Many of us start our exploration of Europe as backpackers or at least staying in budget hotels, but eventually we prefer at least a 3-star hotel with a few creature comforts. That is why we have created this list of all of Europe's top tourist cities ranked from cheapest to most expensive for those on an average budget and sharing a 3-star hotel room for two people.

The index below shows a price for each city and that can be used as a typical budget for normal daily expensive, but of course it doesn't include shopping and souvenirs. You'll notice that the cities at the bottom of the list will cost more than four times as much per day as those on the top of the list, so choosing which cities to visit can make a huge difference in your overall budget.

Generally speaking there was very little inflation in 2016 so prices were stable in all but a few areas. The Euro, British Pound, and all of the other European currencies gained against the US Dollar in 2017, so things are a bit less affordable for Americans in 2018.

Are you a hostel person rather than a hotel person?

If you prefer hostel dorm beds to private hotel rooms then check the Europe Backpackers Index, which is aimed at budget travelers. The rankings are also quite different in some cases, as cheap dorms are available in some cities where hotel rooms aren't quite so cheap.

How the 3-Star Traveler Index works

We take a fixed set of typical expenses that every traveler will encounter, and apply them to each of the 56 major European tourist cities.

Note: The 3-star Traveler Index is based on two people sharing hotel rooms and taxis.

Costs for each city

  • One night in the cheapest 3-star hotel available with a desirable central location and mostly positive reviews. Hotel prices are per person based on double occupancy, so the full nightly rate is double what is listed for each city here.
  • Two 3-kilometer taxi rides per day (one ride paid per person)
  • One cultural attraction, such as a popular museum, per day
  • Three meals per day using the top end of the range of our “budget meals” for each city
  • Three beers (or wine) each day as an “entertainment fund.” Non-drinkers might have dessert and coffee or attend a local music performance instead, so this is a general benchmark that should be proportional for each city.

Related information

>>>18 Cheapest European cities and airports for trans-Atlantic flights

From cheapest to most expensive

Exchange rates were calculated in February, 2018

1 – Sofia, Bulgaria (cheapest)

A city that would be far more popular if it were easier to reach as part of a tour around Europe, Sofia at least is a bargain for those who make the trip. The city center is quite trendy and nice, with plenty of outdoor cafes and interesting restaurants and clubs, so it's hardly what you'd expect for one of the cheapest cities in Europe. Sofia lacks any must-see sights, but it's more pleasant than you might expect.

  • Currency: Bulgaria Leva
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Bon Bon Home – 29.34
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 28.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: BGN83.34 = US.29
    /day

>>>Sofia prices and weather

2 – Kiev, Ukraine

KievNewKiev is a long way from all of the popular Western European cities that travelers normally frequent, and this helps give it a frontier quality that will excite some and frustrate others. Since the Ukranian currency started going down in 2014 due to the conflict with Russia, this place is a huge bargain. The inflation rate has been high as well, so this one is a bit of a moving target, although it should be cheap for some time to come. Until things stabilize, it's hard to be sure of a budget very far in advance.

  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Premier Hotel Lybid – 500/night
  • Transportation: 70.00
  • Meals: 570.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 180.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: UHR1,335.00 – US.48/day

>>>Kiev prices and weather

3 – Bucharest, Romania

It may be relatively cheap, but Bucharest still isn't inviting a flood of cultural tourism. The slow-moving build-out of the tourist infrastructure is among the issues that keeps most travelers stopping elsewhere in Romania, but it's still a favorite stop for many who are touring the region, and at least prices are very low once you arrive. There are some nice tourist districts here, so it's a nice place to stop on your way in or out of the country.

  • Currency: Romanian leu
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ostasilor Homestay – 74.50/night per person
  • Transportation: 15.00
  • Meals: 66.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RON191.50 – US.66/day

>>>Bucharest prices and weather

4 – Belgrade, Serbia

The low prices have helped Belgrade start showing up on the lists of party cities for weekend breaks with Europeans who live a cheap flight away. This is a large city with a lot of history, and relatively few problems compared to some of its neighbors. Quality is quite high, even in the lower price ranges, so Belgrade is a pleasant bargain for most visitors.

  • Currency: Serbian Dinar (Euro used here)
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Apartment Njegosh – 12.50/night
  • Transportation: 4.50
  • Meals: 15.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.90
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €42.40 – US.35/day

>>>Belgrade prices and weather

5 – Istanbul, Turkey

Prices of most things in Istanbul had been heading up for years, but the currency has dropped a lot lately and this amazing city is quite a bargain again. With some instability with the government, the Turkish Lira has also fallen in value quite a bit, so Istanbul is an excellent bargain and it still feels safem, although it's always wise to avoid political gatherings. Quality hotels in the tourist center were a bit pricey, but room rates are now very low for such a major tourist hot spot in Europe. For the best deals check our list of editor's choice Istanbul hotels that are all great value with excellent locations.

