Europe is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Depending on where you go, and how you travel; the trip can be relatively cheap or expensive. But the question is: how much does it cost to go to Europe?
Well, it really depends. Obviously, a backpacker who’s travelling through Eastern Europe is going to spend a lot less than someone who’s living the high life in London. My budget below is based on average costs for a two week trip in Canadian dollars with stops in four cities. Further down the post I’ll give you tips on how you can save money on various expenses.
Europe budget for 2 weeks
|Flights||$1,800||$900 X 2|
|Additional transportation||$750||$375 X 2|
|Accommodations||$2,100||$150 x 14 days|
|Local transportation||$240||$120 X 2|
|Attractions||$400||$200 X 2|
|Food||$980||$70 X 14 days|
|Random spending||$400||$200 X 2|
Let’s be clear. It’s impossible for me to answer how much does it cost to go to Europe? There are just too many variables. To be honest, I’ve never spent the above “average” cost during any of my trips to Europe. It’s really not that difficult to save money while in Europe, but I wanted to give you an average estimate. My estimates are based on two people travelling together and splitting costs, so expect to pay more if you’re going solo.
One thing to note is the fact that it’s never been cheaper to Europe. At the time of this writing, €1 = CAD $1.43while £1 = CAD $1.68. It’s not exactly a deal, but those rates are trading well below their historic average. If you’re American, you’re getting amazing rates with €1 = US $1.06 while £1 = US $1.24. Check xe.com if you have a different home currency.
Doing Europe for much cheaper is possible, but I don’t recommend it. One of my biggest regrets is not spending more on travel. Can you believe I didn’t try tapas when I was Spain? I was so focused on spending as little as possible that I didn’t think about the experiences. Fortunately, there are many cities and countries in Europe that offer good value such as Budapest and Istanbul.
Airfare – I like to estimate $900 as the average price of airfare to Europe from Toronto. The price will depend on where and when you fly. During the off-season, I’ve seen flights to Amsterdam and Dublin in the mid $600’s (I just booked a roundtrip to Lisbon fr $550). However, if you’re travelling during the summer, flights cost easily hit the 4-digit mark.
Being fully flexible is the best way to find cheap flights. However, there are a few other tricks you can use to save. Booking a multi-destination ticket – that’s where you fly into one city and out of another is often cheaper than a direct ticket. To get to your final destination, you can use trains, or a discount carrier).
Additional flights – Yes it’s true, flights within Europe are incredibly cheap. I once flew from Barcelona to Dublin for just $45! My estimate of $375 is based on 3 flights that cost $125 each. My estimate assumes you booked a multi-destination ticket, hence why you would only need three tickets.
In my opinion, the best site to find your flights is Skyscanner. Not only do they show all the major carriers, but they also have all the discount ones which makes searching easy. Be sure to select “add nearby airports” when doing your searches since you can get better prices, but keep in mind some of them aren’t close to the city.
Trains – Trains can be cheaper, but they can take long, so you just need to do your research. If you’re going to neighbouring countries or taking day trips, I would suspect that taking the train is a better option. There are also multiple rail passes that are good for multiple countries which offer great value, but again, you need to do your research to see if it makes sense for your itinerary.
Local transportation – In every major European city I’ve been in, I’ve found that taking public transportation or walking is the best way to get around. I don’t think I need to explain why taxing taxi’s everywhere is not cost effective. Always research public transportation options in the cities you’ll be visiting.
Hotels – For those who think $150 is expensive, I would argue that it’s on the cheaper end. The reality is, hotels are expensive these days, so getting one for $150 (€105) a night is a pretty good deal. Brand name chains will cost more, so look for independent operators if price is your biggest concern. You can also follow my guide on how to save money on hotels.
Hostels – If you’re backpacking through Europe, then hostels will probably be your choice of accommodation. If you decide to go that route, you should be able to find a good hostel for $25 – $40 a night. This would bring your accommodation costs down from $2100 to as low as $350. Alternatively, there are a lot of great boutique hostels out there that cost more but offer a better experience since they’re competing with hotels and Airbnb.
Airbnb – Since I’m a bit older, I now prefer to use Airbnb. I’ve been able to find private apartments in good locations for about $100 a night. If you’re travelling with kids or family, Airbnb can be a great deal since you should easily be able to find a space that fits your entire party. I do admit that Airbnb has become more expensive over the years, but it’s still a good hotel alternative.
Food – My estimate of $70 a day is a subjective estimate. That works out to $35 per person per day which some people will think is too much while others will think it’s too low. What I personally try to do is balance eating street / fast food with restaurants. I also go to grocery stores to get breakfast and snacks which I find saves me a lot of money. That being said, since I love to eat, I don’t mind spending more when I see something I want.
Attractions – This is where things can get tricky. Attractions aren’t expensive, but if you keep going into them, you’re naturally going to spend more. Try to see if there are any museum passes or free days so you can reduce your costs. Also, don’t obsess with seeing everything. Pick one or two places and just explore the city instead.
Random spending – Many people forget to include shopping when planning their vacation budget. It’s silly to think that you’ll spend nothing on random things; you’re going to buy gifts for people right? It’s not just things you’ll spend money on, you might spend on experiences e.g. a gondola ride or food tour.
So how much does it cost to go to Europe for 2 weeks? You know the answer – it depends! One time I spent just $2,300 because I focused on doing it for as cheap as possible. Another time I spent closer to $8,000 (for 2 people) when visiting just 3 cities. For more tips on how to save money on flights, hotels, food, and currency exchange; refer to my cost of travel series.
Barry Choi is a personal finance and budget travel expert at @barrychoi. He has been quoted in The Financial Post, The Toronto Star, Business Insider and The Globe and Mail. You can follow him on Twitter:
This article originally appeared on Moneywehave.com