Riga named cheapest city for Christmas markets trip

Riga has been named the cheapest destination in Europe for a trip to the Christmas markets for the fifth time in a row.

Latvia’s capital occupies the top spot in Post Office’s annual survey of 12 European cities published in the week when Advent markets start to open.

A two-night break in Riga for two people costs £506, which is 46% cheaper than Vienna – the most expensive city.

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Laura Plunkett, head of travel money at Post Office, said: “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.”

Post Office’s calculations are based on return flights, B&B accommodation, airport transfers, two evening meals for two with wine, as well as coffee and festive drinks and snacks at the Christmas market.

Riga also emerged as the cheapest destination in 2022, 2019, 2018 and 2017, with no barometer published in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.

Post Office said Riga’s win this year was the result of low-cost flights and competitively priced accommodation. The city was only ranked sixth-cheapest for meals and drinks.

The overall price tag is 1% lower than last year and nearly 10% cheaper than Stockholm, which sits in second place this year.

Krakow (£756) is far cheaper than Riga on the ground, with meals and drinks for two days costing £144 compared with £199 in Riga. However, a scarcity of pre-Christmas flights has pushed up the cost of travel, Post Office said. As a result, barometer costs are up by nearly 16% and the Polish city has dropped to eighth in the barometer table after taking third place last year.

Stockholm (£600) is runner-up in the barometer this year. While meals and drinks remain expensive compared with its eastern European competitors, a 9.4% rise in sterling’s value against the Swedish kronor has helped reduce prices.

Post Office also cited strong hotel availability in Stockholm and a fall in flight costs on the back of strong competition on the route from London.

The overall cost of a two-night break in Stockholm is down by more than 25 per cent compared with last year.

In third place with a total cost of almost £560, Zagreb is only 10p more expensive than Stockholm. Prices in the Croatian capital appear unaffected by the country’s change in currency from the kuna to the euro, Post Office said.

Meal and drinks prices are only 0.6% higher than a year ago, according to the barometer, with a two-night Christmas market break costing 2.8% more than in 2022.

The most expensive cities for a Christmas market break are Vienna (£933) and Copenhagen (£902), according to the barometer.

The full rankings are: 1. Riga (£505.73), 2. Stockholm (£559.50), 3. Zagreb (£559.60), 4. Prague (£640.23), 5. Tallinn (£663.38), 6. Budapest (£713.25), 7. Lille (739.82), 8. Krakow (£755.83), 9. Berlin (£768.01), 10. Salzburg (£846.02), 11. Copenhagen (£901.62), 12. Vienna (£932.61)

Plunkett 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.”

She said meal and drink costs can make a “big” difference to the overall price of a short break, adding: “This explains why Zagreb, Prague and Budapest are cities to consider for holidaymakers planning a Christmas market break.”

Photo of Riga: Roman Babakin/Shutterstock

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