PLANNING A TRIP TO EUROPE ON BUDGET: 16 DAY ITINERARY FOR EUROPE
Everybody knows Europe is a MUST for a traveller, because, well, none of the continents has as much heritage as Europe. However, Europe has a considerable amount of countries and visiting all of them when you only have a month of annual leave (or even two weeks) is not possible. That means sacrifices should be made. You must choose very carefully, what do you want to see and how to make the trip go smoothly and as planned. We want to help you as much as we can, and that’s why we’re sharing our 16-day itinerary for Europe on budget.
Seems like it’s been yesterday but already 1 year has passed since we organized and completed a great Eurotrip with one of my best friends,
We wanted to see as much as we could during 16 days we had assigned for this trip. Our budget was not very impressive: around 30 euros/day excluding tickets and accommodation, so this trip definitely belongs to the “budget traveling” section. However, 30 euros a day was just fine for our 16 day itinerary for Europe on budget.
Our starting point: Amsterdam
We found out, that the best starting point would be Amsterdam since the flight was cheap. Amsterdam has a huge international airport and KLM usually has great fares. Check the price for flights to Amsterdam now. Then we decided to go to Brussels because it’s very close to Amsterdam (and also very beautiful). You just have to take a 3-hour bus ride – and voila, you’re in the capital of Belgium! Besides the price of the ticket was just hilarious: 1 euro! We were among the first who bought the tickets for this ride with MEGABUS, that was very lucky!
Tip: book bus tickets in advance! We bought our tickets 2 months in advance. That’s why the price was so amazing.
So we assigned just one day to Amsterdam (just to walk around) and 2 days for Brussels.
There’s something so magical about the city of Amsterdam: the tree-lined canals, intricate Dutch canal houses and an endless supply of cyclists buzzing by on their daily commute. As a walkable city, Amsterdam is great to explore solo as it is effortless to make your way around the streets. There are many small art galleries to enjoy and there is an endless supply of cute cafes to pass the time people watching. If you plan on visiting Amsterdam solo, check out this complete guide to enjoy solo travel in Amsterdam!
THE CANALS OF AMSTERDAM
The prettiest (and most photographed) canals of Amsterdam exist in Centrum, the heart and centre of Amsterdam. This also happens to be the most expensive part of town to lodge, so if you’re a solo traveller on a budget it can pay to stay in the suburbs and either bike your way to the city to explore, catch public transport, or if you aren’t visiting in winter, make a walk out of it.
The three main canals (Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht) were dug in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age and commenced the Dutch capitals’ system of waterways. Now popularly known as the “Venice of the North”, Amsterdam is considered one of the prettiest European capitals and is thus a pleasure to walk around solo, especially if you don’t mind putting away your maps and getting lost in the exploration.
GRAB A COFFEE IN JORDAAN
Now a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, the neighbourhood of Jordaan is so quintessentially Dutch that the history and aesthetic of the neighbourhood has been protected and believe me when I say it is as pretty as a postcard to wander around! Of course “coffee shops” (cannabis stores) have their own place in Amsterdam, however if you’re after actual coffee and perhaps a slice o’ cake, these are some great spots to stop by:
Moods Coffee Corner – The perfect afternoon pick-me-up, try the apple cake for a show stopper.
Winkel 43 – Great lattes and one of the best avocado toasts in the neighbourhood if not the city!
Cafe De Blaffende Vis – For a more traditionally Dutch coffee spot, this is your best shot.
VISIT THE FLOWER MARKET
The Netherlands are renowned the world over for their beautiful tulips and if you just so happen to time your visit at the right season, you can see many of the flowers in full bloom at the cities’ flower market. Bloemenmarkt in fact floats over water and is the only one to do so in the world, located on Singel Canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein.
TAKE A BOAT TOUR ON AMSTERDAM’S CANALS
Although quite touristic and often crowded in the Spring/Summer months, a cruise on the canals of Amsterdam is a great way to see the city and learn the history of it (most of the boat tours have running commentary and it is quite interesting!)
VISIT THE MUSEUMS OF AMSTERDAM
Last but not least, there are at least two if not three days of museums to see and explore in Amsterdam! For my time in the city I purchased a City Pass to gain access to all of the museums as well as an additional pass to the Anne Frank House as this is not included in any of the discount passes. There are endless museums and art galleries on offer in the city (as well as Amsterdam being a living museum itself), however here are the highlights not to be missed:
Anne Franke House – Inside the secret house where Anne Frank spent her journalling years during the Nazi Germany takeover of much of Europe and indeed, Amsterdam. This is not to be missed and if you choose just one museum, let it be this one.
