Europe 3-Star Traveler Index for 2014: 51 cities from cheap to expensive

Freshly updated and expanded for the 2014 travel year, our Europe 3-star Traveler Index should be very useful for travelers making budgets and trying to get the most for their money. As you’ll see on the list below, many excellent and famous tourist cities such as Budapest and Krakow are a fraction of the price of some cities that aren’t nearly as interesting or unique.

This year we added 4 new cities (Valletta, Malta; Vilnius, Lithuania; Santorini Island, Greece; and Interlaken, Switzerland) to cover the continent even more fully. Prices we mostly stable in most cities, so Europe didn’t jump up in price last year. A few currencies are worth noting, most dramatically the Turkish Lira, which has come down quite a bit in the past year so the whole country is a bargain at the moment.

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 51 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 2014

From cheapest to most expensive

Exchange rates were calculated in January, 2014

1 – Sofia, Bulgaria (cheapest)

It’s not easy to reach for most travelers and there is a lack of classic and famous sights in Sofia, but those who do reach Europe’s cheapest tourist city can at least stretch their budgets a long way. 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 the cheapest city in Europe.

  • Currency: Bulgaria Leva
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Kolev Apartments – 29.65
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 24.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: BGN70.65 = US$48.72/day

>>>Sofia prices and weather

2 – Bucharest, Romania

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: Best Suites Apartment Accommodation – 68.18/night
  • Transportation: 11.00
  • Meals: 62.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RON171.18 – US$51.25/day

>>>Bucharest prices and weather

3 – 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: Agape Aparthotel – 5300/night
  • Transportation: 1500
  • Meals: 3500
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 1500
  • Attractions: 800
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HUF12600 – US$56.60/day

>>>Budapest prices and weather

4 – 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: Soul House Apartments – 18.65/night
  • Transportation: 4.50
  • Meals: 14.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €49.96 – US$66.61/day

>>>Belgrade prices and weather

5 – Krakow, Poland

By our judgement, Krakow is the best bargain 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: Aneks Hotelu Kazimierz – 110.00/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 35.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN201.00 = US$65.69/day

>>>Krakow prices and weather

6 – 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: Pansion Čobanija – 22.50/night
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 15.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.00
  • Attractions: 2.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €49.50 – US$66.89/day

>>>Sarajevo prices and weather

7 – Saint Petersburg, Russia

Another city that seems likely to become more expensive faster than most of the others, Saint Petersburg is drawing larger crowds and becoming more tourist friendly each year. 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: Friends on Vosstaniya – 795/night
  • Transportation: 100
  • Meals: 570
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 420
  • Attractions: 400
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RUB2285 – US$67.66/day

>>>Saint Petersburg prices and weather

8 – 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.

  • Currency: Lithuanian litas
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Comfort Vilnius – 72.50/night
  • Transportation: 10
  • Meals: 70
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24
  • Attractions: 3
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: LTL181.50 – US$71.18/day

>>>Vilnius prices and weather

9 – 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.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Boutique Hotel Monte Kristo – 23.00/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 14.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 2.90
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €54.40 – US$73.51/day

>>>Riga prices and weather

10 – Kiev, Ukraine

Speaking of former Soviet 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.

  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Gintama Hotel – 385.00/night
  • Transportation: 35.00
  • Meals: 130.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 75.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: UHR635.00 – US$75.78/day

>>>Kiev prices and weather

11 – 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 – 24.20/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 17.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €58.20 – US$78.65/day

>>>Bratislava prices and weather

12 – 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 – 21.00/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 20.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €59.00 – US$79.73/day

>>>Tenerife prices and weather

13 – 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, and prices are higher than we might otherwise expect. 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: Apartments Lina – Center – 209.56/night
  • Transportation: 30
  • Meals: 140
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 66
  • Attractions: 30
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK475.56 – US$84.47/day

>>>Zagreb prices and weather

14 – 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 – 111.60/night
  • Transportation: 10.50
  • Meals: 33.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 18.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: TRY200.10 – US$89.33/day

>>>Istanbul prices and weather

15 – 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. Things do seem to be getting better and Poland is catching on with travelers looking to push into the east, so the future looks bright.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel MDM City Centre – 162.15/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 47.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 30.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN274.15 – US$89.59/day

