5 Ways To Sleep For Free In Europe

Sleeping At The Train Station In Romania
Sleeping at the train station

Backpacking in Europe is expensive.

Aside from the flight, your next biggest expenditure is often accommodation. Hotels will ruin your budget unless you’re traveling with friends.

Hostels aren’t that much better, with a bed in a dorm averaging around 20 Euro a night. Add this with food costs and you’re looking at 40 Euro’s or more a day.

Fortunately, there are ways to sleep for free in Europe. Unfortunately you will have to sacrifice a bit of comfort and convenience.

There are plenty of spots, from train stations to McDonalds, where you can sleep safely, relatively comfortably, and best of all, for free.  While at first it might be hard to get a decent nights rest, after a while you might even prefer it to a night in a hotel.

Whether you’re looking to save money on accommodation or you arrived too late to check into a hotel, below are 5 spots where you can sleep for free in Europe.

1. In Train & Bus Stations

Aside from London’s King Cross and a few other German stations, most train and bus stations remain open for the entire night.

During the summer backpacking season, it is not unusual to find fellow backpackers camped out all over the floor.

The station attendants generally don’t mind and since there are usually police nearby, it is relatively safe. This is one of the best places to sleep for free.

A fort on the beach in Greece
Camping on the beach in Greece

2. Camping

Although there are generally designated campsites, which require a small fee, there are also loads of beaches and forests where you can camp for free.

If you are in Western Europe, it’s best to pick a concealed spot away from the city. This way police or potential thieves won’t pester you.

If you are in Eastern Europe, it is safer to stay near the city. Here the police usually don’t care if you camp and will add a degree of safety.

3. In 24-Hour Restaurants

Throughout Western Europe, there are loads of American fast food chains, McDonalds and Starbucks to name a few.

They are most often found near the train station and usually stay open until 3 or 4 AM, if not all night.

As long as you buy a burger from the dollar menu, the staff will usually let you rest for the night.

4. On Couches

Couchsurfing is another great way to get free accommodation. Although you need to plan this in advance by connecting with others through their website, it allows you to make new friends and sleep in comfort.

While Couchsurfing is relatively safe, be sure to trust your instincts and if you get a bad feeling, politely decline.

Camping in Southern Spain
Camping in Southern Spain

5. In Parks

City parks aren’t your best option, but they are better than say an alley. Here it is often best to pick a spot out of sight in order to avoid homeless people and police.

However, in some parks you might find other backpackers camping out for the night, in which case it’s not a bad idea to try to make friends.

Conclusion

You might be stuck without a hotel in the middle of the night or maybe want to save funds to help you travel longer. Either way, the former spots are some of the best ways to sleep at any time for completely free.

While most are relatively safe spots, it’s always best to keep your guard up. If you can, always try to join another backpacker group. The more people around you, the less likely you will end up in a dangerous situation.

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About the Author:

The Runaway GuideWhen Leif was 16 he ran away from home and explored much of Europe and the Middle East without a dime. He is currently working on a book about this adventure as he continues to make new ones traveling the world.

Through his experiences, advice and adventures, he hopes to prepare, empower, and inspire others to travel. Follow him on Facebook or visit him at RunawayGuide.com.

Comments

  1. segacs says

    Disappointed to see someone touting Couchsurfing as merely “a way to sleep for free” or an alternative to park benches and airport floors. If you’re encouraging people to use Couchsurfing to mooch a free ride, clearly you don’t understand or respect the point of the community.

    CS is a great way to meet locals and gain some perspective that might not otherwise be available to you as a tourist. But if you use it, remember that what goes around comes around. Don’t be a douche; if you surf, cook or treat your hosts to dinner or drinks, bring gifts or contribute something to make it worth their while. It doesn’t need to be monetary, but it should be valuable. And when you get back home, host Couchsurfers of your own if you can.

  2. says

    Can I add airports to the list. The amount of European airports I’ve slept in is endless. In particular London stansted has about 100 people sleeping there every night.

    Another suggestion is on over night buses. If you are going a long way you can save a nights accom on the coach

  3. says

    Hey Leif, all great ways to sleep for free, Couchsurfing is one of my favorites as you not only sleep for free, but meet some of the most humble and generous people. Another great way to save money on accommodation is TRAVEL BY NIGHT, whether it be a bus, train or flight you kill two birds with one stone, the travel part and you get to sleep (although it may not be the comfiest). Cheers, great blog

  4. Curiouser and curiouser says

    I once slept in a toilet. It wasn’t fun, but I did it. I wasn’t traveling, though; I just needed somewhere to crash and the toilet in a mini shopping mall was it.

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