In terms of land area, Europe is one-fourth the size of Asia and one-third the size of Africa. But why do travelers from all parts of the world still choose the cities in this continent as their dream travel destination? It could be due to the age-old civilizations that still exist in Europe.
It’s home to party cities, fascinating history and exotic lands which you only read in books. The charm and sophistication of the popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations here are also paralleled, making a European vacation is the ultimate item in everyone’s bucket list.
What Are the Top Vacation Destinations in Europe?
No matter which part of the world it is that you’re from, you are bound to have the ultimate fun in visiting Europe. If you’re looking for a unique touristy experience, head over to Budapest to sample 16th century Turkish baths. In Cinque Terre, Italy, the gorgeously rugged coastline of Liguria is a sight to behold.
Photographers would have a blast snapping pictures at the 15th century UNESCO World Heritage site called Old Town in Bern, Switzerland while the romantics-at-heart would love the landscape of Marseille, France.
To give you an idea about which places you should include in your European travel bucket list, here are the top vacation destinations on the continent:
Is It Cheaper to Travel to Europe These Days?
If you do wish to travel to Europe, the number one thing that may make you hesitant is the total cost involved. Those who live in the United States would be not-so-glad to know that the exchange rate between the US dollar and British pounds is quite challenging. Even if you would like to spend lavishly on a chic Parisian vacation, the money involved might put you off.
The good news is that there are ways to go around the challenging exchange rate. Summer is the best time of the year to travel to Europe, but it is also the high season, so you would need to be resourceful in getting good travel deals.
Cheaper flights are brought about by the EU-US Open Skies air transport agreement which was implemented in March 2008. The agreement led to more international carriers flying from the US to European hubs. The more carriers there are offering flights, the better your cheap flight options are as a passenger.
Aside from the cheaper flight options, there are also plenty of accommodations options that you can choose of. Even if you don’t want to bunk with strangers at a hostel, there are other living arrangements when traveling around Europe which will give you the best value for your money.
Read on to find out about the specific ways that you can save money when traveling to Europe.
How to Save Money When Traveling to Europe
If you are not resourceful enough, traveling to any city in Europe will cost you an arm and a leg. It is one of the most expensive regions in the world to explore.
When you book hotel rooms in Paris, London, Moscow and other major cities here, the cost are sky-high, especially around the capital. Even tickets to tourist attractions, transportation, and food in restaurants are way above a regular traveler’s budget.
So how can you save money when traveling to the region? Take a look at the following tips:
Plan your European vacation way in advance
As a result of the Open Skies agreement, more airline carriers started offering flights to Europe. If you wish to save money on your trip to Europe, you can book your flights way in advance – six to seven weeks before the travel date is ideal.
Take your pick from airlines like United, Delta, US Airways, RyanAir, easyJet and Air France. Sign up for the newsletters of these airline companies so you would know when they offer discounted rates for flights. You can also plan your itinerary in advance, make reservations to tourist attractions, book your hotel, etc.
Instead of flitting from one European city to another, focus on one concentrated area and spend multiple days there
Perhaps one of the reasons why travelers get tired after coming home from a supposedly relaxing vacation is that they try to pack in as much of the sightseeing attractions as possible. Not only will this make you tired at the end of each day, but it will also exhaust your funds. This is especially true when you’re traveling to an expensive city like Europe.
So how are you supposed to save money during your trip? Instead of flitting from one city to another, spend your time in a concentrated area and stay there for a good number of days. You won’t really have a feel for what it is that makes a place tick if you only breeze through it.
If your destination is Copenhagen, Denmark, you can participate in their bike sharing program, attend the largest music event in the city or be in awe of the surprisingly modern museums. If there is a neighboring city or country that you wish to visit, it still pays to spend at least two days there before venturing forward.
Learn how to save on entrance tickets, passes, and other tourist attractions
No matter which part of your European vacation it is that you are planning, always get quotes in US dollars if you’re an American. This way, you will not find any surprise charges on your credit card statement once the bill arrives.
To save on entrance tickets and passes, book them in advance. Or, choose certain days and times when the museums offer free admission. Let’s say that you would like to see the Louvre masterpieces – entrance at the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month, as well as July 14th which is Bastille Day.
When purchasing passes, check out the official tourism websites of the European city you are visiting. They usually offer special discount cards that include free admissions to museums, guided tours, tourist attractions and even public transportation. However, this will only give you the best value for your money if you wish to visit all the major tourist attractions in the city.
If you only want to visit one or two museums, paying individual prices will be much cheaper.
Take public transportation whenever possible
Most major cities in Europe have a comprehensive network of trains and local buses, so you can easily go from point A to point B without having to drive a rental car. If you must drive a rental car, do it in advance and only for the day that you need it. Remember that gas prices in the region are way higher than in the US, not to mention the per day cost of driving a rental.
The same thing holds true for cabs – steer clear of them as much as possible. If you can, walk from one place to another while taking public transport. You can also check if the place you’re heading to has a Eurail pass available, this will save you a lot of money.
Know where and what to eat
If you are aware that you will walk for quite a distance, purchase bottled water, snacks, and fruits from grocery stores. These items will cost even double once you hit your tourist destination spots.
If you must eat at a restaurant, leave a 10% tip instead of the 15 to 20% that you’re used to in the US. Locals don’t even leave any extra amount if a service charge has already been added to the bill.
If you want to drink some of the local wine, purchase a bottle from a local store and bring it back to your hotel, rather than ordering room service. Make friends with the locals so that you can ask them where to get some good but cheap grub.
Know where to stay
Unless there’s a good budget hotel where you can stay, it is better to go for cheaper alternative accommodations. Choose vacation rentals, hostels or accommodations outside the city center. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even visit the couch surfing sites where you can find a place to park your backpacks at night without having to spend too much.
Learn as much as you can about the places that you wish to visit – create an itinerary, but still be flexible with your schedule
Lastly, learn as much as you can about the European city that you wish to visit. It’s good to create an itinerary so that you would have an idea about where to go, but also make room in your schedule for spontaneous activities. There’s no matching the experience that you will get when traveling to Europe, so start saving up for it and plan your vacation right now!