Wanderu gathered pricing information about the services and goods that travelers are most likely to spend money on, including hotels, beer, taxi, public transit, food, beer, coffee, and museums. most expensive European capitals
They then used that info to rank European capitals from the most budget-friendly to the most expensive European capitals, using a specific methodology based on travelers’ average spending habits when they visit a new place.
Let’s look at the rankings that will help you figure out where your travel budget will go the furthest:
You can already see a pattern emerging. Eastern European countries generally offer the best value to travellers. There’s no shortage of scenic and historic attractions; and for those who love the party scene, there’s tons of vibrant nightlife to enjoy. So, although you may not know too much about Skopje or Yerevan, that doesn’t mean your budget holiday to these destinations won’t be action-packed.
On the other end of the scale, we have Northern and Western Europe with its high cost of living – but if price isn’t your primary deciding factor, there are unique experiences to enjoy. After all, a cruise down a Norwegian fjord or a view of the Northern Lights from Iceland might be expensive, but it’s still the experience of a lifetime.
How Do European Capitals in Different Regions Rank?
As a traveler who is out to see a little more of the world, you’ll probably want to explore more than one country and travel as widely as you can within the region you’ve chosen to tour.
In fact, the best part of bus and train travel in Europe is that it allows you to visit many different countries relatively quickly and for very cheap.
So, the question here is: where should you spend the most time in any region of Europe if your budget is a little tight? Let’s find that out:
Western Europe’s most expensive European capitals
While Brussels isn’t exactly cheap, it’s the most affordable of the Western European capitals for travelers. Monaco, on the other hand, will eat up a bigger chunk of your budget with hotel and meal costs that easily outstrip any other Western European destination. So maybe a day trip to Monaco would be your best bet if you don’t feel like ballin’ out.
However, your choices will also be influenced by the things you like to see and do. Needless to say, marijuana enthusiasts should definitely head to Amsterdam and indulge into the huge variety of coffee shops selling different types of weed goods at pretty decent prices. And although Paris may have relatively high accommodation costs, public transport, taxis, and food are reasonably priced for the region.
Northern Europe’s most expensive European capitals
As we already established, Northern Europe will make for a pricey European holiday – unless you choose Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, that is.
Iceland is consistently among the costliest destinations for everything from hotels to a warming cup of coffee. However, the awesome thing about Iceland is that you can pitch a tent basically anywhere in the wilderness and camp for free. However, you should always use designated campsites where they do exist. Check out this resource from the Environment Agency of Iceland for more info on where you can camp. That’s a pretty sweet perk since hiking and exploring the incredible nature of Iceland is easily one of the best things to do there. While there are no buses or trains to get you there (duh!), flights are pretty cheap, and you can easily book your transfer from Keflavík International Airport to Reykjavik on Wanderu!
By Northern European standards, Stockholm and Oslo aren’t too bad. If you want to see the Northern Lights, both Sweden and Norway extend well into the Arctic Circle and a visit to Northern Sweden could probably cost you less than a trip to Iceland.
Central Europe’s most expensive European capitals
Central Europe offers us everything from famed capitals to spots most of your friends will not have heard of. But just because it’s relatively obscure that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be budget-friendly. Just look at Liechtenstein’s ranking. It may be the sixth-smallest country in the world but taking in the sights could be a costly exercise.
Meanwhile, the much more affordable Zagreb in Croatia offers you more historic buildings than you can shake a selfie stick at for a much lower overall cost. But despite this, Bratislava (a.k.a. the most affordable capital in Central Europe) offers the cheapest hotel costs, while the reasonably affordable Budapest has hotel prices that are nearly as high as those you’d pay in Liechtenstein’s Vaduz! Nevertheless, Budapest will give you very affordable transport, food and beverage prices.
Weigh your options and zero in on the destinations you’ll love. Now look for ways to economize. For example, if you save on hotel costs, that trip to Budapest may not be as expensive as it might seem.
Once again, it’s worth looking at more than the overall picture. For instance, while Macedonia’s Skopje is the cheapest capital in this region overall (and in all of Europe!), its food, beverage, and museum admission costs are higher than those in some other capital cities in the region, including Ankara, Pristina, and Kiev.
