Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Will I get good value in the euro zone?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Monday 01 July 2013
Q To stretch my holiday money, should I steer clear of the euro zone this summer?
Geoff Brown, Horsham
A Even though sterling has slumped against the euro in the past five years, the European single currency area isn't chronically expensive. Older readers may remember the peseta, drachma and escudo - respective currencies of Spain, Greece and Portugal. They were relatively cheap locations prior to euro notes and coins going into circulation in 2002, and are still good value.
At restaurants in Greece and Spain over the past year I have seen printed menus with the old prices rubbed out and newer, lower prices pencilled in. The aim is to attract more customers in the short term (from the next-door bar) and the long term (from rival nations). Since devaluation is not an option, the alternative is to cut prices.
I believe the real bargains in the euro zone are to be found at the extremes. Portugal is perennially excellent value - with €5 set lunches, €0.50 cups of coffee and a train ticket for the three-hour journey almost the entire length of the Algarve coast just €10. Oporto, in northern Portugal, is probably the Western European city that is cheaper than any other.
In south-eastern Europe, Greece is also formidable value - a great four-star hotel in the Greek capital or second city, Thessaloniki, can cost as little as €90 a night including a lavish breakfast.
For the very best value, forsake the euro area in favour of the Balkans - Serbia and Bulgaria particularly. My most recent room in central Belgrade cost the equivalent of £7 a night, while the same in central Sofia was £10. If a country uses the Cyrillic alphabet, the chances are you'll be able to live like a tsar.
Click HERE to email Simon.
You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
£15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion the Largest Independent Motor...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...
£55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...