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Eastern Europe cities revealed as best value for culture vultures as two-in-five choose a city break primarily for its cultural attractions

Press release   •   Sep 28, 2019 00:01 BST

Budapest is cheapest of 18 cultural capitals for the second year running with Prague and Warsaw offering next best value

Costs fall in five of the 18 cities, led by Moscow (down 30%) and Berlin (down 17%)

Dublin remains best value in the Eurozone - under half the cost in Milan and Madrid

London culture costs a third less than New York

The low cost of world-class culture has made a trio of Eastern European cities best value for culture vultures on an autumn break, according to the annual Cost of Culture Report from Post Office Travel Money1. In its 2019 report - which compares prices for visits to museums, galleries and heritage sites plus opera, dance and classical music performances in 18 cultural capitals - Budapest (£70) was found to be the cheapest for the second year running. Low costs in runners-up Prague (£102) and Warsaw (£105) made it a clean sweep for Eastern Europe.

The cost of six cultural attractions in Budapest – comprising visits to the Hungarian National Museum, National Gallery and Matthias Church plus tickets for the opera (Carmina Burana, Erkel Theatre), ballet (La Fille Mal Gardée, Erkel Theatre) and a classical concert (Liszt, Béla Bartók National Concert Hall), is less than a fifth of the price in the most expensive European cities. Visitors will pay £377 for the six cultural attractions in Milan and £430 in Madrid.

As city breaks continue to rate as the top choice for Britons holidaying abroad, Nick Boden, Post Office Head of Travel Money said: “Two-in-five of holidaymakers planning city breaks told us that cultural attractions are a key consideration when choosing where to go but more than three-quarters said they are concerned about the costs they will face there2. With the wide variation in prices we found this year, it will really pay to do some homework on the local costs before taking a decision.

“Prices fluctuate from year to year, especially for opera, ballet and music concerts, where they can rise or fall dramatically depending on who is performing and the stature of the venue. Top singers, dancers and conductors can command a big price premium as can the leading auditoriums. Whether it is worth paying for these really depends on individual tastes.”

That applies to fifth-placed Moscow, where the report found that prices are significantly lower this autumn, despite sterling’s eight per cent year-on-year fall against the Russian ruble. The Cost of Culture total in Moscow dropped 30 per cent to £161 because a category 2 ticket to see the Bolshoi Ballet perform Onegin (£63.25) on the New Stage is less than half the price of last year’s production of Balanchine’s Jewels on the pricier Bolshoi Historic Stage (£132.22). The cost of a concert at the Tchaikovsky Hall by the National Philharmonic also halved to £16.15.

Moscow is one of five European cities where British visitors will pay less this autumn3. Prices are down substantially in Berlin, which has risen to eighth in the table on the back of a 17 per cent fall in culture costs to £214. Prices have also fallen by 15.7 per cent in Rome (9th, £216) and by 15.2 per cent in Paris (10th, £241). Although Stockholm’s fall of 1.1 per cent to £159 is more modest, this is the third consecutive year of lower prices in the Swedish capital. As a result, it has risen to fourth place in the Cost of Culture table, beaten only by Eastern European cities.

Dublin has retained its position as the cheapest Eurozone city, although prices have risen 24 per cent on 2018 levels. At £173, its cultural highlights are less than half the price of those in Milan and Madrid, which registered the biggest price rises this year4. In Milan (£377) prices are up by almost a third (32 per cent) because of the higher cost of La Scala opera and ballet tickets available this season and in Madrid (£430) performance prices for ballet, opera and classical music have all risen, resulting in a 29 per cent increase overall.

By contrast, London prices have seen a more modest increase of 7.8 per cent to £288, based on free entry to the British Museum and National Gallery, £27.50 for a visit to the Tower of London and performances at the Royal Opera House, London Coliseum and Festival Hall. This is a third cheaper than the equivalent prices in New York.

New York (£418) is the second most expensive city in the survey after Madrid. However, an opera ticket to see Madam Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera (£186.33) costs less than a visit to La Scala in Milan (L’elisir d’amore, £198.91) and a ticket for the American Ballet Theatre (£101.26) is cheaper than for ballets scheduled in London (£105), Vienna (£109.31), Milan (£129.02) or Madrid (173.82).

The report again found striking disparities in the cost of ballet, opera and music tickets5. A ticket for the Czech National Ballet (Valmont, £25.22) costs a seventh of the amount charged to see the English National Ballet dance Giselle (£173.82) in Madrid. It costs just £18.25 to see the Hungarian State Opera perform Carmina Burana but almost 10 times as much for Madrid Opera’s Don Carlos (£173.82). In Moscow a programme of Elgar, Britten and Stravinsky by the National Philharmonic Orchestra costs £16.15, but Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring performed by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (£65.41) costs over four times as much.

Nick Boden said: “If you choose a pricier city over a cheaper one, there are still ways to keep the cost of culture down. Buy tickets direct rather than via a ticket agency to avoid commission, seek advice on cheaper seats that still offer good views and check for free entry days to museums or gallery or times when prices are reduced. Get the best rate for your holiday cash by ordering in advance rather than using an airport bureau or an ATM abroad and never agree to pay in sterling when paying on plastic as you will be charged extra.”

All currencies featured in the Cost of Culture Report are available at the Post Office, the UK’s leading provider of foreign currency, with euros available on demand at over 9,000 branches. Euros can also be ordered online at for same day ‘click and collect’ at over 3,500 branches as well as for home delivery or next day collection at any branch. 1,600 larger Post Office branches stock 30 leading currencies while up to 70 can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 branches or online at for next day branch or home delivery.


