A few months ago, I wrote an article on the ISIC card. This internationally-recognized student ID saved me so much money when I was studying abroad in Spain and traveling around Europe years ago. It was my secret weapon for slashing travel prices on my subsequent trips to India, Egypt, and Nassau. I renewed my ISIC student ID card when I taught abroad in China, and got greatly reduced or free access to many of China’s attractions and national parks.
I knew that renewing my ISIC student ID card as a graduate student would definitely come in handy again for my Europe backpacking trip this summer. I decided to keep track of the exact amount my ISIC card saved me to share with you all. If you’re a high school, college, part-time, graduate student, or a teacher, or just someone under 26, you’ve got to get this card!
What is an ISIC Card Student ID?
An ISIC student ID card is an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) that recognizes you as a student in 133 countries. This card provides over 160,000 benefits and discounts on travel, shopping, accommodation, food, entertainment, excursions, transportation, and more.
Our article goes further into detail on eligibility, how to apply, and what benefits the card offers. This ID card costs $20USD and is valid for one year. You can read more about the ISIC card here.
You may be wondering why I spent $20 for an ISIC card when I had a student ID card from my university. However, if you’ve tried to use an American university ID card abroad, you know exactly why it’s worth it. In the vast majority of museums, attractions, and national parks that offer student discounts on tickets (in Europe and Asia especially), they require that you have proof of current student status.
The only way they can get close to verifying that is through the ISIC student ID card. Regular student ID cards could be long expired or fake, so most ticket offices only accept ISIC cards because that is the international student ID standard. For this reason, it’s well worth the price!
Where & How Much I Saved with My ISIC Student ID Card
I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the attractions I visited on my trip, and how much my ISIC card saved me at each ticket office, compared to a regular adult ticket price.
Busabout Europe Hop-On Hop-Off 1 Month Pass
Busabout is the only form of transportation between cities that my brother and I used during our entire trip: 4 weeks traveling around Europe. Use our Busabout promo code THRIFTY to save an extra 10% on your booking.
Savings: $599 regular ticket vs. $569 ISIC card ticket, $30 savings
Plitvice Lakes National Park
This national park in Croatia is a must do! Go early, and avoid peak summer (July and August), as ticket prices increase in the afternoon and peak summer.
Savings: 150hrk adult ticket vs. 100hrk ISIC card ticket, about $10 savings
Dubrovnik City Walls
If you’re visiting Dubrovnik, you’ve got to walk along the city walls. This provides for spectacular views of the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea.
Savings: 150hrk adult ticket vs. 50hrk ISIC card ticket, about $15 savings
An absolute must-do while in Greece! The Acropolis is one of the most important and impressive ruins from Ancient Greece. The Acropolis and Pantheon are nearly 2,500 years old!
Savings: 20 euro adult ticket vs. 10 euro ISIC ticket, about $12 savings
Most of the actual Acropolis is in ruins due to Athens being bombed and changing hands in ancient times. However, the vast majority of what remains of statues and ancient relics is protected in this museum.
Savings: 5 euro adult ticket vs. 3 euro ISIC ticket, about $2 savings
Dresden Hygiene Museum
Toothpaste and mouthwash were invented in Dresden, so this strange and massive museum covers the history of hygiene, and much much more.
Savings: 9 euro adult ticket vs. 4 euro ISIC ticket, about $6 savings
The Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany is a gorgeous palace, housing massive collections of porcelain, astronomical clocks, and other treasures.
Savings: 10 euro adult ticket vs. 7.5 euro ISIC ticket, about $4 savings
This is the castle that inspired the aesthetic of the Sleeping Beauty and Disney castles. A day trip from Munich, Germany will get you to this must-see castle!
Savings: 13 euro adult ticket vs. 12 euro ISIC ticket, about $1 savings
With the Route 2 castle ticket, you can see the multiple parts of the complex. My favorite parts were the cathedral and Golden Lane, a street in which the traditional houses were preserved and put on display.
Savings: 250czk adult ticket vs. 125czk ISIC ticket, about $6 savings
Cesky Krumlov Tower
Part of the Cesky Krumlov castle complex, ascending the tower is the perfect way to get a panoramic view of this gorgeous little town in the Czech Republic.
Savings: 199czk vs. 70czk, about $7 savings
Cesky Krumlov Castle
Do a guided tour of the castle nestled in this gorgeous Czech town. The castle is guarded by three bears!
Savings: 240czk vs. 170czk, about $4 savings
Salzburg Salt Mine
This experience ended up being one of our favorites! Ride a train into the salt mines, and take slides and a boat to different parts of the mine.
Savings: 17 euro vs. 15.5 euro, about $3 savings
*Note that we would have used our ISIC card for discounts at the other Salzburg attractions, such as the DomQuartier museum, Mozart’s birthplace, a river cruise, and the trick fountain palace, but chose to purchase the Salzburg Card instead, which got us unlimited 24-hour access to all attractions for 25 euro.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The famous cathedral in Vienna. We witnessed a 50 piece orchestra and full choir practicing inside when we visited! Take the elevator to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of Vienna.
Savings: 20 euro vs. 14 euro, about $7 savings
Vienna Opera House
Arguably one of the most famous opera houses in the world. A worthwhile tour.
Savings: 9 euro vs. 4 euro, about $6 savings
Home to the Hapsburg royal family. Plenty to see here, from porcelain and silverware collections to the royal family rooms.
Savings: 30 euro vs. 27 euro, about $3 savings
Further from the city center in Vienna, but this was the gorgeous summer residence of the Hapsburg royal family.
Savings: 24 euro vs. 20 euro, about $5 savings
Auschwitz-Bierkenau Concentration Camp
We booked our tour of Auschwitz through a tour company that would drive us from Krakow to the site. We paid less as students.
Savings: $5 off the regular tour price
Budapest Matthias Church
This church sits atop the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest. Ticket includes free entrance into exhibits on the church and past rulers inside.
Savings: 1500huf vs. 1000huf, about $2 savings
Palatinus Thermal Baths
These thermal baths are located on Margaret Island and make for a relaxing day. Multiple pools are outside, while thermal baths and steam rooms are inside.
Savings: 3100huf vs 2400huf, about $3 savings
My total savings for this trip with my ISIC student ID card was approximately $131. It may seem like just a few dollars here and there when purchasing tickets, but those 10% – 50% discounts add up over time. Luckily, I have about 9 months left of validity on my student card, so I look forward to using it on my upcoming trips for even more savings.
To apply for an ISIC card and get student discounts at museums, restaurants, and other attractions like I did on my trip, visit the ISIC website here.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.