Friday, April 7, 2017

How much does it cost to go to Europe: Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, or Greece etc?

How much does it cost for a trip to go to Europe, such as Italy or France? Is Paris or Rome or London expensive? Maybe not when you compare those European cities with New York Manhattan, San Francisco or Los Angeles in the US. I believe if your European trip is planned carefully, the budget would be lowered and the money would be very well spent. I have dedicated this blog article to the overall budgeting and planning for your  trip to Europe.
Paris Eiffel Tower will always be the symbol of love and romance

- To compare prices on flights to Europe, visit: Skyscanner or Tripadvsisor for the most reasonable deals
- To search and compare prices on reasonable hotels, visit: Hotelscombined, Tripadvisor or Trivago for the most comprehensive price listings
- To search for local tours or all-inclusive tours in Europe, visit: Viator or Trafalgar or Contiki

Flights from the US to Europe could be more affordable than flights to Hawaii
There are huge price differences on flights between high and low seasons. High season is usually when the weather is warm in North hemisphere, and when many of the travelers are able to use their summer vacation time. "High season" is usually between the months of June and August, when the weather is nice and warm.  The prices for flights are typically much more reasonable during shoulder season and other months. "Shoulder season" is usually in the months of April, May, September, and October, when the weather is mild and comfortable. Less expensive seasons are usually during cold winter weather months such as November, December, January, February, and March. The price differences between high, shoulder and low seasons could be as much as 50% of the high season airfares. I have listed some of the reasonable flight deals during shoulder seasons (May/September/October 2017) in US dollars. For more different flight dates, I recommend readers to search the updated prices on reliable travel flight comparison sites such as Skyscanner and Tripadvisor.

Los Angeles to:
- London England  ~$ 569 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France ~$ 516 Round trip, 1 stop
- Rome Italy ~$ 615 Round trip, 1 stop

San Francisco to:
- London England ~$ 557 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France ~$ 479 Round trip, 1 stop
- Rome Italy ~$ 629 Round trip, 1 stop 

New York to:
- London England ~$ 465 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France ~$ 597 Round trip, Direct
- Rome Italy ~$ 667 Round trip, Direct

Chicago to:
- London England ~$ 938 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France ~$ 640 Round trip, Direct
- Rome Italy ~$ 945 Round trip, Direct

Houston to:
- London England ~$ 736 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France  ~$ 543 Round trip, 1 stop
- Rome Italy  ~$ 745 Round trip, 1 stop

Vancouver to:
- London England  ~$ 591 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France ~$ 959 Round trip, Direct
- Rome Italy  ~$ 958 Round trip, 1 stop

Toronto to:
- London England  ~$ 523 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France  ~$ 591 Round trip, Direct
- Rome Italy  ~$ 903 Round trip, Direct

- Singapore to London  ~$ 787 Round trip, Direct
- Kuala Lumpur to London  ~$ 688 Round trip, Direct
- Taipei to Amsterdam  ~$ 841 Round trip, Direct
- Seoul to Paris ~$ 848 Round trip, Direct
- Bangkok to London ~$ 743 Round trip, Direct
- Tokyo to Paris ~$ 840 Round trip, Direct
- Hong Kong to London ~$ 788 Round trip, Direct
- Sydney to London ~$ 1077 Round trip, 1 stop
- Melbourne to London ~$ 1011 Round trip, 1 stop
- Auckland to London ~$ 1222 Round trip, 1 stop

- Cape Town to Madrid Spain ~$ 612 Round trip, 1 stop
- Dubai to Frankfurt Germany ~$ 548 Round trip, Direct
- Riyadh to Barcelona Spain ~$ 501 Round trip, 1 stop

European budget airlines such as SAS, Ryanair can get you from London to Rome at low prices
Traveling between major cities within Europe could be very inexpensive thanks to the wonderful European budget airlines. One drawback is that budget airlines such as Norwegian, SAS, Easyjet, or Ryanair is likely to charge extra fees of $20 to $50 USD for carry-on or check-in luggage. Examples of how cheap budget airline would be during shoulder seasons in 2017:
- London England to Rome Italy ~$ 43 Round trip, Direct
- London England to Santorini Island Greece ~$ 312 Round trip, 1 stop
- Paris France to Rome Italy ~$ 43 Round trip, Direct
- Paris France to Santorini Island Greece ~$ 294 Round trip, 1 stop

