremely distinctive taste.
A few years back, it was discovered that the earliest known traces of wine actually come from the Areni region of Armenia. Archaeologists unearthed artifacts from the Areni-1 caves that date back beyond anything found prior. This makes the region especially enticing for wine lovers worldwide.
I was lucky to head to this region years ago to enjoy some tastings at a local winery and it was very interesting and delicious to learn more about the grapes of the region and how Armenians infuse local fruits into the wines for added flavour.
Getting to Areni is not expensive because Armenia is an affordable country for budget travellers, but you can also enjoy Areni wine from almost any restaurant in Yerevan these days. Some of my favourite restaurants can be found on Saryan Street (known as the wine street in Yerevan) and they almost always have someone educated on Armenian wine and its history, particularly focusing on wine from the Areni region.
A glass of wine on Saryan street is around $2-$3. The street also hosts a festival called ‘Yerevan Wine Days’ every April and the street shuts off and celebrates the drink.
An affordable way to visit the Austrian Alps
Jodie from Ala Jode
A trip to the Alps is something that should be on every Europe bucket list, but it’s never going to be particularly cheap. Luckily, there’s a great way enjoy the incredible landscapes of Austria for less.
Saalbach Hinterglemm, a tiny ski resort not too far from Salzburg, is one place that’s becoming more affordable to travel than ever. During the summer months, the new ‘Joker Card’ scheme means you can save loads on hotels, food and transport during your stay, making it a realistic holiday destination for budget-conscious travellers.
Staying at any of the Joker Card hotels will instantly give you access to all the Joker Card benefits. They range from free gondola passes (a saving of up to 12 Euros per ride!) and free transport to nearby resorts along the valley. You’ll also get free entry to activities ranging from indoor tennis and minigolf to organised hikes in the mountains.
Saalbach Hinterglemm is best known as a winter ski resort, but there’s plenty for outdoor lovers to enjoy in the summer. With some of the best hiking trails and biking routes in Austria, it’s a great summer destination for anyone who loves being active and escaping into nature.
Vienna to Bratislavia Boat
Clemens from Travellers Archive
The Photo below is of Neue Burg in Vienna, infamous for Hitler making his annexation of Austria speech on the central covered balcony in 1938.
There is no doubt that the Austrian capital of Vienna is a stunner. It’s a great place to eat your way through hearty meals, such as Schnitzel or the sweet dish Kaiserschmarrn and delicious cakes, while enjoying the typical “Kaffeehaus Culture”. Basically this means having coffee in a cosy and dark place, full of history and grumpy, yet charming waitresses. With its amazing architecture, delicious and cosy restaurants and many wine places, Vienna is actually quite difficult to leave for just another city trip.
However, a couple of weeks ago, we took the Twin City Liner from Vienna to the Slovakian capital Bratislava, via the Danube. The 45-minute trip on the Danube passes by some lush green fields, cute little spots to swim and tiny wooden fishing huts that look like they have been there for years and years.
Combining Vienna and Bratislava in one trip is not only awesome for visiting two countries within a couple days, but also a great way to eat even heartier meals and explore more of those charming cobblestoned alleys. What’s more is that the trip back to Vienna Airport is as simple as can be once you take the Flix Bus. For only 7,50 € you get from the heart of Bratislava to Vienna Airport. Easy, right?
Bruges on a Budget
Vicki from Vickiviaga
Bruges, which is also called Brugge, is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. Since the movie In Bruges came out in 2008, it became an even more popular destination for travellers from all over the world.
A stay in Bruges can be quite pricey as most of the attractions have an entrance fee, however there are also some great points of interest in Bruges which can be visited for free.
The most important of these free attractions is the market square of Bruges. With its colourful houses and the horse-drawn carriages, it provides the unique vibe that we loved so much about Bruges. Just sitting there while enjoying one of the amazing hot chocolates that you can buy everywhere in town, was definitely one of our Bruges highlights.
Other great things that can be visited for free are, the Beguinage and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, where you can find one of the most important religious relics in Europe: An ampule filled with holy blood. But if you are not religious this place is simply beautiful and absolutely worth a visit.
Another amazing highlight are the Janshuis Windmills at Kruisvest, a little outside of the city centre. From there you have an amazing view over Bruges and probably won’t find any other tourists.
All in all, Bruges is a wonderful place to travel to on a budget.
Sofia – Free Food Tour
Josie from Josie Wanders.
Sofia the capital city of Bulgaria in Eastern Europe, is a modern, vibrant city with thousands of years of history. There is already plenty to do in this city to keep you busy, but for something unexpected, try the Balkan Bites Free Food Tour. Yes, Free! (Of course tips are always nice at the end.)
While this free food tour won’t completely fill you up, it will take you to five different places where you will try a small portion of food or drink or both. Some of the places had more than one thing to sample. The restaurants chosen were a great mix of traditional and modern, Bulgarian and not Bulgarian, but every mouthful was delicious. At each one we were told a little about the different traditions of Bulgarian food, starting with the all important food that was first discovered here and seems to be included in nearly every meal – yoghurt! All of the restaurants are trying to entice you to come back and eat there again, and they all do a great job. We went back and ate at one again, and if we had more time would have eaten at more than one.
While walking between the restaurants, the guide told us interesting stories and cultural tips about Sofia. We learnt about “squat shops” and the double-language murals on the walls of schools. We saw some of the many churches, the market areas, the booksellers street and the modern shopping and eating street – all things not included in the standard Sofia walking tours making this a perfect addition to your visit no matter what other activities you have done.
