54 European cities by price: Europe Backpacker Index for 2023

Prices for tourist in Europe’s most popular cities range from amazing bargains to astonishingly expensive. Now in its 13th year, the Europe Backpacker Index is designed to help you sort out the cheapest European cities and make an accurate budget for when you visit Europe.

Our update for 2023 has more dramatic changes than in many years with inflation ranging from mild to horrendous and currency swings at the same time. We dropped Moscow and St. Petersburg from the list this year although Kiev remains even though they aren’t expecting many tourists for some time. Below you’ll see our 2023 rankings of 54 of the most popular and important tourist destinations in Europe, from cheapest to most expensive.

Note: This article was last updated in Early January, 2023.

Are you a hotel person rather than a hostel person?

If your budget is higher than that of a backpacker you should check out our:
>>>2023 Europe 3-Star Traveler Index

2023 Update notes

Our 2023 update of the Europe Backpacker Index includes some shocking changes with prices going up in almost every city, quite dramatically in many cases. The combination of inflation and currency changes has made most of Europe more expensive in general, although you’ll see on the list below that there are still amazing bargains that even include some wonderful destinations.

Hostel prices went up dramatically in almost every city, mainly due to some hostels closing and the remaining ones shifting more from dorms to smaller and private rooms. Fortunately for Americans and some others, the currencies within Europe are still mostly down as 2023 begins, and if that changes it will make bouncing around Europe even more expensive. Croatia finally joined the Eurozone in 2023 as well.

How the Backpacker Index works

Prices for most things (hostels, transportation, attractions) are fixed and certain, but prices for a “budget lunch” or a pint of beer can vary depending on where you go. Still, our estimates are based on a lot of research, and should be very close if not right on.

Interactive map at the bottom of this list

We’ve added an interactive map that shows the Backpacker Index price for each city as you roll over it with your cursor. You can click on the city names to see all the details about each city as well. They might not be all of the largest cities, but these are the best places to visit in Europe.

Costs for each city

  • One night in the cheapest bunk at the least expensive hostel with a good location and good reviews (Note: In summer hostel prices might be higher than listed below)
  • Two public transportation rides per day
  • One paid/famous attraction per day (Every city is loaded with free things to do for budget-conscious travelers, but here we take the average cost of a major attraction in each city for each day.)
  • Three “budget” meals per day (We took our minimum meal price and added 20% to make it more realistic for a longer trip).
  • Three cheap, local 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.

Additional backpacker resources

Europe Backpacker Index for 2023

From cheapest to most expensive

1Kyiv, Ukraine (cheapest)

Kyiv was never a popular backpacking destination even though it has always been among the cheapest cities on this list every year, but of course now everything is different and generally much worse. There are hostels that are open with good prices, even though it’s unlikely that there will be much or any normal tourism for the foreseeable future. Inflation was high in 2022, but the currency always dropped so Kyiv is very affordable for those interested and able.

  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Best cheap hostel: Dream Hostel Kiev – 316/night
  • Transportation: 16.00
  • Meals: 810.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 195.00
  • Attractions: 50.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: UHR1,387 = US$37.69/day

>>Kyiv prices and weather

2Budapest, Hungary

Almost as cheap as Kiev and far more appealing for most visitors, Budapest continues on as arguably Europe’s best travel bargain. Unlike some other cities near the top of this list, Budapest is a world-class tourist city that just also happens to be unusually cheap, at least as long as you steer clear of the most touristy places along the river. The castles and cathedrals are enough, but here you also get thermal spas that are cheap even for the backpacking set. Hostels, in particular, are great value, but you have to get a bit out of the center to find inexpensive hotels. When you are here it doesn’t look like it would be on a list of inexpensive European cities, but it definitely is.

  • Currency: Hungary Forint
  • Best cheap hostel: The Hive Party Hostel Budapest – 4,522/night
  • Transportation: 700
  • Meals: 5,460
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 1,800
  • Attractions: 2,000
  • Daily Backpacker Index: HUF14,482 = US$38.21/day

>>Budapest prices and weather

3Bucharest, Romania

Definitely not Romania’s most charming town, Bucharest’s Old Town gets decent reviews but the rest of the city struggles to appeal to tourists. Fortunately, those that make the effort to come will at least be rewarded with low prices all around, which certainly help make up for the other frustrations of visiting. And that huge parliament building is worth a look. Hostels seem to be getting cheaper lately, so it’s even more appealing for the backpacker set. Many visitors skip the capital and head to Brașov in Transylvania, which is lovely and is also a bit less expensive.

  • Currency: Romanian leu
  • Best cheap hostel: Sleep In Hostel = 64.93/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 63.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: RON177.53 – US$38.43/day

>>Bucharest prices and weather

4Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia remains a good bargain among European capitals, with a very pleasant city center that is quite welcoming of foreign tourists. Prices of nearly everything are cheap, except for inbound flights from other major cities. Even for those planning to travel Europe cheap, Sofia is out of the way for anyone who isn’t doing an extensive tour of the region. Don’t expect any major checklist attractions, but you can expect a surprisingly lovely urban experience at shockingly reasonable prices.

  • Currency: Bulgaria Leva
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Mostel – 17.36
  • Transportation: 3.20
  • Meals: 27.24
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: BGN70.80 = US$38.48/day

>Sofia prices and weather

5Krakow, Poland

Krakow is almost as cheap as Budapest (above), essentially tying as Europe’s cheapest major tourist city. We’ve always had it pegged as an excellent bargain because it’s also a charming and historic city and it would be worth a visit even if prices were much higher. The low prices have also drawn in larger numbers of Europeans for weekend breaks, and there are many great and cheap hostels, bars, and restaurants to keep prices low while you are enjoying the beautiful old city and the local culture. Put this one on your list before demand forces prices up like in Prague.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap hostel: Let’s Rock Party Hostel – 62.53/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 60.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 36.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: PLN180.13 = US$41.03/day

>>Krakow prices and weather

6Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Another Balkan-area city whose name conjures up images of its past troubles for those of a certain age, Sarajevo is a destination that is struggling to attract tourists. The location deep into the mountains is remote, but it’s also gorgeous once you arrive. The Muslim Old Town next to the modern center is very interesting and incredibly welcoming. This one is a hidden gem, partly because it’s so hard to reach. If you can figure out a way to get here, do it and see what the fuss is about. It’s fairly easy to reach from Split, Croatia and Mostar as well.

