Barcelona on a Budget

Barcelona Travel Guide

Barcelona on the cheap


Arriving in Barcelona & Getting to the Centre

Barcelona-El Prat Airport

Most visitors to Barcelona arrive at the city’s main airport – El Prat. These days even most of the budget airlines use it and it is the only international airport within close proximity to the city.

  • Aerobus

Most tourists take the aerobus to get into the city. It runs every 5-10 minutes during the day and takes roughly 30 minutes to get from the airport to Plaza Catalunya in the heart of Barcelona depending on traffic and costs €5.90. Line A1 leaves from outside Terminal 1 while A2 leaves from Terminal 2 but they follow the same route and also stop at Plaza Espanya, which may be more convenient depending on the location of your accommodation. Be sure to get the right one for your terminal if you are returning to the airport at the end of your stay in Barcelona.

  • Train

The cheapest way to get from Barcelona Airport to Barcelona is to take the train. It leaves from the station at Terminal 2 (free shuttle buses run to Terminal 1) and your best bet is probably going to be a T-10 ticket, which gives you 10 journeys on all public transport in Barcelona for the duration of your stay. This way the cost of your trip into the city will work out at roughly €1. Trains take 20 minutes to reach Barcelona Sants Station and 25 minutes to Passeig de Gràcia. You can connect to the metro at either station and it won’t cost you any more as you have 1 hour 15 minutes to complete one journey on the T-10 ticket (more info in the ‘getting around the city’ section).

  • Metro

There is also a newly opened metro line (as of February 2016) that connects the metro network to Barcelona Airport with stations at both Terminal 1 and 2. However it’s not covered by normal metro tickets so it will cost €4.50 for a ticket to anywhere in the city and will take considerably longer to reach your destination as you’ll have to change trains at Europa Fira if you are heading to the centre. Overall the metro isn’t a great option for getting into the central parts of the city.

Girona & Reus Airports

Budget airlines sometimes fly to these airports and misleadingly refer to them as Barcelona airports. They are not! Both airports are approximately 100km from the city and will take in excess of 1 hour 30 minutes via the bus services that link the airports to the Catalan capital. A return ticket from either airport to Barcelona will cost around €25. Buses aren’t that regular but are usually timed to coincide with flights landing at the rarely used airports. The Girona-Barcelona buses end at Barcelona’s Estacio del Nord whereas Reus-Barcelona buses head to Barcelona Sants Station and you’ll still most likely have to connect to the metro to reach your accommodation. Depending on the time of your arrival, you may be able to connect with a train too.

By Train

Barcelona Sants Train Station is the main railway station in the city for domestic travel and the high-speed lines to France and beyond. It isn’t in a particularly central location but is connected to the metro network so it’s easy to catch a local train to your destination in the city. The same is true of Passeig de Gràcia and Estació de França which are the other main train stations and are more central than Sants although aren’t served by as many trains. For train times and booking tickets in Spain and around Catalonia see Renfe. Booking several weeks in advance is advisable, certainly on the high-speed lines, as prices do usually go up nearer the date of travel.

By Bus

Barcelona Nord is where you’ll almost certainly arrive if coming in by bus. There are 18 buses per day to/from Madrid for example so it’s a busy terminus and you can walk from the station to Arc de Triomf or Marina metro stations and it’s not far from the heart of the city so you might even be able to walk to your desired destination. Some buses also go to/from Sants Bus Station. The biggest bus company in Spain is Alsa, which has routes to almost all the major Spanish cities from Barcelona. Travelling by bus in Spain is much cheaper than the train but generally much slower. Advanced booking is advisable for longer trips but it only needs to be done a day or two in advance and prices are fixed.


Budget accommodation in Barcelona

Barcelona has an enormous choice of hostels and budget accommodation. Dorm beds start at around €15/night during the week and more like €18/night at the weekend, which is a bit more expensive than most other cities in Spain. You can usually find something a bit cheaper during the winter months but during peak season (May to September), the city is very crowded with visitors and many of the better hostels sell out quickly.

When deciding where to stay, location is perhaps the biggest factor to consider as most hostels offer a similar kind of quality at a similar price. You might consider Plaza Catalunya as being the very mid-point of the city so anything within a 1km walk of that would certainly be considered very central. That being said in Barcelona, the metro is very extensive and it’s not a huge city so it’s not the end of the world if you’re not right in the heart of town. Many of the main sights are not in the centre anyway.

