Cuba Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Cuba

(Map of Cuba from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Cuba on a Shoestring Budget

US$35 | 35 CUC

Cuba’s economic and political climate makes it a strange country to visit in many regards and its two-currency system only complicates matters (more on this below). On average Cubans earn just $25 per month yet our suggested shoestring Cuba backpacker budget is $35/day which can take some time to get your head around.

One reason is that locals have an awful amount of basic necessities provided for free via the state, which leaves them with relatively little they need to buy. They are also paid in Cuban Peso rather than the more valuable Cuban convertible peso which is what foreigners use for virtually all transactions, which results in higher prices for visitors. As a result there are almost two separate economies in Cuba and most of your business will be in the pricier tourist-orientated one.

Hostel dorm-type accommodation doesn’t really exist in Cuba so renting private rooms in the homes of people who have a special licence to run what is effectively a small guesthouse (casa particular) is the best value you can really find. As a result paying for accommodation will take up a sizeable chunk of that budget. If you’re travelling solo that can be a real pain but couples or groups travelling together may be able to get by on less than $35 per day by sharing rooms and splitting costs.

Food and drinks are pretty good value and if you speak decent Spanish you might be able to travel on the local buses as opposed to the tourist ones and you’ll make a big saving if you do that. Overall though travelling in Cuba is certainly more expensive than many countries in thee region such as Nicaragua and expenses are roughly similar overall to the cost of travel in Panama with accommodation cheaper in Panama but other things being more expensive to balance it out.

See where Cuba ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Central America.


More Comfortable Cuba Backpacker Budget

US$45 | 45 CUC

Cuba’s travel industry is still in its relative infancy but it is growing quickly and there are lots of different trips and excursions you can do in almost all the main travel destinations now. While it’s not quite North Korea, it’s not that easy to have a totally independent travel experience in Cuba so you will find yourself having to pay for more organised trips than in other countries. By upping your budget to $45/day you’ll have more freedom to take up these options on a virtually daily basis and it’d be a wise option anyway if you’re travelling alone given the lack of hostel/couchsurfing options.


Sample Prices in Cuba

Transport by Astro Bus (mostly for locals) – $2/hour travelled

Transport by Viazul Bus (mostly for tourists) – $4-5/hour travelled

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $5

Meat & rice at a peso place – $1.50

Cuban Libre or Mojito in a bar or restaurant – $2-3

Private twin or double room in a casa particular – from $20/night

Entrance to Museum of the Revolution in Havana – $8

Horseback riding tour in Trinidad (3 hours) – $15

These prices are as of December 2016. All figures are the same in Cuban Convertible Peso.

Compare Cuba prices to the cost of travel in Mexico.


Money

Currency – Cuban Peso (CUP) /Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)

£1 = 33.37 CUP / 1.26 CUC

€1 = 28.10 CUP / 1.06 CUC

US$1 = 26.50 CUP / 1 CUC

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)

Cuba’s two currency system can be quite confusing for newcomers. The Cuban Peso is designed for use by locals while the convertible peso, which is pegged to the US Dollar is aimed at foreigners and the tourism industry. Most of your transactions in Cuba will be in the latter although you may be able to get some basic goods and foods in Cuban Pesos and it’s completely legal to do so. If you speak good Spanish it helps and by eating/shopping regularly in the local places, you can probably get by on a fraction of the budget listed above.

Note that when exchanging US Dollars for CUC at a Cuban back, you will be hit by a 10% conversion fee so Euros, Pounds or Canadian dollars are better currencies to bring.


MFT Recommends

No matter where in the world you go, getting travel insurance is highly advisable! We suggest using World Nomads, who specialise in providing cover for backpackers.


Street art in Cuba

street art in Havana, Cuba


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Cuba recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.


Nicaragua Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Nicaragua

(Map of Nicaragua from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Nicaragua on a Shoestring Budget

US$20 | 580 Nicaraguan Cordoba

Nicaragua is one of those countries where hardcore shoestring types will manage to get by on very little. Getting around the country via the regular local chicken buses as opposed to the tourist buses which have schedules but often don’t stick to them will save you a lot of cash. Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America but it’s possible to see the bulk of it for $20 or less in terms of transport costs, if you take the hop-on, hop-off chicken buses everywhere.

Eating local food in local-geared restaurants is also very cheap and usually less than half the cost of the Western alternatives such as burgers and pizza. If you do that and also stay in dorms and use drinking in the hostel as the starting point for your occasional nights out then it shouldn’t be impossible to stick to a budget of $20/day. You will still have to be a bit smart with money and speaking Spanish will be of great help but with attractions normally costing just a $1 or so, there’s not much potential for extra expenditure beyond the basic necessities.

See where Nicaragua ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in countries in Central America.


More Comfortable Nicaragua Backpacker Budget

US$30 | 880 Nicaraguan Córdoba

Some travellers do report back that sticking to $20/day in Nicaragua is very difficult. However many opt for the transport options advertised in the hostels which are geared towards tourists and are often several times more expensive. If you’re not willing to rough it out on the local chicken buses, which can be a bit uncomfortable and rarely offer the most direct route, then you might want to extend your budget slightly towards $30.