  • Currency: Converted Mark (fixed, so prices below are in euros)
  • Best cheap hostel: Balkan Han Hostel – 11.97/night
  • Transportation: 4.60
  • Meals: 15.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €45.07 = US$47.95/day

>>Sarajevo prices and weather

7Belgrade, Serbia

You don’t hear many people talking about Belgrade, for better or for worse. This is another where you won’t find an abundance of checklist attractions, but you will find a lively and interesting urban center with good nightlife and appealing prices. Among the cheap European cities, Belgrade might not be high on your list, but it’s nicer and more pleasant than you probably imagine. The slow trains that reach Serbia don’t make visiting any easier, but there are plenty of buses and occasionally cheap flights.

  • Currency: Serbian Dinar (prices below are in euros)
  • Best cheap hostel: Habitat-Hostel – 14.96/night
  • Transportation: 1.50
  • Meals: 16.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €45.26 = US$48.15/day

>>Belgrade prices and weather

8Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

The second most popular tourist town in the Czech Republic is another jewel not to be missed if you are nearby. Framed by a gorgeous serpentine river, the historic Old Town feels perfectly preserved yet not overly touristy. Best of all, Český Krumlov seems shockingly cheap when you are there, with hotels, food, and drinks at very low prices even in the heart of town. This place is a huge hit for Asian tourists, for some reason, though it’s highly recommended for everybody. The main real hostel in Český Krumlov is called Hostel Skippy. It’s closed as of December, 2022, and hopefully it’ll open again before summer. Fortunately, hotels are very affordable until then.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Skippy – (currently closed) 390/night
  • Transportation: 48
  • Meals: 406.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 135
  • Attractions: 120
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CZK1,099.80 = US$48.24/day

>>Český Krumlov prices and weather

9 Warsaw, Poland

While Krakow gets most of the raves in Poland, the capital city also has plenty to brag about in addition to very reasonable prices. The Old Town center was famously rebuilt after WWII to resemble its former self, and it’s as charming as it is impressive. Warsaw is a bit out of the way for most travelers, but it’s very worthwhile for those touring the area. English isn’t widely spoken once you leave the tourist area, but it’s still easy enough to get by. If you are only going to visit one Polish city then Krakow is probably a better choice, although Warsaw probably provides a better look at Poland of today rather than Poland of yesterday.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap hostel: Chillout Hostel – 88.50/night
  • Transportation: 6.80
  • Meals: 67.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 33.00
  • Attractions: 30.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: PLN225.50 = US$51.37/day

>>Warsaw prices and weather

10Zagreb, Croatia

The beach resort towns of Croatia are the main attraction, so Zagreb, which is well inland, tends to be only a short stopover for most. Still fairly cheap by European standards, and especially compared to Italy next door, Zagreb is a bargain and a worthwhile pause on the way to one of the beach towns or nearby Plitvice National Park. Croatia finally joined the Eurozone as 2023 started, which will make things a bit easier for some visitors.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Bureau – 17.70/night
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 16.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €49.20 = US$51.89/day

>>Zagreb prices and weather

11Split, Croatia

Split is partly known for being the transportation hub along the Croatian coast, and the gateway to many nearby islands. But the Old City here is even older than Dubrovnik’s and in many ways it’s just as impressive. Prices here are far cheaper than those in Dubrovnik, so it’s a much better stop for most people, as it also feels far less touristy than the walled city to its south. If you visit Split first you will wonder why there is such a fuss over Dubrovnik. In fairness, Dubrovnik is very impressive and it has better city walls, but even hostels there are far more expensive than those in Split in 2023.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Old Town Hostel Split – 13.50/night
  • Transportation: 2.50
  • Meals: 18.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.00
  • Attractions: 7.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €51.00 = US$54.25/day

>>Split prices and weather

12Bratislava, Slovakia

You’d think that practically being walking distance from Vienna would make Bratislava a very popular stop for those on a Europe tour, but so far it’s still mostly forgotten. It’s cheaper than Prague and much cheaper than Vienna, so perhaps it will start catching on more in the coming years. A lack of famous attractions doesn’t help, though the pleasant and historic town center is worth a day or two. Bratislava is pleasant enough that it’s a good choice for those looking to relax in one spot for a while on a budget.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Patio Hostel – 20.21/night
  • Transportation: 1.40
  • Meals: 17.76
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €52.37 = US$55.71/day

>>Bratislava prices and weather

13Vilnius, Lithuania

Unlike nearby Riga and Tallinn, the city of Vilnius does not have a cruise port and it’s well inland. For this reason it feels far less touristy than the other two, and the Old Town is gorgeous. This is another Baltic capital that is surprisingly cheap in many ways, so it’s a worthwhile stop between Latvia and Poland. The (hard to find) Frank Zappa statue is one of the more famous quirky attractions here.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Jimmy Jumps House/Hostel – 14.82/night
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 21.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €52.42 = US$55.77/day

>>Vilnius prices and weather

14Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey is a very interesting place these days for a few different reasons. The historic city remains one of the world’s most fascinating places, but the country has struggled with very high inflation and a related currency collapse. This makes things a bit unpredictable for visitors because the currency falling sometimes outpaces the inflation and sometimes it doesn’t. As 2023 begins Turkey is very cheap for outsiders and tourism in general is down, but it is worth following the news and checking hotel rates before you lock in a visit.