In the summer months, you could opt to stay closer to the beaches, the nearest of which is 20-30 minutes walk from the city centre. If you want a more local vibe and perhaps a more authentic Barcelona experience then consider staying in Gracia, which is away from the touristy centre but still well-located for Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia, and less than 10 minutes by metro to La Rambla.

Recommended Hostels in Barcelona

Factory Gardens – This stylish hostel is in a local neighbourhood close to the Sagrada Familia and offers some of the best value-for-money you’ll find amongst the budget accommodation options in Barcelona.

Hip Karma Hostel – This is another reliable choice and they often slash prices to 10 Euros/night during less busy times if you book online. It’s well located being less than 10 minutes walk from the city’s main square – Plaza Catalunya and biggest park – Parc de la Ciutadella.

Kabul Party Hostel – As the name suggests, this a good place to stay for those looking to party. It’s a sociable place and very well located in the heart of the old Gothic quarter, just a few feet from La Rambla and near to many bars and clubs.

Airbnb is also a decent option in Barcelona and you can sometimes find cheaper deals there. Sign up for Airbnb and claim €35 free credit here.


Getting around the city

Barcelona travel guide

Picture via Miquel Lleixà Mora, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

On Foot

In the Old Town and central districts, you can generally get around on foot. Even the closer beaches are fairly accessible by walking from the centre with Barceloneta Beach around 20 minutes walk from La Rambla and the Gothic Quarter.

Metro

Barcelona isn’t a massive city but some of the main sights are quite spread out so you will certainly need to make use of public transport at some point. Barcelona has an excellent (when it’s not on strike) metro network that will get you anywhere you need to go and you’ll rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes for a train.

The best option for almost all visitors to the city is to get the T10 1 Zone ticket. This will give you 10 journeys to anywhere in the city for €9.95 and can be used on buses, trains, trams and the metro. Unless you are planning any day trips out of Barcelona, you won’t need more than Zone 1 as it covers the entire city and you can even get to the nearby beach of Montgat without leaving this zone.

The metro runs until midnight (Sunday to Thursday), 2:00am (Fridays and public holidays) and all night on Saturdays. During the day, you can get to pretty much everywhere you need to go by a combination of metro/walking.

Buses

It’s probably simpler and quicker to just use the metro when it’s open. However after the metro shuts, the nightbuses become your best option and they are pretty extensive so you should still be able to get where you need to go or close to it. You can still use the T-10 ticket on buses. You validate it by using the machine on-board the buses.

Taxis

Overall Barcelona’s transport network is really good value when compared to other major European cities and if you’re only in town for 2-3 days, you should be able to get by on just the one T10 ticket. Budget travellers in Barcelona won’t really find much need to use taxis, which typically cost about €2 per kilometre.

Cycling

Another option is to cycle around the city. There are plenty of cycle lanes and the city’s Bicing scheme is popular although it’s virtually impossible for short-term visitors to use, as you need an address in Catalonia. There are though many bike rental places dotted around town and it’s a nice way to see the city although almost certainly will work out more expensive than just using the T-10 ticket on public transport.


How to see Barcelona on a Budget

Barcelona city guide

Barcelona is a city that is designed perfectly for the weekend visitor with money to spend and it’s unquestionably one of the most popular short-break destinations in the world. Most first-time visitors end up doing pretty much the same thing with a handful of main tourist attractions taking up most of their time. The most popular of which include the Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi masterpiece that still hasn’t been finished but continues to tower above the city, Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and Barcelona Football Club, one of the world’s greatest.

The problem for budget travellers is that these are not cheap places and the city seems to have responded to the economic crisis by really cashing in on tourism, although it doesn’t seem to have put people off coming. A basic entrance ticket for the Sagrada Familia for example is a hefty €15 and there is nothing much in the way of info inside so to get much out of your visit, you will at least need to get the audio tour, which is another €7. A ticket for a Barcelona match at Camp Nou will invariably set you back at least €45 these days and often more while a stadium & museum tour is €23. Even many of things that aren’t particularly worth visiting aren’t cheap with a frankly disappointing Aquarium charging €18 being a good example. The point being a few days in Barcelona can easily become very expensive if you are not careful.

These prices are all ‘online prices’ which are typically less than at the door where you may face long queues, certainly at the Sagrada Familia. Therefore booking online is one way to save a bit of cash. Inevitably though if you are in Barcelona on a budget, you are going to have to pick and choose to some extent and you mustn’t feel obliged to enter every single attraction.

The Sagrada Familia in all honestly is much more impressive from the outside and unless you are truly passionate about churches, you might be wise to skip the queues and fees for going inside and instead perhaps head to Gaudi’s House & Museum, which is more informative and considerably cheaper.

