The Cost Of Bike Touring: Britain & Europe
How much will an independent bike tour cost?
Britain and Europe are relatively expensive places to tour but even so, it’s possible to get by on a relatively tight budget if you’re willing to camp and cook all your own food. Around €15 euros per person, per day would be a rock-bottom budget (maybe a bit less in southern or eastern Europe, where prices are broadly cheaper). If you want to enjoy the cafés and see a few attractions, plan on spending double that.
Scroll down to see who we talked to and what they said.
The Cyclist & The Trip: Hans van der Veeke lives in the Netherlands and has bike toured in Finland (2009), Italy (2010) and Ireland (2011).
We do not have a budget but we like to travel as cheaply as possible. We also do enjoy some luxuries. For example, I ‘need’ my shower after a day of cycling. Whenever possible we do the cooking ourselves but sometimes I like a ‘decent’ meal consisting of a piece of well prepared meat or fish.
The Cost: Anywhere from €15-30 per person, per day.
Finland – “The campsites were on average € 17 for two people. We usually prepared our meals with groceries bought before arriving on the campsite. This was on average €10 so our total was around €30 for two people, per day. In Finland it is very easy to camp cheaply because you are allowed to camp (almost) anywhere. The ‘uumarantas’ (swimming places) are perfect spots. There is usually a toilet and potable water there. Also many villages have an ‘all you can eat’ restaurant. For €10-15 you can get a hot meal and a filled belly. We did not always like the food.”
Italy – “In 2010 we cycled from Italy to our home in the north of Holland. Camping prices can be found here. We cooked our own meals but everything was a bit more expensive so we averaged €40 a day for two people. The problem was that it was warmer and that the availability of terraces in the sun that serve beer were plenty. Do the math ”
Ireland – “Ireland was quite expensive, around €60 each day for the two of us. Due to the bad weather and absence of campsites we had to find other places to sleep. Whenever possible we took a hostel. This was usually between €40-50 for a private room. B&Bs were expensive (€60-70) and campsites averaged €22. One thing we found out is that every village has a take-away Chinese restaurant. For €10 we got a meal which was sufficient for us. The cost of our accomodation can be found here.”
Tips: ”My tip for cutting costs is preparing the coffee, tea and soup along the way using a portable stove. I use the JetBoil which will make two cups of hot drink in two minutes in the most scenic places. The cost of that is only €0.25 compared to €5 when ordering coffee at a restaurant.”
The Cyclist & The Trip: Graeme Wilgress. Cycled 4,000 miles around the UK coast in 2011.
The Cost: Around $30-50 U.S. a day (£20-30). “This was a medium-budget trip. I wild camped a few times but found myself drawn to campgrounds for the company that I knew I’d find and because I could shower, clean and dry my clothes. This is important in a predominantly damp climate like the UK. I also allowed myself ‘treats’ in the form of meals out with a beer sometimes, usually when I was resting or after a really tough or significant day. The rest of the time I cooked my own food from ingredients.”
Biggest Expense – “Food accounted for around half of my budget. Meals out weren’t more expensive than cooking when you take into account the additional cost of the gas I was using (£4-5 per cylinder) but add in a couple of drinks and it’s way more expensive. I should have taken my petrol stove! Since it was rarely warm enough to sit outside, cold food didn’t work well for me. I ate lots of rice and pasta but the cost was down to volume of food needed rather than expensive ingredients. I could have saved lots by not going in cafés and eating processed meals. It wouldn’t have helped my moral though, which is why I allowed myself quality food and coffee. Food was my daily reward, so if I wanted a steak I’d cook one!”
Tips: ”Drinking tea will save around 50% of the cost of coffee. You get several cups and most cafes will fill the pot again if you wish. In Yorkshire they give you about 2 litres anyway!”
The Cyclist & The Trip: Friedel & Andrew. Live in the Netherlands, and have done numerous short trips there in 2011. Cycled in Spain and Denmark in 2010 / 2011. “Our style of travel varies between low and medium budget. We love to wild camp and cook our own food but don’t hesitate to take a hotel room or enjoy a meal out if we feel like it.”
The Cost: About $40-50 U.S. a day, on average as a couple. “This can go as high as $130-150 U.S. a day if we take a simple hotel but on average the cost is far lower. When we’re cycling around the Netherlands, we try to make use of wild camping sites (free) or simple campgrounds where the cost is around $15 U.S. (€10-12 euros) a night. Our favourite treat is a cup of coffee and a slice of apple pie, which costs about $5 U.S. per person. The further south you go in Europe, the cheaper prices become. In Spain, for example, eating out is around half the cost of the Netherlands and you can easily find a simple hotel room for around $50-60 U.S. but in the Netherlands you’re looking at closer to $100 U.S. for a double room.”
Tips: ”Bring a stove and be prepared to wild camp where possible. There are many beautiful forests and rural places where you can pitch your tent. These two things will lower your costs significantly and free up cash to see some of the museums and historic sites that Europe is famous for.”
The Cyclist & The Trip: Lars Erik Sira. Lives in Norway and has done several bike tours there.
The Cost: Around €30 a day for a one-month trip in 2011 (spent roughly €1000 for the month), on a low to medium budget. ”I like sleeping in a tent and making my own food, although a soft bed and restaurant food is occasionally very nice. For this tip, about half of the cost was food, including 10-12 meals at restaurants. I camped for two out of every three nights and spent the rest in hotels, cabins and at homes of local people (Couchsurfing). The costs of overnight stays summed up to a little less than €400. ”
“Most foreigners will regard Norway as a high cost country. Dinner in the cheapest restuarants starts at €12-15 and an aditional €7-10 for a beer or a glas og wine, pitching a tent at a camp site is from €12 and upwards and it’s hard to find a cabin for less than €30. A cup of coffee is €2-5.”
Tips: ”It is possible to cycle in Norway without spending a fortune. You are allowed to put up your tent nearly everywhere, according to the Outdoor Recreation Act. And if you mainly cook your own food on a stove you’ll get by with buying groceries. Fishing opportunities are by the way excellent along the coast, and free!”
Can You Help?
Keeping these sections up-to-date and adding new sections relies on the community. That’s you!
If you’ve recently been on tour and can tell us about your daily budget, please Get In Touch and share your answers to these 3 basic questions:
1. What did you spend per person, per day on average? This is for daily expenses like food, hotels, public transport within a country but not exceptional extras like bike repair, flights to/from the country.
2. Can you briefly describe your style of travel? Are you ultra low budget (e.g. a devoted wild camper, cook all your own food) or more medium budget (e.g. will occasionally splash out on a hotel, meal in restaurant)?
3. Any tips you want to share related to costs in this region? Was something particularly cheap or expensive? How would you recommend others save money?
We’ll add your answers to the relevant page, along with a photo of you on tour and a link to your bike touring blog (if you have one). Thanks!