Europe has long been the go to destination for North Americans looking for an international adventure. Regardless of how many tourists travel to Europe each year though, far fewer take the time to learn, experience, and explore as a volunteer.

But you, you're different. You don't just want to visit castles, you want to help restore castles. You're just as interested in drinking the wine as you are in picking the grapes on a vineyard. You want to immerse yourself fully in a European lifestyle by living and volunteering abroad in Europe.

So, whether that means teaching English in Spain or working with children in Poland, Europe is just as full of volunteer opportunities as it is world class museums and sidewalk cafes.

Europe is small but diverse. And when we talk about Europe, we're just as much referring to world powerhouses as we are emerging economies.

On top of that, each nation in the region has slightly different needs and priorities that volunteers can help out on. For example, Malta and Italy struggle to support large numbers of refugees from North Africa. In France, you'll find volunteer projects working with the restoration of castles.

Throughout Europe's wine growing regions, there's a demand for volunteer grape pickers and farm workers. In Greece, you'll find projects for sea turtle conservation. And just about everywhere, there are the usual gamut of volunteer positions working with community development, education, and healthcare.

Honestly though, more stable European countries are ideal locations for travelers who only want to volunteer for a short amount of time. There are programs smartly set up to balance a demand from the community (i.e. more English education) and the interest of travelers who want to do something different (i.e. teach). Make sure you do your research and choose a responsible volunteer program that's just as interested in helping the local community as it is supporting volunteers.

Castle Restoration

Europe was at the heart of the medieval age and many remnants of it still remain. However, many of these buildings/castles are in poor condition and in need of restoration.

As mentioned above, France is an excellent destination if you're interested in this type of project but by no means the only country in Europe with castles. Adventures in Preservation, for example, works with preserving buildings and important historical areas (not just castles) in Scotland and Eastern Europe.

Teaching English

Although education in Europe is some of the highest in the world, there are still opportunities to teach English in Europe as a volunteer. English Conversation Volunteers Abroad (ECVA) is one of the largest volunteer English teaching program providers in Europe, but several others operate throughout the continent.

Also popular are short term English camps that help connect English learners with English speakers to simulate an English immersion environment -- without ever leaving the student's home country. Pueblo Ingles in Spain and Angloville in Hungary and Poland are two good examples.

Environmental Conservation

There are a variety of environmental projects that volunteers can get involved with in Europe. Everything from sea turtle conservation in Southern Europe, to helping stray dogs in major cities.

Orphanage Work

There are several countries in Europe -- Ukraine, for example -- which, unfortunately, have large orphan populations. As a volunteer, you have opportunities to work and support these orphanages. However, this is an ethically tricky project to get involved with, so make sure the orphanage is responsibly run and that you can commit for a longer period of time.

Agriculture

WWOOF has a large and established presence throughout Europe. Whether you volunteer through them, or find another project via another program provider or organization, the most common project you'll find working with agriculture in Europe will be in some way related to wine making.

For more tips, read our comprehensive guide on planning a volunteer abroad trip.

So, you want to volunteer in Europe? How do you make it happen? What should you know before planning your trip?

When to Volunteer in Europe

Keep in mind that some projects, like wine picking or sea turtle conservation, are seasonal, and you won't be able to participate in them year-round. Look into this first before getting your hopes up about working on a vineyard in December.

Also note that most European cities will empty out in August, making it a less than ideal time to travel there. Instead, plan on traveling during one of the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) so that you avoid the high tourist prices and tourist crowds.

Do I Need a Visa?

Within the EU, most nationalities will not need a visa to stay for up to 90 days. You can absolutely volunteer on a tourist visa.

However, if you want to stay for longer than 90 days -- and are planning on staying in the same country for those 90+ days -- then that gets complicated. Nomadic Matt has a great article about how to legally stay in Europe for more than 90 days, and I'd suggest you take a read through his helpful (and extremely detailed) advice before committing to a 6-month project in Germany.

For you UK citizens, well, lucky you. You can pretty much ignore this whole section and just go.

Although Europe tends to get a reputation as one of the pricer travel destinations, volunteering in Europe is one of those tricks for visiting Europe on a budget. If you can score a volunteer project that also provides housing and -- though rare -- meals, then you're essentially working your way through a very affordable stay in Europe.

Again, Europe is a diverse continent, and some countries are more expensive than others. For example, the overall cost of living in Portugal, Spain, Malta, Greece, and most Eastern European countries makes it easy to get by on $30 - 40 USD per day.

Do, however, make sure you set aside some funds to travel before or after your volunteering stint in Europe (unless you want to hitchhike and camp your way through... which is an option.)