Likewise if you’re not that fussed about football, you don’t have to feel obliged to go and watch what will probably be a very one-sided match. The cheapest tickets are right at the top of the stadium and don’t offer a great view given Camp Nou is Europe’s largest football stadium and holds nearly 100,000. If you’re a football fan but in town when Barcelona aren’t playing, the city’s other team Espanyol probably will be and tickets are much more reasonably priced for their games and you can get closer to the action for much less.

If you have a set budget then it’s perhaps best picking one attraction each day that you are really keen on going for and then spending the rest of the day on foot exploring the city. With the T10 metro ticket you can see basically the whole city in a few days and you can still have the full Barcelona experience without getting sucked into every tourist trap, of which there are many!

As you’ll see from the list below, there are many fantastic free things to do in Barcelona. Indeed you can still do an awful amount without ever paying any admission fees, which are the things that really can break even a mid-range travel budget in Barcelona.


Five Free things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona things to do

Picture via Montse Poch, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Gaudi tour

Barcelona is full of Gaudi masterpieces. Spend an afternoon exploring the city on foot going from one to the next. They are all most impressive from the outside and you don’t need to pay any money to look! You can easily learn more about each building by doing a bit of your own research online so it’s not hard to get to grips with Gaudi’s Barcelona without spending a single cent! Here are 10 of Gaudi’s most famous Barcelona buildings.

Walk La Rambla

The most famous street in Barcelona is well worth a walk from one end to the other just to experience its hustle and bustle. There are several nuisance factors on La Rambla but if you ignore the drug dealers and keep an eye on your pockets it’s nothing more than that. The street is perhaps most famous for its street performers and bizarre human statues and on any given day you are sure to find something or someone who will capture your interest for a few minutes.

Park Güell

A must visit for anyone visiting Barcelona.  Not only is Park Guell, a beautiful place to relax and spend an hour or so, it has two major draws. Firstly it is the location of Gaudi’s house (or one of them), now a museum. Secondly it offers stunning views of the city and is one of the best spots to capture a few panoramic photographs of the BCN skyline. Another great location for this is the nearby Bunker del Carmel, while you can also get good views from Montjuic, site of most of Barcelona’s 1992 Olympics venues as well as the city’s castle.

Watch a Barcelona game in a local bar

Okay so you might have to pay a Euro for a drink but it’s important to re-hydrate right? With ticket prices so high at Camp Nou and the stands usually full of tourists, arguably a more authentic and certainly cheaper experience these days is to just find a local bar and watch the game on TV.

Many Barca fans only go to the stadium for the very biggest matches and settle for watching the majority of league games in a bar. If you are visiting Barcelona on a budget you might be wise to do the same unless catching a game at Camp Nou has been a lifelong dream of yours. Consider heading to the streets around the stadium to catch a bit of the pre-match buzz and atmosphere and then head to one of the many nearby bars and cafes to watch the match itself. All Barcelona games (home & away) are screened live in what often seems like virtually every bar/restaurant in the city.

Go to the Beach

Barcelona has a fantastic climate and it’s warm enough to go to the beach for roughly half of the year. Certainly from June to September you can basically rely on it being warm and sunny while it’s often still warm enough in both May and October. In the summer months, the beaches are packed and there are many ways to enjoy them. You can simply relax and take in the sun, spend the day drinking with friends (beer guys generally move up and down the beach selling cheap cold cans) or for the more active join a game of volleyball or go surfing.

More on all this in the next section!


Beaches

Best beaches in Barcelona

From Barcelona, you have access to a huge number of beaches.

City Beaches

The beaches in Barcelona itself might not be the most beautiful but they are the most convenient and liveliest. They do get extremely busy in the summer months particularly Barceloneta, which is an easy walk from the centre of the city. If you follow the coast round from Barceloneta you reach Nova Icaria, Bogatell, Mar Bella and Llevant. There are officially 10 different beaches but in reality it is one long stretch of sand with a short break at Port Olimpic, which is a good place to grab lunch. You can stroll from one end to the other in about an hour. Each beach has its own flavour with gay-friendly Mar Bella having a nudist section while Bogatell has more recreational facilities such as volleyball courts and football pitches.

Just Outside the City

  • Montgat

Montgat Beach is a long stretch of white sand only 20 minutes by train from Placa Catalunya (journey covered by the T-10 pass). It’s usually much quieter and nicer than the city beaches and you have a genuine feel of having left the city.

