Europe 3-Star Traveler Index for 2015: 56 cities from cheap to expensive

While many of us have been backpackers and we all know at least a few luxury travelers, most of us are stuck somewhere in the middle. This is why we continue to update this Europe 3-star traveler index, since it gives a more realistic overview of costs for typical visitors to Europe.

Everything below has been totally updated for 2015, and expanded to include 5 more cities. The good news for those of us outside of Europe is that currency declines have made the whole continent noticeably more affordable than it has been in years.

For this 2015 edition we added Split, Croatia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Bergen, Norway; Salzburg, Austria; and Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. A few of these cities are fantastic bargains, especially now, so they deserve serious consideration of anyone planning a Europe trip in 2015.

Are you a hostel person rather than a hotel person?

If you prefer hostel dorm beds to private hotel rooms then check the Europe Backpackers Index for 2014, which is aimed at budget travelers. The rankings are also quite different in some cases, as cheap dorms are available in some cities where hotel rooms aren’t quite so cheap.

How the 3-Star Traveler Index works

We take a fixed set of typical expenses that every traveler will encounter, and apply them to each of the 56 major European tourist cities.

Note: The 3-star Traveler Index is based on two people sharing hotel rooms and taxis.

Costs for each city

  • One night in the cheapest 3-star hotel available with a desirable central location and mostly positive reviews. Hotel prices are per person based on double occupancy, so the full nightly rate is double what is listed for each city here.
  • Two 3-kilometer taxi rides per day (one ride paid per person)
  • One cultural attraction, such as a popular museum, per day
  • Three meals per day using the top end of the range of our “budget meals” for each city
  • Three beers (or wine) each day as an “entertainment fund.” Non-drinkers might have dessert and coffee or attend a local music performance instead, so this is a general benchmark that should be proportional for each city.

Related information

>>>18 Cheapest European cities and airports for trans-Atlantic flights

Price of Travel’s European 3-star Index for 2015

From cheapest to most expensive

Exchange rates were calculated in February, 2015

1 – Bucharest, Romania (cheapest)

It may be relatively cheap, but Bucharest still isn’t inviting a flood of cultural tourism. The slow-moving build-out of the tourist infrastructure is among the issues that keeps most travelers stopping elsewhere in Romania, but it’s still a favorite stop for many who are touring the region, and at least prices are very low once you arrive.

  • Currency: Romanian leu
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Vila Titulescu Apartments – 63.06/night
  • Transportation: 11.00
  • Meals: 62.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RON169.06 – US$43.80/day

>>>Bucharest prices and weather


2 – Sofia, Bulgaria

Another city that would be far more popular if it were easier to reach as part of a tour around Europe, Sofia at least is a bargain for those who make the trip. The city center is quite trendy and nice, with plenty of outdoor cafes and interesting restaurants and clubs, so it’s hardly what you’d expect for one of the cheapest cities in Europe.

  • Currency: Bulgaria Leva
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Stay Nexus Business Apartments – 25.45
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 28.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: BGN76.45 = US$44.71/day

>>>Sofia prices and weather


3 – Kiev, Ukraine

Speaking of former Eastern cities that aren’t on the beaten path, Kiev is a long way from all of the popular Western European cities that travelers normally frequent, and this helps give it a frontier quality that will excite some and frustrate others. At least it’s quite cheap for the most part, although good hotels aren’t as cheap as most other things, so you might have to sacrifice quality in order to keep overall costs down. A massive currency collapse and subsequent inflation in 2014 has made Kiev even cheaper than before, but that might not last too long.

  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Sunday Apart Hotel – 307.75/night
  • Transportation: 50.00
  • Meals: 260.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 150.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: UHR777.75 – US$46.35/day

>>>Kiev prices and weather


4 – Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

CeskyKrumlovIn spite of being a tiny town that is too far from Prague or Vienna for a day trip, Cesky Krumlov is the Czech Republic’s second most popular destination for tourists. Once you see it, you’ll know why. Forgotten for many decades, this friendly little place on a serpentine stretch of river is now booming. Among its best features is that it’s incredibly cheap by European standards, but it would still be worth a stop even if it weren’t.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Penzion Po Vode – 422.60/night
  • Transportation: 110
  • Meals: 440
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 120
  • Attractions: 100
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CZK1192.60 – US$49.10/day

>>>Cesky Krumlov prices and weather


5 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

One of the more troubled parts of former Yugoslavia, Sarajevo is fighting an image problem with older travelers. It’s a shame because this is one of the most interesting cities in Europe, with a lively and welcoming Muslim old town at its heart. Sarajevo is also quite out of the way for most people, so it’s great that things are very cheap for those who make the effort.

  • Currency: Converted Mark (Euro used here)
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Guest House Ćiro – 15.00/night
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 15.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €44.00 – US$50.00/day

>>>Sarajevo prices and weather


6 – Saint Petersburg, Russia

Russia is another that had a currency melt down and dramatic inflation, yet St. Petersburg is cheaper in early 2015 for foreigners than it has been in many years. The top attractions here drive the cost up a bit, but are still well worth it. Getting a tourist visa isn’t easy for most, so you can’t just buy a ticket and pop on over. Most people consider it far nicer than Moscow, and fortunately hotels here are quite a bit cheaper as well.

  • Currency: Russian ruble
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Capital Hotel – 820/night
  • Transportation: 200
  • Meals: 1460
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 560
  • Attractions: 400
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RUB3440 – US$50.48/day

>>>Saint Petersburg prices and weather


7 – Budapest, Hungary

An abundance of decent tourist hotels makes Budapest a fantastic bargain compared to other classic cities. As long as you don’t insist on staying right by the river and eating only at touristy restaurants with English menus, this city can be quite a bargain. Budapest is once again the cheapest major tourist city on the list, so it’s one to add to your list if you are anywhere nearby.

