Skip to main content


Lisbon best holiday experience per £1 spent

4th August 2022

  • Best value European destinations revealed in new study by Starling Bank

  • The research ranks the top 40 most popular European cities by a range of factors (e.g. food & drink, visual appeal) and compares scores with typical costs to stay

  • Lisbon is the overall winner, followed by Seville, Istanbul, Budapest and Prague

4th August 2022 - When it comes to the best experience at the best price, Lisbon, Portugal, ranks highest in a new study looking at the affordability of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations.

The research, commissioned by Starling Bank, graded the top 40 most-visited European cities according to seven categories: food and drink, things to do, accessibility, family-friendliness, night life, visual appeal and friendliness. These scores were then compared against the cost of staying in the city for a week to discover the best experiences per £1 spent. The study is intended to help holidaymakers get the most out of their travel budgets at a time when prices are rising.

Lisbon ranks top for best overall experience relative to expenditure, with an average cost of £440.20 per week to stay. It also scores highly for ‘things to do’ and ‘night-life’ making it the ideal destination for those keeping an eye on their bank balance.

Coming in a close second is Seville, in Spain’s Andalucia region, which comes top for family-friendliness and has an average cost of £492.94 per week. This is followed by Istanbul, Turkey, (a bargain at £274.14 per week and good for food and drink), Budapest, Hungary, (£412.03 per week and good for accessibility), and Prague, the Czech Republic, (£505.67 per week, scoring highly for its visual appeal).

Table 1: Top 10 Cities offering the best experience per £1 spent (top 40 available upon request)

RankCity, CountryAverage cost/week
1Lisbon, Portugal£440.20
2Seville, Spain£492.94
3Istanbul, Turkey£274.14
4Budapest, Hungary£412.03
5Prague, Czech Republic£505.67
6Porto, Portugal£444.22
7Split, Croatia£399.29
8Madrid, Spain£558.38
9Rome, Italy£615.49
10Barcelona, Spain£579.22

Individual Category Winners

Best for Visual Appeal and Things to Do

London ranks highest for ‘things to do’ owing to its swathe of free art galleries, museums, beautiful public parks and landmarks. Yet as a relatively expensive place to stay (£929/week), it ranks as the 29th best value city out of the 40 researched.

Rome follows second in this category, and also ranks first for visual appeal and fifth for nightlife making it the perfect city to take in ancient ruins while sipping on a Campari spritz. And with a more modest price tag (£615/week) it sits ninth overall when looking at cost-effectiveness.

Best for Food & Drink and NightLife

If you’re looking for a good night out, look no further than Barcelona. There travellers can experience world-renowned clubs including Razzmatazz, Elrow and Nitsa. With an average cost per week of £579, Barcelona is a great option at a good price, reflected in its 10th spot overall for value for money.

Munich comes out on top for ‘food and drink’, topping the charts specifically in the street food sub-category. However, with middling scores in other categories and a price tag of £645 a week, it sits firmly mid-table in 21st place when it comes to getting bang for your buck.

Best for Family Getaways, Accessibility and Friendliness

For those travelling with children, Seville places first overall as the best family-friendly destination, scoring highly for child-friendly activities, accessibility when travelling with children and a family-friendly atmosphere. Paired with a modest cost (£492/week), this city is second overall in Starling’s list of great value holidays.

Scandinavia leads the way for accessibility with Stockholm taking first place. Despite also ranking top for friendliness, it was pushed firmly out of the best value range with costs of nearly £764 a week.

Best Cities for a Staycation

If going abroad isn’t an option, look no further than Edinburgh and Liverpool, which have an overall ranking of 13th (£642 weekly cost) and 17th (£610 weekly cost) respectively, making them much more cost effective to stay in compared with London’s 29th position.

Edinburgh secures three top ten spots in the categories, tenth for family-friendliness, eighth for things to do and fourth for friendliness, making it an all-rounder for families opting for a short flight or train ride.

Liverpool takes two top ten spots, coming in ninth for things to do, particularly for fans of The Beatles, and seventh for night-life. Seel Street is known for having some unforgettable late night haunts. Overall Liverpool is a great option for a city break with friends if you’re looking to save a few pounds.