  • Currency: Turkish lira
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Kupeli Hotel – 74.60/night
  • Transportation: 15.00
  • Meals: 58.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 45.00
  • Attractions: 30.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: TRY222.60 – US.73/day

>>>Istanbul prices and weather

6 – Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

CeskyKrumlovIn spite of being a tiny town that is too far from Prague or Vienna for a day trip, Cesky Krumlov is the Czech Republic's second most popular destination for tourists. Once you see it, you'll know why. Forgotten for many decades, this friendly little place on a serpentine stretch of river is now booming. Among its best features is that it's incredibly cheap by European standards, but it would still be worth a stop even if it weren't.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Penzion Pod Hrazi – 474/night
  • Transportation: 110
  • Meals: 440
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 120
  • Attractions: 100
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CZK1244 – US.36/day

>>>Cesky Krumlov prices and weather

7 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

One of the more troubled parts of former Yugoslavia, Sarajevo is fighting an image problem with older travelers. It's a shame because this is one of the most interesting cities in Europe, with a lively and welcoming Muslim old town at its heart. Sarajevo is also quite out of the way for most people, so it's great that things are very cheap for those who make the effort.

  • Currency: Converted Mark (Euro used here)
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Same Seher Hotel – 16.50/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 17.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €49.50 – US.11/day

>>>Sarajevo prices and weather

8 – Zagreb, Croatia

Most travelers to Croatia head to the coast, so Zagreb isn't really a tourist hot spot. For this reason, the hotel scene tends to be more business oriented. It's worth a couple days if you are touring the area, and the old city center is teaming with nice outdoor restaurants with good prices. The amazing Plitvice Falls Park is not far away, and highly recommended.

  • Currency: Croatian kuna
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Guesthouse Lessi – 104.34/night
  • Transportation: 30
  • Meals: 140
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 66
  • Attractions: 30
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK370.34 – US.21/day

>>>Zagreb prices and weather

9 – Budapest, Hungary

An abundance of decent tourist hotels makes Budapest a fantastic bargain compared to other classic cities. As long as you don't insist on staying right by the river and eating only at touristy restaurants with English menus, this city can be quite a bargain. Budapest is once again the cheapest major tourist city on the list, so it's one to add to your list if you are anywhere nearby.

  • Currency: Hungary Forint
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Happy Apartments – 7,213/night
  • Transportation: 1600
  • Meals: 4500
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 1500
  • Attractions: 1500
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HUF16,313 – US.02/day

>>>Budapest prices and weather

10 – Vilnius, Lithuania

VilniusAs with the other Baltic states (Estonia and Latvia), Lithuania is still quite cheap compared to its neighbors a bit to the west. Vilnius is out of the way unless you are going from Poland through to Estonia, but it's also served by an increasing number of European budget airlines who bring people in for a cheap weekend break. There's a lovely old city center here, and appealing prices once you arrive. And unlike Riga and Tallinn, this is not a cruise port city so the center is free of most of the cheesy things that passengers gravitate toward.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Nese Pramogu Bankas Guest House – 16.90/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 21
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €54.90 – US.78/day

>>>Vilnius prices and weather

11 – Riga, Latvia

A real surprise considering how close it is to Scandinavia, Riga is still very cheap for Europe. This former Soviet area is not the sort of place you end up in accidentally on your way from one city to another, so the remoteness might help contribute to the fact that it's not terribly well discovered by many Westerners yet. Riga is definitely on the map of the European party crowd, but it's still very charming.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Avitar Apartment House – 17.40/night
  • Transportation: 6.50
  • Meals: 18.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 10.50
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €55.90 – US.01/day

>>>Riga prices and weather

12 – Split, Croatia

SplitWhile Dubrovnik is the focus of most Croatia itineraries, the city of Split is just as impressive in most ways, and it's also far cheaper and easier to reach. Better still, Split is a living city where locals fill up most restaurants and bars, making it feel far more authentic and less touristy. Hotels here can be bargains by European standards and the islands nearby are also well priced by comparison. In July and August you can expect to pay a lot more for accommodation.

  • Currency: Croatian kuna
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Dalmation House – 108/night
  • Transportation: 50
  • Meals: 165
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 60
  • Attractions: 40
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK423.00 – US.92/day

>>>Split prices and weather

13 – Krakow, Poland

By our judgement, Krakow is easily among the best bargains in Europe, with a lovely and tranquil old town center combined with prices that seem weirdly low. There are certainly quite a few expensive (and touristy) restaurants and bars in obvious places, but just around the corner there will be plenty of less obvious places with great food and drinks at half the price. If you want to feel “rich” in a lovely tourist city, head to Krakow while prices still seem this low.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Corner Hotel – 129/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 40.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 36.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN241.00 = US.09/day

>>>Krakow prices and weather

14 – Bratislava, Slovakia

Considering that it's practically within bicycling distance of Vienna, Bratislava continues to keep a low profile among the traveling set. This is another that is becoming popular with the weekend-break crowd, partly due to its reasonable prices, but also due to the fact that it's quite international for a former Eastern city.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Apartments Presidential Palace – 22.50/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 18.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €60.00 – US.07/day

>>>Bratislava prices and weather

15 – Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw is another city that rewards its visitors with reasonable prices, but is still not particularly popular, at least compared to the cheaper and more charming city of Krakow. The beautifully restored Old City is a major highlight that competes favorably with Krakow, though the rest of Warsaw feels more dedicated to business travelers.

