I’ve been on my first backpacking trip through Europe for almost four months now, and during this time I’ve discovered some websites and apps that make life easy for those wanting to travel on the cheap.
Each one of these has helped me and still helps me in many ways, whether for finding tickets, food or cool things to do at an affordable price. Whether it’s finding where I am, help with the local language, making memories and even making some money.
Since it would be unfair to enjoy these travel hacks all to myself, I’ve chosen the best apps to put on this list.
Check out the 34 best travel apps to enjoy in Europe:
Bike Share Buddy
FreeTour and Sandeman’s New Europe
Apps for getting around without fear and without getting lost
1. GoEuro – This is an already well-known platform, in a single search it gathers many possibilities for schedules and routes with cheaper buses, train and plane tickets for any city in Europe. You can do the same searches on their website as in the app and actually find more affordable options for your budget. I already got a train ticket for 21 euros cheaper by buying it on the app instead of the city box office.
2. Rome2Rio – This is an online service that shows travel plans between one destination to another, local or long distance. Unlike GoEuro, it does gather the best routes but doesn’t display the exact price of each trip, but an approximate amount.
3. Skyscanner – This web-based app shows plane tickets and car rentals from various companies, making it easy to compare prices on the same platform. I used it a lot before starting my journey across the continent, you can choose the months and the preferred destinations and it will show you the cheapest days. There’s also the possibility to search without a specific date or destination, just select the departure city and if you’re free, ask it to discover the cheapest month and place to travel.
4. Azair – a site with a super simple design that shows countless economic flight trajectories with the best prices in Europe. You can quickly find discounted rates for more than 94 airlines with low-cost flights.
5. FlixBus – This is a German bus company recognized throughout Europe for having more affordable fares than other companies. In the app it’s possible to follow busses in real time and know exactly what time it will arrive and what the stops will be before the destination. The company also sends emails and texts advising if there are any delays, in addition to alerts in the app itself. The bus service operates in 29 countries and now has the Flixtrain, which has train passes for ten euros.
6. BlaBlaCar – A carpool platform for short and long distances. It operates all across Europe and caters to travelers that want to save money by spending on only the cost of travel. It’s an excellent exchange because a lot of times the driver is going to make a trip and/or always makes the same trip, and gives up the free space in his or her car in exchange for help with the cost of gas. Sometimes you can find a ride that’s cheaper than a bus or train ticket. Plus, you get to know new people as there could be more travelers in the same car. If you can’t find the perfect ride, you can also create an alert to be notified as soon as there is a route that fits what you need.
7. CityMapper – This application and site display a range of different routes for the bus, metro, train, bike, taxi and uber in various cities, not just in Europe. It shows how long each itinerary is and how much time there is until the next bus. Plus it works really well offline, so if you search for the route on wifi and won’t have data, just download the route and be on your way. It’s one of my favorites.
8. 9292 – This app is great if you go through Holland, it shows the exact time the bus, metro or train will pass by. Even if transit is delayed, it updates with the new schedule. You can also put in the origin and destination locations and it will tell you at which point or platform to wait, trip duration and where to get off. Plus it’s very cool because during your search there is a filter for handicap accessibility.
9. Google Maps – Well known around the world, this Google tool has some very famous features, like creating routes for cars, public transport, bike and on foot. It has the “Explore” tab that shows markets, ATMs, gas stations, hospitals, pharmacies, and convenience stores, gives attention to places with traffic and has different types of maps (normal, satellite and street view), among others. There are some not-so-known features like saving favorite or save for later places, sharing your location with friends in real time and personalizing and saving a map to use offline. After downloading a map, it continues to show routes for cars, just without traffic updates.
9. Maps.Me – This is an app that also provides offline maps, but unlike Google Maps, once it has been downloaded you will no longer need the internet for routes for cars, public transport, bike and walking, including trails. It also displays hotels, attractions and nearby places to eat, all offline.
10. Bike Share Buddy – For those who enjoy riding bikes this app is essential. Places that rent out bikes are often times local, meaning they change according to each city. This app shows places to rent a bike in various cities of the world. It’s already available in ten countries in Europe and the app is very simple to use. You select your location, the number of stations you want to see and it shows you a list with the closest points and how many bikes are available.
11. Uber – The well-known Uber app is a rideshare company that allows the user to search for available nearby drivers through a mobile application. In Europe, the prices are known to be cheaper than traditional taxis and you can use the same account as what you have back home.
12. Cabify - Cabify is a transportation company, and like Uber, it offers good quality rides that are requested through an app on a smartphone. The difference is that it is only currently available in Spain and Portugal.
