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56 European cities by price: Europe Backpacker Index for 2016
Europe continues to be home to many of the world’s most expensive cities, as well as some bargain cities where many things cost only about a quarter as much for an international traveler. Now in its 6th annual edition, the Europe Backpacker Index ranks 56 of the continents most popular cities from cheapest to most expensive.
With very few exceptions, the inflation rate in Europe was virtually 0% during 2015, and in some cases prices actually came down during the year. This year’s rankings are similar to the previous version except for some fairly dramatic shifts in exchange rates in a few areas.
If you have US dollars then every city on the list got cheaper in 2015 due to the strengthening of the greenback, so 2016 is an excellent year to see places you’ve been putting off. Those holding Canadian or Australian dollars, just to name a couple, are less fortunate with the exchange rate situation, unfortunately.
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:
>>>Europe 3-Star Traveler Index
The above list shows some significant shifts for some cities on the list below, indicating that certain destinations are better bargains than others, depending on your style of travel.
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.
Costs for each city
- One night in the cheapest bunk at the least expensive hostel with a good location and good reviews
- 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.
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.
Additional backpacker resources
- 18 Cheapest European cities to fly into
- 7 Common mistakes to avoid when choosing a hostel
- Should you buy a Eurail Pass? Here’s how to decide
European Backpacker Index for 2016
From cheapest to most expensive
1– Kiev, Ukraine (cheapest)
Kiev has always been cheap (and very remote) compared to the rest of Europe, but the conflict and uncertainty that Ukraine has gone through in 2014 and 2015 caused its currency to plunge and inflation to skyrocket. It’s hard to say what prices may be at any given moment in 2016, but at least it should continue to be cheap for outsiders. Hopefully the situation on the ground will feel more secure soon as well.
- Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
- Cheap/good hostel: DREAM Story Hostel – 83.00/night
- Transportation: 8.00
- Meals: 288.00
- Drinks/Entertainment: 150.00
- Attractions: 10.00
- Daily Backpacker Index: UHR539.00 = US$22.84/day
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.
- Currency: Romanian leu
- Cheap/good hostel: X Hostel Bucharest = 25.00/night
- Transportation: 5.00
- Meals: 43.20
- Drinks/Entertainment: 12.00
- Attractions: 12.00
- Daily Backpacker Index: RON97.20 – US$23.42/day
Krakow continues yet again as Europe’s best travel bargain. The low prices have 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 and Budapest.
- Currency: Polish Zlotych
- Cheap/good hostel: Flamingo Hostel – 35.23/night
- Transportation: 5.60
- Meals: 24.00
- Drinks/Entertainment: 18.00
- Attractions: 16.00
- Daily Backpacker Index: PLN98.83 = US$25.15/day
Sofia remains a fantastic bargain among European capitals, with a very pleasant city center that is quite welcoming of foreign tourists. Prices of nearly everything are very cheap, except for inbound flights from other major cities. For this reason, Sofia is out of the way for anyone who isn’t doing an extensive tour of the region. Don’t expect any major checklist attractions, but you can expect a surprisingly lovely urban experience at shockingly reasonable prices.
- Currency: Bulgaria Leva
- Cheap/good hostel: Hostel Mostel – 13.70 (includes breakfast)
- Transportation: 2.00
- Meals: 16.80
- Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
- Attractions: 6.00
- Daily Backpacker Index: BGN46.00 = US$25.56/day
Belgrade is one of the Balkan cities that had years of trouble in the 1990s and still struggles a bit to attract tourism. 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.
- Currency: Serbian Dinar (prices below are in euros)
- Cheap/good hostel: Good Morning Hostel Belgrade – 6.00/night
- Transportation: 1.50
- Meals: 9.60
- Drinks/Entertainment: 4.50
- Attractions: 3.00
- Daily Backpacker Index: €24.60 = US$26.74/day