Likewise if you’re planning on spending some time surfing in the Pacific, or chilling out on the beautiful Corn Islands in the Caribbean Sea, which are more expensive than the rest of the country, then you may wish to increase your Nicaragua backpacking budget to $30/day but even that is less than our shoestring budget for Panama.


Sample Prices in Nicaragua

Chicken bus or local minibus from Leon to Granada (3 hours including change in Managua) – $3 (some overcharging of foreigners common)

0.5 Litre local beer in bar/restaurant  – $1

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $4

Dorm bed in Leon – from $5/night

Private double or twin room in Granada – from $14/night

Visit to a typical museum – $1-2

Surfboard rental in San Juan del Sur – around $10 per day

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Nicaragua prices to the cost of travel in Costa Rica


Money

Currency – Nicaraguan Córdoba

£1 = 36.75 NIO

€1 = 30.98 NIO

US$1 = 29.24 NIO

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)

US Dollars are widely accepted as an alternative currency.


MFT Recommends

Travel insurance is important as always. We suggest using World Nomads, who offer good cover for backpackers.


Street art in Nicaragua

street art in Leon, Nicaragua


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Nicaragua recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.


Panama Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Panama

(Map of Panama from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Panama on a Shoestring Budget

US$35 | 35 Panamanian Balboa

As one of the richest countries in Central America, costs are generally a bit higher than most parts of the region. Our Panama backpacking budget of $35/day reflects that and it’s comparable to the cost of travel in Costa Rica, another of the more expensive countries in the region. If you’re coming to Panama directly from North America or Europe though, you’ll still most likely find it very cheap.

It’s not that difficult to stick to this kind of budget with tasty and cheap street food available all over the country, while tap water is safe here and you can save a few bucks by just filling up a bottle as you will need to drink lots of water given Panama is a very hot place.  The cost of accommodation is a bit higher than its Northern neighbours and the temptation to indulge in Panama’s nightlife, some of which is geared towards its wealthy visitors, can push your expenses up if you’re not careful but maintaining this budget and still having a good time is not impossible by any means.

See where Panama ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Central America.


More Comfortable Panama Backpacker Budget

US$45 | 45 Panamanian Balboa

Panama is not like somewhere like Nicaragua or Guatemala, where the travel industry is almost entirely geared towards more budget-minded travellers. In Panama, there is the potential to indulge in a bit of luxury every now and then and by allowing for $45 per day you can do that. The extra $10 could go towards a nice meal at night in one of the many fancier restaurants or possibly a short stay in one of the nicer hotels or resorts. You will still have to be a bit savvy though, particularly in the capital which is a popular shopping destination so it’d be wise to set aside a separate budget for shopping.

The cost of some of the sites of interest and attractions is also relatively high for the region so if you’re the sort who likes to visit museums and cultural sites on a daily basis that can also push your costs up and $45/day may be a more realistic budget.


Sample Prices in Panama

Bus from Panama City to David (6-7 hours) – around $20

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $6

0.5 litre local beer in a bar or restaurant – $1.50

Dorm bed in Bocas del Toro – from $10

Private double or twin room in Panama City – from $25

Entrance to Miraflores Visitor Centre (Panama Canal) – $15

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Panama prices to the cost of travel in Mexico.


Money

Currency – Panamanian Balboa/US Dollar

£1 = 1.26 PAB

€1 = 1.06 PAB

US$1 = 1 PAB

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)

The US Dollar has been tied to the Panamanian Balboa since 1904. You can use either in Panama and essentially they are the same currency.


MFT Recommends

The Casa Monalisa is perfect for solo travellers in Panama City. Sociable place with budget beds.


Street art in Panama

street art in Panama City (via BORIS GCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Panama recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.


Myanmar Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Myanmar

(Map of Myanmar from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Myanmar on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 34,000 Kyat

We’re going with $25 as our Myanmar backpacking budget which makes it a fraction more expensive than some of its Southeast Asian neighbours but not significantly so. The cost of accommodation is certainly a bit higher and it’s not the easiest country to get around so you can end up spending more on transport, particularly if you want to see a large portion of a country that is deceptively big.

You may read articles or hear from people who describe Myanmar as expensive but that is only in very relative terms. Overall it is still a very budget-friendly destination with dirt cheap food available all over the country. Entrance fees for some of the country’s more popular sites can take a large chunk out of this budget on any given day. However on a quiet day where you’re not travelling between towns or forking out for attractions then you can get by on less than $20 if you’re savvy so it certainly averages out.

See where Burma ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Southeast Asia.


More Comfortable Myanmar Backpacker Budget

US$30 | 40,000 Kyat

Myanmar isn’t really like Thailand or Cambodia, where there is a big party culture amongst backpackers and the potential to just blow your budget on partying each night exists. It’s a more tranquil kind of place and by adding $15 or $25 per day there’s not really a significant amount of extra things you can do so $30 is sensible even for travellers who aren’t quite so budget-orientated.