13. My Taxi – With My Taxi, you can book a cab through the app without having to wait for a taxi on the street. At the end of the ride, you can add the driver to your favorites, making it so that your next request will be made to your preferred driver. Depending on the country, the ride could come out cheaper.
Apps to eat, drink and be merry
14. Just Eat – This is an online food delivery service like UberEats in the USA. You can use it in over ten countries in Europe. Buying is easy and delivery is fast. Sometimes, even if the restaurant is nearby, it’s cool to buy food through the app because of available promotions and discounts. Perfect for rainy days.
Apps to exchange money and control spending
15. TransferWise – This company has already helped me a lot and continues helping me when I need to make an exchange and online transfers, in a short amount of time and with a commercial rate (usually less in comparison to other companies). It’s safe and you follow every step of the transfer. The app is intuitive and super easy to use. Their support even helped me when I made a transfer to the wrong account. They recently launched a debit mastercard, but for now you have to get on the waitlist.
16. PayPal – PayPal is already well known for the ease of buying online and here in Europe it is a staple because various other platforms that I’ve already listed, like GoEuro, FlixBus, Airbnb and certain tourist attractions allow PayPal as a form of payment on their site or apps, making it much easier since it charges directly to your bank account (if you have an account in Europe) or international credit card. I recently discovered that you can send and receive money between PayPal accounts exchanging money and the transfer is fast.
17. Money Manager – This app is indispensable for those needing to control and track their expenses during a trip. Money Manager gives you an overview of your spending and tells you which categories you’ve spent the most, and also shows graphs separated by day, week and month. You can also follow the balance of your spending in cash and card thanks to the feature of separating forms of payment.
Apps to stay and exchange experiences
18. Worldpackers – This is a platform, originated in Brazil, where you find hosts in more than 100 countries that need volunteers and in exchange they provide your accommodation and, most of the time, help with food too. There are hosts that among other things, offer tours, language classes, yoga activities, etc. Besides there is no better way to save on accommodation by not spending anything on it using Worldpackers, you still get to meet cool people from all over the world, sharpen skills that you already have and learn many new things. You also have access to very useful articles and content about traveling and, by becoming part of the community, you can talk directly with people who have lived the experience and ask your own questions. After creating your profile and highlighting your skills, just search for hosts in cities of whatever country you want.
In this list, you’ll find hostels, family home-stays, social work, nature and a plethora of hosts. To get in contact with them you need to pay an annual fee to enjoy everything the site has to offer. The platform is very secure and has an attentive support staff if something goes wrong on your trip.
19. Couchsurfing – This platform is great for those that don’t want to spend a lot because you stay with people who agree to give their couch, a bed or room to travelers without receiving any money in exchange. The app also shows events happening close by and a chat called Hangouts indicates people nearby who are available for a chat, walk or a drink. It’s excellent for getting to know people and exchanging experiences, plus you receive cool tips about the destination from a person who lives there.
20. Booking – Already well known, the site and app for Booking.com gather various offers for accommodation, flights, restaurants, and car rentals. It also shows ratings and reviews from other users. It’s an excellent platform for displaying really affordable prices with free cancellations and reservations without a credit card.
21. Airbnb – Most people already know about this service that helps you find accommodation with locals anywhere in the world. In the beginning, it was people that had a free room or bed in their house they would give to travelers on a budget. Today, there is something for every taste, private room, shared, an entire house, among others. Besides this, there are diverse types of experiences like bike tours, crafting classes, yoga, etc. Even still, you can find prices within your budget and flexible cancellation policies.
22. Hostelworld – One of the best platforms to find a funky hostel with free cancellation up to seven days before. Without having to open or access several different guides, you can compare prices and information in one place, like distance from the city center, benefits, cleanliness, among others. In addition, it shows the ratings and reviews by date, with the most recent displayed first.
Apps to meet people and have fun
23. Meetup – This app is interesting for solo travelers because you can select preferences and find low cost or free events that are near where you are. There’s a huge amount of different types of groups, like meditation, yoga classes, among others. But even still, if you don’t find the ideal event, it’s possible to create your own.
As listed before, Couchsurfing with the Hangouts option and Worldpackers are also essential if you're looking to meet people and share and exchange experiences.
Apps to help you pack your bags
24. Pack Point – This is an app that may not seem that important, but it is essential because it shows what to bring and doesn’t let you forget anything. Right at the beginning you choose the destination, date, length of stay and your purpose for the trip (business or pleasure). Then it allows you to choose activities and how often you think you’ll do laundry or rewear things. With this information it then creates a list of clothes and items based on your length of stay, activities and weather. Separated in segments, you can edit and customize the list with items it did not suggest or delete what you already have.
