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The 20 Most Expensive Cities in Europe

Brussels

Traveling…and even living in various cities across Europe is easier than ever. We have more communication, travel options, and more to make it possible to travel and enjoy what other countries have to offer.

The most expensive cities in Europe can be difficult to move to or spend a lot of time in simply because of the sheer cost of life – hotels, rent, food, and more. Some countries have been impacted by inflation more than others – and the standard of living is quite high in many European cities, too.

Understanding what cities are the most expensive will make it easier for you to determine where you want to travel – and which cities may require a bigger budget.

You’ll notice that the price index (PI) is listed within all the cities so that you can make accurate comparisons. You’ll also find that many countries have more than one city on the list, showing you that the country itself is quite expensive.

Here’s the most recent list of 20 of the most expensive cities in Europe.

Methodology

The top 20 most expensive cities in Europe explore a few different rankings, such as those from Expatistan.com, Eu.com, and others. We made sure to include quite a few countries to provide a greater overview – otherwise, there would be a few countries that would dominate the entire list (such as those from Switzerland).

Overall, we looked at such things as the price index, the cost of living, the cost of visiting as a tourist, as well as how expensive certain aspects of the city are. This makes it easier to determine just how expensive a city is in comparison to another city as well as comparing it to where you may be visiting from.

Some of the resources we used:

Tourist sites: We looked at tourist sites to determine what a city has to offer as well as the cost of restaurants, hotels, and other aspects of travel.

Price indexes: Sites like Expatistan.com and Numbeo.com have provided the cost of living index on a scale of 100 being the average across the globe.

Financial sites: Sites such as Yahoo! and The Economist have provided lists of the most expensive cities as well as their reasoning, which helps to understand why certain cities have a high cost of living.

By taking into consideration all of the factors, we have established the top 20 most expensive cities in Europe based on 2023/2024 expenses and standings.

20. Brussels, Belgium

In Brussels Belgium, you pay 60 Euros for a meal of two people and 15 Euros for a simple dinner for one in an inexpensive restaurant. In comparison to other five-star hotels, the price of a simple meal is high, which many people cannot afford.

The Dutch-speaking city is home to many international organizations, diplomats, and civil servants, which makes it a global politics center – and it’s home to the EU Parliament. Due to that, the city has attracted a high population, and more people continue to stream in.

Residing here means you will spend 52% more on all your requirements contrary to someone who is a Prague citizen. While transportation is relatively cheap, utilities, clothing, and rent can be considerable. Additionally, it is even more expensive for US citizens because the Euro is stronger than that of the US Dollar.

19. Barcelona, Spain

Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona is ranked one of the world’s most successful city brands and is a hub for myriads of tourists. It also leads in regard to economic activities, art, fashion, and entertainment, among many other activities that continue to stamp the global map.

It is home to one of Europe’s most famous football teams, which goes by the same name. As you would expect with such a city, the living costs are high. While the cost of living sits on a price index of 105, there are many cities in Europe that sit below 100, which is why the city is on the list.

The food prices are 49% higher than those in Prague. In general, the cost of living is 43% more than in Prague, which is the world’s central reference city. As with every city, some neighborhoods are more expensive than others. Pedralbes and Sarria-Sant Gervasi are among the most expensive because of the luxury and exclusivity that they boast. Here, it’s not uncommon for homes to be worth $2 million or more.

18. Birmingham, England

Common to many cities with rapid economic growth, Birmingham’s price index is also quite high. It is one of the most densely populated towns in the UK and is known for its numerous innovations, which have helped lay the foundations of the modern industrial model.

It attracts thousands of businesspeople due to its intense industrialization, and as a result, the cost of living has increased dramatically. For a simple basic lunchtime menu, you pay 12 euros, while for a two-people meal, you should expect to pay 40 Euros (or more).

Food prices in Birmingham are 14.91 higher than in Amsterdam while the general cost of living is 74% more compared to Prague.

17. Munich, Germany

Munich is one of Germany’s most powerful cities and prides itself on a rich history. It is also the third largest city in the country and the 12th largest among those in the European Union and prides itself on having a population of 1.5 million.

Munich is regarded as a center of finance, art, culture, business, innovation, finance, tourism, and advanced technologies that make it one of the most attractive and adorable cities in the world.

It also means that it is full of people from all walks of life which highly contributes to its tremendous cost of living. A Munich resident spends 16% more on food, 4% more on housing, and 25% more on clothes than someone who resides in Oxford.