  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: OSiR Polna – 125/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 55.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 30.00
  • Attractions: 23.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: PLN253.00 – US.63/day

>>>Warsaw prices and weather

16 – Saint Petersburg, Russia

Russia had a currency melt down and dramatic inflation a few years ago, but things have stabilized since then. The top attractions in Saint Petersburg drive the cost up a bit, though are still well worth it. Getting a tourist visa isn't easy for most, so you can't just buy a ticket and pop on over. Most people consider it far nicer than Moscow, and fortunately hotels here are quite a bit cheaper as well.

  • Currency: Russian ruble
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Capital Hotel – 823.55/night
  • Transportation: 300
  • Meals: 2,000
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 750
  • Attractions: 400
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RUB4273.55 – US.71/day

>>>Saint Petersburg prices and weather

17 – Tenerife, Spain

Technically part of Europe because it's run by Spain, Tenerife is in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa, and it's the most popular of them for English-speakers. The mild climate is good pretty much all year round so it's a popular escape at any time. English speakers will find the most comfortable hotels in the southwest corner of the island, near Los Cristianos. Fortunately it's relatively cheap as well. During peak seasons, hotel prices will be higher, but still a bargain for Europe.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Marte – 19.50/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 23.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €62.50 – US.16/day

>>>Tenerife prices and weather

18 – Prague, Czech Republic

Prague's main tourist areas have been insanely crowded (especially during summers) for well over a decade now, but the herds keep coming. This is still a great-value city considering what it has to offer, but prices are likely to keep creeping up so there's no time like the present. Check out our editor's choice Prague hotels for great locations and very good prices at high-rated properties.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Central Station Studios – 670/night
  • Transportation: 120
  • Meals: 570
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 135
  • Attractions: 250
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CZK1745 – US.67/day

>>>Prague prices and weather

19 – Santorini Island, Greece

SantoriniSantorini is Greece's most popular tourist island so it's listed here to represent all of them, which tend to be mostly similar in price. Things like food and drinks are reasonably priced on the islands, especially if you don't require a sea view at the same time, but renting scooters or water sports equipment can add up quickly. During July and August the hotel prices jump up quite a bit as well, so visit in the shoulder months if you can.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Villa Michalis – 23.20/night
  • Transportation: 5.50
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €68.70 – US.81/day

>>>Santorini prices and weather

20 – Ljubljana, Slovenia

LjubljanaSlovenia borders Italy and Austria, yet it's still largely unknown to European visitors from outside of the region. Ljubljana itself is a charming and mellow town that deserves far more tourism than it receives, yet the real draws to the country are its natural sights, including Lake Bled and its Karst formations on the coast.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ginger Rooms – 26/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 27.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 5.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €72.00 – US.89/day

>>>Ljubljana prices and weather

21 – Moscow, Russia

Moscow famously used to top some of the “most expensive cities in the world” lists, yet especially after the 2014-15 currency plunge, that's not even close to being true. The city is crammed with hotels that earn low marks from most visitors, indicating that standards still need to improve greatly for the mid-range tourist to be happy, even if the 5-star visitor is doing fine here. Still, unless you need an international 5-star hotel, Moscow isn't quite as expensive for travelers as headlines might have you believe.

  • Currency: Russian ruble
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Happy (Paradise) Hotel at Novy Arbat 1,578/night
  • Transportation: 400
  • Meals: 2150
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 1050
  • Attractions: 400
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: RUB5,578 – US0.13/day

>>>Moscow prices and weather

22 – Athens, Greece

Athens is another city that can be a relative bargain for the 3-star traveler, with some good and cheap hotels right in the main tourist zones. During summer the city does fill up, so it may not feel so affordable during high season. The recent troubles are keeping some people away, so it might be easier to find bargains this year, particularly with hotels.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Minoa Athens Hotel – 29.75/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €81.75 – US0.93/day

>>>Athens prices and weather

23 – Tallinn, Estonia

An interesting city with influences of nearby Scandinavia and its recent Soviet past, Tallinn isn't too easy to reach and it doesn't seem to be talked about much, but at least it's quite affordable so it should appeal to adventurous types who like to see some remaining east/west contrasts. Finnish people coming on the 90-minute ferry from Helsinki still make up a large number of visitors, with cruise passengers being most of the rest.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Olevi Residents – 26/night
  • Transportation: 6.50
  • Meals: 29.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €82.50 – US1.85/day

