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Traveling expensive European capitals inexpensively – Monaco

Do Europe’s Capital Cities Ranked By Cost Match Your Own Experience? is an article by Shelli on TravelwithGrant, in which she references an October 2018 Matador piece – Every European capital ranked from most expensive to cheapest, where Matthew Meltzer ranks 49 capital cities in Europe by average price in four travel expenses: Hotel, meal, beer, taxi.

I think those four categories closely mirror the expense categories that concern me most when I plan my budget for travel expenses in Europe. Of course, as someone who rarely uses taxis and still has not managed to use Uber, or any ride-sharing service, I expand the category of ‘taxi’ to ‘transportation’. In my travels, transportation usually means public transportation for travel to and from airports and city/regional transportation by bus, train, metro. Generally I get around most cities in Europe simply by walking. That is why my focus is generally getting a city hotel in a central location for where I want to explore.

  1. Hotel
  2. Meal
  3. Beer
  4. Transportation

The Matador article on expensive European capital cities and Shelli’s follow-up question are interesting to me based on my own travel experiences for the 5 most expensive cities on the list. I visited each of the 7 most expensive cities in Europe (Meltzer ranking) since autumn 2014.

While I find the actual ranking of these cities as the five most expensive cities is debatable based on my personal ranking, that is not the main issue here. The main point I want to share with readers is the most expensive cities in Europe are not necessarily prohibitively expensive, even if you are traveling on a budget.

Hotels are the biggest daily expense by far. I see deals in all these cities that most travelers can also use to plan budget travel for a vacation in Europe’s most expensive cities.

Most Expensive European Capitals

  1. Monaco
  2. Reykjavik, Iceland
  3. Dublin, Ireland
  4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  5. London, UK
  6. Paris, France
  7. Copenhagen, Denmark

#1 Monaco most expensive European capital

Meltzer data from

Hotel: $456.55
Meal: $58.50
Beer: $6.14
Taxi: $2.34 per km

My experience October 2017

Hotel: Two nights with breakfast at Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco $115 all-in.

Redeemed a certificate for stay won for $115 in Omaha Marriott Business Council annual auction for Children’s Miracle Network 2016.

Meals: $15 to $20 per day for hot food and beer.

Carrefour Market in shopping mall located on the France border located midway between Marriott hotel in Cap d’Ail France and downtown Monaco 20 minutes walk away. Start and end of my days generally at Carrefour for food and beer. Prices comparable to a California market. Breakfast at hotel.

Beer: $3 large bottles of beer in Monaco market at bottom of hill from palace on The Rock. I wasn’t the only one sitting in public squares drinking beer or wine purchased from a store.

Transportation: Monaco is a small country. I walked across Monaco, from the border with France in the west to the border with France in the east side of the country taking my time sightseeing over the course of a few hours as I walked the coastline. Then I walked back to the Marriott hotel in France just outside the western border of Monaco.

Train between Nice and Monaco was under 4 EUR each way.

Stayed two nights in Nice, France with a flight into and out of France via Nice Airport NCE. Best Western So’Co Nice cost 8,000 points. Days Hotel Nice cost $80 and earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points.

Hotels cost far less in Nice and Monaco is an easy day trip as an alternative to booking the limited available lodging in Monaco.

$310 for 4 nights Monaco and Nice, France (Loyalty Traveler cost)

  • $195 for 4 hotel nights (3 paid nights + 8,000 Best Western points for 1 reward night).
  • $90 grocery store food and beer, mostly for my time in Monaco
  • $20 regional trains and Nice airport bus

Seeing $500+ per day as the average expense for a trip to Monaco is intimidating for a traveler on a budget. I managed four nights in Monaco and Nice for $310 all-in, while the cost to visit Monaco was about $85 per day for my hotel stay in Cap d’ail and beer in food from local markets. Walking around Monaco for two days was amazing and inexpensive, despite hanging around in the midst of all the conspicuous wealth.

Monaco and Nice, France Loyalty Traveler trip report October 2017

Best Western Nice So’Co

Cap d’Ail French Riviera walking tour Day 5

Cap d'Ail-3

Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco on the waterfront Hotel is technically in France, but basically in the city of Monaco, across the street from the country border in a mostly residential area of Monaco called Fontvieille. Shopping center Carrefour supermarket ten minutes walk from hotel. Great location. I stayed 2 nights in a Deluxe Sea View (yacht parking lot view) with a $115 bid in a Marriott charity auction I won in 2016.

Marriott room view-1

Le Rocher – The Rock of Monaco after the crowds

Le Rocher is a cool small town located on the same rock of Monaco where the royal palace is located. Small lanes between low rise buildings creates crowded streets in the day when loads of tourists are visiting. This is a cruise ship tour favorite for the city.

Le Rocher felt very cool as I was one of the few visitors walking around at sunset on a Monday evening in October.

Monaco Ville-4

A walk across Monaco, Cap d’Ail France to Roquebrune Cap Martin, France and back

Monaco is about 4 km across along the coast from its western border with France to its eastern border with France. I spent about six hours walking and checking out the coastline from Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco to Le Meridien Beach Plaza near the eastern border of Monaco.

Monte Carlo casino garden view

Le Meridien Beach Plaza Monaco art, beach, beer

11 EUR beer check-in to check out the beach and hotel on my walk across Monaco.

LM Monaco-1

Days Inn Nice Centre, France conveniently cheap

67.50 EUR for one night paid with Masterpass earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points. Even received an upgrade room with a balcony. Good deal as solo traveler.

Days Inn 6th patio

Nice in snapshots



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