Best S$10.5k spent in my 20s on a student exchange in Europe.
A trip to Europe can be pretty pricy so if you’ve selected a school there, don’t miss the chance to visit the other countries around! After all, it’s our golden opportunity to travel before we start working full time!
View from Lindenhof in Zurich.
But is it possible to travel a lot on a student budget?
With careful planing on my five-month exchange in Germany, I travelled across 17 countries for a total of S$10.5k. Here’s a recap of my journey if you’re planning your own!
Jump to section: Germany | France | Luxembourg | Ireland | Belgium | Spain | Portugal | Austria | Switzerland | Czech Republic | United Kingdom | Netherlands | Denmark | Norway | Sweden | Finland | Greece | Planning and Budget Tips
Overall Budget Breakdown for Student Exchange in Europe
Transport in Europe is expensive — almost half the budget!
Transport: S$4,778.91 (incl. flights from Singapore)
Travel insurance: S$236
SIM card: S$137
Click here for the full budget breakdown
*Note: Only travel-related costs are added to this budget. For student exchange in Europe specific costs, refer to this sheet.
Student Exchange in Europe Budget Breakdown by country
1) Germany: 13 Days
Cities Covered: Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Koblenz, Cologne, Dresden, Berlin, Schwangau and Rudesheim am Rhein.
Frankfurt was where my school was and its central location is an excellent home base for travelling all around Europe. There’re lots of air and land transport options, making it easy to plan spontaneous day trips and short weekend trips.
If you’re studying in another country, do plan to spend at least a week in Germany.
– Walking tour around Berlin’s historical sites — the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Reichstag Building
– Neuschwanstein Castle (€13/~S$20) in Schwangau that inspired Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom!
– Funicular ride to the ruins of Heidelberg Castle (€8 (~S$12.50) — free with the Heidelberg Card)
– 360° of the city from Frauenkirche Dresden dome
– Ring Tour (€15/~S$23.40) day trip to the wine valley of Rudesheim am Rhein, home to Reisling wines
Transport: ~€60 for return travel within Germany.
Food: ~€12/day, inclusive of cooking and eating out. Be sure to try some German pork knuckle, Currywurst, and cheap beer and wines!
– a&o Dresden Hauptbanhof, ~S$38/bed in a six-bed dorm.
– ibis Heidelberg Hauptbanhof, ~S$60.45/night.
– Novum Hotel Aldea Berlin Centrum, ~S$76/night.
Note: Other cities I visited in Germany were day trips, so no accommodation was required.
Total budget for 13 days in Germany: S$980.71
Germany budget tip: Compare intercity transport prices on Flixbus and DB Bahn. Often, Flixbus offers cheaper rates for a slightly longer travelling time.
2) France: 4 Days
Cities covered: Nancy, Metz, and Paris
While Paris was a stand-alone trip, I took a day trip from Luxembourg to visit Nancy and Metz. Though these towns are smaller and quieter than Paris, they have beautiful parks that look especially magical in winter.
– Iconic landmarks in Nancy — Place Stanislas and Parc de la Pépinière.
– View of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro Gardens
– The Louvre (€17, ~S$27) and Arc de Triomphe (€13) for French history and art. Entry is free for EU students.
Transport: ~€60 for return flights to Paris and ~€26.65 for a three-day public transport pass.
Food: ~€14/day, inclusive of cooking and eating out. Be sure to try the French pastries!
Total budget for 4 days in France: S$438.34
France budget tip: Keep your EU student card with you while in France. Selected attractions within France are free, so check before visiting!
Read also: 10-Day France Itinerary under S$1.5k — Paris and Beyond by Rail
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3) Luxembourg: 2 Days
City covered: Luxembourg City
Luxembourg‘s city centre and beautiful valleys are extraordinary — like a scene from the 19th century.
Two days is sufficient if you’re just staying in the city. However, there are also hiking opportunities outside the city so it might be worth staying a little longer.
– Grund, a small, idyllic town located in a valley below the city
– Old underground tunnels and fortresses from the 17th century at Bock Casemates
– View of the Pétrusse valley from the Adolphe Bridge
Transport: ~€38 for a return Flixbus to Luxembourg.
Food: ~€12/day, mainly cooking.
