Send your clients to Latvian capital Riga for the best-value European Christmas markets. That was the headline finding of Post Office Travel Money’s Christmas Markets Barometer.
It’s the third consecutive year the city has been named the bargain choice for a European Christmas shopping trip, thanks to its cheap package trips, meals, drinks and festive fare.
The survey of 13 European cities found Riga to be 36% cheaper than Vienna, the most expensive city in the season.
Riga’s barometer total of £497 – calculated by combining the cost for two people of a two-night flight-inclusive B&B accommodation package with airport transfers, two evening meals with wine, coffee, festive drinks and snacks at the Christmas market – is 1.2% cheaper than a year ago.
Its winning score was the result of ready availability of low-cost hotel accommodation and flights, with the city ranking only sixth cheapest for meals and drinks.
Prague was the cheapest on the ground (£121), but the higher cost of a two-night flight and accommodation package meant it fell from second to fifth place.
Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money, said: “Our research found Prague was one of only three cities where package prices have risen. Big falls of more than 25% in many other cities suggest there is more flight and hotel availability this year. This makes it a great time for holidaymakers to plan bargain Christmas market trips.”
This year’s runner-up, Croatian capital Zagreb, is another bargain option for UK Christmas shoppers with a barometer total of £523 for a two-night break for two people.
Post Office Travel Money included it in the survey for the first time because it has been rated the best European Christmas Market for the past three years.
Estonia’s capital Tallinn took third place, with a barometer total of £531 – 13% lower than last year.
It means two Baltic capitals – Riga and Tallinn – feature in the top-three best-value cities.
In western Europe, Lille emerged as best value. With a total barometer cost of £575 for two people, it is also closest to the UK, 82 minutes by train from London.
Post Office Travel Money said barometer prices had fallen 17% since last winter, putting it down in the main to the cost of a Eurostar train and hotel package having “fallen significantly”.
Sterling is not the negative factor that might have been expected because it is worth more than a year ago against all seven currencies for the cities featured, Post Office Travel Money added.