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'Hungary' in Europe but on a strict budget? Great! The European zone is a fantastic foodie fair for folks fearing fracturing the fanny pack's funds folder; with every expensive city in this fun-and-food fraction of the world comes one that's phenomenally lower cost – and that's just the news bargain-hunting belly busters want to hear when they're bound for a Euro trip.

If diverse cuisine at bewilderingly low price labels is on the list of priorities for one's European vacay, the folks at holiday rental search engine Holidu have got everything covered – granting jet-setters with growling stomachs a sure-fire guide on how to eat and drink to their hearts' content on the continent without blowing a small fortune. Plus, they've even thrown in the most expensive foodie cities in Europe for good measure as well to avoid or indulge in one's own financial judgment.

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Using compiled data from Numbeo, the hungry hard workers at Holidu ranked an impressive number of cities according to their average costs of life's finer things, such as a bottle of wine, a rich cup of cappuccino, and a mid-range meal for two. The result? The ultimate foodie info pack for travelers of all budgets – whether they're a backpacker or a banker.

So, want the beans spilled on where to go for an epic Euro-foodie adventure of a lifetime that either makes or breaks the bank? Then keep on scrolling – and to those with bellies bigger than their budget: make sure to choose a destination wisely.

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Methodology

In order to create the official Foodie Destinations Index, the hungry geniuses at Holidu collated a list of more than 150 cities using ‘The World’s 100 Best Cities’ from bestcities.org as well as a number of other sources. Once the cities to be used in the ranks were acquired, the team subsequently analyzed every destination on the following factors:

Restaurant:

  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant
  • Meal for two people, mid-range restaurant, three-course
  • Domestic Beer (0.5-liter draft)
  • Imported Beer (0.33-liter draft)
  • Cappuccino (regular)

Market:

  • Bottle of wine (mid-range)
  • Local cheese (1kg)
  • Loaf of fresh white bread (500g)

Additionally, Holidu's stat-scoping team used Numbeo’s Cost of Living database as the main data source for this list – the figures of which were extracted in March 2022. Keeping the results as fair and accurate as feasibly possible, only those cities whose data was available across all data points were considered and included in the ranking. Out of all the cities in the team's findings that remained, they sifted through each location's data one by one, ranking each one's position from the cheapest to the most expensive in first-to-last order.

Naturally, certain data points and foodie factors are deemed more important overs others and were taken into account throughout the evaluation. As such, the scores for ‘meal, inexpensive restaurant’ and ‘meal for two people, mid-range restaurant, three-course were double-weighted as the two most influential factors in the ranking procedure. After all this was said and done, the team then added these scores together to retrieve an ultimate score, ranking the shortlisted cities based on said overall, final total.

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# 1 Cheapest: Belgrade, Serbia

The captivating capital of Serbia, bustling Belgrade snatched the number one spot on the list as the cheapest city in Europe for all things food. Don't believe it? Then get this: it's so criminally cheap that the average price for a mid-range three-course meal for two people – yes, that's two whole humans – is under a measly €30. And what makes this extraordinarily low cost even better is the fact that salivating Serbian food typically comes in gloriously sized portions that can bust the bellies of even the biggest eaters.

So, it's official: Belgrade is indeed the go-to for any foodie from around the world. This culturally enriching Eastern European city packs a punch with its unmatched gastronomic grub that caters to all tastes and budgets – be it fancy fine dining at the higher end or authentic street food stalls dotted about the metropolis. However, those who aren't stomach-inclined will still have a great time in Belgrade; its hectic, vibrant atmosphere is a prime playground for anyone who can't resist East Europe's charm, aunt-like hospitality, and gritty, underground underbelly.

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# 2 Cheapest: Budapest, Hungary

Healing Hungarian heated waters, flamboyant and fashionable nightlife, and majestic European architecture make Hungary's capital of Budapest so enticing for a perfect city break. But what many folks unfamiliar with this melting pot of culture and cuisine fail to realize is this: it's a prolific food hunter's haven worthy of the 'Hungaryest' belly-budgeting beasts.

In fact, Budapest-bound bellies can get a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in the city for the average sum of about €6.56, and it gets even better; the price of a domestic beer is €1.71 – thus no need to break the bank while eating one's way through Hungary's principal metropolis.

As an even greater addition to Budapest's food scene, its most iconic attraction is the Ruin Bars – a handful of characterful hipster bars based in the interiors of abandoned buildings dotted around the city, all adorned by vibrant graffiti and colorful plants. Thus, should boozy bar-hopping at trendy joints be on the bucket list, look no further than Hungary's capital.

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# 3 Cheapest: Sofia, Bulgaria

On the whole, Bulgaria attracts snow bunnies to enjoy budget-easy skiing in the mountains, and sun-chasers to lounge upon its sunny, sandy shores. Thanks to such conventional (but oh-so-beautiful) Euro-summer activities and attractions on the Bulgarian roster, there is one particular part of the country that far too many tourists skip – and it's the pretty city of Sofia.

Despite the city consistently being overlooked in favor of the country's dazzling coast and mesmeric mountain ranges, it's not necessarily a bad thing; fewer crowds make Sofia an attractive off-the-beaten-path choice for discerning visitors descending for a hidden gem to savor.

Overall, it's just as delightful as the more popular and populated European capital counterparts, yet without the overbearing hordes of people – much to foodies' delight when they come to sample its generous offerings of independent food and drink establishments. If you fancy trying a bounty of quintessential Bulgarian snacks, excellent vegan cuisine, and of course, flavorful craft beers, it's all in Sofia at an almost-unbeatable bargain baseline.

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# 1 Expensive: Oslo, Norway

Awesome it may be, but inexpensive it is not; Oslo isn't just the priciest foodie city in Europe for a meal, it's also the most expensive on the planet. The Norwegian capital ranks the highest across the entire board, particularly for a mid-range meal for two that will pinch around €98.86 on average from one's wallet. Even though starving diners will find Oslo to be far more purse-snatching than anywhere else in the world, the locals sing songs of praise about the quality of its cuisine, which is to an incomparably high standard – especially celebrated favorites like smoked salmon and kjøttkaker.

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# 2 & # 3 Expensive: Zürich and Geneva, Switzerland

Obviously, this notoriously expensive and extravagant nation of high-earning bankers, billionaire businesspeople, and star-studded A-lister events and establishments is bound to boast more than just one of the continent's top-tier cities in terms of sky-high meal prices. That's right, Switzerland has two – and they both price themselves out of the market (unless one has ample cash to splash for an evening of fine-dining decadence).

With the legendary reputation of glitz and glamor that precedes sublime Switzerland, it's no surprise that the superb Swiss cities of Zürich and Geneva come second and third place respectively in the ranks of Europe's most costly foodie destinations. Soberingly, a mid-range three-course meal for two will rob people of around €116.97 in Zürich, while a beer will cost €7.31 in Geneva – so be sure to save up suitably before booking that Switzerland retreat. Still, try not to let the eye-watering price tags loosen those legs, for the food here is genuinely worth it; as the home of the taste bud-teasing 'raclette' and its namesake world-famous Swiss chocolate, it's safe to say that Switzerland and its people know how to create and curate top-notch grub.

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