Vegetarian Food in Bulgaria
Nisha from Lemonicks
Being vegetarian, we were warned that Bulgarian cuisine is traditionally meat-based with few vegetarian options, but we listened to our hearts and went anyway.
We did not starve and found plenty of Bistros serving reasonably priced vegetarian food.
Bulgaria has wonderful salads! My personal favourite is Shopska (€2)- a mix of diced tomato and cucumber and sometimes onion and green pepper – topped generously with crumbled feta cheese.
Bulgaria is famous for its yogurts and delicious pastries. For breakfast try Banitsa, a large crispy filo pastry with whisked egg and cheese. Filled with spinach, pumpkin, walnuts, brown sugar or cinnamon, it is delicious served with plain yogurt, Boza or Ayran. Hotels and B&Bs typically serve wonderful breakfasts of Banitsa, olives, eggs, cheese, crusty breads and Palichinki (crepes).
Then there are traditional vegetarian soups like Taratar, (a cold cucumber soup) or hearty bean soups (€2).
Ajvar is an intriguing mix of pepper (mild or spicy), eggplant and olive oil and is delicious spread on white bread. Mish mash is typically vegetarian and Moussaka and Guvech can be made without meat also. Fried Kashkaval cheese is good too.
Tip: The healthy yoghurt drink Ayran (€0.5) is available everywhere.
Pizza (€5 for two people) and French fries are also very popular throughout Bulgaria and beer is as little as €1 per glass.
The meal in our photo shows Shopska Salad, French fries, Bean Soup, Tarator and bread. (€7 for two).
As you can see Bulgarian vegetarian food is delicious and affordable.
Yacht Week or Sail Week?
Lauren Monitz from The DownLo
Since CNN called Croatia, “the King of the Riviera’s” and Game of Thrones famously used Dubrovnik as a backdrop, the tiny country is no longer as much of an under the radar, hidden gem as it used to be, which means this Baltic hotspot is blowing up in terms of price and popularity.
One of the most popular ways to see Croatia is on The Yacht Week. Positioned as a week of revelry, music, and partying while sailing the high seas, the Yacht Week captures 20-something travellers with the promise of a luxury adult spring break. What most travellers don’t know though, is there is not just one company that runs sailing trips around Croatia, or even “yacht weeks.”
Sail Week is a way to get the same kind of experience for a fraction of the cost and without the party vibe. Their Adventure Sail Week will set you back less than 1K and is a really cool way to see the sites with a different outdoor activity like SUPing, hiking, and biking at each port.
Budget Tip: Since it’s a live aboard, you’re offsetting the costs you’d generally have for transportation and lodging to city hop. They’ll take you to explore Marco Polo’s hometown, traverse Dubrovnik’s ancient city walls, see Split’s Roman architecture, and bike through Mljet Island National Park along the beautiful Dalmatian Coast.
Budget Travel Tips for Prague
Veronika from Travel Geekery
Prague cannot be missed whether you like historical preserved cities or not. But the Czech capital is becoming pricier. You need to be smart to visit Prague in a budget-friendly way.
The key lies in experiencing the city just like the locals do. That way you’ll get to know the real authentic Prague.
Nearly every restaurant in Prague has a special lunch menu. A few pre-made meals for a much friendlier price. Imagine if all office workers whose employers don’t provide a cafeteria ate at traditional restaurants and paid the full price. We’d all go broke! A lunch menu in Prague usually costs CZK120-150, which is about $6-7.
I hope you drink beer. Beer is officially the cheapest drink in Prague. If you don’t count tap water, it’s usually the cheapest liquid item on any menu. Once you feel like trying out craft beers, though, the prices rise. If you really need to save, never order 2 small beers, but always rather just 1 big one. It’s much cheaper that way 🙂
If you feel like sitting around with friends and having a drink, head to one of Prague’s plentiful parks (if you’re in Prague in summer) with a bottle of wine and a few snacks and indulge in a simple picnic! Places like Riegrovy Sady park or the Letná park offer spacious green areas and beautiful views of Prague.
France Bucket List
Paris on a Budget
Elisa from World in Paris talks about Paris on a budget.
Paris, the City of Lights, is considered an expensive city. We won’t deny that an 8 euro coffee next to Notre Dame is not for every budget but there are many ways to reduce costs in Paris, here’s our top tips:
Go off the beaten path. Leave the tourist track and you will pay less for everything. Saint-Germain neighborhood is very fancy but a glass of wine for 15€ is less sexy. Explore the lesser known districts of Paris – they also have nice things.
Think out of the box with your Paris bucket list. Louvre Museum or Orsay Museum are very cool but did you know that the city has many museums that you can always visit for free? Look for the “Ville de Paris” museums and perhaps you can also add beautiful art galleries or photography galleries to the list. If you cannot live without visiting Paris’ top museums, check if they have free opportunities. Usually they are always for free for UE residents under 25 years or for everybody during the first Sunday of the month. Information is power!
Do like the locals. Playing pétanque, a park picnic in Paris, street art or a treasure hunt are great ways of having fun and definitely much more local.
Picnicking your way around France
Kylie from Our Overseas Adventures
France is such a beautiful country to visit – but the costs can quickly add up with all of those amazing chateaus to visit and restaurants to try! When we’re in France we try and keep the costs down by putting together a DIY picnic kit that we use to self-cater with. This gives us the flexibility to pick up all sorts of tasty goodies from French markets or the incredible supermarkets that are a destination in their own right.
