In global terms, it’s a great time to be carrying greenbacks. The US dollar’s strength against the euro has been on American travelers’ radar for some time now, and they’ve been scooping up economical visits to Europe’s great cosmopolitan centers like Paris and Rome. But the American buck has been having a rip-roaring time of it against a number of other currencies around the world, as well. As a result, some cities we think of as prohibitively expensive have suddenly become accessible. Here are six major global cities where you currently can go far with your US dollars…
Gone are the days when Aussies poured into New York City to stock up on what for them were discounted designer clothes and iPhones. The Australian dollar today is worth almost 30 percent less than its American counterpart. This means that after shelling out to get there, greenbacks will go a long way in cosmopolitan Sydney. At the wildly popular Potts Point restaurant Nel, for example, the tasting menu runs $64 US. Nel didn’t exist four years ago, but if it had that menu would have cost more like $93.
As recently as 2011, the yen was at a record high against the dollar. But by June of this year, the tables had turned as the dollar reached a 12-year high against the Japanese currency, making now a great time to visit the famously pricey metropolis. In 2011, a martini in the bar at the Park Hyatt, where Scarlett Johansson’s character famously imbibes in Lost in Translation, would have run you $23 and change (based on today’s menu). Today, it can be had for under $15.
The currency situation for tourists in Argentina is a little trickier than in some other destinations. The official exchange rate currently stands at just under 10 pesos to the dollar, already pretty favorable. Since the government placed restrictions on Argentines’ ability to obtain foreign currency in 2011, though, an easily accessible black market for greenbacks has emerged in which a dollar will get you more like 15 pesos. In the capital of Buenos Aires, that means a big automatic discount for the city’s world-class hotels, restaurants and cultural attractions. Just make sure you arrive with cash and skip the currency exchanges at the airport.
Norway can be a notoriously expensive destination for international travelers, but with a currency whose fortunes tend to be linked to oil prices, its krone has taken a hit recently, with the dollar now trading against it at levels not seen since the earliest years of the millennium. Entry to the popular Viking Ship Museum costs about $9, a nice discount from about $14.50 in 2011. Dining out in Oslo still comes with a certain level of sticker shock, with a bottle of beer in a restaurant running $8 or $9, but it’s within the realm of reason now in a way that it hasn’t been for some time.
Americans looking for an easy trip to an interesting, sophisticated capital city should head immediately south to Mexico City. The Mexican peso is currently trading at all-time lows against the dollar at the same time that the city is becoming a major dining destination and boasting more museums than almost any other city in the world. A six-course dinner at the world-class restaurant Pujol is $85 including tax—it’s the kind of exquisite, special-occasion tasting menu that in New York City would easily cost $250.
Russia’s currently got an image problem, but if you’re willing to look past its shady dealings on the world stage, now is a fantastic time to visit its capital city of Moscow. The ruble has absolutely tanked against the dollar, turning what in 2008 was the world’s most expensive city into a surprisingly affordable immersive experience. Good seats to the Bolshoi Ballet can currently be had for less than $100 each. Just two years ago they would have cost more like $200.