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Europe in One Month: A Budget Travel Guide

Updated: Jan 15


rialto bridge venice italy
View from Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy

Europe is a combination of timeless architecture, staggering natural beauty, endless culinary experiences, and more. From fairytale castles in Germany and a seemingly endless amount of gelaterias in Italy, to Gaudí architecture in Barcelona and cannabis-friendly coffeeshops in Amsterdam, you will easily find yourself wanting to extend your stay in this incredibly diverse continent.


This past June, my friend and I backpacked throughout Western Europe in three and a half weeks. This travel guide will detail our budget, accommodations, transportation, and itinerary.


Quick facts

Currency: The euro is the commonly accepted currency in Europe. However, these nine countries use their own form of currency: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.


Language: English is a widely spoken language in many European countries, especially in tourist locations. However, learning common phrases such as "hello" or "thank you" in the local language never goes unappreciated and can spark new friendships abroad.


Weather: The best time to backpack Europe is between May and September. The mild weather during this time period allows backpackers to pack lightly.


Budget in Europe

There is a common misconception that Europe is solely a luxury travel destination. If you're on a budget, don't fret—a visit to Europe can be done without breaking the bank. The abundance of budget accommodations and affordable transportation options make budget-traveling throughout Europe completely feasible. Here is an estimate of how much I spent during our three-and-a-half week trip:


• Airfare: $290 (Los Angeles to Madrid) and $380 (Amsterdam to Los Angeles)

• Accommodation: $500

• Transportation: $420

• Attractions: $120

• Food, snacks, alcohol: $450

• Souvenirs: $60


Total: $2,220


Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria Germany fairytale disney inspired
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany

Where to stay in Europe

There is no shortage of budget-friendly accommodations in Europe—hostels and Airbnbs are abundant in many major cities. Here is a list of where we stayed in each city, all of which were either within walking distance of main attractions or located nearby public transportation:


Berlin: As of January 2024, the hostel we stayed in is no longer available


Transportation in Europe

Planning routes from one city to the next can be tedious. To simplify your research process, I've listed all of our train, bus, and plane routes below. Note that our flights were booked through Skiplagged, trains were booked through Trenitalia, and busses were booked through FlixBus.


Madrid to Barcelona: Fly from Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) to Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN). A direct flight can cost as low as $35. Average travel time: 1 hour

Barcelona to Rome: Fly from BCN to Rome–Fiumicino International Airport (FCO). A direct flight can cost as low as $15. Yes, $15! Average travel time: 2 hours

Rome to Florence: Take a train from Roma Termini to Firenze Santa Maria Novella. Average travel time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Florence to Venice: Take a train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Venezia Mestre. Average travel time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Venice to Bled: Take a FlixBus from Venezia Mestre to Ljubljana. Average travel time: 4 hours. Upon arrival at the Ljubljana bus station, purchase a local bus ticket there which will take you to Lake Bled. Average travel time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Bled to Munich: Take a FlixBus from Bled to Munich Central Station. Average travel time: 5 hours

Munich to Prague: Take a FlixBus from Munich Central Station to Prague ÚAN Florenc. Average travel time: 5 hours

Prague to Berlin: Take a FlixBus from Prague ÚAN Florenc to Berlin Central Bus Station. Average travel time: 5 hours

Berlin to Amsterdam: Fly from Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SFX) to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). A direct flight can cost as low as $40. Average travel time: 2 hours


pantheon rome italy
Pantheon in Rome, Italy

Our Itinerary in Europe

Day 1—Madrid:


Airbnb in Madrid: Drop your belongings off at your accommodation and settle in.


Day 2—Madrid:


Royal Palace of Madrid: The Royal Palace of Madrid is a luxurious palace with over 2,000 beautifully ornate rooms. Purchase tickets online or at the door.

Mercado de San Miguel: Mercado San Miguel is an indoor market that offers a wide selection of tapas and wines.

Lunch at Bar La Campana: Bar La Campana serves affordable calamari sandwiches.

El Retiro Park: Get lost in El Retiro Park. This massive park has lakes, gardens, sculptures, and even a glass palace—you can easily spend hours exploring here. Free entrance.

Dinner at Taberna el Sur: Enjoy sangrias and traditional seafood paella at Taberna el Sur.

Dessert at Chocolatería San Ginés: Don't leave Madrid without trying churros with chocolate at the famous Chocolatería San Ginés.


Day 3—Barcelona:


Lunch at Mercat La Boqueria: Mercat de la Boqueria is a fun market to visit that offers a wide variety of food options.

Barcelona Cathedral: Barcelona Cathedral is most recognizable for its gothic architecture. Purchase your tickets online or at the door.

Gothic Quarter: Walk through the narrow, winding streets of the Gothic Quarter.

Dinner at La Fábrica: Grab some affordable empanadas at La Fábrica.


Day 4—Barcelona:


Sagrada Família: See one of Gaudí's most famous works in Barcelona, Sagrada Família—a church that has been under construction since 1882. Purchase tickets online or at the door.

Casa Batlló: Casa Batlló is another architectural masterpiece that showcases Gaudí's work. Purchase tickets online or at the door.

Can Paixano: Can Paixano attracts locals and tourists alike. Enjoy cava and tapas at this bustling restaurant.

Quimet & Quimet: Quimet & Quimet serves the best tapas in town. Try the salmon, yogurt, and truffled honey montadito here—you won't regret it!

Parc de la Ciutadella: Enjoy the greenery at Parc de la Ciutadella. Check out the Arc de Triomf while you're there. Free entrance.

Restaurante Arume: Try the blackberry mojito and duck paella at Restaurante Arume, an intimate restaurant. Make a reservation in advance.


colosseum rome italy
Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Day 5—Rome:


Colosseum: Visiting the Colosseum during your stay in Rome is a must. Check out the Roman Forum after you've finished exploring the Colosseum. Purchase tickets online or at the door.

Dessert at La Gelateria Frigidarium: Try Italian gelato at the popular La Gelateria Frigidarium.


Day 6—Rome:


Ponte Sant'Angelo: Ponte Sant'Angelo is a pedestrian bridge that offers postcard-worthy views of Rome along the Tiber river.

Dinner at Tonnarello: Try authentic Italian pasta at the famous Tonnarello.

Dessert at Two Sizes: Two Sizes offers a large selection of creamy tiramisu—try the pistachio flavor!


Day 7—Rome:


Trevi Fountain: My friend and I visited the Trevi Fountain at around 4 a.m. in the morning to avoid crowds—yes, it gets that busy. This iconic fountain is one of the most photographed in the world and dates back to the 18th century. Free entrance.

Pantheon: Pantheon is a former Roman temple and, since AD 609, a Catholic church. It's located within walking distance of the Trevi Fountain—you can easily check out both on the same day. Free entrance.

Dinner at Zizzi Pizza: Check out a wide selection of pizzas at Zizzi Pizza.


panini toscani florence italy
Panini Toscani in Florence, Italy

Gustavino Piazza Signoria pasta bread Florence Italy
Gustavino Piazza Signoria in Florence, Italy

Day 8—Florence:


Lunch at Panini Toscani: Panini Toscani serves up mouthwatering paninis at an affordable price. You can sample their meats and cheeses before placing your order.

Piazza della Signoria: Piazza della Signoria is a vibrant plaza filled with sculptures and Renaissance architecture. Free entrance.

Piazzale Michelangelo: Discover some of Florence's best views at Piazzale Michelangelo. After a steep, uphill walk, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city. Free entrance.

Dinner at Gustavino Piazza Signoria: Try the tagliatelle with porcini mushroom sauce and pappardelle with wild boar ragu sauce at Gustavino Piazza Signoria.