– ibis Styles Luxembourg Centre Gare, ~S$234.16/night with free breakfast.
4) Ireland: 3.5 Days
City covered: Dublin
Photo credit: Dimitry Anikin via Unsplash
Dublin is a must-go for the beer and scenic hikes. Three and a half days are sufficient for exploring the capital city and some hiking. Add another two to three days for Galway and the Cliffs of Moher!
–Guinness Storehouse (€18.50/~S$29), experience the history behind Ireland’s iconic beer
– Book of Kells (€13/~S$21) and the Long Room, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries
– Temple Bar district, soak in the Irish nightlife
– Cliff walks in Howth and from Bray to Greystones
Transport: ~€36 for return flights to Dublin and €19.50 (~S$30.50) for a 72-hour transport pass in Dublin
Food: €18/day, mainly eating out
– Isaacs Hostel, ~S$20/bed in an eight-bed dorm
Total budget for 3.5 days in Ireland: S$277.56
Ireland budget tip:
– Hiking is usually free! Other popular hikes include: Malahide to Portmarnock and Killiney Hill
– Entry to the Book of Kells is free if you know someone studying at Trinity College Dublin
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5) Belgium: 5 Days
Cities covered: Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and Dinant
The Grand Place in the city centre of Brussels.
– Historic monuments around Brussels city centre — the Grand Place, Manneken Pis, and Mont des Arts.
– Day-trip to quaint towns of Bruges and Ghent. Tour Bruges’ beautiful canals (€10/~S$15.60) and have coffee in a quiet café
– Day trip Dinant — hidden gems like Dinant Citadel and the Notre Dame de Dinant
Accommodation: Brussels 2GO4 Quality Hostel, ~S$21.29/bed in a four-bed dorm with free breakfast
*Note: As we took day trips from our base in Brussels, there was no need for accommodation in Ghent, Bruges and Dinant.
Total budget for 5 days in Belgium: S$362.19
Belgium budget tip: Opt to walk instead of spending on public transport as most of the attractions in Brussels are within walking distance
6) Spain: 10 Days
Cities covered: Mallorca, Barcelona, Malaga, Seville
Due to its proximity, I highly recommend visiting Spain and Portugal within the same trip. Travelling between cities will be cheaper and more accessible. However, that would take up two weeks to a month.
I had to split up my travels slightly so I spent three days in Mallorca over the weekend, then on a separate trip, covered Barcelona in Spain before flying west to Portugal and ending our trip back in Malaga.
Our “Spain-tugal” route.
– The picturesque Spanish island of Mallorca — lots of beaches, hidden coves, and ancient cathedrals
– Gaudí’s architectural works, including La Sagrada Familia (€15/~S$23.40), which has been in construction for over 138 years
– Royal Alcázar of Seville (€3/~S$4.70) and Plaza de España — filming locations of Star Wars and Game of Thrones
Transport: ~€42–€151 for return flights to major Spanish cities, and ~€16 for intercity buses in Spain.
– Brick Palma de Mallorca Hostel, ~S$28.39/bed in a four-bed dorm
– Airbnb in Barcelona, from S$132/night for a one-room apartment with kitchen facilities
– Airbnb in Seville, from S$197.24/night for a private apartment with kitchen facilities
– Airbnb in Malaga, from S$86.28/night for a private apartment with kitchen facilities
– The Lights Garden Hostel in Malaga, ~S$21.68/bed in a six-bed mixed dorm
Total budget for 10 days in Spain: S$1,033.75
Spain budget tip: Discover new cities on a budget by looking out for cheap flights from your home city
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7) Portugal: 4 Days
Cities covered: Porto, Lisbon, Lagos
Portugal’s unique architecture, food and scenery is incredible and it turned out to be one of my favourite countries while on student exchange in Europe. Although I only had four days in Portugal, I believe it’s worth spending at least a week to explore at a leisurely pace.
– The beautiful architecture in Portugal’s two largest cities, Lisbon and Porto
– Wine tasting tour in the Douro Valley
– Day trip from Lisbon for the Palace Pena in Sintra (€13.30/~S$21) and the seaside town of Cascais
– Most western point in Europe, Cabo da Roca — mountainous valleys and cliffs
– Beach-hopping in Lagos — Praia do Pinhão and Praia da Batata Beach.
