Published: 15/06/2022

How to avoid the biggest holiday rip-offs in Europe

The holiday rip-off. One thing that that we won’t miss about travelling this year in Europe.

Been there, got the t-shirt? Here are some of the most frustrating rip-offs in Europe.

Bottled water

Bottled water price hikes near popular attractions.

Enter any tourist attraction and suddenly bottled water becomes €2 or more. To avoid it? Just take a refillable bottle with you and ask any cafe to fill it for you. Re-filling your water bottle has the added bonus of being kind to the environment.

Non-complimentary nibbles

The basket piled high with freshly baked bread with olives may sound like a dream come true, but check your bill – it may cost you!

Careful when the waiter puts bread and ‘nibbles’ on the table. When you go to pay the bill, you get charged for them (even if they’ve not been touched).

It’s not all doom-and-gloom for loaf lovers. Some restaurants do provide for “free”, so ask first.

Surcharge for lunch with a view

Don’t assume you’ll be enjoying your holiday meals in the sun for free…

Some European cafes charge extra for sitting outside. If you see a cafe full inside but empty outside. Ask the waiter if you will pay more to sit outside before you order.

Be a local and drink at the bar. An extra charge for table service is common in Italy and France.

The cost of minor conveniences

Hungry? On the main drag? Don’t just dive into the first place you see. Check the prices.

Restaurant prices are highest in the main tourist areas of most cities. Walking a few streets away, you can get food just as good for a fraction of the cost

Hotels that hit the pocket

An all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet is tempting. If your hotel brekky is a paid-for extra, you might want to reconsider that full English by the lobby.

The same breakfast can be much cheaper at a local café.  And more fun! Sensing a theme? It pays to go local. All it takes is a five-second Google search to find something tasty, cheap and close by.

Tricky taxis

Just off the flight, the taxi-stand is so convenient. It’s too tempting to jump in and head for your hotel. There is a question to ask – how much? Where the price isn't agreed up front airport taxis can be an expensive surprise. Check before traveling. Consider a hotel pick up, inclusive transfers or book in advance Check reviews on TripAdvisor to find a reliable company.

Entry fees and queues

A little planning goes a long way to keep that pound in your pocket and jump the queue. Often all it takes is pre-purchasing tickets online the night before.

In Spain, it was €27 for a 3-days bus pass online. €25 a day at the ticket desk!

In Italy, history buffs may want to skip the Sorrento to Pompeii tours and take the local train (around €2.10). Entry tickets to the site costs around €15pp  – much cheaper than the €80pp tour buses from Sorrento town!

Spending a penny

When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Sometimes, your cash will go, too.

Paying to use public loos in cities such as Paris, Barcelona and Venice is a rip-off. Make use of toilets in places where you've already bought tickets to get in.

As paying customers at cafes and restaurants, you’re entitled to use their bathrooms so make sure to go before you go! Free comfort with a coffee!

Paying by card

If you plan to withdraw money abroad, think about the ATM’s currency conversion rate before accepting. Usually, you'll be offered two payment options: the local currency or sterling. Often, it’s cheaper to pay in the local currency and let your own bank do the conversion.

If buying something in a shop or restaurant on card, always choose to pay in local currency, too, as the same principle applies. Find out more about the best way pay here.