An essential item is a picnic basket to hold all your bits and pieces in, these can be cheaply obtained at most markets and there are lots of stylish designs to choose from that make a great souvenir. We then visit a hypermarket (Carrefour or E.Leclerc are great) to purchase cutlery essentials like a cheese knife, glasses and napkins – note that plastic cutlery is now banned in France for environmental reasons but you can cheaply purchase metal and glass versions.
Finally the most important item of all is a bottle opener for all that great French wine you’ll come across. If you’re on a budget it’s worth looking out for a wine cave or cellar and purchasing your wine ‘en vrac’ or straight from the stainless steel vat in your own refillable bottles! It’s exactly the same wine that’s sold labelled, but for a much cheaper price. All you need now is a baguette, some cheese, tapenade, olives and saucisson, treats from the patisserie and fresh seasonal fruit from the market and you’re good to go!
Wander Paris like a Local
Paula from Expert Abroad
In 2010 on our first visit to Paris we were lucky enough to be tipped off about a fantastic service which matched visitors to the city with local residents who volunteered their time to show visitors around their neighbourhood. Volunteers are members of an international network, Global Greeters, that began in NYC in the 11992 by native New Yorker Lyn Brooks that now operates in more than 100 cities around the world.
These walks called “greets”, are a great addition to your Paris bucket list and are more like meeting a new friend or long lost relative than taking an organised tour. Our Greeter, Jean-Marc was a retired teacher who had lived his entire life in the historic Le Marais district. We spent 3 hours exploring the nooks and crannies of this very old and special part of the city.
Jean-Marc was a natural storyteller that brought the streets to life with stories of the main events that shaped Le Marais. We visited local shops and markets, ate amazing ice cream way off the tourist trail and were lucky enough to see behind the large gates of many of the old homes and into their finely manicured gardens that you would never know existed as you walked along the street.
The experience was a fantastic way to start our 10 days in Paris, we felt like the insider info Jean-Marc had given us really enhanced our experience of the city. It had such an effect on us that 3 years ago I joined with two other Sydneysiders to get our own local branch off the ground!
Iceland on a Budget
Jessica from Independent Travel Cats
Iceland is on many people’s bucket list for Europe, given its natural scenery, wildlife, and interesting culture. It is a particularly great destination in Europe for those who love stark beauty, waterfalls, seabirds, winter activities, Icelandic sagas, hot springs, and/or photography. My husband Laurence is a photographer and loves the landscape photography opportunities here and I love the seabirds.
Most first time visitors explore Reykjavik, travel along the Golden Circle, see the scenic South Shore, and visit the famous Blue Lagoon. It is easy to get a cheap flight to Iceland from many places in North America and Western Europe, and a stop in Reykjavik is a popular flight stopover.
However, with the exception of very cheap flights, Iceland is a very expensive destination. It currently has some of the highest prices for consumer goods and food in the world. However there are ways to save money in Iceland and after spending over a month traveling in Iceland we’ve shared our tips for travelling to Iceland on a budget. They include things like booking travel in advance, carpooling, booking economical tours, using gas discount cards, and cooking your own meals.
Italian Bucket List
Capri on a Budget
Nicole from Travelgal Nicole.
Capri is an idyllic island about an hour off the coast of Naples Italy. For most people this is a dream destination as Capri is a small, scenic island with a lot of history and removed from the hustle and bustle of the mainland, but in the summer it is overrun with tourists and extremely expensive.
Where to Stay in Capri on a Budget plus the Best Time to Visit Capri Italy.
My suggestion is to go in early fall when there are less tourists and to also stay in Anacapri – the second largest city on Capri and only 10 minutes away from the city of Capri.
Not only are the hotels much cheaper in Anacapri, but you are still close to all the main attractions such as Mount Solaro and the Blue Grotto.
Best things to do in Capri.
There is only one road around Capri as most of the island is made up of narrow alleyways. There is also a funicular to take you to the top of the steep hill that is Capri. When you get to the top you can visit the Piazzetta, the compact town square with views over the island and have a coffee while people watching.
How to get to the Blue Grotto Capri.
Once you have discovered Capri by land I suggest you discover Capri from the sea with a wooden rowboat to enter the magical Blue Grotto – the only vessels able to fit inside the sea cave as the opening of the cave is only two metres wide.
There are two ways of getting to the Blue Grotto. One is by boat from Marina Grande (14/18 Euro per person) the other is by bus from Piazza Cimitero in Anacapri or Marina Grande, to the Grotto jetty (the last stop). Wooden rowboats take you into the Grotto (14 Euro per person) plus the jetty has a small kiosk with tables and chairs – a good place from which to watch the scene unfold. Regardless of how you arrive at the Blue Grotto you still must pay an extra 14 euro to enter the cave.
Chris Dolce Castillo – Dolce Does Travel
When most travellers think of western Europe they see dollar signs. But rest assured, Florence is one European bucket list city that can definitely be explored thoroughly by the budget-minded.
Sightseeing in Florence
If you have a few days and art and museums are on the list (they should be in Florence with Michelangelo’s David and the Uffizi), definitely spring for the Firenze card. You’ll have to shell out 72€ but it includes entrance into just about every art gallery and museum in the city, plus access to public transit and wifi. We more than got our money’s worth by visiting over 8 museums and gardens that would’ve cost us at least 100€ each. The pass allowed us to dip into museums we never would’ve otherwise, and it was fun to see how many we could check off to really make it a bargain.