  • Castelldefels

Heading the other way out of Barcelona you find the wide and very long Castelldefels beach which is about 30 minutes by train from Passeig de Gracia station in the city centre. If you’re planning to spend most or all the day on the beach then both are better options than the ones in the city unless you don’t mind the crowds.

Further Out

If you start early then you can do a day trip out to one of the best beaches in the region. To the North, the Costa Brava is 1 hour 30 minutes away by train while heading South options include gay-friendly Sitges and it’s multiple small beaches, the Roman town of Tarragona and the popular resort of Salou. All three can be reached in an hour or less with fares under €10 if you take the cheaper trains. Check Renfe for times and prices.

Spain is full of fantastic beach destinations. More feature in our backpacking route for Spain and Portugal.


Eating Out on a Budget

Snacks

Barcelona is not short on excellent restaurants but if you’re travelling on a budget, finding good value isn’t always easy, when you don’t know the city. For cheap daytime snacks/drinks, check out 100 montaditos, which is a budget chain that serves dirt cheap drinks (€1.50 for una jarra of beer (nearly a pint) and small tapas-style sandwiches known as montaditos (little burgers) from €1. They are at numerous sites around the city so wherever you are, there should be one close. They are also a good bet for cheap drinks at the start of the night. On Wednesdays and Sundays they slash prices further to 1 Euro for everything on the menu!

All-you-can-eat!

If you’re really hungry, then the buffet options can provide decent value and should fill you up for the best part of the day. There are numerous options around town with FrescCo perhaps the best one with all-you-can eat from €10-12 depending on the time of day and including a drink.

Restaurants

If you want to enjoy a meal out in a restaurant but are on a relatively tight budget then it’s probably best to avoid La Rambla and the streets right next to it. Often they advertise good deals on food but will really take advantage of you in terms of drinks. Normally in Spain, beers come smaller than in other European countries. However if you ask for a large beer on La Rambla, you’re often served something more like a litre of beer and charged €10-15 for it! Paseig de Gracia is another expensive area for eating out but Barcelona does have some cheaper districts.

Raval is one such area, which has some really budget-friendly options. It is a multicultural zone so you’ll find cuisines from all around the world with everything from curryhouses to Mexian restaurants. Rosa Raval is a tasty Mexican joint with affordable cocktails while nearby Carrer de Joaquin Costa has a few budget-friendly vegetarian restaurants.

You can find the odd gem in El Born too but restaurants do change hands quite regularly and quality goes up and down so it’s worth checking the latest reviews. Foodie in Barcelona and Spotted by Locals are two blogs worth checking out for suggestions for cheap restaurants in Barcelona.

It’s worth noting that most restaurants in Barcleona won’t start serving food until after 8:00pm and that would still be early for locals to head out to eat. Many eat their biggest meal of the day at lunch-time and something lighter later on.


Nightlife

Going out in Barcelona

Picture via Matt Cornish, CC BY-NC 2.0

Barcelona’s nightlife, like that in the rest of Spain, starts and ends late. Bars typically stay open till 3:00am, which is about the best time to start heading to clubs, most of which stay open till 6:00am.

Cheap Drinks

If you want to have a cheap night out, then it is probably best to start by buying a few drinks from a supermarket, with prices very low for beer, wine and spirits. Note that after 10:00pm, shops aren’t allowed to sell alcohol although some smaller places might if you ask nicely!

Either way it’s best to stock up prior to that and have a few drinks in your hostel before going out. Alternatively you could just head down to the beach or harbour area (at the bottom of La Rambla & left) and start your night drinking there, which is what many locals do. There are Pakistani guys who sell beers in the streets in both locations and in most of the city centre until late, so you can usually buy a small cold can of Estrella off them for €1 at any time of night. Therefore you can be approaching very drunk for less than €10 in Barcelona and won’t need to buy as many drinks later in the night.

Bars

In terms of bars, the old town is probably the best spot for budget travellers. There are hundreds of really small bars dotted around the winding streets of the old town. Generally speaking, Raval which has a bit of an alternative vibe, is marginally cheaper than the Gothic quarter but most bars have signs outside advertising drinks deals so you can wander around and pick one that takes your fancy or just turn it into a bar crawl. Beer and wine is still generally fairly cheap in bars but cocktails and spirits often cost €7-10 although they are strong.

