Hello my friends! So, I just finished my dream trip for a long time: Traveling to Europe. My self-sufficient European travel itinerary (my backpacking trip to Europle) for 15 days with destinations of 6 countries: France, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Vatican and Greece. This itinerary includes 8 cities: Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hallstatt, Venice, Rome, Vatican and Santorini. So, how to plan a trip to Europe on a budget? Let’s check out our suggested Europe itinerary 2 weeks (sample Europe itinerary 2 weeks) on how to plan a backpacking trip through Europe, how to plan a European backpacking trip, how to plan a solo trip to Europe as well through our field trip to Europe to find out the answer!
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Today’s article I will share in detail the preparation, planning, scheduling as well as the hotel booking experiences, flight ticket booking and sum up the expenses, trip costs for you who are planning to go to Europe, especially for those who traveling to Europe for the first time.
How to plan a trip to Europe on a budget? When is the best time to visit Europe?
I have searched this question a lot on Google, travel websites, travel blogs… However, as people say, in Europe every season is beautiful, each season has its own charm depending on your preferences and feelings.
The peak and also warmest tourist season is Summer (June – August). The low and also coldest season is Winter (December – March), especially for those who like snow and Christmas.
Autumn (September – November), Spring (April – May). These are the two seasons recommended to go by travel experts as well as bloggers because there are few tourists, with pleasant weather and beautiful scenery, not too cold.
In addition, you can find out more about the seasons/festivals in Europe, so you can find your own best and suitable time you want to go the most. For example, if you want to see Lavender in Valensole, France, you should go in the week 3 – 4th in June (At the end of June, the flowers start to bloom very nice and fewer tourist than in July). Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany takes place between September to early October… etc.
In the past, I had thought that if I go to Europe, I will definitely go in May (Spring). However, due to depending on the holiday of my company and Di, so we decided to go in June (June 10 – June 25).
Before I go, I researched in advance the weather, the average temperature in June was about 23-25 degrees Celsius during the day and 14 degrees Celsius at night; Only Italy and Greece about 27 degrees Celsius. Upon arrival, from the sunrise until 11AM and from late afternoon to evening is windy and quite cold in France, Austria and the Netherlands. Particularly Italy is sunny and slightly hot. In Santorini in the early morning and late afternoon from 9PM onwards is very windy and cold, sunny and hot during the day. What’s even better is that it doesn’t rain. Only when we were in Vienna we see a little rain in the evening but stopped quickly after that.
Meanwhile, some of my friends go in May, which is the spring, so it often rains, less sunny. So, I thought that going to in June would be more lucky, taking more beautiful pictures.
Europe itinerary 2 weeks: The regions in Europe
Europe is divided into 4 regions, includes: Western, Eastern, Southern and Northern (Nordic Region).
- Western Europe includes Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands and Switzerland.
- Eastern Europe includes Bulgaria, Czech Republic (Czechia), Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia.
- Southern Europe includes Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, and Spain.
- Northern Europe (Nordic Countries) includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.
When planning an Europe itinerary, you can and should base on these regions to create the best itinerary for travel to save time. Besides, you should also learn carefully about the Schengen visa and its validity.
How to plan a backpacking trip through Europe (how to plan a European backpacking trip)?
In my opinion this is the most difficult part and spend a lot of time. Why is that?
- Anywhere in Europe I also want to visit, so I was hesitant to know which country to add and which to remove. So, sometimes the itinerary got greedy.
- But when I chosen the countries that I want to go most, I still have to change my itinerary because of transportation, time is limited, etc.
- At first I was confused between regions, and I was greedy (Due to I go for the first time) even for only a few 15 days. This is psychological, especially for first-time travelers. Inevitable!
- I get confused among the ocean of information, websites/search engines when comparing prices that sometimes unnecessary or incorrect.
After going through that turbulent period, So I will now share my experiences and tips that I got, so that you can reduce the “chaos” period on how to plan a trip to Europe on a budget. To scheduling and book the best hotel, flight, you should prepare 2-3 months in advance.
