54 European cities by price: Europe Backpacker Index for 2024

Prices for tourist in Europe’s most popular cities range from amazing bargains to astonishingly expensive. Now in its 14th 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. As you’ll see on the list below, there are amazing cities that are surprisingly cheap and other cities that literally cost 2 or 3 times as much per day.

The 2024 update was less dramatic than some recent years and most positions didn’t change too much. There was inflation ranging from about 3% to 10% in the countries mentioned below, so in some cases the price increases were noticeable. You’ll still find many great bargain destinations in the top half of the list.

Note: This article was last updated in late December, 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

2024 Update notes

The 2024 update to the information below required a lot of work due to inflation and prices rising more than they did a few years ago, but the overall list didn’t change so dramatically. Kiev remains the cheapest city on the list, and in case you are wondering, it had always been close to the top of the list and it had been the cheapest once or twice before.

Hostel prices went up again in some cities, but not as much as they had the year before. The Euro and other European currencies are slightly higher this year compared to last year, but overall the US dollar is still stronger than its recent historical average so Europe is relatively cheap for many visitors.

New video highlighting 7 of the best and cheapest on this list

In case you haven’t heard, Priceoftravel.com now has a Youtube channel and this is a video with video highlights and hotel examples of 7 of the best of the cheap cities on the list below. Please have a look.

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 2024

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 hostels open as of the end of 2023 and reports are that there are actually some tourists around in spite of the war. It’s hard to imagine and things could obviously get worse at short notice in 2024.

  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Best cheap hostel: Dream Hostel Kiev – 317/night
  • Transportation: 16.00
  • Meals: 810.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 195.00
  • Attractions: 50.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: UHR1,388 = US$37.27/day

>>Kyiv prices and weather

2Sofia, 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. If you visit you will probably be impressed at how nice it is considering how cheap it is as well.

  • Currency: Bulgaria Leva
  • Best cheap hostel: 10 Coins Hostel & Tours – 17.04
  • Transportation: 3.20
  • Meals: 27.24
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: BGN70.48 = US$39.60/day

>Sofia 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 = 70.73/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 67.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: RON190.53 – US$41.97/day

>>Bucharest prices and weather

4Krakow, Poland

Krakow is just about as cheap as Budapest (below), 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, which comes in at #23 this year.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap hostel: Let’s Rock Party Hostel – 58.00/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 64.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 42.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: PLN186.40 = US$47.19/day

>>Krakow prices and weather

5Budapest, Hungary

Almost as cheap as Kiev and far more appealing for most visitors, Budapest continues on as arguably Europe’s best travel bargain (along with Krakow). 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 – 7,184/night
  • Transportation: 700
  • Meals: 5,460
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 1,800
  • Attractions: 2,000
  • Daily Backpacker Index: HUF17,144 = US$48.70/day

>>Budapest 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. Sarajevo is understandably popular with Muslim visitors as well, and that adds another interesting dimension to a European city like this.

  • Currency: Converted Mark (fixed, so prices below are in euros)
  • Best cheap hostel: Balkan Han Hostel – 12.00/night
  • Transportation: 4.60
  • Meals: 15.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €45.10 = US$49.56/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. It’s definitely worth a stop if you are in the area, although you might want to spend more time in nearby Novi Sad instead.

  • Currency: Serbian Dinar (prices below are in euros)
  • Best cheap hostel: Habitat-Hostel – 14.96/night
  • Transportation: 1.50
  • Meals: 18.30
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.75
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €46.05 = US$50.60/day

>>Belgrade prices and weather

8Riga, 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. If you can find a cheap flight to get here it’s definitely worth a few days.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Tree House Hostel – 16.25/night
  • Transportation: 2.30
  • Meals: 18.24
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €50.29 = US$55.26/day

>>Riga prices and weather

9Zagreb, 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 Plitviče Lakes 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: Funk Lounge – 18.87/night
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 17.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €50.77 = US$55.79/day

