The world’s most affordable city breaks
City breaks are the ideal quick getaway and a chance to take in the very best culture, food, nightlife, and shopping that somewhere has to offer in the space of just a couple of days.
They can also be very affordable, but it all depends on the destination, with some city breaks being considerably more expensive than others.
So, which cities are the most affordable if you’re planning to get away in 2021? To find out, we've analyzed 75 of the world’s most popular city breaks on the cost of things such as a hotel room, meal out at a restaurant, or a nice cold beer.
The world’s most affordable city breaks
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The number one most affordable city break on our list was the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, which was the cheapest country for the average price of both a bottle of wine ($3.10) and a one-way ticket on local transport ($0.27).
Not only is it a seriously affordable city, but this vast, bustling city has plenty to see and do, including the stately presidential palace, Casa Rosada, the Teatro Colón opera house, and the MALBA museum.
2. Istanbul, Turkey
Situated right on the border between Europe and Asia on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul is the second cheapest city on our list, with cheap prices across the board, including $0.40 for a travel ticket or a rate of $0.41 per kilometer for a taxi.
Istanbul was the most affordable European city that we looked at, with the majority of other affordable destinations located in South America or Eastern Europe, so if you want a warm European break that offers the best of East and West, it may be worth a look! Plus, we've got some great spots for luggage storage in Istanbul, too!
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Another South American destination takes third place, this time Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Rio holds the prestigious title of the cheapest city on our list for a draught beer, at $1.34, perfect for relaxing on the Copacabana or Ipanema beaches!
The most iconic attraction in this city is the huge Christ the Redeemer statue, while many choose to visit during the rowdy Carnival festival.
The world’s least affordable city breaks
1. Zürich, Switzerland
Switzerland is well known for being an expensive country, even more so in major cities such as Zürich, which was the most expensive city for both taxis and public transport, so you might want to stretch your legs and walk if you visit!
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise, with Zürich being one of the banking and finance capitals of the world!
2. Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavík takes second on the list of most expensive cities to visit, where you’ll pay just under $200 a night for a hotel stay, with a draught beer costing just over $10 on average!
Iceland’s capital is still worth a visit though, whether to check out the city’s Viking history and striking architecture or as a base to explore the rest of this unique and beautiful country.
3. Geneva, Switzerland
Another Swiss city takes third place, with Geneva also having the highest price of a meal at a restaurant, at $30.56 per person (note that that’s at a middle-of-the-road restaurant too, not a five-star establishment).
If you can stomach the prices though, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful city nestled in the Alps and Juras mountains, with great views of Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva.
We analyzed 75 popular city break destinations on the average price of the following five costs, giving each city a normalized score out of ten, before taking an average score across all five to create our affordability score out of ten.
- Hotel room - the average price per night on a Friday & Saturday according to Kayak (converted from GBP).
- Meal at a restaurant - the average price of a meal in an inexpensive restaurant according to Numbeo.
- Draught beer - the average price of a 0.5-liter domestic draught beer according to Numbeo.
- Bottle of wine - the average price of a mid-range bottle of wine according to Numbeo.
- Taxi - the average price of a 1km taxi journey at a normal tariff according to Numbeo.