- Prague is bargain choice for a two-night Christmas Markets break this winter
- Riga is lowest-priced in the eurozone and cheaper for Christmas gifts than London
Rock bottom prices for meals, drinks and festive fare make Prague the cheapest choice for a European Christmas shopping break, according to Post Office Travel Money. As Christmas markets start to open across Europe, the Czech capital has emerged as best buy for a two-night break – over a third cheaper than Brussels, the most expensive of 10 cities surveyed¹.
At £531 for a weekend break for two - comprising two evening meals with wine, coffee, festive drinks and snacks, B&B accommodation, flights and airport-city centre transfers, Prague has risen from fifth place last year to claim the top spot from Budapest. Higher package costs pushed the Hungarian capital down to fourth place (£575). However, visitors to both cities will have over 10 per cent more spending power, thanks to a stronger pound².
Package prices for Riga and Tallinn, runners-up in the survey, are lower than for Prague but local tourist costs in these Eastern European competitors are over twice as high as in the Czech capital. As a result a two-night break in Tallinn costs £566 for two while in Riga a couple could expect to pay £554 for the items surveyed by Post Office Travel Money.
The Latvian capital emerges as cheapest of five eurozone cities and visitors will also find that the potential for savings at the shops greatest in Riga. This year’s European City of Culture is a new eurozone entrant this year but, unlike others to join in recent years, prices have stayed low and Christmas gift items are often cheaper in Riga than in London.
A Post Office shopping basket of eight ‘must have’ items was found to be over five per cent cheaper in Riga than in London³. This is in sharp contrast to other European cities where top gift items are generally pricier. Some of the items compared are much cheaper in Riga: Levi’s 501s cost around £53, almost 25 per cent less than in London (£70) and a pair of UGG boots are over 15 per cent cheaper (£110 in Riga, £130 in London).
While prices for meals, drinks and transport are much higher in Copenhagen and Stockholm than in other cities, package costs for the Scandinavian capitals were lowest-priced in the survey. This enabled Copenhagen (£570) to take fifth place in the barometer table with Stockholm (£592) one place behind. Despite their higher cost of living, sterling’s strength will have a big impact on the prices UK visitors face in these cities because it has strengthened 7.6 per cent against the Danish kroner and 11.6 per cent against the Swedish kroner.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “Sterling has risen quite significantly in value against European currencies this year, which means that city break holidaymakers will have more cash to spend. However, it is still important for them to check prices and factor in all the costs they will incur on a Christmas Markets trip. Holiday homework will show that short breaks to eastern European cities like Prague and Riga are hard to beat for value.”
Aside from Riga, prices were higher in other eurozone cities surveyed, despite a seven per cent rise in sterling’s value. At £810, Brussels weighed in as most expensive while the Post Office barometer totalled £780 in Lille, £781 in Berlin and £803 in Vienna.
Customers planning city breaks can purchase euro on demand at more than 10,000 Post Office branches, while the other European currencies are available over the counter at over 1,600 branches. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery.
From 8am, 28 November until 8 am, 2 December, Post Office Travel Money is mounting a Black Friday/Cyber Monday flash sale on all currencies, including euro and US dollars. This covers all online purchases including currency loaded onto new Travel Money Cards and top ups to existing ones.
Holidaymakers can also use the Post Office Travel Essentials Mobile App to buy currency using their mobile phone as well as check the value of their holiday money and see how far it will stretch on typical tourist staples for the country they are visiting. The Mobile App is available to download free of charge on the App Store or at Google Play.
European city break prices can be checked at www.postoffice.co.uk/christmasshopping2014.
Notes to Editors:
-  The Post Office European Christmas Markets Barometer was compiled using prices sourced from national and regional tourist offices of participating cities, and cross-checked with online research. Package prices were sourced online via Thomas Cook and based on flights (Eurostar for Brussels and Lille) departing London on 5 December and returning on the afternoon/evening of 7 December, with B&B accommodation (two sharing). Prices include hand luggage only on flights and exclude transfers.