Apps to remember and never forget a thing
25. Google Photos – Is a service for free and unlimited photo storage and sharing. It’s so great because it backs up photos that accumulate on your phone and gives you the option of deleting them to allow more space for new images. It’s possible to access the photos and videos through the site from any computer in the world. The app itself creates albums and separates your photos, but you also can do this manually, as well as favorite them and name the identified faces. This helps you to later find a photo more easily since you can search the name, place or even “black and white” and it will show all images related to the search. The app also suggests animations, collages, edits and movies with the new photos. It’s even possible to save a photo again, open it directly in the Snapseed edition of the app and send or post on social media. And last but not least, there’s the sharing option.
26. Everyplace – This app is used to notate every city you’ve visited. It has a map that shows each place you’ve been marked by green pins. You can make a custom group for places you’ve visited within each city differentiated by the color of the pin. It lets you add dates, useful transport, and photos and notes for each destination. And finally, you can share your map or a list of the countries you’ve been to directly on social media.
27. Tripline – Is an app to plan and share trips itineraries. It’s cool because you can create your story as you travel and mark the map for where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. Its possible to add photos and notes to each destination. It’s great to have an overview of the trip being able to search roadmaps of other travelers too.
28. Google Translate – The name says it all, right? Nope. Because besides translating words, phrases, and written text, the thing many people don’t know is that the app also translates by means of images (you can take a pic right then or use one from your photo library), handwriting, real-time conversation or just one voice. Plus you can download the data package for various languages and use it offline.
Apps to get out and have fun everywhere you go
29. Google Trips – I recently discovered Google Trips and have been using it ever since. It automatically adds a travel tab in case you find future ticket deals in your Gmail or you can manually add a route or ticket for wherever you want. It has super useful tabs that include reservations, cool things to do, places saved by you, day plans and food and drink. The cool things to do are excellent because they showcase the main tourist attractions, recommended places, indoor and outdoor locations, among others. I love the “day plans” because it gives you a route with a map and shows the hours of operation for each attraction, which path to take and how much time it takes to get places. The food and drink tab is also incredible because if the city has typical dishes, English breakfast and fish and chips in London for example, it basically explains what the meal is about and shows the main restaurants that serve it. Besides all this, you can download the trip and access everything offline! It’s amazing!
30. TimeOut – This is a media company that advertises events, attractions and things to do in touristic cities all over the world. You can find activities for entertainment and culture divided up by day, week, weekend or month. In some places, they also publish magazines and travel guides. TimeOut is cool because you find all kinds of fun for free.
31. TripAdvisor – This is a super famous travel website that offers info and content about tourism. You can compare and reserve hotels, tours, flights, restaurants and even find transportation companies that are cheaper than the big name ones found in apps like GoEuro and Rome2Rio. TripAdvisor also has a community with travel forums and recent comments about places.
32. FreeTour and Sandeman’s New Europe - Both applications feature different kinds of tours in the most touristic cities in Europe. They have historic tours, for specific neighborhoods, about films, and on bikes. In addition to the price, these apps show info about the sights on each tour, meeting spots and general tour logistics. The famous Free Walking Tours, usually on foot, are free or pay as you see fit.
Apps to make a little extra money on the trip
33. TRVL – Is a travel site that pays you a commission with each reservation you make, for yourself or other people. As a member of the program, you also gain access to offers and discounts on millions of hotels throughout the world. It’s a good thank you for those that already do the work of researching and making reservations for yourself, friends and family. The community allows travelers to create a page with their favorite places to stay and articles about each destination and when other people book through your profile, you also get a commision. So you get some extra cash and help other travelers make decisions by sharing your travel knowledge.
34. Worldpackers – There is an “Expert Program” on the Worldpackers platform. It was created to help travelers, whether taking off or returning home from a trip. They are people that are members of the platform and already have had experiences or are in the middle of one, who register and are willing to help anyone that has questions about WP, destinations, expenses, languages and other travel difficulties. Help comes in two ways, you can be a Guru and answer chats about various topics or a Blogger and start writing amazing articles for the platform. So then, in addition to helping other travelers, Worldpackers gives you a slice of the pie.
And there you have it!
I’m positive these travel apps will help you as much as they’ve helped me and other travelers. If you have a suggestion of another incredible site like these listed here, leave the name in the comments so that everyone can help each other save money and make more and more unforgettable trips in Europe.