Franchise hotel like the one I stayed at in Lyon France was of very high value
The cost of hotel is likely to be a major variable of the total cost for the trip. Cost of accommodation in Europe mainly depends on specific cities, level of convenience and class of the hotel. The more convenient the location will put the hotel at a higher price. Shared bathroom and dormitory type of accommodations have always been popular among budget travelers because it remains the cheapest options for budget travelers. In general, popular cities such as London, Paris and Venice are the most expensive in accommodations. Some of the more affordable European destinations are Barcelona Spain, Berlin Germany, Budapest Hungary, and Prague Czech Republic. I highly recommend travelers to compare hotel prices on reliable hotel comparison sites such as Hotelscombined, Trivago and Tripadvisor.

Hostel in Europe
Dormitory style type of accommodation, where travelers share the same room space, bathroom/shower, and living room area. Shared kitchen and bunk beds are common features of hostels. Hostels are not limited to "young" guests despite of common belief, most hostels are open to people of all ages. General prices range for hostels in popular cities is about $20-50 USD.

Franchise and chain Hotel in Europe
Best Western Mondial Hotel in Rome was reasonably priced and conveniently located near subway station
This type of hotel remains my favorite type of accommodation in Europe. Due to the abundance of franchise hotel chains in Europe, there are plenty of choices right in front of very convenient train and subway stations. I highly recommend this type of hotels in Europe because of the expected quality, cleanliness, safety regulation and their reasonable prices. Popular brands are Best Western, Holiday Inn, Mercure, ibis, and NH hotel chains. The prices for reasonable franchise chain hotels range from $100 to 200 USD in many popular cities in Europe.

Boutique Hotel in Europe
Hotel Splendid Cannes in South of France had an amazing view from the balcony
Boutique hotels typically offer very stylish decor at art oriented districts in many European cities. They are usually operated by independent owners rather than major hotel franchise corporations. Many hotels guests prefer independently operated boutique hotels rather than franchise hotel because of the "personal touch" they get from the hotel staff. The prices for boutique hotels ranges from $150 to $250 USD in many popular cities in Europe such as Cannes France.

Luxury Hotel in Europe
Popular among couples on their honeymoon, this category of hotel typically consists of the best decor and offers best concierge services. For travelers who like to be pampered by in-room breakfasts and having nice bathtubs, luxury hotels in Europe would be the best choice. Some of the most popular luxury hotels in Europe include Mandarin Oriental Paris, The Peninsula Paris, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome, and Four Seasons LondonThe prices for European luxury hotels range from $350 to 750 USD in many popular cities in Europe.

Germany Frankfurt main train station is a great railway transportation hub in Europe
Part of the fun of traveling in Europe is exploring vast diversity between different cities, countries, and regions. Choosing the best transportation options would save time and money. Reserving train tickets early and utilizing Euro train pass are the best way to cut down on the cost of getting around in Europe. The general rule for booking for train tickets is to book it 1-2 months prior to the trip in order to secure the seats at their best prices.

High Speed Train between major European cities and countries
High speed EuroStar train runs from London St. Pancras station to Paris Gare du Nord in about 2.5 hours
High speed train (similar to bullet train in Japan) is a luxury considered by many international travelers. The speed runs about 100 to 200 miles per hour. (160 to 320 kph) High speed railways run between many major cities in Europe. One of the most famous, HSR EuroStar, connects London and Paris together in 2.5 hours (~$80 USD). Some other popular international high speed train connects Barcelona Spain to Paris France (~$63 USD), Florence to Rome Italy (~$40 USD) Price vary greatly depending on how early the ticket is reserved/purchased and the time of the day of the train runs.

Intercity Regular Speed Train between European cities
Researching and reserving train tickets ahead could save travelers from confusion at European train stations
They are considered to be local commuter trains that typically run under 50 to 100 miles (about 100km to 150km) under 30 minutes to 2 hours. Some commuter train runs internationally while most of them are domestic. Some examples of the commuter trains are Franfurt to Cologne Germany under 1.5 hours (~$25 USD) Nice France to Monaco under 20 minutes (~$5 USD) They typically do not require early reservation but I have found that they could be cheaper if tickets are reserved early.

