Is Europe on your travel bucket list? Here’s how to make your Aussie dollar go further
Europe is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world, but it isn’t the friendliest to the Aussie dollar. Do things a little differently though and you’ll stretch your budget to visit an extra country or two.
Visiting Europe in offseason makes a significant difference with regard to flights, accommodation and entertainment costs. While everyone flocks to the top cities of Paris, Rome and Barcelona during the European summer, spring and autumn deliver lovely, mild weather and much shorter lines at popular attractions.
Charming Český Krumlov, in the Czech Republic, offers great value for money
Get off the beaten path
According to Price of Travel, the cheapest European cities to visit include Sofia, Bucharest, Budapest and Český Krumlov. Granted, the Eiffel Tower doesn’t live in these destinations. However, they offer all the grand architecture, winding river vistas, castles, quaint squares, shopping and dining opportunities one could hope for on a European sojourn – at a fraction of the price.
While it’s a treat to stay in a glamorous hotel, of which Europe is renowned for, doing so will eat into your budget unnecessarily. Sites like Homestay and Airbnb offer a much more affordable option, with plenty of perks.
These days competition is fierce, so everything from private, ensuite rooms in share houses to whole apartments are decked out hotel-style anyway, complete with toiletries and hosts to help you plan travel. Best of all, you’ll get a sense of what it’s truly like to live like a local. Be sure to choose rooms based on the quality of reviews from other guests and you’re unlikely to experience any problems.
Buy food in the supermarkets
Another perk of staying in a self-contained unit or house, is being able to cook your own food. In Europe, this is an absolute treat, with supermarkets and open-air produce stalls stocked full of exotic items, ready to tantalise your tastebuds. Given that a European holiday for Aussies generally extends over a few weeks, you’ll soon get sick of eating out every day in any case - and your wallet will thank you for it.
Train trips throughout Europe are fun, scenic and cost-effective.
Use public transport
Taxi rides will erode your budget in Europe, faster than a shopping trip along the Champs-Élysées.
Taxi rides will erode your budget in Europe, faster than a shopping trip along the Champs-Élysées. In most big cities, public transport systems are excellent, with bus and train networks crisscrossing towns, cities and countries. If you plan on visiting more than a couple of countries, it’s worth it to invest in a Eurail pass, with youth, adult and family options, before you leave.
Research free entertainment and entrance fees
Not everything comes with a hefty price tag in Europe, as long as you do a bit of research. For example, entrance to the Lourve is free on the first Sunday of each month between October and March and the Vatican Museum is free on the last Sunday of each month. Check local websites for up-coming attractions, concerts and festivals and plan your trip to coincide with fun, free community events.
Lastly, your legs offer the cheapest way to see most European cities, which are best seen on foot. Don’t plan for everything, as getting lost is where you’ll often find hidden gems, for free.
Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West is the author of fiction novel, 'The Gypsy Trail' and an internationally recognised travel and lifestyle writer.