A plate of food from an inexpensive hotel goes at 12 twelve euros, while someone in Prague pays 48.78% more on food and groceries.

16. Helsinki, Finland

Finland’s largest and also capital city carries similar traits to most urban areas such as a dense population and a high cost of living. It is one of the world’s most livable and also one which offers quality life. However, all that is due to its high living costs.

For instance, someone living in New York will pay 18% less for clothes than someone in Helsinki. While someone in Prague will pay 59.15% less on food and groceries than someone who is in Prague. It has a PI of 175.

15. Milan, Italy

Milan is the only city in Italy to make the top 20 at the moment – and it has actually unseated other cities in the country, such as Rome and Venice. One of the reasons why Milan makes the list is because it’s the fashion center of Europe – and many top fashion designers want to be based here.

With a price index of 129, it’s about 29% higher, as a whole, than Prague and other Western European cities. It’s about 72% more expensive than other cities around the globe.

Traveling here can be costly – with lunches easily costing $20 or more. Dining out in Italy can be one of the more expensive aspects, though rent and utilities are certainly high, too.

While traveling to Milan can be fun, the city doesn’t depend on tourism. Instead, it’s an industrial city that is the finance capital of Italy. This means that taxes are high, and many banks and corporations choose to be based here.

14. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is consistently one of the most expensive cities in Europe – and much of this has to do with the strong economy that Germany is able to boast. It’s a top city for businesses to headquarter in, and it’s also popular for tourism – especially with such things as Checkpoint Charlie, museums, and other things that Trip Advisor boasts about.

Berlin sits at a price index of 137, so it’s about 37% more expensive than the comparison city of Prague. It is also the most expensive city in Germany at the moment.

While Berlin may be cheap when it comes to such things as beer and hotels (which is why so many people choose to visit here), it can actually be quite expensive. Much of this has to do with the cost of rent and utilities.

13. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Also known as the alpha world city in regard to globalization, Amsterdam is one of the top cities in Europe with a high price index. This means its cost of living is no joke. It is the commercial and financial city of The Netherlands and is also famous for its remarkable artistic heritage.

It has a price index of 182 and residents here spend 82% more than what they would have spent if they lived in the world’s reference city in regards to the price index. The food costs only are 74% higher while you would spend 15% less on clothes if you were to relocate to Prague instead of Amsterdam.

Visiting the city is about to be more expensive – the city will be raising its tourist tax, making it the highest in Europe.

12. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark which also happens to be densely populated. Copenhagen was originally a Viking fishing village back in the 10th century.

Copenhagen suffered from the effects of fire and plague in the 18th century when it underwent a redevelopment period, which included the construction of Frederiksstaden and the founding of various institutions such as the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Theatre.

The city suffered other blows in the 19th century after it was bombarded by Nelson. After the Second World War, the Finger Plan nurtured the development of business as well as housing, inclusive of five urban railway routes.

The 21st century has seen a new dawn for Copenhagen in terms of tremendous development, and it is now one of Europe’s fast-growing cities. As a result, the living costs also dance to the growth by increasing every single day.

The town, which features plenty of investment facilities, is 93% more expensive than Prague, especially in the case of transportation and personal care. At Copenhagen, a very simple one-person meal goes for 125 euros, while a regular cup of cappuccino goes for 34 euros. However, entertainment is 28% cheaper than in New York.

11. Paris, France

Paris has always been a favorite of many travelers, celebrities, and actors due to its numerous historic sites and architectural landmarks. As an example, in 2016, the Louvre registered 7.4 million visitors, thus becoming the most visited museum in the world. It is known for being the epitome of French culture – and it has gained a reputation for being expensive and luxurious.

Paris also prides itself on one of the best football clubs in the world, Paris Saint-German, and Stade Français, which is a rugby union club. The city also boasts a wide array of tourist attractions and is a charm to many.

In 2015, for instance, Paris was regarded as one of the top tourist destinations in the world after registering 22.2 million visitors. However, living there is no walk in the park. It requires a fat wallet, or else you may end up starving.

The city has a price index of 195, and you will spend 94% more than you would spend in Prague. It ranks 29th among the world’s most expensive cities, and a single meal in the most inexpensive restaurant costs fourteen Euros. And if you want a view of the Eiffel Tower, either for a meal or for your stay, expect to pay more.

10. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland is associated with the royal family, which is also why there’s a popular travel destination known as the “Royal Mile.” This is one of the busiest areas of Scotland and where the majority of finance and business takes place. It’s also why the population is growing – people want to take advantage of the strong economy. There are also countless job opportunities.

According to Expatistan, the city is about 70% more expensive than other cities across Western Europe. One of the reasons why it is so expensive is that it uses the Great British Pound (GBP) as opposed to the Euro. In many instances, it is ranked as one of the top 10 most expensive cities in Europe (and certainly for the UK). One of the reasons is because of the high rent, though food and utilities are high, too. For travelers, many of the higher-end hotels can easily be double in comparison to hotels in other European cities.

9. Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne is one of the many cities from Switzerland to make the list of the most expensive cities in Europe, with a price index of 197.  Expatistan lists it as #5 for being the most expensive, but we’ve found that a few other factors actually drop it further down the list to #9.

The city’s position is just perfect as it is on the shores of Lake Geneva and is northwest of the Jura Mountains. It is a French-speaking region and is a hub for sports. It has hosted dozens of sporting events and is also home to the Olympic Committee headquarters. There’s a lot of medieval architecture in the city as well as some amazing museums.

However, it is all fun and games until you consider the cost of living. With quite a high price index, the city is not for the faint-hearted ones. For instance, in comparison to Munich, Germany, the housing charges are 15.43% higher while the grocery and food prices are even higher at 44.19% more. Numbeo looks at what you’d likely spend (with the currency being the Swiss Franc). Beyond groceries, you’ll spend more on rent and utilities, too.

8. Oslo, Norway

Oslo is one of the most famous and one of the most densely populated cities in Norway. It is the current capital city of the country and also a trading place. It is the economic and governmental city of Norway. The country’s tourism site also boasts about being home to some of the biggest art museums in the world as well as a vibrant and bustling city, including a Harbour Promenade.

In addition, it is a center of banking and shipping. Due to its features, the city attracts professionals in search of better jobs and hordes of investors each year.

Oslo is regarded as a center for maritime trade and maritime industries in Europe. It’s also a base for various companies in the maritime sectors, some of which happen to be the largest shipping companies in the world, maritime insurance brokers, and shipbrokers. On the basis of quality of life, Oslo tops the list among European cities.

As a result, the cost of living is nothing to smile about as it is quite high. It has a price index of 148 which happens to be 48% more than that of the world’s central reference city. Therefore, the housing, transportation, and basically everything in Oslo is considerably more expensive than when you reside in Prague. Even lunches and fast food meals are going to be higher.

7. Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is also among Europe’s most expensive cities. Being a capital state and having a regular tourist flow thanks to its Viking culture and sense of community, the city is always full of investors and entrepreneurs seeking to better their business careers.

It is one of the cleanest, safest, and greenest cities in the world – and to land that kind of title, it doesn’t come cheap. As a result of being clean, safe, and green, the population is high and so are the costs of living. For example, the cost of food, housing, transportation, entertainment, and personal care is more than 120% in contrast to that of Prague. Generally, the living cost is 138% more than that of the central reference city.

One thing about Reykjavik is that it’s out in the middle of nowhere compared to many of the other cities on this list. That means that there’s a significant number of things being imported – and that will instantly raise the price. It’s why groceries and restaurant prices are among some of the highest expenses to deal with in the city – and you’ll encounter these regardless of whether you move here or simply decide to visit.

6. Dublin, Ireland

Being a capital city, Dublin is highly populated, which means it has many business units and high tax rates. It is also among the top thirty cities in the world, and consequently, the budget for each inhabitant is equally high. Expatistan ranks it as being more expensive than 91% of the other cities in Western Europe.

While it can be relatively affordable to travel to Dublin, it’s all about knowing when – and how to do it on a budget. Lonely Planet identifies that July and August are usually the most expensive because that’s when Irish schools are out for the summer. Additionally, St. Patty’s Day weekend is quite expensive because it’s home to countless festivals.

You spend 37% more on transport and clothes than what you would have spent if you were in New York. Businesses will find that it’s expensive in Dubin, too. It’s one of the business capitals of Europe, and many corporations are based here. Such industries as pharmaceutical, finance, and tech are in Dublin – all high-paying jobs that help to add to the overall cost of living.

