Luxury for Less: A Europe Quick Guide

by  Michelle Tchea | Updated on May 5, 2023

Heading to Europe on a tight budget? There’s no need to max out a credit card if you know how and where to save. Here are some affordable (and even free!) ways to enjoy Europe.

Museums for Less

Love museums but can’t afford to pay a $30 entry fee? Try some of these, and be sure to arrive early or late on free or discounted dates. Museums are often busy on these days.

If you’re under the age of 26 or you’re a teacher, visiting the Louvre in Paris is always completely free. Simply show an ID that confirms your status at the ticket office and skip the long queue, as well as the 15-euro admission fee. The Louvre is free for all visitors on the first Friday of the month after 6 p.m., too. 

Read more: How to Plan a Trip to Paris

In Munich, Museum Brandhorst costs just 1 euro on Sundays, giving you access to more than 60 works by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and other notable artists.

In Madrid, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, which focuses on 20th-century art, is free to enter Wednesdays-Saturdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sundays between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The Prado museum -- Madrid’s must-see fine art museum -- is free from Monday to Saturday between 6:00 p.m. to 8: 00 p.m. and on Sundays from 5 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

In Rome, you’ll save 16 euros by visiting the Vatican Museum on the last Sunday of the month, when admission is free. This extensive collection of paintings and sculptures includes the famous Sistine Chapel.

In London, most major museums and galleries are free, including the British Museum, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Museum, and the Tate Modern.

Stunning Views

Before you spend another dime riding a funicular or buying tickets to climb a tower, head instead to these scenic spots, which all offer amazing 360-degree views of cities across Europe.

Generator Hostel Venice not only offers affordable and comfortable rooms for budget travelers (usually less than $100 per night), but the view from the bar across the Giudecca Canal is one of the loveliest in Venice.

In Florence, Italy, the Piazzale Michelangelo offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Renaissance city -- and a bronze version of the sculptor’s masterpiece, David. Just 20 minutes from the city center on foot, it’s a perfect place to catch the sunset.

Read more: The Best Places to Go in Italy

In Budapest, put on some comfy shoes and walk along Fisherman’s Bastion, located on the Buda side of the Hungarian capital. The views from the top are unbeatable. Note that while the lower terraces are free, you’ll pay a nominal price to climb to the top balconies.

About an hour outside Dublin, the town of Howth is known for its famous fish and chips, but head to the summit at Howth Head, and you will be rewarded with incredible sea views of Ireland’s Eye, a small island that is also a bird sanctuary.

In Berlin, it’s free to enter the dome and roof terrace of the Reichstag Building when you register online in advance. The glass building is home to the Bundestag (German Parliament) and has a rooftop restaurant with stunning city views.

Upscale Eats

Even if you can’t afford to stay at a luxury hotel, you can definitely still have a drink or dinner in one. You can also find reasonable prices at select Michelin-star restaurants. Here are our picks.

Read more: The Best Luxury Restaurants in the World

In Vienna, two iconic properties will appeal to your sweet tooth: If you’re a chocolate lover, head to Hotel Sacher for their famous Sacher Torte cake. If you prefer fruit desserts, stop by the Palais Hansen Kempinski for their house-made apple strudel, which comes with a generous dollop of fresh cream. Both desserts cost under 10 euros. 

In London, you can get delicious dim sum platters at Yauatcha for as low as $35. 

In Paris, L’Agape offers a glamorous three-course tasting menu for lunch that'll set you back 30 euros.

In Barcelona, dine at the Michelin-starred Nectari and spend just 5 euros for appetizers. 

Free Concerts

In Amsterdam, free concerts are available at Concertgebouw, with shows starting at 12:30 p.m. every Wednesday (except in the months of July and August). More information can be found here.

In London, classical music lovers will find a roster of free concerts provided by the Royal College of Music

Read more: Affordable Ways to Experience London

In Paris, luxury hotel Le Cinq Codet has live jazz in its restaurant on Saturday evenings. This is also a great place to get some well-crafted cocktails on a secluded patio before meandering over to the Eiffel Tower.

In Salzburg, Austria check out free concerts by students of Mozarteum University throughout the year.

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