There is a fairly rigid path that travellers in Myanmar tend to take in terms of where to go and what to do and the previous budget allows for that. Increasing your budget a fraction allows you to perhaps stay in a few nicer hotels in areas where the budget travel accommodation options are limited or poor, which is the case in some parts of the country. Myanmar doesn’t have the extensive travel infrastructure of some of its neighbours to the East so in some cases there will only be one real option for getting from A to B and smaller destinations may only have a couple of hotels geared towards foreign visitors.


Sample Prices in Myanmar

Flight from Yangon to Mandalay – from $100

Bus from Bagan to Mandalay (around 5-6 hours) – from $8

Meal at a local restaurant – $2.50

Large bottle of local beer in bar/restaurant – $1

Dorm bed in Yangon – from $8/night

Private double/twin room in Mandalay – from $15/night

Entrance to Bagan temples – 25,000 Kyat (around $20 at local exchange rates)

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Burma prices to the cost of travel in Thailand.


Money

Currency – Burmese Kyat

£1 = 1700 MMK

€1 = 1432 MMK

US$1 = 1351 MMK

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)

Black market rates may vary considerably to the ones listed above. US Dollars are widely accepted.


MFT Recommends

Healthcare isn’t great in Myanmar and if you get ill or seriously injured you may need to be transferred a long way, possibly even to Thailand. Obviously this is very rare but getting travel insurance via World Nomads will prove a great help in the unlikely event of something going wrong.


Street art in Myanmar

street art in Myanmar (via HI TRICIA! 王 圣 捷CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Myanmar recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Chile Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Chile

(Map of Chile from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Chile on a Shoestring Budget

US$45 | 30,000 Chilean Peso

Chile is a complicated country to budget for, mostly because of its peculiar long snake-like Shape. From Arica in the far North to Punta Arenas in the far South, it’s almost 5,000km by the quickest overland route, over 50 hours on the road by car and plenty more via bus. Clearly covering such a vast distance costs a significant amount of money and the lack of real budget airlines makes things difficult for the shoestring traveller in Chile although things have improved in that regard recent years.

The budget you allow for depends a lot on how much ground you want to cover and how quickly. $45 is our suggest daily Chile backpacking budget but if you want to cover basically the length of the country in a few weeks, you’ll need to budget for a bit more. If you’re staying in one or two parts of the country or have a longer period time to travel then this is more realistic and by camping or using hostels with self-catering facilities, you may be able to get by on less although it is still overall one of the more expensive countries in South America and prices are certainly higher than in neighbouring Peru.

See where Chile ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all South American countries.


More Comfortable Chile Backpacker Budget

US$60 | 40,000 Chilean Peso

Another major issue with budgeting for travel in Chile is the regional and seasonal variation in prices. The cost of travel in the remote South is considerably higher than in the rest of the country, particularly during the peak summer months. It’s one of the most beautiful regions of South America but the location and harsh climate means travel infrastructure is fairly limited and prices are high as a result. There are also some fairly hefty fees to enter the stunning national parks in that region so costs can add up and if you’re planning to spend the bulk of your trip in the South of Chile and aren’t willing to camp then $60 or 40,000 Peso is a more realistic daily budget.


Sample Prices in Chile

Flight from Santiago to Antofagasta (2 hours) – from $50

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $7

0.5 Litre local beer in bar or restaurant – $2

Dorm bed in Santiago – from $6/night

Twin or Double private room in Villarrica – from $35/night

Entry to Torres del Paine National Park – 18,000 COP peak season (currently $27.50), 5,000 COP low season ($7.50)

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Chile prices to the cost of travel in Brazil


Money

Currency – Chilean Peso

£1 = 824 CLP

€1 = 694 CLP

US$1 = 655 CLP

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)


MFT Recommends

La Casa Roja is a cool hostel to stay at in the heart of the Chilean capital Santiago with a spacious garden and pool area.


Street art in Chile

street art in Valparaiso, Chile (via BORIS GCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Chile recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to South America 2017-2018  for a full overview of budget travel in the region.


Brazil Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Brazil

(Map of Brazil from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Brazil on a Shoestring Budget

US$50 | 170 Brazilian Real

Anyone heading to Brazil and expecting to find a budget travel paradise will be sadly mistaken. It is the most expensive country in South America and our Brazil backpacking budget of $50 puts it roughly in line with an average country in Europe. Given the country’s size and the massive inequality that exists, this figure is only really a rough guide though and. Spend an afternoon or evening in one of the posher areas of Rio or Sao Paulo and you could easily end up blowing this in a matter of hours. However by venturing into cheaper neighbourhoods not to mention cheaper parts of the country, prices tumble and your budget will stretch much further, especially if you have even a basic grasp of Portuguese.

Hostel beds and basic meals are relatively good value on the whole while there are lots of budget-friendly ways to enjoy a night out. What can really cost a lot in Brazil though is getting around the country. You’d need several months to get anywhere close to seeing most of the main travel regions and if you try to cram too much into a small space, you’ll be forking out a lot on internal flights and long-distance buses.

Therefore by focusing on just one part of the country or a couple of regions tops, you can get by on $50/day comfortably enough and perhaps even less. Anything much more ambitious and you might want to start thinking about the ‘more comfortable’ budget below.

See where Brazil ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in South America.