The Duomo is free to visit, and definitely reserve tickets in advance, however, if you’re hoping to get those panoramic views from the top of the campanile or cupola – it will cost you 15€. Instead, use your Firenze pass to climb the Palazzo Vecchio Tower. You still get sky high views of the entire city, but for no extra cost, and you get the Duomo in your pictures – the most beautiful and iconic architecture in the Florence skyline.
After a day in the museums and wandering gardens, make your way up hill to Piazzale Michelangelo, where all of Florence goes to watch some of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. It gets packed, so get up there early, but it’s completely free. And, you can bring your own bottle of wine, beer, or cocktails to enjoy a cheap sundowner. While you’re up there, peak into San Miniato Church to watch Gregorian priests recite a traditional chant every night at 5:30 or 6:30 pm.
Food and Wine – and especially wine – can often take up a lot of your budget in a new city, particularly in western Europe. But never fear…we made it on about 20€ a day per person.
Foodie Bucket List in Florence
Start with a café au lait or espresso and a pastry –standing, not sitting – for breakfast. That’s how Italians do breakfast, and if you sit, you get charged a coperto, or cover.
At lunch, hit Antico All’Vinaio, SandwiChic, or Li SchiacciVino for 4 or 5€ paninis. Trust me – these are the most amazing sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, and they filled me up for quite a while.
For dinner, do the Italian Aperitivo like at Kitsch for 10 Euro.
Wine in Florence
As for the wine, the rule wherever you are in Italy, and particularly Florence, is always order the house wine. You can typically get a litre for about 5€ and you’ll always find house wine on the menu at any restaurant. Cin cin!
Eating Street Food in Old Town Naples Italy.
Danila from Travelling Dany.
Naples is one of the places in Italy where, thanks to street food, you can still eat local delicacies for just a few Euros. If you head over to the old town Naples, around what we locals call “Christmas Alley” you will find the best street food in Naples Italy at the tiniest prices.
Via San Gregorio Armeno Naples is an ancient, narrow street where all the artisans handcrafting Italian nativity sets are located, hence the “Christmas Alley” nickname. Here a pizza margherita to go (tomato sauce, fresh basil, olive oil and mozzarella cheese) will cost you 1,50€ maximum. It’s served scorching hot, straight out of the oven and it’s absolutely delicious!
Another thing you have to try in this area is ragù sauce, still traditionally prepared like any Neapolitan grandma would. The sauce cooks for up to 8 hours the previous evening and is then served the following day, as it has to “rest” before you can eat it. Having ragù sauce in a bread bowl with two meatballs costs 5€ and is another unforgettable experience you’ve got to try in Naples!
If you like to explore the “vicoli” or alleys in Naples, and maybe want to buy a different souvenir that is cheap and delicious, Taralli is your best bet. It’s a crunchy, salted kind of cookie – a local delicacy that comes in different flavours. They cost 0,80€ each and can be ordered in a box if you want to buy them as a present for someone, or in a paper bag if you don’t want to pay a bit extra for the box.
I bet you’d make everyone happy with a present like this, straight from the oldest part of Napoli!
Stefan from Nomadic Boys.
Where is Puglia?
Puglia is the heel of “Long legged Italy” located at the south eastern end of the country. It’s a totally underrated gem, with most travellers to the country opting to put Venice, Rome, Florence and the Amalfi Coast on their Europe must do list. Given how underrated it is, it makes a hidden gem for budget travellers as it doesn’t have the same high price tags as the other more famous destinations in Italy.
Most of the budget airlines fly into Bari or Brindisi, which are the two main transport hubs of the region. If visiting with friends, it may be worth considering a car rental to share. Taxis here are expensive and public transport negligible. This then enables you to widen the net with budget accommodation options. The main hubs like Gallipoli and Lecce have mainly pricey places to stay. But venture outside of these, and you can find gorgeous local guesthouses in small less well known quaint towns in Puglia Italy, like Alezio or Ugento for very little. We used Airbnb and TripAdvisor to research the best budget options for accommodation.
Shopping in supermarkets for local produce to make your own meals is another excellent budget tip. It’s our favourite way to learn more about the local food and drink, and also a handy place to buy perishable souvenirs to take back home – such as a packet of “orecchiette” (ear-shaped) pasta, which is unique to Puglia.
Finally, in each big city you visit, like Lecce for example, look out for one of the many “free” walking tours. They run on tips, so not entirely free, but still a fraction of the cost you’d pay to a tour company to show you round.
Aperitivo in Milan Italy – happy hour and dinner for less than 12 Euros
Natalie from Love and Road.
Milan is an incredible city that deserves it’s place on any Italian bucket list. The Italian fashion capital is famous for its history, arts, good food and expensive lifestyle. The list of what to do in Milan is huge and it’s almost impossible to save money on attractions or accommodation there.
On the other hand, you can enjoy the authentic cuisine in an all you can eat buffet and have a wine or drink for less than 12 Euros per person. Have you heard about the traditional Italian aperitivo? It is the Italian version of happy hour, but more than that, it combines delicious food, drinks, sometimes music and fun.
Usually, from 6pm to 10pm all the bars and cafes in Milan serve the aperitivo. You pay between 10 to 12 Euros [depending on the place] for a drink and you can eat from a delicious buffet of Italian food or international cuisine. It’s happy hour and dinner in only one place. Some of the fancy or more touristy bars serve finger food on the table, so you get some delicious snacks when you order the drink, but to get more food you will need to order more drinks.