Clubs

When planning a night out, choosing a club to go to is perhaps the biggest decision. You can get in some clubs for free during the week before a certain time but at the weekend there are hefty admission fees at almost all the main clubs so once you are in one, you will generally stay there until the night is out. €20 is typical for admission but it does normally include at least one drink and often two (con consumición). You simply take the ticket to the bar and exchange the voucher for any drink of your choice. Cocktails and spirits are usually very strong in Spain so you night not need more than a couple anyway!

Barcelona has a wide choice of clubs of varying quality. Of course it depends on your music preferences but popular options include Razzmatazz, a huge former factory which now hosts thousands of party-goers each weekend. It has an under-stated vibe with no real dress-code and also hosts live music events. There are multiple floors with many different rooms playing a variety of different genres so it’s a safe bet, particularly if you’re a large group and people have different tastes in music.

Razzmatazz is typically only open at weekends though so in the week, Sala Apolo, is perhaps the most popular bet for a cheap-ish night. It has regular student nights and is widely thought of as the best party early in the week with ‘Nasty Mondays’ and ‘Crappy Tuesdays’ still going strong.

For a more urban vibe, check out Otto Zutz. It’s located a fair way from the centre in Gracia and tends to attract a more local crowd. It is a smaller venue though so you might want to get there bit earlier than the typical 2:00-3:00 to ensure you get in as it is very popular.



 This article was published in March 2017.


Greece Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Greece

(Map of Greece, can be re-used by anyone)


Daily Travel Costs in Greece on a Shoestring Budget

US$45 | 40 Euros

As far as the Mediterranean goes, Greece offers some of the best value not to mention most appealing destinations. Greece has been crippled by economic woe for close to a decade now but prices have gone down as a result and visitors from the US or countries with currencies pegged to the dollar should find it much cheaper now than it was a few years ago. If you’ve been backpacking in the Balkans, particularly if you’re arriving from close neighbours Albania or Macedonia, you may still notice a pretty sharp increase in prices but that’s only relative and travellers heading here from Italy, France, Germany or Spain to Greece should notice the opposite effect to varying degrees.

Hostels are plentiful and pretty affordable by European standards although during the busier summer months, prices can go up and beds can sell out on the islands and coastal destinations. The food is fresh and relatively good value although to stick to our Greece backpacking budget of 40 Euros per day, you’ll need to do some self-catering or settle for cheaper snacks or sandwiches at lunch-time. Travelling around Greece is really good value too and with some advanced planning you can travel the length of the mainland or fly to one of the islands for under 20 Euros.

See where Greece ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Europe.


More Comfortable Greece Backpacker Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros

If you’re planning on visiting Greece and particularly the more popular islands, during the peak summer months then you might want to increase your budget by 10-15 Euros. This will cover the increase in the cost of accommodation and transport due to the big increase in visitors at that time.

At other times of year, adding 15 Euros to your budget would allow you to eat out twice a day or it could be put towards the cost of visiting more of the many Greek islands, which can be a bit of a hassle to get around.


Sample Prices in Greece

Train from Athens to Thessaloniki (5-6 hours) – from €9 (if bought online and in advance)

Flight from Athens to Crete (1 hour) – from €17 plus baggage

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – €10

0.5 Litre beer in bar or restaurant – €3

Dorm bed in Athens – from €10/night

Cheap private twin/double room or apartment in Crete – from €25/night (more during peak summer months)

Entrance to Acropolis in Athens – €20 (€10 during the winter – 1st November to 31st March)

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Greece prices to the cost of travel in Italy


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.19

US$1 = €0.94

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)


MFT Recommends

With a rooftop terrace and bar and reasonably priced beds, the centrally located Athens Backpackers is the best place to meet other travellers in the heart of the Greek capital.


Street art in Greece

street art in Athens, Greece (via aesthetics of crisisCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

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


This article was published in December 2016.


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 but you can get extremely good value for money elsewhere where roughly 25 Euros/day should be sufficient for a budget 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.


What does Brexit mean for travellers?

What does Brexit mean for Brits travelling abroad?

What does Brexit mean for travellers?

So Britain has voted to leave the EU (you might have heard about it!) and nobody quite seems to know what happens next. On this page we’ll aim to briefly answer the question of what does Brexit mean for travellers?


Short-Term Consequences of Brexit for travellers

Freedom to Travel

Initially at least this isn’t likely to change anything in terms of visas or entry requirements for UK travellers. If you have trips booked over the next 12 months or are planning on travelling in the near future, you can relax. Britain first has to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to commence a 2 year negotiation period on exactly how it will leave the EU and even that can be extended. Therefore it is almost impossible for Britain to leave the European Union before 2019 and many experts have suggested it could take 5-10 years before Britain is actually out.

