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Archana Singh, 37, a brand strategist-turned-travel writer, has been to Istanbul several times. She said she has a love-hate relationship with the city. “Unlike any other city, Istanbul has a very unique mix of Asian and European culture, cuisine and rich history. You can see hijab-clad girls tiptoeing with girls in mini skirts without anyone judging them," said Singh, who writes at Travelseewrite.com and has travelled over 60 countries. She enjoys drinking Turkish tea with the scrumptious Turkish breakfast. “I feel the city has a good heart, that’s why you can see food kept everywhere for cats to eat, and in winter there are makeshift cardboard homes on the sidewalks for the strays. What I don’t like about the city is traffic. Shopping in Grand Bazaar is overwhelming. The intrusive ‘sales approach’ ruins your experience," said Singh.

Blogger Siddhi Karwa on a trip to Prague.
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Blogger Siddhi Karwa on a trip to Prague.

From our list of 17 cities across 15 countries in Europe, what stood out was the fact that every city in the region has a very different cost profile. A day’s stay in an Airbnb is the cheapest in Budapest at 2,840, but 9,262 in London and 10,736 in Amsterdam. A 1.5 litre bottle of water costs 24 in Istanbul and 122 in Stockholm.

Paris is one of the top travel destinations in Europe with 23 million tourists visiting the city in 2018. It is the fifth most expensive city in the region. “Paris undoubtedly is one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s a relatively expensive city but this is to do with the accommodation. One can save on travel by taking the metro. Pick-pocketing is a big threat there," said Varun Agrawal, 25, who along with Siddhi Karwa founded Settle Subtle, a travel, fashion and lifestyle blog.

But cities such as Budapest and Bratislava are relatively affordable. “Budapest is a hardcore party place with a lot of history to it. The city has one of the best nightlife in Europe. It is an extremely cheap place," said Agrawal, who has been to 15 countries.

Istanbul, Budapest and Prague are among the cheapest cities for shopping, but they may not be the top fashion hubs. “I think the best places to go shopping in Europe would be Spain and France. Most fast fashion brands are based out of Spain. If you’re planning to splurge on luxury brands, then nothing’s better than Italy," said Karwa, who has travelled to 17 countries.

London is the sixth most expensive city in Europe on the index but nobody wants to miss visiting this one. Transportation is one of the biggest spends in London. Beer, cigarettes and fuel are all very expensive in London. “My average daily expense in London was €175, the maximum being on my stay (€100)," said Singh.

Amsterdam is 235% more expensive than Delhi, and Zurich is slightly cheaper than Amsterdam. If in other European countries you manage your daily expenses with €125-150, in Zurich, you would spend more than €175-200, said Singh. Rajeev Kale, country head, holidays, MICE Visa, Thomas Cook India Ltd, said one can save on trips to Europe by staying in apartments. “Also, if you dig a little deeper, there are many museums that offer free admission on certain days or nights of the week," added Kale.

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