More Comfortable Brazil Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 250 Brazilian Real

Upping your budget to $75 opens up a lot more opportunities. If you have say a month or less in Brazil but wish to visit Rio and a few places on the coast as well as heading to the famous Iguazu falls and into the Amazon then this might be more realistic. The cost of internal flights can be quite high and you won’t have time to take the more budget-friendly but incredibly time-consuming, multi-day boat journey into the Amazon.

If time is less of an issue and you’re willing to opt for slower but cheaper transport, then this budget will allow you to pay for a few more organised trips such as guided excursions deeper into the Amazon. It will also allow you stay in nicer accommodation and enjoy more meals/drinks in better restaurants/bars.


Sample Prices in Brazil

Bus journey from Rio to Sao Paulo (7 hours) – $30

Flight from Rio to Manaus (4 hours) – from $120

0.5 Litre local beer in a bar – $1.75

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $6

Dorm bed in Rio de Janeiro – from $9/night

Private double or twin room in Recife – from $18/night

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Brazil prices to the cost of travel in Peru


Money

Currency – Brazilian Real

£1 = 4.25 BRL

€1 = 3.58 BRL

US$1 = 3.38 BRL

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)


MFT Recommends

Check out the Walk on the Favela Hostel in Rio for an authentic Brazilian favela experience just a short walk from the iconic Copacabana Beach.


Street art in Brazil

street art in Sao Paulo, Brazil


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Brazil recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to South America 2017-2018  for a full overview of budget travel in the region.


Germany Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Germany

(Map of Germany from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Germany on a Shoestring Budget

US$55 | 50 Euros

Germany is Europe’s financial and political powerhouse and the economic woes of recent times haven’t hit as hard here as in other parts of the continent. However it is a surprisingly affordable place to visit with the cost of travel in Germany certainly less than it is in France or the United Kingdom.

Similarly to in those countries, there is an extensive rail network, however it is much cheaper to buy tickets a week or more in advance than on the day of travel, which isn’t always convenient for backpackers who enjoy flexibility. To stick to this Germany backpacking budget you can either sacrifice that flexibility by planning your trip in advance or it might be worth just focusing on one or two main areas of the country, where you can buy regional day passes, which are much more affordable.

Hostels are plentiful almost everywhere in the country and prices are pretty much standard in terms of Europe and a bit cheaper than some of Germany’s more expensive neighbours. The abundance of good domestic beers means going out to bars and pubs isn’t that expensive if you’re a beer drinker and there are plenty of night clubs that cater to a more budget-orientated crowd which isn’t always the case in other parts of the continent. Therefore nights out are reasonably inexpensive, although you’d be wise to look to our next budget if that will be a big part of your trip.

See where Germany ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Europe.


More Comfortable Germany Backpacker Budget

US$70 | 65 Euros

Pushing your budget from 50 to 65 Euros per day will give you greater freedom to go with the flow a bit. On this kind of budget, you can afford to buy a German rail pass for 3 or 4 days travel in a month to handle the longer-distance trips, when you want to do them. Although the passes don’t seem amazing value, you will still save compared to buying tickets on the day with fares of 100 Euros or more not uncommon for long-distance trains.

It should also free up a bit of money for a few more nights out or more day-time excursions than you can realistically expert to afford on the shoestring budget.


Sample Prices in Germany

Bayern Ticket (One day unlimited train pass for Bavaria*) – €23 solo traveller, €28 for two people, €33 for three

0.5 Litre beer in a bar – €3-3.50

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – €10

Dorm bed in Munich – from €14/night

Cheap private double or twin room in Berlin – from €25/night

Entrance ticket for Neuschwanstein Castle – €12

These prices are as of December 2016.

*other regions have similar offers

Compare these expenses in Germany with the cost of travel in France.


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.19

US$1 = €0.94

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)


MFT Recommends

Situated in Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg district, the elegant Grand Hostel is the perfect place to stay in the German capital.


Street art in Berlin

street art in Berlin, Germany


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Germany recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.


France Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in France

(Map of France from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in France on a Shoestring Budget

US$65 | 60 Euros

There is no getting away from the fact that France is one of the most expensive countries to travel in and even when compared with the cost of travel in Germany, it is noticeably pricier on the whole. In Europe only the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland clearly come out as being more costly. There is a large amount of regional variation though so by limiting the amount of time you spend in Paris or the swankier tourist towns in the Alps or on the French Riviera, you can help to keep your costs down. Couchsurfing is also a smart option as high accommodation costs can really eat into any France backpacking budget.

Eating out can also be very expensive so you have to be a bit smart but restricting your budget to 60 Euros per day isn’t impossible by any means. Staying in hostels with kitchen facilities will help you save a lot while getting a France rail or coach pass could also help to cut costs if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the country. Alternatively consider planning your trip more rigidly in advance as booking train tickets a few weeks before you travel will massively cut down the cost with longer distance fares often soaring towards €100 as the day of travel approaches.

See where France ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries.


More Comfortable France Backpacker Budget

US$85 | 80 Euros

If you’re an experienced budget traveller you shouldn’t have any problem sticking to the previous budget unless you are really looking to rush through the country and see as much as possible in a short time. Upping it towards 80 Euros and you can probably afford to spend an extra day or two in Paris as well as visit places like Monaco and the trendy beach towns in the South although you may exceed 80 Euros on those specific days. If you’re visiting France in the winter then an increased budget gives you some freedom to perhaps head into the Alps for a day or two of skiing.