>>>Tallinn prices and weather

24 – Madrid, Spain

Except for the height of the peak season, there are usually plenty of good hotel options in Madrid, which helps keep prices fairly reasonable. Check our Editor's choice Madrid hotels list for great bargains that are well located and well reviewed. The season here is long as well, which helps spread visitors out beyond July and August (when it's really too hot to visit anyway). Prices of most things in Madrid and Barcelona are similar, except that Madrid hotels tend to offer far better value.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hostal Triana – 28/night
  • Transportation: 6.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €83.00 – US2.47/day

>>>Madrid prices and weather

25 – Valletta, Malta

VallettaThe small capital city of Valletta only has a small fraction of Malta's hotels and sights, so this entry is really for the whole island. Valletta is historic and interesting, but honestly most people come to Malta for the climate, so most hotels are in Sliema or farther up the coast. Malta's location south of Sicily gives it an enjoyable climate while the continent is still chilly, so it is fairly popular for most of the year. Most people speak English so it continues to be big with many Brits who've been coming for decades.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Carlton Hotel – 31.50/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 23.50
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 9.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €84.00 – US3.70/day

>>>Valletta prices and weather

26 – Naples, Italy

Naples is certainly the cheapest of Italy's main tourist cities, so it's a shame that most people ignore it completely. Its reputation of being a bit rough around the edges shouldn't keep you away, though there are still areas where you might not want to linger at night. Hotel bargains are also relatively easy to find, and who can resist visiting the birthplace of pizza? Day trips to Naples are very popular though, especially for those who base themselves in the wonderful nearby town of Sorrento.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: B&B Hotel Napoli – 31/night
  • Transportation: 11.00
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €85.00 – US4.94/day

>>>Naples prices and weather

27 – Ibiza, Spain

This famous party island off of Spain is a pretty good bargain for the budget travel crowd outside of July and August, as long as they aren't too interested in going into any of the huge nightclubs that charge a fortune at the door and crazy-high prices for drinks once inside. If you are coming to participate in the club scene, you'll be spending much more than what is listed below. Also, hotels will be much more expensive in July and August, so during peak season the island would be much farther down this list.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Playasol Marco Polo I – 27.30/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 26.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €87.30 – US7.78/day

>>>Ibiza prices and weather

28 – Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik's historic walled city is stunning, and anyone wanting to stay in or near it will pay high prices for hotels. Apartments (called sobas) are actually more plentiful and better value. Unfortunately, even if you get a bargain bed, you'll discover that every restaurant and bar in Dubrovnik is totally dedicated to tourists, so it feels like a theme park. The crowds are especially thick from June through August, so prices shoot up then and availability is limited.

  • Currency: Croatian kuna
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Guesthouse Vicelic – 186.30/night
  • Transportation: 65.00
  • Meals: 195.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 126.00
  • Attractions: 100.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: HRK672.30 – US1.12/day

>>>Dubrovnik prices and weather

29 – Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is known for high standards among both hostels and hotels, and its reasonable prices help make it one of the better continuing travel bargains on the continent. The climate also helps make it one of the better spring or autumn destinations, so it's a nice city-break for many Europeans. The only trick is that it's in a remote corner of Europe, so people don't just wind up in Lisbon by accident.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Lisbon City Hotel – 38/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 29.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €95.00 – US7.28/day

>>>Lisbon prices and weather

30 – Milan, Italy

Much like Hamburg mentioned below, Milan can be a real Jekyll or Hyde with hotel prices at nearly any time of year. During our test period we found great hotels at reasonable prices, which certainly means there are no trade fairs or other events in town. Most other times, Milan can be brutal for the 3-star and up hotel crowd. Choose the week you stay wisely and Milan is very affordable. During trade-fair weeks the same room will double or triple in price from the week before or on many weekends.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Albergo Salerno – 33.25/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 28.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €95.25 – US7.59/day

>>>Milan prices and weather

31 – Berlin, Germany

Everyone seems to be talking about Berlin these days, for good reason. This is the kind of city that almost everyone loves once they visit a first time. There are some excellent museums and attractions that are even more affordable with a Berlin Pass. Fortunately, its hotel scene is expanding rapidly as well, so high quality 3-star rooms are getting easier to find at affordable prices. Check our recommended hotels in Berlin list for some great choices that offer very low rates when they aren't full up.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Castell am Kurfürstendamm – 29/night
  • Transportation: 10.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €95.50 – US7.90/day

>>>Berlin prices and weather

32 – Bruges, Belgium

Although it's relatively compact, Bruges continues to be very popular among travelers exploring the Benelux region. The well preserved medieval town center is a UNESCO World Heritage sight of its own, and it's all very tourist friendly and easy to explore in only a day or two. Hotels are good value here, especially compared to the expense-account hotels that dominate Brussels.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hans Memling Hotel – 37.50/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €98.50 – US1.60/day