  • Currency: Turkish lira
  • Best cheap hostel: Chillout Lya Hostel Bar – 222/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 360.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 360.00
  • Attractions: 100.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: TRY1,052.00 = US$53.35/day

>>Istanbul prices and weather

15Riga, Latvia

It’s surprising to see a city so far north also so high on the cheap-cities list, but it turns out that Riga (similar to Vilnius) is quite a bargain for the backpacking set. Hostel beds in particular are very affordable, and so is pretty much everything else. Riga’s main problem is that it’s a bit out of the way for those not on an extensive tour. Even for a weekend break, Riga is worth a look, especially for the nightlife crowd.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Tree House Hostel – 19.54/night
  • Transportation: 2.30
  • Meals: 18.24
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €53.58 = US$57.00/day

>>Riga prices and weather

16Valletta, Malta

Nearly hidden just a bit south of Sicily in the Mediterannean, Malta is a small island group with a pleasant climate and an improving tourist infrastructure. The tiny capital city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage site on its own, and the rest of the islands offer a nice mix of historical sites and pleasant beaches. Nearly everyone speaks English, so it continues to be popular with Brits. Valletta is actually the historic Old Town and most visitors are better off just across the harbor in the district called Sliema.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Granny’s Inn Hostel – 14.72/night
  • Transportation: 3.40
  • Meals: 20.70
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €57.82 = US$61.51/day

>>Valletta prices and weather

17Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is cheap by most European standards, but it’s marginally the most expensive city in the Baltic area because it’s a popular getaway for the Finns just a 2-hour ferry ride away. Frequent ferries from Helsinki are loaded with the party crowd and those looking to stock up on bulk alcohol for the return trip. Still, it’s a fun place with a lovely Old Town.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Lai 22 Hostel – 13.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 21.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €58.00 = US$61.70/day

>>Tallinn prices and weather

18Santorini, Greece

Arguably Greece’s most popular holiday island, Santorini is here mainly as a placeholder for all of them. There are a few sights and cultural attractions but most people (Europeans) come to just relax in the sun during the day and drink into the night. If you stay in hostels or basic hotels and eat in places without sea views, these Greek islands all tend to be quite affordable. Hostel and hotel prices in the summer months are obviously higher, but it’s still quite affordable once you get here. We compare hostel prices in May, so if you come in the peak summer months you can expect to pay more. Santorini in particular is often jammed with cruise passengers during the day, so if you can avoid the busier days you might enjoy the island a bit more.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Youth Hostel Anna – 16/night
  • Transportation: 3.20
  • Meals: 19.92
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €58.62 = US$62.36/day

>>Santorini prices and weather

19Tenerife, Spain

The Canary Islands (off the northwest coast of Africa) are a popular warm-weather retreat for many Europeans all year, and Tenerife is the largest and most popular island with English speakers. Prices tend to be similar to or a bit lower than mainland Spain, which makes it a relative bargain for most Europeans who are just a cheap flight away. Not many cultural attractions are to be found, so it’s mainly a place to relax. The beaches in the southwest of the island are the most popular with English speakers.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Tenerife – 20.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.70
  • Meals: 18.90
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €59.10 = US$62.87/day

>>Tenerife prices and weather

20Prague, Czech Republic

Prague used to be famously cheap, but now it’s more of a mid-range European city for visitors. That said, it should definitely be high on your list even though the central tourist areas are frustratingly crowded much of the time. Prague is gorgeous and one of Europe’s best cities for historic architecture, having been mostly spared from the WWII bombing that flattened so many others on this list. Hotels can be pricey and the tourist restaurants can be as well, but Prague is a city that can be much cheaper and sometimes even more pleasant if you get a bit off the beaten path and away from the main square just off the river.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap hostel: PLUS Prague – 314/night
  • Transportation: 48
  • Meals: 558.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 165
  • Attractions: 350
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CZK1,435 = US$62.94/day

>>Prague prices and weather

21Naples, Italy

Italy’s cheapest major city is a very good bargain for those willing to venture south of Rome. Affordable hostels and casual dining choices keep it cheaper than cities to the north, and it has a different atmosphere as well. Naples has almost no green space and a reputation for petty crime, which keeps many visitors away. If you want to see Naples on a day trip and also visit the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and the island of Capri, you are better off staying in the lovely town of Sorrento, which is only a bit more expensive and a lot more pleasant.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel of the Sun – 20.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.60
  • Meals: 19.32
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €61.42 = US$65.34/day

>>Naples prices and weather

22Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia is mostly known for its natural sights such as Lake Bled or the Karst plateaus, but its capital is definitely worth a look as well. Ljubljana is a charming and laid-back city with a peaceful Old Town and very appealing prices for visitors. This is the kind of place you’ll think about moving to when you see it, so it’s a very nice place to chill out for a few days on longer trips around Europe.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Tresor Hostel – 22.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.40
  • Meals: 20.64
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €64.04 = US$68.13/day

>>Ljubljana prices and weather

23Athens, Greece

Athens used to have a reputation as a cheap city that was falling apart at the seems, but things have changed and it’s not as cheap and quite a bit nicer as well. The infrastructure created for the Olympics has actually turned Athens into a modern and easy-to-visit place, and the Acropolis and other attractions continue to amaze, so it still seems like a good deal for the moment and may get even cheaper. The political situation in Greece had seemed volatile for a few years, but it’s been calm lately so it’s a good time to visit.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Pagration Youth Hostel – 12.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.80
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €66.40 = US$70.64/day

>>Athens prices and weather

24Lisbon, Portugal

Its out-of-the-way location seems to keep tourism well below the levels that the city otherwise deserves, but those who go to the trouble to reach Lisbon will find an extremely handsome and charming city that is a great bargain as well. The city is particularly known for excellent and cheap hostels that are always in a race to outdo each other, with visitors being the ultimate winners. Lisbon is one of those destinations that many people avoid for a long time, and then after they visit they vow to return again and again.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Lisbon Destination Hostel – 17.96/night
  • Transportation: 2.80
  • Meals: 22.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €67.29 = US$71.59/day

