The Most Expensive Countries For American Tourists
There are many budget-friendly travel destinations around the world. You can fly to Costa Rica, for example, for a few hundred dollars, and get by comfortably on about $30 a day, including accommodations, meals, activities and transportation. Your dream destination, however, might not be one of these cheaper countries. If you are traveling from the U.S., what does it cost to travel to some of the world's most expensive countries – and see the sights when you arrive? Here, we take a look at the top four.
Before we begin…
Airfare is a big part of travel costs to any of these countries, and the cost must be included in your budget. For each destination, the best flight out of Atlanta (ATL), as shown by Google Flight Search, is included here as a reference; the prices are current as of Dec. 11, 2014. Note that some of these flights may occur either during a country's peak or off season; airfare could be significantly more or less expensive when you travel – and, of course, also depends on where you're flying to the country from.
[Note: the Cost of Living values represent how much a bundle of goods and services that costs $1 in the United States would cost in each country. All prices are given in US dollars, with currency exchange current as of Dec. 11, 2014.]
Cost of Living: $1.95
Airfare to Zurich (ZRH): $1,356
No doubt about it, Switzerland is an expensive country to get to and travel around. Travelers can expect to pay at least $70 to $100 per night for a single/double room in a modest hotel, and it's easy to spend $50 to $60 per person on dinner, including wine. Admission to museums and galleries can run from $5 to $10 per person, and trips on cable cars can cost anywhere from $10 for a short trip to about $92 for a round-trip ride to Mt. Titlis.
While Eurail does not currently offer a Swiss-only pass, a Eurail France-Switzerland first class pass costs $424 for a four-day pass (within two months), and a Eurail Germany-Switzerland five-day, first class pass (also for two months) costs $480.
Cost of Living: $1.81
Airfare to Oslo (OSL): $1,168
After Switzerland, Norway has the highest price levels for personal goods and services in Europe. The average cost for a double room in a hotel is about $125, and a meal at an inexpensive restaurant will run about $20. Dinner at a mid-range restaurant will cost closer to $50 to $60 per person. Attractions, such as museums, start at about $10 per person, though it's possible to find child and senior discounts.
A Eurail Norway pass, which grants you unlimited travel on the national rail network of Norway, starts at $234 for a three-day (within one month) pass.
Cost of Living: $1.67
Airfare to Copenhagen (CPH): $1,200
Denmark's 25% value-added-tax (VAT) is included in every price – from hotels and restaurants, to shop purchases – which is one reason why everything costs so much in this Nordic country. Hotels are pricey even in the off season, and a mid-range room can run anywhere between $95 and $230 per night. Budget meals range from $20 to $35 per day, and costs can rise significantly at nicer restaurants, especially if you order alcohol. Admission fees for attractions start at about $10, but you may be able to save money with a municipal discount card such as the Copenhagen Card, which offers free or discounted entry to certain attractions, plus the use of public transportation.
A Eurail Denmark Pass, which allows you unlimited travel on the national rail network of Denmark, starts at $208 for a first class three-day pass (to use within one month).
Cost of Living: $1.64
Airfare to Sydney (SYD): $2,877
The price of airfare to Australia is high enough to strain any travel budget before even leaving home. Once you get there, expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 per night for a mid-range hotel room. Breakfast and lunch in a café might run $20 to $40 per person, and a nice dinner out could easily cost $60 per person. It costs about $10 to visit a museum such as the Museum of Sydney, and attraction admissions fees go up from there; the twilight Sydney Harbor BridgeClimb, for example, costs more than $300 per person.
A three-month Discovery Pass, which gives you unlimited travel anywhere on the NSW TrainLink regional train and coach network (which connects more than 365 destinations in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory) starts at $232 for an economy 14-day pass.
The Bottom Line
Of course, there are ways to reduce the costs of travel, if you're willing and able. Travel passes can provide substantial savings on boats, buses and trains; buy seats in second class, if available. Camping and hostels offer low-cost options for accommodations, and buying food at grocery stores (or street carts) – instead of going to restaurants – can help stretch your budget further. As in the United States, alcoholic beverages can quickly increase any bill, whether it's at a restaurant, pub or the grocery store.
A student card may entitle you to reduced fees for many attractions, and budget-savvy travelers can also try to limit the number of attractions visited or find out when discounted admissions are available. Seniors should check for senior discounts.
Finally, planning your trip to include off-the-beaten-path destinations – instead of only the top tourist destinations – can save you money when you're traveling to any of these expensive countries. For more, see The Cheapest Way To Travel To (And In) Europe and Websites That Save You Money On Hotel Rooms.