Europe 3-Star Traveler Index for 2023: 54 cities from cheap to expensive

Back for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the 2023 Europe 3-star traveler index has been fully updated to reflect the busy summer season ahead. Our Backpacker Index is a similar list that sorts Europe’s top destinations by price for those staying in hostels, and the list below ranks the same cities for travelers on more of a 3-star budget.

In the years since the last update there has been notable inflation in most Europe and prices for tourists are up nearly everywhere as well. We dropped St. Petersburg and Moscow from the list partly because almost no one would visit them in 2023, and also because the travel companies aren’t listing hotels there anymore.

Budget travelers will still find a lot of good news on the list below since so many of Europe’s most interesting cities including Krakow, Budapest, and Prague, are all MUCH cheaper than any city in the US or Canada.

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, 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.

NoteThe 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 Europe 3-star Index for 2023

From cheapest to most expensive

Exchange rates were calculated in April, 2023

1 – Sofia, Bulgaria (cheapest)

A 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. Sofia lacks any must-see sights, but it’s more pleasant than you might expect. This country features some of the world’s cheapest ski resorts, which is something to consider if you’ll visit in winter.

  • Currency: Bulgaria Leva
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Generaator Sofia Hotel – 31.42/night per person
  • Transportation: 7.00
  • Meals: 38.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 19.50
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: BGN101.92 = US$56.62/day

>>Sofia travel guide, 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. There are some nice tourist districts here, so it’s a nice place to stop on your way in or out of the country. Brasov (in Transylvania) and Sighişoara are two of the better tourist towns that you might also consider in Romania.

  • Currency: Romanian leu
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Uptown Residence Apartments – 99.75/night
  • Transportation: 15.00
  • Meals: 99.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 33.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RON258.75 – US$56.87/day

>>Bucharest travel guide, prices, and weather

3 – Kyiv, Ukraine

Not on many people’s radar as a tourist destination in the last hundred or so years, Kyiv is an interesting entry on the list. As of press time (April, 2023), most of the hotels are open and some people are actually visiting. The airport is open for commercial flights as well. Many of us will probably wait until things settle down a bit, but it’s an option.

  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Favor Sport Hotel – 643/night
  • Transportation: 95.00
  • Meals: 1040.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 285.00
  • Attractions: 50.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: UHR2,113.00 – US$57.62/day

>>Kyiv travel guide, prices, and weather

4 – 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. If you want to feel “rich” in a lovely tourist city, head to Krakow while prices still seem this low. Krakow is very popular for weekend parties by Europeans from all over, so it has a very international feel then, for better or worse.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Kolory Guest House – 115.88/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 88.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 51.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN290.88 = US$67.49/day

>>Krakow travel guide, prices, and weather

5 – 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. Novi Sad is a nearby historic city that is also worth a look if you are exploring Serbia.

  • Currency: Serbian Dinar (Euro used here)
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: K43 Rooms and Apartments – 19.28/night
  • Transportation: 4.70
  • Meals: 24.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 11.25
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €62.73 – US$68.18/day

>>Belgrade travel guide, prices, and weather

6 – Budapest, Hungary

An abundance of decent tourist hotels makes Budapest a great 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-language menus, this city can be quite a deal. Budapest is once again among the cheapest major tourist cities on the list, so it’s one to add to your list if you are anywhere nearby. And definitely check out one or more of the famous ruin pubs, which are large, casual clubs set in courtyards of apartment buildings. They are unlike anything else you’ll see anywhere.

