Does Europe on the cheap sound too good to be true? We’re here to tell you that it is possible!
Beyond the fact that getting to Europe is truly cheaper than ever from the US (with crazy bargains on budget airlines), there are lots of ways to save once you’re across the pond, too.
You don’t need to empty your wallet for incredible city views, world-class art, and tasty cheap eats. So grab a handful of euros and come along as we tour across Europe.
Budget tips for traveling in Europe
• Buying a SIM Card in Europe: The cheapest way to use a smartphone while traveling
• Planning a trip to Europe? Avoid these 10 costly mistakes
• 8 Tips for finding cheap flights to Europe
To give you a taste of some of the best deals around Europe, we’ve gathered a list of some of our favorite things to do for €5 or less — even in pricier cities like Paris, London, and Rome. Check them out, organized by city below.
A trip to the City of Light is priceless. And pricey! One way to save is to stay at one of our favorite budget hotels in Paris. When it’s time to explore the city, stick to these cheap things to do in Paris:
1. Go treasure hunting at the world’s largest flea market
Bargain hunt at the world’s largest flea market, Paris’ Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. This seven-hectare behemoth showcases everything from antiques to second-hand books, but you’ll have to haggle (ideally in flawless French) for the best price. On the bright side, there’s no admission charge.
Related: Guide to shopping at the top flea markets in Paris
2. See world-famous art for free
Tour Paris’ most famous museums for free on first Sundays. Choose from the Louvre, the Musée de Orsay or Centre Pompidou for free (on first Sundays October through March). If you can’t make a first Sunday work, head to the studio of sculptor Constantin Brancusi (next door to Pompidou Centre) for a free option.
3. Picnic in the park with gourmet goodies
Pick up €5 worth of your favorite French delicacies at your market of choice and get away from it all at Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in Paris’s Belleville neighborhood. Wander winding paths through lush greenery to find tranquil temples and striking waterfalls and cliffs. Or if you’re short on time, head to the Jardin du Luxembourg instead. Home to the first model of the Statue of Liberty, and within stumbling distance of city center, it’s gorgeous, if admittedly, a little less tranquil.
Related: 8 Great picnic spots in Paris
4. Take a selfie with sweeping views
Stroll through Montmartre all the way up to Sacre Coeur for sweeping views of the city. While you’re up there, don’t miss the Love Wall, where you can snap a selfie in front of the words “I Love You” in hundreds of languages.
5. Enjoy an outdoor film with a glass of wine
A movie and a bottle of red in the park? Yes, please. Make the most of summer in Paris by catching a free film at Parc de la Villette July and August. Make sure to grab a nice bottle of wine for €3 or less in a supermarket beforehand to keep you company. If you’re feeling really spendy, spring for a chair at €7.
6. Explore Paris’ largest cemetery
Père Lachaise is a joy to wander. Search out the tombs of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison among 100 acres of funerary art. Come at closing time to hear the guards ringing the bells, so you don’t get locked in for the night!
We love London but we don’t always love the exchange rate! Add these affordable things to do to your itinerary and check out our list of budget hotels in Central London.
7. Get one of London’s best vistas for free
Take a stroll across the Millennium Bridge over the Thames after the sun goes down to see the city all lit up. Right in front of you is the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral. And you won’t have to worry about traffic because the bridge is for pedestrians only.
Head to Greenwich to visit this riverside masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren for free — open between 10 am and 5 pm (grounds from 8 am to 11 pm). You can even book a free 45-minute guided walk with a visit to the Victorian Skittle Alley, where you can learn to play a game with wooden cannonballs originally designed to entertain naval retirees.
9. Go back in time with a glimpse of Londinium
Make a point of seeking out the bits and pieces of London’s Roman wall that remain. Intended to keep the city safe by controlling access in and out, it’s all but disappeared but there’s a big piece at Tower Hill Station with the tower of London in the background. For more head to Historic UK’s piece on the walk complete with a map of stops on the route.
