How Much Does Backpacking Europe Cost in 2024?

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by Maggie Turansky


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Are you planning a budget trip on the continent and want to know how much will backpacking Europe cost? Look no further.

While Europe is home to some very expensive cities and countries, there are several places where you can visit while pinching pennies to the max and still get the most out of the destination. So how much should you plan to budget for your backpacking adventure?

On average, you expect the cost of backpacking Europe to be approximately €42 – €105 per day (approximately $46 – $115 USD per day). You can expect higher costs in Western Europe with cheaper prices in Central and Eastern Europe.

Obviously, you can expect each country, town, and city in Europe to vary in costs — with the prices in capital cities generally being higher than those in smaller cities and towns. However, the prices listed in this article are an average, meant to be used as a guideline for you to figure out your average budget.

All prices are listed in Euro. To find the current exchange rate in your own currency click here.

View of Prague from the Charles Bridge
View of Prague from the Charles Bridge

Backpacking Europe Cost Guide

The best option for cutting down on your total backpacking through Europe cost would be to travel in the Central and Eastern European countries and the Balkans.

Countries in this region tend to be significantly less expensive than their Western counterparts, they can be visited which leads to fewer tourist crowds and more room to be flexible, and the tourism and transport infrastructure is still quite well-developed so it is fairly easy to get from point A to point B.

There are five main factors that need to be considered for your total cost of backpacking in Europe. These include the cost of accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and entertainment. And before you pack your bags, you need to work out your budget!

Accommodation Costs

So how much does it cost to backpack Europe? Well, the first aspect you need to consider is the price of accommodation. If you’re planning on going the traditional European backpacking route, then you’re probably going to be staying in hostels. This is a fantastic budget option, as beds in hostel dorms are an incredibly affordable accommodation option.

There are also myriad benefits to staying in hostels throughout Europe aside from it being an affordable sleeping option. They are a fantastic place to meet other travellers, which is incredibly beneficial if you’re travelling solo. Many hostels also organise social events in the evenings and offer discounted day trips to nearby attractions.

Also, if you don’t want to stay in a dorm, most hostels also offer private rooms. These really only make sense to stay in if you’re not travelling solo, but it can be a great option if you’re travelling as a couple or in a group and still want the hostel atmosphere with a bit more privacy.

Beds in hostels vary in price and it generally depends on how many beds are in the dorm and where the hostel is located in regards to the city centre. I would recommend finding a hostel that is closest to the attractions in the destination that you want to see, even if it might be a little more expensive.

If you stay in one a bit outside of the city centre, it might be cheaper but you can also end up wasting time and money getting to all of the attractions you want to visit.

European hostel prices start at around €25-50 per night in more expensive cities and €15-25 per night in less expensive cities. If staying longer in certain places, many hostels allow you to volunteer a few hours per day in exchange for accommodation.

You can find these type of opportunities in advance on sites such as Worldpackers or Workaway, or simply ask when you arrive at your destination.

Another great alternative to hostels if you’re travelling as a couple or in a group is Airbnb. Private rooms through Airbnb can oftentimes be less expensive than a private room in a hostel and you get the added benefit of sharing a home with a local and seeing a side to the place you’re visiting that most tourists don’t get to see. 

European backpacker's hostel
Hostels are one of the best options for European budget backpackers

Transportation Costs

The second factor to go into your total cost of backpacking Europe is going to be transportation, which is going to take a big chunk out of your average daily budget.

There are two factors in European transportation costs that need to be considered: one is local, public transportation (ie metros, buses and trams) and the second is inter-city or international transport options (ie trains, buses or flights). We’ll start with the first one.

Most large European cities are blessed with great, affordable public transport systems that can effectively get you from point A to point B.

If there are sites in the city that you want to see that aren’t necessarily within walking distance or if the train/bus station is far from your accommodation, then we strongly suggest you use the city’s public transport system. Not only is it always going to be astronomically more affordable than taking a taxi, it also gives you a chance to experience the city like a local.

