Visitors Guide

Travel on a Budget in Europe

By Ross Williams, Contributing Editor

Are you planning a trip to Europe soon, but don’t want to break the bank? If you’re not careful a trip to Europe can be very expensive, but if you do it right and plan ahead it doesn’t have to be! Here we’ll share a few ways you can eat and drink on a budget in Europe.

Food and alcohol are two things that can quickly wreak havoc on your budget if you’re not careful. But that doesn’t mean you should live off ramen noodles and hobo beer while you travel.

In fact, in many cultures the food and alcohol is just as important as the art, language, and traditions so it would be a shame to totally avoid it.

Luckily there are plenty of options for the cash-strapped backpacker to eat well on a budget and we’ve outlined these strategies in this guide.



Lunch Specials

Restaurants across Europe cut their prices during lunch to attract business people on their lunch break.

Normally, they’ll have a set menu with a few different choices that include a starter, main dish, and dessert. The meals are the same quality as dinner so this is a great way to have good food without paying a lot.

Eating out for lunch is a great way to get a taste of local culture without spending too much money.
Do a Little Research

As an outsider it’s hard to know exactly where to eat as you travel. Go online and spend 30 minutes writing down a list of cheap restaurants or grocery stores near the areas that you’ll be exploring for the day.

This way you’ll have a few options of where to eat and you won’t waste a lot time trying to find where to go. Trying to do this on the fly via a smartphone is also an option but I always find it easier to already have options ready.

Research is your friend! The best way to be able to eat and drink on a budget is to know where you can get the best deal.
Ask for Tap Water

If you ask for water at a restaurant, they will nearly always bring you an expensive bottle of water. Tap water is free but you have to specifically ask for it. And yes, it is safe to drink the water.



Plan A Picnic

It’s hard to beat a picnic on a nice summer day so take full advantage of the nice weather and the great parks. You can easily find fruit, yogurt, bread, cheese and deli meat at any store.

However, always be a bit cautions of the cheapest deli meat because from my experience it can be pretty gross. Spending the extra $1 is worth the price.

You can drink alcohol in most parks in Europe, so don’t forget to get a cheap bottle of wine or a few bottles of beer.

Drinks are Expensive

Visitors are surprised how much soda and bottled water costs in restaurants. And they don’t do free refills on soda. Sometimes it’s cheaper to have beer or wine.

Learn the Tipping Culture

The tipping customs in Europe are different in each country. However, in general, the tip is already included in your bill. If you want to include a little extra that’s fine but you’re probably wasting money if you tip 15%.

- via Guide to Budget Backpacking in Europe – The Savvy Backpacker

Do you have any tips for travelers trying to eat and drink on a budget in Europe? How do you keep your expenses low while traveling?

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