Popular city breaks where prices have soared and those that remain affordable

travel tips rome city break vacations europe analysis – Getty

There is something afoot in the travel industry. British holidaymakers doggedly chase the winter sun, despite the miserable economic and geopolitical situation. Of course, inflation isn’t Britain’s only concern, but the combination of a strong US dollar, post-pandemic staffing issues and a European land war has hit some of our favorite destinations more than others.

So where can travelers still find value for money, and where have prices gone up the most?

According to data from the Trivago Hotel Price Index, the European city that has increased prices the most is Rome, with rooms costing 38% more in November than last.

Lisbon, Barcelona and Amsterdam also increased by more than 35%, while Vienna and Berlin, the lowest scoring destinations, alone raise prices by 18 and 19 percent respectively, still a sizeable increase. Those who regularly winter abroad can no doubt expect to feel the impact on their wallets.

Paul Charles, CEO of travel agency The PC Company, says these excursions are found almost everywhere. “We usually see a 5 to 10 percent increase year-over-year,” he says. “But this year it’s closer to 20%. Rising food costs, staff salaries and, of course, the war in Ukraine mean prices need to rise to ensure a profit.”

Is this affecting vacationers’ plans? It seems not, or at least not yet. Charles says demand for travel is higher than ever and operators are choosing to emphasize better quality experiences rather than pursuing full occupancy.

“This means that hotels will reduce their capacity to about three quarters, focusing on offering guests a better service, especially as guests are willing to pay a little more.”

The hotel’s price isn’t everything, however. Taken together with other elements of a trip, such as lunch out, a five-mile taxi journey and the all-important pint of beer, Reykjavik turns out to be Europe’s fastest growing destination. Prices have risen 35% this year according to cost-of-living comparison site Expatistan.

Every element of a trip to the Icelandic capital will now likely cost more: the bill for a midday meal was £16.40 last year; it now costs £21 on average. The price of a pint has risen by almost a quarter to £7.89. A short taxi ride will set you back nearly £30. Iceland has never been cheap, but a visit is now likely to be more expensive than ever.

Despite the excursion, Reykjavik isn’t actually the most expensive place to visit on the continent. That accolade goes to Zurich, where hotel room prices have risen by only a measly quarter. Samantha Aeschbach, the founder of travel company The Zurich Insider, says people are still willing to pay for higher-quality accommodations, but are slightly pickier when choosing things to do.

He has recommendations for groups looking for good-value activities, recommending guests visit museums with free admission and use public buildings with viewing terraces to see the city. “Not even eating in traditional Swiss restaurants in the historic center,” she says. “It’s just a matter of knowing what to spend your money on too – it’s 10 francs (£9) to visit the National Museum, and totally worth it.”

Europe appears to have become more expensive overall, but globally the picture is more complicated. The price of a trip to Istanbul (which straddles the border between Europe and Asia) – taking all four factors into account – has increased by 138%, largely due to rampant inflation in Turkey.

The amount the pound can buy means that it remains a place worth visiting, with rising costs absorbed by the exchange rate. In September 2021, a pound would buy you around 11.5 lire. Now you can get to 22.

For those travelers intent on a leisurely midday meal, North America should be avoided. The contenders for most expensive lunch include New York, where menu prices have risen by 38% to an average of £21, Vancouver, where £20 bills have risen by 58%, and Toronto (£17.50; a 44% increase) – rather leaving the sour taste.

As for the non-negotiable drink in a bar? Istanbul is back in the rogues’ gallery, with a 123% increase in prices. A pint however comes to around £2.50 which is not a price to smell.

For a really expensive Heineken, Dubai has the highest cost at £10.46 (although that’s actually a 17% decrease). Singapore follows with an average of £7.95. In Europe, London and Paris take first place, at £6.10.

Regardless, Tom Harding, who runs bespoke travel agency Nemo, thinks there are real savings to be made by going long-haul. “Places like South Africa, India and Morocco use a local currency that is not pegged to the dollar, and that means operators can sell those trips for less to the traveler, at a similar cost to last year “.

In fact, Delhi is one of the few destinations where the average price appears to have declined this year, and Johannesburg has seen an increase of only 8%. “Our advice is always to book in advance, because you basically set the price. If you’re taking an all-inclusive trip, you’re insuring yourself against rising room and board prices,” Harding says.

As for the much cheaper destinations in Europe? Warsaw is the place to beat on the continent, although Gdansk – recently featured in the pages of Telegraph Travel – was not listed in Expatistan’s data, and should also be considered for a budget holiday.

gdansk city break travel holidays - Getty

gdansk city break travel holidays – Getty

For Paul Charles, convenient travel doesn’t require a change of destination. “Tweak the timing of your trip if you can – go out of season; try March and November. Those months are now significantly warmer than in previous years.

“Britain is also still a great value holiday – it’s great to continue that post-pandemic trend of exploring our country and you can save on the cost of flights.” In fact, just try to avoid those £6.10 pints if you’re buying a round.

How much does the price increase influence your decision when choosing a destination for a city break? Join the conversation in the comments section below

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *