Little-visited destination tops list of cheapest city breaks in Europe

A weekend break in Vilnius costs just £237, according to the Post Office
A weekend break in Vilnius costs just £237, according to the Post Office -Credit:Getty Images

Holidaymakers on the hunt for a budget-friendly break may want to look at one of the lesser-known destinations in Europe, according to a new study.

The Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius overtook last year's winner, Portuguese capital Lisbon, as the cheapest holiday destination of its kind in the Post Office's annual comparison of city getaways across the continent. The study, based on April exchange rates, looked at the typical cost of two nights' three-star weekend accommodation, an evening meal for two, a range of drinks, sightseeing charges, and city transport.

The cost for a trip to Vilnius was put at £237 - while at the other end of the scale, Amsterdam was the most expensive European city in the research, with a typical cost of £669. The Post Office said the strengthening of sterling over the past year helped to keep the cost of city breaks down in many of the countries it looked at, PA reports.

Direct flights to Vilnius from the UK are only available from London, with the journey taking between two-and-a-half and three hours from Luton or Stansted. According to Tripadvisor, the top attraction in the city is Vilnius Old Town, which is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe, showcasing gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical architecture, including palaces, castles and churches, alongside a buzzing café and street market culture.

For people looking for a break closer to home, Cardiff topped the UK capitals looked at by the Post Office, with a cost of £409, while the cost of a Belfast break was put at £629, making it more expensive than Dublin (£579) for the first time in the annual study's 17-year history. The price of a getaway in Edinburgh was calculated to be £602, and in London, the cost of a break was put at £524 - with competitive accommodation charges helping to keep the price down, according to the Post Office.

Here are the five cheapest cities and their typical cost, according to the Post Office research:

  1. Vilnius - £237

  2. Lisbon - £264

  3. Lille -£278

  4. Krakow - £279

  5. Athens - £289

And the five most expensive cities were:

  1. Amsterdam - £669

  2. Belfast - £629

  3. Edinburgh - £602

  4. Helsinki - £587

  5. Venice - £582

Laura Plunkett, head of travel money at the Post Office, said: "It's important to remember that the cost of meals and drinks need to be added to the spending budget as city break holidays rarely include these items. Over the course of two or three days, these can make a big difference to holiday costs and the low prices we found for meals and drinks in Lisbon and Athens make these cities strong contenders for a bargain break."

Last month, another study on European package holidays by consumer experts at Which? found that the cheapest price on average was for breaks on the tiny Greek island of Kalymnos, standing at £847 per person. Analysis was carried out on seven-night packages available for the first week of August this year in 70 regions across 15 European countries, and revealed that holidaymakers can save hundreds of pounds depending on the destination they choose.

Which? said the "surprising" list of the most budget-friendly locations is in part due to the type of packages available, with the Amalfi coast having a wide choice of accommodation options on either a self-catering or bed and breakfast basis, which is usually cheaper than full board packages. There are also lots of budget flights to the region - see the full top 10 cheapest destinations here.