Over the past year I have spent time traveling in Denmark and Bulgaria, two countries with the distinction of being the most expensive and least expensive of 28 EU member countries.
My frequent travel to Europe over the past three years has been aided by spending most of my time in travel budget-friendly EU countries like Bulgaria (#1 cheapest), Poland (3rd), Lithuania (5th), Czech Republic (7th) and Slovakia (8th). All these countries rank in the lower third of EU price comparisons and well below the average EU price index.
Beer in Czech Republic is generally less than $2/pint. In Copenhagen $7.50.
Denmark is recognized as the most expensive EU country for hotels and restaurants, although, prices are even higher than Denmark in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, three non-EU countries.
Loyalty Traveler – Cost of travel Copenhagen and Rome vs. Lithuania and Poland (June 30, 2018).
Price Levels Compared 2017 data
Price level comparisons are based on a scale of 100 designating the average for all 28 EU countries on a variety of consumer needs such as housing, transportation, goods and services.
Ranked cheapest to most expensive (source: Eurostat)
- Bulgaria = 44
- Romania = 48.4
- Poland = 53.2
- Hungary = 58.3
- Lithuania = 60.2
- Croatia = 63.7
- Czech Republic = 64
- Slovakia = 65
- Latvia = 68
- Estonia 74.2
- Greece 82.2
- Malta 82.3
- Portugal 82.8
- Slovenia 84.2
- Cyprus 90.1
- Spain = 93
- EU = 100
- Italy = 101.8
- Germany 104.4
- France 106.7
- Austria = 112.2
- Belgium = 112.3
- Netherlands = 114.6
- UK = 117.4
- Finland = 123.3
- Ireland = 127.8
- Sweden = 134.7
- Luxembourg = 141
- Denmark =141.2
- Norway* = 151.9
- Switzerland* = 165.6
- Iceland* = 171.6
Non-EU countries in Europe include Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and several eastern Europe countries including Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Russia. Balkan states of Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia are not in EU. Prices are even lower than Bulgaria and Romania in some of these eastern Europe and Balkan nations.
My travel in past 12 months
Among cheapest 10 countries = 42 nights
- Bulgaria = 44 (4 nights) Oct
- Poland = 53.2 (15 nights) Oct, June, July
- Lithuania = 60.2 (6 nights) June
- Czech Republic = 64 (17 nights) Oct, Dec-Jan, July
Among middle of the pack 10 countries = 10 nights
- Italy = 101.8 (3 nights) June
- France 106.7 (4 nights) Oct
- Austria = 112.2 (3 nights) July
On a budget for most expensive 10 countries = 13 nights
- Netherlands = 114.6 (7 nights) February
- UK = 117.4 (3 nights) December
- Denmark =141.2 (3 nights) Jan/June
23 nights in countries with price levels above EU average and 42 nights in countries below EU average.
When I average out EU price level statistics to my 65 hotel nights across these EU countries over the past 12 months, I find:
- 23 nights in countries with above EU average price levels = 115.
- 42 nights in countries with below EU average price levels = 55.
- 65 hotel nights price levels average in EU countries = 76.23.
Basically, I spent 1/3 of my time in EU countries with higher than average prices and 2/3 of my travel in EU countries with lower than average prices. My 65 days of travel would be cut down to about 43 days of travel if I stayed in more popular tourist countries with the same budget.
Compounding the travel budget price comparison even more is difficulty finding a good city center hotel deal with points in London, Paris or Amsterdam compared to Prague, Krakow and Sofia.
Greece, Malta, and Portugal all have a price level around 82 and are the least expensive of the more popular European countries as tourist destinations.
In general, my price comparison experiences for places I traveled show a good correlation to the EU data between the relative prices I pay for stays in different countries when I combine the cost of food, alcohol, entertainment and transportation.
Hotels are less of a price factor for me due to using points in the expensive countries and paying for rooms more frequently when traveling in cheaper countries.
Earning points through good value hotel promotions throughout the year and buying points when there are good sales promotions allows me to budget the hotel expenses of a trip over many months. The main expenses of my travel are the daily costs for places I visit.
Balancing low cost destinations with high cost destinations helps. As a solo traveler, I generally get by on $20 to $30 per day anywhere I go.
Romania, 2nd cheapest of 28 EU countries, is my next destination for October 2018. Cheap living for a week in Romania will be balanced with frugality for the few days and nights I stay in London and Reykjavik, Iceland.
Loyalty Traveler – SFO to London, Romania, Iceland 12 days $1,000 plan (Aug 23, 2018).