Planning and packing tips

What to budget for a 4 week holiday in Europe (by car or train)

February 8, 2016 (Last Updated: February 15, 2023)
by Carolyn
Budgeting for Europe trip

If you’ve ever considered taking a holiday to Europe you’ve no doubt wondered how much does a trip to Europe cost? Knowing exactly how much to budget for a holiday to Europe can be one of the hardest parts of the trip planning process and this article is here to help.

As well as the initial expenses of flights and accommodation there are lots of other costs to take into consideration including transport, travel insurance, sightseeing, incidentals and spending money.

Your Europe trip budget can quickly get out of control if you don’t keep an eye on your expenses, so I’ve provided the actual costs from my recent European vacation (July 2017) to help you determine what to allocate in your Euro trip budget.

How much does it cost to travel Europe for 4 weeks?

The real answer to this question depends on your own personal preferences. How do you plan on travelling around Europe? What standard of accommodation do you prefer? How many people are travelling with you?

The answers to these questions will help you to determine your budget for travelling Europe.

This is not a guide on travelling Europe on the cheap! It’s a guide to help you calculate how much you need to travel to Europe.

My backpacking days are long gone and when I travel now I prefer to stay in hotels or apartments that have at least a 4-star rating. My Europe holiday budget is usually around $250 per night but you might be happy with 3-star accommodation, in which case your accommodation budget will be less than what I have allowed below.

Some countries and cities are much more expensive than others so this can impact on your daily accommodation budget for your European holiday, too.

Hotel Baltimore Paris

Similarly, your transport costs might be different to mine. The car hire costs below are based on a small car suitable for two adults and work out at $71 per day including the collision excess waiver insurance. Two of the rental cars we hired on this trip had automatic transmission but it is often cheaper to rent a car with manual transmission.

If there are more than two people in your travelling group, you’ll probably need a larger car so you’ll need to increase the budget mentioned below for your vehicle. 

BUDGETING TIP: For car rentals in Europe longer than 21 consecutive days, you should consider leasing a vehicle as the daily cost can reduce significantly the longer you require the car.

Further reading: A step by step guide to the tax-free vehicle leasing program in Europe

1 month in Europe budget (travelling by car)

driving in europe

The prices below are based on the 26 day holiday to Germany, France and Switzerland my husband and I took in July 2017. (Prices in Australian dollars.) 

Economy class flights for 2 adults^$ 5,000
Flight Frankfurt to Toulouse$    815
Train Narbonne to Geneva$    175
25 nights accommodation throughout Europe $ 5,816
Car hire for 23 days (including insurance)$ 1,625
International Driving Permit$      39
Travel insurance (28 day duo policy)$    265
Spending money* – $1250 per week x 4 weeks$  5,000
Grand total for 2 adults $18,735

(Expenses are itemized below)                                                                                                                   

^This is the maximum amount I would expect to pay for 2 x Economy class airfares from Melbourne to Europe and return during high season. By booking well in advance and taking advantage of the annual Early bird fares, you may be able to pay significantly less.

Further reading:  Booking flights to Europe: A How-To Guide

Budget for 4 week Europe trip Image: © Richard Villalon / Dollar Photo Club

Budget for 4 week holiday in Europe (by train)

Had we travelled by train instead of renting cars in each country we visited, the cost of our trip would have changed as follows.

Total trip cost above: $18,735 less car hire of $1,625 and International Driving Permit of $39 = $17,071.  Add Rail Pass for two people, cost $2,870 = Total holiday cost for above trip travelling by rail = $19,941.

The Rail Pass price is based on a 15 day Global Flexi Pass of $1435 per adult which allows you to travel on the Eurail network in 1st class for any 15 days in a 2 month period. 

Seat reservations (at additional cost) are required on some high speed rail services.   Cheaper passes are available if less travel days are required or if both adults are travelling together on all sectors.