>>Lisbon prices and weather

25Berlin, Germany

Berlin is officially booming, and is now one of Europe’s most-visited destinations. This city has endless things to see and do, along with an arts and entertainment scene that rivals anywhere in Europe. The museums and attractions are priced reasonably, and can be efficiently bundled with a Berlin Pass. All that, plus the competition among its many hostels keeps things pleasantly cheap. Put it on your list and schedule a trip before things change much. See our recommended hotels in Berlin list for some very good rates at highly rated and well located hotels. We also rate Berlin very high as one of the best destinations for solo travelers.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Heart of Gold Hostel – 16.91/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 23.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €70.96 = US$75.49/day

>>Berlin prices and weather

26Madrid, Spain

This classic European city definitely feels like a bargain compared to capitals to the north. There is great competition among its many hostels, and even private rooms in the city center are often cheap. Check out our cheap Madrid hotels list for well located and dependable bargains. Another money saver is the tapas culture, with cheap eats and cheap glasses of beer or wine as part of the nightly ritual. The reasonable climate also helps, although of course in summer it can get a bit sticky.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Mola Hostel – 22.16/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 23.28
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €71.44 = US$76.00/day

>>Madrid prices and weather

27Nice, France

As the largest city on the Côte d’Azur, Nice actually has a decent infrastructure for budget tourists, though things can get pretty crowded in summer and prices do shoot up. This is a great base for exploring Monaco and Cannes with a short train journey (20 minutes in either direction), but even in the city itself there is plenty to do, and a pleasant beach if you don’t mind pebbles instead of sand. The cheaper hotels and hostels near the train station are also very convenient for those who want to explore the nicer nearby towns since they are all connected by super-short train journeys.

Note: Drink prices here are for wine rather than beer, as it’s much cheaper and better as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Antares Hostel – 23.00/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 23.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €74.40 = US$79.15/day

>>Nice prices and weather

28Florence, Italy

A highlight of so many Italy tours, Florence is cheaper than Venice in some regards, though hostel prices here have been going up so it’s not exactly a bargain anymore. Still, the food is excellent, if not particularly cheap. If you have extra days to spend in Italy on day trips then Florence is your best choice in the area. Pisa, the Cinque Terre, and many lovely Tuscan hill towns are within easy reach. One odd thing about Florence is that accommodation prices can vary widely from one week to the next, so if room and dorm rates seem unusually high, it can be worth checking just a week before or after.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: PLUS Florence – 21.60/night
  • Transportation: 2.40
  • Meals: 22.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €78.20 = US$83.19/day

>>Florence prices and weather

29Rome, Italy

Regardless of costs, Rome is one of those cities that you’ve just got to visit anyway, so fortunately it’s not as outrageously expensive as some lesser destinations a bit down the list. There are good budget options for most things, but hotels and hostels are more expensive than one might expect, and the main Rome attractions are justifiably expensive as well. Choose from our recommended Rome hostels and hotels for excellent bargains with great locations. The Rome and Vatican Card is a good way to see the main attractions and skip the very long queues here.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Palladini Hostel Rome – 23.80/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 23.52
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €78.32 = US$83.32/day

>>Rome prices and weather

30Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona and Madrid are very different in many important ways, but they are very similar in general prices so there’s no reason not to visit both if you can. And this is another city where hostels tend to get expensive and crowded during summer, but are quite cheap for most of the rest of the year. See our cheap and recommended Barcelona hotels list for some options that are well located and highly rated. If you have 2 or 3 days in town and want to see the main sights you should read our Barcelona Pass review as it might be helpful.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Room018 Bcn – 20.90/night
  • Transportation: 4.70
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €78.70 = US$83.72/day

>>Barcelona prices and weather

31Munich, Germany

Germany’s most pleasant city is only a bit more expensive than some of the others, so budget travelers can get by with few complications as long as they aren’t going during Oktoberfest (when hotel and hostel prices triple). Prices of hostels do shoot up a bit during summer, but overall it’s fairly easy to find bargains, and the city is so livable that it feels like good value. Even outside of Oktoberfest, hostel prices in Munich are volatile and some weeks are far cheaper than others.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: The 4You Hostel Munich – 22.05/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 26.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €79.55 = US$84.63/day

>>Munich prices and weather

32Vienna, Austria

Being one of Europe’s grandest capitals, it’s only slightly surprising that Vienna comes out as a relatively expensive city. Its location between so many other tourist cities makes it an easy one to stop off in for a few days, and while food is a bit expensive, there are some good-value hostels in the city to help make up for it. The Vienna Pass is a good way to save money while seeing the top attractions, but only if you are well organized. Vienna is not known for nightlife, so it’s a better stop for the cafe and dessert crowd.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Do Step Inn – 22.00/night
  • Transportation: 4.80
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €79.90 = US$85.00/day

>>Vienna prices and weather

33Milan, Italy

Milan’s success in finance and fashion have helped make it one of Europe’s most expensive cities to sleep in, although the hostels aren’t as outrageous, so overall expenses are similar to most other Italian cities. Since it’s on-the-way between so many other nearby cities, Milan is definitely worth a stop for a day or two if you can manage it, but don’t feel bad if you skip it. This is another city that is popular with business travelers so prices can be very high or weirdly low depending on what is going on at the time you visit. Visit Rome, Florence, and Venice and if you have extra time you might stop for a couple days in Milan. Honestly, it’s far less interesting and charming than all the other famous Italian cities.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: City Center Best Hostel Milano – 27.00/night
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 22.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €81.70 = US$86.91/day

