As the euro continues to fly high against the pound, non-euro destinations are increasingly popular for a city break, especially eastern Europe. Cities such as Prague and Budapest are holding up well through the trade.
Jetset Holidays sales director Adrian Smyth said: “Prague is our top seller outside the eurozone. It is still very popular for stag weekends and is keeping our groups department very busy.”
It is not surprising when you survey the price of travel essentials ranging from airport transfers to postcards and hotel rooms in these cities and find out that they cost less than half in eastern European capitals than they do in Stockholm or Copenhagen, as the Post Office found in its latest Cost Barometer.
Along with Istanbul and Warsaw, the aforementioned cities are where cost-conscious tourists will get more for their money. This is because sterling has strengthened against Turkish and Hungarian currencies.
In the case of the Polish zloty, the pound is over 10% stronger, making city breaks to Warsaw and Krakow cheaper than last year.
Research showed that Warsaw was one of the cheapest for weekend accommodation, while Budapest and Prague represent the best value for eating out and airport transfers are cheapest in Riga. Even though Scandinavian cities are more expensive for accommodation and food, flights can be cheaper than to eastern European cities.
A Regent Holidays spokesperson said: “With the cost of eating and drinking out and opera, ballet and theatre tickets a fraction of the price in eurozone cities, clients are leaving behind Paris and Rome in favour of the likes of Kiev, Bratislava and Krakow.”
However, Planet Holidays commercial director Harry Kyrillou stressed: “It is a myth that outside the eurozone, all financial constraints are resolved. The pound is weaker against most currencies, not just the euro.”
Moreover, Sunvil managing director Noel Josephides added the following warning. “No British traveller will find Istanbul particularly cheap once they are there unless they are in an all-inclusive hotel, which may be good for the visitor, but bad for the local economy as the tourist pound stays in only one or two pockets.”
The Icelandic capital, Reykjavik is among the best value cities at the moment, due to Iceland’s recent economic troubles. The costs of visiting the country have been prohibitively high in the past, but now it’s opening up to a broader market.
Cox and Kings agency sales manager Catherine Standring said: “Our short breaks were around £700-£800 and they are now under £400, so it’s quite a dramatic saving.”
For an extended city break, American cities such as New York and Boston are holding up. Some in the trade put it down to the Obama effect, combined with some competitively priced deals due to the fact that the US economy is having a tough time so the country is keen to attract visitors.
Clients dead set on the eurozone? There are still good deals around, reports Nick Easen
Pound-friendly city breaks
The economic difficulty that the country is experiencing means that hotels and attractions are slashing prices and the destination is opening up to those that were previously put off by the costs.
Icelandair UK general manager Hjörvar Sæberg Högnason said: “The fact that the pound has been so strong against the krona in the past six months has resulted in increased bookings.”
Cosmos Tourama product manager Vicky Wye said: “We have been able to offer additional departures in October and November due to the popularity of the Northern Lights phenomenon at this time of the year.”
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The city is attracting more travellers for short stays to soak up this capital’s charms. It is not just the Pyramids and the souks that draw people – ease of access and wide choice of accommodation are also contributing factors.
The frequency of scheduled flights has also doubled. Egypt Air, British Airways and BMI now have daily flights from Heathrow to Cairo.
Discover Egypt director Philip Breckner said: “Accommodation is very flexible here and travellers can choose hotels that are part of international chains such as the Four Seasons, Conrad Hilton or go for boutique properties, such as our newly introduced Villa Belle Epoque.”
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Clients appreciate its exotic Asian twist, cultural contrasts and great sense of adventure combined with a convenient flying time.
Inclusive tours are still popular since they are a cost-effective option as it’s the increasing price of meals and drinks in cities that pushes up the cost for people travelling independently.
The Ukrainian city is a three-hour flight from London and is now served by a new BMI route, which flies there five times a week. As the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, has devalued in recent months, local prices at restaurants, entertainment areas and shopping outlets have come down.
Travel Weekly doesn’t have any archived features on Kiev. The below is a feed of reader tips from the Guardian’s ivebeenthere.co.uk site.
Cox and Kings has a three-night stay in Reykjavik, staying at the Hotel Frón from £395 per person including flights with Icelandair, transfers and breakfast. Hotel Frón is a modern hotel situated on Reykjavik’s main shopping street, Laugavegur. (firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 7873 5000)
Jetset Holidays is offering a city break to Prague departing on May 21 and returning on May 25 from £183, including return flights on easyJet from Stansted. Hotel prices start at £165 for a double room for four nights with breakfast. Agents can vary the flight price by choosing any commission rate between zero and 30%. (jetsetholidays.co.uk, 08700 555 747)
Planet Holidays has a weekend break to Cairo for £685 per person including British Airways flights from Heathrow and transfers plus three nights at Le Meridien Pyramids on a bed and breakfast basis. (planet-holidays.co.uk, 0871 871 2234)
Panorama Tours is offering a three-night weekend trip to Kiev from £350 per person, with industry rates available from £280. Rates include return flights from Gatwick on Ukraine International Airlines, bed-and-breakfast accommodation at the Hotel Rus and transfers. (panorama-tours.eu, 020 8754 3135)
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