A two-night break to see a European Christmas market has gone down in price in most cities
There is good news for travellers looking for a weekend European Christmas shopping getaway this year.
Competitive local pricing and a stronger pound means the price of a stay in most European cities has fallen compared to this time last year, according to the Post Office.
Its research shows that out of the 13 European cities surveyed, a two-night break to see the Christmas markets had gone down in price in 10 of them.
Riga in Latvia is the bargain choice for a European Christmas shopping trip in this year’s Post Office Travel Money Christmas Markets Barometer.
The research compared two-night package trips, including accommodation, flights, meals, drinks, transport and even festive fare like mulled wine and gingerbread.
Riga was the cheapest city for the third year in a row with a total cost of £497 - 1.2% cheaper than a year ago.
Two nights’ accommodation and flight or Eurostar proved to be cheap at £326, while return bus/train transfers to the airport were around £4.
Food and drink was also good value, with four cups of coffee costing £10.50, while two three-course meals for two people cost £139.
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, took this year’s runner-up spot, costing just £523 for two.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, took third spot with a cost of £531, which is 13% lower than last year.
While seating and drinking was cheapest in Prague (£613), the higher cost of a two-night flight and accommodation package meant that it has fallen from second to fifth place.
Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money, says: “Our research found that Prague was one of only three cities where package prices have risen. Big falls of over 25% in many other cities suggest there is more flight and hotel availability this year, resulting in strong competition for business and lower prices. This makes it a great time for holidaymakers to plan bargain Christmas Markets trips.”
In Western Europe, Lille was the best-value break, with cost of £575 for two people. It is also closest to the UK with an 82-minute train journey from London.
Scandinavian cities have seen the biggest price falls. Prices were down 21% in Stockholm (£625) and 26.4% in Copenhagen (£655).
Post Office Travel Money compared shop prices for 10 Christmas gift items in the 13 cities and to London.
It found that UK visitors can make some big savings on a variety of gifts in most cities, including designer fashions, beauty products, chocolates and high-tech goods.
Six cities scored totals that were lower than in London, with the biggest savings to be made in French cities. The overall cost of the 10 items was 6.6% lower in Strasbourg and 5.6% less in Lille than in London. Prices were also 4.8% cheaper in Prague and cost 3.5 per cent less in Munich than in London, while they were marginally lower in both Vienna and Berlin.
The Post Office found that Lindt chocolates were lower in Copenhagen, Krakow, Prague and Riga than in London. Meanwhile, a 200g Lindor gift box which retailed at £4.99 in London, cost as little as £3.04 in Copenhagen.
Clinique lipstick was £17.50 in Riga compared with £21.50 in London, while you can get as much as 55% off a 50ml bottle of Calvin Klein CK One fragrance in Vienna (£13.15 compared with £29.50 in London).
Savvy shoppers looking to pick up a tech bargain can get 28% off an Apple iPad Mini in Lille (£288 compared to £399 in London) or 12% on a GoPro Hero 7 (silver) in Strasbourg (£175.38 compared to £199.99 in London).
Mr Boden says: “The price differences revealed by our latest research show how important it is for people planning trips to check prices and allow for all the costs they may incur before choosing a city. Holiday homework before booking could save them hundreds of pounds, especially if they plan to go shopping for presents.”
Best value European Christmas market breaks
Riga, Latvia £496.64
Zagrab, Croatia, £522.65
Tallinn, Estonia, £530.90
France, Lille, £575.38
Czech Republic, Prague, £612.81
Poland, Krakow, £616.04
Budapest, Hungary, £624.07
Stockholm, Sweden, £625.16
Berlin, Germany, £647.28
Strasbourg, France, £683.36
Munich, Germany, £726.62
Vienna, Austria, £776.74