How to Visit Europe’s Most Expensive Cities on a Budget

Going on holiday? One factor that’s likely to influence your plans is your budget. According to The Independent, over 67% of Brits choose where to go based on value for money. They expend significant effort saving cash to go on holiday, which is why many of them regret spending an average of £1,111 on trips they feel could have been planned in a more cost-efficient manner.

Fortunately, those who go on holiday in Europe are spoiled for choices. Turkey, Portugal, and Bulgaria are just some great destinations that boast affordable accommodations, food, and attractions. However, you don’t need to limit yourself to cheap holiday spots. The most expensive cities on the continent are still bucket list-worthy and offer experiences you definitely don’t want to miss out on.

Take Reykjavik: though it was named the priciest European city to visit in 2023 by Euronews, it’s still home to the stunning natural views at Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park and the Maelifell, one of the best volcanoes to visit in the world.

So if affordability is the only thing holding you back, don’t let it. Here are a few things you can do to see expensive European cities on a budget:

 

Nab a cheap flight

Flight prices can significantly affect how costly your holiday is, which is why it can help to buy cheap flight tickets. You can start looking on easyJet’s website: its low fare finder helps you compare different flight prices so you can find the most affordable option. With a network reaching destinations like France, Switzerland, and Norway, it should be easy to nab a budget flight into your chosen city break. To cut down costs even further, travel outside of peak season. In expensive Northern European cities like Copenhagen, for example, the best time to visit is definitely in the summer. However, you’ll be there alongside larger crowds that will spark price hikes for everything from flights to accommodations. For a more affordable holiday, fly to the city for cheaper during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn.

Walk as much as you can

When visiting an expensive city, ditch the taxis and rental cars. Europe is the world’s most walkable continent, boasting nine out of ten of the most pedestrian-friendly cities on the globe. Take Amsterdam: though it currently boasts the highest tourist tax in Europe as of 2024, it’s highly walkable. All its major attractions are within two miles of each other—so drop yourself in the city centre, and you can visit all of them in under an hour. If you have some extra funds left, you can even explore destinations on a walking tour. FreeDam Tours, for example, can help you familiarise yourself with Amsterdam in two and a half hours through the art of educational storytelling. Relying on your own two feet is a great way to save on a holiday to a pricier city, so be ready to get some steps in!

 

Get a sightseeing pass

Sightseeing passes are among the best ways to save a hefty amount of cash when visiting an expensive holiday city. These often bundle access to transport options and major attractions into a single card, which is why they can help make your trip more budget-friendly. A great affordable city pass you can try is the Stockholm Card. For an average-length trip of three days, it’ll cost you around 1,419 Swedish kronor (roughly £104)—but that one upfront cost will give you access to a guidebook and multiple attractions, including over 20 museums and the opportunity to ride hop-on, hop-off buses and boat tours. For additional savings, you can even get up to a 15% discount when you buy the card from the official Go City website. Other pricey cities that offer similar passes include Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Rome, and Dublin.

Europe offers diverse holiday experiences, so don’t skip out on pricier cities just because they’re out of your budget. With these simple tips, you can easily make a trip to more expensive destinations more affordable.

 

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