Save Money Sightseeing in These 9 Notoriously Expensive European Cities
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Disclosure: The following piece has been sponsored by the Leisure Pass Group.
There’s no getting around it – travel can be expensive. That’s especially true when you’re making a visit across the pond.
Of course, your two biggest expenses for a trip to Europe are airfare and hotel costs. Over the years, we’ve saved thousands on these two items by using credit card rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards from American Express. Doing so takes a little knowledge and planning, but once you learn the most efficient ways to earn and burn these points, you can practically book your flights and hotels for free – or at least for pennies on the dollar.
Using points and miles to travel for free is an awesome way to make European travel more accessible. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you won’t have expenses when you get there. I mean, you don’t want to travel all the way to Europe and sit in your room the whole time, right?
Thankfully, there is a way to experience the best sites these destinations have to offer without breaking the bank – sightseeing passes.
The best sightseeing passes can save you hundreds of dollars in entry fees to a city’s most popular sites and attractions. Some of them even include discounts to local restaurants, shops, and more. To top it off, many of Europe’s most visited cities have some excellent pass options available, so you’ll likely be able to find a good pass no matter where you go.
As always, we’ve got your back. To help you save on your next adventure, we’ve listed 9 popular but expensive European cities along with our favorite sightseeing passes at each spot. Enjoy!
9 of Our Favorite Sightseeing Passes in Europe
As you know, many European cities are notoriously expensive. In fact, we recently did a survey of the 100 cheapest places to travel, ranking the top 100 most popular destinations in the world by price. While all 9 of the cities we’ve listed below made the top 100 most popular destinations, none of them made it past the #59 spot for most affordable. In fact, 6 of the 9 rank in the bottom 25% for affordability on our list! Clearly, Europe is a tough spot to take a budget vacation.
Thankfully, though, each city has a sightseeing pass that can help make your trip there less expensive. In no particular order, let’s check them out!
Do a Google search of the most expensive cities in the world, and London is sure to show up somewhere on every list. That aside, the city makes a great introduction to Europe for first-time visitors, especially for English speakers. The museums, the pageantry, and the history all make London one of my favorite cities in the world.
When it comes to value, London has one of the best sightseeing passes you’ll find – the London Pass. By visiting just 2 or 3 attractions a day, you can save as much as 55% off the cost of admission to over 80 of London’s most famous attractions. I’m talking about places like Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, and many more.
In my opinion, it’s also an excellent idea to add a London Oyster Card to your pass. That way, you can also utilize London’s excellent public transportation system while you’re there. You may also wish to combine this pass with the London Explorer Pass to fill in any gaps in your plans that the London Pass might miss. Follow the links to read our full reviews, or get your London Pass here.
Speaking of expensive European cities, you knew Paris was going to end up on this list, right? The “City of Light” is one of the world’s most visited spots, but it doesn’t come cheaply.
To save money while you’re there, the Paris Pass is definitely something to consider. This pass actually combines three different cards into one – the Paris Museum Pass, a Paris Attractions Pass, and the Paris Visite Travelcard. With it, you get entry to over 60 of the best attractions in the city and the use of public transportation within Central Paris.
Like the London Pass, this card works on a consecutive day basis and can be a good way to save money for those who want to experience all of what Paris has to offer. Get yours here.
The first time I went to Rome, I obviously wanted to visit the major sites in both Rome and in Vatican City. I mean, there was no way I was going to travel to Rome and not check out the Vatican, right?
Thankfully, I discovered the Rome & Vatican Pass. This is the only card I know of that offers entry to sites in both cities. With the Rome portion of the card, you get free entry to places like the Roman Colosseum, Roman Forum, Borghese Gallery, and more. The Vatican portion offers access to St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. John in the Lateran, and more.
Most importantly, both portions of the pass offer fast-track entry to the busiest sites. Trust me, you don’t want to go here without that – especially if you’re visiting during peak season. Follow the link above to read our full review or get your Rome & Vatican Pass here.