Day 9—Florence:


Galleria dell'Accademia: Admire Michelangelo's David at the Galleria dell'Accademia. Purchase tickets online in advance or at the door.

Lunch at All' Antico Vinaio: All' Antico Vinaio is one of the most popular eateries in Florence (and perhaps in all of Italy), specializing in paninis.

Piazza del Duomo: Piazza del Duomo is a lively plaza where you can visit the Florence Cathedral, Brunelleschi's Dome, and Giotto's Campanile. Purchase tickets online in advance or at the door.

Dinner at Trattoria Zà Zà: Grab dinner at Trattoria Zà Zà—their truffled carbonara spaghetti is delicious!


Gelato Venchi Florence Italy
Venchi in Florence, Italy

Venice, Italy

Day 10—Venice:


Piazza San Marco: Expect high foot traffic at this piazza as it's the center of many popular attractions. While you're here, check out Basilica di San Marco. Free entrance.

Bridge of Sighs: Ponte dei Sospiri (which translates to the Bridge of Sighs) is named for the prisoners who crossed it to meet their executioners in the 19th century. Free entrance.

Lunch at Dal Moro's Fresh Pasta to Go: Dal Moro's is a fast-food style pasta joint where you can grab pasta on-the-go.

Dessert at Suso Gelatoteca: Grab gelato at Suso Gelatoteca, a popular gelateria in the city. Try the mango pomelo flavor—we returned a second time because their gelato was so good!


Day 11—Venice:


Lunch at Osteria Al Squero: Enjoy a glass of wine and traditional cicchetti at Osteria Al Squero.

Ponte dell'Accademia: Ponte dell'Accademia is a wooden bridge that overlooks the Grand Canal. Free entrance.

Libreria Acqua Alta: Libreria Acqua Alta is a quirky bookstore (where you can spot adorable resident cats). Free entrance.

Dinner at We Love Italy, Fresh Pasta To Go: We Love Italy, Fresh Pasta To Go is another fast-food style pasta joint.


Osteria Al Squero crostinis venice italy
Osteria Al Squero in Venice, Italy

murano island venice italy canals
Murano Island in Venice, Italy

Day 12—Bled:


Lunch at Oštarija Babji Zob: Try traditional Slovenian food at Oštarija Babji Zob, located within walking distance of Lake Bled.

Lake Bled: Photos can not capture how stunning Lake Bled is—you have to visit this place in person. This turquoise lake is surrounded by mountains and most notably, features a church on an island that sits in the middle of the lake. Free entrance.


lake bled slovenia
Lake Bled in Slovenia

Glockenspiel clock Marienplatz Munich, Germany
Glockenspiel clock at Marienplatz in Munich, Germany

Day 13—Munich:


Marienplatz: Check out the famous Glockenspiel clock at Marienplatz, Munich's central square.

Hofbräuhaus: Hofbräuhaus is a historically significant, and massive beer hall brimming with tourists and locals. Enjoy a giant pretzel and stein of beer while listening to live, traditional Bavarian music.


Day 14—Munich:


Munich Residence: Walk through a labyrinth of intricately designed rooms at Munich Residence, a former royal palace. Purchase tickets at the door.

Englischer Garten: Englischer Garten is a large expanse of greenery with a manmade river, lakes, streams, picnic areas, monuments, and... a beer garden! Free entrance.

Dinner at Steinheil 16: Try traditional schnitzels at Steinheil 16, a local eatery.


Munich Residence Munich Germany hall
Munich Residence in Munich, Germany

Day 15—Neuschwanstein Castle:


Neuschwanstein Castle: Schloss Neuschwanstein is a fairytale castle perched atop a hill, surrounded by alpine scenery and a charming Bavarian town. Reserve your time slot online in advance and purchase your tickets at the door.


U Parlamentu prague traditional dishes
Traditional Prague dishes at U Parlamentu

View of Prague from Prague Astronomical Clock
View of Prague from Prague Astronomical Clock

Day 16—Prague:


Lunch at U Parlamentu: Try bread dumplings and potato dumplings at U Parlamentu, a traditional Czech restaurant.