10. Visit the Bishop’s seat
Want a very historic but less crowded alternative to Buckingham Palace? Head to Fulham Place, a short walk from Putney Bridge Underground Station, home to the Bishop’s seat of London for over 1,300 years, with the oldest part of the current buildings dating back to 1495. Admission is free daily.
Related: 10 Tips for riding the Tube like a local
11. See the largest Catholic building in England & Wales
Skip the steep admission charge at Westminster Abbey in Favor of Westminster Cathedral. The striking neo-Byzantine building with its golden mosaics and red and white exterior is open to the public free of charge.
12. Examine priceless documents at the British Library
Get a closer look at the Magna Carta, original drawings by Da Vinci, and handwritten song lyrics by John Lennon for free at the British Library.
13. Spend a rainy day touring the British Museum
While all of the British Museum’s permanent collections are free and offer free tours, talks, and activities, we’d still recommend you make a donation as your budget allows. €5 to see the amazing artifacts and exhibits seem like a steal to us.
Related: 20 Free museums to see in London
14. Grab a snack at Camden Market
Sure, it’s very popular with tourists, but that doesn’t mean there are no deals to be had at Camden Market. You can still find a snack and some trinkets for a few pounds, you’ve just got to keep your eyes peeled. For a flat white and a slice of cake for around £5 — yes we know that depending on the exchange rate that’s a bit more than €5 — try the Coffee Jar, a few minutes on foot from the Market.
15. Graffiti hunt on Brick Lane
Brick Lane is the destination for London’s best street art. Afterwards, stick around for inexpensive Asian eats.
16. Fill up on cereal for breakfast
Starting at £2.60, you can fill a bowl up at Cereal Killer Café. They have all kinds from around the world. Or voyage back in time to your childhood and munch on pop tarts. Folks on a shoestring should stick to regular milk and British cereals for the best price.
17. Shop for books on the water
At Words on the Water, regularly priced paperbacks start at £3 pounds and make a great gift — you can impress the recipient by telling them that you bought it on a 100-year-old Dutch barge with a wood-burning stove floating on a London Canal.
18. Sip tea for free
Sample a cup of Twinings best teas while browsing the Twinings Tea Shop and Museum, the oldest tea shop in London.
19. Browse the wares at world’s oldest toy store
There are over 50,000 toys on seven floors at the historic Hamley’s location on Regent Street.
Related: A Budget guide to shopping in London
20. See Shakespeare on a budget
Grab a standing-room-only ticket for £5 at the modern replica of the Globe Theatre next door to the Tate Modern.
The Eternal City can be eternally expensive. Check in at one of the best affordable hotels in Rome and read up on our tips for saving in Italy, then head out to these affordable attractions. You’ll have plenty of euros left over for pasta and wine!
21. Look up in the Pantheon
The largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built is now a Catholic church dedicated to St. Mary and is free to visit. Yes, the Pantheon is worth a visit!
22. Gaze at masterpieces by Michelangelo for free
Queue up to see Michelangelo’s Pietà at St. Peter’s Basilica or head to Basilica di San Pietro at the Vatican instead and see a very buff Moses, also by the master in this 5th-century church.
Related: 10 Ways to save time and money at the Vatican
23. Ensure your return to Rome for spare change
Throw a coin into Trevi Fountain to guarantee you’ll be back to the eternal city — the value of the coin is up to you — but make sure to throw it over your shoulder with your back facing the fountain.
24. Explore a cemetery in Rome
Make your way to Cimitero Acattolico and find the final resting place of famous poets Keats and Shelley.
25. Savor a scoop of gelato
Whatever the time of year, or neighborhood you’re in, chances are you can have two scoops of gelato for €5 or less. So go ahead, indulge your sweet tooth. When in Rome….
26. Check out a Colosseum clone
You might want to skip the Colosseum in favor of a near replica, Teatro de Marcello, an ancient stadium that offers free entry without the crowds. If you must head to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, do it on the first Sunday of the month when it’s free, along with all state museums in Rome.
