1. Agree with the Hostels! Hostels are way, way cheaper than most hotels. Additionally, many hostels also offer private rooms in addition to dorms, and often include free breakfast (or at least offer one for cheap). I was using hostelbookers.com for a while, but switched to Hostelworld because their website was better laid out and seemed to have more hostels indiexed on it.
2. Have an idea of where you want to go. The easiest way to save money is to have a general plan so you’re not wasting time (and money) schlepping back and forth across the continent. I don’t mean plan every little detail, but I found it easiest to at least have an idea.
3. 3-6 cities sounds reasonable for your timeline. I spent betwen 2-4 days in most cities I visited. Do some research beforehand so you have a general idea of how much time to allot in a desired city.
4. Get a train pass. If you have a train pass, I wouldn’t bother with busses on the Continent, but UK and Ireland are another story. (The trains in Ireland are awful!)
5. Locate the nearest grocery store to where you are staying. When we travel, we do picnics A LOT. A good baguette, some cheese, a bit of sausage or pate/liverwurst, some fruit, outside on a nice sunny day can’t be beat. Plus, many hostels also have kitchens so you can cook your own meals! I got really good at making alfredo and Fiance can’t say enough food things about pasta i pesto.
6. Clubbing is expensive. If it is not your thing, don’t bother – drinks often run upwards of 7Euro (=$10) in the regular clubs. Plus they’re smaller.
7. Stay away from restaurants in touristy areas unless it has been recommended to you by a local. Most restaurants in the touristy areas are a poor deal and you will end up over spending.
8. Most cities have companies that run “free” walking tours. I say free because the tour guides are paid on a “by-tip” basis. It’s still a cheap/easy way to see most of the major sights, and get your bearings in a new city.
9. One of my favourite (and free!) things to do is to just wander. You see so many cool things that way! (but make sure you always have a map!).
Do you have an idea of where you are going? Knowing specifically which part(s) of Europe you want to visit may help the rest of us Bees give you some more specific tips.