>>Milan prices and weather

34Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a very good bargain for the backpacking set due to reasonably priced hostels and affordable attractions. In high season (summer) prices go up a bit, but still Bruges is a fine choice to chill out for a few days or more, even though you can see the main sights in less time. If you are coming from Amsterdam or another city in the Benelux area you’ll notice that the architecture in each of them has a lot in common. That said, Amsterdam can feel like a zoo for most of the year, so Bruges is a cheaper and more pleasant version for those who don’t like crowds and weirdness.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: St. Christopher’s Inn – Bauhaus Hostel – 32.37/night
  • Transportation: 2.60
  • Meals: 24.30
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €81.77 = US$86.99/day

>>Bruges prices and weather

35Ibiza, Spain

While it’s not really considered a backpacking destination, Ibiza is popular enough with budget travelers to include here. Hotels can be quite cheap outside of July and August, which makes up for a lack of hostels. Entrance to the main nightclubs in Ibiza will cost a fortune, as will drinks once inside, but if you are content to hang out on the beach then this island can be affordable. Hostel prices in Ibiza have really shot up in 2023, which could be due to closures and more private rooms in the places left. The good news is that you can find cheap happy hour drink bargains in Saint Antonio even in high season.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Amistat Island Hostel Ibiza – 31.50/night
  • Transportation: 2.90
  • Meals: 25.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €81.90 = US$87.13/day

>>Ibiza prices and weather

36Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

This underrated and mostly forgotten city is definitely worth a stop if you are passing between Belgium and France. The location is stunning and the city’s history is interesting, plus the food and drink culture is what you would expect for this part of Europe, meaning there are a lot of great choices. Luxembourg is one of the richest countries on earth for average income, and yet it doesn’t feel snooty or pretentious. It’s small enough to explore in a day or two as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Luxembourg City Hostel – 35.00/night
  • Transportation: 4.00
  • Meals: 23.04
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €85.04 = US$90.47/day

>>Luxembourg City prices and weather

37Salzburg, Austria

A classic tourist city, Salzburg is at the base of the Alps and it has one of the most impressive Old Towns anywhere in Europe. As the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg is a key hub for classical concerts and festivals, but for non-Europeans it’s even more famous as the setting of the Sound of Music. The bus tours dedicated to that movie are more fun and far more scenic than you might expect. Hostel prices have gone up lately so this is another one to book early to lock in the better places.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: MEININGER Salzburg City Center – 24.94/night
  • Transportation: 5.20
  • Meals: 25.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €85.44 = US$90.89/day

>>Salzburg prices and weather

38Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, like Stockholm and Oslo below, has a good economy, but along with it they have very high wages and taxes, and that makes things expensive for outsiders. Hostels in Helsinki are not as expensive as the other nordic capitals, but alcohol and sit-down meals can be very pricey. It’s worth a stop for European capital completists, but many others are just as well off skipping it.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: CheapSleep Helsinki – 21.60/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 26.70
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €86.30 = US$91.81/day

>>Helsinki prices and weather

39Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik has one of the most amazing walled historic centers in the world, and it used to be considered a bargain compared to Italy. But now it’s so popular with tourists and cruise passengers that it feels more than a bit pricey. If you are on the fence about visiting here, you are better off going to Split (see way above), which is similar, much cheaper, and easier to reach. Hostel prices in Dubrovnik have soared as of 2023, at least the ones with good locations.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Anchi Guesthouse – 23.20/night
  • Transportation: 3.50
  • Meals: 26.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €89.90 = US$93.70/day

>>Dubrovnik prices and weather

40Edinburgh, Scotland

While it’s certainly true that most things in Edinburgh are a bit cheaper than things in London, it’s not exactly cheap for most budget travelers. Those who are satisfied with skipping the Edinburgh Castle and the Camera Obscura will find this city very reasonable, except during the Festival season. Speaking of that, check our Edinburgh cheap travel tips for the festival season, which can actually be helpful all year round.

  • Currency: British pound
  • Best cheap hostel: Royal Mile Backpackers – 19.44/night
  • Transportation: 3.50
  • Meals: 23.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 18.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: £77.84 = US$94.93/day

>>Edinburgh prices and weather

41Brussels, Belgium

For the budget traveler, Brussels can be a bit difficult since the infrastructure is built mostly for business travelers and bureaucrats. There aren’t many hostel options, and cheap meals are a challenge in the city center area. Still, it’s worth a look for the main square alone if you are heading to or from Bruges, which is much cheaper and listed above.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Brussels 2go4 Quality Hostel City Center – 31.50/night
  • Transportation: 4.20
  • Meals: 26.10
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €91.80 = US$97.66/day

>>Brussels prices and weather

42Hamburg, Germany

This somewhat remote city is largely forgotten by most North American visitors, known best as where the Beatles honed their chops, but Hamburg is a lovely and classy city that is worth a stop if you are in the area. Germans, in general, like good value, so there are plenty of good budget sleeping and eating options for the backpacker types. Hotel prices here are heavily influenced by trade fairs and business travelers, so it can be cheap one week and very expensive the next. For our research in 2023 the hostel prices were very high every week we checked. Good luck!

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Generator Hamburg – 39.60/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €96.20 = US$102.34/day

>>Hamburg prices and weather

43Stockholm, Sweden

Backpackers who want to visit the homeland of most of their furniture have to go a long distance out of the way to reach Stockholm, and then face shocking prices once they arrive. This is another city where almost nothing is cheap no matter where you look. The long-promised ABBA Museum is now open and it’s predictably expensive as well. This is a beautiful city that you will really enjoy for a few days, as long as you can afford it.

  • Currency: Swedish kronor
  • Best cheap hostel: Generator Stockholm – 301/night
  • Transportation: 76
  • Meals: 288
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 225
  • Attractions: 200
  • Daily Backpacker Index: SEK1,090 = US$104.51/day

>>Stockholm prices and weather

44Copenhagen, Denmark

The Danish capital is one of the famously expensive Scandinavian cities, but if you plan ahead you can visit on a reasonable budget. Quality does tend to be quite high, and Copenhagen is arguably one of the prettiest cities in all of Europe, so the higher prices feel somewhat justified. Still, it’s a tough place for the backpacker crowd, especially for those who drink. At least you can get a fairly cheap hot dog from a street cart at almost any hour of the day or night.