Related: 25 Free things to do in Rome
27. Enjoy free food with an aperitivo
Romans don’t like to drink on an empty stomach, so most local bars offer a happy hour or aperitivo — where an alcoholic beverage is the price of admission to a buffet of local treats. We like Freni and Frizioni with wine from €5.
28. Sip drinks by the fountain
Want to drink like a budget-conscious local? BYOB to Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. Just be forewarned, while enforcement is fairly lax, open containers are only legal until 10 pm. Get your wine for €5 or less at any supermarket during regular business hours of you’ll be stuck going to a 24-hour shop that is substantially more expensive.
Millions of visitors flock to Barcelona for good reason — the city is absolutely beautiful and the price is right if you stick to our cheapo tips. Save even more on your hotel bill at these top budget hotels in Barcelona. Need even more ideas? Read our Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona.
29. Treat yourself to churros and chocolate
Savor a rich cup of hot chocolate, the consistency of pudding, with a batch of freshly fried Churros on Peritxol Street in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. For atmosphere, service, and price, our favorite is Granja Dulcinea where a cup of chocolate and a small order of churros will run you just under €5. Don’t worry if you can’t make it there because most of the joints along this street are good.
Related: Cheapo guide to the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona
30. Wander the grounds at Barcelona’s oldest park
While the Garden Labyrinth is a little out of the way, these sprawling gardens with a neoclassical labyrinth featured in the movie, Perfume, are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Admission is around €2 and free on Sundays and Wednesdays. The park is occasionally closed for maintenance, so be sure to check that it’s open before making the trip – it’s a bit of a trek.
31. Try a different kind of Spanish omelet
Have a slice of eggplant omelet and a beer at El Ombu, a neighborhood bar in Eixample. This hearty snack will run around €5, depending on the size of your beer. If they’re out of the eggplant omelet — by far their best tapa, try their tasty housemade ham croquettes. But if you’re snacking alone, ask for a half order. Check our more cheap eats in Barcelona.
32. Take in Spain’s best medieval art collection for free
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is free Saturday after 3 pm and the first Sunday of every month. It features furniture designed by none other than Gaudí. Want to see moreGaudí? Check out our guides to Park Güell, Sagrada Familia, and Casa Batlló.
33. Climb up Turó de la Rovira
At the top of Turó de la Rovira, get an eyeful of Barcelona from a distance and check out the Carmel Bunkers — a battery built to defend the city from air attacks in 1938.
34. Barter for bargains at flea markets
For €5 or less, find something cool to take home at El Rastro de la Virgén in Raval or Els Encants in Glories. In both spots the key to a successful transaction is knowing what you’re willing to spend, offering less, and being prepared to walk away and circle back around. Bonus points and faster negotiation for folks who can manage to do so in Spanish or Catalan.
Related: 7 Phrases in Spanish to help you save in Barcelona
35. Take the Elevator to the top of Barcelona’s Gothic Cathedral
Time it right and you’re in for a sunset to remember for the bargain price of €3 from the roof of Catedral de Barcelona.
36. See 17th and 18th-century ruins for free
at El Borne Centre de Cultura I Memòria
They were buried under El Borne’s market for centuries. If you’d like a closer look and guided visit—tours start at €5.50, depending on the day and information presented.
37. Taste one of Barcelona’s best kebabs
Kebabs are a popular street food in Barcelona. We recommend Bismilla Kebabish that serves up Shawarma with housemade pita bread from €3.50. We also like the Durum; it’s thinner bread that’s stuffed, rolled up, and served burrito-style.
Cheapos have been flocking to Berlin for years because a lot of the best things to do are free! For a cheap and central hotel room, check out our favorite accommodations in Berlin and read up on our 50 best tips for saving in Germany.
38. Visit the German Parliament for free
This building designed by Norman Foster is a highlight of Berlin. You’ll have to book tickets before you go since it’s free and very popular, but it’s worth it to take a tour of the top of the Reichstag including an audio guide and excellent views of Berlin.