Rijksmuseum – The National Dutch museum dedicated to the art and history of the country.
Van Gogh museum – A museum dedicated to the works of Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries.
Over to you! What are some of your favourite memories from travelling solo in
Again, we thought: where could we go next?
The only possible option seemed to be Paris.
So well, we bought a speed train ticket (check the availability now) which would deliver us to Paris within just 1,5 hours. We intended to spend 6 days in Paris including Christmas and then… And then it was unclear.
We still had 8 spare days left, and the tickets seemed to be not as cheap as we had expected. After very careful consideration, we decided to go to Spain for almost a week. We found some good-priced tickets from Paris to Sevilla via Ryanair and decided to stay there for 2 nights and then head to Madrid. The speed train ride from Madrid to Sevilla takes only 2.5-3 hours. The tickets sell out quickly though, so make sure to check the dates in advance. Here’s the link to the train.
From Madrid, it was possible to reach some smaller but nonetheless amazing cities like Segovia and Toledo.
Madrid and… Poland?
In Madrid, we would stay 5 nights including the New Year’s night. Moreover, we expected the New Year celebration there to be amazing (previously I’ve celebrated New Years away from home, in Germany and in Austria and they were great.
We Browse some additional destinations to add to our Eurotrip! That’s how we found Poland. The Ryanair ticket price was again very cheap & great and yes, it was possible to go East from Poland for 50 euros (since I decided to visit St. Petersburg, for 5 days I had left from my Christmas holidays). We assigned only one day to Poland and bought tickets to Saint Petersburg through Skyscanner.
Choosing accomodation for our trip
Everything was done circa 3 months in advance, excluding some train tickets and bus tickets (the booking system would only open 2 months before intended date of the ride). Once we were sure about the flights (in my opinion, the flights are the most important aspect of the trip since their prices tend to be the most volatile),
Belgium was easy – we were staying for two nights, so we were happy about any double room with shared bathroom, not more than 20 minutes walk from the city center.
We ended up choosing the hostel called Gate d’Etape-Auberge de Jeunesse Jacques Brel. And well, it wasn’t that bad but I wouldn’t come there again – so when we had occasionally taken a wrong turn and got there, it was super scary.
The choice of accommodation in Paris was a bit harder.
Since we planned to stay there 6 nights including Christmas, all the hotel prices were ridiculously high. That’s when Airbnb helped us a lot. We found an amazing flat in Charenton-le-Pont (it’s a bit outside Paris, but very close to metro, which will deliver you to the city centre within just 40 minutes), and the price was more than great: around 90 euros per person (for 6 nights, can you believe that!). That’s how we managed to spend not that much money during our itinerary for Europe. If you haven’t booked with Airbnb before,
The accommodation choice in Seville was much more straightforward: we picked a budget hostel with the highest user rating on Booking.com: Flamenka hostel. It looked nice in the pictures and in reality, too. We were so lucky to be in Seville on Monday when almost all the museums were free for all.
Just like in Paris, in Madrid, we also booked a room via AirBnb. It was a room in a huge shared flat with a central location (Tirsa Molina), 15 min walk from España square. The host was great: a very friendly old lady, who spoke perfect English. And the room price was also more than great (50€ per person for 5 nights).
In Poland, we booked a hotel close to the airport: Holiday Inn Express. Honestly, I can say it’s the best value deal I ever had. The room was amazing: modern, clean, new; it had a great bathroom and a flat-screen TV. Also, the hotel provided us with the free airport transfer in the morning, and that all just for 15 euros per person for a room! Such a great catch for a trip to Europe on budget!
Summary of our Eurotrip
Well, to summarize, I can say, that’s it’s not that easy to plan a Eurotrip, which includes distant locations (e.g. Sevilla and Paris) and which requires a couple of flights. If you want to see as much as possible without hassle and problems, try to stay longer in some of the destinations. I was very satisfied with our 16-day itinerary for Europe: we visited 5 countries but managed to see quite a lot in all of them and get the overall impression (well, maybe I would stay a bit longer in the Netherlands). After this trip, I know where I would like to come back and where the time spent was just enough.
Also, we managed to spend our 30€ a day wisely and from time to time even eat in some nice restaurants (it was especially great in Sevilla, where the prices weren’t high at all). I also think that our 16 day itinerary for Europe on budget was almost perfect.
What would I have liked to change if I could come back and rearrange the trip: well, I definitely wouldn’t have celebrated the New Year in Madrid (here’s why: maybe I would have spent 3 days in the Netherlands in order to see some other cities.
Find some photos of collection