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. E-Beth says:

    Hi Roger,

    We were quoted $500 for a car from Dubrovnik to Slovenia. Our plan was to drive and stop off at certain cities. Is it cheaper to take public transportation? I saw where you wrote parking is expensive. We are planning to stay at airbnbs.

    We are researching all of the places we want to visit in Croatia and Slovenia.

    Thank you,

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Parking in the larger cities is usually expensive, especially if you need to park near a hotel in the center of town. But it sounds like you’ll be spending most of your time in smaller towns. If you are booking airbnbs that AREN’T in city centers, chances are they will have free parking.

      The buses in Croatia are quite good and service is frequent, with fares being pretty low. It might be the cheaper option, although obviously a car will give you much more freedom and flexibility. I’d rent a car if it’s affordable. Another option to consider would be to see how much cheaper it might be to return the rental car in Zagreb. Usually if you don’t cross an international border, it is a cheaper rental. That way you could all take a train from Zagreb to Ljubljana and then rent a car after a couple days there, or even take buses (or trains) on the Slovenia portion. Hopefully this helps a bit. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

  2. E-Beth says:

    Hi Roger,

    Thank you for your feedback. We are going to take your advice and go to Croatia and Slovenia. As mentioned in my previous post, it will be for myself, my husband and our 6 ½ year old son. We plan to fly into Dubrovnik, Croatia and drive up the coast, stopping at various cities along the way before we get to Slovenia (unless you have other ideas). We have a total of 10 days before we have to fly out of Ljubljana. A few questions come up: 1. Is that enough time? 2. Should we book our hotels or Airbnb beforehand or can we wing it as we go from city to city? We’re on a budget so nothing fancy for us. 3. I assume we should reserve a car now. Would you agree? Or is this doable with public transportation? 4. Lastly, do you see any issues with our plans?
    If there is anything else you can recommend or advice you can give to make this trip a bit more spectacular we would really appreciate it.

    Thank you for taking the time to help us,

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Your plan sounds really nice. I think 10 days is pretty much perfect for what you have in mind. Normally I would say that you could book hotels and such as you went, but in July along the coast of Croatia you’ll find tens of thousand of Germans and other northern Europeans who are spending the month there. As such, it would probably be wise to book your accommodation in advance, at least for any coastal stops you have in mind, and probably for Plitvice as well. One interesting thing about Croatia is that there aren’t very many hotels, but there are a LOT of what they call “Sobe” which are guesthouses of small private apartments. You’ll find plenty of those listed on airbnb.

      I’d reserve a car soon as well. You could probably get one once you arrive, but there really isn’t any advantage to doing that. Just be aware that most cheaper rental cars there (and all over Europe) have a manual transmission, so if that’s a problem you’ll probably have to pay a bit more. You could do most or all of it by bus, and even some of it by train, but for 3 of you like that I think a car will work well. Parking in cities is usually expensive, though it sounds like you’ll mostly be in smaller towns or the countryside. I drove a rental car from Split to Zagreb so I could visit Plitvice, and those highways are new and easy to drive on. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m sure this will be a wonderful trip. -Roger

  3. E-Beth says:

    Hello – My husband, son (age 6) and I are going to Europe in July. We have flights to Ireland and plan to spend a few days in Donegal. We would like to go to other parts of Europe but we only have 13 days total. We do not mind staying in airbnb, BNB or hotels. We do not mind walking and do not need to be in the center of the tourist areas. We prefer going to unique places in Europe but have to think about our son and keeping him entertained. Do you have suggestions? We thought about Northern part of Spain but concerned about the crowds, Czech, Malta and the list goes on. What do you recommend?

    Thank you,

    1. Roger Wade says:


      This is an interesting question. The places on your list are quite different from one another, so it’s hard to determine what your main priorities are. It sounds like you’ve got 10 days after leaving Ireland, and you want to avoid big crowds and very touristy areas. If that’s the case you probably want to avoid any beach city since those are pretty much all jammed in July and August. As such you’d want to avoid Barcelona, Prague, and probably Malta as well. Even the busiest areas of Malta won’t be as crowded as Prague or Barcelona, but it will still be quite crowded and I don’t find Malta very interesting either. It’s mostly a place where northern Europeans and Brits go to enjoy the pleasant weather and not much else.

