MUNICH: Search engine for holiday rentals Holidu has released a study which looks at the difference in the price of both tap and bottled water in over 100 cities around the world.
The company decided to examine this topic as part of their mission to help travellers make smart and affordable decisions about where they decide to stay, which led them to investigate the most basic of everyday vacation expenses: water.
Bottled water consumption has skyrocketed over the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down.
“Global annual consumption passed 3 billion hectoliters in 2017, and it’s projected that the global market for bottled water will reach US$307.6 billion by 2025. There’s no question that paying for bottled water has become an everyday norm in our lives, at home and when we travel,” says Johannes Siebers, CEO & Co-founder of Holidu.
Keeping in mind daily water usage in holiday rentals, they began by finding the average costs for tap water in each destination, before turning their attention to the often unavoidable cost of bottled water.
After collecting the average costs for both in each location, Holidu was able to calculate in percentages how far the prices varied in each city, as well as between brands.
Special attention was also paid to tap water quality and scarcity in every region, to help inform travellers of any restrictions they may face. The result is a comprehensive price index which reveals how much variation there is in the cost, quality and availability of water in cities around the world.
How the study was conducted:
To begin the study, Holidu selected 120 cities which are popular tourist destinations, as well as places where there is a heightened risk of water shortage.
For this purpose, they included a category showing the level of water stress for each city. Holidu also looked into the quality of tap water in each location, as it was important above all to see if and where the water was safe to drink.
Next, the monthly consumption cost** of tap water in each city was found, from which it was possible to calculate the percentage deviation from the median price for all the cities in the list.
The results show, more or less, just how much citizens in each metropolis pay for their tap water compared to the rest of the world.
The second part of the study focused on bottled water as a common cost for many travellers, despite the negative effects on the environment.
To start, the price of a typical affordable bottle of water that a person may buy at a supermarket in each city was found.
This was broken down further into the average price per bottle of three of the most common water brands – Evian, Perrier/Nestlé and the local water brand from the Coca-Cola company.
Finally, the cost of all these different brands was averaged to see which cities have the most expensive and cheapest bottled water, calculating the percentage deviation from the median price in the index.
The final index paints a picture of how the price of water varies worldwide, as well as giving an overview of the differences in local tap water costs and water stress levels found across the globe.
*The cost of an affordably-priced 500 ml bottle of still water bought at a supermarket in each city. Typical was defined as the brand with the most variants available at supermarkets in each location.
*The global average water consumption per person per month is 15 cubic metres.
The tables below reveal a sample of results for the 10 cities with the most and least expensive bottled water across all brands in the study, shown as a percentage deviation from the median price:
Cities With Most & Least Expensive Bottled Water
% Deviation from
% Deviation from
The table below reveals the cities with the highest water quality score in the study:
The Top 10 Cities With Highest Water Quality
London, United Kingdom ranks #32 out of 120.
A typical affordable bottle* of 500ml water costs the most in Oslo, Norway, at £1.32, and costs the least in Beirut, Lebanon at £0.03. In London, UK it costs £0.44.
Comparing prices across several brand-name waters, Oslo still has the most expensive bottled water in the index, costing 194.90% more than the global median, followed by Tel Aviv, Israel (+123.90%) and New York, USA (+76.42%). Istanbul, Turkey instead has the cheapest across brands, costing 69.43% less than the median price, followed by Naples (-67.45%) and Milan, Italy (-51.25%).
Osloites also pay the most for tap water, at 212.24% more than the global median, followed by people in San Francisco, USA (+183.60%) and Wellington, New Zealand (+173.23%). Citizens in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia pay the least, at 98.17% less than the median price, followed by Cairo, Egypt (-96.30%) and Karachi, Pakistan (-95.71%).
Innsbruck, Austria has the highest tap water quality score, followed by Helsinki, Finland and Vienna, Austria. Lagos, Nigeria has the lowest, followed by Karachi, Pakistan and Dakar, Senegal. Glasgow ranks 10th in the world for tap water quality.
London, United Kingdom ranks #95 out of 120 worldwide for the cost of bottled water.