>>Zagreb prices and weather

10Warsaw, 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 – 73.44/night
  • Transportation: 6.80
  • Meals: 72.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 42.00
  • Attractions: 30.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: PLN224.24 = US$56.77/day

>>Warsaw prices and weather

11Vilnius, 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 – 17.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 21.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €54.60 = US$60.00/day

>>Vilnius 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 – 20.93/night
  • Transportation: 1.40
  • Meals: 18.48
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €55.81 = US$61.33/day

>>Bratislava prices and weather

13Split, 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 2024. Again, Croatia joined the Eurozone in early 2023 so it’s a bit easier for most visitors.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: En Route Hostel – 15.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.40
  • Meals: 18.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €60.00 = US$65.93/day

>>Split 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. Inflation ran at around 60% in 2023 and it could be as bad or worse in 2024, although hopefully not. As 2024 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: Istanbul Harmony Hostel – 365/night
  • Transportation: 30
  • Meals: 588
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 600
  • Attractions: 340
  • Daily Backpacker Index: TRY1,923 = US$66.01/day

>>Istanbul prices and weather

15Valletta, 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. There are very few sandy beaches on Malta, but the pleasant winter climate keeps it popular even in the winter months.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Granny’s Inn Hostel – 17.14/night
  • Transportation: 3.40
  • Meals: 21.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €62.64 = US$68.84/day

>>Valletta prices and weather

16Tenerife, 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: 21.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €62.70 = US$68.90/day

>>Tenerife prices and weather

17Ljubljana, 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: Fluxus Hostel – 19.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.40
  • Meals: 21.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €62.90 = US$69.12/day

>>Ljubljana prices and weather

18Tallinn, 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. This is another one that is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area or can find a cheap flight.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: The Monk´s Bunk Hostel & Bar – 18.50/night
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 21.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €63.50 = US$69.78/day

>>Tallinn prices and weather

19Naples, 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: Naples Pizza Hostel – 22.50/night
  • Transportation: 2.60
  • Meals: 21.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €67.10 = US$73.74/day

>>Naples prices and weather

20Athens, Greece

Athens used to have a reputation as a cheap city that was falling apart at the seams, 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. Many people visit Athens for 2 or 3 days on their way to one of the islands such as Santorini or Rhodes and it’s definitely a nice combination for a trip. There are ferries to nearly every tourist island and flights to all of the major ones as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Pagration Youth Hostel – 13.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.80
  • Meals: 27.30
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €68.20 = US$74.95/day

>>Athens prices and weather

21Český 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 was called Hostel Skippy. It’s been closed for a few years now and if it doesn’t reopen then this town isn’t quite as affordable. Not only are there no other hostels, but the hotel prices seem to have gone up as well. Still, it’s worth a visit if you’ve got the time and are in the area.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap hostel: Pension Danny (hotel) – 971/night
  • Transportation: 48
  • Meals: 406.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 135
  • Attractions: 140
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CZK1,700.80 = US$75.96/day

>>Český Krumlov prices and weather

22Prague, 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: Czech Inn – 447/night
  • Transportation: 48
  • Meals: 558
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 165
  • Attractions: 350
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CZK1,718 = US$76.73/day

>>Prague prices and weather

23Lisbon, 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. The food is really top-notch as well, and noticeably cheaper than nearly all of the cities below it on this list.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Sant Jordi Hostels Lisbon – 19.55/night
  • Transportation: 2.80
  • Meals: 22.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €70.15 = US$77.09/day

>>Lisbon prices and weather

24Madrid, 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: Sant Jordi Hostels Lisbon – 21.48/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €75.08 = US$82.51/day

>>Madrid 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 – 22.23/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 23.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €75.23 = US$82.67/day

>>Berlin prices and weather

26Santorini, 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 prices seem to have shot way up in the last year and we couldn’t find anything reasonable during our test dates. It could be that some of the cheaper hostels are staying closed until summer. Still, we hear stories every year that Santorini is not even worth visiting on days when cruise ships are in port, so that might be something to research.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Fira backpackers place – 35/night
  • Transportation: 3.20
  • Meals: 21.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €79.30 = US$87.14/day

