Prices plunge for European city stays, reports Post Office barometer

Prices for hotel stays have plunged in European cities not subject to the government’s quarantine restrictions compared with pre-lockdown.

The figures in the Post Office Travel Money annual City Costs Barometer shows price falls from pre-lockdown levels in early March in 92% of cities exempt from quarantine rules, with hotel costs down by more than 20% in 14 of them.

Most cities, 22 of 24 surveyed, also saw falls in their costs for meals, drinks, city transport, sightseeing and accommodation, compared with March. The biggest fall, of 25.5%, was in Dublin.

The price drops are largely attributed to falls in average hotel prices since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in March, as a result of greater hotel availability, which has led to more competition and lower room rates.

Prices are also lower than August 2019 in two thirds of cities, with the top ten best value cities to visit dominated by eastern Europe. The biggest price falls were in Reykjavik and Oslo, which both dropped almost 26% year on year. Significant falls were also registered in Belfast, down 24%, and Dublin, down 19%.

Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money, said: “This year’s report reveals there is plenty of choice across Europe in cities that offer great value.

“Prices compare very well with those a year ago, partly because sterling is stronger than in late summer 2019 but more notably because of the falls in hotel prices caused by greater availability after the Covid-19 lockdown.”

In the list of the top ten best value cities not under quarantine, Vilnius comes in number one at £166, based on a two night break in a three-star hotel for two adults, followed by Warsaw at £167. Krakow, previously number one, is in seventh place  at £207 while Katowice, an emerging city break destination and new to the report this year, comes in third place at £170.

Lisbon has returned to the top ten in fourth position, up from 14th last year, while Porto is fifth, although prices there are in fact up almost 13% on last year. Portugal has been newly-added to the list following its recent exemption from quarantine.

Only two cities, Athens and Katowice, have seen price rises compared with March.

Athens, in 9th place at £239.24, would have appeared higher in the list had it not been for a rise in hotel costs, according to the survey. Hotel costs are up by 16% in direct contrast with the majority of other cities.

Most expensive in the 2020 City Costs Barometer is Copenhagen,  at £395 more than twice the cost of the top four cities in the report.

Prices for 50 cities were researched in March, when the report was due to be published. It was delayed by Covid-19 and all 50 cities were price-checked in August. The Post Office also decided to focus on 24 cities not subject to UK quarantine or other countries’ restrictions.

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