Therefore for the next 2-3 years at least, Brits can travel abroad as they do now and can move freely around the European Union countries, staying as long as they want and even working there if they so wish. There is no need to get a new passport or anything like this as Britain will remain a European Union country for the next few years.

Cost of Travel

The most serious short-term consequence of Brexit for UK travellers is the decrease in value of the British Pound. It crashed in the messy aftermath of the referendum and two weeks on is still trading considerably down against the Euro and particularly the US Dollar. £1 is now worth $1.30 (compared to around $1.45 in the weeks before the vote) and €1.17 (compared to €1.27 in the weeks before the vote).  When you consider 12 months ago £1 would get you around €1.40 and $1.55, you can see the economists are not talking out of their arses when they say there has been a huge fall in its value.

Although currency markets clearly can be quite volatile, for Brits travelling abroad in the near future this almost certainly means one thing. Your trip is going to cost more. In the Eurozone, you may find yourself spending 15-20% more than a comparable trip just one year ago. Travelling outside the EU is also likely to be more expensive as the British Pound has lost value on almost all currencies over the few weeks since the vote. A trip to the United States is also likely to be 15-2o% more expensive now and given many currencies around the world are either pegged to the US Dollar or closely linked to it, a strong dollar and weak pound is generally bad news for Brits travelling abroad.

Many budget airlines have also indicated their prices will go up as a result of the Brexit vote but there has been no real evidence of this so far and nor should there be until Britain actually leaves the EU. That said the depreciation of the Pound will make flights on European airlines like Ryanair or Vueling slightly more expensive as they calculate their fares in Euros and convert them to Pounds for British customers.

Working & Living in the EU

While Britain remains an EU member, which as mentioned previously it will do for the next few years at least, you are still free to go and work and live abroad in the EU. This means teaching English on the continent or taking jobs at summer camps or ski resorts is still very much possible in the immediate future.


Long-Term Consequences of Brexit for travellers

Freedom to Travel

One of the greatest misconceptions about this whole Brexit thing is that Brits are suddenly going to need visas just to go on short trips to Europe. That simply is not going to be the case. Even now you can visit almost every non-EU European country without any need for a visa (Russia being the most obvious exception). Places like Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Macedonia are not in the EU and there is no need for a visa to visit them.

Will you have to go through passport control when you head to/from Europe? Yes but you already do! Britain is not in the Schengen Zone which allows borderless travel across much of Europe but not between the UK and the continent. The only change could be between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which currently has a special agreement which may need to change if and when Britain leaves the EU potentially leading to border checks in Ireland. Likewise were Scotland to vote to leave the UK but stay in the EU, border checks may come in on the England-Scotland border as it would become an EU border.

If and when Britain finally does leave the EU, you most likely won’t even have any longer waits at passport control. You may have noticed signs saying things like ‘EU citizens & Swiss Nationals’ at passport control and that may well just be extended to ‘& British nationals’ depending on the terms of Britain’s eventual exit.

Will I need a new passport if Britain leaves the EU?

You may also have noticed that your current passport contains very clear markings indicating that the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland is an EU member state. Most likely these will just be phased out with new passports issued without EU markings.

Working & Living in the EU

If Britain wants full access to the free market, it will almost certainly have to agree to open borders, one of the main reasons why 52% of people voted leave. If it does then it would mean EU citizens would remain free to come and work in the UK and Brits could still live and work or continue working in the EU.

If it doesn’t then the UK will most likely have to reach a new agreement with each individual member state, which clearly could take a while.  At the very least there are likely to be more bureaucratic obstacles in the way of Brits wanting to live and work abroad such as work permits and work visas. It’s highly likely that Brits will still be able to live and work in the EU particularly somewhere like Spain, which is pretty broke and has around 750,000 Brits already living there, something that helps generate money for the Spanish economy.

Cost of Travel

The long-term effect of Brexit on travellers is somewhat less clear. Certainly currency markets are very hard to predict but there is a good chance that the Pound will recover to some extent as the turmoil settles down and things become a bit clearer.

Many have speculated that the Brexit could lead other EU countries to hold referendums and potentially leave the EU, which may struggle to survive were another major power like France to leave. Events like that could send the Euro spiralling which would in theory make Europe cheaper again for Brits although regional instability isn’t likely to do wonders for the Pound either so it could lose ground on other currencies around the world.

