Rising prices show that Tallinn has lost its top spot as a bargain city break to Budapest in the annual Post Office Travel Money Christmas Markets Barometer.
At £529 for a two-night break for two in early December, Budapest comes in as the cheapest of 12 European cities, costing around 39% less than Munich or Basel (both around £866).
These were the most expensive cities surveyed for the Post Office Travel Money barometer, which includes two evening meals with wine, coffee, festive drinks and snacks, two nights’ B&B accommodation, return travel and airport-city centre transfers.
Even though sterling is worth only 0.3% more year-on-year against the Hungarian forint, Budapest prices have fallen by 8.8% compared on this time last year.
In contrast, prices for meals, drinks and other out-of-pocket expenses went up by 15% to £123 in Tallinn, this is only partly as a result of a UK pound that is 5% weaker year-on-year.
When these higher prices were added to flight and accommodation costs, the overall total of £841 accounts for the Estonian capital’s fall to eighth position.
Latvia’s capital Riga (£530) was a close runner-up to Budapest (£529) when all the weekend break costs are considered, but this was because of the low package price (£378 for two in Riga compared with £450 for Budapest).
Once visitors arrive in Riga, they can expect to pay considerably more than in Budapest because Post Office research showed meal, drinks and transfer costs were 91% higher (£152 compared with just under £80).
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “Sterling is up to 5% weaker than a year ago against European currencies so it is doubly important for people to shop around for the best currency deals and factor in all the costs they will incur on a Christmas Markets trip.
“For example, meal and drink prices may be higher in Riga than in some other cities, but flight and hotel costs were the lowest we found.
“By contrast, although a meal for two in Prague (£24) is around a quarter the cost in Basel (£106) or Copenhagen (£95), accommodation and flights were among the most expensive. It is a combination of cheap packages and low city costs that make Budapest such good value.”
Despite having the cheapest living costs (£69) of the 12 cities surveyed, Prague fell from third to fifth place in the 2013 table because the cost of a two-night package added £694 to the overall cost of £763 – 44 per cent higher than Budapest.
Third place in the barometer went to Lille (£704), cheapest of seven eurozone cities surveyed. The Eurostar destination was 19 per cent less expensive than Munich (£866), the most expensive eurozone city in the survey.
Brussels (£749), another city reached by Eurostar and included for the first time this year, was in fourth place.
Andrew Brown went on to say: “The countdown to Christmas can be a stressful time so we want to help people plan ahead for a cost effective festive season if they’re travelling abroad.
“The Christmas Markets Barometer is designed to help shoppers get those extra special Christmas gifts as conveniently as possible and at the best possible price.”