Europe city breaks: Tirana revealed as the cheapest city… while Oslo is the priciest destination


Little-known Tirana, the capital of Albania in the Balkans, is Europe’s best-value city for British holidaymakers.

That’s according to Post Office Travel Money, which compared the cost of typical city-break items in 40 different cities – including a range of drinks, an evening meal for two with wine, two nights’ three-star weekend accommodation, sightseeing and city transport.

Tirana has an average price of £132, with a cup of coffee costing just 61p and a weekend’s accommodation amounting to £61. The runner-up, Katowice in Poland, is 24 per cent more expensive at £164, with the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius third at £166. Oslo – the capital of Norway – is the priciest city at £429. There, a beer costs £7.42 and two nights’ accommodation will set you back £157.

Little-known Tirana, the capital of Albania in the Balkans, is Europe’s best-value city for British holidaymakers. On average a cup of coffee there costs just 61p

Katowice in Poland, above, is the second-cheapest city for British holidaymakers, according to Post Office Travel Money

Katowice in Poland, above, is the second-cheapest city for British holidaymakers, according to Post Office Travel Money

The Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, pictured above, is the third best-value European city

The Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, pictured above, is the third best-value European city

According to the Barometer, the top-three best-value cities outperform more established Eastern European city-break favourites. Riga (£183) comes fifth, followed by Warsaw (£190, 6th) and Zagreb (£209, 7th), which retain top 10 places for value. Three new cities join the top 10 list for best value: Budapest (£214, 8th), Bratislava (£217, 9th) and Krakow (£221, 10th).

Eastern European cities do not have a complete stranglehold on value, though. Lisbon ranks as the fourth-best value city in Europe for Britons. A year-on-year fall in the average cost of two nights’ accommodation from £80 to £73 has helped the city climb six places up the top 10 on the back of a 7.9 per cent fall in prices. 

Easily the cheapest city surveyed in Western Europe at £180 for the barometer basket, prices in the Portuguese capital are less than half those in Eurozone favourites Bruges (£370), Amsterdam (£379) and Venice (£382).

With sterling riding high against European currencies, Post Office Travel Money says that Britons planning city breaks abroad this autumn will get as much as 9.2 per cent more foreign cash for their pounds than a year ago. However, prices vary significantly across Europe with falls of up to 15 per cent year on year in over 40 per cent of the 40 cities, but rises of over 10 per cent in nine others.

Tables showing the prices in the top 10 best value destinations for Britons analysed by Post Office Travel Money

Tables showing the prices in the top 10 best value destinations for Britons analysed by Post Office Travel Money

Oslo, pictured above, is this year’s priciest city. The five Nordic capitals surveyed are the most expensive in the City Costs Barometer

Oslo, pictured above, is this year’s priciest city. The five Nordic capitals surveyed are the most expensive in the City Costs Barometer

Prices in Ljubljana have fallen considerably, plunging by 15 per cent to £230, taking the Slovenian capital to 13th place, its highest-ever position. Other major European cities have seen a similar drop in prices, such as Madrid (16th) – which is down 12.6 per cent to £260 – and Paris (down 9.2 per cent to £340, 28th).

On the other end of the spectrum, costs have risen almost 40 per cent in Belfast (£352, 29th) because, according to Post Office Travel Money, a lack of hotel beds has pushed up prices.

The study found accommodation prices are a key factor in determining the overall cost of a two-night city break.

Post Office Travel Money says Lisbon is 'easily the cheapest city surveyed in Western Europe'

Post Office Travel Money says Lisbon is ‘easily the cheapest city surveyed in Western Europe’ 

These tables show the mid-level destinations for value in 2021, from Nice to Salzburg

These tables show the mid-level destinations for value in 2021, from Nice to Salzburg 

Belfast isn’t the only city to see a spike in its accommodation prices – hotel prices have risen significantly in several destinations including Zagreb (up 44 per cent), Porto and Berlin (both up by 31 per cent).

Conversely, the cost of a hotel stay has fallen in other city break hotspots, with the price of accommodation plummeting by 22 per cent in Paris and 21 per cent in Madrid.

When it comes to wining and dining, Post Office Travel Money found prices range from £38 for a three-course meal for two with a bottle of house wine in Tirana, to as much as £138.15 in Stockholm.

Prices in Paris are 49 per cent higher than in Lille. Pictured is the Louvre Museum in the French capital

Prices in Paris are 49 per cent higher than in Lille. Pictured is the Louvre Museum in the French capital 

Prices have fallen in Madrid by 12.6 per cent, with accommodation costs alone down 21 per cent. Pictured is the city's Cibeles Fountain

Prices have fallen in Madrid by 12.6 per cent, with accommodation costs alone down 21 per cent. Pictured is the city’s Cibeles Fountain 

Meal costs in Prague, pictured above, remain fourth lowest on the Barometer at only £49.75 on average

Meal costs in Prague, pictured above, remain fourth lowest on the Barometer at only £49.75 on average

COST VARIATIONS WITHIN COUNTRIES 

France: Prices in Paris (£339.59) are 49 per cent higher than in Lille (£228.12)

Croatia: Dubrovnik (£290.37) is 39 per cent more expensive than Zagreb (£208.92)

Italy: Venice (£382.11) is 37 per cent pricier than Rome (£279.89)

Poland: Krakow (£221.39) is 35 per cent more expensive than Katowice (£164.13)

Portugal: Prices in Porto (£223.75) are 24 per cent higher than in Lisbon (£180.36)

Austria: Vienna (£356.14) costs 21 per cent more than Salzburg (£295.30)

Spain: Barcelona (£291.83) is 12 per cent more expensive than Madrid (£259.63)

Belgium: Bruges (£369.50) is 12 per cent pricier than Antwerp (£328.74)

Source: Post Office Travel Money 

Though Prague (£241) is only 14th in the overall barometer ratings, its meal costs remain fourth lowest at only £49.75. 

