City breaks are the best way to experience everything a country has to offer, from the very best of culture and vibrant nightlife to Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury shopping in just a few short days. It only requires a little planning making them the ideal stress-free getaway.
These short trips can also be very affordable, depending on the destination, with some city breaks being considerably more expensive than others, from the likes of Amsterdam and Budapest to UK favorites such as Bath and Edinburgh.
Following on from the 2021 City Break Cost Index we’ve updated the research with 75 of this year’s most popular city break locations to find the most affordable destinations for your city break in 2023. As part of this index, we’ve looked into the prices of hotel rooms, meals out, and transport around the city.
Of course, one cost you don’t have to worry about is your luggage storage, with thousands of locations in hundreds of cities available for just $5.90 a day with Bounce!
The world’s most affordable city breaks
1. Timișoara, Romania | Affordability score: 8.63/10
The number one most affordable city break destination is a new entry on our list since the 2021 index, the Romanian city of Timișoara. A hotel room in the city costs $105 a night, $28 cheaper than 2021’s highest-ranked city Buenos Aires. Transport is also remarkably cheap in the city, with the average taxi price per kilometer costing $0.66.
Despite its small size, the city is packed full of culture, hosting over 30 festivals throughout the year, from the Central European Film Festival to Vest Fest, a three-day music festival. It's easy to see why the city was voted Europe’s capital of culture in 2021.
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina | Affordability score: 8.22/10
Dropping down to second place since 2021 is the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.
The city still offers the cheapest price for a bottle of wine at $3.35, although this has risen by $0.25 since the last index. Buenos Aires also retains the title of the cheapest one-way ticket on local transport, dropping from $0.27 to $0.15 this year.
Not only is Buenos Aires seriously affordable, 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.
3. Baku, Azerbaijan | Affordability score: 8.18/10
Taking third place is another new entry in the index, Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. Getting around the city is very affordable, with a one-way ticket on public transport costing just $0.24 on average, $0.57 cheaper than Rio de Janeiro which took third place overall last year. Baku is also one of the most affordable cities for a draught beer, which will set you back just $1.47.
On the crossroads of East and West, the city is a melting pot of cultures, offering plenty for travelers to explore. Baku is home to The Walled City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in the heart of the city. Here, The Maiden Tower offers a panoramic view of the city as well as an insight into Baku's unique history.
The world’s least affordable city breaks
1. Los Angeles, The United States | Affordability score: 1.56/10
Taking the top spot as the most expensive city break destination is Los Angeles, another new entry in the index. A draft beer here will set you back $8.00, slightly more than 2021’s least-affordable city break destination Zurich at $7.79. A restaurant meal in L.A. also costs an average of $24 per person (note that’s at a middle-of-the-road restaurant, not a five-star establishment) just under $4 cheaper than in Zurich in 2021.
Don’t let the high prices put you off, though, as this vibrant city is packed full of sights and sounds, from Universal and Warner Brothers studio tours, art galleries like the Getty Center, and even the 4,000-plus-acre Griffith Park.
2. Dublin, Ireland | Affordability score: 1.65/10
Rising from tenth place in 2021, Dublin takes second on the list of most expensive cities to visit, where you’ll pay just under $400 a night for a hotel stay. While this isn’t the highest price in this year’s index, it’s slightly more expensive than Las Vegas, which took the top spot for the factor in 2021. A draft beer costs $6.75 on average in Dublin too!
However, Ireland’s capital is still worth a visit, whether to check out the city’s rich history and stunning medieval architecture or as a base to explore the rest of this unique and beautiful country.
3. Oslo, Norway | Affordability score: 1.76/10
Up next is the Norwegian capital, Oslo. The city tops the list for the most expensive draft beer at a whopping $9.40, a dollar more expensive than Geneva which took third place overall in 2021. Oslo also has some of the most costly public transport, with a one-way ticket priced at an average of $3.76.
Despite such costs, Oslo is still a popular city break destination. As well as museums dedicated to everything from the city’s Viking history to the country’s pop music scene, the city is full of natural wonders, with picturesque mountains, perfect for skiing and snowboarding in winter.
We analyzed 75 popular city break destinations according to list articles on the average price of the following five costs, giving each city a normalized score out of ten. We took 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.
● Meal at a restaurant - the average price of a meal in an ‘inexpensive’ restaurant according to Numbeo.
● Draft beer - the average price of a 0.5-litre domestic draft 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 1 km taxi journey at a standard tariff according to Numbeo.
● One-way local transport ticket - the average price of a one-way ticket on public transport according to Numbeo.