10 Tips for saving in Southern Europe

December 6, 2017 - Comment

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures. Destinations in Southern Europe like Portugal, Spain, Greece, Croatia, and Bulgaria have a well-earned reputation as budget travelers’ paradises. Even the admittedly more expensive destinations in Italy (like Rome, Venice, and Florence) easily compete when it comes to cost with similarly popular cities up north. But that

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures.

Destinations in Southern Europe like Portugal, Spain, Greece, Croatia, and Bulgaria have a well-earned reputation as budget travelers’ paradises. Even the admittedly more expensive destinations in Italy (like Rome, Venice, and Florence) easily compete when it comes to cost with similarly popular cities up north.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any tricks to make the most of your money on the road. Read on for 10 of our best tips to help you stretch your euros farther on your next trip to Southern Europe.

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Tips for saving in Southern Europe

Getting there cheaper

One of the biggest costs when it comes to Southern Europe is getting there. New budget airlines like Norwegian and Wow Air have helped keep prices down, but direct flights in peak season to destinations in Italy, Spain, Greece from the US still cost double — or even triple — the price of flights with stops. To spend less getting there, follow the two rules below:

TAP Portugal

TAP Portugal airlines taking off from Manchester. Photo: joolsgriff

1. Hub it for cheaper airfare

Hop the cheapest flight you can find into a major hub city (think London, Frankfurt, or Paris). Then book a seat on a European low-cost carrier like Ryanair, easyJet or Vueling the rest of the way to your destination. If you have extra time, you can even take a bus or train for a scenic and affordable ride.

Search for affordable flights with CheapoSearch

2. Travel during the off-peak season

Take advantage of southern Europe’s milder climate and travel during winter (but not Christmas), late fall or early spring. Not only will you get to see the sites minus the crowds, your flights will cost substantially less — you may even be able to get a deal on a direct flight.

Related: 8 Tips for finding cheap flights to Europe

Getting around without breaking the bank

The costs of ground transportation can really add up. Keep expenses on track during your time in Southern Europe with the tips below.

Dubrovnik Walking

Tourists walking through Dubrovnik. Photo: Chris B.

3. Use your feet whenever possible

This is a no-brainer in sunny Southern Europe where even in winter, the weather is fairly mild and doesn’t get in the way of getting around on your own two feet (provided you bring weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes). That said, in many destinations like Barcelona, when it rains, it pours and drizzles for hours, and sometimes for days, so bring a rain poncho or an umbrella so that a little inclement weather doesn’t spoil your plans for a self-led walking tour around the old town.

4. Make the most of inexpensive public transit

Because of the comparatively low cost of living in Southern European countries, public transit is a serious bargain when compared to the cost of hopping a train or bus in Denmark or Switzerland.

Related: Tips for saving on transportation in Portugal

5. Car share to reach out-of-the-way attractions

Do yourself (and anyone else you might be traveling with) a favor — don’t take a million different modes of transportation to get to something. If the attraction or town you really want to see is hard to get to by public transit, take advantage of the generally lower car rental costs in Southern Europe or grab a rideshare with BlaBlaCar. What’s BlaBlaCar? Read about the ridesharing service, here.

Related: Calculating the “real cost” of a car rental in Europe

Saving on Food and Drink

One of our favorite things about traveling in Southern Europe is the quality to quantity ratio when it comes to the cost of food and drink. It’s one part of Europe where, if you really wanted to, you could probably afford to budget all of your meals out at restaurants — no supermarket runs required. Feast on delicious cuisine and sip local wine without emptying your wallet by keeping the following advice in mind.

Italy Lunch

Pasta is always a good choice for lunch in Italy. Photo: Flavio E.

6. Eat out at lunchtime

When it comes to great local food for less, the midday meal is where it’s at throughout Southern Europe. Fixed price menus offer cheap multi-course options — sometimes with water, bread and wine included!

Related: Don’t leave Rome without tasting these 5 classic dishes

7. Drink like a local

If you’re eating at a restaurant where beverages aren’t included, or you’re out at the bar, drink like a local. That means sticking to house wine, beer on tap, regional liquors — you name it. Ordering up a Bombay Sapphire and Schweppes isn’t going to save you any money or make you any friends. Try something new and have what the locals are drinking.

Related: 5 Tips for buying and saving on Spanish wine 

8. Munch on street food

When you want something to eat in off hours, or in the evenings when restaurants switch to a la carte menus, skip the fast food chains in favor of…

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