European city break costs surge 50% in a year, research finds

Hotel prices for UK holidaymakers in three-quarters of popular European cities have soared by more than 50% since last summer, according to new research.

Madrid was found to have the largest percentage rise out of 35 destinations analysed by Post Office Travel Money, which attributed the overall increase to high demand.

A two-night stay in the Spanish capital will cost an average of £385 this summer, up from £161 last year, the study shows.

Visitors to Berlin face the second highest increase, from £168 to £372.

The highest prices were found to be in Amsterdam (£525), followed by Venice (£480), Dublin (£448) and Florence (£402).

The analysis only considered hotels in the centre of cities.

High prices in Madrid, Amsterdam and Venice are driven by a lack of mid-grade accommodation, Post Office Travel Money said.

Many hotels in their central areas are in the expensive five-star category.

For those searching for a value break, Lisbon was found to have the lowest average prices for tourist staples.

Examples include £1.35 for a cup of coffee, £4.52 for entry to a popular art gallery, and £39.01 for a three-course evening meal for two with house wine.

Old town of Vilnius
Vilnius in Lithuania was said to offer holidaymakers good value for money (Alamy/PA)

Lisbon’s overall prices are less than a third of those in Venice and Amsterdam, which are Europe’s most expensive cities.

Vilnius was the second cheapest city analysed, followed by Krakow.

Laura Plunkett, head of travel money at Post Office, said: “This year’s rise in prices makes it even more important for holidaymakers to do their homework before booking a city break.

“The increased price of accommodation could add hundreds of pounds to the overall cost of a holiday so travellers need to budget carefully for this.

“We also advise checking costs for meals, drinks and sightseeing before booking, as these are items that most city break tourists will incur.

“There are wide variations in costs between cities. People who are prepared to swap destination can make their pounds stretch much further by choosing a cheaper capital like Lisbon or Vilnius.”

The research comes after consumer group Which? said on Friday that holidaymakers hiring cars in destinations such as Spain, Italy and Greece are being charged an average of 77% more than they were in 2019, amid high demand and depleted stocks.