Sample Prices in France

France Rail Pass (4 days travel in 1 month) –  €139 (Youth – Under 26), €190 (Adult)

Bus from Nice to Marseille with OuiBus (around 3 hours) – €15

Inexpensive meal in a restaurant – €12

0.5 Litres beer in an average bar or restaurant – €5

Dorm bed in Paris – from €20/night

Cheap private double/twin room or apartment in Nice – from €30/night (more in peak summer months)

Entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris – €15

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare France prices to the cost of travel in Spain


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.19

US$1 = €0.94

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)


MFT Recommends

There’s no getting away from the fact that Paris is not exactly a budget traveller’s heaven. Vintage Hostel is about as cheap as it gets without staying in an absolute dump and it’s also friendly by Parisian standards.


Street art in France

street art in Saint-Nazaire, France (via Emmanuel VeneauCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to France recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.


Portugal Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Portugal

(Map of Portugal from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Portugal on a Shoestring Budget

US$45 | 40 Euros

As the poorest country in Western Europe, Portugal is quite affordable by the standards of the region. It’s perhaps marginally cheaper overall than neighbouring Spain and the two can easily be combined into one Iberian backpacking route.

Getting around Portugal doesn’t cost much with good bus and train connections and a logical North-to-South or South-to-North approach due to the shape of the country. Budget accommodation is cheap and plentiful in most of the country’s most appealing destinations and eating and drinking is also great value by the standards of Western Europe.

Therefore a shoestring Portugal backpacking budget of around 40-45 Euros per day is very possible. There is some regional variation with Lisbon and the more touristy places in the popular Algarve a fraction more expensive. However if you’re savvy you can still find great value for money in the capital and by skipping the resorts and heading to somewhere like Lagos which has a big backpacker vibe, you can do likewise in the South.

See where Portugal ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Europe.


More Comfortable Portugal Backpacker Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros

Increasing your budget gives you a bit room to go out partying regularly but you can still do a lot of that on the previous budget. It will also allow you to visit the beautiful island of Madeira although the more distant Azores may still be a bit out of budget. Alternatively you could perhaps hire a car if you’re travelling with friends and that’s a nice idea in order to reach the more remote beaches in the South and quieter and more traditional Portuguese villages.


Sample Prices in Portugal

Lisbon to Faro bus one-way (3-4 hours) – €20

Lisbon to Porto train one-way (3 hours) – €24

Flight from Lisbon to Madeira one-way – from €30-40

Dorm Bed in Lisbon – from €8/night

Cheap private double/twin room in the Algarve – from €15-20 (more during the peak summer months)

0.5 Litre local beer in a reasonably priced bar/restaurant – €2

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant – €7

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Portugal prices to the cost of travel in Spain.


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.19

US$1 = €0.94

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)


MFT Recommends

Lisbon has some truly excellent hostels. Perhaps the best is the stylish Ambiente Hostel in the heart of the city.


Street art in Portugal

street art in Lisbon, Portugal


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Portugal recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.


Backpacking Route for the Balkans (Croatia, Serbia, Albania & More)

europe routes

iberia | central europe | baltics | balkans


Balkans Backpacking Route – Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania & Kosovo

Backpacking in the Balkans is getting slightly more popular with budget travellers in Europe but it remains something of a hidden gem for the most part. To some, the mere mention of the word ‘Balkans’ immediately evokes the image of war and while the scars of the 1990’s conflicts which saw Yugoslavia divided up into several smaller states remain, things have changed massively in this region since.

Croatia has the most developed travel industry and attracts big numbers during the summer months. It’s where our backpacking route for the Balkans starts but once you leave charming Dubrovnik behind and head to Montenegro, slowly but surely you steer away from the crowds and find yourself on a real adventure in a beautiful and very budget-friendly part of the world. Our route then takes in Kosovo and Albania, which have a very different feel to the other countries before moving onto Macedonia and Serbia, finishing off in the lively cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad.


TIME NEEDED – 7 weeks to 2 Months

This is a rough guide and it depends a bit on the season and obviously your personal preferences. In the summer you may wish to spend more time in coastal places like Budva, Sarandë and the Croatian islands and 2 months plus might be good. At other times of the year you could probably skip them altogether and get it down to 6 weeks.

There are a lot of small towns that can be seen easily in a day and the distances between them aren’t massive so there will be few if any times where you spend most of the day travelling from A to B. Therefore don’t be put off by the number of stops on our route. By allowing 2 months, you are averaging just over 2 days in each destination, which is plenty. If you have a limited period of time to travel, you can easily just pick and choose part of the route.


POSSIBLE BUDGET – £1250 | €1500 | US$1600

The Balkans is one of the cheapest parts of Europe overall. Croatia is the most expensive country with costs increasing and not far off what you find in Western Europe. Couchsurfing is a pretty good option though and will help you cut accommodation costs down to a minimum. Elsewhere in the Balkans, you can get extremely good value for money and roughly 25 Euros/day should be sufficient for a genuine shoestring traveller. Costs may be slightly higher in the busier summer months  and these figures don’t include the cost of flights to the region or travel insurance.

