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Verona and the Adige River, Italy
Verona and the Adige River, Italy
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British shoppers who head for the Christmas markets of Europe will have an eight per cent boost to their spending power compared to 2011, a survey says.

According to the Post Office Travel Money’s Christmas Markets Barometer, a two-night break in Tallinn costing £370.68 is the best value of all, about £100 cheaper than closest rival Budapest.

Tallinn is the cheapest by far of 10 cities surveyed – and some 45 per cent cheaper than Vienna or Copenhagen.

The Post Office barometer included two evening meals with wine, coffee and beer, festive drinks and snacks, two nights’ accommodation, return flights and transfers between the airport and city centre.

Like all 10 cities surveyed, Tallinn is cheaper this year because the pound is worth 5.6 per cent more against the euro than 12 months ago.

Runner-up Budapest is another bargain option for UK visitors: its meals, drinks and accommodation have always been cheap and its weak currency has enhanced its attractions to ensure a 53 per cent growth in forint sales during 2012. Budapest’s barometer total of £469.49 for two is £200 less than for a Christmas market break in Bruges, Vienna and Copenhagen. Visitors to the Danish capital are also quids in, with more than eight per cent more kroner for their pounds than last year.

Completing the East European 1-2-3 is Prague (£476.29), with the pound in a Christmas shopper’s pocket stretching 6.8 per cent further than last year.

Just pipped to the post for second place in the overall barometer by Budapest, the Czech capital was the cheapest of the 10 cities surveyed for meals, drinks and Christmas snacks (£63.73).

By contrast, five other cities surveyed (Trento, Berlin, Bruges, Vienna and Copenhagen) cost more than twice as much for the same items. However, lesser-known Trento in the Italian southern Tyrol emerged as a value option (£501.99 for two), boosted by really cheap flights.

With its easy Eurostar link, Lille (£538.02 for two) is a good choice closer to home.

Andrew Brown, Post Office head of Travel Money, says: “Budget-conscious tourists who are planning a European shopping trip can save themselves hard-earned cash by picking a city where costs are low and its currency is weak against the UK pound.”

Christmas market packages this week include:

Brussels: Cresta (0844 879 8014) offers three nights’ B&B at the three-star Leopold Hotel from £209, saving £81 per couple, for departures from London on December 13.

Dusseldorf: Cresta (0844 879 8014) offers three nights’ B&B at the three-star Grand City Boersenhotel from £225 per person, with Air Berlin fights departing on December 10.

Verona: Cresta (0844 879 8014) offers three nights’ B&B at the four-star Gilberti Hotel from £269 per person, with flights ex-Gatwick on December 17.