10 cheapest cities: Krakow, Vilnius, Riga, Warsaw, Budapest, Moscow, Prague, Athens, Lisbon and Lille
Krakow has pulled ahead of its Eastern European rivals to emerge as the cheapest city for a bargain break this spring, according to the 10th Post Office Travel Money City Costs Barometer. The survey of prices by the UK’s largest provider of holiday money reveals that Eastern Europe still dominates the list of best value capitals for UK tourists – taking the top seven places in a barometer comparing 36 cities.
At £165 for 12 typical city break items – including a range of drinks, an evening meal for two with wine, two nights’ three star weekend accommodation, sightseeing and city transport – Krakow has taken the top spot in the City Costs Barometer for the first time. Prices in Poland’s second city were less than a third those in Amsterdam (£535), the most expensive city surveyed. The high cost of accommodation in Amsterdam – £365 for two nights, up over £100 on 2017 – accounts for the 27 per cent increase in its barometer total. However, prices for meals, drinks and other items were lower than in long-time rivals Paris and Venice.
Although prices are almost 19 per cent higher than a year ago, Vilnius (£166) was a close runner-up to Krakow. Another Baltic capital, third-placed Riga (£172), continues to offer by far the cheapest accommodation at £62 for two nights. By comparison, prices in the third Baltic capital, Tallinn (15th, £252), are up by over 20 per cent for the second year running, making the city 53 per cent more expensive than Vilnius.
Elsewhere in Eastern Europe Warsaw (4th, £181), Budapest (5th, £184) and Prague (7th, £200) remain cities where thrifty tourists will get more for their money, even though sterling has slipped in value by between 1.2 and 7.7 per cent against their currencies since last spring2.
The highest new top 10 entrant is Moscow (£200), which has moved up 10 places to sixth in the table after a 9.6 per cent fall in prices. The weak Russian ruble, low living costs and competitively-priced accommodation account for Moscow’s strong performance.
- Moscow is one of seven cities where barometer costs have fallen over the past year. The biggest fall of 15.3 per cent was recorded in Stockholm (£387), which has moved six places up the table to 29th. This price fall has been boosted by a 4.6 per cent year-on-year rise in sterling’s value against the kronor. Along with Oslo (35th, £510) the most expensive Nordic city of five surveyed, Reykjavik (34th, £510) has also seen a sizeable fall of 7.7 per cent.
- Another city to register a fall (2.1 per cent) was Lille (£209), which has moved four places up the barometer table into 10th place. The three other French cities surveyed also performed well. Strasbourg (13th, £235) and Nice (14th, £246) were in the top half of the table while the long-established city break favourite Paris (23rd, £320) was over £200 cheaper than Amsterdam.
- Athens (8th, £200) has regained its place as the cheapest city in Western Europe, overtaking Lisbon (9th, £209), where prices have risen 29 per cent. Meals in the Greek capital (£37.11 for a meal for two with wine) were significantly cheaper than in any of the other cities surveyed. By comparison, overall barometer prices were over twice as high in the two most expensive Eurozone cities surveyed – Venice (32nd, £423) and Amsterdam (36th, £535).
- Just outside the top 10, Valletta (11th, £212) is looking good value for visitors attracted by its status as this year’s European Capital of Culture. Meals, drinks and other tourist costs in the Maltese capital were fifth cheapest in the survey, although accommodation costs were higher than in the top 10 cities.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four currency transactions, said: “If you are planning a city break this year, do your homework carefully and check prices for key items like meals, drinks and sightseeing before booking because there are big price variations across Europe. Accommodation will make a big difference too as we found that the cost of staying over in a city can vary by hundreds of pounds.
“The exchange rate is definitely a factor to consider before booking a break. Sterling has strengthened against several European currencies, which means even more expensive cities like Stockholm and Reykjavik are cheaper than a year ago. However, tourists looking for a bargain break should consider cities in Eastern Europe, especially those in Poland or the Baltic States.”
Closer to home, prices in London (25th, £351) have dropped by 5.8 per cent since last spring, according to the research. They have also fallen 2.4 per cent in Belfast (21st, £315), which remains cheaper for a city break than neighbouring Dublin (31st, £388) – although the differential is mainly the result of high hotel prices in the Irish capital. In 20th place, Edinburgh (£291) emerges as the cheapest of the three UK cities surveyed.
Cities cheapest and most expensive for…
Two nights’ accommodation: Riga (£62), Krakow (£78) and Moscow (£80) were among 11 cities where two night stays cost less than £100. Aside from Amsterdam (£365), Copenhagen (£261) and Dublin (£260) were among nine cities costing over £200.
Meals for two with wine: Athens (£37.11), Warsaw (£42.50), Vilnius (£42.69), Krakow (£42.72), Budapest (£44.08), Lisbon (£47.07), Prague (£47.22) and Moscow (47.91) cost least while Oslo (£164.70) and Reykjavik (£131.51) were most expensive.
Drinks: At £7.86 for a coffee, Coca-Cola, beer and glass of wine, Prague narrowly beat Madrid (£7.92) as cheapest for drinks. They cost over three times as much in Reykjavik (£25.18).
Airport-city transfers: Geneva (£0), Vilnius (£1.27) and Warsaw (£1.97) were cheapest while transfers cost over £20 in Reykjavik (£29.42), Bruges (£26.79), Oslo (£25.19) and Venice (£22.63) – the latter being expensive for all transport costs.
Two day city travel card: Tallinn (£4.53), Warsaw (£5.37) and Krakow (£5.37) cards are under a tenth the price in Venice (£54.31). Best of all, a travel card is free for UK tourists staying in hotels in Geneva.
Sightseeing bus/train tour: The three cheapest cities for a tour are Valletta (£4.53), Strasbourg (£6.34) and Dubrovnik (£7.61). Geneva is priciest at £37.72.
Culture Costs: Visits to their leading museum, gallery and heritage attraction cost under £10 in Vilnius (£4.53) and Riga (£9.06). In Amsterdam UK tourists can expect to pay £46.61 while Rome (£46.16) is almost as expensive.