Step 1: Research carefully 4 regions of Europe and countries on the map. Find out which countries you want to visit most as well as closest to each other as possible or have the cheapest and most convenient transportation.
Tip: The itinerary shoulds make a round of traveling between countries. With destination and return destination of the itinerary in the same country. For example, I fly to Paris and return home from Paris as shown below. If you plan a trip about 16-17 days, you can add Switzerland to the 7th destination, after Rome, because from Switzerland to France is very close.
I would like to emphasize first that you should choose the countries you want to go the most and love the most. Because I know that first-time travelers to Europe often have the mentality of wanting to go to many countries. However, time does not always allow us to go to all destination we want.
Depending on the time you should choose the most favorite countries and easily travel back and forth to save time and money. For example, if you have 15 days like me, you can choose to go around 4-6 countries (visit 5-8 cities). If you have about 20 days, you can go to 6-8 countries (visit 8-11 cities).
You can use the website https://www.routeperfect.com/trip-planner to consult an itinerary so that it is reasonable to make a suitable route for 14 days? Which country to go first? Which country after? How many days spend for one country is enough? … etc. You only need to fill in the information where you start and end the trip, the number of travel days, budget and means of transportation (private car or public transport), this website will help you create a reasonable itinerary.
However, this website is for reference only, not absolute, you can completely change it to meets your needs.
Step 2: Determine the number of days to visit in each city so that it is reasonable and still included in the total number of days of your trip.
For example, for Paris, I spend 3-4 days is moderate, for Amsterdam I stayed 3 days 2 nights also found no rush. For Vienna I spent 2 days 1 night: 1 night in Vienna, 1 day exploring Hallstatt village then in the evening back to Vienna to take the night bus to Venice. For Venice is fine for 2-3 days, For Rome needs at least 3 days 2 nights also. For Santorini only needs 2 days 1 night is OK, if you have time you should stay about 2 nights 3 days is best.
Step 3: Using these 2 websites to compare prices and find the most convenient means of transportation between countries: https://www.rome2rio.com/ and https://www.goeuro.com/.
I really like Goeuro.com, and often use it the most because the interface is easy to see and the exact price comparison between the 3 main vehicles is Airplane, Train and Bus. In addition, you can also choose the departure date, It showing the details of the time and location of airports, bus stations, railway stations, distance between these locations and to the city center, etc.
At the beginning, I saw traveling between Venice and Santorini quite far and the ticket price was not cheap at all. At that time, I thought of removing Santorini from my itinerary even though this was my dream destination, and replace it with another Italian city (Milan or Florence) to save travel time and ticket. However, after that, on the occasion of Volotea’s promotion (Volotea is a Spanish low-cost airline), I booked the tickets to Santorini at quite cheap price (€120/2 person, including luggage), so I did not give up.
Tip: You should subscribe to receive promotion letters from Airlines such as EasyJet, Vueling, Volotea … to receive promotion information as soon as possible.
In my itinerary, I have no plan for using train to traveling between countries because traveling by train take a lot of time and the price is not cheaper than taking a plane. In addition, I have traveled by FlixBus from Paris to Amsterdam, and from Vienna to Venice with the ticket price is extremely cheap €14/person. Traveling by FlixBus is very comfortabe, on time, for the 2 trips I had chosen the night trips, so I saving 1 hotel night, LOL.
Tip: On Flixbus website has a promo code of €5 for a booking with 1 registration email. You go to this link to register with your email, Flixbus will send promo code to that email for you. You just need to apply this promo code when make payment will be discounted by €5. Note: Each email can only be registered to receive promo code once.
Step 4: Booking flight/train/bus tickets and hotels
In step 3, I have shared some tips to compare prices and choose the most suitable and convenient means of transportation. Now is the time for you to book your tickets and book your hotel.
Regarding airfares/train/bus tickets, if you find it cheap, you should book now and immediately, do not hesitate. And if you see the relatively high price, you can wait for more, it’s okay. For example, when I book Easyjet about 7 weeks in advance, the price is not cheap but because I need apply for a visa, so I have to book immediately. My friend Di books after 4 weeks and she got cheaper price than my ticket.
