Top 5 best value Christmas market destinations

Friday, 13 December 2013 12:04 PM

Christmas markets are a great way to soak up the festive atmosphere

Christmas markets are a great way to soak up the festive atmosphere

Want to book a last-minute Christmas market city break? We’ve listed the best value festive destinations, from Budapest to Lille, according to the Post Office Travel Money Christmas Markets Barometer, which analyses everything from transfer costs to the average price of a three-course meal with wine.

One of the most popular Christmas market destinations in Europe, Budapest also comes top in the best value charts. The Christmas market is located in Vörösmarty Square, featuring over 100 stands offering unique Christmas-themed arts and crafts, daily light shows, live music and a giant advent calendar showcased on the facade of the glamorous Gerbeaud building. At £529 (total costs) for a two-night break for two in early December, Budapest emerged as cheapest of 12 European cities in the survey, costing around 39 percent less than Munich or Basel (both around £866).

The tradition of decorating the Christmas tree was born in Riga, Latvia’s capital. The Grand Christmas market and the tree are on the Dome Square in the Old town, surrounded by stalls serving handcrafted gifts, decorations and Latvian fare (smoked fish, grey peas with bacon, traditional ‘grainy’ sausages and gingerbread). Latvia’s capital Riga (£530) was a close runner-up to Budapest (£529) when all the weekend break costs were taken into account. The low package price clinched second place for the eastern European city, however costs once there were considerably more than Budapest. Post Office research revealed that meal, drinks and transfer costs were 91 percent higher (£152 compared with just under £80)!

Lille’s Christmas Market is the first to open in France every year and take splace in Place Rihour, where more than 80 chalets teeming with gift ideas, Christmas decorations and festive food await. You can find regional specialities here, as well as arts and crafts from Russia, Poland Québec and Native America. There’s also an 18-metre Christmas tree and a Big wheel located in the Grand Place. At a height of 50 metres, you’re guaranteed a good view. Third place in the barometer went to Lille (£704), cheapest of seven eurozone cities surveyed. The Eurostar destination was 19 percent less expensive than Munich (£866), the most expensive eurozone city in the survey.

Bruges may be the favoured Christmas city break destination with festive holidaymakers, but those who want to head to the land of great beer and chocolate should pick Belgium’s capital Brussels this winter season. The Brussels Christmas market is hailed as one of the most inventive in Europe. Running until January 5th, the 'Plaisirs d'Hiver' or ‘winter wonders’ market features more than 240 chalets and stalls whilst a 200ft ice skating rink and a nightly sound and light show in the Grand Place help to provide entertainment for all. Included for the first time in the barometer at £749 (total costs), the fact that it can be reached by Eurostar does also bring costs down. 

Another popular Christmas market destination, Prague is also a good bet for those on a budget. The largest and most popular markets are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square (five minutes walk from each other), with smaller ones at Republic Square and Havel's market. As well as handmade arts and crafts, there’s also a multitude of traditional treats to enjoy, including 'Trdelník', a hot sugar coated pastry heated on a rotating stick. Despite having the cheapest living costs (£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 £694 to the overall cost of £763 – 44 per cent higher than Budapest.

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