What to Splurge on in Europe

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ASK BROOKE: “I’m on a budget but I want to enjoy myself on my upcoming trip. How do you decide what to splurge on in Europe?” – submitted via the World of Wanderlust App, available in iTunes and Google Play.

Heart on my sleeve


Knowing When & Where to Splurge in Europe

Travel is expensive. Europe is expensive. Eating out and attending concerts is…. you guessed it, expensive. So how do you know what is worth splurging on in Europe? It’s a case by case basis, but there are some general ideas as to what is (and isn’t) worth splurging on for your time in Europe.


It all comes down to personal choice as to whether you should or shouldn’t splurge on accommodation. If you’re away on a short trip, chances are you won’t spend too much ‘down time’ in your hotel. If it’s a romantic getaway then perhaps you’ll be looking to splurge. Think about how much time you’ll be spending inside your hotel and decide if you want to skimp, stay reasonable or splurge. A popular choice for many is to skimp in most cities/countries and go all out for their weekend in Paris or one night stay in London.

Local Tours

If you really want to get to know a place, your best option is to splash out and pay a little extra for an educated guide to show you the city and explain the history, culture, architecture, and much more. Often for many travellers this ends up being the surprise highlight of their trip – so generally speaking I would highly recommend splurging on local tours. Besides, you can’t put a price on good education!

Restaurants vs. Cheap Eats

Again, this really comes down to personal preference. A popular choice for many is to eat breakfast at your accommodation in the morning, grab a snack on-the-go for lunch and splurge on a nice, well-earned evening meal. Dining out in cities is just as much a cultural experience as any other, so its highly recommended to splurge at least a few times on your trip. This is also a great chance to reflect on your day or few days in the one city, so particularly enjoyable for those with company.


 Transportation is a good chance to ‘make up’ those few extra dollars you have spent on your dining experiences and nicer hotel accommodations. Transportation can cost you next to nothing if you’re prepared to walk a lot and spend longer in commute when transferring from airports to your accommodation. Train travel in Europe is incredibly efficient and enjoyable, so I would highly recommend this as a more affordable option AND its better for the environment. Win-win!

Out & About: Operas, Ballets, Concerts

 Heading out to special events really depends on your personal taste and preferences, but I certainly wouldn’t take back the hundreds of dollars I spent on Broadway tickets in NYC the first time I was there. I once even paid in excess of $250 for a last minute ticket to the Book of Mormon on Broadway because I was convinced I couldn’t miss it…. and I don’t regret a thing (seriously, go see it if you’re in New York). As a performing arts student throughout my younger years, I really enjoy live theatre, ballets and operas… but I know its not for everyone. If you prefer music, see if one of your favourite International Artists are in town or head to a local jazz club for something different. Remember you might not ever be in this city again in your life – sometimes its best to splurge and pay off the credit card later!


There are of course some splurges you simply cannot miss out on. In Venice, you really must take a gondola ride despite the hefty price tag. It’s the only place in the world you can do it and its iconic… it really needs no further justification. You simply cannot go to Paris without climbing the Eiffel Tower… or at least opting for another great viewpoint at the Arc de Triomphe. I wouldn’t take back any of the money I spent on Broadway tickets in New York and in Rome all of the historic sites are absolutely unmissable.

Skimp on the following…

To make up for those few extra dollars you’ve spent, here are a few things you can do…

Have a picnic lunch most days, carry your own bags, wash your socks/underwear in an hotel sink, book your tickets in advance to avoid price hikes, walk or catch the metro and use free local maps. Just remember the goal is not to come home with more money than you intended or be able to say you only spent X amount of dollars… the goal is to enjoy the trip you have saved your hard earned pennies for and come home with memories to last a lifetime. 

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    Sophia Chiang
    December 14, 2014 at 2:44 am

    110% agreed. I would also add that while in Europe buying food at street markets rather than supermarkets (especially the touristy ones) will save you tons of money! I try to subsist on breads (baguettes are cheap & plentiful in France) and fresh fruits, which are easy to eat anywhere, delicious, and dirt cheap.