>>Santorini prices and weather

27Munich, 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$87.42/day

>>Munich prices and weather

28Nice, 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: Hostel OZZ – 27.50/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €80.10 = US$88.02/day

>>Nice prices and weather

29Milan, Italy

Milan’s success in finance and fashion have helped make it one of Europe’s more 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: 23.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €82.90 = US$91.10/day

>>Milan prices and weather

30Bruges, 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: Snuffel Hostel – 25.08/night
  • Transportation: 2.60
  • Meals: 28.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €84.18 = US$92.51/day

>>Bruges prices and weather

31Helsinki, 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 – 19.66/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 26.70
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €84.36 = US$92.70/day

>>Helsinki 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 – 24.50/night
  • Transportation: 4.80
  • Meals: 27.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €85.40 = US$93.85/day

>>Vienna prices and weather

33Dubrovnik, 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. Prices might be a bit higher now that Croatia joined the Euro as of early 2023, but the walled city area has been quite expensive for years now.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Lina – 23.21/night
  • Transportation: 3.20
  • Meals: 29.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €85.81 = US$94.30/day

>>Dubrovnik prices and weather

34Luxembourg 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: 25.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €87.80 = US$96.48/day

>>Luxembourg City prices and weather

35Florence, 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 – 31.36/night
  • Transportation: 2.40
  • Meals: 22.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €88.56 = US$97.32/day

>>Florence prices and weather

36Ibiza, 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 2024, 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 – 36.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.90
  • Meals: 26.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €88.80 = US$97.58/day

>>Ibiza prices and weather

37Barcelona, 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. All of that said, Barcelona is one of a few European cities that is now so crowded in summer that many people say it’s not worth visiting in high season at all.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Sant Jordi Hostels Rock Palace – 26.10/night
  • Transportation: 4.30
  • Meals: 25.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €87.90 = US$98.57/day

>>Barcelona prices and weather

38Copenhagen, 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: Urban House Copenhagen by MEININGER – 137/night
  • Transportation: 74
  • Meals: 204
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 150
  • Attractions: 120
  • Daily Backpacker Index: DKK690 = US$101.32/day

>>Copenhagen prices and weather

39Salzburg, 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: Yoho International Youth Hostel Salzburg – 31.26/night
  • Transportation: 5.20
  • Meals: 27.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €92.96 = US$102.15/day

>>Salzburg prices and weather

40Hamburg, 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 2024 the hostel prices were very high every week we checked. Good luck!

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Generator Hamburg – 37.44/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €95.04 = US$104.44/day

>>Hamburg prices and weather

41Stockholm, 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: City Backpackers Hostel – 235/night
  • Transportation: 76
  • Meals: 312
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 240
  • Attractions: 200
  • Daily Backpacker Index: SEK1,063 = US$104.73/day

>>Stockholm prices and weather

42Brussels, 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: MEININGER Hotel Bruxelles City Center – 34.67/night
  • Transportation: 4.20
  • Meals: 26.10
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 13.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €95.97 = US$105.46/day

>>Brussels prices and weather

43Edinburgh, 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: The Hostel – 21.50/night
  • Transportation: 3.50
  • Meals: 25.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 18.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: £84.08 = US$106.43/day

>>Edinburgh prices and weather

44Reykjavik, 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. Keep your eyes on the volcano situation as they can affect where you might be able to go on your visit.