Rounding out the top five most expensive city breaks for Britons are the other Nordic capitals. 

The second priciest is Reykjavik (£414, 39th), followed by Helsinki (£394, 38th), Copenhagen (£394, 37th), and Stockholm (£385, 36th). 

These cities are more than double the cost of the six best-value cities in this year’s cost comparison.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh (£290, 21st) is the cheapest of the four UK capitals. London (£298, 24th), where prices have fallen by 6.3 per cent, is the second-best for bargain-hunting holidaymakers. 

Cardiff (£307, 25th) ranks in third place and Belfast is in fourth place in this comparison list.

Post Office Travel Money also found sizeable differences in city costs within individual countries. 

In France, prices in Paris (£339.59) are 49 per cent higher than in Lille (£228.12); in Croatia, Dubrovnik (£290.37) is 39 per cent more expensive than Zagreb (£208.92); in Italy, Venice (£382.11) is 37 per cent pricier than Rome (£279.89); in Poland, Krakow (£221.39) is 35 per cent more expensive than Katowice (£164.13); in Portugal prices in Porto (£223.75) are 24 per cent higher than in Lisbon (£180.36); in Austria, Vienna (£356.14) costs 21 per cent more than Salzburg (£295.30); in Spain, Barcelona (£291.83) is 12 per cent more expensive than Madrid (£259.63), and in Belgium, Bruges (£369.50) is 12 per cent pricier than Antwerp (£328.74).

Nick Boden, Head of Post Office Travel Money, says: ‘Sterling is currently stronger against every European currency than a year ago, which has had a positive impact on prices abroad. 

Above, tables show the most expensive destinations for British holidaymakers out of the 40 surveyed by Post Office Travel Money

Above, tables show the most expensive destinations for British holidaymakers out of the 40 surveyed by Post Office Travel Money

The Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, above, is the second-most expensive city surveyed

The Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, above, is the second-most expensive city surveyed

Edinburgh is the cheapest of the four UK capitals, just ahead of London. Pictured is Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh is the cheapest of the four UK capitals, just ahead of London. Pictured is Edinburgh Castle 

Post Office Travel Money revealed accommodation costs have risen almost 40 per cent in Belfast, pictured above

Post Office Travel Money revealed accommodation costs have risen almost 40 per cent in Belfast, pictured above 

THE CHEAPEST AND PRICIEST PLACES IN EUROPE FOR HOTEL ROOMS AND EVENING MEALS

LOWEST AND HIGHEST-PRICED ACCOMMODATION FOR TWO NIGHTS

LOWEST PRICED:   

1. Tirana – £61

2. Riga – £63

3. Vilnius – £72

4. Lisbon – £73

5. Krakow – £80

6. Katowice – £80

7. Budapest – £84

8. Warsaw – £86

9. Tallinn – £90

10. Lille – £102

 MOST EXPENSIVE:   

1. Belfast – £221

2. Amsterdam – £198

3. Venice – £197

4. Dublin – £195

5. Cardiff – £189

6. Helsinki – £187

7. Geneva – £183

8. Copenhagen – £176

9. Bruges – £174

10. Reykjavik – £170  

LOWEST AND HIGHEST-PRICED THREE-COURSE EVENING MEALS FOR TWO WITH A BOTTLE OF WINE

HIGHEST PRICED: 

1. Stockholm – £138.15

2. Oslo – £136.73

3. Copenhagen – £128.00

4. Reykjavik – £109.63

5. Helsinki – £105.13

6. Vienna – £104.16

7. Geneva – £102.49

8. Antwerp – £96.61

9. Dublin – £87.83

10. Berlin – £85.46

LOWEST PRICED: 

1. Tirana – £38.00

2. Lisbon – £45.67

3. Zagreb – £47.75

4. Prague – £49.75

5. Katowice – £51.71

6. Porto – £51.82

7. Vilnius – £54.35

8. Warsaw – £55.75

9. Barcelona – £58.45

10. Rome – £59.55

 Source: Post Office Money Travel   

‘However, the wide price variations we found means Britons planning city breaks would be wise to do their homework and consider the costs they will incur abroad as well as the exchange rate. Comparing costs for accommodation, food, drink and sightseeing in different cities could save them hundreds of pounds.’

He adds: ‘Holidaymakers are likely to incur a wide range of costs on a city break, so our advice is to budget carefully and change enough travel cash before leaving home so you have sufficient spending money to cover these. Remember there are improved exchange rates for higher-value Post Office branch or online transactions.’

To find out more, visit Post Office Travel Money’s City Costs barometer: www.postoffice.co.uk/travel-money/city-costs-barometer.

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