Before we had The Boy, we would regularly throughout the year spend long weekends visiting European cities and experiencing all the wonderful culture and history that makes up the patchwork quilt of mankind. Barcelona and Prague were our favourites and we visited those three times each, and at the time of falling pregnant we were investigating Copenhagen or Madrid. However, since having The Boy we've yet to make it abroad, and when we finally do get on a plane to have a holiday in warmer climes, our budget is going to be vastly different to previous trips.
With the financial issues that Britain has been experiencing for the past few years, many travellers are experiencing unfavourable deals on the Euro, Dollar and Pound Sterling; whereas Sterling used to actually be worth quite a bit in another currency, British travellers are really having to expand their budgets to experience anything like the holiday they would have five or even ten years ago.
With that in mind, the Post Office have put together a comparative guide: the Travel Money Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer. This barometer compares eight key lifestyle expenditures that travellers will often encounter while on their holiday, before applying this formula to 42 separate places across the globe. These costs were include things like the price of a cup of coffee, a bottle of beer, and a three course meal for two adults, and make perfect sense to me. It's good to find out the different costs per country for exactly the same items. It seems Spain and Sri Lanka are two of the best places to visit to get the best value for your money (£36 for the eight items) while Australia was the worst, costing £145! Maybe I should point that out to my brother who is about to emigrate there?
Other countries which scored well on this barometer were the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Portugal, Hungary and Turkey. Having been to Bulgaria five years ago and witnessed the cost of living out there, it doesn't surprise me that it comes out so favourably as an alternative holiday destination; it has all the culture of any other European city, but is relatively untainted by tourism. Veliko Tarnovo remains one of the most beautiful places I've been to.
Teletext Holidays have created a guide to alternative (and cheaper) places to visit to ensure your travel budget isn't blown just getting to the destination, let alone eating or enjoying the touristy bits while there. Many of the popular European cities (including Barcelona) are now ridiculously expensive to visit. The first time we went to Prague we had a bowl of gnocchi, two pizzas and two steins of beer for £8 in total. The last time we went, the equivalent meal would have cost us nearly £30.
Therefore instead of visiting:
- Florence, try Pisa! It's one hour from Florence via train, cheaper to fly into and the accommodation is cheaper. And what's not to love about the tower?
- Paris, try Lille! One hour's drive from Calais and home to a UNESCO-protected cathedral.
- Vienna, try Sibiu! The Romanian city is deep in the heart of Transylvannia, at the foot of the Carpathian mountains, with pastel-coloured buildings and cobbled streets.
- Barcelona, try Lisbon! The Portugese city is a much cheaper alternative to Barcelona, yet with identical geographical features and attractions.
The weather is warming up in the UK at the moment, but if the need for warmth creeps back in in a week's time, maybe it's time to investigate a lesser known European city with value for money?