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Istanbul is way more affordable than Paris, London, Amsterdam

Istanbul is the cheapest in Europe on food, public transport, shopping and film tickets

Every region has its version of a budget airline. In Europe, in our set of 17 cities across 15 countries, that is Istanbul, Turkey. But if you are a purist, and think of Istanbul to be more Asian in character than European, then it is Bratislava, Slovakia.

Istanbul’s index value is only 11% more than Delhi, Bratislava’s 46%. That’s still a far cry from the mark-up of European mainstays: for example, London (135%), Paris (141%), Venice (158%), Amsterdam (184%) or Zurich (195%).

Europe can be expensive. In our list of 50 cities, European cities occupy six of the seven highest index values (the seventh is San Francisco). That said, the 17 European cities covered here also cover a fair distance on the cost spectrum. If you look beyond the popular, there are cheaper options.

In our overall list, Istanbul is ranked 9, Bratislava 16. Istanbul’s price advantage starts with accommodation. Compared to Amsterdam, which is at the other end of the cost spectrum, Istanbul is one-third cheaper in hotels and about one-fourth in Airbnb.

Homestays are an effective way to lower costs in Europe. In each of the 17 European cities, the average Airbnb tariff is lower than the average 3-star hotel tariff: ranging from 15% (Stockholm) to Prague (60%). In Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Madrid and Prague, the differential is above 50%.

Istanbul is the cheapest in Europe on food, public transport, shopping and film tickets. It matches Delhi in shopping. Bratislava is 27% higher, Paris 48%, Amsterdam 50% and Zurich 58%.

Although Europe is expensive in general, it throws up pockets of cost advantage. Rome offers the third-cheapest cappuccino across 50 cities, even cheaper than Delhi. Europe is also cheaper for wine and beer purchased from the market (as opposed to in a restaurant). If you match such nuances with your preferences, you could arrive at a choice that strikes a balance.

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