Five Tips for Planning a Summer European Escape on a Budget!

September 13, 2015

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Nestled away on the most western borders of Europe is the extremely underrated and often overlooked country of Portugal.  When many think of planning a summer European escape, I rarely see this magnificent jewel crack the top five. But let me tell you that the Portuguese architecture, textures, colors and vibes that I recently experienced just propelled Lisbon (the capital city) amongst my all time favorite metropolitan destinations!


But traveling to Europe during peak tourism season can be a daunting, if not outright scary, idea. Hotel rates are at a seasonal high and around every corner, scammers and tourist traps are eagerly awaiting your arrival. Ready and willing to burn gaping holes in your wallet in exchange for watered down cultural experiences.

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Yet this doesn’t have to be the case, for anyone. So I’d like to share my top five strategies for keeping European summer travel, not only fun and adventurous, but budget friendly!

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1. Choose a more affordable country. Some European countries are significantly more expensive to travel than others. For example, I won’t mention any names specifically (you already know who you are) but there’s this one country that charges as much as $10 USD for a bag of chips! Now I love my snacks just as much as the next junk food kid but NO. Just no. Fortunately, Portugal is definitely on the more affordable end of the spectrum.

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2. Book an AirBNB.  Practically all of my travels this year have included at least one AirBNB booking.  Booking an accommodation in Lisbon was ridiculously easy, centrally located and fully equipped listings I looked at were under $90 USD/night and there were an endless number of cool and clean apartments to choose from.

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3. Live Like a Local.  Once you’ve booked an AirBNB (I usually book ones that have at least five great reviews), your AirBNB host is typically ready and willing to show you all the best points of interest, shopping and authentic cuisine to satisfy your wanderlusting heart.  My wonderful host, Tania, suggested O Eurico and so do I. I had that mouthwatering meal (you just scrolled past it) and bottle of wine, all for €8!


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4. Get moving. Choosing a walkable city is key! I stayed in the Alfama area and this put a lot of the tourist attractions within walking distance. Additionally, if you want to get out beyond the city limits and explore, scooters are a great and more affordable alternative to getting around. But I HIGHLY suggest having extensive experience with these small but powerful beasts, since the streets of Lisbon can be rather narrow. Lest you want to end up like me and crash into a BMW seconds after taking off. Doh!

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5. Free activities. A quick Google search of ‘free activities in Lisbon’ will result in a slew of options. Free walking tours are readily available throughout the city and at least one day a week, most museums provide free entry during early morning hours. If being outside and getting your melanin on is your thing, peruse the organic goods of the market place Príncipe Real or take a quick train ride to one of many hip beaches that surrounds the city. Definitely make a stop through the neighborhing town of Belem and grab a few pastéis de nata, Portugal’s national pastry. While they aren’t necessarily free, the spine tingling gratification you get after eating a few sure is! Your stomach and dentist will thank me later.

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And there you have it folks!  My quick and dirty tips for keeping a summer European escape on a budget. Got any tips you like to use to keep summer travel economically friendly? Please share in the comments. Chau!


  • Chic Therapy

    Lisbon looks so beautiful. Can’t wait to be there next month. “$10 USD for a bag of chips”!! Now that sounds like good ol’ Switzerland.

    • admin

      Indeed it is! Let me know if you have any questions about traveling there. And my Mom always said “If you have nothing nice to say…” LOL, so I won’t rat out the country but Switzerland was a good guess!

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