  • Currency: Hungary Forint
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Budapest Opera Minihotel – 5002/night
  • Transportation: 1500
  • Meals: 4500
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 1500
  • Attractions: 800
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HUF14002 – US$51.06/day

>>>Budapest prices and weather


8 – Krakow, Poland

By our judgement, Krakow is easily among the best bargains in Europe, with a lovely and tranquil old town center combined with prices that seem weirdly low. There are certainly quite a few expensive (and touristy) restaurants and bars in obvious places, but just around the corner there will be plenty of less obvious places with great food and drinks at half the price.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Fortuna Bis – 88.60/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 40.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN190.60 = US$52.36/day

>>>Krakow prices and weather


9 – Belgrade, Serbia

The low prices have helped Belgrade start showing up on the lists of party cities for weekend breaks with Europeans who live a cheap flight away. This is a large city with a lot of history, and relatively few problems compared to some of its neighbors. Quality is quite high, even in the lower price ranges, so Belgrade is a pleasant bargain for most visitors.

  • Currency: Serbian Dinar (Euro used here)
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hilandarska Apartments – Belgrade centre – 17.20/night
  • Transportation: 4.50
  • Meals: 15.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.90
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €47.10 – US$53.52/day

>>>Belgrade prices and weather


10 – Split, Croatia

SplitWhile Dubrovnik is the focus of most Croatia itineraries, the city of Split is just as impressive in most ways, and it’s also far cheaper and easier to reach. Better still, Split is a living city where locals fill up most restaurants and bars, making it feel far more authentic and less touristy. Hotels here can be bargains by European standards and the islands nearby are also well priced by comparison.

  • Currency: Croatian kruna
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Apartments Merica – 114.05/night
  • Transportation: 50
  • Meals: 165
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 60
  • Attractions: 30
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK419.05 – US$62.08/day

>>>Split prices and weather


11 – Zagreb, Croatia

Most travelers to Croatia head to the coast, so Zagreb isn’t really a tourist hot spot. For this reason, the hotel scene tends to be more business oriented. It’s worth a couple days if you are touring the area, and the old city center is teaming with nice outdoor restaurants with good prices.

  • Currency: Croatian kruna
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Rooms & Apartments Henrik – 172.20/night
  • Transportation: 30
  • Meals: 140
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 66
  • Attractions: 30
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK438.20 – US$64.92/day

>>>Zagreb prices and weather


12 – Vilnius, Lithuania

VilniusAs with the other Baltic states (Estonia and Latvia), Lithuania is still quite cheap compared to its neighbors a bit to the west. Vilnius is out of the way unless you are going from Poland through to Estonia, but it’s also served by an increasing number of European budget airlines who bring people in for a cheap weekend break. There’s a lovely old city center here, and appealing prices once you arrive. And unlike Riga and Tallinn, this is not a cruise port city so the center is free of most of the cheesy things that passengers gravitate toward.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Alexa Old Town Hotel Vilnius – 20.72/night
  • Transportation: 5
  • Meals: 21
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 8.25
  • Attractions: 3
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: LTL57.97 – US$65.88/day

>>>Vilnius prices and weather


13 – Bratislava, Slovakia

Considering that it’s practically within bicyling distance of Vienna, Bratislava continues to keep a low profile among the traveling set. This is another that is becoming popular with the weekend-break crowd, partly due to its reasonable prices, but also due to the fact that it’s quite international for a former Eastern city.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Apartments Blue Danube – 22.18/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 18.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €60.18 – US$68.39/day

>>>Bratislava prices and weather


14 – Santorini Island, Greece

SantoriniSantorini is Greece’s most popular tourist island so it’s listed here to represent all of them, which tend to be mostly similar in price. Things like food and drinks are reasonably priced on the islands, especially if you don’t require a sea view at the same time, but renting scooters or water sports equipment can add up quickly. During July and August the hotel prices jump up quite a bit as well, so visit in the shoulder months if you can.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Smaragdi Hotel – 15.65/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €61.15 – US$69.49/day

>>>Santorini prices and weather


15 – Riga, Latvia

A real surprise considering how close it is to Scandinavia, Riga is still very cheap for Europe. This former Soviet area is not the sort of place you end up in accidentally on your way from one city to another, so the remoteness might help contribute to the fact that it’s not terribly well discovered by many Westerners yet. Riga is definitely on the map of the European party crowd, but it’s still very charming.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Art Hotel Laine – 22.05/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 18.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €61.55 – US$69.94/day

>>>Riga prices and weather


16 – Tenerife, Spain

Technically part of Europe because it’s run by Spain, Tenerife is in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa, and it’s the most popular of them for English-speakers. The mild climate is good pretty much all year round so it’s a popular escape at any time. Fortunately it’s relatively cheap as well. During peak seasons, hotel prices will be higher.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel RF Astoria – 19.14/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 23.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €61.64 – US$70.05/day

>>>Tenerife prices and weather


17 – Prague, Czech Republic

Prague’s main tourist areas have been insanely crowded (especially during summers) for well over a decade now, but the herds keep coming. This is still a great-value city considering what it has to offer, but prices are likely to keep creeping up so there’s no time like the present. Check out our editor’s choice Prague hotels for great locations and very good prices at high-rated properties.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Zlatý kůň Golden Horse – 748.70/night
  • Transportation: 120
  • Meals: 570
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 135
  • Attractions: 240
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CZK1813.70 – US$74.67/day

>>>Prague prices and weather


18 – Istanbul, Turkey

Prices of most things in Istanbul had been heading up for years, but the currency has dropped a lot lately and this amazing city is quite a bargain again. Quality hotels in the tourist center continue to be a bit pricey, but still good for such a major tourist hot spot in Europe. For the best deals check our list of editor’s choice Istanbul hotels that are all great value with excellent locations.

  • Currency: Turkish lira
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Seres Hotel – 91.08/night
  • Transportation: 10.50
  • Meals: 36.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 25.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: TRY189.58 – US$77.07/day

>>>Istanbul prices and weather


19 – Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw is another city that rewards its visitors with reasonable prices, but is still not particularly popular, at least compared to the cheaper and more charming city of Krakow. The beautifully restored Old City is a major highlight that competes favorably with Krakow, though the rest of Warsaw feels more dedicated to business travelers.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel MDM City Centre – 159.70/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 55.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 30.00
  • Attractions: 18.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN282.70 – US$77.66/day

>>>Warsaw prices and weather


20 – Moscow, Russia

Moscow famously tops some of the “most expensive cities in the world” lists, yet especially after the 2014 currency plunge, that’s not even close to being true. The city is crammed with hotels that earn low marks from most visitors, indicating that standards still need to improve greatly for the mid-range tourist to be happy, even if the 5-star visitor is doing fine here. Still, unless you need an international 5-star hotel, Moscow isn’t quite as expensive for travelers as headlines might have you believe.

