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Budapest and Riga are top for bargain Christmas market breaks

Фото: rigalatvija.com.
RIGA, Nov 21 - Hungary’s Budapest and Latvia’s Riga have been named the top places for a bargain Christmas market break this winter, according to the European Christmas Markets Barometer by the British retail post office company "Post Office Ltd".

The study takes into account the price of two evening meals with wine, coffee, festive drinks and snacks, two nights’ B&B accommodation, return travel and airport-city center transfers in 12 different popular European Christmas market destinations.

At GBP 529 (LVL 442) for a two-night break for two in early December, Budapest emerged as cheapest of 12 European cities, costing around 39 percent less than Munich or Basel (both around GBP 866). These were the most expensive cities surveyed.

Latvia’s capital Riga (GBP 530) was a close runner-up to Budapest when all the weekend break costs were taken into account - but this was because of the low package price (GBP 378 for two in Riga compared with GBP 450 for Budapest). Once visitors arrive in Riga, they can expect to pay considerably more than in Budapest because ''Post Office'' research revealed that meal, drinks and transfer costs were 91 percent higher (GBP 152 compared with just under GBP 80).

Tallinn, 2012’s top spot for a Christmas market break, now costs 59 percent more for a two-night break than this year’s bargain choice, Budapest and has fallen to eighth place.
Even though British sterling is worth just 0.3 percent more year-on-year against the Hungarian forint, Budapest prices have fallen by 8.8 percent compared with November 2012. By contrast, barometer prices for meals, drinks and other expenses have risen 15 percent to GBP 123 in Tallinn. When these higher prices were added to flight and accommodation charges, the overall total of GBP 841 accounts for the Estonian capital’s fall to eighth position.

Andrew Brown of ''Post Office Travel Money'' said: “The sterling is up to five percent weaker than a year ago against European currencies so it is doubly important for people to shop around for the best currency deals and factor in all the costs they will incur on a Christmas Markets trip. For example, meal and drink prices may be higher in Riga than in some other cities, but flight and hotel costs were the lowest we found”.

In contrast, although a meal for two in Prague (GBP 24) is around a quarter the cost in Basel (GBP 106) or Copenhagen (GBP 95), accommodation and flights were among the most expensive. It is a combination of cheap packages and low city costs that make Budapest such good value.

Despite having the cheapest living costs (GBP 69) of the 12 cities surveyed, Prague fell from third to fifth place in the 2013 table because the cost of a two-night package added GBP 694 to the overall cost of GBP 763 – 44 percent higher than Budapest.

Third place in the barometer went to Lille (GBP 704), cheapest of seven eurozone cities surveyed. The ''Eurostar'' destination was 19 percent less expensive than Munich (GBP 866), the most expensive eurozone city in the survey. Brussels (GBP 749), another city reached by ''Eurostar'' and included for the first time this year, was in fourth place.

"Post Office's" European Christmas Markets Barometer was compiled using prices sourced from national and regional tourist offices of participating countries. Flight and ''Eurostar'' prices were sourced online via "expedia.co.uk" and "eurostar.com" based on the cheapest available fare from London for two adults. Accommodation prices were sourced online via "booking.com" based on two adults sharing a double/twin room at the lowest-priced three-star hotel in the city center, within one mile of the main Christmas market.

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