    Brittany Foley
    December 3, 2014 at 1:32 am

    I love that the photo for this post is of gelato–I bought it every single day I was in Italy. Don’t deny yourself the simple pleasures of travel! (:

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    November 24, 2014 at 5:10 am

    I am currently living in Naples, Italy and I have been taking advantage of the travel advantages. Accommodation is one thing I usually do not splurge on. I try to get a cheap hotel with good ratings. Typically when you are in foreign city, you are gone all day. My husband and I literally just sleep and shower there so we don’t need anything fancy. I would suggest trying to find a hotel with breakfast included. That is one less meal you have to pay for. 🙂

    November 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

    There are certainly things worth splurging on, like you said – Broadway tickets and climbing the Eiffel Tower! You may as well, since you came all that way to see those things. Living can be enhanced by splurging every now and then, it’s just important to stay realistic!

    -Raza from

    Didy Bani
    November 21, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I enjoyed the broadway shows in NY. Just cant pass it! Made it all the way that far, the price tag is justified when you go see the show! Lion King was the best!

    Terry Divyak
    November 21, 2014 at 3:52 am

    One way to save is to eat where the locals do. I found some great bars and restaurants in the Jordaan area in Amsterdam. A bit away from the main areas but so much cheaper and with more character than the touristy places. Many tips on walking and this is a must and don’t spend just one full day in a city, spend multiple days so you can feel the pulse and see the character of the city. Currently travelling on Amsterdam and posted a couple posts on my blog linked on my signature as well as some fun photos from a Tanzanian safari I just took.

    November 20, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Amazing advice. I have never regretted spending money on a broadway show either.
    xx, Jodi

    Luc @ The Wanderlust Scout
    November 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Ice cream and quality leather shoes in Italy are my splurges

    Lucy x ||

    Marie @ Marie Away
    November 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I’m of the mind of skimping on nearly everything (except a treat here and there) and then shelling out when it comes to the must-see sights. Some experiences are worth much more than the dollar (or euro) value!

  • awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'
    November 20, 2014 at 8:44 am

    good post – i am desperate to get in a gondola even tho it is crazy expensive!

    Petra @ The Global Couple
    November 20, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Putting more time in to do more research always pays off when it comes to saving money – definitely in regard to accommodation! I spent months researching accommodation for our trip to Europe and found some cheap gems that I wouldn’t have if I’d booked the first ‘cheap’ place I found!
    – Petra @

    November 20, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Great tips, but I won’t go on the gondolas in Venice, reminds me of a Disneyland ride. Definitely not romantic. However, I got up at dawn, walked to San Marco square. It was just me and the pigeons, a priceless experience……and free!

    lea-mai carter
    November 20, 2014 at 5:35 am

    I’ve nominated you for the Leibester Blog Award, go check it out: <3

    November 20, 2014 at 5:22 am

    Great tips! I agree, as long as you can walk you can save a lot on transport and use the same money somewhere else. Europe is expensive but it’s worth it. By the way, I love the ice-cream picture!

    bell santiago
    November 20, 2014 at 4:42 am

    Great blogpost as always ♥

    Claire & Laura
    November 20, 2014 at 3:17 am

    Our top tip is to always book an apartment/house on a European city break and never book a hotel. By using sites like Owners Direct or AirBnB you can get amazing places to stay for a fraction of the price of a hotel! You also then have more space to relax on your “down time!”

    Inge von Roos
    November 20, 2014 at 3:11 am

    I hate washing stuff in the sink. I bring a weeks worth of clothes and take them to a laundry.

    Leah of The Mochilera Diaries
    November 20, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Tours are definitely a worthwhile splurge! You get so much more background (and in an interesting and engaging way) than if you tried to learn it all by yourself. But I absolutely love splurging on meals, that would probably be my top choice!

    November 20, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I really tried to saave when I was in Turkey but ended up regretting almost every save. I really feel that sometimes it’s all or nothing and when travelling that’s the case for me.