>>>Bruges prices and weather

33 – Munich, Germany

MunichMunich is famous for its pleasant city center as well as better weather than any other German tourist city, and those things help keep hotel prices a bit on the high side for this country. It's very different from Berlin and the others, and the Bavarian roots are clearly on display. During Oktoberfest (mid September through early October), prices double or triple from this, so plan for that if you want to join in.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: 1st Creatif Hotel Elephant – 36/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 9.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €102.00 – US5.93/day

>>>Munich prices and weather

34 – Nice, France

As a major summer destination, Nice comes off as fairly reasonable on our data since we took hotel readings for May. During July and August this would probably be several places farther down this list, and the nearby towns of Antibes and Cannes are far more expensive still. Nevertheless, Nice is the most budget-friendly city on the Côte d'Azur, so it's the ideal base to explore nearby Monaco as well.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel du Midi – 33.50/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 8.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €102.50 – US6.54/day

>>>Nice prices and weather

35 – Vienna, Austria

Vienna is surprisingly expensive, but it's worth a visit if you can manage it. This is a classic and important city with excellent cultural offerings, so hotels in or near the city center can fill up at high prices, although they can also be bargains if not much is going on that week. Any first-time visitor who wants to see the main sights should read our review of the Vienna Pass, as it may be ideal.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Pension Liechtenstein – 34.50/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €104.50 – US9.01/day

>>>Vienna prices and weather

36 – Hamburg, Germany

This out of the way German city isn't really a top destination in that way that Berlin or Munich are, but it's pleasant and interesting, particularly for Beatles fans. Hotels here will double their prices during trade fairs and other events, so timing is everything if you want to keep costs down.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Novum Style Hotel Hamburg Centrum – 40.50/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 27.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €104.50 – US9.01/day

>>>Hamburg prices and weather

37 – Rome, Italy

Even with its relatively expensive (and very worthwhile) main attractions, Rome can be surprisingly affordable if you pick the right week to visit. During summer finding a good and cheap hotel can be very difficult, so it's not an eternal bargain, but during spring and autumn there are sometimes great deals to be found. Choose from our recommended Rome hotels for some great bargains with very good locations and high quality.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Novecento – 41/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €105.00 – US9.63/day

>>>Rome prices and weather

38 – Edinburgh, Scotland

Though its abundance of hostels does make Edinburgh a good stop for budget travelers, the choices in nicer 3-star hotels are more limited. The main attractions are also a bit pricey too, and of course during the August festival season you can expect to pay far more for a bed or room if you can find one at all. You can keep it affordable if you follow our cheapskate guide to the Edinburgh Fringe. Still, Edinburgh is a gorgeous city and almost everyone who visits falls in love with the place, at least during summer.

  • Currency: British pound
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Cityroomz Edinburgh – 37.92/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 22.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 14.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £95.92 – US3.22/day

>>>Edinburgh prices and weather

39 – Salzburg, Austria

SalzburgFeaturing one of Europe's loveliest old towns, Salzburg is set dramatically below a huge fortress, and it's a must-stop destination for anyone touring the area. The Mozart's birthplace tourism is a huge draw here, but non-Europeans seem more entertained by the many Sound of Music bus tours, which are an excellent way to see the area even if you don't know all of the songs from the movie. If you want skiing, go to Innsbruck, but if you want Austrian charm, come to Salzburg.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Star Inn Hotel Salzburg Zentrum, by Comfort – 41.60/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 33.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €108.10 – US3.46day

>>>Salzburg prices and weather

40 – Brussels, Belgium

Another city that can be reasonable or very expensive depending on whether business people or bureaucrats are in town or not, Brussels is usually known for being pricey, but that isn't always the case. It's still debatable whether visiting is worthwhile at all, but it's at least good to know that it isn't always a budget buster at the same time.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Le Berger – 35.50/night
  • Transportation: 9.00
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €110.50 – US6.42/day

>>>Brussels prices and weather

41 – Florence, Italy

Depending on the week you decide to come, Florence is usually a bit cheaper than Milan, but again, the hotels can be full and expensive or empty and reasonable at almost any time. This is another city where if you choose the timing of your visit wisely you can stick to a fairly low budget. At least Florence hotels are cheaper than those in Rome, so it's a popular base for those exploring Tuscany or visiting nearby Pisa as a day trip.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Golf – 47.50/night
  • Transportation: 8.50
  • Meals: 32.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €112.00 – US8.27/day

>>>Florence prices and weather

42 – Barcelona, Spain

With good hotel real-estate being harder to come by, Barcelona remains more expensive than Madrid in that department, but quite similar for most other things. During summer the rates jump much higher yet, so those trying to maximize their travel funds should consider a shoulder-season visit. See our recommended Barcelona hotels list for cheap and well located options that are highly rated as well. The Barcelona Pass is something to consider for first-time visitors.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Aparthotel Augusta – 49/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 13.50
  • Attractions: 13.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €113.50 – US0.12/day

