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.)

Guide Author
Photo of Valerie Stimac
Managing Editor

Volunteer Programs in Europe

Displaying 76 - 90 of 302 programs
MovingWorlds
Experteer Your Accounting & Finance Skills Anywhere!
Multiple Countries
1 review

When you volunteer your expertise across the world, you make yourself...

MovingWorlds
Experteer Your Design & Branding Skills Anywhere You Want to Travel
Multiple Countries
1 review

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, Experteering...

Aliore
Volunteer in a Green Tourism Project and live with a Host family in South of France
France
1 review

Take part in the development of a green tourism project in the South...

Lattitude Global Volunteering
Lattitude - Volunteer Placements in Poland
Poland
1 review1 interview

As ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ placements, volunteers...

TravelnStudy
Volunteer Teaching English in Lugano, Switzerland
Switzerland
2 reviews

Looking to volunteer abroad? Join us this Summer and pass your days in...

Pueblo Ingles
Volunteer in Spain with Pueblo Ingles
Spain
2 reviews

Join Pueblo Ingles and volunteer to teach English in Spain! By...

Habitat For Humanity
Global Village Volunteer in Romania
Romania
1 review

Over 40% of the population resides in housing without running water in...

ELIX
Self-Growth 4 Grown-ups - ELIX NGO
Multiple Countries
1 review

ELIX, a Greek NGOs with a 30 years experience in organizing similar...

Globe Aware
Volunteer in Romania with Globe Aware
Romania
2 reviews

The country of Romania is still trying to redeem itself after the fall...

International Youth Center, Russia
Camp Counselor at International Youth Center
Russia
2 reviews

Children on the English language camps are divided into groups and...

Animal Experience International
Dog Rescue in Spain
Spain
1 review

In Spain, Galgos – Spanish greyhounds - are used primarily to hunt...

Rotary International
Volunteer with the Rotary Youth Exchange in Spain
Spain
1 review

Join Rotary International on their Youth Exchange and Ambassadorship...

Volunteer Romania
Experience Transylvania & Make a Change for the Better
Romania
1 review

Working with children where the need is highest, but also run...

Handshouse Studio
Making History: Handshouse Studio Synagogue Replication
Poland
1 review

By restoring and recreating synagogues, volunteers can learn about a...

Friends of Animals Nea Filadelphia
Animal Shelter Volunteer Program in Athens
Greece
1 review

Volunteer in Greece at an animal shelter in Athens! Our charity was...

Explore Volunteering Abroad in Europe

What People Are Saying

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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...

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

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...

1st junior programme

Really enjoyed my 4 weeks of Angloville. The juniors were really nice and easy to work with and the fellow native speakers were a lot of fun, made some really great friends doing this programme and...

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