The 5 Most Expensive European Countries To Travel To

Ahh, Europe! Nothing compares to the leisure of walking past the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, or perusing the streets of Bern, the capital of Switzerland. While Europe is home to some of the world's most iconic cities, it can often translate into an expensive holiday trip. From rail fare and lodging to costly attractions and fine dining restaurants, a European trip can quickly empty your wallet without even realizing it. According to the 2024 Gitnux Marketdata Report, which analyzed the most expensive countries to visit, 5 out of the top 10 nations were located within Europe. Analysts used data pertaining to typical tourist expenses, like transportation, consumer goods, and local attractions, that were found to be higher than average in these countries. 

Unsurprisingly, given its breathtaking landscapes and world-renowned landmarks, Switzerland sits high atop the list of the most costly European countries for tourists. However, nations like France, Norway, and the United Kingdom are also some of the most expensive, making it difficult to stay on budget if you don't plan accordingly. With some of the world's most famous tourist cities found across Europe, like Paris, Zurich, and London, visitors are strongly advised to stay outside major urban hubs to help keep prices down. Appreciation in currency is also part of the equation. A strong euro doesn't just impact locals — it also eats into tourists converting U.S. dollars. If you're looking for a budget-friendly European vacation, you might want to skip these five countries.

Switzerland

From the alpine lakes of Zermatt and the crescent-shaped shores of Lake Geneva to the modern metropolis of Zurich, Switzerland takes the crown for the most expensive European country to visit. While there is some fluctuation in prices across this Swiss nation, research points to Zurich as the city most likely to empty your wallet the quickest. According to the Gitnux Market Data Report 2024, food and beverages, overnight accommodations, attractions, and transportation all contribute to an overall pricey vacation in Switzerland. Part of what propels such steep prices in this country is its reputation as a popular tourist spot and the high style of luxury. Swiss locals enjoy a high quality of life, leading to improved goods and services and, sequentially, higher prices for tourists. 

Compare the Market revealed in 2023 that Switzerland ranked first for the highest rates of public transportation, while data from Statista found that Zurich was the most expensive city in the world for business travel. Average hotel rates in Zurich were around $243 a night, right above Geneva, which boasted an average nightly rate of $240. Despite the pretty penny it may cost, travelers to this nation are promised some of the highest-quality transportation in the world, as well as top consumer goods and meals. Not to mention that visitors will have the beauty of the Swiss region at their fingertips, from the quaint cobblestone streets of Old Town Zurich to the stunning Swiss Alps that cover two-thirds of Switzerland (via FDFA).

Denmark

Nestled in northern Europe, Denmark might be the smallest of the Scandinavian countries, but it has a price tag that will widen tourists' eyes a tad. Denmark is ranked as one of the most expensive holiday destinations for tourists, particularly for its local commodities. Statisticians from Eurostat analyzed the cost of consumer goods and services in Denmark and determined that the country has the highest prices of any EU nation for food, non-alcoholic beverages, clothing, and shoes. Visitors should plan to spend an average of $600 on food and $200 on transportation over a few weeks in Denmark. If you're wondering what causes the prices of goods, foods, and consumer services to skyrocket in this Danish country, the answer lies predominantly in the nation's added-value tax (VAT). According to Scandification Magazine, this 25% added fee is applied to almost everything available for purchase, from food and clothing to souvenirs in street markets.

Fortunately, travelers who reside outside of Denmark can receive a tax refund on shopping expenditures of over kr300 ($40) to reduce their overall spending total. Similar to other European countries, visitors are trading a few extra pennies for a high-quality vacation. Denmark constantly competes with Finland for the No. 1 spot as the happiest country in the world, with Danes enjoying an overall high standard of living. With a handful of Michelin-star restaurants, proximity to the ocean, and a warm, welcoming community, Denmark should still be at the top of your European bucket list!

Norway

Boasting the highest concentration of fjords in the world, a stunning display of Northern lights, and a vibrant cultural heritage, it's unsurprising that Norway is one of the most expensive European nations. Transportation typically challenges tourists here, and jumping from one Norwegian town to the next can negatively impact your credit card bill if you don't plan strategically. While the serene, untouched wilderness creates a captivating canvas for travelers to travelerblog, its remote position in Western Europe means transportation prices surpass those in other centrally-located urban countries. According to Euro News, Norway was found to have the most expensive rail tickets per kilometer, with the average train ticket from Oslo to Kongsvinger costing €50.40 ($55). Even when rail tickets were purchased a month in advance, Oslo still held the record for the highest rail fares.

Given that most of Norway consists of many remote regions, traveling between cities can become costly when visiting multiple in a short amount of time. Norwegian State Railways, Norway's primary rail operator, only sells a limited number of minipris (discounted tickets) a day on certain routes, making it hard to even save money on train tickets with expert tips. Travelers can shave off a few extra dollars by cycling to nearby attractions, given that Norway was ranked as one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. The country has even made plans to eliminate cars from Oslo by 2030 by investing heavily in biking infrastructure for cyclists.

France

France is home to some of the most iconic tourist municipalities in the world, including the sparkling city of Paris. However, a trip to this country comes with an expensive price tag, most notably for its high-end culinary landscape, overpriced hotels, and costly attractions that are a beacon for tourists. No trip to France is complete without indulging in this nation's prestigious cuisine. French gastronomy is considered a luxury experience, driving up the price of food and dining across the nation. Higher labor costs, increased taxes on restaurant meals, and an emphasis on local (yet expensive) produce all contribute to a pricey French food market. 

With an exciting cityscape of enchanting architecture and historical landmarks, France has no shortage of monuments to discover. While France boasts some free tours and attractions, many hot spots, like the Palace of Versailles and the Seine River, charge higher fees that can quickly add up. Paris is undeniably the most visited city in all of France, and it isn't surprising to learn that nightly accommodation rates tend to lean on the higher end of the spectrum. Unfortunately for Parisian travelers, hotel rates are expected to increase even more. The city of Paris passed a new law effective January 1, 2024, that requires travelers to pay almost 200% more in hotel taxes. The good news is that staying in smaller budget-friendly destinations outside of Paris, like Bordeaux, can help lower travel costs.

United Kingdom

The London Eye, Windsor Castle, and the Tintern Abbey — what doesn't Europe's United Kingdom have to offer that isn't pleasing to the eye? From London to Wales, beauty is evident in every corner of this country. For this reason, it hurts to learn the United Kingdom is among some of the most expensive European countries to visit, with London leading the way for overpriced goods. Much of the U.K.'s exorbitant prices can be attributed to rising inflation and competitive supply chains. The result is an up-charge in consumer goods and commerce that has a negative impact on the wallets of tourists.

London also has the highest average daily rate (ADR) of any European city as of 2022, according to the most recent data from Statista published in 2024. Nightly costs for hotel rooms average around €198 ($215), surpassing rates in Rome, Paris, and Amsterdam. Just because the U.K. has a reputation as an expensive travel destination, that doesn't make it impossible to stay within your travel budget. Pubs and restaurants offer daily specials and happy hours with discounted food options for an affordable bite on the go. Finding attractions that don't charge an entrance fee is another great way to cut costs. Places like the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the British Museum in London, and any of the U.K.'s 15 extraordinary national parks are an excellent way to experience the wealth of culture and history in the U.K. without sacrificing your entire bank account.