  • Currency: Iceland kronur
  • Best cheap hostel: KEX Hostel – 4,634/night
  • Transportation: 900
  • Meals: 5,304
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 2,700
  • Attractions: 2,500
  • Daily Backpacker Index: ISK16,038 = US$116.74/day

>>Reykjavik prices and weather

45Amsterdam, 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 – 43.00/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 25.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €110.90 = US$121.87/day

>>Amsterdam prices and weather

46Paris, 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 – 43.00/night
  • Transportation: 3.60
  • Meals: 27.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 17.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €112.40 = US$123.52/day

>>Paris prices and weather

47Bergen, 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 – 400/night
  • Transportation: 66
  • Meals: 390
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 270
  • Attractions: 150
  • Daily Backpacker Index: NOK1,276 = US$124.25/day

>>Bergen prices and weather

48Rome, 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. Weirdly enough, hostel prices look to be up by around €20 per night for our test dates and we couldn’t find anything reasonable even a month before or after. Booking early seems wise. Choose from our recommended Rome hostels and hotels for possible 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 – 55.25/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 26.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €114.15 = US$125.44/day

>>Rome prices and weather

49Venice, 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: Ostello S. Fosca – CPU Venice Hostels – 36.43/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 34.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 18.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €114.63 = US$125.97/day

>>Venice prices and weather

50Dublin, 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. Hostel prices continue to soar and now they are among the most expensive in Europe. 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 – 49.28/night
  • Transportation: 3.00
  • Meals: 24.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €114.88 = US$126.24/day

>>Dublin prices and weather

51Oslo, 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 Hostel – 457/night
  • Transportation: 68
  • Meals: 360
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 270
  • Attractions: 150
  • Daily Backpacker Index: NOK1,305= US$127.07/day

>>Oslo prices and weather

52Interlaken, 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 – 29.54/night
  • Transportation: 0 (local transport is free for overnight guests)
  • Meals: 40.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 19.50
  • Attractions: 20.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CHF109.84 = US$127.72/day

>>Interlaken prices and weather

53London, 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 – 30.47/night
  • Transportation: 4.80
  • Meals: 28.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 25.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: £104.07 = US$131.73/day

>>London 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: MEININGER Hotel Zurich Greencity – 42.26/night
  • Transportation: 5.20
  • Meals: 41.40
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CHF130.86 = US$152.16/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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All Comments

  1. Kieran says:

    I look forward to seeing the new publication, will the 2019 edition be out around the same time?

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I’m happy to hear this, and we are already done with much of the price checks and updates for European cities for next year, so I’ll be updating the Backpacker Index for 2019 soon. Most likely it’ll be the second week of December, but it might be as soon as the last week of November. -Roger

  2. Wing says:

    Hi Roger
    Hope this comment finds you well.I’m Wing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I’m planning to my Eastern Europe trips from 11 December 2018 until 30 January 2019,its like month and a half. The reason i decided my Eastern Europe trip on December 2018 because of the flight ticket (USD275 by Scoot Airlines) is quite cheap from all the way – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Berlin,Germany & Germany will be beginning of my Eastern Europe Trip. Besides that, I was thinking to celebrate Xmas & New Year Eve in Easter Europe, I believe it would be the best atmosphere to feel the holiday season. Do you know which countries which best to spend xmas & new year fireworks??
    Of course I love winter seasons in Europe as Snowing stuffs.

    I would like to share with you my Itinerary which I have planning now so far as below:

    1) Berlin,Germany (4 days)From Kuala Lumpur to Berlin ,germany
    2) Warsaw, Poland (4 days) From Berlin, it’s a little over a 5-hour train ride.
    3) Vilnius,Lithuania (Approx. 1-3 days) A bus ride from Warsaw to Vilnius is about 6 hours
    4) Riga,Latvia (3-4 days) from Vilnius to Riga 4 hours bus ride
    5) Tallinn (3-4 days) The bus from Riga to Tallinn will take about 4 or should I fly in ?
    6) Minsk Belarus (3-4 days) visa exempted as malaysian passport holder – still considering whether to visit or not?
    7) Kiev, Ukraine (4-5 days) train from Minsk to Kiev is likely 12 hours or maybe take a flight but costs a lot more.
    8) Lviv, Ukraine (3-4 days) train from Kiev to Lviv, the 5-hour train ride
    9) Transylvania/Bucharest, Romania (4-5 days) flying to Bucharest and then taking a bus, Approx. 8 hours of total travel time.
    10) Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (2-3 days) another long commute between Transylvania and Veliko — about 10 hours via bus or train.
    11) Plovdiv, Bulgaria (2 days) bus from veliko to plovdic-4.5 hours
    12) Sofia, Bulgaria (3-4 days) Plovdiv to Sofia is about 1.5 hours by bus or 2.5 hours by train.
    13) Budapest, hungary (3-5 days) From Sofia to Budapest, it’s best to fly — it’s about a 4.5-hour flight.
    14) Prague,Cze republic (3-5days) Fly or take an overnight train from Budapest to Prague.