You may not realize it, but visiting Dublin can cost you a pretty penny. In fact, according to our previously mentioned survey, it is the most expensive city to visit on this list.
Thankfully, the Dublin Pass offers access to more than two dozen of the city’s best sites, including the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Malahide Castle, and more. It also includes transfer from the airport to the city centre, which is a nice touch. (Hint: Since the airport transfer activates your pass, only consider using it if you arrive in the morning and have a full day of sightseeing planned.)
Although entry to two of my favorite sites isn’t included (the Long Room/Book of Kells at the Trinity College Library and Kilmainham Gaol), this pass is still a great way to explore the city and save money. It also saves you time by offering fast track entry at several spots, including the Guinness Storehouse. Not having to wait can easily make the pass worth it alone. Get the Dublin Pass here.
With the tumultuous 20th century now in its rearview mirror, Berlin is quickly becoming one of the most visited places in all of Europe. As you might guess, that also comes with a steeper price tag.
If your travel plans include Berlin, you may want to check out the Berlin Pass. With this sightseeing card, you get access to over 50 of Berlin’s top sites, attractions, and museums.
Recently, this pass underwent a major overhaul which made it an even better value. By visiting 3 sites per day with the card, you’ll likely save around 40% off the price of admission. That’s a nice savings that’s hard to ignore. Order your Berlin Pass here.
If you love great food, incredible art, eye-catching architecture, and sandy beaches, Barcelona may be the spot for you. This city is simply one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been, and it definitely deserves a visit.
While it is free to take a stroll through the Gothic Quarter or along La Rambla, Barcelona has plenty of other sightseeing opportunities to offer. To save you some coin, the Barcelona Pass might be a good option.
This pass includes entry to over 20 of the top attractions and museums in the city. Even better, it includes several guided tour options which provide a huge boost to its overall value. Follow the link above to read our review or get yours here.
Amsterdam is known throughout the world for its red light district and “coffee shops.” Still, there is more to the Dutch capital than its rowdy reputation.
The city is filled with beautiful canals, interesting history, and delectable art. It’s also one of the more expensive places to visit in Europe.
The Amsterdam Pass includes access to over 30 of the city’s top attractions and can save you up to 54% off the price of admission. Like the Barcelona Pass, this card also offers several different tours – including a highlights canal cruise – that you’re sure to love. So, if you’re headed here already, learn more about the Amsterdam Pass here.
Speaking of cities with beautiful canals, Stockholm is another spot you should add to your travel bucket list. The Swedish capital is known for its canals, museums, and Old Town. Like the rest of Scandinavia, it’s also known for being an expensive place to visit.
The Stockholm Pass is a great way to save on sightseeing while you’re there. With this pass, you get access to over 60 of the top attractions in the city – including the Vasa Museum, Nobel Museum, and the Royal Palace. It also includes several guided tours, like the city walking tour and a historical canal tour, that you’re sure to love. You can learn more about Stockholm Pass here.
If you’re planning to visit other spots throughout Scandinavia, be sure to check out the Gothenburg Pass and the Helsinki Card as well!
For over 400 years, the Habsburg Dynasty was the most powerful family in the world. Branches of their family were found in practically every royal house throughout Europe. The seat of their power rested in Vienna, which makes for some seriously awesome sightseeing here.
The Vienna Pass is a great way to check out the most popular spots in town. This pass includes entry to over 60 of the area’s top attractions. You’ll also get fast track entry at the most popular spots, saving you valuable time during your trip.
Like several of the other passes, the Vienna Pass works on a consecutive day basis. Simply choose the number of days you’d like to keep the pass active, then visit as many attractions as you’d like during that time. Sound good? Learn more about the Vienna Pass here.
Traveling to Europe can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save. Sightseeing passes can be an excellent way to see a city’s most important sites and save money while you’re doing it. Additionally, the fast track entry included with these cards can save you valuable time and boatloads of stress.
So, if you’re headed to any of the cities listed above, be sure to check out the appropriate sightseeing pass before you go. It could be a great deal for you and one you won’t regret!
Thanks for reading. Until next time, happy traveling!
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