  • Currency: Russian ruble
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Izmailovo Gamma Hotel 1846/night
  • Transportation: 400
  • Meals: 1800
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 900
  • Attractions: 350
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RUB5296 – US$77.71/day

>>>Moscow prices and weather


21 – Ljubljana, Slovenia

LjubljanaSlovenia borders Italy and Austria, yet it’s still largely unknown to European visitors from outside of the region. Ljubljana itself is a charming and mellow town that deserves far more tourism than it receives, yet the real draws to the country are its natural sights, including Lake Bled and its Karst formations on the coast.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Apartments Vega – 26.53/night
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 27.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €71.53 – US$81.28/day

>>>Ljubljana prices and weather


22 – Naples, Italy

Naples is certainly the cheapest of Italy’s main tourist cities, so it’s a shame that most people ignore it completely. Its reputation of being a bit rough around the edges shouldn’t keep you away, though there are still areas where you might not want to linger at night. Hotel bargains are also relatively easy to find, and who can resist visiting the birthplace of pizza? Day trips to Naples are very popular though, especially for those who base themselves in the wonderful nearby town of Sorrento.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Cineholiday – 26.97/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €77.97 – US$88.60/day

>>>Naples prices and weather


23 – Athens, Greece

Athens is another city that can be a relative bargain for the 3-star traveler, with some good and cheap hotels right in the main tourist zones. During summer the city does fill up, so it may not feel so affordable during high season. The recent troubles are keeping some people away, so it might be easier to find bargains this year, particularly with hotels. Should Greece bounce out of the Euro in 2015, look for even lower prices after some turbulance.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Best Western Hotel Pythagorion – 26.10/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €78.10 – US$88.75/day

>>>Athens prices and weather


24 – Tallinn, Estonia

An interesting city with influences of nearby Scandinavia and its recent Soviet past, Tallinn isn’t too easy to reach and it doesn’t seem to be talked about much, but at least it’s quite affordable so it should appeal to adventurous types who like to see some remaining east/west contrasts. Finnish people coming on the 90-minute ferry from Helsinki still make up a large number of visitors, with cruise passengers being most of the rest.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Bern – 24.36/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 29.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €78.86 – US$89.61/day

>>>Tallinn prices and weather


25 – Madrid, Spain

Except for the height of the peak season, there are usually plenty of good hotel options in Madrid, which helps keep prices fairly reasonable. Check our Editor’s choice Madrid hotels list for great bargains that are well located and well reviewed. The season here is long as well, which helps spread visitors out beyond July and August (when it’s really too hot to visit anyway). Prices of most things in Madrid and Barcelona are similar, except that Madrid hotels tend to offer far better value.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hostal del Pez Azul – 21.75/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €79.75 – US$90.63/day

>>>Madrid prices and weather


26 – Ibiza, Spain

This famous party island off of Spain is a pretty good bargain for the budget travel crowd during the season, as long as they aren’t too interested in going into any of the huge nightclubs that charge a fortune at the door and crazy-high prices for drinks once inside. If you are coming to participate in the club scene, you’ll be spending much more than what is listed below. Also, hotels will be more expensive in July and August, so during peak season the island would be at least a bit further down this list.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Abrat – 24.80/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €81.80 – US$92.95/day

>>>Ibiza prices and weather


27 – Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik’s historic walled city is stunning, and anyone wanting to stay in or near it will pay high prices for hotels. Apartments (called sobas) are actually more plentiful and better value. Unfortunately, even if you get a bargain bed, you’ll discover that every restaurant and bar in Dubrovnik is totally dedicated to tourists, so it feels like a theme park. The crowds are especially thick from June through August, so prices shoot up then and availability is limited.

  • Currency: Croatian kruna
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Apartments Ivana – 164.40/night
  • Transportation: 65.00
  • Meals: 195.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 126.00
  • Attractions: 90.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK640.40 – US$94.87/day

>>>Dubrovnik prices and weather


28 – Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is known for high standards among both hostels and hotels, and its reasonable prices help make it one of the better continuing travel bargains on the continent. The climate also helps make it one of the better spring or autumn destinations, so it’s a nice city-break for many Europeans. The only trick is that it’s in a remote corner of Europe, so people don’t just wind up in Lisbon by accident.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Baixa GuestHouse – 29.57/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 29.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €84.57 – US$96.10/day

>>>Lisbon prices and weather


29 – Berlin, Germany

Everyone seems to be talking about Berlin these days, for good reason. This is the kind of city that almost everyone loves once they visit a first time. There are some excellent museums and attractions that are even more affordable with a Berlin Pass. Fortunately, its hotel scene is expanding rapidly as well, so high quality 3-star rooms are getting easier to find at affordable prices. Check our recommended hotels in Berlin list for some great choices that offer very low rates when they aren’t full up.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Arte Luise Kunsthotel – 29.14/night
  • Transportation: 9.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €92.64 – US$105.27/day

>>>Berlin prices and weather


30 – Valletta, Malta

VallettaThe small capital city of Valletta only has a small fraction of Malta’s hotels and sights, so this entry is really for the whole island. Its location south of Sicily gives it an enjoyable climate while the continent is still chilly, so Malta is fairly popular for most of the year. Most people speak English so it continues to be big with many Brits who’ve been coming for decades.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Spinola Hotel – 36.97/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €93.97 – US$106.78/day

>>>Valletta prices and weather


31 – Milan, Italy

Much like Hamburg mentioned below, Milan can be a real Jekyll or Hyde with hotel prices at nearly any time of year. During our test period we found great hotels at reasonable prices, which certainly means there are no trade fairs or other events in town. Most other times, Milan can be brutal for the 3-star and up hotel crowd. Choose the week you stay wisely and Milan is very affordable. During trade-fair weeks the same room will double or triple in price from the week before or on many weekends.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Mythos – 36.53/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €95.53 – US$108.56/day