    That’s my itinerary so far and I hope you can provide me your pro suggestions/advices for this mega eastern europe trip 🙂 I know it’s sound a bit crazy for my massive trips, do you think should cut off some others cities?? However, as i have checked, prices throughout Eastern Europe are cheap so i can eat, sleep, drink, and party for a fraction of what I’d spend in Western Europe? right?? Also for this trip most of time are travelling city to city.

    Hope to hear from your reply soonest 🙂 As I’m still planning my trip & maybe to add on some other countries liked luxemberg,belgium,nertherland & So on.

    Thanks a lot 😉

    1. Roger Wade says:


      KL is actually my favorite big city in Asia and it’s nice to hear from there. One thing I wonder is how much experience you have in colder temperatures? It’s always so hot and humid where you live that for some people it’s really nice to spend time in colder areas, but northern and eastern Europe in December and January can get pretty extreme. As you know, the farther north you go the fewer daylight hours you have that time of the year. And you might get unlucky and have to deal with some snow storms along the way. It can be a really wonderful novelty at first, but traveling and sightseeing in the snow can be slow and challenging in some ways.

      As for Christmas and New Years in that area, I can’t think of one place on your list that will be much different from the others. Christmas is a pretty big deal in all of them, and there will be New Years celebrations in all larger cities, so I would just plan your trip and enjoy wherever you happen to be on those dates.

      I’ve been to most of the places on your list but not all of them. I haven’t been to Belarus and I haven’t heard many good things about it. It’s a bit more out of the way, but I’d recommend Krakow instead of Warsaw, or maybe both. Krakow is a really cool city and Warsaw is kind of a dud, in my opinion. Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn are all cool and fun with good nightlife. The express buses between them are the way to go. Ukraine is another that I haven’t made it to yet and that is, again, mostly because I don’t hear many good things about it. It looks like it’ll be below freezing most of the time in Kiev, for example, and I’m not sure how much fun that would be.

      Budapest and Prague are both excellent and should be fun no matter the weather. Bulgaria and Romania are other places that I’m not sure how much fun they would be that time of year.

      I think the trip you have outlined would be really fun in summer or even in spring or autumn, but it might not be much fun in winter. If your goal is to see a lot of Europe and focus on cheaper places I think I would do some of those eastern places and then fly to Spain where the days are longer and it won’t be freezing even at night. The big cities in Spain can be pretty expensive in summer, but they are actually fairly cheap in winter. That time of year you can get a hostel bed for €15 in many Spanish and Portuguese cities or a single hotel room starting around €30 per night. It’s pretty easy to keep food costs down in Spain, and alcohol there is very cheap if you look around a bit.

      At the very least I would keep my trip flexible and only plan a few places at a time. You could start on your original plan and if it’s too cold and dark to enjoy you can find a cheap flight to Barcelona and then travel around Spain and Portugal. This sounds like a really fun trip and it’s great that you are planning on some places that most people ignore. I’m happy to help more as you are getting your plan together. -Roger

