Britons have rated the Polish city of Krakow the best in Europe for a short break, beating more well-known destinations such as Amsterdam, Rome and Paris for the third consecutive year, a Which? Survey reveals.
The consumer champion asked thousands of holidaymakers to rate any recent trips to European cities across a range of categories including quality of the cultural attractions, accommodation, shopping, food, and value for money.
Krakow came top of the list of over 40 destinations with a city score of 93 per cent and was the only city in the survey to receive five stars for value money.
The Polish city offers a great deal even for the most price-sensitive travellers – with a good meal for under £7 and a beer for less than £2. The average hotel rate is less than half that visitors pay in Amsterdam or Paris.
Krakow also received an impressive five-star rating for food putting it ahead of lauded culinary destinations like Verona, Lisbon and Madrid. One traveller said: “inexpensive restaurants are plentiful so book only accommodation and eat out at your leisure”.
Visitors to Krakow were also impressed with the city’s rich history and its score for cultural experiences also received a full five stars.
Respondents recommended the traditional markets, as well as the salt mines where visitors can see an underground cathedral carved out of salt – but warned that this trip should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.
Seville came second overall in the Which? survey, with a 90 per cent city score.
Famous for Flamenco dancing and a litany of major landmarks, Seville earned the coveted five stars for its tourist attractions, food and drink and quality of accommodation.
Spain proved it had a lot to offer visitors with Valencia coming in third with 89 per cent.
While Valencia didn’t get the full five stars in any category it did get four stars almost across the board. Those surveyed raved about the aquarium and the City of Art and Sciences.
Cited by its tourism board as the city of freedom, Berlin came fourth with 88 per cent, receiving five stars for accommodation, attractions and ease of getting around. One person also told Which?: “Berlin is a feast for museum-goers”.
Dutch capital Amsterdam also proved well-regarded, coming in joint fifth with 86 per cent. The city is famous for flower-adorned canals and a rich art history but with options like trams, electric boats and bicycles, it was the ease of getting around which earned the city’s highest star rating.
Bisected by the River Danube, Hungary’s capital, Budapest also came fifth (86%) but at an average hotel price of £68 a night it was one of the cheapest destinations to stay in earning it four stars for accommodation. One traveller advised buying a three-day travel pass to visit the city or for visitors over 65 tickets are free.
Rome only managed a mid-table finish, with a city score of 81 per cent. The Italian capital earned a full five-star rating for its famous attractions including the Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum but overcrowding caused by tourists swarming to these sites contributed to its one star rating for crowds
Paris found itself just below Rome with a score of 80 per cent, facing a similar problem with the crowds at the city’s landmarks putting off some visitors despite the French capital securing a four-star rating for cultural attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur and the Louvre. Visitors were unimpressed by its choice of accommodation and value for money.
Alicante, the nearest city to British holiday mecca Benidorm, was a newcomer with the lowest score in the table of 72 per cent.
Despite only receiving two stars for its cultural sites, respondents spoke fondly of the Santa Barbara castle and the city’s views of both the sea and the Old Town.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:
“With a palace on every corner and a plate of pierogi and a pint of pilsner costing under £10, it’s no wonder Krakow continues to top our survey.
“To those holidaymakers still stuck on Amsterdam, Paris and other classic European destinations, try Poland for your next trip to find food, hotels and sightseeing that’s just as good but at half the price.”
In April 2019, Which? members were asked which European cities they had stayed in over the past year. Scores and ratings are based on 4,704 member experiences.