  • Currency: Hungary Forint
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Papillon – 11,103/night
  • Transportation: 1600
  • Meals: 7900
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 2400
  • Attractions: 1500
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HUF24,503 – US$70.21/day

>>Budapest travel guide, prices, and weather

7 – 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. In other words, if you want to visit just one city in Poland, it should probably be Krakow, and a couple days in Warsaw after that if you have the time.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: LoftHotel Przychodnia – 124.46/night
  • Transportation: 24.00
  • Meals: 92.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 48.00
  • Attractions: 23.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN311.46 – US$72.26/day

>>Warsaw travel guide, prices, and weather

8 – Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

In spite of being a tiny town that is too far (3 hours) 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. Hotel prices have been going up as it becomes more popular, so don’t put a visit off too long. Cesky Krumlov is extremely popular with Chinese and other Asian tourists for some reason.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ubytování Zámecké Schody – 635/night
  • Transportation: 95
  • Meals: 595
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 165
  • Attractions: 100
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CZK1,590 – US$73.65/day

>>Cesky Krumlov travel guide, prices, and weather

9 – 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. The location in a scenic valley is yet another reason to visit if you are able. It has a storybook setting and an interesting combination of features to explore.

  • Currency: Converted Mark (Euro used here)
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Herc – 28.46/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 20.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €71.96 – US$78.22/day

>>Sarajevo travel guide, prices, and weather

10 – 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. The amazing Plitvice Falls Park is not far away, and highly recommended. Croatia finally adopted the Euro early in 2023, which should make some things a bit easier.

  • Currency: Euro (as of 2023)
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Rooms at Cajceva 34 – 30.75/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 20.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €76.25 – US$82.88/day

>>Zagreb travel guide, prices, and weather

11 – 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. English speakers will find the most comfortable hotels in the southwest corner of the island, near Los Cristianos. Fortunately it’s relatively cheap as well. During peak seasons, hotel prices will be higher, but still a bargain for Europe.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Don Manalito – 25.70/night
  • Transportation: 7.00
  • Meals: 27.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €77.20 – US$83.91/day

>>Tenerife travel guide, prices, and weather

12 – Vilnius, Lithuania

As 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Amicus Hotel – 23.87/night
  • Transportation: 5.70
  • Meals: 31.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €77.57 – US$84.32/day

>>Vilnius travel guide, prices, and weather

13 – Istanbul, Turkey

One of the world’s great cities, Istanbul had been creeping up in price for quite a few years until it encountered some political instability followed by an economic crisis. In recent years inflation of the Turkish lira has been running out of control, but fortunately for tourists, the currency has been dropping by even more. Istanbul is pretty cheap again and it could be a good time to visit in 2023. Check the news of course, and also keep in mind that Istanbul is the most expensive place in Turkey and you can visit most other popular places in the country for quite a bit less.

  • Currency: Turkish lira
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Minel Hotel – 586/night
  • Transportation: 50.00
  • Meals: 520.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 480.00
  • Attractions: 60.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: TRY1696 – US$88.33/day

>>Istanbul travel guide, prices, and weather

14 – Santorini Island, Greece

Santorini 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. Our ranking here is for hotel prices in May, so if you come in July you’ll be paying quite a bit more. In recent years most experts have come to agreement that Santorini is just too crowded to be enjoyable, at least on days when cruise ships are in port. There are dozens of other great islands that are way less crowded and a bit cheaper as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Minel Hotel – 27.54/night
  • Transportation: 7.00
  • Meals: 27.25
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €82.79 – US$89.99/day

>>Santorini travel guide, 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hanza Hotel – 35.34/night
  • Transportation: 7.40
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 14.25
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €85.99 – US$93.47/day

>>Riga travel guide, prices, and weather

16 – Bratislava, Slovakia

Considering that it’s practically within bicycling 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ibis Bratislava Centrum – 36.26/night
  • Transportation: 9.50
  • Meals: 25.30
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €88.56 – US$96.26/day

>>Bratislava travel guide, prices, and weather

17 – Split, Croatia

While 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. In July and August you can expect to pay a lot more for accommodation. Rental apartments are far more popular than hotels along the Croatian coast, so usually you get a kitchen and lounge area as well.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Villa Spalatina – 33.51/night
  • Transportation: 6.50
  • Meals: 24.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €89.51 – US$97.29/day

