'Death of capitalism'
The demonstration marked the start of nearly a week of protests in London and other European cities before the Group of 20 summit in London on April 2.
About 15,000 people gathered in Berlin, the German capital, sporting headbands reading "Pay for it yourselves" and some carried a black coffin topped with red roses symbolising what they said was the "death of capitalism".
A demonstration was also held in Frankfurt, Germany's banking capital, under the slogan: "We won't pay for your crisis".
In Vienna, the capital of Austria, around 6,500 people gathered in the city centre with paper piggy banks, balloons and signs that read "Capitalism can't be reformed".
A group of around 200 protesters in Paris, the French capital, dumped a pile of sand outside the city's stock market to mock the use of island tax havens.
Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri said the London demonstrators had united under the slogan "Put People First".
The protesters' main message was a call to world leaders to act on the deepening global recession, Moshiri said.
"There are a lot of ordinary people out here concerned about their jobs, about their homes, about their livelihoods," she said.
The protest remained relatively peaceful.
British authorities have said they are spending $10m to ensure security at the G20 summit.
World leaders, including Barack Obama, the US president, are expected to discuss the global economic crisis, among other topics at the summit.
Tony Avirgan, from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, said one issue that will arise at the summit will be whether to address the economic crisis by tighter regulation or more spending.
"The US has the position that you need both. Some of the European countries that don't want to spend are saying this should be dealt with just by regulation. President Obama will be arguing against that," he said.