Riga is the bargain choice for a festive shopping break in this year’s Post Office Travel Money Christmas Markets Barometer, published in the week that Advent markets get underway across Europe.
Read: Start your countdown to Christmas with our quirky advent calendar picksA winning combination of rock bottom meal and drinks prices and by far the lowest flight-and-hotel package costs helped the Latvian capital take top spot in the survey of 10 European cities for the second year running.
The price tag of £499 for a two-night Riga break for two people – comprising return flights, B&B accommodation, airport-city centre transfers, two evening meals for two with wine, coffee and festive drinks and snacks at the Christmas Market – was marginally lower than last year (-1.1 per cent) and 44 per cent cheaper than in Copenhagen (£884), the most expensive city surveyed.
A big factor was that its two-night package price of £327 was £84 lower than its closest competitor (Stockholm, £411) and nearly half the cost for Vienna (£601).
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Runner up Prague registered the biggest year-on-year barometer price fall of 12.2 per cent.
At £592 for the two-night break for two, the Czech capital scored well because it was easily the cheapest city for meals, drinks and other Christmas Markets staples, while package prices were among the best value of those surveyed.
Travel review: Ski, snowboard and super luge in La PlagneAnother Baltic capital, Tallinn (£606) completed the Eastern European 1-2-3 at the top of the barometer table, although Christmas Market visitors can expect to pay almost eight per cent more for a break in the Estonian capital this year.
In fourth place, Berlin (£631) has emerged as best value for a festive break in Western Europe in this year’s report – £59 cheaper than Lille (£690).
Barometer prices have fallen 9.5 per cent since last year, making Germany’s capital £68 cheaper than another German city Munich (£699), which boasts one of Europe’s best-known Christmas Markets.
A lack of budget-priced packages and an 8.5 per cent rise in the cost of meals and drinks helps to account for the increased cost of a Munich Christmas Market break.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four of all UK currency transactions, said: “Our advice to people planning visits to a Christmas Market city is to do their homework carefully before booking.
"It’s well known that tourist staples are cheap in Eastern European cities, but Berlin also looks great value for a Christmas Markets break this year and, closer to home, Lille is also a good option.”
Holidaymakers planning trips to the European Christmas Markets can purchase euro on demand at over 9,000 Post Office branches, while the other European currencies featured in the Post Office Travel Money report are available over the counter at more than 1,600 branches.