>>>Barcelona prices and weather

43 – Helsinki, Finland

Its remote corner of Europe has kept Helsinki from being part of the main tourist trail, and its high prices keep even many adventurous travelers away. In other words, the hotels here are mostly for business travelers, so budget travelers get the shaft. Alcohol is also very expensive here, though restaurant food isn't as outrageous as other Nordic cities.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Forenom Aparthotel Helsinki City – 42.50/night
  • Transportation: 13.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 21.00
  • Attractions: 7.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €114.50 – US1.36/day

>>>Helsinki prices and weather

44 – Dublin, Ireland

Dublin had become a very expensive city for hotels only a few years ago, fueled mostly by its economic bubble. But now hotel rates have come down to reasonable levels so the city is back in play for casual tourists looking for value. The rest of Ireland is at least a bit cheaper, and it tends to get far better reviews from first-time visitors as well. By the way, if you are going to the Guinness Storehouse and a distillery tour, then the Dublin Pass is a great deal.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Forenom Aparthotel Helsinki City – 42.50/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €120.55 – US8.83/day

>>>Dublin prices and weather

45 – Bergen, Norway

BergenOslo is certainly a nice place, but if you are a tourist and can only make one stop in Norway, it should be in Bergen. This is a really wonderful town focused on a historic harbor, and unfortunately it's also extremely expensive by most standards. The gateway to visits to the fjords, Bergen promises endless things to do and it's very unique by European standards. Drinkers should think about a stop at the Duty Free on the way in, and food is very pricey as well.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Citibox Bergen – 390/night
  • Transportation: 110
  • Meals: 350
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 270
  • Attractions: 60
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: NOK1,180.00 – US0.90/day

>>>Bergen prices and weather

46 – Paris, France

Generally speaking, Paris is at least a little cheaper than many cities on this list, but the hotel scene can be tricky. For a convenient location and very good reviews, it will cost you, though many people are quite happy staying in a mediocre hotel or a bit out of the way. The fact that you can stay in almost any district and quickly get to the main attractions on the Metro seems to open up more options for visitors. During summer things can get quite crowded, however, even as half the locals have fled for the beaches. Those wishing to see the famous sights should consider bundling them together by buying a Paris Pass. See our recommended Paris hotels for our editors' picks for great value, location, and well-reviewed properties.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ibis Canal St. Martin – 45.65/night
  • Transportation: 12.00
  • Meals: 31.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €124.65 – US3.89/day

>>>Paris prices and weather

47 – Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg City is another that is only a bit more expensive for the 3-star traveler than for the backpacker, probably due to better hotel competition and few hostel options. In other words, hotel quality is quite high and rates are reasonable compared to many others on this list. This city seems to be completely overshadowed by the neighboring countries, which is a shame.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Best Western Plus Grand Hotel Victor Hugo – 71.50/night
  • Transportation: 6.40
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €128.90 – US9.14/day

>>>Luxembourg City prices and weather

48 – Oslo, Norway

As the Norwegian currency came way down along with the oil prices that the country relies on, Oslo is still much cheaper than it was in most of 2015. Actually, visitors will still find food and drinks to be shockingly expensive compared to most of the rest of Europe, but hotels here are surprisingly good value and the main attractions are fairly cheap.

  • Currency: Norwegian kroner
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: CityBox Oslo – 544/night
  • Transportation: 120
  • Meals: 350
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 210
  • Attractions: 60
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: NOK1284.00 – US4.19/day

>>>Oslo prices and weather

49 – Stockholm, Sweden

Even during May, which is still part of the off-season in Stockholm, hotels are very expensive. And during the high season of July and August things get ridiculous. This is truly a beautiful city filled with beautiful people, but it's still hard to justify a visit when it's so much more expensive than the cities above it on this list, most of which have plenty going for them as well. At least the long-promised ABBA Museum is finally open.

  • Currency: Swedish kronor
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Castle House Inn – 632.46/night
  • Transportation: 90
  • Meals: 320
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 225
  • Attractions: 150
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: SEK1417.46 – US3.92/day

>>>Stockholm prices and weather

50 – Venice, Italy

Those who don't mind staying on one of the nearby islands at night can save money while visiting Venice, though they also sacrifice much of the charm that can only be found before or after the huge tour groups set in for the day. This price reflects a good 3-star hotel in the heart of the main island, and it's a bit surprising that prices aren't higher. Check our list of recommended Venice hotels for great value and locations.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Antica Casa Coppo – 58.90/night
  • Transportation: 14.00
  • Meals: 39.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €141.90 – US5.19/day

>>>Venice prices and weather

51 – London, England

London has traditionally been one of the world's most expenisve cities for tourists, but since the British Pound fell dramatically in 2016, it's not quite as bad. Those wanting to stay in premium hotel neighborhoods will still find it pricey. But once you know your way around a bit, and to avoid the really touristy places, London isn't really a budget buster. The famous museums are actually free, though the other famous attractions are among Europe's most expensive, so you can save a bit of money on them with a London Pass. For our editors' picks for excellent value accommodation see our recommended London hotels page. A first-time visitor should have a look at our list of the best things to do in London with current prices.