      I might need more information from you to help you find places that suit you. One random suggestion is Slovenia. The capital city, Ljubljana, is a charming and interesting town that is wonderfully cheap as well. And the country has a lot of great scenery in a small space as well. There is Lake Bled and the Karst mountains along the coast. If you rented a car you could also easily get into Croatia, including the amazing Plitvice Falls National Park. You could also visit one or more of the smaller coastal towns in Croatia, and avoid the crowded Split and Dubrovnik. That is an interesting area with a lot to see and it won’t be overly crowded (or expensive) in July. Again, that’s just one random suggestion. If you let me know how that sounds or more info I can try to come up with something else. -Roger

  4. Thomas says:

    Thanks Wade!

    I haven’t decided yet if I will be using Costco travel or not. The hotels in the different cities that you referenced very triggering for me and I will be looking into them. I am also going to take you up on your suggestion of spending only one night in Milan. I am very seriously considering investing three weeks in Italy/France, not including air travel. Thank you again for your suggestions and recommendations my friend.

  5. Thomas says:

    Thank you for getting back with me Roger.

    The information you shared was very helpful I took a lot of great notes and will be refining my itinerary because of it. I will most probably be adding a fourth day to France and Rome.

    When I have more time I will go on the websites and look into the links that you shared with me. I also decided that when in France I want to visit the city of or Rouen. I’m also considering visiting Mont Saint Michel, and Normandy, while I am in the area, do you have any suggestions for any of these 3 places to experience, The order or sequence?

    By The way yesterday I had a great conversation with a representative for Costco travel they have some pretty amazing deals and prices for members only. I was really surprised to find out that the girl I spoke with only get hourly and no bonuses or incentives. I am certain she was being upfront with me and telling me this as well. Thank you again for your specialized knowledge.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I’m happy to have helped. And I’ve heard great things about Costco Travel as well, including their prices. I’m a longtime Costco fan in general.

      I’ve not been to Rouen and I haven’t been to Mont St. Michel since my youth, but I want to and it’s a very popular sight. In Normandy I recently spent time in Douville and Trouville, but haven’t been to the WWII beaches or anywhere else. I’ll be going there fairly soon, but for now I won’t be of much help. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  6. Rafael Fontes says:

    Hi Roger,

    First of all, thanks for all great articles! I’ve been following your website since several years and all articles are great!

    About this list, my feedback would be to include more places not yet so discovered by many tourists. To name a few: Kiruna / Bergen for Northern Lights, Gotland/Visby which is a wonderful island in Sweden, some great cities in Poland (Wroclaw or Gdansk), Rothenburg in Germany (haven’t found it in this list but perhaps it’s in others).

    I know the downside would be a “huge” list, but not so many lists of this type trigger tourists to come to “alternative” touristic places and yet beautiful.


    1. Roger Wade says:


      Thank you for the nice comments. When I started this list in 2011 it had 37 cities and now it’s up to 56, including Bergen. But as you say, the problem is that if I keep adding cities it will become unwieldy. Already I worry a bit that most of the 10 cheapest cities are ones that many people haven’t heard much about and would not consider visiting.

      The other thing is that these rankings are meant to help people figure out about how much things cost in different areas. So really I try to find the main places that represent a whole region. For example, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which I do write about elsewhere, is not far from Munich, so costs will be similar once you find your hotel room. I have many articles on the site that are more meant to help people find places they weren’t aware of, but I prefer to keep these main lists to the popular spots. Thanks again. -Roger

  7. Bev says:

    Great ideas thank you. I’m planning a 3 week holiday in Europe with my 2 daughters and 11 year old granddaughter around October next year.
    I’m considering the following itinerary and would appreciate your comments or suggestions please.
    London 2 nights
    Paris 2
    Berlin 3
    Prague 3
    Munich 2
    Venice 1
    Florence 3
    Cinque Terre 1
    Rome 4 to include Pompeii
    How much should I be budgeting for accommodation and train travel please? Is this a suitable time of the year for travel in Europe please?

    1. Roger Wade says:


      First off, October is an excellent month to visit Europe because the weather is still reasonably warm and the crowds are smaller, as are hotel prices.