For more information, please contact:

Christine Ball CBPR 01798 874177 / 07976 285997

Joanne Leahy Post Office Press Office 07791 894469

Price totals in each of the 18 cities have been rounded up or down to the nearest pound

Notes to Editors:

1 The Post Office Cost of Culture Report lists six cultural highlights in each featured city, providing prices researched on official venue websites. For music, opera and ballet performances, prices relate to category 2 seats available for performances taking place in October/early November. A table showing the full breakdown of cultural attractions is available on request. All prices were correct as at 20 September 2019 but may vary after that time, based on ticket sales.


CULTURE Budapest Prague Warsaw Stockholm Moscow Dublin
(Hungary) (Czech Rep.) (Poland) (Sweden) (Russia) (Ireland
Museum £7.42 £9.50 £5.38 £12.97 £9.42 £0.00
Art Gallery £7.99 £6.58 £3.23 £0.00 £5.38 £0.00
Heritage attraction £5.13 £12.79 £6.45 £11.24 £6.73 £9.86
Dance £18.25 £25.22 £40.45 £51.02 £63.25 £69.44
Opera £18.25 £31.06 £30.77 £59.67 £60.56 £66.30
Classical concert £12.83 £16.81 £18.29 £24.21 £16.15 £27.78
Total £69.87 £101.96 £104.57 £159.11 £161.49 £173.38
CULTURE Brussels Berlin Rome Paris Amsterdam Barcelona
(Belgium) (Germany) (Italy) (France) (Netherlands) (Spain)
Museum £8.96 £7.17 £15.23 £13.44 £17.02 £10.75
Art Gallery £8.96 £8.96 £13.44 £12.54 £17.92 £11.65
Heritage attraction £0.00 £0.00 £10.75 £0.00 £16.13 £15.23
Dance £34.94 £60.93 £31.36 £85.12 £48.38 £31.36
Opera £88.70 £73.47 £103.04 £94.08 £119.16 £165.76
Classical concert £32.26 £63.61 £42.11 £35.84 £34.05 £39.42
Total £173.82 £214.14 £215.93 £241.02 £252.66 £274.17
CULTURE Copenhagen London Vienna Milan New York Madrid
(Denmark) (England) (Austria) (Italy (USA) (Spain)
Museum £11.81 £0.00 £14.34 £8.96 £18.63 £13.44
Art Gallery £14.92 £0.00 £14.34 £10.75 £20.25 £11.65
Heritage attraction £0.00 £27.50 £14.34 £2.69 £20.66 £10.75
Dance £82.04 £105.00 £109.31 £129.02 £101.26 £173.82
Opera £103.79 £120.00 £70.78 £198.91 £186.33 £173.82
Classical concert £62.15 £35.00 £65.41 £27.09 £70.48 £46.59
Total £274.71 £287.50 £288.52 £377.42 £417.61 £430.07

2 Source: Post Office Travel Money research conducted by Populus (1-2 May 2019) found that 41 per cent of those going on a city break holiday did so because of its cultural attractions, while 77 per cent of all holidaymakers travelling abroad said they were concerned about local prices.

3 Cultural capitals where prices have fallen since last year:

Moscow -30.0%

Berlin -17.0%

Rome -15.7%

Paris -15.2%

Stockholm -1.1%

4 Cultural capitals where prices have risen since last year:

Milan +32.0%

Madrid +29.0%

Dublin +24.0%

Barcelona +21.5%

Budapest +15.6%

New York +13.7%

Warsaw +12.3%

London +7.8%

Amsterdam +5.3%

Brussels +4.4%

Copenhagen +2.6%

Prague +2.4%

Vienna +0.7%

5 Post Office charts showing the best value and most expensive cultural capitals for each category surveyed:

1 Dublin National Museum of Ireland Free
2 London British Museum Free
3 Warsaw Warsaw Rising Museum £5.38
1 Dublin National Gallery of Ireland Free
2 London National Gallery Free
3 Stockholm Moderna Museet Free
1 Copenhagen The Little Mermaid Statue Free
2 Brussels Grand Place Free
3 Paris Notre Dame Free
4 Berlin Brandenburg Gate Free
1 Budapest Hungarian National Ballet (La Fille Mal Gardée) £18.25
2 Prague Czech National Ballet (Valmont) £25.22
2 Barcelona Gran Gala Flamenco £31.36
3 Rome Sadlers Wells (William Forsythe: Quiet Evening of Dance) £31.36
1 Budapest Hungarian Opera (Carmina Burana) £18.25
2 Warsaw Polish National Opera (Rigoletto) £30.77
3 Prague Prague National Theatre Opera (The Cunning Little Vixen) £31.06
1 Budapest Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra (Liszt, Eötvös) £12.83
2 Moscow National Philharmonic Orchestra (Elgar, Britten, Stravinsky) £16.15
3 Prague Prague Symphony Orchestra (Dvořák) £16.81

1 New York American Museum of Natural History £18.63
2 Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum £17.02
3 Rome Vatican Museum £15.23
4 Barcelona Museu Picasso £10.75
1 New York Metropolitan Museum of Art £20.25
2 Amsterdam Rijksmuseum £17.92
3 Copenhagen National Gallery of Denmark £14.92
1 London Tower of London £27.50
2 New York Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island £20.66
4 Amsterdam Canal Cruise £16.13
1 Madrid English National Ballet (Giselle) £173.82
2 Milan La Scala Ballet (Giselle) £129.02
3 Vienna Vienna State Opera Ballet (Jewels) £109.31
1 Milan La Scala Opera (L'Elisir d'amore) £198.91
2 New York Metropolitan Opera (Madam Butterfly) £186.33
3 Madrid Madrid Opera (Don Carlos) £173.82
1 New York Philadelphia Orchestra (Bartók, Strauss) £70.48
2 Vienna Vienna Symphony Orchestra (Brahms, Stravinsky) £65.41
3 Berlin Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Purcell, Handel) £63.61

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