UK holidaymakers seeking a bargain Christmas markets break should head to Riga, according to a new report.
The Latvian capital was found to have the lowest price for a two-night trip for two people out of 12 European destinations analysed by Post Office Travel Money.
This took into account costs such as return flights, bed and breakfast accommodation, meals and refreshments bought at the markets.
Riga took top spot for value due to low-cost flights and accommodation prices rather than prices on the ground.
Sweden’s Stockholm was ranked in second place – ahead of many eastern European competitors such as Krakow, Poland – as the cost of a two-night break for UK holidaymakers is down by more than a quarter since last year.
That is because of factors such as a 9.4% rise in the value of sterling against the Swedish kroner, good hotel availability and a fall in air fares amid strong competition on the route between London and Stockholm.
Austria’s Vienna was found to be the most expensive Christmas market holiday destination, more than 84% more expensive than Riga.
Laura Plunkett, head of travel money at Post Office, said: “This year’s Christmas markets barometer provides the best possible evidence that it will always pay dividends to factor in all holiday costs before booking a trip abroad.
“As the research shows, a scarcity of pre-Christmas flights has resulted in higher travel costs to Krakow, usually one of the best value cities in our pricing surveys, while good flight availability has reduced the cost of city breaks to Riga and Stockholm.
“However, low meal and drinks costs can also have a big impact on the overall price of a short break, and this explains why Zagreb, Prague and Budapest are cities to consider for holidaymakers planning a Christmas market break.”
European Christmas markets are increasingly popular with UK holidaymakers.
While most people opt to fly to their destination, many are choosing cruises which enable them to visit several locations.
Ambassador Cruise Line, which specialises in no-fly itineraries from the UK, said it is seeing “more interest than ever in great value seasonal sailings” to Christmas markets in destinations such as Antwerp, Belgium; Hamburg, Germany; Honfleur, France; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
– Here is the ranking of the 12 destinations analysed by Post Office Travel Money, with the total cost in brackets:
1. Latvia, Riga (£506)
2. Stockholm, Sweden (£560)
3. Zagreb, Croatia (£560)
4. Prague, Czech Rep (£640)
5. Tallinn, Estonia (£663)
6. Budapest, Hungary (£713)
7. Lille, France (£740)
8. Krakow, Poland (£756)
9. Berlin, Germany (£768)
10. Salzburg, Austria (£846)
11. Copenhagen, Denmark (£902)
12. Vienna, Austria (£933)