POST OFFICE CHRISTMAS MARKETS BAROMETER
|ITEMS||PRAGUE Czech Rep.||RIGA Latvia||TALLINN Estonia||BUDAPEST Hungary||COPENHAGEN Denmark|
|4 x cup of coffee||£4.28||£8.93||£8.12||£4.94||£13.32|
|2 x three-course meal for two including bottle of house wine||£42.75||£113.64||£105.52||£63.71||£131.22|
|2 x return bus or train transfers from airport to city centre||£6.11||£3.90||£5.19||£7.69||£15.99|
|4 x glass mulled wine/punch/ Glühwein at Christmas market||£4.28||£6.49||£16.23||£3.30||£13.32|
|4 x piece of cake/gingerbread/ Stollen at Christmas market||£6.11||£6.49||£16.23||£6.59||£8.88|
|TOTAL FOR LIVING COSTS||£63.53||£139.45||£151.29||£86.23||£182.73|
|Two-night package with B&B accommodation & flights (Eurostar for Brussels & Lille) for two||£467.49||£414.25||£414.71||£488.48||£396.29|
|TOTAL INCLUDING PACKAGE||£531.02||£553.70||£566.00||£574.71||£579.02|
|ITEMS||STOCKHOLM Sweden||LILLE France||BERLIN Germany||VIENNA Austria||BRUSSELS Belgium|
|4 x cup of coffee||£8.91||£5.52||£6.49||£9.74||£6.49|
|2 x three-course meal for two including bottle of house wine||£184.48||£99.19||£121.75||£97.40||£146.10|
|2 x return bus or train transfers from airport to city centre||£37.43||£16.23||£4.22||£6.49||£12.99|
|4 x glass mulled wine/punch/ Glühwein at Christmas market||£7.13||£9.74||£6.49||£14.61||£6.49|
|4 x piece of cake/gingerbread/ Stollen at Christmas market||£7.13||£9.74||£8.12||£12.99||£6.49|
|TOTAL FOR LIVING COSTS||£245.08||£140.42||£147.07||£141.23||£178.56|
|Two-night package with B&B accommodation & flights (Eurostar for Brussels & Lille) for two||£347.22||£639.77||£633.79||£662.00||£631.25|
|TOTAL INCLUDING PACKAGE||£592.30||£780.19||£780.86||£803.23||£809.81|
- Based on Post Office exchange rates on 13 November 2014
- European Christmas Market dates and locations:
3. Lille, France: 19 November-30 December, Place Rihour
4. Brussels, Belgium: 28 November-4 January, Grand Place
5. Prague, Czech Republic: 29 November-1 January, Old Town Square
6. Vienna, Austria: 15 November-24 December, City Hall
7. Copenhagen, Denmark: 15 November-4 January, Tivoli Gardens
8. Tallinn, Estonia: 22 November-8 January, Town Hall Square
9. Berlin, Germany: 24 November-31 December, Gendarmenmarkt
10. Stockholm, Sweden: 22 November–23 December, Old Town
² Post office exchange rate comparisons between November 2014 and November 2013:
|Currency||% +/- 2014 vs. 2013||Nov 2014||Nov 2013||£500 buys +/-|
|Levi’s 501 Original Fit Stonewash Jeans||£70.00||£52.63||-24.8%|
|UGG Classic Short Boots||£130.00||£110.12||-15.3%|
|Ralph Lauren RLX Men’s Quilted Hooded Jacket||£300.00||£263.16||-12.3%|
|iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi 16GB||£399.00||£376.52||-5.6%|
|Clinique Long Last Lipstick||£17.50||£16.56||-5.4%|
|Polo Ralph Lauren Classic Mesh Polo Shirt||£70.00||£68.02||-2.8%|
|iPad Mini 3 Wi-fi 16GB||£319.00||£340.08||+6.6%|
|My Burberry Eau de Parfum (50 ml)||£65.00||£69.64||+7.1%|
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