Further reading: How to use your Eurail Pass

Europe by train Image: © Sergii Figurnyi / Adobe Stock Photo

Summary of expenses (as above) for my 2017 European trip

  • Car hire in Germany (Pick up and drop off at Frankfurt airport) – 4 days hire of Peugeot 308 automatic – EUR259 = $398
  • Car hire in France (Pick up at Toulouse airport and drop off at Narbonne station) – 11 days hire of Renault Clio manual – EUR330 = $487
  • Car hire in Switzerland (Pick up at Geneva city depot and drop off at Zurich city depot) – 8 days hire of VW Golf automatic -CHF555 = $740

Total car hire costs = $1625 (averages out to $70.65 per day)

  • 4 nights accommodation in Boppard (Germany) – EUR806 room only = $1240
  • 2 nights accommodation in Toulouse (France) – EUR250 room only = $385
  • 2 nights accommodation in Bruniquel (France) – EUR320 room only = $492
  • 7 nights accommodation in Olonzac (France) – FOC*
  • 1 night accommodation in Yvoire (France) – EUR220 room only = $338
  • 7 nights accommodation in Lauterbrunnen (Switzerland) – $2573
  • 2 nights accommodation in Zurich (Switzerland) – CHR591 = $788 (incl. breakfast)

Total accommodation costs = $5816 (averages out to 25 nights @ $232.64 per night)

*My husband and I are part owners of this holiday house. The normal weekly rent for guests during July is $940.

budget for europe trip Image: © glisic_albina / Adobe Stock Photoe

Other expenses:

  • Flight Frankfurt to Toulouse – EUR530 = $815
  • Train Narbonne to Geneva – EUR114 = $175
  • Travel insurance – $265.75 (28 day duo policy)
  • International Driving Permit – $39

Keep in mind: I booked the above trip just three weeks prior to departure (July 2017). Had I been able to book further in advance I may have been able to take advantage of early bird discounts or secured better prices and reduced my Europe travel budget significantly.

AUD rates based on an exchange rate of 1AUD = EUR.065 and CHF0.75 which was the approximate exchange rate during July 2017.

How much to allow per day in Europe?

Rather than a daily budget I usually allocate a set amount of spending money per week. Then I just multiply that amount by the number of weeks I’ll be away to calculate what I’ll need in the way of spending money in Europe.

I usually allow between $1000 and $1500 per week to cover meals, groceries, fuel, road tolls/vignettes, sightseeing, souvenirs, etc. On my recent trip, the amount budgeted of $1250 per week was more than enough to cover all our daily expenses including a few fancy dinners.

The amount of spending money you require will vary depending on whether or not you pre-purchase sightseeing tickets, the currency exchange rate at the time you travel, etc.

Further reading: Which travel money card is best?

Other expenses that you might need to include in your Europe holiday cost

Download my free European holiday planning tools here >>

Euro notes Image: © vipman4 / Dollar Photo Club

My top holiday budgeting tips

  • Pre-pay as many of your holiday expenses as you can before you leave home. That way, you’re not dipping into your spending money for large costs like accommodation or train tickets whilst you are on holiday.
  • By booking well in advance you can often take advantage of early bird deals.
  • If staying in hotels, try and secure a rate that has breakfast included.
  • For stays of more than three nights in one destination, consider booking an apartment. Rates are often cheaper than hotels and apartments also give you the option of preparing your own meals which can be a big cost saver.
  • Look for accommodation that includes free WiFi.
  • Pre-load your spending money onto a travel money card. The exchange rate is locked in on the day of purchase and you can add additional funds at any time.
  • Take more spending money than you think you will need. It’s better to bring some home than have to miss out on a gondola ride in Venice or a cable car trip in Switzerland because your funds are running out. These might be once in a lifetime experiences – don’t let a shortage of spending money leave you with regrets.

All prices are in Australian dollars.


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Image: © alain wacquier / Dollar Photo ClubSave