In almost every city, you can either purchase single-journey tickets or a travel card. Be sure to take the time to figure out which will be the most cost-effective for you by assessing how often you’re likely to use public transport.

If you only expect to take the bus or metro to and from the train station, then you’re only going to need to buy a single ticket. However, if you intend to use it multiple times per day during your stay, then it will most likely make more sense to get a travel card. Each city’s pricing system is different, but information on costs are widely available online.

tram in prague
Local public transport is an affordable way to get around

The second aspect of transport you need to consider is inter-city/international travel. This can come in a few forms, the most common of which for European backpackers is the train.

Train travel is a great option throughout most of Europe as trains are frequent, comfortable, and relatively reliable.

Prices for inter-city or international train travel can vary depending on which country you are in and the distance you are travelling, but it’s safe to say that you can expect a longer, international journey to cost somewhere around €20-50 (depending on distance and the country you’re travelling in) and a shorter, domestic journey to cost about €10-20.

If you’re on a tight budget, booking train journeys in advance can save money while obviously sacrificing flexibility. We suggest using Omio to check prices.

Alternatively, if you’re planning on using the train extensively over a short period of time, a Eurail or Interrail pass can be incredibly good value. If you’re living outside of Europe, you can click here to browse Eurail passes. Alternatively, if you’re based in Europe, click here to browse Interrail passes.

Buses are also widely available throughout Europe and are often slightly cheaper (around 10%) than the train, though journey times can take a bit longer and they tend to be less comfortable. However, they can be more budget-friendly.

The only real exception to this would be in Romania and Bulgaria, where buses are significantly faster than trains and also a lot more comfortable. In Balkan countries like Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, bus travel is most likely going to be the only option as the train system is either (in some cases) non-existent or poorly developed.

In many European countries, you can find inter-city bus schedules on Omio or using Flixbus.

Serdika in Sofia, Bulgaria
Lovely Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city

Food Costs

You need to eat while backpacking through Europe and, unfortunately, food costs money. But how much? Well, like everything else, food prices in Europe can vary and it depends on your habits and wants.

If you want to really pinch pennies and make your hard-earned cash last as long as possible, then I would recommend a) staying in a hostel that provides breakfast, b) eating street food for lunch or making your own, and c) cooking dinner for yourself. If you follow this meal plan, you need only budget about €10-15 per day for food.

If you’re backpacking long-term or are just on a strict budget, I would wholeheartedly recommend doing this for the majority of the days of your trip. However, there are times when you want to go out for dinner or eat at a nicer restaurant.

It’s hard to put a price on how much a meal in a restaurant will cost when backpacking in Europe, as prices can really vary between cities.

However, if you want to budget for the occasional splurge, I would say to allot about €10-20 per day for meals on average. This gives you room to splash out at a mid-range restaurant from time to time and you can make up for it by cooking pasta some nights.

Farmer's market in Liepaja, Latvia
Getting breakfast or lunch from a local market is also a great money-saving tip

Activity Costs

Okay, so we’ve covered the basics for your daily budget backpacking around Europe — but you don’t plan on just sitting in the hostel for your entire trip, do you? In which case, you’re going to need to know how much varying activities are going to cost – especially if you’re trying to visit Europe on a budget.

Well, as it turns out, a lot of the best sightseeing activities in Europe happen to be free (or at least quite affordable). The best thing that we like to do in any new city is to go on a free walking tour, which are available in pretty much every major European city. The tours themselves, as the name suggests, are free, but the guides work for tips.

While there is generally very little pressure to tip after the tour is over, this is how the guides make a living so it would be a pretty poor move not to throw at least a couple of Euro in at the end. Generally, we tend to tip €10-15 depending on how good we thought the tour was and the average prices in the city.

Mdina, Malta
Getting lost in alleys is one of the best (and cheapest!) things to do in Europe!

