Cheapest countries in Europe to backpack 2017

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 by

It's time to highlight the cheapest (and most expensive, looking at you Iceland) countries for hosteling in Europe in 2017 and where to go if you're traveling on a budget, like this guy is, because he's going back for round two.

As I'm getting ready to head back over to Europe again, I've been trying to figure out where I should go (as we all do, every. single. time.) and after a few hours of searching hostels between different cities I realized that I -

  1. Have so many places I still want to go that I'm also -
  2. A bit more driven by cost than location, since the "where" is pretty open-ended as long as it's not somewhere I've already spent a lot of time

That left me wishing I could see something like Google Flight's Explore map — which is another amazing site I use into deciding where to go — but for lodging prices (this is where someone should tell me it already exists -_-). So what does one do when they're working on a travel startup and don't have the data they need? Time to get digging.

But first I want to spoil the surprise, because I hate always having to find these at the end, so -

The Cheapest Country to Backpack in Europe is...

*drumroll* Ukraine! At ~5.16 per night for a shared hostel dorm.

This place ↓

Ukraine View on Google Maps

Boom. Done. No more reading necessary. Unless you were thinking of going to any of the other countries in Europe, in which case read on!

Ukraine having the cheapest hostels may not be too surprising as generally the further east you go in Europe the less expensive things are, so my real question turned out to be: If I'm trying to travel on a budget, what countries can I visit in the rest of Europe?

Pro tip: Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland are out, you crazy expensive bastards. Well, and you Liechtenstein, but you tiny.

Show me the goods

Country Average dorm price per night
Ukraine 5.16
Russia 8.44
Moldova 9.42
Macedonia 10.40
Belarus 10.41
Montenegro 10.57
Bulgaria 10.90
Poland 11.01
Albania 11.38
Bosnia and Herzegovina 11.48
Lithuania 11.66
Serbia 11.69
Latvia 12.43
Kosovo 12.68
Romania 12.85
Slovakia 13.92
Hungary 16.85
Czech Republic 16.89
Estonia 17.38
Greece 18.90
Portugal 19.01
Malta 19.02
Slovenia 19.20
Cyprus 19.48
Spain 19.90
Ireland 21.94
San Marino 23.61
United Kingdom 24.73
Austria 27.00
Luxembourg 27.86
Belgium 27.88
Gibraltar 28.15
France 29.09
Germany 29.77
The Netherlands 29.92
Croatia 29.98
Sweden 30.37
Finland 30.64
Italy 30.86
Denmark 33.23
Norway 39.54
Switzerland 42.45
Liechtenstein 43.32
Iceland 43.70

Visualize It, Baby

Since I also find mentally mapping rows in a spreadsheet to countries on Earth a little disjointing, I thought I'd make myself a map so I could actually see what sort of routes I should look at. Though flying from cell A3 to cell A17 and paying cell B17 per night did seem pretty hardcore...

So here's our spreadsheet in all it's beautiful, colorized form as - average price per bed in a hostel dorm per night in Europe, with crazy outliers (there were a few) removed. Though I didn't differentiate between 4-bed, 8-bed, etc, I did split out dorm and private, so these numbers are all dorm-only.

Hover (or click) on the countries for prices

Average price (in $ USD) per bed in a hostel dorm per night throughout Europe

You can see with the exception of Croatia (thanks Game of Thrones), there's a pretty clear separation between Western Europe and Eastern Europe right down the Poland-Chechia-Slovakia-Hungary-Slovenia line.

The Data (Watch out, gettin' nerdy)

In asking myself how much these countries cost to travel it would've been super easy to grab a blog off Google and call it a day, but I demanded real, bookable, room data and none of that alternative data (kidding, kidding). So all of this data are actual data points for actual dorms and rooms you could actually book.

I aggregated about 8,200 shared dorm prices across 680 cities in 44 countries (give or take how many're in Europe, right?) with about a dozen data points per city. Then I -

  • Removed any extreme outliers of the city-level dorm prices by taking the median value (which from spot checking was representative)
  • Then aggregated those city-level data points into country-level data points
  • And took the median again to remove anything weird like, I don't know, a single ~4,000 per night room when the city average was 30, because that definitely happened...

Which brings us to -

  • An average European shared dorm price of 21.25, and
  • A standard deviation between those dorm prices of 4.90

Putting a majority of European countries' (technically ~68%, which is one standard deviation) hostel prices between 16.35 and 26.15 per night, not too shabby.

The Finale

I mean the good stuff was way up there ↑, but to finish us off -

If you want to travel Europe cheaply set your sights on the Poland-Chechia-Slovakia-Hungary-Slovenia line eastwards for hostels that are under ~16 per night.
Or west of that for ~40 per night.

Travel on my friends, and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on the Trip of Trips Facebook page.

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