  3. Kieran says:

    Just a quick thought, you say the very low end budget destinations tend not to be included in your evaluations due to their relative low tourism levels. I believe this website, and you as it’s author, could potentially have a significant influence in promoting the increase of tourism in said destinations, if you were to include them in your next writeup. I’m referring to places inclusive of the Balkans and whatnot.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Thanks for your comment. I’ve actually thought about that and it’s interesting to hear someone else mention it. I don’t really think this list could have a “significant” influence on those smaller, cheaper, and more remote cities, but I’d think at least some number of people would consider going to them if I pointed out how affordable they are along with some of the highlights. You’ve probably seen my earlier comments on the topic and it’s a tough call. This list actually gets a lot of views every day and it’s been going for 7 or 8 years that way. My concern is that if people click to see the “cheapest cities in Europe” and they scroll down the first 10 entries and they’ve never heard of any of them that they’ll just close the page. Also, the current number of 56 is already a bit unwieldy. I started with 40 cites and I added 16 more in following years.

      One thing I’ve considered is at least creating pages for those smaller and more remote cities and then linking to them near the top of the article as “similar alternatives” in price to Bucharest or Sofia and whatnot, but without doing a full entry for them. It’s something to think about and I appreciate any more feedback from you or anyone else who reads this and has an opinion. -Roger

  4. Mark says:

    First of all: I really appreciate the list and the immense effort and passion taken to compile this. My deepest respect!

    As German citizen and European traveler I experienced that a pure price-based comparison is as misleading as counting the opera houses in each town. Value for money would be a a very good indicator and the immediate question back is how to achieve that. There are several indicators that shall be considered. And even if we do not find teh final formula but I guess in the beginning it would help travelers to get some indicators what they can get for the money, e.g. number of top-rated sights in Europe or number of stages, operas, …

    No complaint. just thoughts because I see on various travel forums how much people are unhappy with decisions they made based on price only. So, to me worth an approach and worth to question the value for money.

    All the best for you!

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Thanks for this, and I totally agree. We will continue to update the Backpacker Index, of course, but I’m also very aware that focusing on the cheapest destinations is usually unwise even for those on the lowest budgets. I even frequently point people to an article I wrote a few years ago called, First time to Europe: Focus on these 5 great cities rather than the cheap ones. As you say, it’s pretty much impossible to produce a “value index.”

      A real cheapskate might do a holiday in Riga and Tallinn because they are much cheaper than London and Paris, and of course that would be a mistake. By the way, I personally think Berlin offers excellent value in that it’s a great city that also seems relatively cheap when you are there. Krakow and Budapest are also on that list for me. Thanks again for the comments. -Roger

  5. Kieran says:

    I will hopefully be visiting 6 countries in the top 10 from December onwards. Nice list if accurate.

    It seems to me Budapest is the ultimate hub for Euorope when it comes to flights. It’s cheaper to go to and from Budapest than any other country in relative comparison and it also has a lot more options of countries to visit including the more obscure locations.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Especially in the off season like that, I’m sure you’ll find the list to be pretty accurate. It’s better for comparing cities to each other rather than for creating a lock-in budget for your whole trip because some people buy souvenirs or clothes or spend way more or less on alcohol or deserts and those sorts of things, even while backpacking. Budapest is a good hub for the cheaper and more interesting parts of Europe, but the trains from Budapest to anywhere outside of Hungary are pretty slow, so make sure you take that into account. Have a fantastic trip. -Roger

  6. syed majid says:

    Dear Roger,

    Hope you are in great health. first i want to thank you for your kind advise to all. i have some query to discuss with you. i have my business commitment in first week of October in Amsterdam, i m planning to visit with my family and i will be having 10 days a part from my commitment. i need your advise, where i should take my family in Schengen states. the time period will be first two weeks of October, 2018. i was thinking about Germany. need your advise to plan a budget package and should have some nice destinations as my family will be visiting first time.
    one more thing, my family is total four person, me, wife and two little beautiful daughters. advise me also about the transportation arrangement for the trip as well.
    looking forward for your as usual response and best advise.

  7. Indra says:

    Yo Wade, it’s such a great work and i really appreciate it. Keep spirit to do this job. Greetings from Indonesia.

