Cheapest Places to Sleep in Europe
Where to stay depends entirely on your budget and travel style. I am a budget traveler who sees a hotel as a place to sleep and shower. For this reason, I chose the hostel option. Hostel prices vary from city to city but generally you can find one from between $10-$50 per night. The best site/app I found for this is HostelWorld.com. It lets you created a route and bookmark hostels. You can also add your credit card information to the app for quick and easy booking. Other benefits: many hostels have free breakfast and Wi-Fi as well as lockers and luggage storage, making new friends who are backpacking just like you, hostel parties/pub crawls, and flexible booking options. Drawbacks: sharing a room with 4-16 other strangers, bunkbeds, potentially loud nights from parties or snoring that will keep you awake, safety of yourself and your belongings.
Tips: Choose a hostel with a lot of reviews, always pick one with a high safety rating, bring your own padlock, read all the terms and conditions and make sure to check the features you need: free Wi-Fi, lockers, flexible check-in times, laundry facility, etc...
If you plan on staying in each city for more than a couple of days or are traveling with a friend, consider Airbnb.com. This site allows you to book rooms in people's houses or even rent a full apartment. These are often priced per room instead of per person, so with multiple people this can be an extremely cheap option. Other benefits include: staying with a local who is usually willing to give you advice, more privacy than hostels, and full kitchens to make meals at home. Drawbacks: they often charge a rather hefty refundable deposit and some hosts take a while to respond to you.
A third option for a budget minded traveler is to not pay for lodging at all. Yes, you read that sentence correctly, I implied the magic word free. How? Couchsurfing.com. This site allows you to stay at places much like the AirBnB options except that the host does not charge anything.
Couchsurfing was set up as a traveling community that allows travelers and locals alike to meet new people. The host may or may not want to hangout with you during your trip. The process for signing up to become a host is thorough and there are reviews from people who have stayed with the hosts to help you decide if they are a good fit for you.
Other benefits: a local to advise you and to hangout with, most cities have last minute forums that allow you to book on the fly, and to restate the obvious, it is completely free. Drawbacks: host may want a different level of interaction than you are looking for (i.e. they may want to go with you everywhere or talk your ear off... get your head out of the gutter), some hosts only allow you to be at their house when they are home so you might have to be up early or not have a convenient check-in time.
Tips: READ THE REVIEWS, some of these hosts can be a bit strange or rude. Also, read the host's entire profile as they are also taking a risk letting you stay with them and may have requirements that you have to meet. If possible, book in advance and add the host on Facebook so you can get to know each other a little more. They can also provide you with valuable insight into the region this way.