So keep in mind that this money-saving tip works best at the bars with all you can eat buffets. Our favourite place for aperitivo in Milan is the stylish Straf Bar, just beside the Duomo Cathedral. Famous among locals, they serve a delicious buffet and drink for only 12 Euros. Other good options are Un Post a Milano which serves organic food, and Manhattan Navigli Bar, a simple bar serving mouthwatering Italian food and drinks for only 10 Euros.
During the aperitivo most of the bars will place tables, chairs and seats on the street, so grab some food, an Aperol or Campari Spritz and mingle with locals. There is no better way to discover Milan than by tasting delicious food in a stunning street surrounded by friendly people.
How to use the Trentino Guest Card to go hiking in the Dolomites Italy
Claudia from My Adventures Across the World.
Trentino Italy is an incredible place to visit in Northern Italy. It is a fabulous ski destination in the winter, and it wows its summer visitors with a great range of activities, such as mountain biking, music festivals in nature, and (needless to say) some incredible hikes in the Dolomites.
As with the rest of the country, Trentino can be quite an expensive place to visit. The good news is that there are ways to save money on attractions and transportation with the Trentino Guest Card. This card is available to anybody who visits the region at a flat rate of €40, and it allows visitors to use public transportation (buses and trains) in the region.
Buses and trains work quite well, and they are a good way to go from the beautiful villages to mountain passes to access the best hiking trails (by the way, with the Guest Card it is possible to join guided hikes in the region).
But there’s more: Trentino Guest Card also provides access to over 100 attractions, including wine and food tasting tours, museums and castles; it allows to rent e-bikes to explore the villages and their surroundings; and to also use the chair-lifts.
Dave of Dave’s Travel Pages
Luxembourg is often thought of as being an expensive European destination, and most people think that it is literally just a city and nothing else. It might come as a pleasant surprise then, to discover that not only is Luxembourg a cool addition to an adventure bucket list, but it can also be enjoyed on a relatively small budget as well.
Outside of the city, lush green countryside is waiting to be explored, complete with castles, cute little villages, and rolling hills. In fact, the Mullerthal region of Luxembourg is known as Little Switzerland, and it’s here I suggest you head if you looking for an unusual outdoor adventure destination in the heart of Europe.
During a long weekend break, you can go cycling and hiking along the famous Mullerthal trail, experience kayaking, tandem-parachuting, and even (if rumour is to be believed), go scuba diving in the rivers in Luxembourg! Tack on some sightseeing in the city itself, and there’s enough to keep you occupied for 4 or 5 days, or even longer.
But isn’t Luxembourg expensive? It doesn’t need to be. Here are a couple of budget tips to help you experience Luxembourg for cheaper.
- Luxembourg Card – This is a no-brainer. Allowing free access to all public transportation including trains around the countryside as well as entrance to museums and attractions, it makes getting around Luxembourg cheap and easy. 3 days for 28 Euro? Bargain!
- Campsites – You’ll find plenty of campsites scattered all over Luxembourg offering tent pitches as well as on site accommodation all at a nice price.
Interested in finding out more? Take a look here for an example 3 day outdoor adventure itinerary in Luxembourg.
Moldova and Transinistria
Chisinau in Moldova and the breakaway Republic of Transnistria
By Mike of 197 Travel Stamps
Chisinau is the capital of Moldova, one of Europe’s least visited countries. The city as well as the country Moldova has a reputation of being a run-down leftover of the Soviet Union without anything for tourists to see. But that isn’t true at all. Over recent years, Chisinau has evolved into a wonderful city full of green parks, beautiful churches, some of the fastest Wi-Fi speed in the world as well as some old run-down Soviet buildings.
One of the greatest things of visiting Moldova: everything is incredibly cheap. We had cocktails in the fanciest rooftop bar in town for €6. We hired a taxi driver for the entire day to take us to the incredible wineries around Chisinau for around €50. We had incredible three-course meals with amazing wines for less than €20. And the list goes on.
One of the highlights of a trip to Moldova is a visit to Transnistria, a self-declared independent republic and contender for the unique bucket list category. For nearly 30 years, the Pro-Russian area has been de-facto independent with their own currency, government, border controls etc. The capital Tiraspol is located around 1.5 hours east of Chisinau and can easily be visited on a day trip. Tiraspol is the perfect example of how you would imagine an old Soviet city. Large streets with no cars on them, run-down Soviet-style buildings, old Lada cars, etc.
Karen from Wanderlustingk talks about eating Indonesian food in Amsterdam and more.
Many people think that traveling in major European cities has to be expensive, however if you visit Amsterdam, you can reasonably do so on a budget.
Netherlands and Indonesia have a shared history and this former dutch colony is a major influencer in the food story of the Netherlands.
As someone who lived in the capital of the Netherlands, I recommend trying out Indonesian food at tokos. These small shops that often specialise in Indonesian food to go, serve up some of the most delicious and affordable Indonesian food that you’ll be able to afford without paying rijsttafel prices.
Similarly, you can always stop by the Albert Heijn supermarket for necessities as well as sandwiches that can be enjoyed along Amsterdam’s scenic canals. One of my favourite free attractions in Amsterdam is the Albert Cuypmarkt, a open market where you can buy budget food and browse different stalls. It’s a lot of fun and the perfect place to try out herring: an affordable and healthy Dutch snack.
Luckily, Amsterdam is a very small city, so you don’t need much to get around: typically your feet will do the trick. Renting a bike or getting a public transit pass can save you money if you decide to stay outside of the city center where accommodation prices are lower. The GVB pass for public transportation is often a steal although you need to remember to tap out!