Bus prices (my own is Flixbus.com) usually do not change much, the sooner you book the cheaper you get, so you should just book in advance and should not wait anymore.
About hotel reservations, I mainly booked on Airbnb because I have discount travel credit compare with the original price is also much cheaper than the hotel, the Airbnb often is spacious and comfortable.
Only in Amsterdam due to a slightly late reservation (1 month before), most of the beautiful and cheap Airbnb apartments in the center are fully booked so I book a hotel on booking.com (>> click on this link to get $25 off when booking on booking.com).
Note: Hotel or Airbnb in Paris, Santorini and especially in Amsterdam run out of rooms very quick, so you should book in advance at least 2 months to get the best options.
About booking air tickets to fly to Europe, I only believe in using only one tool, Google Flights. This is a flight ticket search tool that gives the most accurate and best price results of the airlines offering the flight route you are looking for.
Unlike Skyscanner.com, which is a price comparison website, but the ticket prices are provided by agents (not airlines) and the final price you pay is usually much higher than what you see at the time of searching. Sometimes even encounter fraud agents, or cancel the ticket but still get paid, no tickets as advertised.. etc.
With Google Flights, the price you find is the price at that time on the airline’s website itself. Thanks to Google Flights, I was able to book a round-trip ticket Manila-Paris for $600/person, I booked before the departure time of 3 weeks.
Actually, I started looking for flight tickets to Paris before 6-7 weeks, at that time the cheapest ticket I found was $675 offered by Asiana Airlines. However, because the visa application was delayed, I did not dare to book this ticket. Until the visa is approved, the price of tickets hit at very high, from $900 or more. Di and I have intended that we will buy flight tickets from Kuala Lumpur for cheap travel (fly with Emirates airlines has $665/round-trip ticket) even though we have to fly one more route from Manila to KL.
Then luckily, when I was almost out of hope, on that morning I search on Google Flights, I found that GULF AIR (Bahrain’s national airline) had a round-trip ticket on my departure date of only $600. OMG, I extremely happy and want to cry! Spend 5 minutes to read the review about this airline and 5 minutes after, I booked right away without thinking because the fares are too CHEAP !!!! And then, I’ve never feel regret for this decision.
Step 5: Planning the European detailed travel itinerary
Once you have the basic Europe itinerary, after booking your flight and hotel, it’s time for you to create a detailed itinerary and schedule including: Where to go, places to visit, what to eat, need to buy tickets for the sights/museums… etc
For the first-time visitors, do not miss the famous attractions and museums of the city you will visit. And to know which locations are there, what’s interesting there you can use the following tools:
- Google Travel: The perfect tool to planing a trip, everything you need for a trip, including flight, hotel, things to do… This tool can sync your bookings (hotels, airlines …) on your gmail or you can search the location you are going to, or flights, hotels, things to do… you should download offline to save information as well as the schedule suggested by Google. Special schedule also divided into the number of days you want to go. For example, you only have 1 day, google will suggest you an itinerary for 1 day … 3 days will have a schedule for 3 days …
Refer here: https://www.google.com/travel/
- Refer to travel bloggers in your country and foreign for the secret things to do, travel tips, hidden spots… around famous attractions.
- Using Pinterest to consult more places to visit, nice cafes, beautiful photo spots… .v.v Also, you can find quite a lot of other good travel experiences such as packing, photographing tips…
- Using Tripadvisor to seeking out delicious and cheap eateries, or famous fine dining restaurants. Although the Google Travel already has a Food & Drink search section, you can still refer on Tripadvisor.
Step 6: Buyin in advance admission to museums, theaters, and attractions.
Once having a detailed schedule and itinerary, you already known where to go, what to do, what to eat… Now is the time you need to book tickets to the crowded places before coming to avoid queuing when line up to buy ticket right on the spot (usually waiting from 1h-2h in line).