More on the cost of travel in Europe including individual country budgets


VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BALKANS

Of the countries in this route, only Croatia is in the European Union. However EU citizens won’t need visas to visit any of the other countries. If you’re from elsewhere in the world you may do but most of these countries are busy trying to promote tourism so many nationalities can enter visa-free. You can use our visa-check tool to see if you will require a visa for anywhere on our route.

Also note that going from Kosovo directly to Serbia is only possible if you initially entered Kosovo from Serbia. There is more info on this topic at the bottom of the page and a possible way around the issue for some nationalities. Our route does not see you enter Serbia via Kosovo so you’ll have no problems if you follow it.


TRAVEL INSURANCE

As always, we advise you to get travel insurance and are happy to recommend World Nomads, who specialise in providing cover for budget travellers.


Backpacking route for the Balkans

Note the route is one big loop so you can start at any point and just follow it around until you are back where you started. We’ve opted to begin in the Croatian capital Zagreb but Split, Dubrovnik, Tirana, Skopje or Belgrade could be other good options depending on where you’re coming from as they have international airports with decent connections.


 CROATIA

Time Needed – 10 days to 2 weeks

Croatia backpacking route

Zagreb

(2 days)

Zagreb is Croatia’s capital and largest city and a good place to start off. It’s not as big a travel destination as some of the coastal towns but is a lively place with plenty going for it. It boasts a medieval old town while the newer parts are reminiscent of many of the central European capitals so it doesn’t have such a strong Balkans vibe but there’s enough to keep you occupied for a day or two.


Plitvice National Park

(1-2 days)

This is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the Balkans and indeed all of Europe. It is like a natural water-world with large waterfalls and 16 interlinked turquoise lakes surrounded by lush forests. You do need a permit to enter the park though which costs 110 KN (15 Euros) for one day or 180 KN (24 Euros) for two. In terms of accommodation, some local apartment owners rent out rooms for as cheap as 10 Euros/night while there is also a camping site with some bungalows and tents for rent in the nearby town of Korana.

Zadar

(1-3 days)

Zadar is an important historical city on the coast. It has a small old town which is easily explored on foot while there are plenty of beaches nearby to relax on. In the summer it gets busy and some of the beaches are big nightlife destinations so its many hostels fill up and there is a big party vibe during the middle of the year although it’s still worth a visit at other times although perhaps only for a day or two.

Split & Croatian Islands

(3-5 days)

The ancient port city of Split is another essential stop on any backpacking route for Croatia. The town itself has  Roman walls, squares, and temples and will occupy you for a day or so. You can also kick back on Bačvice beach, which has lots of bars and clubs that come alive at night. Split is also the best place to get to some of the most popular Croatian islands such as Hvar and Brač while there are day trips you can do on the mainland too so it’s easy to spend several days in this part of Croatia, particularly during the summer months.

Dubrovnik

(2 days)

Dubrovnik is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Croatian towns with stunning bays and clear water as well as a most impressive old city which is circled by large medieval walls on all sides, which can be climbed and walked along. It gets very busy with numerous cruise ships coming in every day and tourist numbers and prices are high as a result but it’s certainly somewhere not be missed.


MFT RECOMMENDS – Cocoon Hostel, Dubrovnik 

This hostel is a great option for budget travellers in an otherwise expensive city. It’s not in the touristy Old Town, which is why it’s so cheap but you’re only a 30 minute walk away from it and the nearest beach is just 500 metres.


Possible Extension – Bosnia-Herzegovina

To get from Split to Dubrovnik, you have to briefly pass through Bosnia-Herzegovina so technically you will visit it anyway. However if you want to really spend some time there consider heading to Mostar, which is easily accessible from either Split or Dubrovnik and potentially on to the capital Sarajevo. If you do that you could rejoin the route at Durmitor National Park to avoid going back on yourself although it would be a shame to miss the Bay of Kotor, which is one of the real highlights of this Balkans travel itinerary. If you end up in Sarajevo, check out the War Hostel, which lets you experience a night or two in a city under siege (which Sarajevo was during the Bosnian conflict for almost four years) complete with bomb sounds!


MONTENEGRO

Time Needed – 10 days

Backpacking route for Montenegro

Kotor

(2-3 days)

Certainly one of the highlights of the trip and the jewel in Montenegro’s crown. The ancient walled city of Kotor is a nice place to spend a day and an evening but you’ll need another day or two to explore the stunning bay which is dotted around with friendly little villages that are worth a visit. You could opt to spend one night staying in the town and then perhaps another couple somewhere further along the bay where you can really appreciate its beauty.

Budva

(2-3 days)

If you’re travelling in one of the cooler months you can skip Budva but in the summer it comes alive as one of the most raucous party-towns in the Balkans. The beaches are nothing to get carried away about in truth and there are more chilled out places further down the coast towards Albania, but Budva is Montenegro’s shameless party capital and attracts visitors from around the region so it’s a good place to let your hair down.

