Follow Post Office Media

Europe’s unsung cities are giving popular city break destinations a run their money!

Press release   •   Aug 18, 2018 00:01 BST

City break bargain; costs in Porto a third less than Lisbon

Europe’s unsung cities are giving popular city break destinations a run their money!

Internet search volumes reveal appetite for city breaks off the tourist track, where you can save up to 44% on better-known cities without compromising on culture

Post Office analysis reveals prices in Porto are a third less than in Lisbon, Valencia costs 35% less than Barcelona and Belgrade is 12% cheaper than Krakow

Adventurous Britons set on discovering Europe’s ‘unsung’ cities will be ‘quids in’ compared with holidaymakers who stick to tried and tested capitals like Paris, Barcelona and Venice, according to a new study by Post Office Travel Money. With two-in-five holidaymakers taking an overseas city break this year1, research into internet search volumes for the Post Office Unsung Cities League not only suggests a growing appetite for cities off the well-beaten tourist track, but also finds them far cheaper than more established options.

To compile the Unsung Cities League, Post Office Travel Money surveyed costs for the 10 cities that scored the highest number of internet searches in 2017. These were: Antwerp, Belgrade, Bratislava, Bucharest, Hamburg, Ljubljana, Porto, Toulouse, Valencia and Verona2. It found prices cheapest in Serbia’s capital Belgrade3, which had the eighth highest number of searches out of 30 Google city keywords. Belgrade’s barometer total was also lower than in any of the 36 cities surveyed for the most recent City Costs Barometer (March 2018).

At £149 for 12 tourist items - including a range of drinks, an evening meal for two with wine, two nights’ three-star weekend accommodation in October, sightseeing and city transport – Belgrade was almost 12 per cent cheaper than Krakow, which was previously best value in the City Costs Barometer. The same items cost £169 in Krakow (based on current exchange rates and accommodation for 5-7 October).

City Comparisons Unsung City Established City £ difference % difference
Belgrade vs Krakow Belgrade £148.70 Krakow £169.21 -£20.51 -12.1
Bucharest vs Budapest Bucharest £174.94 Budapest £228.60 -£53.66 -23.5
Porto vs Lisbon Porto £183.74 Lisbon £274.96 -£91.22 -33.2
Bratislava vs Vienna Bratislava £202.56 Vienna £362.26 -£159.70 -44.1
Ljubljana vs Dubrovnik Ljubljana £216.94 Dubrovnik £279.07 -£62.13 -22.3
Toulouse vs Paris Toulouse £246.45 Paris £398.83 -£152.38 -38.2
Valencia vs Barcelona Valencia £245.54 Barcelona £378.93 -£133.39 -35.2

The same pattern of lower pricing for lesser-known cities was a common feature among all those surveyed for the Unsung Cities League. At £175, the barometer basket in Romanian capital Bucharest – runner up to Belgrade - cost over 23 per cent less than in Budapest (£229) in neighbouring Hungary. The higher cost of accommodation in Budapest helped to make a city previously rated high in the best value top 10 almost £54 more expensive than Bucharest.

A surprising result of the Post Office research was that Porto, Portugal’s second city, proved to be cheaper than two fast-emerging Eastern European capitals, Bratislava, Slovakia (£203) and Ljubljana, Slovenia (£217). Third-placed in the Unsung Cities League, Porto’s prices (£184) were also a third lower than in Lisbon (£275) and eight per cent less than in Athens (£200), making it the cheapest city in Western Europe.

However, Slovakian capital Bratislava (£203) looks a bargain buy compared with costs in Vienna (£362) in neighbouring Austria. The price gap between Europe’s two closest capital cities is over £159 or 44 per cent.

Based on the new research Belgrade (1st), Bucharest (4th), Porto (7th) and Bratislava (9th) rate among Europe’s best value top 10 when their barometer totals are compared with prices for the 36 cities featured in the March 2018 Post Office City Costs Barometer4.

Four other cities surveyed for the Unsung Cities League were also markedly less expensive than better-known city break destinations in the same country. Toulouse (£246) in south-west France was 38 per cent cheaper than Paris (£399). The 12 tourist staples cost £246 in Valencia, 35 per cent less than in Barcelona (£379) further up the Spanish coast. In Antwerp (£253) visitors to Belgium can expect to pay nearly 30 per cent less than in Bruges (£358). And in Italy, prices in Verona (£294) are 36 per cent lower than in Venice (£460).

The only city surveyed where prices were similar to those of its more popular ‘big brother’ was Hamburg. At £308, prices in Hamburg were only 1.2 per cent cheaper than in Berlin (£311).

Andrew Brown, spokesperson for Post Office Travel Money said: “City breaks are continuing to prove more popular than any other holiday sector, but don’t get caught out. Our research reveals just how dramatically prices vary across Europe, so holidaymakers need to be careful to do their homework before booking and budget accordingly. As Europe’s lesser-known capitals and second cities start to invest in tourism, now is the time to consider switching to a city that is likely to be cheaper than long-established favourites.

“In Eastern Europe there are several historic capitals - led by Belgrade, Bucharest and Bratislava - that can rival Krakow, Prague and Budapest on both price and sights. In the West, Porto is a great alternative to Lisbon while cities like Valencia, Verona and Toulouse are cheaper options than city break favourites like Barcelona, Venice and Paris.”