>>>Milan prices and weather


32 – Bruges, Belgium

Although it’s relatively compact, Bruges continues to be very popular among travelers exploring the Benelux region. The well preserved medieval town center is a UNESCO World Heritage sight of its own, and it’s all very tourist friendly and easy to explore in only a day or two. Hotels are good value here, especially compared to the expense-account hotels that dominate Brussels.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Salvators – 41.75/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €101.75 – US$115.63/day

>>>Bruges prices and weather


33 – Salzburg, Austria

SalzburgFeaturing one of Europe’s loveliest old towns, Salzburg is set dramatically below a huge fortress, and it’s a must-stop destination for anyone touring the area. The Mozart’s birthplace tourism is a huge draw here, but non-Europeans seem more entertained by the many Sound of Music bus tours, which are an excellent way to see the area even if you don’t know all of the songs from the movie. If you want skiing, go to Innsbruck, but if you want Austrian charm, come to Salzburg.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Altstadt Hotel Hofwirt Salzburg – 36.53/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 33.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €103.03 – US$117.08day

>>>Salzburg prices and weather


34 – Dublin, Ireland

Dublin had become a very expensive city for hotels only a few years ago, fueled mostly by its economic bubble. But now hotel rates have come down to reasonable levels so the city is back in play for casual tourists looking for value. The rest of Ireland is at least a bit cheaper, and it tends to get far better reviews from first-time visitors as well. By the way, if you are going to the Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery Tour, then the Dublin Pass is a great deal.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Maldron Hotel Smithfield – 36.97/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €103.97 – US$118.15/day

>>>Dublin prices and weather


35 – Barcelona, Spain

With good hotel real-estate being harder to come by, Barcelona remains more expensive than Madrid in that department, but quite similar for most other things. During summer the rates jump much higher yet, so those trying to maximize their travel funds should consider a shoulder-season visit. See our recommended Barcelona hotels list for cheap and well located options that are highly rated as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Auto Hogar – 46.97/night
  • Transportation: 5.75
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 11.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €105.72 – US$120.14/day

>>>Barcelona prices and weather


36 – Hamburg, Germany

This out of the way German city isn’t really a top destination in that way that Berlin or Munich are, but it’s pleasant and interesting, particularly for Beatles fans. Hotels here will double their prices during trade fairs and other events, so timing is everything if you want to keep costs down.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Fürst Bismarck – 44.36/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 27.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €106.36 – US$120.86/day

>>>Hamburg prices and weather


37 – Brussels, Belgium

Another city that can be reasonable or very expensive depending on whether business people or bureaucrats are in town or not, Brussels is usually known for being pricey, but that isn’t always the case. It’s still debatable whether visiting is worthwhile at all, but it’s at least good to know that it isn’t always a budget buster at the same time.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Aloft Brussels Schuman Hotel – 39.14/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €109.14 – US$124.02/day

>>>Brussels prices and weather


38 – Nice, France

As a major summer destination, Nice comes off as fairly reasonable on our data since we took hotel readings for April. During July and August this would probably be several places farther down this list, and the nearby towns of Antibes and Cannes are far more expensive still. Nevertheless, Nice is the most budget-friendly city on the Côte d’Azur, so it’s the ideal base to explore nearby Monaco as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Aria – 41.32/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 7.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €109.32 – US$124.23/day

>>>Nice prices and weather


39 – Edinburgh, Scotland

Though its abundance of hostels does make Edinburgh a good stop for budget travelers, the choices in nicer 3-star hotels are more limited. The main attractions are also a bit pricey too, and of course during the August festival season you can expect to pay far more for a bed or room if you can find one at all. You can keep it affordable if you follow our cheapskate guide to the Edinburgh Fringe. Still, Edinburgh is a gorgeous city and almost everyone who visits falls in love with the place, at least during summer.

  • Currency: British pound
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Cityroomz Edinburgh – 28.00/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £83.00 – US$125.76/day

>>>Edinburgh prices and weather


40 – Vienna, Austria

Vienna is surprisingly expensive, but it’s worth a visit if you can manage it. This is a classic and important city with excellent cultural offerings, so hotels in or near the city center can fill up at high prices, although they can also be bargains if not much is going on that week.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Pension Lerner – 48.71/night
  • Transportation: 8.50
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 11.50
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €113.21 – US$128.65/day

>>>Vienna prices and weather


41 – Reykjavik, Iceland

Before its currency collapse in 2008, everything in Iceland was insanely expensive, and then prices were cut in half. A solid rebound has helped bring prices back up again, so it’s still pricey if not ridiculously so. Helpfully, almost 100% of Iceland’s charms are in its scenery and outdoor activities, so there isn’t much reason to linger in the capital anyway.

  • Currency: Iceland kronur
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Frón – 6559/night
  • Transportation: 1500
  • Meals: 4400
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 3000
  • Attractions: 1500
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: ISK16959 – US$128.72/day

>>>Reykjavik prices and weather


42 – Florence, Italy

Depending on the week you decide to come, Florence is usually a bit cheaper than Milan, but again, the hotels can be full and expensive or empty and reasonable at almost any time. This is another city where if you choose the timing of your visit wisely you can stick to a fairly low budget. At least Florence hotels are cheaper than those in Rome, so it’s a popular base for those exploring Tuscany or visiting nearby Pisa as a day trip.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Fiorino – 54.37/night
  • Transportation: 8.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 11.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €117.87 – US$133.94/day

>>>Florence prices and weather


43 – Rome, Italy

Even with its relatively expensive (and very worthwhile) main attractions, Rome can be surprisingly affordable if you pick the right week to visit. During summer finding a good and cheap hotel can be very difficult, so it’s not an eternal bargain, but during spring and autumn there are sometimes great deals to be found. Choose from our recommended Rome hotels for some great bargains with very good locations and high quality.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Aberdeen – 54.37/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €118.37 – US$134.51/day