  • Currency: Danish kroner
  • Best cheap hostel: Sleep in Heaven – 174/night
  • Transportation: 48
  • Meals: 204
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 150
  • Attractions: 120
  • Daily Backpacker Index: DKK741 = US$105.71/day

>>Copenhagen prices and weather

45Paris, France

Similar to Rome, it’s just a good thing that Paris isn’t any more expensive than it is, because people are going to visit anyway. As long as you are willing to stay a bit outside the main tourist districts then Paris can be quite reasonable on the wallet, and the quality of food is exceptional nearly anywhere you go. The main attractions are actually fairly cheap compared to major sights in some other big cities, and you might save even more money with a Paris Pass. To get the best value have a look at our recommended Paris hostels and cheap hotels section.

Note: Drink prices here are for wine rather than beer, as it’s much cheaper and better as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: The 3 Ducks Eiffel Tower by Hiphophostels – 37.00/night
  • Transportation: 3.60
  • Meals: 25.44
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 17.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €99.54 = US$105.89/day

>>Paris prices and weather

46Reykjavik, Iceland

After its currency collapsed in 2008, Iceland cost about half what it did previously for foreigners, but prices crept up and up, and it’s again very expensive. Reykjavik isn’t a particularly charming city, which is fine because the appeal of Iceland is the amazing scenery everywhere else. If you plan a trip to Iceland, don’t linger in the capital longer than you have to. Accommodation and food on rest of the island are also fairly expensive, but the whole island is stunning and almost everything is free once you get there. Iceland has undergone a tourism boom in recent years and things are continuing to change quickly.

  • Currency: Iceland kronur
  • Best cheap hostel: Bus Hostel Reykjavik – 5,009/night
  • Transportation: 900
  • Meals: 4,800
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 2,400
  • Attractions: 2,500
  • Daily Backpacker Index: ISK15,609 = US$109.39/day

>>Reykjavik prices and weather

47Dublin, Ireland

Many years ago, Dublin was a relatively cheap city to visit, but those days are over and now it feels unusually expensive. Hostel prices in particular are very high, and it’s €6+ for a pint of Guinness in even a dumpy bar. Food is reasonably priced and the main attractions are as well, fortunately. Speaking of Guinness, if you are going to do the Guinness Brewery and the popular distillery tours, then the Dublin Pass is a great deal.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Abbey Court – 40.32/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 22.56
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €103.88 = US$110.51/day

>>Dublin prices and weather

48Interlaken, Switzerland

The big cities in Switzerland are awesomely expensive because everything is priced for business travelers and the like, so budget travelers are better off skipping them in favor of the small towns of Interlaken or Lucerne to get better views and lower prices. Interlaken itself feels a bit tired, so head straight up to Gimmelwald or one of the other mountain towns for the best experience. The Lauterbrunnen Valley, which is a 20-minute train ride away from Interlaken, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Google it and get ready to book a trip.

  • Currency: Swiss Franc
  • Best cheap hostel: Happy Inn Lodge – 28.28/night
  • Transportation: 0 (local transport is free for overnight guests)
  • Meals: 40.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 19.50
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CHF108.58 = US$116.75/day

>>Interlaken prices and weather

49Amsterdam, Netherlands

From a price standpoint, Amsterdam may be a victim of its own popularity. Even with scores of hostels throughout the city center, they are still able to get extremely high rates even during shoulder season. In fact, hostel prices in Amsterdam have continued to climb and they are now among the highest in the world, especially when you consider the poor quality of many of them. Pick from our recommended Amsterdam hostels and cheap hotels for decent value and locations. The famous attractions are on the expensive side, though good deals are always available on food and drinks if you know where to look. Budget travelers will have to book a place way outside the center in order to find a decent deal, and unfortunately Amsterdam loses some of its charm if you have to commute in and out like that.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Meininger Amsterdam Amstel – 43.75/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 24.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €109.85 = US$116.86/day

>>Amsterdam prices and weather

50London, England

London is famously pricey, but it’s also a weird one for budget travelers since it actually has somewhat affordable hostels (at least outside of peak season), and all the major museums are actually free. However, pretty much everything else feels outrageously expensive, particularly the other attractions like the Tower of London and the London Eye. The Brexit currency slide has helped bring prices down, but it still aint exactly cheap. Those wishing to save by bundling these top attractions should consider a London Pass. For cheap hotel and hostel options see our recommended London hostel and hotels page.

  • Currency: British pound
  • Best cheap hostel: Clink261 – 28.99/night
  • Transportation: 4.80
  • Meals: 26.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 25.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: £100.19 = US$122.18/day

>>London prices and weather

51Bergen, Norway

Even with a lower Norwegian currency, Bergen is still very pricey compared to the rest of Europe. This is the gateway to the beautiful fjords of Norway, and the city itself is more interesting and easier to visit than Oslo. Actually, hotels here are very good quality and decent value. It’s the food and drinks that feel so overpriced, and the few hostels feel weirdly expensive as well.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Best cheap hostel: HI Bergen Hostel Montana – 407/night
  • Transportation: 66
  • Meals: 360
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 240
  • Attractions: 150
  • Daily Backpacker Index: NOK1,223 = US$124.04/day

>>Bergen prices and weather

52Oslo, Norway

Norway is a rich country and its capital seems mostly built for business people, so it can seem pricey for tourists. Oslo is a pleasant city, but Norway is mostly about the scenery so don’t come here just because it’s the capital and largest city. Flights into Oslo can be quite cheap, although Bergen (see above) is probably a better choice if you have to choose just one.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Best cheap hostel: Anker Apartment – Sentrum – 466.17/night
  • Transportation: 68
  • Meals: 349.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 240
  • Attractions: 100
  • Daily Backpacker Index: NOK1,223.37= US$124.07/day