Old Town Square: Spend the day at Old Town Square, where you can admire cobblestone streets lined with pastel buildings, and check out a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Go up the Astronomical Clock for views of the city. Purchase tickets for the clocktower at the door.

Dessert at Good Food & Bakery: Don't leave Prague without trying trdelník—cinnamon sugar chimney cakes stuffed with dessert filling. Good Food & Bakery is one of several places that offer this dessert.


Day 17—Prague:


Breakfast at Marthy’s Kitchen: Start the day off with breakfast at Marthy's Kitchen. Their sweet crêpe with caramelized biscuits, whipped cream, and roasted hazelnuts was so good!

Prague Castle: Prague Castle is a cluster of buildings including St. Vitus Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace. Purchase tickets at the door.

Dinner at Naše Maso: Naše Maso specializes in dry-aged beef—try one of their dry-aged beef burgers!


Old Royal Palace Prague Castle Czech Republic
Old Royal Palace at Prague Castle

Marthy’s Kitchen in Prague, Czech Republic

Berlin Cathedral Church
Berlin Cathedral Church in Berlin, Germany

Day 18—Berlin:


Lunch at Curry 61: Try traditional currywurst and fries at Curry 61.

Berlin Cathedral Church: The Berlin Cathedral Church is the largest church in the city. Visit the top of the dome for views of the city. Purchase tickets at the door.


Day 19—Berlin:


Markthalle Neun: Markthalle Neun is an indoor market that offers a large selection of international cuisines.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a haunting memorial paying tribute to those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. If you have extra time, I recommend checking out the Topography of Terror as well. Free entrance.

Dinner at Mustafas Gemüse Kebap: Mustafas Gemüse Kebap is a popular kebab stall that was absolutely worth waiting in a long line for. Their kebabs were amazing!


Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe Berlin Germany
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany

Mustafas Gemüse Kebap Berlin Germany
Mustafas Gemüse Kebap in Berlin, Germany

Singel canal Amsterdam Netherlands
Singel canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Day 20—Amsterdam:


Damrak Waterfront: Visit the Damrak Waterfront for an iconic view of the Amsterdam canal.

Red Light District: Not a place for the faint-hearted, Amsterdam's famous Red Light District is lined with sex shows, sex shops, and more.


Omelegg Amsterdam Netherlands breakfast
Omelegg in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Day 21—Amsterdam:


Breakfast at Omelegg: Grab breakfast at Omelegg, which specializes in omelettes.

Dessert at Winkel 43: Winkel 43 is known for its homemade dutch apple pie (buttery crust, fresh whipped cream, and warm, gooey apple filling), which is undoubtedly the best apple pie I've ever had.

Jordaan: Explore Jordaan, a charming neighborhood with narrow alleys and canals lined with 17th-century homes as well as an abundance of cozy coffee shops and restaurants.

Lunch at Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx: Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx serves some of the best fries in the city, and offers 25 different sauces!


Amsterdam Netherlands canals
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Day 22—Amsterdam:


Breakfast at Bar Botanique: Enjoy a filling breakfast at Bar Botanique—a tropical-themed café.

Albert Cuypmarkt: Try the Original Stroopwafel at Albert Cuypmarkt—the most popular outdoor market in the Netherlands.

Heineken Experience: The Heineken Experience is a fun, interactive brewery tour that guides you through Heineken's history and brewing process. Purchase tickets online or at the door.


Bar Botanique Amsterdam Netherlands breakfast
Bar Botanique in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tips

Walk: Walking gives you the best opportunity to fully experience what each city has to offer. By walking from one destination to the next, you are bound to discover sights you might otherwise miss.

Purchase tickets in advance: Long lines are a norm at most popular European attractions. Save yourself time by purchasing tickets online in advance.

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