The Back­packer In­dex re­veals Europe’s cheap­est — and most ex­pen­sive — cities when it comes to eat­ing, sleep­ing and sight­see­ing, writes El­iz­a­beth Sleith

Sunday Times - - Arrivals & Departures -

So you’re con­tem­plat­ing a Eu­ro­pean hol­i­day but aren’t sure where to go. And in these tense eco­nomic times, you also want to stretch your rands as far as pos­si­ble … Well, here’s a handy tool to help you nar­row down your choices: the Back­packer In­dex. Put to­gether by a UK-based travel-in­sur­ance com­pany, the in­dex is a rank­ing of 60 Eu­ro­pean cities ac­cord­ing to how ex­pen­sive they are for trav­ellers.

While it’s specif­i­cally de­signed with back­pack­ers in mind, it will give any bud­get-con­scious wan­derer a good sense of what to ex­pect to spend on ev­ery­day tourist essen­tials, such as eat­ing, drink­ing and sight­see­ing.

Al­pha Travel In­sur­ance com­piled the in­dex by adding up the av­er­age prices of hos­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion, pub­lic trans­port, bud­get meals and beers and sight­see­ing to come up with a cost per day for each city.

And what, ac­cord­ing to them, is your cheap­est op­tion?

Is­tan­bul, Turkey, where the price of one night in a hos­tel, two pub­lic­trans­port rides, en­try to one fa­mous at­trac­tion, three bud­get meals, and three lo­cal beers comes to a grand to­tal of $20.85 (about R305).

At the other end of the scale, the same will cost you al­most six times as much in Zurich, Switzer­land.

At a spend of $117.47 (about R1,718) per day, it’s Europe’s most ex­pen­sive city.

Back at the cheaper end of the scale, the rest of the “bot­tom five” are:

● Kiev, Ukraine — $25.46.

● Krakow, Poland — $26.31.

● Bel­grade, Ser­bia — $26.99

● Bucharest, Ro­ma­nia — $27.63 Other more af­ford­able op­tions, around the $30 per day mark, in­clude Sofia, Bulgaria; Bu­dapest, Hun­gary; Za­greb, Croa­tia; and War­saw, Poland.

The rest of the most ex­pen­sive top five are:

● Venice, Italy — $111,32.

● Oslo, Nor­way — $107,42.

● Reyk­javik, Ice­land — $103,37.

● Am­s­ter­dam, Nether­lands — $97.41. Find the whole in­dex, and have a closer look at the break-downs for each cat­e­gory, at al­pha­trav­elin­sur­


RAND THEN SOME Is­tan­bul, Turkey, is of­fi­cially Europe’s cheap­est city for back­pack­ers — and cash-strapped tourists too.

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