>>Split travel guide, prices, and weather

18 – 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. The public transportation here is surprisingly good so you can save money by staying a bit away from the main tourist zone and then coming in by cheap and frequent trollies or subway.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Amadeus – 699/night
  • Transportation: 170
  • Meals: 800
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 225
  • Attractions: 250
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CZK2,144 – US$99.31/day

>>Prague travel guide, prices, and weather

19 – Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia 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. Hotels aren’t as cheap as they were a few years ago, however, so it’s more in the mid range now.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Vila Teslova – 34.88/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 33.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €100.38 – US$109.11/day

>>Ljubljana travel guide, 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. It’s very popular to visit Athens for 2 or 3 days on your way to one of the hundreds of Greek islands, many of which are easily reachable by ferry from Athens’ port. The islands are fun from May through October or so, and most things are closed in the colder months.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: AthiNN Residence – 36.72/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €102.72 – US$111.65/day

>>Athens travel guide, prices, and weather

21 – 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Rixwell Viru Square Hotel Tallinn – 32.13/night
  • Transportation: 11.00
  • Meals: 34.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €103.13 – US$112.10/day

>>Tallinn travel guide, prices, and weather

22 – Valletta, Malta

The 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. Valletta is historic and interesting, but honestly most people come to Malta for the climate, so most hotels are in Sliema or farther up the coast. Malta’s location south of Sicily gives it an enjoyable climate while the continent is still chilly, so it 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Pebbles Boutique Aparthotel – 37.64/night
  • Transportation: 15.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €104.14 – US$113.20/day

>>Valletta travel guide, prices, and weather

23 – Ibiza, Spain

This famous party island off of Spain is a pretty good bargain for the budget travel crowd outside of July and August, 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 much more expensive in July and August, so during peak season the island would be much farther down this list. But if you visit in June or September you’ll find it pleasantly affordable considering how glamorous it can seem.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Marfil – 32.13/night
  • Transportation: 16.00
  • Meals: 34.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 19.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €111.63 – US$121.34/day

>>Ibiza travel guide, prices, and weather

24 – 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. This city is also known for some of the world’s most unique and interesting nightlife, which is worth a look if that sounds good at all.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Prens Berlin – 45.90/night
  • Transportation: 10.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €112.40 – US$122.17/day

>>Berlin travel guide, prices, and weather

25 – 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Cine Holiday – 55.08/night
  • Transportation: 13.00
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €118.08 – US$128.35/day

>>Naples travel guide, prices, and weather

26 – 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. Those interested in sightseeing should consider the Madrid Pass, which can often save you both time and money, although not always.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hostal San Lorenzo – 44.98/night
  • Transportation: 13.00
  • Meals: 33.75
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €118.73 – US$129.05/day

>>Madrid travel guide, prices, and weather

27 – 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. It feels quite different from the large cities in Spain, which is another reason to include it on your itinerary if you have time.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: República Bed & Breakfast & Arts – 49.57/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 35.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 19.50
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €120.27 – US$130.73/day

>>Lisbon travel guide, prices, and weather

28 – 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 site 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: República Bed & Breakfast & Arts – 50.95/night
  • Transportation: 14.00
  • Meals: 34.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €122.95 – US$133.64/day

>>Bruges travel guide, prices, and weather

29 – 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 closer to the bottom of this affordability 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Saint Gothard Nice – 46.82/night
  • Transportation: 15.00
  • Meals: 35.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €123.32 – US$134.04/day

>>Nice travel guide, prices, and weather

30 – 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. Any first-time visitor who wants to see the main sights should read our review of the Vienna Pass, as it may be ideal.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ibis Styles Wien City – 46.82/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 36.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €126.82 – US$137.85/day

>>Vienna travel guide, prices, and weather

31 – 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. The Barcelona Pass is something to consider for first-time visitors.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hostalin Barcelona Gran Via – 56.46/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 32.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €127.96 – US$139.09/day