And everything is relative. On the regional listing, Kiev is the most expensive Eastern European destination, but as European destinations go, it’s mid-priced and will still cost you far less than a visit to Rome, London, or Paris.
Southern Europe most expensive European capitals
Southern Europe offers some surprises. If you thought a stay in Athens, Greece was going to cost you less than a sojourn in Rome and Madrid, think again! Having said that, hotel prices in Malta’s capital, Valletta, are substantially higher than they are in Athens, or anywhere else in the region.
Lisbon is a hands-down winner when it comes to affordability on all counts but one: hotel prices. Unfortunately, as accommodation eats up about 42% of a traveler’s budget, it’s not ranked higher on our list because of that very reason. However, food and transportation costs should more than make up for that, and if you can score a room for less than the average price, you could hit a cost-saving home run. Also, Lisbon is the European city that has the cheapest concert tickets, so if you can combine your visit with seeing your favorite performer live, you’ll definitely come out on top!
European Travel Cost Analysis by Item most expensive European capitals
The cost of your European holiday will depend, not only on your destination but also on your personal tastes and your situation. For example, you may have friends who will let you do a little couch surfing that eliminates hotel costs. Or perhaps you don’t plan to eat out often so that restaurant meal costs are less of a factor in your decision-making.
Whatever the case, let’s take a closer look at European travel costs by the item to see what destinations you should put on your itinerary based on the factors that are most important to you:
|11.||Sarajevo||Bosnia and Herzegovina||$88.30|
|18.||Andorra la Vella||Andorra||$115.89|
|19.||San Marino||San Marino||$117.77|
Hotel costs account for a large portion of most people’s travel budgets and they can be a deciding factor on whether or not one ends up visiting a certain destination.
For instance, a taste of jet-set living in Monaco will be costly, even if you choose a relatively average hotel. Since you can’t bet on winning big at Monaco’s casinos, a budget-friendly holiday in Eastern Europe will definitely get you more bang for your buck.
Regardless of your destination, you can use our average hotel price guide to look for good accommodation deals. Save on this line-item, and the overall cost of your holiday will be considerably lower than you might expect.
|15.||Sarajevo||Bosnia and Herzegovina||$1.08|
|25.||Andorra la Vella||Andorra||$2.11|
Public transport in Europe is invariably excellent, and since you’ll want to get around a bit, it may be a bigger part of your travel budget than initially planned. Look out for ways to save. For instance, although Stockholm has the 5th highest single-ticket transport prices, a Stockholm Pass gives you cheap metro access and free entry to several tourist attractions you will not want to miss.
Then again, Chisinau in Moldova has super-cheap (and highly recommended) public transport, and who would want to miss a chance to tour the city by trolley bus?
|7.||Sarajevo||Bosnia and Herzegovina||$11.97|
|21.||Andorra la Vella||Andorra||$19.01|
|San Marino||San Marino||$23.40|
No matter where you are, you do need to eat. Don’t be taken by surprise if a relatively average restaurant meal in Monaco sets you back a whopping $56. If you’re not a big spender when it comes to eating out, head to Turkey’s Ankara, where the cuisine is equally tasty (if not even tastier) and comes at just a fraction of the price.
For those who have “expensive” cities like Bern, Oslo, or Reykjavik on their bucket list, here’s a red-hot tip: choose hotels where breakfast is included and make breakfast the main meal of your day just like your mom always said you should!
However, one of the best parts about traveling across Europe is getting to experience the amazing local cuisine and trying out dishes that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Europe is definitely a foodie’s paradise, so you might want to actually splurge on this aspect of your trip.
|14.||Sarajevo||Bosnia and Herzegovina||$1.80|
|21.||Andorra la Vella||Andorra||$2.93|
|San Marino||San Marino||$4.10|
There’s nothing like chilling out with a tall glass of cold beer after a day of adventure and excitement. In Northern Europe, the price of alcohol is influenced by the heavy taxes that are levied on just about everything. No surprise then that Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have some of the most expensive beer in the world.
In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, a cold one at a bar will likely cost you less than a bottle of beer from the supermarket in most other places. Now that’s something worth drinking for. Cheers!
|San Marino||San Marino||$1.40|
|8.||Sarajevo||Bosnia and Herzegovina||$1.50|
|17.||Andorra la Vella||Andorra||$1.84|