Europe: How to spend £20 a day in some of Europe’s most expensive cities

So, my second blog post. Slightly less nervous..

I thought I’d impart some knowledge about my travels around Europe in 2013. I interrailled around 13 cities in 2 months.


That’s the list.

This is where I first found my passion for travel.

So I’m not going to talk about all the cities only the ones that are the most expensive and difficult to do stuff in on a low budget. Originally I was going to talk about around 6 cities, but I have a lot to say, so I’ve cut it down to 4.

First off, I planned it before so my hostel for each night was already payed for and my interrail pass so the £20 was for eating, drinking and site seeing etc.

So a visual breakdown of exactly what I payed..

Interrail for 2months: £596

Hostels: £858.62

Flights to Paris and Back from Berlin: £100

£20 a day for two months: £600

Total trip expenditure: £2154. 62

1. Paris

Paris was our first stop and I think may have been the most expensive overall.

Food: Very expensive. Our hostel, although it was shit for the money (£22) it came with a breakfast (1 tiny baguette and a coffee) but it was free so yes, we did get up at 7 every day just for it.

For dinner we went to the local supermarket and bought crisps, cheap croissants and bottled water. Even that came to around €6. So the reality was we lived off snacks for dinner and tea..

Alcohol: Well this has to be a category. In Paris it was VERY expensive. A desperado was €10 for one in a bar.

So tip is to find a cheap supermarket it was around €4 for 4 beers. We always pre drank at the hostel before we went out, if anything that was where we had the most fun.

The best night in Paris and a tip I’d give everyone. Buy a cheap bottle of wine and sit on the grass in front of the Eiffel tower for the lights show, it was the best night we had in Paris with some great people, and the cheapest.

(Excuse possibly the worst photos ever. This is back when I used my ipod and people in the street were taking them)

Attractions: Do you have a European passport and are aged between 18-25? Well make sure you carry it round with you. You can get into the Louvre for free, as well as Versailles, there may be more places so just carry it with you and see if you can!

We payed to go up the Eiffel tower, which really you have to do. I’d recommend it to everyone. You can get a youth ticket to the summit for €14.50. Nearly all your days budget? Yes. But we managed it by spending less on other days. That’s the trick, if you know you’ll over spend one day, do a free activity the next day.

Free stuff? Well there isn’t many in the centre of Paris, apart from the ones I mentioned. But you can just wander around Paris, get a cheap coffee and crepe, and experience it. We went to see the Moulin Rouge, not to go in, just to see it and wander around the area. You don’t need to spend loads of money to see Paris.

Also to end Paris, a big shout out to Ian Rathbone (Alice’s dad) who came to see us in Paris and took us out for food, thank god or we may have perished. Also a big shout out to our friend Emily baker who got us into Disney land. So main tip? Get your friends dad to come to Paris for a day or two…and have friends who work at Disney. Oh and live off not a lot and cheap beer the rest of the time.

2. Amsterdam

Well of course, Amsterdam is known for being expensive.

Food: So the reality is food is one of the most expensive things in Amsterdam, and I think we all know why that is.

First tip: Don’t go to Maccies, no matter how much you want to. A standard meal cost about €8, nearly half your daily budget. We made this sorry mistake. They even charged us €1 for sauce without us knowing and if you wanted to use their toilet, that’s right, €1. So just don’t put yourself through it.

We wandered round and found a little supermarket. Every morning we went and bought croissants for only €1. We also bought pot noodle type things and used the hostels hot water (they actually charged us something like 50 cent would you believe) but it is cheaper than eating out. Apart from that we moseyed our way through Amsterdam living off big bags of crisps. This is sounding familiar isn’t it?

Alcohol: So not much to say, alcohol is clearly expensive here. There are cheaper alternatives but I’m sure you all already know them. There are bar crawls that run a lot but we didn’t bother with them…and we didn’t drink an awful lot there. A pint of beer was around €5.

Attractions: There are a lot of places worth seeing in Amsterdam. We enjoyed the Anne Frank house, it costs €9 but there is youth prices of around €4.50. If you’re going to Amsterdam if recommend seeing a bit of history.

The sex museum is a cheap attraction to fill in the day, costing €4. It’s a cheap and fun way to spend the day.

On our last day we also treated ourselves to a ride in a canal boat around Amsterdam. We got a good deal of €8.50 and on a sunny day it was the perfect way to spend the day.

Free stuff?: There are some things you can do for free in Amsterdam. Vondel park is a huge 127 acre park very near the centre. We spent a fair few days sun bathing there. There is of course the I am Amsterdam sign which is always a popular place to grab a picture.

There is a lot more to do in Amsterdam like rent a bike, or go to museums, but that’s just what we did. Hopefully that helps a little of how to budget, obviously we couldn’t afford everything but what we managed to fit in was good enough for us.

3. Copenhagen

I can’t begin to describe how much I loved Copenhagen. I now cannot wait to travel the rest of Scandinavia. It has a whole different vibe, if you ever get the chance, go!

