Are you traveling to Europe on a tight budget? For most travelers, accommodation eats up a significant part of their travel budget. In order to make your euros stretch as far as possible, you need to familiarize yourself with cheap accommodation in Europe.
From cheap alternatives to hotels to free places to stay the night, this guide breaks down everything you need to know about cheap places to stay in Europe.
Image Credit: Unsplash (Text Overlay: Backpacking Brunette)
If you’re traveling to Europe for the first time, it probably feels like you have a million decisions to make.
But, where you hang your hat (and by “hat” I mean the underwear you hand-wash in the sink) is probably one of the most important.
For anyone traveling to Europe on a tight budget, accommodation costs will make or break your trip.
Even though money is important, that doesn’t mean you should choose the cheapest place to stay every time.
When choosing your accommodation, you should take into account the type of experience you’re looking for. I’ve fallen in love with cities all because I was staying in the right place.
Free places to stay the night: Couchsurfing
What is it? Couchsurfing is a social networking site which primarily serves to connect travelers with hosts in cities around the world.
>> Curious about Couchsurfing? Check out THIS GUIDE with everything you need to know about sleeping on strangers’ couches! <<
Approximate cost: There is no monetary exchange between hosts and guests. If you’re a backpacker, it’s hard to say no to a free place to stay the night in Europe!
Pros: You get the chance to discover a city from a local’s point of view. I used Couchsurfing when I was traveling solo because I wanted to make new friends. I had amazing hosts who went out of their way to make me feel at home!
>> Read all about my Couchsurfing experience in Poland in THIS POST! <<
Cons: I’ve slept on some comfy couches, but I’ve also slept on the floor. As a solo female traveler, I only felt comfortable staying with other women which significantly cut down the host pool. Because it’s free, it’s also a little unreliable. I wanted to use Couchsurfing in Berlin but never found a host.
So, I recommend working in Couchsurfing here and there when you can but not relying on it completely.
Staying in hostels in Europe
What is it? Since my first backpacking trip in 2014, I’ve stayed in nearly 100 hostels. In a standard hostel, it’s dorm-style sleeping (aka bunk beds) and community bathrooms. However, times be changing. If you’re willing to pay a bit extra, options include single-sex and private rooms.
>> Never stayed in a hostel? Learn what it’s really like to stay in a hostel in Europe in THIS POST! <<
How much do hostels in Europe cost? It depends on the city and how many people you’re sharing a room with. In Europe, the cheapest hostel I ever stayed in was in Munich. I only paid €9 a night! Keep in mind, though, it was a giant circus tent with 200 beds.
Pros: Hostels are a fun environment for travelers to meet and interact. I’ve had some of the best nights of my life with people I met in hostels! Staying in a hostel is an experience I think every traveler should have.
Cons: Before you book a hostel, read the recommendations to get a feel for its vibe. If you need a good night’s sleep, don’t stay somewhere that has a party reputation. If you’re a solo traveler looking to make friends, stay somewhere that cultivates a friendly atmosphere. Regardless of where you stay, LOCK YOUR SHIT UP. Theft can definitely be a problem in hostels.
Where to stay in Europe: Airbnbs
What is it? Airbnb rents short-term lodging such as apartments, cottages and spare bedrooms.
Approximate cost: Prices vary widely depending on location and size, but the great thing is you can split the cost among your travel buddies.
Pros: After hostels, Airbnbs are the accommodation I rely on most frequently when I’m traveling. I especially like renting an Airbnb when I’m traveling with a group of friends. It’s so nice to have our own space to cook meals and hang out.
Cons: While I’ve had mostly positive experiences with Airbnb, it hasn’t been without its problems. The issues have generally been small like the time in Sevilla when the host couldn’t let me in at the scheduled time because they were “still cleaning.” The worst was when my host in the Canary Islands lied in her description of the property. She said it was an entire apartment, but in reality, we had to share it with her and her husband. Awkward.
Cheap alternatives to hotels in Europe
What is it? A budget hotel is like an expensive, nice hotel but not expensive and not nice. It’s important to consider all your options when looking for cheap accommodation in Europe!
Approximate cost: I wanted to include budget hotels in this roundup because sometimes they really are your cheapest accommodation in Europe. Especially for couples. In popular destinations like Amsterdam, a bed in a hostel can run you €30–€40. Double that as a couple and you’re spending more than you would for your own room at a cheap hotel.
Pros: A few years back, my boyfriend and I visited Cinque Terre, a popular destination on the Italian Riviera. There weren’t any hostels, and the Airbnbs were all booked up (not to mention out of our price range). Fortunately, we found a budget hotel. It had bad lighting, was severely outdated and located a town over. However, those things were quickly forgotten when we were out hiking the coastline.
Cons: The most affordable hotels are often located outside the city center. You could end up spending whatever you saved with your room on just trying to get downtown. Or, like my experience in Cinque Terre, your willingness to use public transportation could save you money in the long run!
Cheap accommodation in Europe
Whether you’re traveling to Europe for the first time or consider yourself a seasoned backpacker, it’s important to weigh all your options when deciding where to stay in Europe. Every trip is different. Every destination is different. But, one thing remains the same: traveling to Europe on a tight budget means you need to be smart about where you stay!
This backpacker believes finding cheap accommodation in Europe is part of the adventure.
Got anything to add? Where do you like to stay when you’re traveling in Europe? Let me know in the comments!
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