Transport: €10–€30 for a flight into Portugal, and ~€16 for intercity transfers.
– Airbnb in Porto, from S$82.92/night in a private apartment with kitchen facilities
– Airbnb in Lisbon, from S$94.40/night for a private apartment with kitchen facilities
– Airbnb in Lagos, from S$61.64/night in a private apartment with kitchen facilities
Total budget for 4 days in Portugal: S$330.75
8) Austria: 5 Days
Cities covered: Hallstatt, Innsbruck and Salzburg
We started our Austrian adventures with a day trip to Hallstatt, before spending four nights in Innsbruck where most of our activities were based from. On our last day, we left Innsbruck early to spend the day in Salzburg.
– Fairytale town of Hallstatt — gorgeous views from the Skywalk Observation Deck
– Winter activities in Innsbruck like skiing on Axamer Lizum or having a snow fight 2,269 metres high on Nordkette
– Salzburg — Wolfgangsee Lake, Fortress Hohensalzburg, and Mozart’s birthplace.
Food: ~€11/day, mix of cooking and eating out
– Nepomuk’s Bed & Breakfast Backpackers Hostel Innsbruck, ~S$46.80/bed in a four-bed dorm with free breakfast
Note: no accommodation bookings for Hallstatt and Salzburg as they were day trips
Total budget for 5 days in Austria: S$846.14
Austria budget tip:
– It’s more cost-effective to rent a car if you have the same pick-up and drop-off point (dropping off your car in another city may cost you an additional €50 – €100)
– Get the Innsbruck Card for more value on your visit
– If you’re new to skiing, learn the basics with this Youtube video. You won’t need to hire an instructor!
Read also: 14-Day Europe Itinerary: 6 Countries under S$1.8k with the Eurail Pass
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9) Switzerland: 4 Days
Cities covered: Interlaken, Bern, Lucerne, and Zurich
Four day in Switzerland was way too short and rushed. I’d recommend spending at least seven days to experience more of the activities and sights it has to offer. Do check the weather beforehand too, as it may affect the visibility on top of the mountains.
– Charing old towns of Lucerne and Zurich
– Rhine Falls (CHF5/~S$7.25) — Europe’s largest waterfall
– Café hot chocolate while taking in the beauty of the Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen villages
– Lake Brienz and visit the Grandhotel Giessbach, Giessbach Falls, and Iseltwald — filming locations of the popular Korean drama, Crash Landing on You
Transport: ~€36 for return Flixbus to Switzerland, and €13–€32.50/way for intercity trains in Switzerland
Food: €15/day, mainly on groceries for cooking
– Bern Backpackers Hotel Glocke, ~S$57/bed in a four-bed dorm
– Balmers Hostel Interlaken, ~S$32.67/bed in a six-bed dorm with free breakfast
*Note: no accommodation bookings for Lucerne and Zurich as they were day trips
Total budget for 4 days in Switzerland: S$557.70
Switzerland budget tip:
– Get a Swiss Travel Pass to save more on transport in Switzerland
– Take one-way transport to explore new cities, instead of taking multiple day trips from a single home base. You’ll save more money that way!
Read also: 10-Day Switzerland Itinerary — 6 Cities Under S$2.3k with the Swiss Travel Pass
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10) Czech Republic: 5 Days
Cities covered: Prague, Bohemian Switzerland
Prague city is perfect for a weekend trip while on student exchange in Europe. If you love the outdoors and hiking, you can travel three hours out to Bohemian Switzerland National Park. It’s also easily accessible by a one-hour train from Dresden.
– 2D1N hike in Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park — spot interesting rock formations like Europe’s largest sandstone arch and the Bastei Bridge
– Boat ride through the rocky canyon of Edmund Gorge (€3.50/~S$5.60) — spot uniquely carved structures on the steep rock walls
– Prague‘s top attractions, including the Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, and the Dancing Hous
Transport: ~€50 for return transfers to Prague on DB Bahn
Food: ~€14/day, inclusive of cooking and eating out. Be sure to have your fill of beer, chimney cakes with ice-cream, as well as traditional bread dumplings
Total budget for 5 days in Czech Republic: S$347.01
Czech Republic budget tip:
– Beer is even cheaper than water, so you know what to do. 😉
11) United Kingdom: 4 Days
City covered: London
Photo credit: Benjamin Davies via Unsplash
For the main attractions in London, four days is sufficient. Extend, one to two weeks to explore the city in-depth or visit the other cities in the UK!