Holiday budgeting with Starling Bank

To support holidaymakers in getting the most out of their getaways this summer, Starling Bank has created an interactive travel tool to enable better budgeting, ensuring you get the best experience for your money. The tool highlights what you can get for £100 in the world’s top tourist destinations.

Starling also offers customers fee-free travel anywhere in the world, simply pay on your card or withdraw cash in the local currency of your destination. Starling also passes Mastercard’s real exchange rate onto you, so travellers will always get more for their money, no matter what the currency.

Lavina Dsouza, owner of travel blog, Continent Hop, said: “With travel costs on the rise worldwide, it can be challenging to land on a destination that fits your budget. However, there are many ways to save money and Starling Bank’s travel tool helps by showing where you can get the most enjoyment for the best price.”

“I visited the Faro district in Portugal a while back and fell in love with the food and landscapes. I can’t wait to go back and visit Lisbon where you can see the smaller version of Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer, witness some of the best architecture in Europe and try the famous Pastel de Belém. What’s more, local beer costs just over £1, a bottle of wine around £3.50 and meals cost under £10 per person. Public transport is also a steal at £1.70 per ticket - all of which assures significant savings throughout your stay.”

Rachel Kerrone, Director of Brand and Marketing at Starling Bank adds: “We know travel is on the agenda for many people this summer but at the same time, budgets will likely be tight due to the rising costs of living. We want to help people pick their holiday wisely, so they can get the best value for their money while still having a fantastic time.”

Notes to editors

  • Sources used to construct the rankings include TripAdvisor, Michelin Guides and The World Health Organisation to assess travellers’ reviews, and costs were determined using, The Post Office, Eurostat and More than 300,000 reviews, survey responses and price reports were collated to formulate the research. All costs cited are accurate as of 25.07.22.

Top three cities according to each category (top 40 available upon request)

RankFood & Drink
Range of restaurants
Exceptional experience: restaurant
Range and quality of street food / food from markets
Night Life
Range of bars and clubs
Quality of bars and clubs
Exceptional experience: nights out
RankVisual Appeal
'Iconic images'
Total number of 'instagrammable locations'
Perceived shareability
Things to Do
Range of leisure activities
Quality of leisure activities
Exceptional experiences: museums and galleries
RankFamily Friendliness
Prevalence of family-friendly attractions
Perceived physical accessibility of city centre
EU Access Cities Recognition
Traffic-related air pollution levels
Perceived friendliness towards tourists
Prejudice against immigrants
Prejudice against homosexuals


  • Nelson Research conducted an initial survey of 2,000 UK adults aged 18+ (Opinium, June 2022), which identified the Top 40 European cities UK adults have visited for holidays or leisure purposes. This was followed by a larger survey of 4,000 UK adults aged 18+ (Opinium, June 2022), which was combined with Analysis of 15 other data sources including TripAdvisor reviews, Eurostat, the World Health Organisation, World Values Survey, etc. - to produce a comprehensive measure of the attributes of cities and costs of staying there (not including flights).

Categories and subcategories

  • The research examined how holidaymakers rate food and drink (including the selection of restaurants, number of michelin star offerings and range of quality street food); things-to-do (including the range and quality of leisure activities and number of museums and cultural experiences); accessibility (accessibility of city centre, EU Access Cities recognition and traffic-related air pollution levels); family friendliness (including family attractions, friendliness and accessibility for prams and children); night-life (including the range and quality of bars and clubs and renowned nightlife experiences); visual appeal (‘iconic images’, total number of instagrammable locations and shareability) and friendliness (a friendly atmosphere for all travellers) in the 40 most visited cities in Europe.

About Starling Bank

Starling Bank is an award-winning, fully-licensed and regulated bank built to give people a fairer, smarter and more human alternative to the banks of the past. It offers personal, business, joint, euro and dollar current accounts alongside a children’s card. Starling also offers a B2B Banking as a Service and Software as a Service proposition, based on the proprietary technology platform that it uses to power its own bank. The Starling Marketplace offers customers in-app access to a selection of third-party financial services. Headquartered in London, the bank has offices in Southampton, Cardiff and Dublin.


Starling Bank Press Team

Apply for a Starling bank account today and enjoy app-based banking at its best.

Start your application