Volunteer Programs in Europe

Displaying 1 - 15 of 292 programs
International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable & Top Rated Volunteer Programs in Portugal from $455 with IVHQ
Portugal
9.76 •33 reviews

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer...

Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Romania
Romania
9.35 •20 reviews

Romania, in Eastern Europe, is a unique and wonderful place to...

GVI
GVI: Volunteer in Greece
Greece
9.56 •9 reviews

Visit Giannitsochori, a coastal village, to engage in sustainable...

CIEE Teach Abroad
Teach English as a Volunteer in Spain
Spain
9.47 •17 reviews

CIEE offers a short-term, 3-month volunteer teaching opportunity in...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Romania from $360
Romania
9.69 •26 reviews

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer...

GVI
GVI: Animal Care Volunteering
Europe
9.67 •3 reviews

Join a GVI marine and wildlife conservation volunteer project. You...

Joinki
Exchange and Experience Italian lifestyles while Teaching Abroad
Italy
9.92 •24 reviews

Become part of the Joinki Language Tutor Program in Italy. This...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Italy from $715
Italy
9.71 •28 reviews

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer...

184 reviews
Angloville
Volunteer in Europe: Become a Language Mentor and Discover Europe for Free
Multiple Countries
9.11 •184 reviews

Help Europeans improve their English by being a conversation partner...

Volunteering Solutions
Wildlife & Environmental Conservation Programs: Volunteering Solutions
Asia
9.75 •4 reviews

One of our most chosen and highly recommended category of volunteer...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable & Best Rated Volunteer Programs in Greece from $700 with IVHQ
Greece
9.6 •10 reviews

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the world's most popular...

Oyster Worldwide
Volunteer in a Bear Sanctuary in Romania
Romania
9.73 •15 reviews

Volunteer in Eastern Europe's largest bear sanctuary where you will be...

Love Volunteers
Make a REAL difference in Albania - From just US$399!
Albania
8.33 •6 reviews

Join Love Volunteers in Albania for the volunteer experience of a...

GoGlobal
GoCamp Volunteer in Ukraine: Teach English, German or French
Ukraine
9.71 •14 reviews

Volunteer in Ukraine — explore the trendiest destination in Europe...

Thórsmörk Trailteam Volunteers, Iceland (Trailteam.is)
Iceland Forest Service Trailteams
Iceland
9.83 •24 reviews

The main activities of our team are maintaining hiking trails in the...

New Programs in Europe

Looking for something new? Check out these new volunteer programs being offered in Europe
  • Lattitude Global Volunteering
    Lattitude - Volunteer Placements in Greece
    Greece

    Don't go it alone! Go with Lattitude and take advantage of over 45...

  • Lattitude Global Volunteering
    Lattitude - Volunteer Placements in Spain
    Spain

    With over 45 years of experience, Lattitude offers a supported way to...

  • NewPa
    English Immersion Summer Camp Volunteer - NewPa Project
    Spain

    We are an educational alternative focused on transmitting the...

  • Adventure Volunteer
    Support for Immigrant Women in Valencia - Adventure Volunteer
    Spain

    Are you interested in getting to know the Spanish culture while living...

  • SLV.Global
    Peace & Positive Psychology Program in Europe
    Multiple Countries

    This will be the first mental health placement or program we run...

  • Global Office
    Volunteer in Ukraine as an English Language Assistant - GoCamp
    Ukraine

    The GoCamp programme is calling for students from all over the world...

  • Estación Inglesa
    Volunteer in Spain helping Spanish people improve their English
    Spain

    We organize English language immersion programmes that bring together...

  • Natucate
    Volunteer Abroad Europe: Nature and Wildlife Conservation
    Multiple Countries

    Beautiful landscapes, rich culture and a breathtakingly complex...

  • Natucate
    Volunteer Abroad Animal Welfare: Supporting Animal Projects Abroad
    Multiple Countries

    Helping those who don’t have a voice and contributing to the...

What People Are Saying

From the time we arrived to the moment we departed, our Global Volunteers were provided the utmost hospitality in the charming town of Beja, Portugal! The endearing relationships that have developed...

Roman castle in Beja, Portugal

I really enjoyed my volunteer experience in Croatia. I worked in the Creative Technologies position, and I got to work with the only no-kill animal shelter in the area. I was able to combine both my...

Me on the top of Marjan Hill

Native speakers who participate in the Angloville programmes are given lots of constant and valuable support throughout, and this means that all their efforts can be directed towards making the week...

View from Slovakia hotel bedroom window, on Angloville programme, March 2020

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