– Walk around London’s biggest attractions like Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and the Spire.
– Sherlock fans, visit 221B Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes Museum) and Piccadilly Circus, where the opening credits scene was filmed
– Views of the River Thames with a free entry to the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden
– Free Harry Potter walking tour — Diagon Alley and Ministry of Magic!
Transport: ~€30 for a flight into London, £11/day on public transport.
Food: ~£12/day, mainly cooking.
– Wombat’s Hostel London, ~S$41.67/bed in a six-bed dorm.
Total budget for 4 days in the United Kingdom: S$419.66
The United Kingdom budget tip:
– Check out more free things to do in London if you don’t want to bust your budget!
– Purchase a London Travelcard for unlimited transport within London. Choose between one to three days, or seven days consecutive.
Read also: UK By Rail: 10D Scotland, Wales And London Itinerary Under S$1,400 or Harry Potter London Itinerary: The Quintessential Guide To 4 Days in London for All Potterheads
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12) Netherlands: 2 Days
City covered: Amsterdam
The Netherlands marked the start of our two-week Northern Europe trip, covering Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Bergen, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki. This route was great for us as we wanted to cover many neighbouring countries in a short span of time.
– Rent a bike and cycle through the largest park in the city, Vondelpark
– Anne Frank House (book early as tickets are often sold out!)
– Amsterdam’s bustling Red Light district.
– The famous tulip fields at Keukenhof (tulips bloom in April)
Transport: ~€23 for a one-way Flixbus to Amsterdam
– The Bull Dog Hostel, ~S$46.80/bed in an eight-bed dorm
Total budget for 2 days in the the Netherlands: S$158.28
13) Denmark: 3 Days
City covered: Copenhagen
Copenhagen was my favourite city I visited on this trip, and I mainly attribute it to the fun I had in its theme park, Tivoli Gardens! It’s also a very colourful city that you can cover in about three days.
– Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second-oldest amusement park.
-Streets of Nyhavn, and the parks next to the star-shaped fortress Kastellet
– Boat tour through Copenhagen’s canals (99 kr/~S$21.50, free with the Copenhagen Card)
– The impressive Rosenborg Castle and Christiansborg Palace — feel like a 17th-century king or queen
Transport: ~€50 for a one-way flight into Copenhagen. Local transport is free with the Copenhagen Card
Food: ~106 kr/day (~S$21.62), mix of eating out and cooking. Try some affordable steak at Jensens Boefhus
– DanHostel Copenhagen City, ~S$54.71/bed in a four-bed dorm
Total budget for 3 days in Denmark: S$512.51
14) Norway: 3 Days
Cities covered: Bergen, Oslo
View from the peak of Fløyen, Bergen.
– Hike to Fløyen mountain in Bergen — check out the climbing park and zipline
– Sunset views from Nordnes Park.
– Houses of Bryggen and shops behind the alleyways
– Scenic train from Bergen to Oslo for picturesque landscapes at every turn!
Transport: ~€50 for a flight into Bergen, ~€30 for a scenic train from Bergen to Oslo.
Food: ~78 kr/day (~S$12.35), mainly on cooking. Indulge in the freshest salmon in the world, chill out at BarBarista — a quirky café located in the heart of town.
Total budget for 3 days in the Norway: S$484.39
15) Sweden: 2 Days
City covered: Stockholm
View of Stockholm city from Ivar Los Park.
Aside from meatballs and IKEA, Stockholm city is full of rich history and architecture. I recommend spending around two to three days.
– Gamla Stan — one of the most well-preserved city centres in Europe.
– Vasa Museum — Learn about a 17th-century warship that sank on its voyage
– View of Stockholm from the hill of Ivar Los Park
Transport: ~€30 for intercity trains between Scandinavian cities and 130kr (~S$19) for a 24-hour transport pass in Stockholm.
Food: 136 kr/day (~S$20.19), mix of cooking and eating out. Be sure to have some Swedish meatballs with Lingonberry sauce and Swedish confectionery!