This is all speculation to an extent so perhaps the most important thing for budget travellers would be to keep an eye on exchange rates and Brexit-related news and bear them in mind when budgeting for your next trip. Most of our travel budgets were published or updated a few months before the Brexit vote and although we will ultimately update them all again, you may be wise to use the US$ figure for now as your reference. Use xe.com to convert it to Pounds at the latest rate and calculate how much your trip might cost.

If you are worried about not having enough funds, you might be wise to put off booking trips too far in the future as the markets are still quite volatile and any further depreciation of the Pound could leave you with a big hole in your budget by the time your next adventure comes around.

The Cost of Flights

If Britain does ultimately leave the single market then it is highly likely that Brits will have to pay more for flights to the continent. EU free market rules encourage competition and have helped contribute to the emergence of dirt cheap fares to the continent.

Even the cost of flights further afield could potentially go up with some airlines suggesting they may opt for major European airports like Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris as the base for their inter-continental flights rather than UK airports meaning Brits may have fewer destinations they can fly direct to and would need more connecting flights.

Duty-Free

This one is a bit of a double-edged sword. Brexit is likely to mean a return to the days of Brits bringing in Duty-Free goods from the EU but with more limits on what you can bring in. Currently you can bring in an almost unlimited quantity of goods from the continent but you have to pay duty on them. So Brexit will mean cheaper prices for things like alcohol and cigarettes when bought abroad but more restrictions on how much you can bring back into the country.

Roaming Charges

The EU recently agreed to scrap roaming charges making the cost of using your mobile across Europe considerably cheaper when it fully comes into effect in June 2017. When Britain finally leaves the EU, the UK government may well scrap that along with many other EU regulations making the cost of using your mobile across Europe more expensive again.

 


This article was published in July 2016.


Italy Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget Italy

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


Daily Travel Costs in Italy on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros 

Even though Italy has experienced some pretty serious economic problems in recent years like Mediterranean neighbours Spain and Greece, it hasn’t really got any cheaper as a result and is still overall an expensive place to visit and it has more in common with France than those two countries in that regard.

Like France it is full of tourist traps and many of its finest cities are very hard to visit on anything like a shoestring budget. In somewhere like Venice for example it is almost impossible to get by on just 55 Euros a day with accommodation alone taking up over 50% of that while eating out is also expensive in the Northern tourist cities like Venice, Florence and Pisa.

However if you try and get out and spend more time in the real Italy and perhaps just visit those places as part of a day trip or perhaps a one night stay then our Italy backpacking budget of 55 Euros/day becomes much more realistic. There is a fair degree of regional variation in prices too and generally the further South you go the cheaper things get with even Rome perhaps a fraction cheaper than the likes of Milan in the North. Certainly if you head into the more rural South you should be able to see your money lasting longer.

See where Italy ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Italy Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 70 Euros

As is the case in many countries, the expensive places are generally the ones that are most worth visiting. The problem with Italy is that there are so many of them and a city like Venice really doesn’t need budget travellers to make a huge amount of tourism and as such does little to cater for them. By pushing your budget up to 70 Euros a day, you can afford to spend more time in the pricier destinations but you will still have to be a bit smart with where you eat and drink in order to stick to that.


Sample Prices in Italy

Train from Pisa to Rome (4 hours) – from €24

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – €12-15

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – €4

Dorm Bed in Rome or Florence – from €15

Private Double or Twin room in Venice – from €60

Entrance to Rome Colosseum – €15.50 ($10.50 for 18-24 year olds from EU countries)

Compare Italy prices with the cost of travel in Greece.


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)


MFT Recommends

It’s no secret that the majority of the fairly limited budget accommodation that exists in Rome is not of a great standard. The centrally located Hard Rock Rooms is a rare exception.


street art in Italy

street art in Roma, Italy (via Claudio VaccaroCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Italy recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.


Ireland Backpacking Budget

Ireland Backpacking Budget

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

This article refers to the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland which is covered in our United Kingdom backpacking budget. That said prices are pretty similar in Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland although the currency is different.


Daily Travel Costs in Ireland on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros

The cost of travel in Ireland like much of Europe depends on the strength of the Euro at the time you visit. It has fluctuated considerably over recent years and Ireland briefly became quite a bit cheaper than the UK for example but is evening up again now. Dublin in particular is known for being quite an expensive city to visit with the cost of the main attractions regularly around 20 Euros while the city’s famous pubs are by no means cheap so if you are someone who likes a drink then you might struggle to stick our suggested Ireland backpacking budget of 55 Euros.