>>>Rome prices and weather


44 – Munich, Germany

MunichMunich is famous for its pleasant city center as well as better weather than any other German tourist city, and those things help keep hotel prices a bit on the high side for this country. It’s very different from Berlin and the others, and the Bavarian roots are clearly on display. During Oktoberfest (mid September through early October), prices double or triple from this, so plan for that if you want to join in.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Am Markt – 52.63/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €118.63 – US$134.81/day

>>>Munich prices and weather


45 – Amsterdam, Netherlands

The compact nature of Amsterdam’s city center seems to help make it more expensive for the 3-star traveler and the backpacker as well. Its never-ending popularity means that all the accommodation within the main canal rings tends to be expensive, and many who stay outside that zone are not satisfied with where they end up. At least it’s easy to find good prices at restaurants, even in the heart of the tourist areas. Choose among our recommended Amsterdam hotels for great locations and great value.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Linden Hotel – €55.67/night
  • Transportation: 9.25
  • Meals: 24.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €118.92 – US$135.14/day

>>>Amsterdam prices and weather


46 – Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg City is another that is only a bit more expensive for the 3-star traveler than for the backpacker, probably due to better hotel competition and few hostel options. In other words, hotel quality is quite high and rates are reasonable compared to many others on this list. This city seems to be completely overshadowed by the neighboring countries, which is a shame.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Carlton – 68.28/night
  • Transportation: 6.40
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €124.68 – US$141.68/day

>>>Luxembourg City prices and weather


47 – Oslo, Norway

As the Norwegian currency came way down along with the oil prices that the country relies on, Oslo is now much cheaper than it was in most of 2014. Actually, visitors will still find food and drinks to be shockingly expensive compared to most of the rest of Europe, but hotels here are surprisingly good value and the main attractions are fairly cheap.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Comfort Hotel Xpress Youngstorget – 337.80/night
  • Transportation: 120
  • Meals: 350
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 210
  • Attractions: 50
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: NOK1097.80 – US$145.02/day

>>>Oslo prices and weather


48 – Helsinki, Finland

Its remote corner of Europe has kept Helsinki from being part of the main tourist trail, and its high prices keep even many adventurous travelers away. In other words, the hotels here are mostly for business travelers, so budget travelers get the shaft. Alcohol is also very expensive here, though restaurant food isn’t as outrageous as other Nordic cities.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Anna – 60.00/night
  • Transportation: 13.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 7.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €132.00 – US$150.00/day

>>>Helsinki prices and weather


49 – Copenhagen, Denmark

No surprises to see Copenhagen so far down this list, as it can be a budget-killer regardless of your preferred travel style. As lovely as it is, and as pleasant as the endless summer days can be, just about everything is weirdly expensive all over Scandinavia, and few bargains can be found even in the larger cities.

  • Currency: Danish kroner
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Carlton Guldsmeden – 466.24/night
  • Transportation: 65
  • Meals: 240
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 150
  • Attractions: 80
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: DKK1001.24 – US$153.56/day

>>>Copenhagen prices and weather


50 – Paris, France

Generally speaking, Paris is at least a little cheaper than many cities on this list, but the hotel scene can be tricky. For a convenient location and very good reviews, it will cost you, though many people are quite happy staying in a mediocre hotel or a bit out of the way. The fact that you can stay in almost any district and quickly get to the main attractions on the Metro seems to open up more options for visitors. During summer things can get quite crowded, however, even as half the locals have fled for the beaches. Those wishing to see the famous sights should consider bundling them together by buying a Paris Pass. See our recommended Paris hotels for our editors’ picks for great value, location, and well-reviewed properties.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hôtel Ecole Centrale – 69.59/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €145.59 – US$165.44/day

>>>Paris prices and weather


51 – Venice, Italy

Those who don’t mind staying on one of the nearby islands at night can save money while visiting Venice, though they also sacrifice much of the charm that can only be found before or after the huge tour groups set in for the day. This price reflects a good 3-star hotel in the heart of the main island, and it’s a bit surprising that prices aren’t higher. Check our list of recommended Venice hotels for great value and locations.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Centauro Hotel – 73.94/night
  • Transportation: 14.00
  • Meals: 39.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 11.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €152.94 – US$173.80/day

>>>Venice prices and weather


52 – Interlaken, Switzerland

InterlakenUnlike most other European countries, Switzerland’s big cities aren’t particularly tourist friendly or even too interesting. Most tourists are far better off ignoring them and instead heading to Interlaken or Lucerne as a base to explore the Alps and the other outdoor activities that go all year round here. These tourist towns are quite expensive, although thankfully not as expensive as Zurich (below). If you are mainly after Alpine views and experiences, stay in Gimmelwald or Mürren, which are both unforgettable, and just up the hill from Interlaken.

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Derby – 56.17/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 52.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF162.17 – US$176.27/day

>>>Interlaken prices and weather


53 – London, England

As expensive as London really is, it doesn’t deserve to be quite this low (expensive) on this list. The main factor is that 3-star hotels in a central location that get good reviews tend to be very pricey here, but visitors willing to relax their standards a bit can stay for a lot less. And once you know your way around a bit, and to avoid the really touristy places, London isn’t really a budget buster. The famous museums are actually free, though the other famous attractions are among Europe’s most expensive, so you can save a bit of money on them with a London Pass. For our editors’ picks for excellent value accommodation see our recommended London hotels page.

  • Currency: British pound
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Lidos Hotel – 53.02/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £118.52 – US$179.58/day

>>>London prices and weather


54 – Stockholm, Sweden

Even during April, which is still part of the off-season in Stockholm, hotels are very expensive. And during the high season of July and August things get ridiculous. This is truly a beautiful city filled with beautiful people, but it’s still hard to justify a visit when it’s so much more expensive than the cities above it on this list, most of which have plenty going for them as well. At least the long-promised ABBA Museum is finally open.

