What’s the real cost of a Summer in Europe?

Countless times over the last few months we’ve got incredulous friends asking us if we’ve won lotto, have a trust fund they don’t know about or if we’re just stacking up the credit card debt. A European Summer trip is not cheap, true. Especially with the exchange rate when coming from New Zealand, but it actually the cost of a summer in Europe is a whole less than you’d expect.

Florence Sunset - Cost of a Summer in Europe

20160802194129_img_5047Sure, there are many who will pack spontaneously book a plane ticket into London and out of Barcelona, pack a bag and hope for the best but that is going to cost a fortune! With June – August being the height of summer and what seems like half the population of the world descending on Europe prices are high, accomodation is scarce and even train tickets sell out. Never fear though, with a little planning its affordable, and not even stressful.

We like to think we’ve pretty successfully achieved it, for €82 each a day each we have covered 27 different cities over 13 different countries. And we’re not exactly roughing it. When we planned our itinerary we had a budget of €89 each per day, so we’ve actually come in under budget!

From clifftop cave houses on Santorini, to house boats in Amsterdam and traditional apartments in venice we’ve stayed in places much nicer than a standard dorm room. We’ve had an insane week partying on board Sail Croatia, gone food and wine tasting in Florence and paragliding in Macedonia – none of which you’d think would be achievable on a relatively strict budget. But its possible, and we have the spreadsheets to prove it!

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When we initially started planning this trip Mark didn’t want it to be any longer than 6 weeks, we didn’t know if we could afford it, and Europe is notoriously expensive. I spent hours researching online, mapping out our itinerary, making budgets and pre-booking everything that I could.

Certainly at times I’ve been worries that we would overspend, like the time we spent €341 in a day on Santorini or when mark got sick on Sail Croatia and we were landed with a €153 doctors bill. Thankfully its all evened out in the end as we’d planned some lengthy stays in relatively cheap places.

We’ve covered over 900km but actually managed to come in under budget!

Not to blow my own trumpet, but thanks to my impressive excel spreadsheet itemising all our costs and pivot tables breaking them down to categories we can see exactly how much a summer in Europe costs.

Before the big reveal of our cost of a summer in Europe I need to disclose;

  • All these costs are for 2 people
  • All costs are done in Euros and have been converted using the below currency rates
    • Polish Zloty – 4.3 = 1€
    • Croatiaa Kuna – 7.5 = 1€
    • Czech Koruna – 27 = 1€
    • Hungarian Forints– 307 = 1€
    • Macedonian Denar – 60 = 1€
  • Meals and Drinks includes on average one alcoholic beverage each per person at dinner
  • There is €31.87 on our budget for Sail Croatia that we can’t account for, based on probability I’ve put it under ‘entertainment’ because in reality if I didn’t write it down it was most likely in the early hours of the morning after a few too many beers.
  • This includes all transport around Europe, but not flights to our starting point in London.

Accomodation €5492

Average per night: €54.92

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Accomodation is always one of the biggest expenses of a holiday! Luckily though its easy enough to forecast what these costs are going to be. We pre-booked all of our Accomodation, which saved us an absolute fortune.

It’s worth noting that we had 13 nights free accomodation in Paris, Milan & Lake Como thanks to the generosity of our friends.

We stayed predominantly in AirBnB’s as for longer term travel the option of cooking at home, and having more space to relax is super important. They’re also really cheap. We did however also stay in Hotels in some locations where there wasn’t a suitable or reasonably priced AirBnB.

We’ve got a whole seperate post coming about how we saved money on accomodation!

Meals & Drinks – €3987.31

Average per day: €39.88

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It’s amazing how much the cost of food really adds up! Most breakfasts were either slept through or cooked at home before we headed out for the day. But this was still the biggest expense we had after accomodation. In cheaper destinations like Macedonia and Poland we ate 3 course meals every day at some of the best restaurants in town. However on the flipside in Venice and Santorini we had to spend a lot longer finding affordable restaurants or just had picnic’s!

If you were to cut out alcohol and stick to main meals without starters or dessert this figure would be significantly more. But that wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun!

Intercity Transport – €1680.46

Average per trip: €62.24

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We booked the majority of our intercity transport well in advance. This is definitely the best way to keep your costs down here. We knew that it was cheaper, but didn’t realise just how much until we had to rebook Marksa ticket a day earlier from Paris to London on the Eurostar. Instead of €40, it cost €195!

How far in advance you can book transport varies by country and and transport type so its worth doing some prior research. We did the vast majority of our travel by train so found The Man in Seat 61 to be invaluable!

Entertainment – €1614.06

Average per day: €16.14

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Entertainment was our catch all for the fun stuff that we did, in reality 99% of it is buying drinks. The remainder was a few euros in at Prater in Vienna and coat checks at bars.

Over 40% of this was spent in the 5 days we partied on Ios and the week on board Sail Croatia.

We were careful about how much we spent on drinking as this number could quite easily have come in at many times this! Keep an eye out when wandering the streets for happy hours and bars/convenience stores that do takeaways. One of our favourite spots for a drink was the evening in Venice we got a €4 bottle of wine and perched ourselves on the edge of the grand canal to watch the sun set. Nights like that help keep these costs way down!

Tours – €1389.31

Average per day: €13.89

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Free Walking Tours and low cost attractions are our go to activities when we go to a new city. However if we spot something we really want to do we will splurge. Like the morning we spent on a catamaran cruising around Santorini with unlimited local wine, Zip Lining through the mountains in Makarska or eating our bodyweight of food in Florence.