>>>Warsaw prices and weather

16 – 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: Apartments Oasis CITY – 824/night
  • Transportation: 120
  • Meals: 520
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 120
  • Attractions: 240
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CZK1824 – US$89.81/day

>>>Prague prices and weather

17 – 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: Kokkinos Villas – 25.00/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €70.50 – US$95.27/day

>>>Santorini prices and weather

18 – Dubrovnik, Croatia

As long as a visitor doesn’t insist upon being directly in the heart of the old town, Dubrovnik can be quite affordable, especially for a coastal resort city. This is another that seems likely to get more expensive faster than most of the others on this list. 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: Guest House Tomasi – 172.00/night
  • Transportation: 65
  • Meals: 150.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 84.00
  • Attractions: 90.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK561.00 – US$99.64/day

>>>Dubrovnik prices and weather

19 – 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 Apartamentos Marina Playa – 21.15/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 23.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €75.15 – US$101.55/day

>>>Ibiza prices and weather

20 – 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.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Acropolis Select – 27.50/night
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €77.50 – US$104.73/day

>>>Athens prices and weather

21 – 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, as the main tourist areas are very safe and pleasant. Hotel bargains are also relatively easy to find, and who can resist visiting the birthplace of pizza?

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Neapolis – 29.55/night
  • Transportation: 7.50
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €80.05 – US$108.18/day

>>>Naples prices and weather

22 – 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).

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Madrid Sol – 22.50/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €80.50 – US$108.78/day

>>>Madrid prices and weather

23 – 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 2-hour ferry from Helsinki still make up a large number of visitors.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel St. Barbara – 24.75/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €82.25 – US$111.15/day

>>>Tallinn prices and weather

24 – 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.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Embaixador Hotel – 33.67/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 29.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €88.67 – US$119.82/day

>>>Lisbon prices and weather

25 – 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: Q damm Apartments – 25.50/night
  • Transportation: 9.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €89.00 – US$120.27/day

>>>Berlin prices and weather

26 – 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: Sliema Marina Hotel – 36.64/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €93.64 – US$126.54/day

>>>Valletta prices and weather

27 – 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 Van Eyck – 36.50/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €95.50 – US$129.05/day

>>>Bruges prices and weather

28 – Dublin, Ireland

Ireland’s financial crisis appears to be taking the edge off what recently were some extremely expensive hotel prices. During our test period we found quite a few well-located 3-star bargains, so it might be time to consider visiting again after a run-up that put it out of many budget travelers’ budgets.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Blooms Hotel – 29.50/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €96.50 – US$130.41/day

>>>Dublin prices and weather

29 – 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: Junges Hotel Hamburg – 43.50/night
  • Transportation: 7.00
  • Meals: 25.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €97.50 – US$131.76/day

>>>Hamburg prices and weather

30 – Reykjavik, Iceland

Continuing its remarkable turn-around from an affordability standpoint, Reykjavik isn’t much more expensive for higher-end visitors compared to backpackers, with relatively cheap hotels as long as you avoid the peak of summer. Many restaurants and bars are very expensive in Reykjavik, but cheaper options are rarely far away for those who look. Most visitors to Iceland only spend a day or two here before touring the natural beauty of the rest of the island, so even the relatively high prices of the city won’t be a problem for most.

  • Currency: Iceland kronur
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: CenterHotel Klopp – 5550/night
  • Transportation: 1500
  • Meals: 4400
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 3000
  • Attractions: 1200
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: ISK15650 – US$134.80/day

>>>Reykjavik prices and weather

31 – Milan, Italy

Much like Hamburg mentioned above, 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.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Bagliori – 40.00/night
  • Transportation: 9.25
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €100.25 – US$135.47/day

>>>Milan prices and weather

32 – 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.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Gioia – 39.95/night
  • Transportation: 8.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 11.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €101.95 – US$137.77/day

>>>Florence prices and weather

33 – 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: Edinburgh Townhouse – 33.64/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £84.64 – US$138.75/day

>>>Edinburgh prices and weather

34 – Moscow, Russia

With another large contrast between the backpacker list and the 3-star list, Moscow comes up quite expensive for the traveler who expects Western comforts. 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: Rusapart at Lenivka 2250/night
  • Transportation: 400
  • Meals: 1000
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 720
  • Attractions: 320
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RUB4690 – US$138.88/day

>>>Moscow 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: Regencia Colón – 43.22/night
  • Transportation: 5.75
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 11.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €103.47 – US$139.82/day

