Traveling in Western Europe on 100€ a Day

Traveling throughout Europe can actually be quite cheap if you do your research and reserve/buy certain things in advance. Here’s a rundown of the costs for my two week trip. We spent 3 nights in Brussels, 2 in Amsterdam, 2 in Köln, 3 in Munich and 4 in Strasbourg. I paid for one hotel and all major train tickets in advance to take advantage of lower prices and special deals.

Money

Hotels: I try to stay in apartment or residence hotels that have a kitchenette, mostly because I hate eating in restaurants all the time, but also because it is much, much cheaper to buy your own groceries. For example, we stayed at Citadines in Brussels for €39.50 per person per night and at Citéa in Strasbourg for 37.50€. If you can’t find any apartment hotels, you can always try private rooms in hostels that have access to a guest kitchen, like at Flying Pig in Amsterdam, or book private accommodation at regular apartments owned by individuals. Staying in dorms at hostels is obviously a cheaper option (some places are only 8-10€ for a bed), but not such a good idea when you have severe insomnia and are a huge germaphobe (that would be me). Couchsurfing is of course the cheapest option of them all (free!)

Total price for hotels for 14 nights = 575€

Trains: Buy long-distance train tickets 3 months in advance for the lowest price. This means you have to be prepared and know your exact dates, but it is worth it. For shorter trips on regional trains, the price doesn’t change so you can just buy it at the station (such as a day trip to Bonn from Köln). I made sure to buy all of our train tickets as soon as I possibly could and these were the prices:

Chambéry-Paris: 22€
Paris-Brussels: 25€
Brussels-Amsterdam: 25€
Amsterdam-Köln: 21.50€
Köln-Mannheim: 29€
Mannheim-Paris: 39€
Paris-Chambéry: 22€

We also rented a car in Mannheim to use for a week while we were in Munich and Strasbourg and the price was 111€ per person, plus we both paid around 70€ for gas and NOTHING for tolls since Germany does not make you pay to drive on their roads (unlike France, or Switzerland or Austria with their stupid vignettes). I think we paid around 75€ for other trains for day-trips to Bruges, Bonn, Düsseldorf and public transportation in Brussels, Munich and Strasbourg.

SNCB

Alternatively, I could have met Michelle in Brussels instead of Paris since there’s an Easyjet route from Geneva for as low as 25€. But I would have to factor in another 18€ for the trains to Geneva airport, whereas my train to Paris was 22€ and I could take as many liquids as I wanted. Not having to deal with other air passengers, metal detectors and the liquid ban is worth an extra 4€ to me.

Total transportation costs = 440€

Food: Because of the kitchenette, we always ate breakfast and dinner at the hotel and a few of the places actually had free breakfast included. For lunch, we would usually just buy something light, like sandwiches, especially on days when we would be on the train heading to a new city. Every once in a while we did have an actual meal at a restaurant, but I never spent more than 10-12€. Buying breakfast and dinner at grocery stores was incredibly cheap and I would say we never spent more than 8-10€ for those two meals each day.

Total estimate = 250€ (this is probably a bit high)

Admission: Admission to Mini Europe was 13,10€ and Europa Park was 35€, which were our biggest expenses. Anne Frank House was 8.50€, the waterfalls in Triberg were only 3.50€ and Dachau was free. The rest of the time we stayed outside since we’re more into architecture and nature than museums.  We did do a bus tour when we were in Köln (because I had blisters!) for 11€ but normally we walk everywhere.

Mini Europe

Total = about 75€

Souvenirs: Stamps to the US from Germany are 1€, from the Netherlands 0.92€, and from France 0.85€ so I’d recommend mailing your postcards from here unless you really want stamps from other countries.  I didn’t buy too many things to bring home because my suitcase and backpack were already full.

Total = about 60€

…which brings us to a grand total of about 1,400€ for 14 days away from home.  I basically saved 115€ per month for the year to pay for the trip. We got to explore 12 cities in 4 countries (sorry Luxembourg, maybe next time) so to me, it was definitely worth it.

I’ll be updating my Contributions on TripAdvisor with all 5 hotel reviews and my Travel Tips page with information on traveling around the cities I visited in a few days!

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  • http://www.ikindalikelanguages.com lyzazel

    Well, last year I did a 28 day trip from Southern Portugal to central Lithuania and everything inbetween for about €800 which comes out as about €30 per day (for one person). I guess using Interrail, hostels, and trying to cook food for yourself there does help. :)

  • ielanguages

    Awesome! Yeah we couldn't do hostels (we're both too finicky for shared bathrooms lol) but I definitely could have spent less on everything else if I wanted to. 30€ a day is a very cheap trip!

  • Crystal

    hey jennie, very interesting breakdown of your trip and I appreciated the travel tips. I'd love to see more of Germany, but with Max's job, it's hard booking anything in advance. Loved the photos on Facebook too :)

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    That's not bad at all, even though 1,400 euro was more than enough for at least 2 months in Central and South America! Yes, Europe is expensive but you are right, it doesn't have to be super expensive.

    The train is a major expense and yes, buying really ahead of time helps if you know your plans.

  • Anonymous

    Great tips! I also like to buy stamps as souvenirs, and I’ll occasionally buy postcards as souvenirs as well, especially at museums. For lodging, have you tried using a site called Tripping (http://www.tripping.com)? It’s also free, and it’s got a whole safety aspect that I like; they have this program called TripSafe, where I think they’re still developing it (the site’s still in beta), but they have this safety feature where you can contact sos@tripping.com if you’re in trouble. As a petite gal, I find this really reassuring – just on the .001% chance that something goes wrong.

  • http://www.confituredulait.blogspot.com MilkJam

    I do have to disagree on one thing, those vignettes in Switzerland and Austria are AMAZING!!!! I totally wish France would get on the ball! Luckly in basse normandie all the roads are free except for the one Caen-Paris but I would rather spend x amount per year and just know I can go anywhere (even by region? west, south, east, north?) instead of thinking that if we want to go to Paris we have to factor in that cost. Smart Swiss and Austrians, saves long lines at tolls too…

    That said I don't think it is very convient for a tourist but what are you going to do? When in Rome… I wonder if you rent a Swiss car I would assume the vignette would be included?

  • http://LifeByExperimentation.com Zane the Experimenter

    Woah, 100 euros a day!?  That seems VERY expensive to me.  I just went on a cruise in Sweden for exactly $27.61 USD per day, including everything right down to cell phone minutes and metro passes.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent 100 euros per day, including in Spain/France/Germany.  But, it seems like you were attempting to see everything in short order so it cost more (I usually just meander about to wherever catches my eye, so the cost of transit gets distributed over a greater time period).

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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