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02 Sep 2015

BY Gary Noakes

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The art of a bargain

The Irish capital is the best place for an affordable cultural break, Post Office research reveals. Gary Noakes reports

Dublin Ireland

Dublin has leapfrogged three Eastern Europe capitals to earn the title of cheapest cultural break, according to research by Post Office Travel Money.

 

The Irish capital earned the accolade for the value of its heritage sites, ballet, opera and classical concerts as well as the free entry to museums and art galleries, ranking top among 17 cities, all of them, apart from New York, in Europe.

 

The Post Office’s Cost of Culture report found the total cost in Dublin for a visit to various performances plus the National Museum, National Gallery, and the Old Library and Book of Kells at Trinity College had fallen 25% since last year to £76. Not only does the Dublin package come in at less than any of the capitals surveyed, but the cost is less than half the price of 10 competitors, including London, where an opera ticket alone costs £115.

 

Most expensive cultural cities - New York, London, Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam

 

A Post Office spokesperson said comparisons for performance costs were the best available to holidaymakers on a fixed date in October, although not necessarily like-for-like in terms of prestige.

 

London took the title of Europe’s most expensive cultural city once again, despite its major museums and galleries being free.

 

£24.50 - Cost of entry to the Tower of London, the most expensive heritage site surveyed

 

However, these were offset by the high cost of ballet and opera tickets and entry to the Tower of London, which at £24.50 ranked as the most expensive heritage site surveyed – more than twice the price of any similar attraction. London recorded a cost increase of 12.5%, which although far ahead of UK inflation at 0.1%, is a lot lower than increases in some cities.

 

Top dollar

London’s prices were however eclipsed by New York, where the cultural package came in at a massive £491.73. Not only are its ballet and opera very expensive, but there are also charges for most major museums and galleries. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art took the title of most expensive gallery at £16.55, while the American Museum of Natural History was the most expensive in its category at £14.56. A category 2 seat for Otello at the Metropolitan Opera in October would set you back a whopping £211.78, the survey found.

 

63% - The amount the Russian ruble has fallen against sterling in the past year

 

When it came to bargain destinations, Eastern Europe scored heavily, taking four of the top six places. Budapest retained its position as second cheapest in the survey at £91.31 for the six cultural highlights, with entry to its museums, galleries and heritage sites averaging around £3.50. Lisbon, which was put under the spotlight for the first time, came in third, with its basket costing £94.41.

 

Warsaw, Prague and Moscow took the next three places in the top six, with their respective baskets costing £105.10, £111.52 and £131.77.

 

Lisbon, £18.16 - Cheapest national ballet

 

Warsaw was last year’s cheapest destination, but has fallen to fourth place due to a sharp rise in performance prices.

 

In contrast, Moscow saw a 31% fall in total costs following a 63% rise in the value of sterling against the Russian ruble in the past 12 months.

 

Other currencies where UK tourists saw big gains were the Swedish krona (+17.9%) and, critically, the euro, where there was a 13.6% advantage compared with 2014. Rises of 12-13% were also recorded against the Danish krone, Polish zloty and Hungarian forint.

 

New York Philharmonic - Most expensive orchestral concert: £59.56

The survey found that few cities offered free museums and galleries, with only London, Dublin, Copenhagen and Lisbon scoring in this area. Others offered the chance for cheaper ballet, opera and classical concerts, notably Lisbon, Warsaw, Brussels and Paris.

 

Andrew Brown, head of Post Office Travel Money, said: “Every city we surveyed boasts world-class cultural attractions, but the prices for these vary dramatically.”

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