– City Backpackers Stockholm, ~S$32.32/bed in a six-bed dorm.
16) Finland: 3 Days
City covered: Helsinki
Left to right: Helsinki Cathedral and the SkyWheel Helsinki
Helsinki is a laid-back and creative city. Be sure to shop for some locally made products at the Market Square or ad-hoc makers’ markets.
– Helsinki city’s landmarks — Helsinki Cathedral, The Helsinki University Library, and the Market Square
– Stocking up on sweets and Fazer chocolates from local supermarkets
– 30-minute ferry ride to Suomenlinna Fortress — a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its war history when Finland was under Soviet and Swedish rule
– Quiet city parks just 15 minutes from the city — Tähtitorninvuoren and Kaivopuisto
Transport: ~€30 for a one-way flight into Helsinki, and €9 for a day transport pass within the city (pass includes free ferry transfers to Suomenlinna Fortress worth €5)
– Hostel Diana Park, ~S$44/bed in an eight-bed female dorm
17) Greece: 5 Days
Cities covered: Athens, Santorini
I spent about two and a half days in Athens and Santorini each. While that was enough to explore the main attractions in Athens, I recommend spending at least three to five days in Santorini to explore different parts of the island, hike, and beach-hop.
If you have the time, take two extra days hiking the floating monasteries in Meteora.
– Athens ancient ruins — Acropolis (Parthenon), Ancient Agora, and the Temple of Zeus. While they have entry fees ranging from €6 – €20, it’s free for students in the EU.
– Volcano and hot springs tour (S$47.89) in Santorini.
– Hike from Fira to Oia with a stopover at the Skaros Rock.
– Sunset views from Areopagus Hill in Athens and at the Oia Castle ruins in Santorini
Transport: €80–€137 for return flights to Athens, €10–€50 for flight/ferry transfers between Athens and Santorini.
Food: ~€20/day, mainly eating out. Find affordable gyros and souvlakis at Lucky’s Souvlakis, and indulge in some sinful desserts at Little Kook, a Marry Poppins themed café decked with unique decorations and costumes
Total budget for 5 day in Greece: S$754.93
Greece budget tip:
– Have your EU student card on you as most of the main attractions within Athens are free for students
– If you’re short on time, you can opt for an hour’s flight between Athens and Santorini. However, do note that it may be pricier
– Alternatively, you can opt for a cheaper option, an eight-hour ferry ride
Read also: 9-Day Greece Itinerary Under S$1.5k incl. flights — Athens, Santorini, Meteora
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Prepping for Student Exchange in Europe
A street in Prague.
I hope this article helps with your budget planning while travelling a student exchange in Europe! When deciding where to visit, I chose cities that were easy to get to. These included direct flights, bus or train routes like Ryanair and Flixbus. Most of the time, direct flights were cheaper and it saved time on transfers.
View of Monastiraki and the Parthenon from a rooftop bar.
Here are some rough costs that to note when preparing for a student exchange in Europe:
Visa: From S$50 for a six-month Schengen Visa
A visa is required for Singaporean students staying longer than 90 days in the Schengen Area. Your exchange university will update you on the application. Book your appointment at the embassy two months in advance to receive your visa in time!
Student Accommodation: From €250/month for a shared room and €300/month for a single room.
It’s important to start looking for accommodation early once your slot at the host university is confirmed. Based on location, facilities and room type, prices can range between €250 to €800 a month.
Health/Travel Insurance: ~S$200/pax for six months.
Get travel insurance in Singapore to protect you while you’re on student exchange in Europe. Check with your exchange university if additional health insurance is compulsory for your studies in Europe as they can range an additional €60–€100/month.
SIM Card: ~€15/month for a SIM card.
Pick a local SIM card from your host country that can be used throughout the EU. If you’re visiting the UK and Switzerland, check that coverage includes those areas too.
Flights: ~S$760/pax for a return ticket to major European cities.
Check your baggage allowance as some airlines offer a higher weight limit for students on exchange. If possible, purchase round trip tickets. They’re usually cheaper, and some airlines offer students a free date change.
Read also: 15 Budget Tips for Travelling During Student Exchange in Europe
Which country would you like to go for student exchange in Europe? Let us know in the comments!