In this post, I’ll tell you about my experience with planning a trip to Europe on budget and share with you our 16 day itinerary for Europe.
Everybody knows Europe is a MUST for a traveller, because, well, none of the continents has as much heritage as Europe. However, Europe has a considerable amount of countries and visiting all of them when you only have a month of annual leave (or even two weeks) is not possible. That means sacrifices should be made. You must choose very carefully, what do you want to see and how to make the trip go smoothly and as planned. We want to help you as much as we can, and that’s why we’re sharing our 16-day itinerary for Europe on budget.
Don’t forget to pack these European travel essentials! The necessary plugs: US-Europe plug or UK-Europe plug (or better buy this adaptor suitable to pretty much all the countries around the world); European sim card with data, an anti-theft backpack (just in case, as touristy places are full of pick-pocketers) and a discrete travel pouch to keep your wallet & documents safe. Better safe than sorry!
This post's overview:
Seems like it’s been yesterday but already 1 year has passed since we organized and completed a great Eurotrip with one of me best friends, Kate.
We wanted to see as much as we could during 16 days we had assigned for this trip. I was studying in Edinburgh and had Christmas break and she was working in St. Petersburg, Russia at that time and had taken her annual leave. Our budget was not very impressive: around 30 euros/day excluding tickets and accommodation, so this trip definitely belongs to the “budget traveling” section. However, 30 euros a day was just fine for our 16 day itinerary for Europe on budget.
We weren’t even sure about the destinations, so after a careful two-day planning process we finally got our travel itinerary, which was mostly based on prices of the flights we were going to take.
Our starting point: Amsterdam
We found out, that the best starting point would be Amsterdam since the flight was cheap for both of us. Amsterdam has a huge international airport and KLM usually has great fares. Check the price for flights to Amsterdam now. Then we decided to go to Brussels because it’s very close to Amsterdam (and also very beautiful). You just have to take a 3-hour bus ride – and voila, you’re in the capital of Belgium! Besides the price of the ticket was just hilarious: 1 euro! We were among the first who bought the tickets for this ride with MEGABUS, that was very lucky!
Tip: book bus tickets in advance! We bought our tickets 2 months in advance. That’s why the price was so amazing.
So we assigned just one day to Amsterdam (just to walk around) and 2 days for Brussels.
Again, we thought: where could we go next?
The only possible option seemed to be Paris.
So well, we bought a speed train ticket (check the availability now) which would deliver us to Paris within just 1,5 hours. We intended to spend 6 days in Paris including Christmas and then… And then it was unclear.
We still had 8 spare days left, and the tickets seemed to be not as cheap as we had expected. After very careful consideration, we decided to go to Spain for almost a week. We found some good-priced tickets from Paris to Sevilla via Ryanair and decided to stay there for 2 nights and then head to Madrid. The speed train ride from Madrid to Sevilla takes only 2.5-3 hours. The tickets sell out quickly though, so make sure to check the dates in advance. Here’s the link to the train.
From Madrid, it was possible to reach some smaller but nonetheless amazing cities like Segovia and Toledo.
My travel year (2018) in review (video)
2018 had its ups and downs! Read more about the year in review for me here or watch this video below.
Madrid and… Poland?
In Madrid, we would stay 5 nights including the New Year’s night. Moreover, we expected the New Year celebration there to be amazing (previously I’ve celebrated New Years away from home, in Germany and in Austria and they were great). Read more about our experience celebrating the New Year in Madrid here.
Up until this moment, we were satisfied with our plan. But then… We realized that we’re stuck in Madrid and it’s impossible to get neither to Saint Petersburg nor to Edinburgh on a budget.
What was left to do? Browse some additional destinations to add to our Eurotrip! That’s how we found Poland. The Ryanair ticket price was again very cheap & great and yes, it was possible to go East from Poland for 50 euros (since I decided to visit my hometown, St. Petersburg, for 5 days I had left from my Christmas holidays). We assigned only one day to Poland and bought tickets to Saint Petersburg through Skyscanner.
accomodation for our trip
Everything was done circa 3 months in advance, excluding some train tickets and bus tickets (the booking system would only open 2 months before intended date of the ride). Once we were sure about the flights (in my opinion, the flights are the most important aspect of the trip since their prices tend to be the most volatile), we started browsing for accommodation.
Belgium was easy – we were staying for two nights, so we were happy about any double room with shared bathroom, not more than 20 minutes walk from the city center.
We ended up choosing the hostel called Gate d’Etape-Auberge de Jeunesse Jacques Brel. And well, it wasn’t that bad but I wouldn’t come there again – it’s very close to one of the most dangerous districts of Brussels, so when we had occasionally taken a wrong turn and got there, it was super scary.
The choice of accommodation in Paris was a bit harder.
Since we planned to stay there 6 nights including Christmas, all the hotel prices were ridiculously high. That’s when Airbnb helped us a lot. We found an amazing flat in Charenton-le-Pont (it’s a bit outside Paris, but very close to metro, which will deliver you to the city centre within just 40 minutes), and the price was more than great: around 90 euros per person (for 6 nights, can you believe that!). That’s how we managed to spend not that much money during
The accommodation choice in Seville was much more straightforward: we picked a budget hostel with the highest user rating on Booking.com: Flamenka hostel. It looked nice in the pictures and in reality, too. However, there were some downsides, such as the availability of wi-fi only near the lobby, and a shared shower, which quite dirty and the hot water wasn’t there all the time. We were so lucky to be in Seville on Monday when almost all the museums were free for all. I wrote about Monday in Seville in this post!
Just like in Paris, in Madrid, we also booked a room via AirBnb. It was a room in a huge shared flat with a central location (Tirsa Molina), 15 min walk from España square. The host was great: a very friendly old lady, who spoke perfect English. And the room price was also more than great (50€ per person for 5 nights).
In Poland, we booked a hotel close to the airport:
Summary of our Eurotrip
Well, to summarize, I can say, that’s it’s not that easy to plan a Eurotrip, which includes distant locations (e.g. Sevilla and Paris) and which requires a couple of flights. If you want to see as much as possible without hassle and problems, try to stay longer in some of the destinations. I was very satisfied with our 16-day itinerary for Europe: we visited 5 countries but managed to see quite a lot in all of them and get the overall impression (well, maybe I would stay a bit longer in the Netherlands). After this trip, I know where I would like to come back and where the time spent was just enough.
Also, we managed to spend our 30€ a day wisely and from time to time even eat in some nice restaurants (it was especially great in Sevilla, where the prices weren’t high at all). I also think that our 16 day itinerary for Europe on budget was almost perfect.
What would I have liked to change if I could come back and rearrange the trip: well, I definitely wouldn’t have celebrated the New Year in Madrid (here’s why: read this post about New Year in Madrid) and maybe I would have spent 3 days in the Netherlands in order to see some other cities.
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