  • Currency: British pound
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Point A Hotel London Paddington – 57.75/night
  • Transportation: 10.00
  • Meals: 30.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 16.50
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: £129.25 – US9.51/day

>>>London prices and weather

52 – Amsterdam, Netherlands

The compact nature of Amsterdam's city center seems to help make it more expensive for the 3-star traveler and the backpacker as well. Its never-ending popularity means that all the accommodation within the main canal rings tends to be expensive, and many who stay outside that zone are not satisfied with where they end up. At least it's easy to find good prices at restaurants, even in the heart of the tourist areas. Choose among our recommended Amsterdam hotels for great locations and great value.

  • Currency: euro
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Ibis Amsterdam Centre Stopera – €82.50/night
  • Transportation: 9.25
  • Meals: 24.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: €145.75 – US9.94/day

>>>Amsterdam prices and weather

53 – Copenhagen, Denmark

No surprises to see Copenhagen so far down this list, as it can be a budget-killer regardless of your preferred travel style. As lovely as it is, and as pleasant as the endless summer days can be, just about everything is weirdly expensive all over Scandinavia, and few bargains can be found even in the larger cities.

  • Currency: Danish kroner
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Carlton Hotel Guldsmeden – 561.60/night
  • Transportation: 65
  • Meals: 240
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 180
  • Attractions: 80
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: DKK1,126.60 – US6.21/day

>>>Copenhagen prices and weather

54 – Interlaken, Switzerland

InterlakenUnlike most other European countries, Switzerland's big cities aren't particularly tourist friendly or even too interesting. Most tourists are far better off ignoring them and instead heading to Interlaken or Lucerne as a base to explore the Alps and the other outdoor activities that go all year round here. These tourist towns are quite expensive, although thankfully not as expensive as Zurich (below). If you are mainly after Alpine views and experiences, stay in Gimmelwald or Mürren, which are both unforgettable, and just up the hill from Interlaken. Lucerne is the other Swiss city to consider visiting, and prices there are similar to Interlaken.

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Beausite – 71.64/night
  • Transportation: 20.00
  • Meals: 52.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 10.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF177.64 – US8.98/day

>>>Interlaken prices and weather

55 – Reykjavik, Iceland

Before its currency collapse in 2008, everything in Iceland was insanely expensive, and then prices were cut in half. A solid rebound has helped bring prices back up again, and in 2016 they kept going higher and higher, especially for hotels. Helpfully, almost 100% of Iceland's charms are in its scenery and outdoor activities, so there isn't much reason to linger in the capital anyway. Hotels have continued to get more expensive as the country has become more popular, and shared bathrooms are the norm in all but the most expensive places.

  • Currency: Iceland kronur
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel Reykjavik Centrum – 7,349/night
  • Transportation: 1,500
  • Meals: 6,000
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 3,600
  • Attractions: 1,500
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: ISK19,949 – US8.89/day

>>>Reykjavik prices and weather

56 – Zürich, Switzerland

No prizes for guessing this one, especially considering that Zürich also came out on top on our survey of world taxi prices. Even then, it's remarkable how expensive things are in this city dominated by rich bankers and others on expense accounts. Fortunately, Switzerland has plenty of other and better tourist destinations, and even though they also tend to be pricey, at least there are some cheaper options available for those willing to look around or stay a bit out of town. If you want to visit an interesting city in Switzerland, Bern is probably a better choice. In other words, don't just plan a visit to Zürich because it's a big city that you've heard of.

  • Currency: Swiss franc
  • Best cheap & central 3-star hotel: Hotel California – 90.13/night
  • Transportation: 21.00
  • Meals: 50.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 27.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily 3-star Traveler Index: CHF203.13 – US6.10/day

>>>Zurich prices and weather

Notes on the above data

The hotel prices listed above are for stays in mid May, which is shoulder season in most of Europe. During July and August, most cities will be more expensive as well as more crowded.

For the food and drink prices we took the top-end of our estimates for “budget breakfasts” and so forth. This should allow for plenty of flexibility in choosing dining options in each city, but it does not account for Michelin-star restaurants, as this is a 3-star index rather than a luxury index. The prices for high-end restaurants vary far too much to be meaningful here, so we chose a reasonable and lower standard, that should allow for meals and drinks in hotel restaurants and bars, rather than at the cheapest places in town.

How to use the 3-Star Traveler Index information

The purpose of this index is to get a general sense of typical traveler costs in each city in Europe. As you can see, the cheapest city is over four times cheaper than the most expensive, so this information can help travelers choose destinations on based partly on how far their budget will go in each city.