>>Oslo prices and weather

53Venice, Italy

No surprises to find Venice so far down the affordability list, but once again this is a city where it’s all easily justifiable, and fortunately you can see all the main sights in just two days and one night if you are tight on funds. Of course, most cheaper hotels are not even on the main island, but getting back and forth is cheap and easy. Check our cheap and recommended Venice hotels list for some great choices. Staying on one of the main islands is worth it for most people because the city is far less crowded in the mornings and evenings, when the cruise passengers and bus trip visitors are not there.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Generator Venice – 42.12/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 33.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 18.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €118.22 = US$125.77/day

>>Venice prices and weather

54Zurich, Switzerland

Certainly no surprise here, especially considering that Zurich also came out on top on our survey of world taxi prices. Switzerland is a rich country and Zurich is its very-rich main city, so the hotel and restaurant scenes are dominated by business travelers and those on expense accounts. It’s a nice enough place, but honestly, Bern is more interesting, and the highlights of the country are in the scenery rather than in the cities.

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Best cheap hostel: Zurich Youth Hostel – 52.72/night
  • Transportation: 5.20
  • Meals: 41.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CHF141.32 = US$151.96/day

>>Zurich prices and weather

How to use this information

As mentioned at the top, these prices are for a typical group of expenses for a backpacker, and you could even say these are “average prices” for each city, but definitely not “minimum prices.” Those who never drink, only eat two meals a day, and/or skip most museums or attractions can get by on much less. However, if your style of travel is more minimalistic than this, the order of these cities should still be more or less the same.

Each city name is linked to a page that contains specific prices for many more things, and is converted to US dollars or any other currency you wish on a daily basis.

Also check out Backpacker Indexes from the rest of the world

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All Comments

  1. Paulsen says:

    You forgot Minsk, Belarus. It should be on 2nd place 🙂

    1. Roger Wade says:


      It’s not a matter of forgetting Minsk, it’s that Minsk is yet another larger city that gets very little foreign tourism. I’m going to start adding a few of those though. Thanks for the comment. -Roger

  2. Marcus says:

    Thanks for your feedback!

  3. Marcus says:

    Hi Roger,
    It would be helpful to add Skopje to the list. A city which is well worth a visit of at least two days and pretty cheap as well. A lot of very high value hotels for 15€, mains for 4€.
    Cheers, Marcus

    1. Roger Wade says:


      You are right and Skopje is on the list of cities I intend to add in the next update, which will hopefully be in the next few months. The reason I haven’t added those cities yet is I fear that the list will lose impact and seem too obscure if most of the 10 cheapest European cities are ones that most people have never heard of. Thanks for the comment and I will try to add those cities soon, although I may not add most or all of them to the Backpacker Index as full entries. -Roger

  4. Patricio says:

    Hello Roger,
    im from Ecuador i planning to visit Europe on May and stay for a month.
    My first stop is Spain – Madrid and my daily budget to spend is $100 (maximum) so i check some few countries and cities nearby… what is you recommendation after mi fist stop, and of course the plan is be a backpacker (i already do that here on south america). thanks for any advice you’ll give me.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      The whole list above is meant to help you sort out the cheaper areas from the more expensive ones. Spain is good value and Portugal is even a bit cheaper for the most part. Once you get into France the prices start going up at least a bit, and the same is true in Italy.

      If you are hoping to keep your total expenses below US$100 per day I would minimize my time in France or Italy and instead head to places like Krakow, Prague, and Budapest. This list of what I consider to be Europe’s best value cities should help. The list in the article on this page includes nearly all major cities, while the list on the article on the link is just the cheaper ones that are also definitely worth visiting. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  5. Michael says:

    Hi. I’m from Myanmar. How many European countries can I go if I have over $10000?

    1. Roger Wade says:


      You can go to any European city if you have US$10,000. In Zurich that will last you about 45 days, while in Kiev it would last you a whole year. -Roger

  6. Margaret says:

    Hi Roger,
    I am going to Dijon, France for a 6 week study aboard in July-August. I have to be in Dijon on 7/2/18 and am there until 8/10/18. I was wondering if you could help me suggest weekend trips in France to visit. I want to go to Paris for sure and south of France. I plan to be in Paris when Tour de France ends there on 7/29/2018 but am not sure this is a good time to also visit the city.
    When my program ends I also plan to stay for at least 10 days to travel afterwards. Looking for suggestions of places to go. I was thinking maybe Prague but am open to suggestions.
    If you also have suggestions of ways to get to Europe cheaper then a direct flight to Paris would be helpful! trying not to pay 2000 to get from Chicago to Europe and back again. If there is a layover city or route you suggest I’m open to doing that and spending a day in a city and then continue on to Paris. And also for return leg.


    1. Roger Wade says:


      That sounds like an amazing opportunity and I wish I could help you more. I’ve been literally almost all over Europe, but I haven’t spent time in most of the popular non-urban areas in France since I was a child. I’ve researched a lot and I have been to a handful of places, including the Normandy coast recently, but I’m not confident enough to give you specific suggestions beyond what is already on this page. One thing that I’m sure of is that you’ll have many excellent choices and I think buying a France guidebook would be time and money well spent. I’m a big fan of Rick Steves, and his books are available in print as well as by PDF and other digital formats. He includes the best of France (to some degree from an American perspective) and gives great suggestions for each region.

      One thing I can tell you about France in summer is that the cities empty out somewhat in July and August, with August being a more popular month for office workers to take the whole month off. These workers head to a beach or a house in the country if they can afford it, so those types of areas are even more popular in July and August. So if you go to beaches or popular small towns, it will be even more crowded than normal. But if you go to other cities, including Paris, it’ll be less crowded. Paris itself is pleasantly mellow in August in particular.

