6 Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe: Europe is a pricey place to travel. Airfare, overnight trains, high-speed trains, and ferries all take money out of your meager (and valuable) travel budget.
Fortunately, there are numerous inexpensive alternatives to travel throughout Europe. You can travel through Europe on a cheap thanks to the sharing economy, new bus choices, inexpensive train passes, and a variety of low-cost flights.
Since I began visiting Europe in 2006, I have witnessed a great deal of change. I’ve seen pricing fluctuations and the emergence and disappearance of travel hacks. Even if COVID has had an influence, there are now so many new, inexpensive alternatives to travel throughout Europe that I can honestly say it’s never been simpler to get about.
Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
Here are the best ways to travel around Europe on a budget:
1. Travel by Bus
Taking intercity buses is one of the cheapest ways to get around the continent. The main international bus companies are Eurolines and German-based FlixBus, which expanded greatly when it acquired Megabus and now has routes all around the continent.
Flixbus is usually the cheapest bus option, with prices starting as low as 5 EUR. Their buses include Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, free baggage (one carry-on and one stored under the bus), and comfy seats. (Megabus still runs in the UK.)
FlixBus quickly became my favorite non-train way to get across Europe cheaply. It’s not fancy by any means but it’s the cheapest way to get around. They most of Europe. Here’s a map of their routes to help you plan your trip!
However, there are plenty of other regionally-specific bus companies that will get you elsewhere. For example, Alsa is the main provider in Spain and its neighboring countries.
2. Travel by Budget Airline
By far one of the cheapest ways to travel long-distance in Europe is by budget airline. These airlines are hugely prolific on the continent and competition has led to incredibly cheap fares. It’s not uncommon to find flights for as little as 10 EUR! I use Skyscanner to search for the best deals. They do all the legwork!
Just remember that budget airlines make most of their money through fees. They are very strict about baggage limits or and many will ding you if you forget to print your boarding pass. Don’t expect any complimentary drinks or meals either. But if you follow the rules and know what to expect you can save a ton of money!
3. Travel by Eurail Pass
I love traveling by train: sitting in a big seat, relaxing with a book, and watching the stunning landscape go by. It’s more comfortable than a bus and much less stressful (and more sustainable) than air travel. And the European rail system is one of the best and most extensive in the world.
If you’re going to travel by train, it’s hard to beat them on price and convenience for short city-to-city travel. For longer journeys (overnight journeys, between countries, or rides that require a high-speed line, like Paris to Bordeaux or Berlin to Munich), trains can get very expensive.
If you plan to travel around Europe and don’t want to fly, getting a rail pass is your best money-saving travel option. Your cost per trip will be a lot lower than if you were to buy these tickets separately.
4. Travel by BlaBlaCar
The rise of the sharing economy has allowed people to hitch a ride with locals going their way, and BlaBlaCar is the reigning king of this service. It’s hugely popular and widespread in Europe and I’ve used this service many times. It lets you rideshare with people who have extra space in their car. You find a ride, they agree to take you, and off you go. Prices are set by the driver and are meant to offset the cost of gas and overall wear on the vehicle.
This is the BEST paid way to get around Europe because you get to meet a local, have a friendly conversation, save money, and get to where you’re going faster. It’s available in close to 20 countries in Europe.
While BlaBlaCar may not always be cheaper than the bus (FlixBus can be super cheap!) it’s usually way faster and way more interesting.
5. Travel by Rental Car/Campervan
If you’re traveling around a single country or small region of Europe and looking for flexibility, renting a car or campervan might be worth the price — especially if you can split the costs with someone. Car rentals can be found for as little as 25 EUR per day, though keep in mind that gas is expensive. For the best deals on rental cars in Europe, use .
Campervans are particularly popular in countries like Iceland, Scotland, and Norway since those destinations offer a lot of hiking and camping opportunities. You can find campervans for as little as 60 EUR a day — super affordable when split with a travel partner and when considering that this also includes accommodation! Use the app “park4night” to find free (and cheap) overnight parking all around Europe.
Note: Many countries in Europe require foreign drivers to have an International Driving Permit. You can get one in your home country before you arrive for around 20 EUR. (It’s essentially just a copy of your license in other languages). Also keep in mind that renting an automatic vs standard transmission will usually cost around twice as much.
6. Travel by Hitchhiking
Hitching is quite common — and a lot safer than you think. I’ve met tons of travelers who have done it without incident. I myself traveled this way in Bulgaria and Iceland without any problems.
Just keep in mind that it’s important to use your head when hitchhiking. Always trust your instinct and use common sense. Keep your valuables on you in case you forget your bag in the car and never hesitate to text a friend or family member with the license plate before you get in. Write your destination on a sign and look presentable. That will help you find a ride faster.
Use the website Hitchwiki for tips to help ensure you have a fun and safe experience.
The BEST and CHEAPEST Way to Travel Europe? Mix and Match Your Transportation
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to get around Europe on a budget. But the best way is to mix and match your transportation depending on where you are going and for how long. For short trips, I like trains and BlaBlaCar. For medium-length trips (i.e. half a day), I’ll take a bus, BlaBlaBla car, or train. For long distances, I fly or take a high-speed train or an overnight bus.
Too many travelers think it’s an all-or-nothing thing. Like one way is always better than the other. That’s not true. There’s no one way to travel around Europe. There are a ton — and you need to know when to use which method.
If you have more time, take the slower, cheaper routes.
If you have more money and a shorter trip, fly and take the train.
If you have no preference on how you travel — and you just want the cheapest option (which is usually what I do) — use a website like Rome2Rio or Omio. All you have to do is enter where you are going and these sites will mix and match the various ways to get around the continent for the least amount of money. They will string together buses and trains and planes to construct the quickest trip for the least amount of money.
Remember: no one method works 100% of the time. Mix and match. Do that and you’ll save tons of time and money.
If you have any questions concerning Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe, please feel free to use the comment box below and ask us your question. We will be very pleased to answer you.
You can share this information, with your family and friends, as it will be helpful to someone. Please share it on Twitter, Facebook, G+, Whatsapp or Email it to friends. Use the buttons below to do this.