Food Budgeting In Europe?

I am planning a trip from Rome up to Berlin and over to Edinburgh and down again to London. I'm having trouble planning a food budget because of all the prices I have heard. I have heard a decent budget would be $40/ day with no fancy meals. But It would be great to hear from people who have been over there and know prices. I am traveling with my brother and he's a big eater. So what would be a decent amount so we can get good meals and not splurge, but spoil ourselves once or twice. Thanks to all who answer and help me out!

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1159 posts

In most places breakfast is included with your hotel room so $40 for the other meals should be more than enough.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12694 posts

$40/day for two people would be light. I would put it closer to a $100/day. Or in between if you skip lunches.

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
470 posts

I assume you are looking at the $40 per day as a per person number. You have listed some of the most expensive cities to go. The question is are you staying in hotels that include breakfast or do you have to get it on your own? If you have to do breakfast on your own, I would would add another $10 per day. Frankly, I would plan on $60 per day in the big cities. Although the price of an optional hotel breakfast may seem steep, our experience in Paris was that it was a better deal than going to the local boulangerie since you got a lot more for about the same price and could eat lightly at lunch.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2744 posts

I'm always looking for accommodations with free breakfast. We eat heavy at breakfast, picnic or snack at a late lunch and pay for one meal at night. $40 is in line for the frugal traveler per person per day. If your brother is a big eater, his pocketbook may be in trouble.

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1282 posts

To stretch your daily food budget further if you want to eat at a restaurant, spend that money during lunch when you can get better pricing and plan for your big meal mid-day. Even if breakfast is included in the cost of your lodging, in places like Italy, breakfast might only consist of a roll and a coffee - probably not nearly enough for your brother if he is a big eater. What type of lodging are you staying at? I see people on this board who comment about how hostels often include breakfast in the price - but as I've stayed at plenty of hostels, I've found that many define "free breakfast" in different ways, so again - be prepared to find anything from a box of Muesli or a loaf of bread on the counter for everyone to share, to maybe the Muesli, some yogurt and fruit. Only once in Belgium did I ever see a breakfast buffet at a hostel that included meat and eggs. If you are staying in a B&B or hotel in London with breakfast included, you'll likely get a huge full English breakfast offered to you. At a hostel, you'll have access to a kitchen so $40/day per person would be plenty to buy groceries and cook your own dinner and pack some decent lunches to go. There are plenty of fast food and street food options in the cities you mention which won't mess up your budget provided you don't need to also stock up on lots of snacks for your brother, or expect that your $40 will also cover you for lots of daily coffees, soda or booze (stick to tap water as much as you can as coffees, soda, beer or wine can chip away your budget quickly if you aren't being realistic about how much you really will be drinking them on a daily basis).

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

I think the notions that most places include breakfast and that looking for a free breakfast is the way to go are a bit off. A more accurate statment would be that some places serve breakfast, but many of these will reduce the room price should you elect not to parktake. Many do not serve breakfast at all. Nothing is ever free. One way or the other, you've got to include the cost of breakfast, be it under the bed column or the grub column.

Posted by Jessica
Billings, MT, United States of America
5 posts

Thanks everyone! We'll most likely be staying in hostels except for the definite places we know we will be staying at such as Rome, Edinburgh and London, and like some have said they usually don't come with breakfast so we will probably up our budget to $50. And yes I was saying $40/person. Thanks again to who answered and might keep answering!

Posted by Love to Travel
San Diego, CA
126 posts

What I did on a 3 month trip was allow for one splurge in each city and then eat budget the rest of the time. That way I can really enjoy the city and good food while not worrying about my budget every day. As for a budget, it really depends. Definitely try to get your accommodation with breakfast. Also, guys tend to eat more when traveling. Haha! I swear they need 5 meals to our 3. And don't forget to factor in snacks in museums, gelato, or coffee breaks...I travel cheaply, usually cook my own food or do "street food" like 4 Euro paninis and currywursts. Get's tiring after a while, but worth it for a nice sit down dinner.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2744 posts

I've always gone to Europe with a food budget in mind, however I've found it just about impossible to follow. I'll research restaurants before going to a city, and intend to eat at certain places. But something seems to come up and my plans change. We live frugally throughout the year, and we travel frugally. We eat a big breakfast and often skip lunch. We'll picnic mid afternoon and just pay for one decent meal per day. I actually enjoy a jar of peanut butter and a pack of Ritz crackers.
Good luck with your trip. You certainly can make it on food @ $40 per day.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

It's tough to estimate because food costs are different in all those locations. Berlin is the cheapest place, and full of good international food options. You could eat pretty well in Berlin for $40/day. $40/day in London is going to be entirely fast-food based. A general thing to keep in mind is that foot prices (aside from fast food) tend to be highest near large tourist attractions, unsurprisingly. You might want to try to time your meals for times when you're traversing inbetween attractions or just strolling in neighborhoods away from any E-Ticket attractions.

Posted by John
Blue Bell, PA, USA
52 posts

Also keep in mind you don't need to eat in a restaurant 'just because'.... we usually hit a grocery store and purchase some pastries or modest sandwiches for breakfast and/or lunch and just splurge for dinner.
when traveling on a budget you can't eat out 3 times a day....just my experience, I would rather rough it and then hit bars for drinks and apps during happy hour too.