>>Barcelona travel guide, prices, and weather

32 – 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. Avoid the walled city area when cruise ships are in town if possible.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Apartments Minerva – 45.44/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 33.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 18.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €129.44 – US$140.70/day

>>Dubrovnik travel guide, prices, and weather

33 – Hamburg, Germany

This out of the way German city isn’t really a top destination in the 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. If you are on your way between Amsterdam and Berlin you could do worse than going north a bit and stopping in on Hamburg.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: IntercityHotel Hamburg-Altona – 56.92/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 34.70
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €132.12 – US$143.61/day

>>Hamburg travel guide, prices, and weather

34 – 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), hotel prices double or triple from this, so plan for that and book early if you want to join in.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Buddy Hotel – 51.41/night
  • Transportation: 15.00
  • Meals: 37.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €133.41 – US$145.01/day

>>Munich travel guide, prices, and weather

35 – Stockholm, Sweden

Even during May, which is still part of the off-season in Stockholm, hotels are fairly expensive, although we did see some decent prices in 2023. 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Best Western Hotel Fridhemsplan – 560/night
  • Transportation: 130
  • Meals: 400
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 285
  • Attractions: 150
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: SEK1525 – US$147.20/day

>>Stockholm travel guide, prices, and weather

36 – 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 all hotels had high prices, but a couple weeks before or after those rooms could be half the price when there are no trade fairs or other events in town. 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. Milan feels far less Italian than the other popular cities in the country, and it’s not really a great tourist city in general.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Sant’Ambroeus – 70.23/night
  • Transportation: 11.00
  • Meals: 31.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €139.23 – US$151.34/day

>>Milan travel guide, 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ibis Brussels City Center – 54.62/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 37.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 25.50
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €139.62 – US$151.76/day

>>Brussels travel guide, prices, and weather

38 – Salzburg, Austria

Featuring 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Lasserhof Salzburg – 61.05/night
  • Transportation: 13.00
  • Meals: 38.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 11.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €141.55 – US$153.86/day

>>Salzburg travel guide, prices, and weather

39 – 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. Helsinki is pleasant enough, but there aren’t many check-list attractions.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Scandic Kaisaniemi– 58.75/night
  • Transportation: 17.00
  • Meals: 36.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €144.75 – US$157.34/day

>>Helsinki travel guide, prices, and weather

40 – Bergen, Norway

Oslo 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. Hotels are fairly expensive as well, but at least standards are high so they don’t feel like a rip off.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Magic Hotel Xhibition – 691/night
  • Transportation: 110
  • Meals: 465
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 315
  • Attractions: 60
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: NOK1,641 – US$157.94/day

>>Bergen travel guide, prices, and weather

41 – Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg City is one of Europe’s most underrated destinations as well the capital of one of the richest countries on earth. The compact city center is extremely photogenic and definitely worth a visit if you’ve got a day or two going between Paris and Cologne or Amsterdam.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Grey – 72.52/night
  • Transportation:20.00
  • Meals: 33.10
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €149.62 – US$162.63/day

>>Luxembourg City travel guide, prices, and weather

42 – Oslo, Norway

Oslo is expensive and it seems mostly built for business travelers. As mentioned in the Bergen entry above, that is probably the best stop in Norway if you can only visit one or the other. Food, drinks, and hotels in Oslo are very expensive, but at least quality is high.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Citybox Oslo – 691/night
  • Transportation: 140
  • Meals: 515
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 300
  • Attractions: 80
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: NOK1726.00 – US$166.12/day

>>Oslo travel guide, prices, and weather

43 – 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Palazzo Vecchio – 81.24/night
  • Transportation: 11.00
  • Meals: 36.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €157.24 – US$170.91/day

>>Florence travel guide, prices, and weather

44 – 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Flavio Rome – 74.36/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 37.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €157.36 – US$171.04/day

>>Rome travel guide, prices, and weather

45 – 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Edinburgh City Suites – 64.88/night
  • Transportation: 14.00
  • Meals: 28.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 17.25
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £139.63 – US$172.38/day

