No trip is the same, but the most expensive travel destinations will not surprise: small Scandinavian cities like Copenhagen and Oslo are still more costly than almost anywhere; New York still costs an arm and a leg. There's more: anywhere that has ever effectively colonized the world is probably going to cost a pretty ha'penny; anywhere Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and George Orwell have all been "down and out" around the same time that a global fine dining guide was being published is still going to draw tourists every month of the year; and anywhere that has built an entire economy around tourism is going to be competitive. For the ten most expensive travel destinations, read on.
Photo by chainsaw day care/Flickr.
Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world and mixes a futuristic cityscape, scores of nightlife and business districts with an impeccably preserved past in the five districts of Old Tokyo. With respect to their astonishingly sophisticated gourmet scene, homegrown fashion designers and the other multitude of local cultural industries leading the world, Tokyo is a glimmering example that discipline is art and art is commerce. So it ain't cheap. Depending on the neighborhood, a four-star hotel will cost around $300 per night, taxis are just ridiculous and a night on the town will leave all but the wealthiest sober or poor. The only reason Tokyo isn't higher on this list is because the Yen has been weakening against the U.S. dollar.
Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula – photo by irvant cakra
Despite being in a relatively inexpensive country to visit and reside in, Cancun is remarkably more costly than the rest of Mexico because of its clout: white sand beaches, turquoise waters, a coastline studded with world-class luxury resorts and tons of ancient tourist attractions like the Mayan ruins, ritual sites, lush jungles and more. That being said, backpackers and hostel-hoppers do not tend to hop into Cancun, as a lot of their businesses are built around resort life and a night following the resort life, including hotel, dinner, cocktails and taxi, can get pretty expensive.
So it's expensive. There are still lots of reasons to visit Cancun: the top 10 reasons to visit Cancun by Hopper
Nyhavn, Copenhagen – photo by Hannah Silverman
With its large number of Michelin-starred restaurants, happening clubs that stay open all night, a wide variety of diverse but no less expensive accommodations, vibrant pedestrian malls both hyper-modern and historic, Copenhagen is certainly more expensive than many (many) other cities. But there are many ways to experience the city on a light wallet, namely buying alcohol in the grocery store and imbibing in a hotel room or in public, or exploring the bohemian neighborhood of Christianshavn.
Trafalgar Square, London – photo by Sang Kim
London might not rule the world anymore, but it's still one expensive city. The pound is nearly double the rate of the U.S. dollar. If you don't look at the currency symbol next the numbers, it seems cheap – but it's not. The London Olympics added more to London's infrastructure and drew international attention, and of course, there will never not be Anglophiles flooding into the Tower of London or Abbey Road Studios invariably seeking the ghosts of John Lennon or Anne Boleyn (ghosts adjusted to taste). That being said, transportation and hotels are a huge cost for visitors.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney – photo by ketul patel
Sydney is an expensive city in an already expensive country, Australia. The Australian dollar has become stronger and stronger in recent years, which means that now living in Sydney and Melbourne is more expensive than living in Copenhagen, Hong Kong or New York City. So what does this mean for the traveler? Well, besides the exorbitant plane ticket, it means beers are upward of $10 and everything else costs an arm and a leg too. The country's minimum wage is more than AUD$16, after all.
Eiffel Tower, Paris – photo by The Swiss Rock
Another city romanticized for its former starving artists, Paris, has turned to be quite the economic hub. It's much harder to be down and out these days when a cocktail costs 20 euros! With 28 million newlyweds, Francophiles and other tourists flooding the cobbled, art-laden streets of St-Germain-des-Prés or along the banks of the Seine towards the Notre Dame Cathedral, the city's hospitality industry is going through the roof. An average night in a decent hotel costs approximately $360, which means a couple could spend up to $550 per day from evening into the morning.
Empire State Building, New York City – photo by Noel Y. C.
The running joke in New York is that an apartment in Manhattan will cost you your soul, which roughly translates into $2000 per month per shoebox – Murphy bed not included. The Greenwich Village artists have relocated to Williamsburg in the last 40 years, while Manhattan has been sacrificed to the likes of Donald Trump, Jay Z, Wall Street finance guys and whoever's still hanging onto rent control. What does it mean for travelers? Well, a helluva lot for a semi-decent hotel. With its constant stream of tourists filling the lobby of the Empire State Building and flooding into Momofuku, a four-star hotel averages out to $325 a night. Visitors to New York should bank on spending an outside amount of about $550 per couple a night – that's with dinner, cocktails and cab ride.
Gamla Stan, Stockholm – photo by laimanov
Stockholm, with its glimmering waterfront, remarkable stone architecture, over a hundred museums and large inner-city parklands, is an obvious choice for Scandinavian vacation getaway. It's also a rich city in a nation with its own currency (no Euro), which means that it's incredibly expensive.
Zurich, Zurich – photo by peterschreyerphototours
Zurich, Switzerland, is the city that never quits. Through the comfortable summer and powdery winter, Zurich's tourism remains the same – at least for the well-heeled travelers who find themselves there. From skiing in the Alps to lounging on Lake Zurich, even the outdoorsy nature activities are expensive, but in town, visitors can expect to pay just over $300 for a four-star hotel for one night, on average $40 for a cab and the average cocktail or beer costs $11, but if you think about it, that's really a drop in the bucket for the Alps crowd anyway.
Oslo National Theatre, Oslo – photo by warrenfromkansas
Oslo, like many of its Scandinavian counterparts, is small and exorbitantly expensive – the most expensive, in fact. Which isn't surprising considering Norway is oil rich on a level that has its per person GDP in the Qatar range. All it means is that if visitors want to check out the Scream by Edvard Munch in person or dig around their other remarkable arts and cultural hubs, they'd better remember to pack their wallets (with black cards).