The hotels chosen for this comparison are all of reasonably high 3-star standards and with good central locations. In many cities you can save a fair amount of money by staying in a 2-star hotel or staying farther from the city center.

Shopping, whether for souvenirs or clothing, is not included in these totals. Generally, souvenir prices will be proportional to the overall index price, but name-brand clothing tends to vary far less from one city to another.

You could use the main index price as a good indicator of a daily budget, per person, for each city, though obviously there are many ways to save or spend more wherever you go.

61 Responses to “Europe 3-Star Traveler Index for 2018: 56 cities from cheap to expensive”

  • Roger Wade says:

    April 30, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    John S,

    I’m always happy to hear that this information helps. As for whether to do an open-jaw flight or fly in and out of the same city in Europe, it’s tough to answer. Interestingly, in most of the world you can now get one-way tickets to most destinations for about half the price of a round-trip. But in Europe, round-trips still tend to be far less expensive than two one-ways. So you really have to plug your cities and dates into kayak.com or something similar, and see what the price difference is.

    Another option that I sometimes recommend is to book a round-trip into one major city, and then book a cheap flight on a low-cost carrier from your last destination back into the airport you’ll fly home from. That is usually cheaper than flying into one city and out of another because you can often get those low-cost flights within Europe for under US0. If you do check that, just be sure that you are using the correct airports. For example, you can get a cheap flight from, say, Rome to London, but it will probably land at one of the lesser airports, while your flight home is likely out of Heathrow. The same is true in many European cities, so you just have to pay attention.

    As for itinerary questions, I’ll be happy to try to help. Normally I answer them on this thread about Europe itinerary questions and answers, so if you have a follow-up question, it’s probably better to put it there.

    You’ll want to fly into Prague, or perhaps better yet, fly into Berlin for 2 or 3 days and then take the train to Prague. Air Berlin has some cheap flights and they are a good airline.

    After Prague take a train to Budapest. That train takes about 7 hours and you actually have to change in Vienna on the way, so if you prefer you can stop for 2 or 3 nights in Vienna and then go to Budapest, or go from Prague to Budapest and then 2.5-hour ride back to Vienna next.

    After Budapest and Vienna you might stop for 2 nights in Salzburg, which is wonderful, or head all the way to Interlaken to see the best views and experiences in the Alps. You can read about the specifics of how to do that part of the trip in my recent article about where to go in Switzerland. You might even consider a day or two in Lucerne as well, which is explained in the same article.

    After Switzerland take an amazingly scenic train ride to Venice for 1 or 2 nights.

    It sounds like this is going to be your first visit to Italy, and if that’s the case I don’t think you’d want to miss Florence for 2 or 3 nights. Rome, Florence, and Venice are the “Big 3” in Italy, and they are each packed with worthwhile sights. After Florence you could go to Cinque Terre for 2 nights or so (it’s nice there, but there honestly isn’t much to see or do compared to the other main stops in Italy), or go straight from Florence to Rome.

    You’ll want to spend at least 3 nights in Rome, but you could save that for the end because you might be flying out of Rome either home or to Prague or Berlin for a flight home. Rome is, of course, fascinating, but it’s also expensive and exhausting so most people don’t like to linger there. However, if you want to see Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi Coast/Capri, then you could shoot down to Naples and then take the local train to Sorrento, which is a wonderful place to base yourself for 3 or 4 days to see all of those great nearby sights.

    All of the above would be a great four weeks, and you might even have a few more days to add in a city like Cesky Krumlov (cheap and wonderful, between Prague and Vienna). This would be a very efficient itinerary, but take it only as one possible suggestion, and mold it to fit your own interests. I’ll be happy to help you plan if you want to change some stops.

    As for hotels, I actually have a link to some recommended hotels from most of the city pages on this site (like the ones linked above for Sorrento and Cesky Krumlov, although it’s mainly the major cities). On those pages I discuss which are the better neighborhoods for good-value hotels and that sort of thing.

    In September the room rates will have come down a bit from summer, and you should be able to get well-located double rooms in central parts of most of those cities for around €100 per night, including breakfast. Anything modern or glamorous will be at least double that, so you’ll be staying in quaint places whether you like it or not. Of the cities on your list, Venice and Rome are expensive for hotels, while Budapest will be cheaper than the others.

    Generally I recommend staying in smaller guesthouses and family-run hotels near the city centers, rather than American chains with larger rooms on the edge of town. You won’t have a car, so a central location will mean a short walk to most of the sights. If you try to save money by booking a cheap place that is a long walk or tram ride from the center, you won’t see nearly as much each day. There are plenty of places to cut corners on budget, but I don’t recommend booking remote hotels as a good option.

    Hopefully this helps, and if you’d like to follow up with other questions, please do so at the bottom of that article linked above. You’ll see hundreds more questions like this, and many hundreds more at the bottom of my article on Eurail Passes. -Roger

     


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