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Want a cheap city break? Try Vilnius - top 5 cheapest (and most expensive) destinations revealed

Bargain holiday hunters are being told to head to Vilnius for a cheap trip.

The Lithuanian capital overtook Lisbon to clinch the top spot on the Post Office's City Costs Barometer.

Taking the title for the best value city break, a weekend in Vilnius will set travellers back £237.

It's almost a third of the price of a weekend in Amsterdam which will cost £669, making the Netherlands capital the most expensive city in the research by Post Office Travel Money.

Eastern Europe is where it's at for cheap holiday destinations, with seven of the top 10 most budget friendly spots found there. Krakow, Riga, Budapest, Bratislava, Prague and Warsaw all feature in the chart alongside Vilnius.

Medieval city Vilnius, famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, reclaimed its crown from Lisbon, which fell short after a 26% rise in accommodation costs in the last year.

However, cheap meals, drinks and other costs mean the Portuguese capital is still a respectable second cheapest, and the cheapest spot in western Europe. In fact, a three-course meal for two including a bottle of wine is only £36.60 in Lisbon, compared to £59.70 in Vilnius, and a whopping £150 in Oslo.

Lille in France also fared well and was only £5 more expensive than Lisbon, taking third place.

To decide the top 10 cheapest and most expensive European destinations, Post Office Travel Money calculated the cost of 12 typical items for a trip. These included a range of drinks such as coffee and beer, an evening meal for two with a bottle of house wine, two nights' three-star weekend accommodation, sightseeing, airport transfers and city transport.

However, prices don’t include the cost of travel insurance or flights – so check out our 5 tips for finding cheap flights.

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On the other end of the spectrum, Amsterdam is followed by Belfast and Edinburgh as the top three most expensive cities to visit - even more expensive than Helsinki, Oslo and Copenhagen, despite pricey food and drink in Scandinavia.

The most expensive places for a three course meal for two and a bottle of wine were found to be Oslo, Norway (£150), Copenhagen, Denmark (£147), Vienna, Austria (£131), Geneva, Switzerland (£124) and Helsinki, Finland (£117).

Laura Plunkett, head of travel money at 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."

Sterling's strength compared to a year ago has helped prices drop in 60 percent of cities included in the analysis. The pound is stronger than a year ago in all European currencies apart from the Polish zloty.

Falling accommodation costs have also reduced bills.

For people looking for a staycation, Cardiff topped the UK capitals analysed by the Post Office, with a cost of £409.

At £629, Belfast is now more expensive than Dublin (£579) for the first time in the Post Office's 17 years of compiling the list.

Both are more expensive than a trip to London, as is Edinburgh, which was calculated to cost £602 for the weekend, while the UK capital will set visitors back £524.

(Prices for the foreign trips use the exchange rate from April 2024, on the basis the trip took place between June 7-9.)

Cheapest Europe city breaks

1Vilnius, Lithuania£237
2Lisbon, Portugal£264
3Lille, France£278
4Krakow, Poland£279
5Athens, Greece£289
6Riga, Latvia£297
7Busapest, Hungary£311
8Bratislava, Solvakia£316
9Prague, Czech Republic£318
10Warsaw, Poland£319

Most expensive Europe city breaks

1Amsterdam, Netherlands£669
2Belfast, Northern Ireland£629
3Edinburgh, Scotland£602
4Helsinki, Finland£587
5Venice, Italy£582
6Dublin, Republic of Ireland£579
7Copenhagen, Denmark£576
8Oslo, Norway£565
9Geneva, Switzerland£557
10Vienna, Austria£550

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


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