Skift Take

Western Europe may be cheaper now, but nobody there is happy about that. Eastern and Baltic Europe have become a rich alternative to their more expensive established neighbors.

Travelers in search of a cheap city break should head east this spring, with new research suggesting Budapest, Vilnius, Warsaw and Riga offer the best value.

The Post Office’s annual City Costs Barometer highlighted those destinations which are likely to prove cost-effective for British travellers. It compared the total cost of 12 common holiday purchases – including hotel accommodation, food and drink, a 24-hour travel card, and entrance into various attractions – in 25 popular cities.

The Hungarian capital proved to be the cheapest city to feature in the study, with the 12 items costing British travellers £134.76, on average. It was followed by Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, Warsaw, in Poland, and Riga – the Latvian capital.

Eurozone destinations proved less cost-effective, thanks in part to the pound’s recent decline against the euro, with only Lisbon, where the 12 purchases came to £166.43, in the top 10. Sterling is worth 2.7 per cent less against the euro than it did in March 2012, and has only strengthened against two currencies during that time: the Hungarian forint (+3.1 per cent) and the Czech koruna (+2.9 per cent)

The most expensive city to feature in the survey was New York. The 12 items cost £541.23 in the US city, with hotel accommodation – based on a spot check for two night’s three-star accommodation by the website – accounting for £355 of that figure.

Boston, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Chicago were also found to offer poor overall value for Britons.

The most expensive restaurant prices were in Stockholm, where a three-course evening meal for two, including wine, was found to cost £117.62, on average – nearly five times more than it would in Prague or Budapest.

London came 17th in the survey. The 12 items cost £311.50 in the capital, helped by the free entrance offered at its top attractions, making it a cheaper option than Rome and Amsterdam. Belfast offered better value, coming 10th in the study, one place ahead of Edinburgh and four ahead of Dublin.

Which cities offer the best value?

Total cost of 12 common purchases*
Budapest £134.76
Vilnius £140.99
Warsaw £151.49
Riga £155.34
Lisbon £166.43
Dubrovnik £168.20
Prague £168.34
Tallinn £172.63
Istanbul £211.87
Belfast £218.00
Edinburgh £228.25
Berlin £230.30
Vienna £237.19
Dublin £270.36
Barcelona £284.28
Paris £300.53
London £311.50
Bruges £314.42
Amsterdam £344.25
Rome £350.43
Chicago £352.98
Stockholm £420.45
Copenhagen £440.45
Boston £459.56
New York £541.23

*Items are: cup of coffee, bottle of beer, cola, glass of wine, three course evening meal, bus/train transfer from airport to city centre, 48-hour travel card, sightseeing bus tour, entrance to a top tourist/heritage attraction, entrance to a top museum, entrance to a top art gallery, two night’s three-star city centre accommodation.

Prices supplied by National and Regional Tourist Offices of participating countries, except for Edinburgh, London and Paris (researched online). Two-night accommodation prices sourced from (March 1, 2013) based on two adults travelling 26-28 April, sharing a double/twin room in a three-star hotel/guesthouse within one mile of the city centre.


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