>>Edinburgh travel guide, prices, and weather

46 – Dublin, Ireland

Dublin used to be a bargain until the city began to boom and business travelers competed with tourists for limited hotel rooms. Now it’s on the expensive side, although hotel prices can be reasonable in low season. 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 a distillery tour, then the Dublin Pass is a great deal.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Draper Rooms – 79.41/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 34.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €158.91 – US$172.73/day

>>Dublin travel guide, 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Beaurepaire – 68.39/night
  • Transportation: 17.00
  • Meals: 35.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €162.39 – US$176.51/day

>>Paris travel guide, prices, and weather

48 – 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Go Hotel Ansgar – 564/night
  • Transportation: 73
  • Meals: 280
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 210
  • Attractions: 120
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: DKK1,247 – US$181.78/day

>>Copenhagen travel guide, prices, and weather

49 – Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland has been the hottest destination in the travel world for a few years now and that popularity keeps pushing hotel prices higher. Some good news is that 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. Hotel rooms with shared bathrooms are very common here and that is a money-saving idea to consider if you are trying to keep costs down. Even though we’ve heard stories of the tourism boom cooling off a bit since the pandemic, hotel prices seem to keep going up.

  • Currency: Iceland kronur
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: 100 Iceland Hotel – 12,123/night
  • Transportation: 1,900
  • Meals: 6,600
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 3,900
  • Attractions: 1,500
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: ISK26,023 – US$189.51/day

>>Reykjavik travel guide, prices, and weather

50 – 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. A new hotel tax went into effect in 2020, which made the already high prices seem absurd compared to most other great cities on this list above.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: XO Hotel Inner – €104.00/night
  • Transportation: 9.65
  • Meals: 36.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 19.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €189.65 – US$206.14/day

>>Amsterdam travel guide, prices, and weather

51 – London, England

London has traditionally been one of the world’s most expensive cities for tourists, but since the British Pound fell dramatically in 2016, it’s not quite as bad. Those wanting to stay in premium hotel neighborhoods will still find it pricey. But 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. A first-time visitor should have a look at our list of the best things to do in London with current prices.

  • Currency: British pound
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Tudor Court Hotel – 79.39/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 36.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £168.39 – US$207.89/day

>>London travel guide, prices, and weather

52 – 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 when you get there you’ll see why prices are so high. Check our list of recommended Venice hotels for great value and locations.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel San Zulian – 96.39/night
  • Transportation: 16.00
  • Meals: 48.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €193.39 – US$210.21/day

>>Venice travel guide, prices, and weather

53 – Zürich, Switzerland

For many years Zürich dominated the bottom of this list as the most expensive tourist city in Europe, and in 2023 it was only bested by another Swiss city (below). 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
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ibis Styles Zurich City Center – 108.64/night
  • Transportation: 29.00
  • Meals: 54.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 33.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF239.64 – US$260.48/day

>>Zurich travel guide, prices, and weather

54 – Interlaken, Switzerland

Unlike 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 (above). If you are mainly after Alpine views and experiences, stay in Gimmelwald or Mürren, which are both unforgettable, and just up the mountain from Interlaken in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Lucerne is the other Swiss city to consider visiting, and prices there are similar to Interlaken.

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Edelweiss Superior – 131.00/night
  • Transportation: 25.00
  • Meals: 54.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 25.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF246.00 – US$267.39/day

>>Interlaken travel guide, prices, and weather

Notes on the above data

The hotel prices listed above are for stays in mid May, 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.

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All Comments

  1. 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!

    1. Roger Wade says:


      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

  2. 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.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      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

  3. nancy perry says:

    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?

    1. Roger Wade says:


      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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      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

  6. 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?


    1. Roger Wade says:


      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

  7. 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)

  8. 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.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      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

  9. Yeah Right says:

    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.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      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

  10. hakan says:

    Again a good job. Thanks. Cheers from Ankara.