Durmitor National Park

(2-3 days)

This mountainous area is another major stop on any Montenegro backpacking route and nature lovers won’t want to miss it. Hiking is a popular activity while it contains the deepest canyon in all of Europe, which is great for rafting.

Biogradska Gora National Park

(2-3 days)

This is the smallest of Montenegro’s four national parks but arguably the most beautiful and is hugely diverse. It contains one of only 3 remaining rainforests in Europe as well as mountain ridges and glacial lakes.


KOSOVO

Time Needed – 1 week

Backpacking route for Kosovo

Peja

(2-3 days)

For a small city, there is quite a lot to see and do in and around Peja, which is of Ottoman and Serbian Orthodox heritage. The monastery known as the Patriarchate of Peć is its most famous site and there’s also a lot of natural beauty around with caves, waterfalls and natural springs in the surrounding countryside. Hiking, rock-climbing, caving and skiing are popular activities and at bargain prices compared to other parts of Europe.

Mitrovica

(1 day)

For those of you interested in the complex politics and ethnic divisions in the Balkans and particularly Kosovo, Mitrovica is one place you definitely should visit. It perhaps sums up the Kosovan conflict better than any other city as the town is divided between Serbs, who live North of the river and Albanians, who live on the South. There’s not a great deal to see in truth but it’s just an interesting place to spend a day in although be wary of the current political climate as trouble does sometimes flare up given the divided nature of the city.

Pristina

(1-2 days)

The capital of Kosovo, Europe’s newest and poorest state is changing at quite a rate. It’s small enough that you can visit everywhere that’s really worth visiting in a day and as of December 2016 many of the museums are still being renovated/worked on. It has some unusual sights such as a curiously shaped library and a statue of Bill Clinton, which is not far from the bus station. There are certainly more beautiful cities in the Balkans but Pristina is not without its charms and English is widely spoken which makes it easier to get a feel for the place. People in Kosovo are generally more welcoming to foreigners than other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Prizren

(1 day)

Prizren is much more attractive than Pristina and a must-visit for anyone backpacking in Kosovo. It is much smaller though and it’d be hard to justify much more than a day here. The main thing to do is walk up to the crumbling fortress which towers over the town and provides a stunning view of Prizren, its charming riverside centre the dozens of mosques, which really give it a unique identity and feel.


ALBANIA

Time Needed – 1 week to 10 days

Backpacking route for Albania

Tirana

(2 days)

You’re now outside of what was Yugoslavia for the first time and Tirana is the best place to learn about Albanian culture and history. There are lots of interesting museums and sights but most are in or near to the giant Skanderbeg Square, which is the best location to base yourself. You could easily spend several hours in the extensive National Historic Museum, which offers a real insight into a country that has gone through some really dark times.

For more insight into Tirana – Check out this guest post on Europe’s least visited capital!

Berat

(1-2 days)

Albania is a really quirky country in many ways and decades of isolation have given it a unique feel that is distinct from even its neighbouring countries. Berat is a good example of that and it is known as the ‘town of a thousand windows’. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful in Albania but you’ll only really need an afternoon to see the town itself although a day trip out to Corovode and the Osumi Gorge is well worth doing.

Gjirokastër

(1-2 days)

This is another historic Ottoman city and one of the 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country along with Berat and the Butrint National Park, which form some of the main stops for anyone backpacking in Albania. It’s known as the city of stone with an expertly preserved old town and castle the highlights. There is also the old bazaar which still acts as the social and commercial hub of the town.

Sarandë

(2-3 days)

Albania’s best coastal destination is a great place to hang around in the summer. It has a few lively hostels and a bit of a backpacker vibe with the Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches and warm waters the main draw not to mention prices that are far lower than you get almost anywhere else in the Med. The best beaches are further along the coast but this is the most logical place to base yourself and it’s even possible to hop across the water on a ferry to the Greek island of Corfu which takes only about 2 hours.


Possible Extension – Greece

Sarandë is very close to the Greek border & the island of Corfu so it’s easy to visit Greece from here. The trip from Sarandë to Ohrid is a long one too so it could even be quicker to dip into Greece and head to Macedonia that way as the roads are better South of the border. The lakeside Greek town of Ioannina would be a possible stop.


MACEDONIA

Time Needed – 1 week

Macedonia Backpacking Route

Ohrid

(2-3 days)

Ohrid is the real travel highlight of Macedonia, which is a country that might just surprise you. The town looks out onto the giant lake of the same name and it’s a place of both historical significance and natural beauty. It is supposedly one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe and you can certainly spend a few days here exploring the town and surrounding area.

Bitola

(1-2 days)

Bitola is Macedonia’s Second City but it still has a population of under 100,000 so it’s not an enormous place. It’s known for its European vibe with colourful streets and monuments, as well as the most beautiful old bazaar in Macedonia. It’s also famed for its lively nightlife and is a good place to party and meet some locals.

Skopje

(2-3 days)

Skopje is a real surprise and in parts it feels more like London or Paris than a formerly provincial city nestled deep in the Balkans. Like London, it has a river that runs right through its heart with several stylish bridges that connect the two sides of town. It boasts an enormous number of statues and monuments and the Macedonian capital seems to be on an all-out mission to have the largest statues in the world. The one presumed to be of Alexander the Great in the central Macedonia Square is quite a sight and towers over the others. There is really quite a lot to see and do in Skopje, which is one of the biggest cities on this Balkans backpacking route so at least 2 days and perhaps more are needed.