Read more of Wanderlustingk budget tips from Amsterdam.
OV-Chip Card Netherlands.
Barbara from Barbaralicious says to buy an OV-Chip Card Netherlands and start saving.
When you arrive to the Netherlands and start your trip by asking at the tourist information about the best way to get around, you will probably be told to get day tickets (8 Euro) for public transport or rent a bike (12.50 Euro).
What they most likely only tell you if you ask for it is that there is another, much cheaper, way, especially if you spend more than a weekend in Holland: You can buy the so-called OV-chip card Netherlands at any counter for public transport for 7.50 Euro plus 0.50 Euro of service charge. It is valid for five years and anonymous, which means that you can easily sell it after your stay or share it with friends if you don’t need it every day. It is also possible to get it refunded at a Public Transport Company counter.
Yes, you will pay more on the first day considering that you pay the card, have to charge it and then pay for the rides. But with that chip card you will save money on every single ride. And the best thing about it? You can use it all over the country for buses, trams, metros, and even trains. To take a train, you will need to have at least 20 Euro on the card no matter how much the ride is.
To use the card, simply check in at the station or on the means of transport you’re using. It will always deduct 4 Euro, which is the maximum cost for a ride. The cost depends on the length of your ride. When you get off, don’t forget to check out! Then the real cost will be calculated and you get the money back on the card that has been deducted before.
Another great perk is that the card let’s you rent a bike for as little as 2.50 Euro per day, a saving of 10 Euro per day.
Tip: In Netherlands the card is called the OV-Chipkaart – read about it in English here.
Eating Cheaply in Portugal.
James from Portugalist spills the beans.
Portugal can be a very affordable country to eat out in if you go to the right places and eat at the right times. Even in Lisbon, a city which has seen its cost of living jump dramatically in the past few years, it’s still possible to get a three-course lunch for less than €6. That often includes both wine and coffee – it wouldn’t be a proper Portuguese lunch without those things.
The best place to find these deals is a “pastelaria”, which is simply a Portuguese cafe. These cafes can be found all over Portugal and, although many tourists visit them for coffee and a pastel de nata, very few go there for lunch or dinner.
The cafes that offer lunch deals are easy to spot. They’ll have a sign with the words “prato do dia” on it, often written in sharpie on a paper tablecloth and sellotaped to the window.
A typical meal might include a soup like caldo verde, followed by a dish like “Bacalhau à Lagareiro” or “Cozido à Portuguesa”, followed then by a dessert like “arroz doce” (rice pudding). All of these are traditional and very typical dishes and honestly, you’re unlikely to find anything non-traditional – a great addition to any authentic foodie bucket list.
The dishes and restaurants are often very simple but, if you’re looking to try typical Portuguese food and a very authentic version of the dish, this is definitely the best place to do it.
The Portuguese Camino – Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage
Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads.
It is difficult to talk about walking or hiking in Europe without mentioning the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.
There are many famous sights in Europe with thousands of tourists visiting them every year, even this well worn trail has many different sites to see if you change your style of travelling. We’ve heard a lot about the Camino de Santiago and were planning to walk it one day, this year in May we finally committed to do it.
There are several routes of the Camino that start in different towns of Spain, Portugal and France and finish in Santiago de Compostela. For our first walk we chose the Portuguese Camino – 616 km route that starts in Lisbon. Most people start in Porto which makes the walk much shorter – 240km.
The Camino infrastructure is great; the routes are well-marked with yellow arrows; there are special hostels for pilgrims called albergues where only pilgrims are allowed to stay, priced between 5-6 Euro per bed and some work on donation. Most albergues have a kitchen where pilgrims can make their own food – which makes the walk even cheaper.
It took us four weeks to complete the whole route from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela. Our budget travel expenses were as little as 15-20 Euro per person per day which is very cheap for traveling Europe in season. We walked through famous cities; Lisbon, Fatima, Porto, Santiago de Compostela and past small villages, along the coast and through the forest, met many interesting people and made new friends.
The Camino is a great way to explore Portugal and Spain on a budget and discover some off the beaten path places and sights. We enjoyed the Portuguese Camino so much that we decided to walk another route right after we finished the Portuguese one.
Trekking in Romania
Andra from Our World to Wander.
Romania is becoming more and more popular, and there are plenty of reasons for this. It’s great mix of fantastic landscapes, friendly people, yummy food, and low prices that earn it a place on your Europe must see list. And there are a variety of activities to choose from, amongst which, is trekking.
Trekking in Romania is very affordable, as most treks include a cabin or places where you can easily set your camp and to enjoy a night in the open. What is great about trekking in the Romanian Carpathians is that they are within short distance of Bucharest, the capital. One of the most popular areas in the mountains is in the Bucegi mountains, full of one day or even multiple day treks where you can get with a short 2-hour train ride.
Most cabins offer beds for around 10USD per person per night, and a good meal is around 5USD. The most famous one is Malaiesti, due to its superb views. And all the main trails are well marked, so there are no real chances of getting lost out there. The only real danger is the animals, as Romania is the proud owner of a significant population of brown bears.
Romania and the Balkan Pass
Inma from A World to Travel
St. Michael’s Church – Uniri square in Cluj Napoca Romania
Buying the Balkan Flexi pass to travel around the Eastern European countries instead of the more expensive Interrail /Eurail Pass is an intelligent move if you are planning to take up to five train rides among the Balkan countries. In fact, it allows you unlimited travel on the national rail networks in Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, The Serbian Entity of Bosnia Herzegovina, and Turkey.