However you can still have quite a lot of fun on that sort of budget with costs generally a fair bit lower outside of the capital. It’s a relatively small country and the cost of travelling around isn’t that much so that is one positive and in terms of overall costs in ranks probably as an average Western European country. Accommodation and food prices are certainly more reasonable than somewhere like Scandinavia or France and given the large number of visitors the country receives, Ireland is pretty well equipped to cater for budget travellers.

See where Ireland ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Ireland Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 70 Euros

The Irish are known to like a drink and although the country has plenty to offer in terms of rural charm, unquestionably the pub culture is a big appeal for many visitors to the country. Budgeting for 70 Euros per day will give you a lot more freedom to immerse yourself in that and with some form of live music and lively pubs almost every night even in the smaller towns, you will find plenty of temptation. Certainly if you are only on a short trip to Ireland you might want to allow for this sort of budget which will allow you to pack a lot more in. If you don’t drink then you can certainly get by on less.


Sample Prices in Ireland

Train from Galway to Dublin (2 hours 20 minutes) – €25

Meal at an inexpensive pub or restaurant – €12

Pint of lager or Guinness – €5-6 (a bit less outside Dublin)

Dorm bed – from €15/night

Cheap private double or twin room – from €50/night

Entrance to the Guinness Storehouse – €20 (includes a free pint of Guinness)


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)

If you head north of the border, remember that British Pounds are used in Northern Ireland.


MFT Recommends

Dublin’s enormous Generator Hostel is one of the best places to stay in the Irish capital with budget beds, good conditions and a lively and pretty cheap bar that is nice for meeting other travellers.


ireland street art

street art in Dublin, Ireland (via Guiseppe MiloCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Ireland recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.


Iceland Backpacking Budget

Iceland backpacking budget

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


Daily Travel Costs in Iceland on a Shoestring Budget

US$75 | 8500 Icelandic Krona

Iceland is a country high up on many a bucket list but its isolated location makes it somewhat difficult to fit into any other trip. The bad news for shoestring travellers is that Iceland is getting expensive again after a brief hiatus when the country’s three main banks all went bust during the economic crisis and Iceland suddenly became somewhat more affordable.

For starters there is the cost of getting to Iceland which can be quite high given it’s closer to Greenland than continental Europe and that isn’t even factored into our high suggested Iceland backpacking budget of US$75/day. A good chunk of that goes on accommodation which is very expensive and the cost of eating and drinking out is at least in line with any expensive country on mainland Europe. Then there is the cost and hassle of using the limited public transport. Given the population of Iceland is little over 300,000, the services are far from regular and quite costly so many travellers prefer to rent out a car to explore the island, which has many advantages in that you can stop off at any of the abundant natural wonders that catches your eye.

The only real good news for budget travellers in Iceland is that almost all the main places to see are free to visit. If you are travelling as a group, you might be able to get by on less than $75/day by renting out a car and preparing your own food. Camping and perhaps hitch-hiking are also good options in the warmer months and doing a fair bit of that could see you slip well below $75/day but it’s not for everyone.

See where Iceland ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Iceland Backpacker Budget

US$100 | 11400 Icelandic Krona

To see the best of Iceland, you really want to be renting your own car for a few days, which certainly if you are a solo traveller is going to be expensive. Many of the best places to visit are some way off the main highway and not linked by public transport. On a budget of $100/day even a solo traveller, should be able to afford to do that for a few days at least to explore the more remote parts of the island and then perhaps spend a bit more time based in Reykjavík without a car and doing trips to the nearby places of interest that are more accessible.


Sample Prices in Iceland

Car Rental with full protection – from 8500kr/day (€60) + petrol

Large beer in Reykjavík bar or restaurant – 1000kr  (€7)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 2000kr (€14)

Camping in a designated campground (there are many) – 1500kr/night (€11)

Dorm bed – from 3500kr/night (€25)

Budget private double or twin room – 10500kr/night (€75)

Entrance to Þingvellir National Park – Free!


Money

Currency – Icelandic Krona

£1 = 139 Krona

€1 = 120 Krona

US$1 = 114 Krona

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)

Some shops that cater to tourists do accept Euros and maybe US Dollars but it’s unlikely to be at a very good rate so get yourself some krona!


MFT Recommends

Possibly the cheapest dorm beds in Iceland at a fraction under €20/night are found at the Grábrók Hotel and Holiday Homes near to the crater of the same name. A good option if you’d rather stay in natural surroundings than in the capital.


street art in Iceland

street art in Reykjavik, Iceland (via Rob YoungCC BY 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Iceland recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.