>>>Barcelona prices and weather

36 – Munich, Germany

Munich 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: Adagio Muenchen City – 42.50/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €107.50 – US$145.27/day

>>>Munich prices and weather

37 – Nice, France

As a major summer destination, Nice comes off as fairly reasonable on our data since we took hotel readings for May. 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 – 42.00/night
  • Transportation: 10.50
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 7.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €108.50 – US$146.62/day

>>>Nice prices and weather

38 – 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: Hotel Capri – 50.85/night
  • Transportation: 8.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 11.50
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €114.85 – US$155.20/day

>>>Vienna prices and weather

39 – 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: Christophe Colomb – 59.50/night
  • Transportation: 6.40
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €114.90 – US$155.27/day

>>>Luxembourg City prices and weather

40 – 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. Choose among our recommended Amsterdam hotels for great locations and great value.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Dwars – €59.50/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 24.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €120.50 – US$162.84/day

>>>Amsterdam prices and weather

41 – 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: Adagio Brussels Centre Monnaie – 59.62/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €123.62 – US$167.05/day

>>>Brussels prices and weather

42 – 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 Selene – 60.05/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €124.05 – US$167.64/day

>>>Rome prices and weather

43 – Helsinki, Finland

Perhaps a surprising entry here, Helsinki benefits from the fact that our test data was gathered for May hotel stays, and that’s still considered off-season here. During summer prices definitely go way up, but it’s still interesting to note that reasonable (for this area) prices are available just before the high season.

  • Currency: euro
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Forenom Apartments City Centre – 60.00/night
  • Transportation: 13.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €126.00 – US$170.27/day

>>>Helsinki prices and weather

44 – 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: Hotel du Nord – 459.00/night
  • Transportation: 65
  • Meals: 195
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 150
  • Attractions: 70
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: DKK939.00 – US$170.73/day

>>>Copenhagen prices and weather

45 – Oslo, Norway

Norway is easily the most expensive country in Scandinavia, but hotels and attractions are still actually a bit cheaper in Oslo than Stockholm, even though they are all very high. The good news with Oslo is that it’s just a one-day stop for most people who are either on their way to or from the wonderful scenery elsewhere in Norway. The bad news is that pretty much everything here is amazingly expensive, especially alcohol.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Citybox Oslo – 380.00/night
  • Transportation: 120
  • Meals: 270
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 210
  • Attractions: 80
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: NOK1060.00 – US$171.80/day

>>>Oslo prices and weather

46 – 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: Hotel Mercurio – 60.00/night
  • Transportation: 14.00
  • Meals: 39.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €134.00 – US$181.08/day

>>>Venice prices and weather

47 – 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: Royal Saint Germain – 67.50/night
  • Transportation: 10.50
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €136.00 – US$183.78/day

>>>Paris prices and weather

48 – 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).

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Swiss Inn Hotel & Apartments – 65.62/night
  • Transportation: 30.00
  • Meals: 45.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF172.62 – US$189.69/day

>>>Interlaken prices and weather

49 – Stockholm, Sweden

Even during May, 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.

  • Currency: Swedish kronor
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Lilla Rådmannen – 700.00/night
  • Transportation: 90
  • Meals: 280
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 195
  • Attractions: 130
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: SEK1395 – US$215.28/day

>>>Stockholm prices and weather

50 – 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: Luna And Simone Hotel – 69.78/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £134.78 – US$220.95/day

>>>London prices and weather

51 – Zurich, Switzerland

No prizes for guessing this one, especially considering that Zurich also came out on top on our recent 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.

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Cheap/good 3-star hotel: Hotel Bristol Zurich – 100.15/night
  • Transportation: 21.00
  • Meals: 45.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 17.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF210.15 – US$230.93/day

>>>Zurich prices and weather

Notes on the above data

The hotel prices were all gathered in late March for the exact same early-May dates for every city. A number of the more business-oriented cities had somewhat unpredictable outcomes, with most showing lower hotel prices than expected for our test period. It would be far more complicated to run these tests for each week of the year, so we mentioned these possible aberrations in the descriptions for each city. At the very least, this shows that these cities can be cheap if your timing is good.

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.

19 Responses to “Europe 3-Star Traveler Index for 2014: 51 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?




    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.



    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?



    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.



    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!



    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?



    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


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