For example, on my itinerary, I did not choose to go to all the famous museums, but only to visit signature museums. After reading the review, I have summarized 3 museums need to buy an online tickets before I go. These are skip-the-line tickets for museums that are extremely crowded with tourists and often have to queue for very long.
- Palais Garnier Opera house ticket (€11/person), booking online, get tickets at Tourist Counter: Opera Garnier Expert Guided Tour Paris.
- Louvre Museum priority access ticket (€15/person), you can buy tickets here: Priority Access Entrance Ticket to the Louvre Museum for $20.05 with audio guide (recommended) receive tickets via your email without going to the Tourist office.
- Vatican Museums (€20/person), buy here: Vatican Museums Fast Track Entry.
- Colosseum ticket (€10/person): I didn’t buy online but bought tickets at a Tourist Counter at the Metro station before coming to Colosseum. However, you also can buy tickets online here: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill Entrance Ticket in Rome.
In addition, you need to book online train tickets in advance from Vienna to Hallstatt for cheap, rather than buying at ticket offices that extremely expensive. I booked for round-trip ticket of €38/person. Before going, I checked ticket price at the ticket counter/ticket vending machine, it costs up €52/way/person, too expensive. About this section, I will share more details in the trip to Hallstatt, Austria.
How to plan a trip to Europe on a budget? My self-sufficient Europe itinerary 2 weeks (sample Europe itinerary 2 weeks)
How to plan a European backpacking trip? The trip cost for 15 days in Europe
The total cost for my 15-day trip to Europe was €2,100/person. This cost includes: Manila – Paris round trip air ticket, Airbnb + hotel, Transportation fee between countries and cities, Entrance fees to museums and meals.
The round-trip air ticket of Gulf Air is $600/person.
The total cost of Airbnb + hotel in Amsterdam is €787. Airbnb in Vienna is the cheapest of €47/1 night for 2 people. Airbnb in Santorini is the most expensive (but incredibly beautiful) of €158/night for 2 people.
The cost of eating in Paris, Amsterdam and Santorini is the most expensive, because we also have went to restaurants to eat and bill about €20/person. And in Rome, Venice and Vienna the food is cheaper, we sometimes only eat about €6- €8/meal/person.
See more: 8-day Swiss travel itinerary
Talking about spending, actually we are not too frugal with anything, we very often go to the supermarket to buy snacks, buy fruits like cherries (cherry is very cheap only about €3-4/kg). Because for traveling, the most important thing is to try the local food, don’t mind spending as long as not too expensive.
For those who traveling on a budget, backpackers with careful preparation, I am sure you can spend much less than this number of €2,100. Because we have to book some pretty expensive tickets like Vueling Air tickets from Santorini to Rome (€110/person) or from Rome to Paris we fly with Air France (€99/person).
I believe that just reading carefully and following these steps I have shared above, plus preparing for 2-3 months in advance and having a deep understanding, you will also have an extremely complete and memorable trip.
Hope this share will help you to prepare best for your first trip to Europe. If you have any question, you can leave a comment below this article, I will answer in full. And if you find the article is useful, please help me share it.
In the upcoming articles I will share travel experiences in detail for each country and city I’ve visited during my last trip. Please look forward to it!
Thank you for your support!
So, I have shared my entire journey to Europe for 15 days. You can read the details of each country according to the links below. Have a good trip!
- Paris 3 days 2 nights itinerary — How to spend 3 days in Paris & what to do in Paris in 3 days perfectly?
- Rome 2 days itinerary — How to spend 2 days in Rome & what to do in Rome in 2 days?
- Amsterdam 2 days itinerary — What to do in Amsterdam in 2 days & how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam?
- Colmar travel blog — The fullest Colmar travel guide & top things to do in Colmar France
- Jungfrau travel guide — What to do in Jungfrau & suggested Jungfraujoch day trip from Zurich
- Santorini travel blog — The fullest Santorini travel guide for a budget trip to Santorini for the first-timers
Are you looking for more top things to do in Europe: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here.