Related: How to save at Berlin’s top 10 attractions
39. Get up close and personal with the Berlin Wall
The East Side Gallery is not only the longest remaining section of the Berlin wall, it’s also an open-air art museum covered in murals. Want to learn more about the Wall? Read our 10 ways to explore the history of the Berlin Wall.
40. Visit Berlin’s Daimler Art Collection
This contemporary art museum is always free and features exhibits showcasing artists from around the world. If you need more affordable attractions, here’s a list of 15 museums that are free or under €10.
40. Buy a Berlin souvenir for less
Head to the Berlin flea markets for the best deals. Weekends only, check out Akronaplatz (for vintage wares) or amble over to Mauerpark for beer and people-watching with a more eclectic selection of goods.
Related: Tips for saving big on shopping on your trip to Berlin
42. Pose for pictures with the Brandenburg Gate
Easily the most iconic landmark in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was originally erected as a royal city gate and topped with a sculpture of the winged goddess of victory driving a chariot. Before the city was reunified, people used to climb it to get a glimpse of the world behind the Iron Curtain and the wall.
43. Try Berlin’s most iconic dish
Most often eaten from food stalls on the street, Currywurst is a hot dog sliced and doused in spicy, curried ketchup that can be had almost anywhere in Berlin for around €2.50. At that price, you can even add fries! But whatever you do, be sure to order it boiled and naked (as in without skin) for the best texture.
As you stroll around Lisbon, check out these free or cheap attractions to see art, tour the city, or try the local cuisine. Use our list of favorite cheap hotels in Lisbon to save even more.
44. Admire art by world-renowned artists for a few euros
At Colecção Berardo in the Lisbon suburb, Belèm, you can gaze on masterpieces by Picasso, Dalí, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, and Mark Rothko for the bargain price of €5 or free on Saturdays.
45. See Lisbon’s Archeological nucleus
This relatively tiny but fascinating museum, Nùcleo museológico do Millenium BCP, is off the radar for most visitors, despite its location in the center of Lisbon’s Baixa neighborhood.That said, you will have to reserve ahead of time — guided visits are twice a week but the collection is worth the effort because it includes Roman-era fish tanks and the wooden pillars that keep central Lisbon from sinking and disappearing into oblivion.
Related: The best free things to do in Lisbon
46. Barter for Lisbon’s treasures at Feira de Ladra
Tuesday and Saturday mornings are perfect for people watching and bargain hunting at Feira de Ladra, a flea market selling everything from broken electronics to antiques from around Portugal and its former colonies.
47. Get on the water
For €1.25 each way, get a different vantage point of Lisbon on the ferry across the Tagus River from one of the two main terminals Cais do Sodre or Terreiro do Paço. On the other side, find a beer and seafood joint in Cacilhas (a traditional fisherman’s neighborhood) or grab bus 101 to the Cristo Rei statue.
48. Fill your plate on the cheap
Head to the Portuguese supermarket chain, Pingo Doce, for cheap eats. Many of these stores, like the one in Rossio in the city center, have a café that offers inexpensive local fare sold by the weight — for €5 you’ll get plenty, and if you’re really starving, double that, and you’ll get a multi-course meal with wine! Oh, an always ask for tap water with your order—it’s free, and locals do it too. Still hungry? Check out our tips for dining in Lisbon on a budget.
49. Tram around town
Hop tram 28 in Baixa and ride it all the way to the end of the line to take in the city’s best sights. You’ll go through historical Graça and Bairro Alto, finally hopping off at Estrela Basilica, built to commemorate the birth of a son and heir by Portugal’s Queen Maria I. A one-way ticket is a steal at €2.90. Go early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.
50. Escape Lisbon for the day
Get away from Lisbon’s bustling old town for a few hours. For €4.30 round trip, you can choose between the beachy fishing town, Cascais, or to the fairy-tale castle in Sintra, or for the price, if you have time, we’d recommend doing both. Check out this Sintra, Cascais and Coimbra itinerary for more details.
Your favorite cheap things to do in Europe
What are your favorite things to do in Europe for €5 or less? Have we left anything out? Let us know in the comments below.