Using it is as simple as choosing the right rail pass for your party and age group, making the seat reservations for the train rides you expect to take. Activate the Pass by getting it stamped at the ticket window of the departure station on the day of your first train journey and then you are all ready to explore.
Famous for being far from the main European touristy circuits until not long ago and their affordable rates among many other things; one of my favourite Balkan countries is Romania. I’ve visited the country six times in the last five years and don’t plan on stopping my Romanian adventures any time soon.
From the slightly overcrowded Transylvania to other areas such as Bukovina and the Danube Delta, where you won’t find many other tourists, what shines through are the hospitable locals – always ready to make you feel at home. I Can’t get enough of Romania!
Jen from Long Haul Trekkers
Many people would like to include this area on their Europe travel bucket list, but Scandinavia, in particular Norway, is known for its high prices, however cycle touring is a great way to both see the beautiful landscapes and save money. Not only are Norway, Sweden, and Denmark super bike friendly with thousands of kilometres of well-labeled designated bike paths throughout the region, but with liberal camping rules, finding free accommodation in nature can result in huge savings.
Both Norway and Sweden practice a law called “allemansratten” also known as the Freedom to Roam or Everyman’s Right. This law allows the general public to bike, walk, canoe, camp, forage, and pick flowers on any land without the owner’s permission, so long as they are not destructive, don’t disturb the homeowners, and abide by Leave No Trace principles. Motorized vehicles are not allowed and one may only camp for one or two nights.
While Denmark does not practice allemansratten, the country has thousands of primitive and “free camping” sites scattered throughout the country for free or for a nominal fee (they are not supposed to charge more than $5 USD per night). The Ministry of Environment has published an online map showing the locations of the primitive campgrounds (in Danish only) and the wikivoyage page shows the same information without the need to speak Danish.
Free Things to do in Barcelona
Claire from Tales of a Backpacker
Barcelona is probably the most expensive city to visit in Spain, as the throngs of tourists push up prices. However, there are plenty of free things to put on your Barcelona bucket list so you can still enjoy this beautiful city even if you are travelling around Spain on a budget.
Gaudí’s magnificent architecture is as incredible from the outside as it is the inside, so you can admire the Sagrada Familia cathedral, Park Güell, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and others from the outside without needing to pay an entry fee. Savvy travellers can also get free entry to museums like the Picasso Museum and the Hospital Sant Pau on Sundays after 3 PM, or all day on the first Sunday of the month.
Throughout the year there are regular street festivals with live music, performances from the incredible Castellers (human towers) and fireworks, for example, La Merced festival in September, Gracia Festival in August and Santa Eulalia Festival in February.
As with most big cities, there are free walking tours in Barcelona, and you can also find a free bike tour, the only cost is a tip to your guide. Probably my favourite free activity in Barcelona though is to admire the city from above. There are several fabulous vantage points from Park Güell, Montjuic, Tibidabo Mountain and the Carmel Bunkers where the views are definitely worth the walk!
Switzerland – Hiking in Switzerland
Arzo from Arzo Travels
If you are a hiker, Switzerland is surely on your Europe bucket list. Maybe you have already visited the country and hiked in one of the most beautiful sceneries of the world. If you haven’t then you should – and here is why.
There are challenging mountains (4,000 m) and less challenging ones. If you aren’t a big hiker, like me, then hiking one of the less challenging Swiss mountain like Ebenalp Mountain in Appenzellerland is a great alternative. It only takes maybe 3-4 hours or without breaks, the scenery is gorgeous, and the mountain guest house at 1,600 meters is perfect for a break and extremely beautiful.
Hiking in Switzerland is such a unique experience and even if you don’t enjoy hours and hours (or even days) of hiking you might start appreciating the smaller and little challenges. You will always be rewarded with amazing views and tranquility.
Depending on the time and the mountain you hike, you won’t see many other people. Though I recommend taking a bottle of water with you (and some food for a picnic) you normally will find water fountains providing fresh and yummy drinking water even in the mountains.
Many mountains have cable cars or funiculars that can bring you up to the top as well, and though that is fun, too, it is more expensive. So hiking is not only a great way to save money in pricey Switzerland, it is also the best activity to feel wonderfully exhausted and tired. Because it is so worth it!
Read about Arzo’s best things to do in Switzerland HERE.
UK Bucket List Tips
Although the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, they still are a major player in many a Europe Bucket List!
A Seaside Holiday in Devon England
Jo from Lifestyle Fifty talks about how to get from London Heathrow to Devon for an English seaside holiday.
When I visit my family in South West England, I always toss up, “Train or Coach” if I’m flying to Heathrow Airport.
Travelling by train is quicker, but also more expensive, and it involves station changes, whereas coach (National Express) goes all the way from Heathrow to my home town (important with a heavy suitcase) and is a fraction of the cost.
This year a train ticket to Devon cost 46.00 pounds sterling booked well in advance (over 100.00 pounds if booked closer to departure date) as opposed to around 11.00 – 25.00 pounds on the coach depending on when it’s booked.
I caught the train this time which involves getting on the underground tube (or the more expensive Heathrow Express) from Heathrow to Paddington, catching a train to Exeter, and then changing at Exeter St David’s to get on the ‘milk train’ which stops at all the gorgeous small stations along route to Barnstaple. Although this was a pretty journey, I believe the coach would is more relaxing after a long flight in the long run.