      Those flights from Chicago do sound expensive, and it’s no doubt made worse by the fact that you are going with the normal holiday times in the US and in France. I don’t know if it will save you any money, but stopping for a couple days in Iceland is amazing if you can pull it off. Also, Norwegian Air often has cheap flights with a plane change in Oslo or Stockholm, and the earlier you buy the cheaper they are. I wish I could have helped more. -Roger

  7. Bilal says:

    Hey Roger,
    I’m from Pakistan and planning to visit Europe for my honeymoon. Can you suggest some budget cities for newlywed couples. My total budget is 4 to 5000 US dollars and it would be my first time in Europe.

    Since its my first so I’m having a hard time deciding on where to go.
    and a return ticket from Pakistan to any European country costs 600 to 900 US$.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I would say that the nicest of the cheaper European cities are Budapest and Prague. Both have outstanding architecture and plenty of things to see and do, all at a cost that is far lower than in, say, Paris or Rome. You can take a train between them in about 6.5 hours. It’s worth mentioning that those cities actually have quite a bit in common, so visiting both of them might not be the best idea. If you want to visit two cities you might even consider Prague and Salzburg, which can be reached in about 5.5 hours by train. It’s a bit more expensive than the others, but it’s at the base of the Alps and the location is gorgeous. The town is also very different from the others, and quite a bit smaller.

      Krakow is actually the cheapest of Europe’s “great” cities, but it’s a bit remote and it can be tough to get an affordable flight there. I hope this helps and I’m happy to answer other questions if you have them. -Roger

  8. Daniel de Amat says:

    I have a question regarding the food. for example when you put meal:20 does that mean on average each meal would be 20 euros? Assuming euros is the currency.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      The €20 (for example) used on the Backpacker Index is an allowance for 3 budget meals per day in that city, including a sit-down dinner (as opposed to street food or fast food). Breakfast is often included in the price of a hostel bed, and in many European countries breakfast tends to be nothing more than coffee and a hard roll with butter. The whole Backpacker Index is meant to be a way to figure out a general budget for a backpacking trip to each city, but even more it’s a way of comparing cities against each other so you can get an idea of which parts of Europe are cheaper and which are more expensive. Some people are able to happily get by on less than the Backpacker Index amount for each city, and other people always spend more. At least with the ranking, you should be able to get an idea of the cheaper cities and the expensive cities. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  9. robin de says:

    Roger, hello

    My friend and I are planning a trip to Europe together in May. There are two weekends that there are dance events (Blues Dance) that I’m interested in. Structure I have set up looks like this:

    May 7-9 (arrive, city 1), 10 (travel), 11-13 (dance 1, city 2… Madrid or Bristol), 14-16 (city 3), 17 (travel), 18-20 (dance 2, city 4… Paris or Oslow), 21-31 (cities n+1…. return home)

    I’m flying in from Qatar and he is coming in from the States. I’m interested in budgeting $2,000 personally.. but we’d be comfortable splitting some costs if that helps.

    Any thoughts of sensible connecting sites to see between those locations? I’m having hard time deciding which of the dance events to go to too.

    Thank you!


    1. Roger Wade says:


      This sounds interesting and I’ll be happy to try to help, but I’m a bit confused. I’ll give you some opinions, and hopefully that will help you figure more of it out on your own.

      Assuming you haven’t been to any of these cities before, Paris is a must. It’s popular for a reason and you’ll love it yourself. Madrid is another great tourist city with plenty to see and do, along with moderate prices. Oslo is quite out of the way and it’s very expensive. Oslo also isn’t as interesting as the others, so I would not recommend it if the alternative is Paris.

      Bristol is one of the nicest cities in England to live, but it’s pretty far down the list for tourist attractions. It’s very close to Bath, which is a historic spa city and very interesting, but also quite small. If you are choosing between Madrid and Bristol, go to Madrid for sure. So if you have Paris and Madrid you’d also want to stop in Barcelona between the two if you can. Barcelona and Madrid are both huge cities with a lot to see, and they are very different from each other. There are other great options in Spain and quite a few in France as well. Hopefully this helps. I’m happy to offer more advice as you are getting your itinerary together. -Roger

  10. Rahul says:

    Hello Roger,
    I am planning to travel to eastern Europe in April 3rd week to May 1st week. Approx 20-25 days. I am planning to start from Istanbul then towards Munich or Berlin or from Munich or Berlin towards Istanbul. What should be my itinerary for 25 days in 1500 USD

    1. Roger Wade says:


      My strong suggestion would be to plan on right around 3 nights in each city you visit, or maybe 4 nights in some larger cities. If you try to move faster than that you end up spending half your time in transit rather than seeing the actual sights you’ve come all that way to see. So that means 7 to 8 total cities. If you include Istanbul and at least one German city you are down to 5 to 6 additional cities.

      Another thing to be aware of is that train service finally restarted early in 2017 to connect Turkey to Bulgaria, but it still consists of only one overnight train in each direction each day. From Istanbul you can take an overnight train to Sofia, but honestly I’m not sure I’d recommend Sofia on a trip of this length. It’s nice and it’s cheap, but the sights aren’t very interesting compared to other European cities. In other words, you might want to fly in or out of Istanbul rather than taking a slow train or bus. Those flights will be cheap as well, and you can fly into any larger airport from Istanbul. I really love Istanbul and it’s very different from other cities in Europe, so I’m not suggesting you get rid of it, just that flying in or out is probably best.

      And it sounds like you want to keep things cheap, so spending more time in those eastern cities can help you with that. Here’s what I would recommend as a starting point for your planning. Fly into Berlin (or Istanbul and do this in reverse) and then take a train to Prague. From Prague you can take a train to Krakow, which is not only nice but very good value. After Krakow you can take a train to Budapest. You could fly from Budapest to Istanbul, or perhaps add another city or two. If your budget can allow it you could go from Berlin to Munich to Salzburg and then on to Prague and the rest of it. Munich and Salzburg are a bit more expensive than the others, but worth it if you can afford it.

      I’m happy to help you get the itinerary something that is best for you, so let me know what you think and I can help more in another comment once you are starting to put it together. -Roger