      As for your itinerary, it looks quite good, although parts of it look very rushed. If you haven’t been here to London (where I’m currently based), I’d allow 3 nights or perhaps 4. It’s a huge city packed with interesting sights. And I’ll say the same thing about Paris, in that I wouldn’t recommend fewer than 3 nights if it’s your first visit. Aside from those, I think your schedule looks really good. Instead of going to Cinque Terre for one night and leaving the next day, I’d just do it as a day trip from Florence. In a way, Cinque Terre is greatly overhyped. Really, they are just 5 small coastal towns, that are now overrun by tourists. You see those photos of the town of Vernazza and it looks magical, but that is only one town and only for one or two angles. Now, I do think they are worth seeing, but you can do that more easily by just taking the train from Florence and returning that same evening.

      The other note about scheduling is that a transit day (going from one city to another) allows for little or no sightseeing. By the time you check out of one hotel and check into your next hotel in the next city, most of the day will be gone (it’s less of a problem between those cities in Italy though). So if you travel every other day, it means spending one day sightseeing and the next day traveling. That is why I recommend 3 nights in almost every city, although Venice is so small and expensive and crowded that 24 hours there is enough for most people. Munich has a compact enough center that 2 nights should be okay, but for London and Paris I’d recommend at least 3 nights.

      The list above should give you a good idea on a daily budget for each city, as that is exactly what it is designed to do. If you buy your train tickets 2 or 3 months in advance, those will probably average around €40. Munich to Italy will be double that, but once you are in Italy they will be more like €20 each, as a general guideline if you buy as early as possible. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Bev says:

        Thank you Roger. I’ll need to rethink our itinerary. Is it usually possible for 3 adults and 1 child to stay in one room or would we need to book 2 rooms?

  8. Jay Woo says:

    I am glad to see Rome and Barcelona on the list. We booked apartments in both cities, Rome for a week and 3 nights is Barcelona. Our stay was part of a 2 month European Road Trip. It was cheap staying in these cities because of cheap transportation and not renting or parking a car. Watch for Service Fees at restaurants, ask about them if not shown on the menu. This is a great list, we have stayed in many European Hostels and they were nicer than many discount motels in the United States.

  9. Gode Reisetips says:

    Thanks for the 2016 update. I totally agree with you that Krakow is one of the best bargains in Europe. Also Gdansk / Sopot on the Northern Coast of Poland is a good place if you want beatiful beaches:-)

  10. Lilo says:

    Hi Roger!

    My husband and me are heading for Europe this October. We want to see Switzerland, Bruges, Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Salzburg. Is this doable in 15 days? Can you suggest in what order please? I think our port of entry from our country would be Switzerland then we travel by train from there…

    Would appreciate any advise you can give us.

    Thank you very much

    1. Roger Wade says:


      My general recommendation is to plan on 3 nights in all but the smallest European cities, mainly because that allows for two solid sightseeing days in each place. Your transit days will mostly be dealing with trains and hotel check outs and check ins, so staying only two nights only allows one solid sightseeing day.

      That said, I’d recommend 5 cities in 15 days. You can do Switzerland in 3 or 4 total days, as long as you focus on Interlaken (for the Alps) and Lucerne (for the other best tourist experiences). On your list, Bruges is quite far from the others, and it’s not really a blockbuster like the others on your list, so I’d save it for another trip.

      So my recommendation would be to fly into Zurich and hop right on a train for Interlaken to spend 2 or 3 nights there. Read my article on where to go in Switzerland for all the details, including on Lucerne.

      After Switzerland you’ll take a train to Salzburg and then to Budapest (a pretty long ride) and then to Prague and finally to Berlin. Salzburg is pretty compact so you could potentially do it in two nights, but the others are all large cities filled with highlights so I wouldn’t spend less than three nights in any of them. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Lilo says:

        Dear Roger,

        Thank you very much for your kind assistance. Will definitely follow your suggested itinerary. Will map-out our schedules and will certainly get back to you.

        More power to you.



      2. Lilo says:

        Hello again Roger! We can also do Budapest last, right?

        Can we do Salzburg from Switzerland then Berlin, Prague and Budapest before we fly back to our country. If we do Berlin last, we have to fly or take the train to Munich and fly back to Manila Philippines from there. Is this a practical route? Or you have a better option?

        Hoping to hear from you. Thank you very much.