5. Innsbruck, Austria

While Innsbruck is the only city on this list, many of the Austrian cities have a high cost of living. Much of this has to do with the tourism that comes from being able to explore the alps – and it is home to countless winter sports. Innsbruck is the capital of Tyrol, a western state of the country. It is known for its architecture as well as being one of the larger cities in Austria.

The cost of living is only at an index of 105, which is relatively low compared to many of the other countries on this list. While living in the city isn’t that expensive, traveling to it is. It’s not uncommon for hotels to increase their rates dramatically in the winter. However, if you have your heart set on this expensive city of Europe, BudgetYourTrip.com explains that it can be done for about $4,000 for a couple.

Much of the expense comes down to supply and demand. Food is expensive all over Austria. Innsbruck is also one of the most tourism-driven areas because of its location in the Alps. You’ll find that the cost of bread, eggs, and dining out will be considerably higher than in other parts of Europe.

4. Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo is the primary city of Monaco, and it is located along the French Riviera. It offers pristine views and is close to other popular cities such as Nice and Cannes. It is also home to the Monte Carlo Casino, which is where the rich and famous of the world often travel. The casino has some of the strictest dress codes of any casino, making it that much more illustrious.

Numbeo highlights the cost of living in Monaco, which is about 71.9% higher, on average, than life in the United States. Rent is one of the highest areas, which is about 396% higher than in the US.

There are quite a few reasons why Monte Carlo is expensive, and much of it has to do with the size of the country (it’s the second smallest in the world), and land is always at a premium. Bitkan.com also discusses the country’s primary sources of income, including taxes.

3. Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva is one of the most populated cities in Switzerland and is home to Europe’s United Nations headquarters and also the Red Cross. The city, which offers you a spectacular view of the Mont Blanc, has hosted myriads of diplomacy conferences that attract prominent and powerful people.

Owing to that, the city has attracted quite a large population of people from all walks of life who find it a good business hub. As a result, the cost of living in Geneva is quite high. Geneva is often ranked as one of the most expensive cities in Europe when it comes to the cost of living. Expatistan gives a look at some of the expenses, including a family of four spending approximately 7378 CHF for monthly expenses ($8481 in USD).

It had a price index of 207 which is way too high in comparison to the central reference city which is 100, however it is actually down considerably from where it was a few years ago. The cost of groceries and other food items in Geneva is 127.5% more than that of Houston in the United States while the cost of household utilities is 122.2% more than in Kuala Lumpur.

Transportation is not that cheap either as it is 11.4% more in comparison to what people in Dubai pays. The city has an adversity of 10% and hence has been ranked among the minimum hardship locations in Europe.

2. Zurich, Switzerland

Also in Switzerland, Zurich is a city that boasts an average population, and it dates back more than two centuries. The official language is German, and it prides itself on a rich history hence the numerous museums and historical sites. Trip Advisor lists a number of top things to do, including taking a visit through Old Town and exploring the area of Lindenhof Hill.

The city is among the world’s largest financial centers and is home to many banking and financial institutions. Thanks to its fast-rising rates of growth, the city has attracted many foreign investors, thus leading to an increased population and also the cost of living.

For instance, if you happen to shift to the city of Zurich today from New York, then you will spend approximately 74% more on food and clothing, and ten percent more on personal care.  It sits at 218 on the price index (with Prague being used as a central reference city). This means that it’s 118% more expensive than Prague (and why you won’t see Prague on this list).

1. London, England

Also referred to as the Queen’s City or the metropolis, London has always been a favorite of many people due to its wide range of entertainment options, fashion, art, healthcare, and media; if you mention it, you will find it here. The city has consistently been one of the most expensive in England and throughout the UK, but it is now the most expensive city in Europe…and possibly even the world.

The city, which is the capital of England, has a diverse array of people from more than 300 hundred languages. It prides itself on four world heritage sites and many more attractions, which continue to attract myriads of people each day.

In mid-2016, the municipal population was estimated to be 8,787,892, which became the largest in the European Union’s cities. London happens to be home to various museums, sporting events, galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions such as the Natural History Museum, British Museum, Tate Modern, British Library, National Gallery, and West End theaters.

As you would expect with a town that has so many people and economic activities, the cost of living simply skyrockets every single day. Some of the areas where it is particularly expensive include the cost of rent, utilities, and transportation.

The purchasing power is also high because there is better money flow in the economy. It has a price index of 219, which has sent London to the #1 spot in recent years. Of course, much of this also has to do with the currency – the Great British Pound has a stronger value than the Euro or the US Dollar.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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