One random thing that was cool, and worth a mention. We travelled from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, at Hamburg we got on what I can only describe as a train ferry. A train ferry?!  So we didn’t realise but yes, the train you get on at some point has tracks that go onto a ferry. You get off for a while, wander round the boat, then get back on the train for a few more hours. It was such a surprise and a really cool experience.

Food: So now this is the first expensive place so far that had a kitchen in the hostel. Thank god. We made all our meals in the hostel kitchen and quickly learnt always pick a hostel with a kitchen. We did a big shop, made a variety of food and between two of us spent less than around €5 a day on food. Yes, for breakfast, dinner and tea. Although we didn’t eat out, we did want to, but decided we would be best saving our money.

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That’s the sort of decisions you have to make when you’re on a budget. Eat out or go out? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Alcohol: It is pretty expensive in Copenhagen. We did however have some of the best nights there. We, again, pre drank. Beer and spirits from the supermarket were good prices so you can save that way. Bars there are also really cool. They have table tennis and games so there’s lots to do.

Attractions: When I think back I can’t quite remember exactly what we did in Copenhagen. Sounds stupid, but it was so chilled I loved it. We spent a lot of time wandering around enjoying the sites. We saw the famous mermaid statue. Spent afternoons reading and sunbathing in the palace rose gardens. All free.

We spent one day at the beach. Which was amazing. We only spent money on the metro that day, so around €3, and made our own packed lunch. Well worth it and very cheap.

We did go to Ripple’s Believe it or Not museum. That cost us around 150DKK for a combined Guiness World Records + Ripley’s Believe It or Not! ticket. That is around £14, but it filled up basically all of our day, and we thoroughly  enjoyed it.

4. Rome 

So in Italy we quickly gathered that the big cities are expensive.

Rome, by far, was the most expensive out of Venice, Florence and Rome.

Rome has so much going on we were always busy. One tip I’d give is ask in your hostel for information, the person on our hostel reception was soooo helpful. We stayed at the M&J hostel Roma. We had 3 full days in Rome, the guy on reception drew us out 3 massive routes for 3 days with everything you could possible see along the way. He gave us tips and pointers of where to go and the cheapest options, he really helped our budget.

Food: The M&J hostel Roma had a kitchen, so we made sandwiches and cooked tea there most days. We did however go out for food, as of course, I wanted to eat proper Italian food. I also love pizza. We looked around for a while and found a deal, 10 euros for a massive pizza and a beer! It was such  a good meal, and although it was half our daily budget it was worth it and we hadn’t spent anything more that day.

Alcohol: Now, if you’re coming to Rome to partay, you may be let down. There is so much to see in the day we were so tired every night. There isn’t a massive party scene as far as we could tell, and to be honest, this was city number 12, two beers one night and we fell asleep. We’re crazy, I know. In all honesty to fit everything in we were up early and out til 8 at night. So depends what you really come to Rome for. For us it was the history.

Attractions: Where do I even begin?

Lets start with the free stuff shall we?

So, of course, you have to go and throw a coin in the Trevi fountain. That’ll cost you, well whatever coin you choose to throw.

The Vatican. So it isn’t usually free. But, we managed to somehow choose to go there on the one day of the month it is in fact free. When is that? The last Sunday of every month. Write that down! We were also lucky enough to hear the man himself, yes the Pope, speak. Sure, we had no idea what he was saying, but I still feel it was a good experience, and everyone else was cheering..

You can just make him’s better than the actual picture of him at the window..

You can also see basically the whole of Rome by walking around. It isn’t actually that big, the metro only goes a few stops so we saved money and walked. Along the way you see a lot of monuments, nice buildings, etc that you would miss otherwise. For example, the Torre Argentina Roman cat sanctuary.  Basically, a lot of roman ruins, yes they are everywhere you turn, with a load of cats living in them. Sounds great? It was.

As well as that, you can walk through the Piazza Navona, see the Pantheon as well as Castel Sant’Angelo.

Alice posing like a typical European women.

Now, the not so free.

The Colosseum You HAVE to go to the Colosseum, why am I even telling you? You know.

You can get a reduced rate too. For those individuals who are between 18-25 and part of the EU it is 7.50, even a full adult price is 12. Another thing to remember, it is free on the first Sunday of every month, write that down too! It takes up the entire day, and is just really worth seeing.

One thing I would recommend buying, which if you go to the right place isn’t too expensive. Gelato. It was the best thing, ever. We probably ended up buying one every day, but even a backpacker needs some luxury, right?

There is a lot to see in Rome, we saved money by not paying to go on tours, as they are expensive, and didn’t always go in attractions. Again, if you want the full experience, I urge you to explore everything, but for budget back packers this is the best way to see it all on not a lot of money.

So, that’s it. I’m going to stop rambling. I hope the breakdown of the cost of the trip helped.

That was 4 of the 13 cities we visited. They were definitely the most expensive, and at times it was a struggle to stick to the budget. But by following some of the things I went through and not splurging on expensive meals out it is quite easily done.

Again, this way of travelling isn’t for everyone, this is more for the budget traveller.

You can still see everything you want to, you’ll just be eating a lot of crisps and drinking a lot of cheap beer. But, I wouldn’t want to have experienced it any other way.

‘Til next time.

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