Backpacking in Europe on a Tight Budget

Don’t have much to spend for a backpacking adventure? There’s no need to get your money belt in a twist! With this helpful guide you can discover just how little it can cost to explore some parts of Europe.

We’ve highlighted some of the best budget backpacking destinations in the continent and taken a look at some typical prices of the three essentials: accommodation, food and travel. You’ll find that prices will be a little cheaper outside of peak season (June-August) but even during these times, the countries mentioned below won’t set you back a lot.

Our top four budget destinations in Europe

1) Croatia – An incredibly diverse landscape, plenty of coast line and a growing interest in local cuisine have helped Croatia to become one of the fastest growing holiday destinations.

You rarely feel the place is over-run by tourists however, some of their beautiful archipelagos and national parks look almost untouched by human life. The waters of the Adriatic Sea glisten here, looking truly glorious on a sunny day. Much of Game of Thrones was filmed in Croatia’s beautiful landscape and for good reason.

Highlights: Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice Lakes


2) Romania – Bucharest is what Romania is most known for and there’s an abundance of things to do in the thriving capital city. With a reputation for great night life, it’s little wonder why it’s such a hit among young travellers too. Many who explore the country are impressed with how developed the major cities are but they often find that the true beauty lies in the small towns and villages that lie outside. In these more remote areas, it’s far easier to see examples of traditional Romanian culture.

Highlights: Bucharest, Bran Castle, Danube Delta

3) Bosnia and Herzegovina – While there are saddening reminders of the civil war that took place in this nation during the 1990s, it’s far from the only thing the country offers. It boasts a fascinating blend of culture with influences from both the east and west plus some stunning landscapes. There’s plenty of water to enjoy too but less so in the form of beaches and more in the form of tranquil rivers and powerful waterfalls.

Highlights: Sarajevo, Mostar, Strbacki Buk

4) Poland

Krakow squareOffering many of the facilities of Western Europe but without the price tag, Poland is becoming an increasing popular place to visit for all types of travellers. Krakow has become a popular party destination but it’s a place full of charm and history having not been badly damaged by WW2. History buffs are sure to be fascinated by the country’s past and Poland refuses to turn a blind eye to the hardship they’ve gone through. Two places in this country are rarely the same and no amount of time ever seems enough in a place with so much to offer.

Highlights: Krakow, Gdansk, Zakopane

Best Backpacking Accommodation

Hostels are your best friend when it comes to cheap accommodation and they are not difficult to find in any of the above countries. You will be sharing a room with several others but it makes for an easy way to meet like-minded travellers who will have some great tips and stories to share. The hostels themselves are often lively places to stay with a friendly atmosphere and staff who are knowledgeable about the local area.

You don’t have to stay in the outskirts in order to get a cheap deal either. The Chillout Hostel Zagreb can be booked for £8 a night, just 0.3km from the city centre. In Sarajevo there is the Tufna Home at £7 which is located in the wonderful Old Town. For the same price you can stay in the Sleep Inn Hostel, Bucharest or the Centrum Sabot hostel in Krakow (minimum stay 2 nights at weekends).

Food & Drink for Backpackers

Staying in a hostel will likely you mean you have some basic cooking facilities, allowing you to do a lot of your shopping at the supermarket. If you do wish to stick to store bought food during your trip, here’s how much things cost in relation to the average price within the Europe. As you will see from the figures below, Croatia is higher than the rest when it comes to eating and drinking out which may limit how much you can vary your cuisine.

Food – Croatia: 93%, Romania 62%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 62%, Poland 60%

Non-alcoholic drinks – Croatia 103%, Romania 70%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 81%, Poland 83%.

If you don’t fancy cooking yourself or you simply want to try a taste of local restaurant food, here’s how much you can expect to pay:

Croatia: Cheap restaurant: £5.31, Fast Food meal: £4.12

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Cheap restaurant £3.14, Fast Food meal: £3.13

Romania: Cheap restaurant £3.76, Fast Food meal: £3.39

Poland: Cheap restaurant £4.16, Fast Food meal: £3.75

Travel Costs when Backpacking in Europe

Moving around these countries won’t set you back much at all but if possible it’s usually a good idea to book in advance. In peak season some services will get fully booked and prices tend to be cheaper the earlier you confirm your seat.

Poland – Poland is the best country from the four when it comes to train travel. Comfortable and fast services run the length of the country from Krakow to Gdansk several times a day. If booked in advance, you can get from the south to the north or vice versa from around £13 making the trains a cheap and efficient way of getting around the country.

Romania – A trip from Bucharest to the Danube Delta will cost around £10 by train but it’s quicker to get the bus at the same price. It is often the case that buses are a better alternative than trains here and another example is if you want to travel from Bucharest to the city of Cluj-Napoca, the unofficial capital of Transylvania.

Bosnia – Trains can get you certain places here but not many. One of the popular routes you can do though is Sarajevo to Mostar and the two hour journey will cost around £10. For most other options you’ll end up taking a bus but they come very cheaply indeed. Making the five hour trip from Sarajevo to Banja Luka for instance can cost as little as £2.

Croatia – Dubrovnik is well worth visiting but it can take a long time to make the journey there if travelling from the north as train services are limit. It’s a far more manageable journey from Split and the three hour bus ride will cost around £15 or £25 by ferry. To move north from Split, several bus services go all the way to Zagreb but again they aren’t quite as cheap as the services found in neighbouring countries, costing around £20.