As this year's joint Capital of Culture, Paphos has narrowly beaten the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, to take top spot in the ninth annual Post Office Travel Money City Costs Barometer of 36 European cities.
At £138 for 12 typical city break costs – including an evening meal for two with wine, drinks, two nights’ weekend accommodation, sightseeing and city transport – Paphos is one of four ‘sunshine’ cities in Western Europe to rival Eastern capitals as the best choices for bargain hunters.
Lower accommodation costs have helped Palma (£196) leap up to tenth position from 18th place a year ago and make it the only city of the 36 surveyed to show a price fall (5%). Lisbon (£162), Western Europe’s cheapest capital city, and Athens (£191) have both retained their top ten places for the third year running.
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “This is the first time since we started surveying tourist costs in European cities eight years ago that we have seen so many Western capitals provide the low prices usually associated with Prague, Budapest and other Eastern European cities.
“City breaks have emerged as the most popular type of holiday for UK tourists in the past three years and, with ongoing uncertainty about sterling, there is good reason for people planning trips to do their homework carefully and check where the pound will give them more for their money. This year the sunshine cities that have made it into our top ten look great value, with the promise of a sunny climate as well as low prices.”
Close on the heels of Paphos at just under £140 for the 12 city break staples, runner-up Vilnius is the cheapest of the six Eastern European cities with places in the best value top ten. Neighbouring Riga (£150) has overtaken Warsaw (£154), last year’s top city, and Budapest (£157) to move into third place. This is because local euro prices have fallen by 5% in the Latvian capital, while accommodation - £54 for two nights - is cheaper than in any other city surveyed. By comparison, prices in the third Baltic capital, Tallinn (£209), have risen 27% year-on-year, making the overall cost for UK visitors 50% higher than in Vilnius.
But, while the survey found price rises in 33 of the 34 cities also surveyed last year, these have been contained to 10% or less in more than a third of those cities (excluding accommodation, which has risen more sharply). This is because the cost of tourist items in local currency has risen only marginally and in several cases has fallen by up to 5%, meaning that the only extra cost to UK visitors comes because of the fall in sterling.