  • Currency: Swedish kronor
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Lilla Rådmannen – 778.84/night
  • Transportation: 90
  • Meals: 320
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 195
  • Attractions: 130
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: SEK1513.84 – US$183.27/day

>>>Stockholm prices and weather


55 – Bergen, Norway

BergenOslo is certainly a nice place, but if you are a tourist and can only make one stop in Norway, it should be in Bergen. This is a really wonderful town focused on a historic harbor, and unfortunately it’s also extremely expensive by most standards. The gateway to visits to the fjords, Bergen promises endless things to do and it’s very unique by European standards. Drinkers should think about a stop at the Duty Free on the way in, and food is very pricey as well.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Thon Hotel Bristol, Bergen – 810.71/night
  • Transportation: 110
  • Meals: 350
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 270
  • Attractions: 60
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: NOK1600.71 – US$211.45/day

>>>Bergen prices and weather


56 – Zürich, Switzerland

No prizes for guessing this one, especially considering that Zürich also came out on top on our survey of world taxi prices. Even then, it’s remarkable how expensive things are in this city dominated by rich bankers and others on expense accounts. Fortunately, Switzerland has plenty of other and better tourist destinations, and even though they also tend to be pricey, at least there are some cheaper options available for those willing to look around or stay a bit out of town. If you want to visit an interesting city in Switzerland, Bern is probably a better choice. In other words, don’t just plan a visit to Zürich because it’s a big city that you’ve heard of.

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Montana Zürich – 84.26/night
  • Transportation: 21.00
  • Meals: 50.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 17.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF199.26 – US$216.59/day

>>>Zurich prices and weather


Notes on the above data

The hotel prices listed above are for stays in late April, which is shoulder season in most of Europe. During July and August, most cities will be more expensive as well as more crowded.

For the food and drink prices we took the top-end of our estimates for “budget breakfasts” and so forth. This should allow for plenty of flexibility in choosing dining options in each city, but it does not account for Michelin-star restaurants, as this is a 3-star index rather than a luxury index. The prices for high-end restaurants vary far too much to be meaningful here, so we chose a reasonable and lower standard, that should allow for meals and drinks in hotel restaurants and bars, rather than at the cheapest places in town.

How to use the 3-Star Traveler Index information

The purpose of this index is to get a general sense of typical traveler costs in each city in Europe. As you can see, the cheapest city is over four times cheaper than the most expensive, so this information can help travelers choose destinations on based partly on how far their budget will go in each city.

The hotels chosen for this comparison are all of reasonably high 3-star standards and with good central locations. In many cities you can save a fair amount of money by staying in a 2-star hotel or staying farther from the city center.

Shopping, whether for souvenirs or clothing, is not included in these totals. Generally, souvenir prices will be proportional to the overall index price, but name-brand clothing tends to vary far less from one city to another.

You could use the main index price as a good indicator of a daily budget, per person, for each city, though obviously there are many ways to save or spend more wherever you go.



23 Responses to “Europe 3-Star Traveler Index for 2015: 56 cities from cheap to expensive”

hakan says:

Again a good job. Thanks. Cheers from Ankara.

 

The list has some obvious flaws… For example food, you say that the list includes “three meals per day using the top end of the range of our “budget meals” for each city.

Okay, so supposedly for 4 Latvian Lat (5.7 EUR) you can get three meals? Yeah right. I haven’t been to Copenhagen, but I doubt you can find 3 decent meals for 175 kronor.

 

    Yeah Right, thanks for pointing this out. The Riga number was a typo, which I have fixed. I accidentally had repeated the taxi number, and the meals number is 8 rather than 4. It still sounds cheap, I’m sure. In many of the cities the total is really only for lunch and dinner since all the listed hotels include breakfast. This is the case in Copenhagen.

    All of the meals estimates are for “budget” meals, including a typical breakfast (or the included hotel breakfast) and something like a sandwich or equivalent for lunch. The dinner estimate is meant to be for a relatively inexpensive sit-down meal. As you know, you can spend as much as you like on food in any city on earth, so this index is meant to show the lower end of the scale. The low end in Copenhagen is still a lot higher than the low end in Riga, and that’s the whole point in the index.

    I appreciate your criticism and I’ll scan for more typos and also try to make sure the meals estimates are realistic going forward. -Roger

     
Jeffrey says:

Thank you for your work with this web page. I used it to travel to Poland (Warsaw, Krakow),Hungary (Budapest),and Czech Republic (Prague) in March 2013 for three weeks.
Krakow, as stated was a good value away from the main square especially in local restaurants such as the “milk bars”. 3 star hotels were readily available on the major travel websites for around 50-60 USD per night. I splurged and stayed 2 nights at the “Castle Inn” (90 USD) in Warsaw due to its location. The taxis in Warsaw were smoky, and none of the drivers spoke English, so I was happy to spend extra to be in the Old Town and New Town tourist areas for a couple nights and walk everywhere.

Hungary was quite reasonable as long as meals are eaten a few blocks off the main tourists areas. 2-blocks off Andrussy Ave in Budapest, I saved a great deal on by going to local cafeteris which served hearty, delicious meals. In the Buda castle district, I overspent greatly a couple nights eating at tourist restaurants within the gates. The restaurants charge extra for side dishes, and things can really add up. Dinners can be expensive 12-25 USD, if you are not careful. The service is good— just make sure you check that service fees are included——- I tipped a couple times not knowing a 7-10% fee was included in the check.
Down the backside of Buda, outside the gates, near the metro station, are cheaper options. 3 star hotels were available in the 60 USD range on many travel websites, and many include breakfast, which is important because there aren’t many places in Budapest that open for breakfast service other than coffee and pastry. Plus, you save money by eating a good breakfast before you start each day.There seems to be a charge to visit every church or building complex of interest in Budapest. I paid 10 USD to vist the Terror House Museum in Budapest! I was not prepared for these charges. At St Andrew’s Church in Budapest, there was a “donation” required to enter the church. It was nominal, around 1 USD, but I did not have change for a little larger Hungarian bill and the door monitor would not give me a change from the other receipts, so I had to pay more. I used public transportation all week in Budapest and only used a taxi to get to the airport. Otherwise, the trams and subway are about 1.30 USD each trip. The Hungarian subway police agressively monitor the lines. Always buy a ticket.
Few attractions in Central Europe are free, even “attractions inside attractions”, such as the interior of Wawel Castle in Krakow! The church is partitioned off into different attractions and each requires a ticket. This was a surprise. I have not been to Eurpoe in a while, though.