Barnstaple is a great jumping off point for travelling around North Devon.
You can do a lot on a small budget in Devon because there are such beautiful natural sights and much history to discover. For me, I love the literary history. Devon has inspired writers through the ages, and novelists including Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Williamson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Rudyard Kipling and Michael Morpurgo have lived, or had associations with Devon at some stage in their careers.
I love the coastal walks with soaring cliffs and green hillsides. Quaint villages with whitewashed cottages and pretty country gardens complete the scene.
Favourite places for a walk include Ilfracombe, Morthoe, Woolacombe and Croyde, while the ancient fishing village of Clovelly which falls down the hillside towards the sea, will always hold a place in my heart.
Camping in Scotland
Laurence from Finding the Universe talks about Cost Effective Camping in Scotland.
The North Coast 500 is one of the most popular driving routes in the UK – and for good reason! Stretching for 500 miles around Scotland’s North Coast (hence the name!), this circular driving route takes in some of the best that Scotland has to offer – from fairytale castles to highland coos to iron age dwellings to spectacular scenery.
It also really does have something for everyone. There are glistening white sand beaches, epic hiking opportunities, cultural attractions and of course, lots of delicious Scottish foods to savour including salmon and haggis!
The route is perfect as a self-drive adventure, and we recommend spending five to seven days as a minimum exploring it if you want to really enjoy your adventure. It can also be done on a budget, either by booking hostels or bed and breakfasts along the way or, if you want to get back to nature, by choosing to camp for all or part of your trip.
The most cost effective way of camping is to use a car and have a tent. For ideas on sight-seeing and routes, as well as accommodation options along the way, check out our 7 day North Coast 500 itinerary, which focuses on travelling the route and camping along the way.
Put Sky Garden on your London Bucket List
Hadas from the Fashion Matters
The view from Sky Garden is one of the best views of London skyline. Sky Garden was designed by award-winning landscape architecture practice Gillespies. The garden includes flowers that flourish all year round and Mediterranean and South African plans – and the best thing about it? It is completely free. But beware, as you do need to book a ticket in advance on their website.
Sky Garden is located at the upper floor of 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as The Walkie Talkie building and is literally a garden in the sky designed to create an open and unique space for visitors. It features panorama views of London, bars where you can indulge in a drink while overlooking the views, and even two fine-dinning restaurants.
Visitors get to wander around the garden and observation decks and even enjoy an open air terrace if the weather permits. A free visit to Sky Garden is a great alternative to the view from the Shard, which is rather costly. Don’t miss a visit to Sky Garden while visiting London.
Visit Kiev Ukraine
Kami from My Wanderlust
For few years now, after the local currency dropped significantly, Kiev, Ukraine is among the cheapest capitals in Europe. You pay so little for just about everything (accommodation, food, activities, transportation) and in exchange you get great quality of service.
Contrary to the popular belief, Kiev is a safe city with much to offer for cheap bucket list ideas. I actually find it to be one of the most fascinating places in Europe and there are so many reasons to visit Kiev!
From a long and interesting history to beautiful architecture (golden domes churches, art nouveau houses, brutalism gems and more), from great culinary experiences to amazing street art scenes and cool hipster spots – Kiev has it all.
To give you some example costs – you can get a really good accommodation in the centre for 100USD/night, have a solid lunch or dinner for 10USD, metro ticket is 0,30USD and coffee less than 2USD – that’s how cheap Kiev is!
To see most of the highlights of the city you need at least a weekend and preferably more. Not only will it not drain your wallet, but I bet you will like the city so much you will plan your next trip to Kiev very soon.
The last suggestion is for something that is on my bucket list of things to do in Europe.
Explore Europe by Campervan
Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine.
Read budget travel tips from a Travel Blogger who spent five months exploring Europe by Campervan. The below photo is taken near Kotor, Montenegro.
Whether your Europe bucket list includes city stops, beach time, hiking in the mountains or a bit of everything, travel by campervan is one of the best ways to visit Europe on a budget. Free to choose your path and explore at your own pace, it is a rewarding experience.
Travel to Europe can be expensive which is why exploring by campervan is such a great way to see more for less. Travel slow to reduce petrol costs, free camp at farms or wineries to save money on accommodation. Cook your meals with local produce to save money on food. Europeans have been traveling by campervan for generations and the continent is well set up for van travellers.
Established accommodation networks like France Passion mean you can stay in gorgeous farms and vineyards for free. Many towns all across Europe offer Aires as a cheap alternative to campgrounds. Many countries turn a blind eye to people free camping wild near beaches and in the mountains.
Our best tips? Take your time. Don’t book in advance when you campervan around Europe. Ask for advice from the locals and venture off the beaten path. Some of our favourite experiences in Europe were in places we had never considered visiting before we arrived. Like Durmitor National Park in Montenegro, Valencia in Spain, Mayrhofen in Austria and Lake Bohinj in Slovenia.
Lovely – you’re still here.
You must be as serious about fine tuning your Europe holiday list as we are. There are some great suggestions here and we will be trying them out.
Feel free to ask questions and don’t hesitate to contact us on the Budget Travel Talk facebook page.
At Budget Travel Talk, we love a good bargain as much as we do the finer things in life – like meeting lovely people when we travel. We get our kicks house-sitting, staying in the homes of local people and finding unique, friendly and affordable accommodation, preferably with a view! Boats and the ocean play a big part in our life and we’re crazy road trip enthusiasts.
Read a sample of our budget travels in Europe:
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