Local Transport – €641.33

Average per day €6.41

Transport in each location came out of our daily spending budget. We managed to keep this figure down by spending a little more on accomodation to stay close to the areas that we wanted to visit. For example we saved over €50 in Rome by staying in Trastevere, this meant we were walking distance to the main attractions and it only cost us an extra €20 than staying somewhere much further out of the city. In Amsterdam we made sure that our AirBnB came with bikes, saving us another €50 on transport passes and meaning we got a real dutch experience (and nearly killed ourselves navigating the roads).

Water & Snacks – €556.85

Average per day: €5.56

Looks like all those gelatos in Italy, Iced Coffee’s in Greece and Fried Cheese in Macedonia really add up. We tried to keep snacking to a minimum because we knew this would happen, but sometimes you’ve just gotta do it. I feel like some of these snacks I could almost reclassify as a tour. I mean, a Gelato in Italy or a Charcuterie board in Paris are pretty much cultural experiences!?

Thanks to the Roman Empire, this number was much lower than it could have been.To them the ability to have free and fresh water for the whole population was a display of wealth. The Roman Empire put public drinking fountains all over Italy, which still operate today. We made a point of refilling our water each day from these.

Shopping – €477.75

Average per day: €4.78

Theres a part of me that wants to exclude this from the budget as its so enormously variable. We thought that almost €500 was a lot, then we met people on the trip who could drop that on a handbag. Our purchases were a little more modest. Mark purchased a new pair of Ray Bans, I needed some boat shoes and Jeans. The remainder were misc items of clothing that we found we needed along the way.

Misc – €422.79

Average per day: €4.23

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Initially we had shopping as a part of this but eventually chose to split the two out. A large bulk of this is the cost of a doctors appointment in Budapest. The remainder covers everything from the lilos we purchased to use on board Sail Croatia to a haircut and all those little things in between!

Tips – €146.79

Average per day: €1.46

We probably underspend here. Whilst its a little uncomfortable to admit, we just didn’t even think of it! It wasn’t until we got to Greece and were discussing tipping cultures back home we turned to google and established that tipping is often customary throughout Europe. Thanks to this guide we managed to do what was right for the rest of the trip though. Be sure to have a read on whats expected before you sit down to eat in Europe!

Total cost of a summer in Europe – €16,416.09

Average per day: €164.16
Average per person per day: €82.08

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So there you have it! The big breakdown of all our costs over the last 3 and a half months. Destinations we visited range enormously in price, for example we spent €154 a day on Sail Croatia, and only €33 per day in Bitola. Let us know if you want more details about exactly how much specific places cost 🙂

Hopefully this goes some way to prove that the cost of a summer in Europe isn’t as enormous as you’d expect, and that with a little pre planning and some saving its affordable for everyone!

Budget for European Summer, Europe Budget, Europe Costs

Budget for European Summer, Europe Budget, Europe Costs

11 Comment

  1. Excellent post! You prove that you don’t have to have won the lottery to travel, just work hard and stay focused and you can have an amazing summer travelling!! Love the spreadsheet idea, I am keeping one for our expenditure as a full-time traveller so I can pivot table off it, great minds think alike lol. What an amazing adventure you guys had though, love love this! Pinned for everyone to read!! #feetdotravel

    1. I do love a good pivot table! Theres just something so rewarding about them… It was a pretty epic trip, but not something we can afford to do very often at the moment. Fingers crossed we’ll get there soon 🙂

  2. Anna says: Reply

    Ooh I love seeing a budget breakdown! I have to say that the final price is quite a bit of sticker shock! But it seems like that you guys had an epic trip and splurged where it mattered. 3 years ago, I also did a summer in Europe (80 days though) with my then travel-partner and I don’t think I want to know what the final dollar amount is :P. But we were definitely pretty budget conscious and didn’t do too many activities and tours. I love Airbnbs and use it 99% of the time! And I count all my ice creams and cake as part of “food”, but I’m sure if I separated it out, those snacks would be a HUGE percentage!

    1. Yea there was definitely some sticker shock when we got the totals too. But then I look back at all the things that we did and its worthwhile. We initially had snacks in with rest of the food too but split it out when we were in Florence and eating our bodyweight in Gelato!

  3. Fantastic post and a very honest and in-depth account of your spend over the course of the trip. Europe really isn’t cheap but there are ways of minimising costs and your post is invaluable in that sense. You also look like you have had a great time – thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post! My hubby and I never plan anything ahead and therefore we end up either not doing what we planned… i.e. flights from Bangkok to Hong Hong were $50 two weeks ago and now they are $300 (just approximate prices LOL)… or we end up paying more for it… but mostly we just change our plans. Good planning!

    1. I couldn’t survive without prebooking! Pretty sure I’d have a nervous breakdown haha

  5. Wow, you did fantastic job at sticking to your budget. I would have a hard time sticking to a budget. Drinks definitely add to the cost for the day but love how you did splurge a little and have fun. You did great research and booked what you could ahead of time. Thanks for sharing 🙂 #feetdotravel

  6. You traveled very sensibly with booking train tickets / accommodation in advance etc.. The way you travel seems to be in a style that you enjoy Europe at the same time as traveling (as appose to being super cheap!). It’s good you’ve taken the time to break down your budget so we can see how much it costs to travel, sleep and eat well in Europe. Ios looked like a crazy 5 days!

  7. sounds like you had an epic trip and on a great budget too! I try to plan ahead as much as possible and like the idea of keeping a spreadsheet (rather than crumpled receipts!) We are off to Australia in August but have a strictly budgeted trip through a few countries on the way – hope I am as good as sticking to the budget as you guys. #feetdotravel

  8. Garth says: Reply

    Brilliant in-depth post, fascinating to see how you did your epic trip! We try to plan as much as we can, we generally budget our spend for the year, and then try and work out where we can go for our budget, so far this year’s spent!

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