Overnight Sleeper Train between European cities/countries
Attempting to take photographs on the top bunk bed in an European sleeper train
The thought of taking the night train in a bunk bed and waking up in the morning in another country could fascinate some travelers. I was fortunate to have had a wonderful experience of taking the sleeper train from Prague Czech republic to Budapest Hungary with family members. I booked a 3-bunk bed private sleeper train with private bathroom in May 2014. The total train ride took about 8 hours and costs about $210 USD. The sleeper train cabin package also included croissant and coffee as their breakfast set. Typical sleeper train runs from 8 to 14 hours. Some popular sleeper train routes are Paris France to Venice Italy (14.5 hours) and Prague to Venice (14 hours) There is a wide price range due to different types of cabin and level of privacy.

Local Metro/Subway/Tram in European Metro Areas
This classic Portuguese tram is the symbol of public transportation of Lisbon
Subway or local city trams runs through many sightseeing spots within a city. This type of transportation do not require prior reservation, most of the travelers purchase tickets from the ticket booth or automatic machine moments before riding this type of transportation. Typical single ticket costs about $2 to 5 USD. Many day-passes are available in many cities in Europe, such passes cost about ~$14 USD for 10 tickets in Paris France; starting at ~$8 USD per day in London; and ~$8.50 USD per day in Rome. Individual ticket costs around $2-4 dollars per single use.

Bus: domestic and international
Long or short distance bus is also a nice affordable alternative to land transportation in Europe
Long haul bus is an inexpensive way to get around within Europe. Some discounted buses offer great comfortable seating and free on-board WiFi during the long bus ride. Popular routes include Prague Czech to Milan Italy from ~$48 USD, and Prague Czech to Amsterdam Holland from ~$55 USD,

Taxi in European cities
Mercedes Benz Taxi is quite common in Europe 
Taxi or hired cars are usually the most expensive form of transportation in Europe and in most parts of the world. Taxi fare vary greatly depending on the country/city in Europe. London is notorious for their expensive Taxi fare while Eastern Europe is more affordable.  I have spent about ~$40 USD on taxi fare to go from downtown Budapest Hungary to Budapest Airport in May 2014. The taxi ride was about 16 miles or 25 km and took about 30 minutes without traffic.

Rental Car in Europe
European road trip in a rental car is very enjoyable outside of major cities in Europe
Road trips in Europe is very enjoyable and addictive. Rental cars could be expensive but it is a good option when the cost is shared among 3 to 4 travelers. Typical small size rental car in Holland or Germany costs about $30 to $70 USD per day. Automatic transmission is usually $10-$20 USD more expensive than manual transmission cars. Rental car collision insurance costs about $10 to 30 USD per day. Gas/Fuel costs about 4 to 7 USD per gallon  or about $1 to 2 USD per liter. I plan to blog about my 14 and 16-day road trip experiences in 2013 and 2015 in the future. Rental car rate is typically more reasonable at longer duration such one-week to two-week periods rather than single day rentals. I recommend comparing rental car prices in different pickup locations, with different dates and duration for best deals.

Parking in Europe
Remember to pay for parking before exiting parking lots in Europe
Many parking lots and garages nearby sightseeing spots charge about $3 to 8 USD per hour. Be prepared to pay at automatic machines with cash or credit cards prior to exiting. Many hotels in European cities charge $20 to 30 USD per day to have your car parked in their gated parking garages. Parking at hotels in suburban areas in Europe is usually free of charge.

- London England
Watch out for possible fish bones in Fish and Chip in London
The iconic London British cuisine, Fish and Chip, costs about $7 to $15 USD per serving. Gastropub meal set cost about $20 to $40 USD per person

- Paris France 
Enjoying the ambience of dining in Paris artist Montmartre district
Some of the iconic French cuisine meal including beef tartare, foie gras and Belon fresh oyster costs about $20 to 30 USD per person after splitting the bill among 4-5 people. Typical breakfast pastry cost about $2-$5 USD per item. Simple sugar crepe from street vendors costs about $2-4 USD at non-touristy areas in Paris.