Prague was overrun. Even though it was freezing in March with snow, the crowds descended on the castle each morning at 0945. I was surprised how many people were visiting Prague in Winter! The Charles Bridge was blocked by crowds by 10 am each morning. I found myself getting up each day at 0700 and walking around to beat the crowds for photos.
I cannot imagine visiting Prague during the Summer months! Too many people trying to see the same things. Museaum costs in Prague were relatively high, in my opinion, I felt, at 5-7 USD. I realize now that these costs are to maintain world class exibits. you need to really pick and choose what is important if you are on a budget. The Castle complex exterior is free and great to wander around day or night. I mostly ate at bars which had set menus to save money. Also, there are places immediately below the castle district that sell quick food like sausages or pannini for cheaper prices. Sit down restaurants in the tourist zone were expensive at 10-25 USD for a full meal without alcohol.There are “set menus” to be found in the tourist areas for 5-7 USD.
One thing that irritated me was that there are few internet cafes to check e-mail in the capital cities I visited. Not everyone has a smart phone, so I am curious why there are fewer internet cafes. It is different than Asia and Latin America where these businesses are everywhere. I had to borrow a computer a couple times from fellow travelers.
Overall, great trip! Thanks again for your work on this site. your information was accurate. The dollar got stronger during my trip, which reduced my overall costs.

 

    Jeffrey, thank you for the nice words and for the detailed trip report. I agree (and try to advise people often) that if you walk a couple blocks away from the main tourist streets you can often get similar food in a more authentic (rather than touristy) place for half the price. For me the places near the river in Budapest seemed overpriced, but in Pest a few blocks inland I was finding interesting places at great prices.

    And I know what you mean about Prague. Venice is actually the same way that even in February they both feel so crowded it’s like a festival is going on. But that’s just how they always are, at least along the popular walkways.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip and that my information was helpful. -Roger

     
Ringo says:

For the Baltic area (Riga & Tallinn) I would add Vilnius in Lithuania. A beautiful city with many things to do and see it is very affordable. Easy to reach via major airlines (as well as Wizzair, Ryanair and, allegedly, a new “national” airline will start operating in the summer of 2013). You can get a decent hotel for 40-50 euros, a pint of beer is under 2 euros. In the old town all major architectural sites are a walking distance from each other but there is also a small mini bus that covers the old town for those with sore feet. Happy travels!

(Ringo, I agree with this and I’m going to add Vilnius soon. Thank you for adding to the chorus on that one. -Roger)

 
David says:

Is the Hotel actually per person, All hotels that I am familliar with charge for the room not the amount of people as long as its not over a certain amount.
ALso is everyting else per person, so a couple can double the entire amount?

Thanks
Dave

 

    David,

    The hotel rates listed for each city are half of a double room per night. I wanted to keep the index at per person per day for simplicity, but of course most hotels quote rates for double rooms. Many of these same hotels also have cheaper single rooms, but almost never half the price, so the best deal is half a twin or double.

    And yes, everything in this index is per person, so doubling it would generate a decent average per day for a couple in each city. I hope it helps you plan a trip. -Roger

     
Ed says:

When I visited Istanbul last year, it was not as cheap as expected. Especially not the hotels. The problem is that many hotels set their prices in euros. A lower Lira will only fatten their pockets, not ours.
So no matter how low the Lira goes, that 3-star hotel is still 50 euros.

 

    Ed,

    Yes, you are totally right about that, and it’s a bit frustrating. Interestingly, I actually used a higher price in USD for the hotel I used as the example this year, even as I expected it to have gone down. Still, almost everything else in Turkey is quoted in lira, so the currency advantage does exist in food, drinks, and attractions and such. -Roger

     
Bentley says:

This list is awesome. Thanks for compiling it!
My girlfriend and I are going to Europe for the first time and it helps a lot to know some prices for planning.

 

When you quote prices of hotels or hostels, if I have five people do we each have to pay the price (is it per bed)or can we get a room and all sleep there?

 

    Nancy,

    On the 3-star Index, the price listed for each city is per person based on two per room. On the Backpacker Index it’s based on one person staying in a hostel dorm bed. Traveling with 5 people will definitely be cheaper per person than just two people. In Europe the hotel rooms tend to be small so very few of them can hold 5 people. I’d recommend looking for apartments, which are also available on the same hotel-booking sites, and you should be able to have 5 guests stay for maybe one and a half times the price of a double room. -Roger

     
Celso says:

I went to the 3 star hotel you suggested in Santorini, typed winter dates and got an insane amount for the rooms compared to the price you published there.
You have to recheck the whole list and try again.
Kudos for trying though.

 

    Celso,

    Sorry about that. I do the tests to get hotel prices in January, and it’s not uncommon that prices change quite a bit in only a few months. Sometimes it’s after a completed renovation, but in this case I’m guessing that it’s because Greece is in much greater demand this year than last. Thank you for letting me know, and I hope you find something similar with better rates. -Roger

     
Jeffrey says:

