The Most Expensive Cities in Europe

Lindenhof view free zurich best view

Having completed multiple trips to Europe, along with exploring around Australia, Asia, Mexico, USA and more, we feel reasonably well qualified to discuss what cities are budget friendly.. and importantly for this post, what cities are the most expensive! While we don’t claim to be true ‘budget travellers’, we enjoy being thrifty, and making cost effective choices.

While we enjoyed checking out some of the big cities around Europe, however some of these popular cities blew us away with how much they cost. We created this list to have you prewarned before you visit, and perhaps influence your decisions if you are looking for budget friendly destinations. It is important to note, when we consider the expense of the city, we are considering the cost of accommodation, price of dining and attractions, along with the currency and conversion (e.g. we convert AUD). We will create a list of the most budget friendly destinations in the future (e.g. Eastern Europe), but for now, check out some of the most expensive cities in Europe below. Note that with this post we are yet to visit notoriously expensive countries like Norway, Finland and Iceland.



Some of the most expensive cities in Europe

Zurich [Switzerland]

Zurich is a beautiful city situated on the river. With a charming old town, Tess’s Swiss-Italian family to visit, and old friends to catch up with, we had a wonderful time. However, the cost of visiting and staying in Zurich is definitely very expensive. The strength of the Swiss Franc, combined with high cost of pretty much everything, means you need to be prepared to shell out. An example of this would be the cost of eating out, where coffee and brunch may cost over $30-40 AUD per person. *We were very lucky to be able to stay with Tess’s family who very generously looked after us, which was a massive assistance during our visit. While we didn’t visit other major Swiss cities, we have heard cities such as Geneva are also very expensive.

London [UK]

London has so much to offer, with musicals, events, sport, shopping and lots of attractions. We enjoyed visiting many of the cute neighbourhoods and food markets in the city. However, what we didn’t enjoy was the cost. Accommodation was very expensive, finding it difficult to get anything near the city below $200 AUD. Due to the conversion from AUD to pound, food was expensive, and we even had some coffee’s cost us up to Β£5 (almost 10 AUD). If you visit London, prepare to have high costs. Be thrifty when looking for accommodation!

Salzburg [AUSTRIA]

The reason Salzburg finds a place on this list is primarily due to the cost of accommodation. We couldn’t find any suitable places to stay within our budget, and ended up paying above budget and staying a 20 minute walk from the city. We were able to find some cost-effective food options, but entry attractions like the castle weren’t cheap. Not the most expensive city on the list, but there are definitely cheaper options.

Dubrovnik [Croatia]

The impressive seaside fortified town of Dubrovnik is a real life postcard. The old town is so picturesque, and amazing to explore. Perched right on the coast, there’s lots to do, including great beaches. However, due to the popularity of Game of Thrones, and Croatia’s increasing tourist attraction (for good reason, it’s beautiful), Dubrovnik is now crazy expensive. An example of this are prices of eating out in the old town. We observed at multiple restaurants the cost of simple food items like a Margarita Pizza costing over 20 euros ($30 AUD). Safe to say we didn’t eat out much in the old town. Positively, walking 10 minutes out of the old town will definitely save you $$, otherwise enjoy your experience but be prepared to pay.

copenhagen [Denmark]

Copenhagen remains one of our favourite cities in the world. Whilst not one singular thing makes Copenhagen in our top cities, we think the combination of architecture and city design, good food, friendly locals, and lots to do really added to the appeal. However, the cost of coffee was $9 AUD, a cocktail at a fancy bar up to $30 AUD and eating out was easily over $30 AUD per meal. This definitely didn’t ruin our experience as we had planned for it, however it is something to consider we thinking of visiting.

Paris [France]

The thriving and popular city of Paris is on almost everyone’s travel bucket list. It is easy to see why, as there are so many attractions and great things to do in the city. However, despite the charm of Paris, it is also quite expensive. Accommodation in particular can cost a pretty penny, especially if you are wanting to stay close to the city. Eating out at restaurants isn’t cheap, however due to being a big city, it is easier to find cheap eats and street food. Be savvy when you visit and you will be able to stick to budget!

Amsterdam [Netherlands]

The picturesque Amsterdam will enchant you with beautiful canals and neighbourhoods to explore. Whilst the ‘heart’ of Amsterdam is very touristic, there’s lots to see and do (like the many, many museums), and if you get out of the centre you’ll find charming canals and neighbourhoods. However, staying in Amsterdam is crazy expensive. So much so that we decided to stay in the nearby Leiden (40mins away by train) instead (and we are glad we did, Leiden was beautiful). Additionally, whilst food might be cheap, attractions are not, and the entry to museums and for tours like boat trips gets expensive.



So should the cost of a destination stop you visiting?

This will definitely depend on your budget and situation, however if you are keen to visit, consider some of the suggestions below to keep things budget friendly:

  • Stay outside the heart of town: When accommodation is expensive, we tended to look for options just outside the town. An example of this is how we stayed in the nearby town of Leiden when visiting Amsterdam, catching a short train in every day.
  • Shop at supermarkets and street markets: Dining out is quite expensive, especially in some cities like London and Paris. We would often choose to visit supermarkets, street markets and source out cheap eats to save money.
  • Shared accommodation: Staying in accommodation like hostels, or a shared room in a house/apartment, can save you a lot.
  • Don’t do ‘all of the activities’: Many of the big cities will charge large amounts to visit the key attractions. We did visit some of these, like walking the walls of Dubrovnik, however we would often forgo trying to do them all due to our budget.



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