Have you ever planned an entire trip around food? 47% of Gen Z and Millennials do, according to a travel report released by American Express earlier this year.
Food is a strong motivator for travel in the younger population and drives travel planning and destination travel. 81% of respondents in the travel report stated they looked forward to culinary culture the most when abroad. These are the most popular culinary activities in descending order:
- Visiting local restaurants
- Food festivals
- Local food tours
- Wine tastings
- Dining with live entertainment
- Brewery tours
- Chef tasting menus
- Cooking classes
When traveling, food and accommodation are often the most costly parts of the trip. Even when planning a food-focused trip, cost can be a significant factor in choosing a destination.
Top 10 Affordable Dining Destinations in Europe
Given the upswing in European travel, Sail Croatia conducted a study that revealed the top ten cheapest European cities for food lovers to dine out. These cities represent the most searched destinations based on Google Flights data in 2023, with averages representing the average cost between a fine dining experience and a mid-range three-course meal.
10. London: The Pinnacle of Culinary Costs
Topping the list as the least affordable city for dining out, London, United Kingdom, boasts an average meal price of $103.65. Despite its high costs, it remains the most searched-for travel destination with over 300,000 searches, emphasizing its appeal to travelers looking for diverse and exquisite dining experiences.
9. Stockholm: Luxury Dining with a Price Tag
Stockholm, Sweden, occupies the ninth spot on the list, with an average meal price of $92.04. The city’s fine dining prices are second only to London’s, making it an ideal choice for travelers seeking a more opulent dining experience.
While the city is ideally seen in the summer when the weather is best, the shoulder seasons offer fewer crowds and milder weather, and the winters present an opportunity for viewing the Northern Lights!
8. Dublin: Gourmet Experiences for Those Willing to Splurge
Dublin, Ireland, is the eighth least affordable destination for foodies, with an average meal price of $90.90. While Dublin is not usually the first place you think of for fine dining, the options there are in line with other expensive fine dining destinations, with plates costing over $200. The good news is that a mid-range three-course meal can be found under $50.
Depending on what you’re looking for, Dublin has a lot to offer and is sure to satisfy any foodie’s culinary curiosity.
7. Amsterdam: Standard Pricing for Mid-Range Dining
Amsterdam, Netherlands, holds the seventh spot for the cost of dining out, with an average meal price of $78.27. Of note, Amsterdam is the second most researched travel destination according to Google Flights data from this year.
6. Madrid: An Option Where You Can’t Go Wrong
Madrid, Spain, ranks sixth with an average meal costing $74.33. Madrid is another highly diverse foodie city with fine dining options ($180-$200) and mid-range meals (less than $30) to cover multiple different tastes and preferences.
5. Rome: Balancing Affordability and Luxury
Rome, Italy, secures the fifth spot on the list, with an average meal price of $71.84. Rome offers a balanced dining experience, with mid-range meals perfectly catering to travelers who seek both affordability and luxury.
4. Paris: Affordable Mid-Range Dining
Paris, France, ranks fourth on this list, with an average meal price of $68.21. Known for it’s exquisite fine-dining experiences, the cost of fine dining here is high; however, mid-range meals are comparable to those of its Western European counterparts on this list.
The range of options opens up Paris to travelers of all budgets, making it a more accessible city for food lovers.
3. Barcelona: A Taste of Luxury on a Budget
Another Spanish city makes the list with Barcelona, Spain coming in third among the cheapest European cities for food lovers, scoring an average meal price of $58.77.
What sets Barcelona apart is its Michelin-star restaurant dining options, which are more budget-friendly than those in other cities. This makes it an excellent choice for travelers looking for a taste of luxury without emptying their wallets.
2. Warsaw: A Close Second
If you’re thinking of venturing into Eastern Europe, consider Warsaw, Poland. It’s the ninth most searched city this year and the second most affordable, with an average meal price of $56.42. The city’s fine dining options are comparable in diversity of taste to others on the list, making it a viable travel destination for food lovers.
1. Budapest: The Undisputed Leader in Affordable Dining
Budapest, Hungary, takes the crown as the most affordable city for dining out in Europe this year, with an average meal cost of just $56.04. The city’s cheap eats, with an astonishingly low average of $9.90 per plate, make it an ideal destination for budget-conscious travelers.
But don’t think that cheaper meals equals poorer food. In fact, it’s the opposite. With richly flavored options like goulash, chicken paprikash, and langos (a traditional pizza), food lovers can enjoy diverse and delicious options that won’t break the bank.
The Budget-Friendly Options Will Make Anyone a Foodie
This list shows that eating out, in Europe especially, doesn’t have to put a major dent in your travel budget and can be delicious at the same time.
Budapest’s affordability shines through, making it the go-to destination for cost-conscious food lovers. However, each city on this list offers its own unique dining experiences, catering to various budgets and culinary preferences. Whether you’re a frugal traveler or a gastronomic enthusiast, there’s a European city for you and your wallet.