Hi Roger,
Just back from Ireland, 10 days, and Edinburgh, 3 days.
I went in knowing that using the dollar I was gonna get sc***ed in the exchange. I am a value traveler, meaning I look for the total value in my expenditures, i.e., Pay a little more for something if it gets you something else, i.e. slightly higher lodging when it gets you wireless or breakfast or more.
Using this guide was quite helpful and reduced my shock at the dining prices especially! In Ireland, its a deal if you can find a meal in a cafe or restaurant with beverage for 7-10 Euro’s, and that was what I did mostly. My old standby, eating at Chinese restaurants, did not work in Ireland or Edinburgh, and, in fact, the three Chinese meals were among my most expensive at 25-30 Euro’s each!(Mandarin House, Parnell Street, Dublin, and “The Golden Dragon”, Castle Street in Edinburgh) Why? I don’t know, but rice is now a “side dish” everywhere and priced at 5 euros! Cheapest main dish was 10 Euro. Hey, it works in other countries!
The best value meals were always 2-3 blocks off the main tourist path in Killarney (“Mac’s of Main Street” and “The Country Kitchen”) and Dublin (“LA Pizza”, a 5 Euro breakfast).
Beer in a pub was 3-5 Euro in Ireland, and 3.75-5 GBP in Edinburgh (“Deacon Brodie’s Tavern”, The Golden Mile, Edinburgh, “Tennant’s Lager” 3.75 GBP), depending on where the pub was, i.e. prime tourist area vs. county locale or urban tavern.
The surprise? Edinburgh’s free Museums and galleries were great! The shock? The entrance fee to Edinburgh Castle at about 26 USD! There’s a vote for virtual museums! Again, I don’t have a lot of bucks, so these items cut into my daily budget. I was “castled out” by the time I got to Killkenny and did not pay to go inside another, one including Ross Castle in Killarney. That money went to renting a mountain bike which brought me much more access and enjoyment riding around the beautiful park!
I traveled by bus (Bus Eireann) from the north to the south of Northern Ireland and Ireland and the bonus was free wi-fi on all the legs of the bus trips. It costs about 20-25 USD to travel from major town to major town in Ireland, i.e. Dublin to Kilkenny, Killkenny and Cork to Killarney. My big expense in Northern Ireland was the “Paddy Campbell’s Famous Black Cab Tour”, which was outstanding! I paid 50 USD and learned a lot.
I stayed in B&B’s that were usually rated 3-stars and paid an average of 72 USD per night—- there were much higher hotels. I spent 80 USD to stay at the “Royal Scots Club” in Edinburgh and that was a great deal for that place. I booked five months in advance to ensure a room and a decent price, as prices had gone up significantly when I arrived. The KEY is getting a breakfast each day included in your rate. The quality of the B&B’s in Ireland were good, but I was introduced to the “Hen Party” phenomena which was annoying after the first two lat-night appearances.
My budget for Ireland and Edinburgh was :
Accomodation in 3-star B&B: 72USD (a little ways out but these fill up fast)
Meals: 50 USD (difficult to do when you add a few drinks or extras)
Travel: 20 USD per day (Used one taxi the entire 2 weeks because cabs are a luxury at 7-10 Euro per trip.)Bus was ok, but only station to station travel was possible. I walked a lot.
Misc: 10-20 USD, a museum, a couple extra pints, ect.

My conclusion: For an American on the dollar, the 3 star experience in Ireland and Scotland can be done, but you don’t have a lot of leeway at 120-130 USD per day. I spent much time on the review sites like “Trip Advisor” and others looking for value and booked in advance. I explored areas outside the tourist zone and save 30% or more on dining. The dollar is weak, so you have to be flexible!

Thanks for the great blog!

 

    Jeffrey,

    Another great trip report, and I’m again happy to see that you’ve found this information to be useful. Interestingly, I’ve had the same exact experience at Edinburgh Castle. It feels like I’ve toured over 100 castles, including some huge and really impressive ones, so both the last two times I was in Edinburgh I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for the Edinburgh Castle. And the fact that the excellent museums are free (courtesy of British tax payers) makes the high admission price seem even worse.

    And I’m also a big believer in your theory that the best value meals are usually found 2 or 3 blocks off the main tourist streets. So many times I’ve seen places on the main walking street that charge, say, €15 for a plate of pasta, and you go 2 blocks away from the crowds and you see the same dish for €8. I appreciate you taking the time to add your own recent budget experiences. -Roger

     
Chris says:

Hi Roger,
Love the work you’ve done here. Great info and listings! Just wondering if a 3-star index for the Americas, Oceania or Africa was in the works for 2015?

 

    Chris,

    Thank you. And yes, not only will we be expanding the 3-star index to other regions, but we are also adding 30 or 40 more cities all over the world. I’m happy to know that this is helpful for some travelers. -Roger

     
B.J. Rudell says:

Hello, wonderful list. But where is Tirana, Albania? Believe it would be near the top of the list.

 

    B.J.,

    Thanks. I’ve expanded this list over the years from 40 cities to 56 now, and I’ve considered adding Tirana as well as Podgorica and even Skopje. The reason I haven’t so far is that those are all small and obscure cities that very few people from outside of the region will visit, regardless of price. Already I worry a bit that most of the Top 10 on the list are cities that many have never heard of and wouldn’t consider visiting. The whole point of this list is to help people sort out which are the cheaper parts of Europe for those planning visits, and I think it might already be longer than is most helpful to most people.

    So it’s not a matter of not being aware of them or not wanting to do the work, but rather that (unfortunately) I don’t think most people are interested in those cities. Partly it’s that they are very difficult to reach unless you specifically fly in, and not many tourists are doing that.

    I’m totally open to adding them if it feels like there is demand for it. Again, I’ve added 16 cities since the first version of it, many of them by popular demand. Are people really interested in prices in those small cities? From what I can tell, most of the requests for additions have been from people who actually live there rather than from people who are considering going and wonder how expensive they are. Thanks for the suggestion, and I’ll certainly considering adding those cities if it feels like enough people care. -Roger

     
Arijit says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for doing this, it’s really helpful for planning our trip this summer. Couple of years ago I visited Stockholm, Helsinki, Paris, Rome, Venice and Florence. I’m not surprised that all the cities are in the top 13 expensive ones. I’m from India and the euro rate was pretty high then too. I believe we managed in Paris at about $100-$120 per person per day at these standards, but the other cities seem accurate.

This time we are going to Paris (had to go again!), Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov and Prague. Two of these were recent additions so that worked well. I do hope the costs will be less this time, with the Euro down as well.

Thanks again, and I’ll let you know how my actual costs compare to your calculations.

It’s also a good list to plan my future tours.

Arijit.

 

    Arijit,

    I’m always happy to hear that people find this information useful. Paris is a tricky one to quantify because it can be fairly cheap if you don’t mind staying at a hotel in a somewhat remote neighborhood, and the Metro makes it convenient anyway. In most of the other cities on your previous trip, it’s a huge hassle to see the sights if you book a cheap hotel way on the outskirts, and in some places there are no cheap hotels at all.

    As for your upcoming trip, I’m sure you’ll find it all MUCH more affordable. Not only has the euro come down quite a bit in value, but you are going to many of the cheapest tourist cities in Europe. Have a great trip, and please let me know if the budget somehow surprises you. I can’t blame you for going to Paris again because it really is a special place, even by the standards of those classic European cities. -Roger

     

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