Sleeping on a budget

Camping Tent by Lake

On any European travel adventure, one of the biggest expenses is accommodation. The choice of where to crash for the night very much depends on your budget and the type of experience you’re looking for. But don't worry, there are plenty of options that won't set you back too much – though we don't recommend sleeping at the train station.

Head to a campsite
Camping is a popular and inexpensive way to experience Europe, plus you'll wake up in the midst of some of Europe's most spectacular scenery. There's plenty of choice with campsites dotted all over the continent. In Norway, Finland and Sweden wild camping is permitted, provided you follow certain rules. Camping is economical but be prepared that campsites are often located far from train stations and you'll need to carry camping equipment with you throughout your trip (tent, sleeping bag, etc.).

Stay in a hostel dorm
Hostels are the most popular choice for backpackers as they can be cheap and offer a great way to meet like-minded travellers. Often breakfast, WiFi and bed sheets are included in the price. Many hostels organise tours and events at discounted rates.

Spend the night in a hotel or B&B
Hotels or bed & breakfasts come in all price ranges and standards. The benefit of hotels is that you have your own privacy, but that does come at a higher price than a hostel. And you are less likely to meet other travellers if you stay in hotels.

Ride the night train
Night trains are a good option for spending less on accommodation. You do have to pay an additional fee to travel on a night train (the amount depends on the type of sleeping accommodation you choose), but this is usually cheaper than staying in a hostel or hotel. You'll also maximise your time by travelling while you sleep. Read more about night trains.

Use a hospitality exchange network
Hospitality exchange projects work by connecting you with locals who let you stay with them for free. As well as being a cheaper way of staying somewhere, the exchanges give you the chance to meet locals and see towns and cities through their eyes. Often, they'll introduce you to places and events you'd never have known about otherwise.

Popular online networks include CouchSurfing, Global Freeloaders, Hospitality Club and Trustroots. Our advice: do your research, choose exchanges you feel comfortable with, and stay with hosts who have positive references from guests.