If you’re keen to get a bit cultural and want to visit all of the fantastic museums there are to choose from in European cities. Museum entry fees, like everything else, can vary. Many state-run museums are free to visitors, however, if they do have an entry fee, it’s usually somewhere around €5 – 15.

All in all, I think that it’s safe to budget about €5 – 10 per day for activities, depending on what you plan to do on your backpacking Europe trip.

Entertainment Costs

The last thing you need to consider in your daily costs for backpacking through Europe is the price of entertainment. How much you spend on this really depends on your habits.

If you’re young and travelling to Europe solely because you want to party in a new location, then it might be smart to set aside a sizeable portion of your budget for this purpose.

If you, however, only want to party on occasion and not every night, then you’ll find that most cities in Central and Eastern Europe to be quite affordable for a night out.

Beer and wine prices can vary drastically depending on where you are in Europe. You can generally expect to pay somewhere around €2.50 – 3.50 for a pint of beer depending on where you are (local is always cheaper than imported) and expect the same prices for a glass of wine.

Cocktails can be a bit more expensive, landing somewhere around €5 – 6 in Central and Eastern Europe, €8 – 10 in much of Southern and Western Europe and upwards of €10 – 15 in the Nordics.

Ruin bar in Budapest
A beer at a bar is always more expensive than one from a supermarket!

If you want to have a couple of drinks with all of those new friends you’ve made at the hostel but still want to stick to a tight budget, it can be a huge cost-saver to purchase your booze at the supermarket.

It will always be around 20% cheaper to do this rather than drinking at a bar. And, generally, it may be a good idea to avoid cocktails while in Western and Northern Europe.

Average Daily Cost of Backpacking Europe

On average, this is how much I would recommend you budget, per day, while backpacking through Europe.

This is assuming you stay in hostel dorms, only travel long distances once or twice per week and don’t take public transport every day, plan to cook the majority of your meals, but still want to account for the occasional splurge and don’t drink or party every night.

Accommodation: €15-50 / night

Transportation: €7-15 / day

Food: €10-20 / day

Activities: €5-10 / day

Entertainment: €5-10 / day

On average, I would think it’s safe to budget for somewhere around €42-105 for your daily backpacking budget. There are certainly ways that you can spend even less money and, obviously, countless ways that you can spend more.

But, in general, if you expect to spend about this amount every day, it is enough to enjoy a backpacking trip through Europe to its fullest!

Another thing to consider while backpacking through Europe is travel insurance. World Nomads offers flexible and simple travel insurance policies with coverage for more than 150 activities that you can buy or extend while on the road.

If you’re travelling on a tight budget and long-term then SafetyWing is another good option to consider for a travel medical insurance policy. Click here to get a quote from SafetyWing.

Chain Bridge seperating Buda and Pest
Chain Bridge in Budapest

Backpacking through Europe does not have to be an expensive experience. Quite the contrary! If you’re smart about where and how you spend your money, you may find that your total cost of backpacking Europe won’t break the bank!

Have you backpacked through Europe? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Comments

  1. Thank you for the read. Good to see a 2018 update on this. I’ll be making a trip around central and geographical eastern Europe in 2 months time, starting from Czechia, Slovakia then going down to Hungary, all through Balkans, then up again through Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania. I’ve estimated a budget of £42/€47/$54 per day AFTER transportation costs BETWEEN countries. Hopefully it will all work out.

    Reply
    • Hey Kieran, thanks for your comment and glad you found the article helpful! Depending on your travel style, I think that a budget of £42/day (especially if you’re factoring out transport costs) should get you by very comfortably in that area of the world. We track our travel costs pretty closely and generally spend about £10 less total per day than your estimated budget. Obviously, some countries/cities on your itinerary are going to be more expensive than others (Prague, for instance, is noticeably more expensive than elsewhere in the country) but I think you’ve got a solid handle on your budget that will definitely allow for some splurges here and there. Hope you have a great trip!

      Reply

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