SERBIA

Time Needed – 10 days

Backpacking Route for Serbia

image via Exit Festival under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Niš

(1-2 days)

Serbia is now a landlocked country followed Montenegro’s marginal vote in favour of splitting from Serbia in 2006. Visitor numbers are low compared to neighbouring Croatia but it has some great cities to visit and Niš is one of them. It has always been an important strategic location and has a long and varied history. It is perhaps best known as the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and is full of old fortresses and churches. It is also the site of one of the few Nazi concentration camps that remain intact and that makes for a harrowing visit.

Užice & Around

(3-4 days)

Užice is a relatively small city nestled between hills on the river Đetinja. You won’t need more than a day to check out the town but there are several of Serbia’s best travel destinations nearby so it’s a good place to base yourself for a few days. Highlights include the Tara National Park, which is home to plenty of species including brown bears and is a good place to go hiking or rafting. Around Užice there also are a few monasteries that make for an interesting visit, caves and several mountains where you can ski. The Bosnian town of Višegrad is also very nearby and worth checking out not least for its iconic bridge across the Drina River.

Belgrade

(2-3 days)

As the biggest city on the Balkans backpacker trail, Belgrade will take a bit more time to explore than most cities on this route which are easily explored on foot in a day. The enormous Kalemegdan – Belgrade Fortress is its main attraction but its a cosmopolitan city with a large number of museums and cultural sights. The nightlife here is also famous while it’s a good shopping destination with everything from major shopping malls to independent stores selling original products as well as a dirt cheap Chinese market with imported goods from China of questionable quality.


MFT RECOMMENDS – Belgrade Modern Hostel 

This ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a good hostel. Central location, cheap beds and excellent staff.


Novi Sad

(2 days)

Novi Sad is only 80km from Belgrade and is the country’s Second City. Like the capital, it has an imposing fortress, which has never been taken by any enemy. It now holds the Novi Sad City Museum and the town also has many art galleries and a student vibe which contributes to its lively nightlife scene. During July, it hosts EXIT Festival, the biggest music festival in the Balkans. If you’re ending your trip here, it’s probably easiest to head back to Belgrade to catch a flight as the city doesn’t have its own airport.


Getting from Novi Sad back to Zagreb

As we said at the start, this route is designed as a loop so you can start and end at any point or just do a small section of it, if you’re pushed for time. To get from Novi Sad back to Zagreb, our first destination you have various options, with a 5-6 hour train which can be taken from the nearby town of Sremska Mitrovica one possibility. You could though break up the trip by stopping over-night or just for an afternoon in the Croatian city of Slavonski Brod, which is roughly half way between the two. From there you have fast train and bus connections to Zagreb.



Budget Accommodation in the Balkans

There isn’t a massive backpacker vibe in this part of the world but most towns on this route have at least one or two hostels where you can meet other travellers and generally they are really good value. Croatia is noticeably more expensive than the other countries but does have more choice in terms of accommodation with many hostels in some of the cities. Booking online in advance is a good idea during the busier summer months. At other times of year they can be very empty so you don’t really need to. That said many of the hostels are small so it’s not a bad idea to let them know you’re coming to ensure there’ll be someone there to check you in on arrival.

Eastern Europe enthusiasts may also want to check out our Backpacking Route for the Baltic States.


Crossing Borders in the Balkans

Apart from Albania, this was all one country just 25 years ago so getting from one country to another is still pretty straight-forward and bus connections are quite regular although there are now border checks to contend with which slows things down a bit. In most cases at the border, you won’t need to get off the bus at all. The driver may collect everyone’s passports and they will be checked by the border guards, although most likely not that thoroughly. During busy times there can be pretty big traffic queues at the borders though so it can add some time to your journey although rarely more than 30 minutes to an hour.


IMPORTANT – Rules for going from Kosovo to Serbia

The one thing that every traveller in the Balkans should be aware of, regardless of where they are from involves Kosovo and more specifically travelling to Serbia from Kosovo. Since Serbia along with many other countries, doesn’t officially recognise Kosovo as an independent state, there are a few complications at the borders between the two.

You CAN enter Kosovo via any of the four countries it borders (Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia or Serbia) and will have no issues. You CAN also leave Kosovo for Montenegro, Albania or Macedonia with no problems. However if you want to travel directly from Kosovo to Serbia, this will only be possible, if you initially entered Kosovo from Serbia.

For example if you travel from Albania to Kosovo and then try to enter to Serbia you WILL NOT be allowed in. However if you are in Serbia, take a trip to Kosovo and then return to Serbia, it’s fine. So this is really important to be aware of when planning your trip and we’ve taken it into account with our route above.

If you are Serbian, Kosovar, Bosnian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Swiss or from the EU and have a national ID card, there is a way around the rule by showing your ID card rather than passport at the border.

This is all true as of November 2016. If you’re reading this in the future and have new information on changes then please use the comments section below to let us and other travellers know or contact us and we’ll update it.


This article was published in December 2016.