- Rome Italy
Al fresco dining in Italy Verona area; Noodles were Al dente by authentic Italian tradition
A typical plate of pasta could cost from 6 to 20 USD depending on the location and class of the the restaurants.  A quick bite of Italian sandwiches would cost about $5 to $8 USD. Authentic whole pizza from a local non-touristy trattoria restaurant costs about $10 to 20 USD. Iconic Italian dessert, Tiramisu, costs about $4 to $8 USD per serving. A cup of Italian Cappuccino coffee would cost about $2 to $4 USD.

- London England
Slightly touristy but the London Eye Ferris Wheel offers an unforgettable view of London
Some examples of sightseeing spots such as London Eye Ferris Wheel costs about $28 USD; Free entrance fee for British Museum; Entrance fee for Westminster Abbey is around $25; Buckingham Palace ticket cost about $28; St Paul's Cathedral ticket costs about $20. Simple London Thame river cruise costs about $12 to $24.

- Paris France
Stop by Paris Louvre Museum to check out Mona Lisa painting
Paris Eiffel Tower entrance costs about $20 USD; Ticket to Louvre Museum costs about $16; Paris Seine river cruise costs about $15; Ch√Ęteau de Versailles Palace entrance costs about $20; Entry to the top of Arc De Triomphe costs about $13. 

- Rome Italy
Save time by skipping the line at Rome Colosseum by joining local tours
Rome Colosseum entrance costs about $13 USD; No entrance fee to Vatican. Free of charge for Pantheon; Entrance to Basilica Di San Giovanni in Laterana is also free of charge.

While I always prefer and recommend independent self-organized travel, some of the all inclusive tours are of very high value if travelers prefer letting the professional tour companies do the planning for them. Typical 9-day (2-3 countries) to 14-day (4-7 countries) tours would range from $1600 to $3800, not including the flight ticket. Many of the all-inclusive tours provide land transportation in air condition equipped, WiFi-connected luxury bus, and some meals. Tour price depends on length of the trip, season, and level of luxury. I recommend comparing prices only on reliable all-inclusive tour companies such as Contiki and Trafalgar.

For independent self organized travel, joining day tours could be a good way to spice up the itinerary. I recommend joining day tours/trips where there is a special theme or interest in mind. Day tours such as visits to wine-tasting vineyard nearby Paris France, Iceland Aurora Borealis northern light hunt, and bicycle guided tour in Amsterdam Holland are of great value and fun. Tour companies such as Viator offer the highest volume of selections suitable for all kinds of interests. The price ranges from $30 to $250 per person for the most part.

How much does it cost to go to Europe??? 

Total Cost for your trip to Europe.
For a reasonable SOLO 10-day trip to Europe, the total cost for one will be around $2500 to $3000 USD during shoulder seasons such as the month of May or September or October, traveling from Los Angeles.
Break down:
- Round trip flight for one from Los Angeles
$ 569 
- Reasonable Accommodation: around $80 per person x 10 nights
$ 800
- Total daily expense ($100 per day x 10 days for food, sightseeing, and land transportation; assuming that you will be spending less than $20 per meal and spending less than 40 dollars per day on transportation and sightseeing)
- Flight or train travel expenses between major cities within Europe (3 or 4 rounds)
$ 200
- Souvenir shopping

For a reasonable TWO PEOPLE 10-day trip to Europe, the total cost for two will be around $5000 to $6000 USD during shoulder seasons such as the month of May or September or October, traveling from Los Angeles.
Break down:
- Round trip flight for two from Los Angeles ($560 X 2)
$ 1138
- Reasonable Accommodation: around $150 per person x 10 nights
$ 1500
- Total daily expense ($100 per day x 10 days for food, sightseeing, and land transportation; assuming that you will be spending less than $20 per meal and spending less than 40 dollars per day on transportation and sightseeing)
$ 2000
- Flight or train travel expenses between major cities within Europe (3 or 4 rounds)
$ 400
- Souvenir shopping
$ 200

How much are you planning to spend on your trip to Europe?