    Especially accommodation. I can;t fly 16 hours and then have a hostel I’m sharing with someone else, but then again that’s just my impression 🙂

    And yes, I also follow the dinner choice, it’s silly to spend a large amount on lunch when you could be spending that time seeing things 🙂

    November 19, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Great tips! Don’t forget as well, there are sometimes ways around splurging on entertainment…for example, at the Paris Opera Garnier you can sometimes get last minute tickets for outrageously cheap prices if you ask at the ticket window on the day of the concert -generally they are tickets that have been sold already but someone has cancelled at the last minute. My friend got a front row box seat for a ballet this way, it was only 30 euro! I’ll also never forget when this trick scored my friends and I 8 euro (the Hungarian equivalent of) tickets for an opera concert at the Budapest opera house!

    Other ways we saved but still got splurge included: sharing a gondola ride with other people in line (not as romantic but by splitting the cost we saved a bit of money), taking advantage of free viewpoints rather than paying for a view (ie you can go to the top of the George Pompidou centre, the terrace Galleries Lafayette department store or stand in front of the Sacre Coeur for a free view of Paris) and even trying out websites that offer discounts if you book your restaurant through them (in Paris I use a website called lafourchette, which generally gives a discount of 20-30% off your meal -just read the conditions for the exact amounts).

    Ahh I miss travel 🙂

    November 19, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I generally enjoy your posts, but I think it is horrible to that you would recommend that someone take on credit card debt so that they can enjoy travel. Credit cards have huge interest rates- paying off that interest just takes away money for future travel. Not to mention, taking that attitude too far can result in debt that can take years to pay off and ruin your credit score.

    November 19, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Def. a great handful of tips. My boyfriend and I always disagree about splurging on the accommodation though!

    rae of love from berlin

    November 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Great tips Brooke!

    November 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    This is such a lovely post! Since I’ve been little, with my mum and god-mother have always taught me that all material things can be taken away from you but the memories you make while traveling and seeing the world will be with you forever! So why not spend money on making these memories?

    November 19, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    These are all great tips. Some of my most memorable moments while traveling have been picnicking in front of iconic monuments and sites — like in Paris, picnicking in front of the Eiffel Tower, Baker Beach with gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. 🙂

    November 19, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Instead of splurging on dinner, I actually prefer to splurge on a late lunch. Prices are generally cheaper and I only need a light appetizer for dinner.

    I find with a bit of research, there are lots of free tours available too (some better than others).

    One thing I do like to splurge on is city attractions. When I went to Italy, I tried to go to as many museums and art galleries as I could. The costs added up, but it was totally worth it. You may only get a chance to visit a city once, so why not see everything that is has to offer! 🙂

    November 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Walk as much as you can and eat from grocery stores often! These were the two biggest cash savers when I backpacked through Europe. Plus, walking allows you to experience and see the city first hand and going to local grocery stores brings you up, close and personal with the locals.
    Both are a fabulous ways to really immerse yourself wherever you are and a great way to save money (so you can spend it on other important things!)

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    November 19, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I didn’t take a gondola ride in Venice, the cost was crazy and seemed like a bit of a tourist trap (well, it IS Venice after all). But I totally agree on the lighter meals for breakfast and lunch then splurging on dinner!

    Pavla @ Greetings from...
    November 19, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I don’t agree with the gondola ride in Venice. 80 euros for 30 minutes is outrageous and you basically get the same view as the people on the boat from all the little bridges… But again, it’s the matter of preferences.

    November 19, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Great tips and ideas. Funny about the undies/socks that is something a true travel/backpacker knows about. You can’t go wrong with a splurge here and there on some good food.

    November 19, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Some really good points! I love to try new food when I’m travelling so definitely budget more for that 🙂

    LEE @ Modern Granola
    November 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Great tips for young travelers! Gracias!

    November 19, 2014 at 8:01 am

    When I was in college I backpacked through Europe. I really need to go back when I can do little splurges. Money was so tight when I went, I couldn’t pay for admission to anything. Some place will come up in a conversation, and in my mind I think, I have been there, couldn’t afford to go inside, but I have been there. I really need to go back and actually go back in the places.