  8. Jeremy says:

    Hey Roger,

    I am so happy I came across this site. Love it!!! Great work.

    I managed to get six weeks off work later this year and will be heading to Europe. Planning was initially overwhelming as there are so many places to visit and I have so little time and a limited budget. Your costing for each city is a great help in helping me decide places that I will be able to affordably visit.


    1. Roger Wade says:


      I really appreciate you taking the time to comment like this. Many people, understandably, only comment when they have a complaint, so these positive comments are nice. -Roger

  9. Maritza says:


    Thanks for the list. However, a few comments. I have followed your advice here and visited some of the countries that you have listed, but the prices being charged are certainly way higher than those you listed. Considering you wrote this for 2018 travel and I am traveling now, it is crazy! For example, I was unable to get a bed in Belgrade for less than 12 Euros (Belgrade listed as the 3rd cheapest city) – and I took it because most of the hostels are charging 15 euros and up. I have not paid 12 euros anywhere and I started traveling from Greece. Had I known this, I would have skipped the city, but my current hostel already arranged for me to be picked up, so let’s see how it goes. Now in Romania where I’ve paid between 8-10 euros/night. I see you changed the price for Hostel Mostel in Sofia, but it is not that high, at least not for one bunk bed. Out of all the ones I’ve been to, thus far from your list, that was a really fantastic place – free breakfast and dinner – fresh, not cardboard like the rest that claim to offer free breakfast, and the staff were simply awesome – they manage to know my name…then again, I was told that it is also the name of the longest river in the Balkans 😉 I believe it was 10 euro/night. Anyways, my 2 cents. Making my way back to Paris….I’m afraid it will start to get more expensive from this point forward. A few Euros extra might not seem like a lot, but when you are traveling for a while and have limited resources, it matters a whole lot. Additional suggestions welcomed. Thanks.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Thank you for the comment, and I’m sorry that you’ve had a few budget surprises so far. I take pride in the Backpacker Indexes, and it’s challenging to know how much detail and explanation to go into. If I write long explanations then I fear people will skip the whole thing, so I try to keep it brief. But that can lead to surprises like this. I’m going to add a note now near the top that should explain what is going on.

      The thing is, most European hostels have their lowest rates from around November through March, and then April, May, September, and October are a bit higher. And usually June through August are a few euros higher per night. When I gather data for the update of the Backpacker Index each year I get rates from April or May, because about 9 months a year the rates are that price or a bit lower. However, in those summer months, and particularly in places like Greek Islands, the rates can seem much higher than what I’ve written. Again, I’m sorry about this, and my advice would be to research current hostel prices for cities before you lock in plans for a specific time period. If you were traveling in March (and plenty of backpackers do travel year round) you’d wonder why the prices I’m quoting are higher than you are paying.

      If you are still on the road in September I think you’ll find it to be pretty close to the prices I used. It’s hard to put this all in an explanation on top of the list, but my main goal for the Backpacker Index is to help people be able to compare cities to each other rather than lock in an exact budget. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve encountered backpackers who spend almost no money on food by loading up on the included breakfast in the hostel and then buying a few things from the supermarket, including alcohol, and they get by on almost nothing. And other “backpackers” can’t resist heading to the busiest and most expensive part of town for food and drinks, and they spend a small fortune. Let me know if I can help any more. -Roger

  10. Agata says:

    About Poland… I live have lived in Krakow for 4 years and I should tell you that meals here are more expensive. You can eat a dinner for 24 PLN, even cheaper if you go to one of places called “Bar Mleczny”- cheap polish cusine, i recommend, but there is no way you could spend 24 PLN on the food for all day. 40 PLN is more realistic. Same thing with Warsaw- food will cost more, about 50 PLN for a day.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Thank you very much for the feedback. I will update the prices up soon based on your advice. The last time I was in both of those cities was about four years ago and you could get by on those amounts if you were on a very tight budget, but I know inflation can push costs higher in these areas even though it appears to be stable for the whole economy. I appreciate the help. -Roger