Krakow and Valencia have beaten traditionally more famous destinations and been voted the UK’s favourite European city break destinations in a new Which? survey.
The consumer champion asked more than 1,600 of its members to rate their experiences of 31 popular cities across Europe to create the list.
Each location was rated out of five on seven criteria – food and drink, accommodation, cultural sights and attractions, shopping, ease of getting around, lack of crowds and value for money. An overall customer score was calculated based on overall satisfaction and likeliness to recommend.
Krakow, Poland, and Valencia, Spain, share the crown with their ‘impressive’ 92 per cent scores.
Missing out on gold and coming a close second is Sweden’s capital, Stockholm (91 per cent), followed by Berlin, Germany; Funchal, Portugal; and Seville, Spain, in a three-way tie for third (89 per cent).
Krakow and Valencia, pictured here, have been voted the UK’s favourite European city break destinations in a new Which? survey
Visitors to Krakow awarded it a full five stars for food and drink as well as cultural sites and attractions, with the city boasting a ‘wealth of historic gems, from the famous Wawel Royal Castle (pictured) to its town hall tower’
Paris ranks low down in the table, garnering 79 per cent in joint 12th with Athens, while Split, in Croatia, is the lowest-scoring destination in 16th position with 72 per cent.
Commenting on the winners, Which? said: ‘Krakow has proven enduringly popular in the survey, marking its fourth time in the top spot, while Valencia was previously named the UK’s favourite European coastal destination in a separate Which? survey earlier this year.’
Visitors to Krakow awarded it a full five stars for food and drink as well as cultural sites and attractions, with the city boasting a ‘wealth of historic gems, from the famous Wawel Royal Castle to its town hall tower’, Which? said.
It added: ‘Visitors can while away the hours drinking in the atmosphere in the city’s medieval square, the largest of its kind in Europe, or head out to explore the sights in the city’s vibrant Jewish quarter.’
One tourist told the watchdog they were ‘amazed’ by the scale of the Wieliczka salt mine, an underground attraction just a few miles outside of the city, which proved popular with survey respondents.
Krakow also ranks among the three highest destinations for value for money, with four stars.
Data from Kayak revealed that on average, it has the cheapest average hotel room rate of any destination in the survey at just £65 per night – £143 less than Paris, the destination with the most expensive average room rates.
In second place, Stockholm, pictured, scored five stars for ease of getting around, and four stars for food and drink, accommodation and cultural sites and attractions
Valencia also garnered five stars for attractions as well as food and drink, with one traveller calling it a ‘foodie’s paradise’, according to the survey.
Visitors ‘lauded the city’s intriguing blend of old and new, with its charming old town sitting in sharp contrast to the “spectacular” and “futuristic” City of Arts and Sciences’, which features attractions such as a planetarium and opera house.
The city scored four stars for ease of getting around, with visitors noting that it’s a ‘compact, walkable city’ with the beach and city centre both easily accessible.
It also scored four stars for accommodation and value for money, with a hotel room costing £113 a night on average.
Second-place Stockholm scored five stars for ease of getting around, and four stars for food and drink, accommodation and cultural sites and attractions.
Visitors praised the ABBA museum as ‘great fun’ while the Vasa museum also proved popular, offering an ‘unmissable’ opportunity to see a salvaged 17th-century warship.
The city did fall down on value for money however, receiving just two stars in this category.
Joint bronze-medal-winner Berlin scored five stars for ease of getting around, with one respondent noting that there is ‘so much to see and visit and all within a relatively compact area’.
Split, pictured, is the lowest-scoring destination – it comes 16th, with an overall score of 72 per cent
The city also received five stars for its cultural sites and attractions, which include the Berlin Wall memorial, Brandenburg Gate and Pergamonmuseum.
It scored four stars both for accommodation and for quality of food and drink.
Funchal, the largest city on the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, scored five stars for accommodation and for food and drink, with visitors ‘praising the array of restaurants to choose from in the old town district’, Which? said.
It scored highly for ease of getting around, and joins Krakow as one of just three destinations in the survey to score four stars for value for money, with a hotel room costing £108 a night on average.
Bronze medallist No.3, Seville, capital of Spain’s sunny Andalucia region, scored five stars for food and drink, as well as for its cultural sites and attractions.
‘Visitors remarked on their enjoyment of the quaint tapas bars and heaped praise on the city’s many spectacular sights, including the “infinite beauty” of both the famous Plaza de Espana and Royal Alcazar,’ Which? commented.
Paris is ranked 12th. Along with Athens it garnered 79 per cent
The city was also rated four stars for accommodation and ease of getting around, but scored less highly for value for money and lack of crowds, scoring three and two stars respectively.
Despite being at the bottom of the leaderboard, Which? said Split’s 72 per cent score was ‘respectable’.
Milan and Brussels are just ahead, tied on 73 per cent.
Respondents found plenty to enjoy in Split, according to Which?, and praised it as a ