Why misers should head for Budapest

Why misers should head for Budapest

A thin wallet needn't stall your wanderlust. A recent survey picks out the best value cities in Europe
Szechenyi thermal bath: a must see for Budapest travelers
Why is Budapest such a good value? You can wash, relax and be entertained all in one trip to the Szechenyi thermal bath.

If you're looking for a cheap coffee, go to Lisbon, Portugal.

Try Prague for a good value glass of beer, or Dubrovnik, Croatia, for a cheap hotel stay.

Those are some of the results of a recent survey from the British Post Office, which set out to find the best value cities for travelers from a list of 25.

The list of cities included 22 European cities and three U.S. cities, so cannot be described as global or comprehensive. But it does offer insights for those looking to travel to these destinations.

Budapest is the best-value city overall, according to the City Costs Barometer 2013 survey, which researched prices of 12 items, including a bus or train transfer from the airport to the city center, a "top art gallery" and two nights in a three-star city center hotel.

The list found the Hungarian capital offered the cheapest glass of wine of the 25 cities (US$2.59) and the cheapest three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine (US$37.55).

New York, Boston, Copenhagen and Stockholm were the most expensive cities on the list.

Rome has suprisingly cheap coffee

Cafe Rosati RomeCafe Rosati: Great coffee for a great price in Rome.The full basket of 12 items in Budapest totals US$204, according to the report, prices for which were provided by local tourism authorities and also researched online.

In New York, the 12 items will take you for US$821 -- four times the total of Budapest.

Stockholm was the most expensive in four of the categories: beer (US$10.04), glass of wine (US$12.54), three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine (US$178) and 48-hour travel card (US$38.46).

Chicago offered the cheapest can of Coca-Cola (US$1.21), Rome had surprisingly cheap coffee (US$1.27), while New York had the most expensive bus tour (US$57.50) and most expensive two-night stay in a three-star hotel (US$537.50).

"We work with national and regional tourist offices as well as leading tour operators who give us the pricing information for the various locations," says Gabrielle O'Gara of the Post Office press office.

"All of this is then cross-checked with telephone and online research. Then we compare this with the travel industry as a whole so that we make sure that we’re getting the full picture."

Eastern Europe great value

Prices rose in the past year for 22 of the 25 surveyed cities.

Eastern Europe is the best bet for money-conscious travelers for the fifth year in a row -- Eastern European cities take eight of the barometer’s top 10 cheapest spots.

“It is more important than ever to check prices for key items like meals, drinks and sightseeing before booking, as these are costs that most city tourists cannot avoid,” said Andrew Brown, Post Office head of Travel Money.

Second on the barometer, Vilnius, Lithuania, was named the city to watch by Post Office’s recent Holiday Money Report.

The Lithuanian city has some of the lowest price tags for cultural attractions. Entry fees to Vilnius Castle Museum’s Gediminas’ Tower, National Museum of Lithuania and National Gallery of Art come to a combined US$6.93.

Basket of 12 items (used to calculate travel value per city): Cheapest/most expensive

Cup of coffee: Lisbon US$0.92 / Copenhagen US$6.55
Beer: Prague US$1.37 / Stockholm US$10.03
Coca-Cola: Chicago US$1.21 / Paris US$5.66
Glass of wine: Budapest US$2.58 / Stockholm US$12.53
Three-course meal for two with wine: Budapest US$37.54 / Stockholm US$176.61
Return airport transfer: Vilnius US$1.72 / Bruges US$53.84
48-hour travel card: Istanbul US$6.08 / Stockholm US$38.45
Bus tour: Dubrovnik US$9.55 / New York US$57.04
Heritage attraction: Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Boston US$0 / London US$28.76
Museum: Copenhagen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Dublin, London US$0 / Boston US$22
Art gallery: Copenhagen, London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Belfast US$0 / Boston US$25
Two nights, three-star hotel: Dubrovnik US$92.34 / New York US$537.42

Best value cities (12 items totaled)

  1. Budapest, Hungary: US$204.57
  2. Vilnius, Lithuania: US$214.02
  3. Warsaw, Poland: US$230.27
  4. Riga, Latvia: US$235.81
  5. Lisbon, Portugal: US$252.66
  6. Dubrovnik, Croatia :US$255.34
  7. Prague, Czech Republic: US$255.56
  8. Tallinn, Estonia: US$262.07
  9. Istanbul, Turkey: US$321.64
  10. Belfast, Northern Ireland: US$330.95
  11. Edinburgh, Scotland: US$346.51
  12. Berlin, Germany: US$349.62
  13. Vienna, Austria: US$360.08
  14. Dublin, Ireland: US$410.43
  15. Barcelona, Spain: US$431.57
  16. Paris, France: US$456.24
  17. London, England: US$472.89
  18. Bruges, Belgium: US$477.32
  19. Amsterdam, Netherlands: US$522.61
  20. Rome, Italy: US$531.99
  21. Chicago, United States: US$535.96
  22. Stockholm, Sweden: US$638.27
  23. Copenhagen, Denmark: US$668.78
  24. Boston, United States: US$697.79
  25. New York, United States: US$821.80

Laura Ma loves exploring the world, constantly learning from different cultures and seeking out unique experiences.

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