If you are thinking of taking a bargain city break this spring, then take a look at the latest survey from the Post Office. Which is the cheapest city to visit for a short break? Answer: Krakow in Poland.
Krakow is the cheapest of 36 cities overtaking other Eastern European capitals which have traditionally been cheaper than Poland’s second city.
Eastern European cities take the top seven places in the barometer table – including Moscow, up 10 places to sixth on the back of a price fall of almost 10% which has been helped by a stronger pound (although Moscow probably wouldn’t be your first choice right now).
Athens is cheapest in Western Europe – overtaking Lisbon – while Lille is a third Western city, making its first appearance in the top 10.
Amsterdam is the most expensive city surveyed by the Post Office – although this is primarily because of high accommodation rates – the result of very limited capacity for stays in the spring.
Aside from the Dutch capital, Nordic cities are again most expensive – but the good news is that prices have fallen significantly in Stockholm and are down in Reykjavik.
Prices are down in seven cities – Stockholm, Moscow, Reykjavik, London, Belfast, Lille and Geneva – and have risen less than 5% in three others – Barcelona, Krakow and Athens
The 10th Post Office Travel Money City Costs Barometer reveals that in Krakow, it costs £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.
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 spring.
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.
Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, 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.”
See the Top 12 best-value destinations below and for the full results of the 2018 Post Office Travel Money City Costs Barometer can be viewed online at: www.postoffice.co.uk/citycosts