All prices quoted have been rounded up or down to the near whole figure.

For more information, please contact:

Joanne Leahy Post Office Press Office 07791 894469

Christine Ball CBPR 01798 874177 / 07976 285997

Notes to Editors:

The Post Office is the UK’s leading provider of foreign currency, offering euro on demand at over 9,000 branches. Euros can also be ordered online at for same day ‘click and collect’ at over 3,500 branches as well as for home delivery or next day collection at any branch. The Romanian leu is among 70 currencies that can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 branches or online at for next day branch or home delivery. The Post Office recommends taking euros to Belgrade as the Serbian dinar is a restricted currency.

1 Post Office research by Populus (31 March-2 April 2018) among 2,081 UK adults found that 39 per cent were planning to take a city break abroad during 2018.

2 iProspect conducted Google keyword research on behalf of Post Office Travel Money to find the cities that scored the highest volume of internet searches in 2017 among 30 emerging city break destinations. The top highest search volumes were for:

1.Valencia 76,830

2.Porto 50,980

3.Hamburg 41,120

4.Bratislava 40,880

5.Verona 33,910

6.Bucharest 33,530

7.Toulouse 33,420

8.Belgrade 33,420

9.Antwerp 27,290

10.Ljubljana 27,210

3 Post Office Unsung Cities League of prices for 12 typical tourist commodities in 10 European cities:

ITEMS Serbia Romania Portugal Slovakia Slovenia
Cup of coffee £1.30 £2.08 £1.09 £2.08 £1.27
Bottle of beer/lager (330ml local brand) £1.73 £3.08 £3.53 £1.99 £2.72
Coca-Cola/Pepsi (330ml bottle/can) £1.50 £1.66 £1.81 £1.72 £2.08
Glass of house wine (175ml) £2.30 £3.48 £4.53 £1.99 £2.36
3 course evening meal for 2 with bottle of house wine £33.99 £45.22 £43.86 £46.72 £48.02
Return bus or train transfer from airport to city centre £4.60 £1.45 £13.59 £1.63 £7.43
48-hour travel card £3.84 £3.32 £25.37 £7.25 £6.16
Sightseeing city bus tour £3.84 £5.19 £12.69 £18.12 £9.06
Top tourist heritage attraction £0.00 £7.27 £3.62 £4.53 £9.06
Church of Sveti Sava Parliament Palace Lello Bookstore Devin Castle Ljubliana Castle
Top museum £3.07 £2.08 £2.27 £4.53 £5.44
Museum of Yugoslavia Theodor Pallady Museum Porto Wine Museum City History National Museum
Top art gallery £1.53 £3.11 £3.77 £0.00 £6.34
Gallery of Frescoes National Gallery Serralves Art Museum National Gallery National Gallery
COST OF LIVING £57.70 £77.94 £96.74 £90.56 £99.94
2 nights' 3* accommodation (weekend) for 2 adults £91.00 £97.00 £87.00 £112.00 £117.00
TOTAL COSTS £148.70 £174.94 £183.74 £202.56 £216.94

ITEMS Spain France Belgium Italy Germany
Cup of coffee £2.27 £2.08 £2.19 £2.49 £2.29
Bottle of beer/lager (330ml local brand) £3.40 £2.72 £2.27 £4.35 £2.63
Coca-Cola/Pepsi (330ml bottle/can) £2.58 £1.81 £2.08 £3.17 £2.72
Glass of house wine (175ml) £2.95 £2.72 £3.40 £3.62 £3.44
3 course evening meal for 2 with bottle of house wine £63.22 £55.35 £63.64 £58.18 £56.55
Return bus or train transfer from airport to city centre £2.72 £13.59 £9.06 £10.87 £5.98
48-hour travel card £18.12 £25.37 £10.87 £7.25 £13.96
Sightseeing city bus tour £9.06 £12.69 £11.78 £18.12 £15.86
Top tourist heritage attraction £4.53 £3.62 £0.00 £5.44 £4.53
Valencia Cathedral Church of the Jacobins City Hall Juliet's Home St Michaelis Church
Top museum £7.25 £8.16 £7.25 £4.08 £8.61
City of the Arts and Sciences Museum Toulouse MAS- Museum aan de Stroom Museo di Storia Naturale Museum of Hamburg History
Top art gallery £5.44 £6.34 £9.06 £3.62 £8.16
The IVAM The Abattoirs Museum of Contemporary Art Achille Forti Modern Art Gallery Bucerius Kunst Forum
COST OF LIVING £121.54 £134.45 £121.60 £121.19 £124.73
2 nights' 3* accommodation (weekend) for 2 adults £124.00 £112.00 £131.00 £173.00 £183.00
TOTAL COSTS £245.54 £246.45 £252.60 £294.19 £307.73

4 Post Office City Costs Barometer top 10 best value cities August 2018











About the Post Office

Post Office Limited has an unrivalled national network of over 11,600 branches across the UK, more than all the high street banks combined, and sits at the heart of many communities across the country.

It provides around 170 different services and products spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards. Post Office also offers Government services, telephony, foreign currency, travel insurance and mail services.

99.7% of people live within three miles of their nearest Post Office outlet. For many rural communities the Post Office is the only retail outlet. Post Offices remain highly valued and trusted and are the focal point for many communities. For more information, visit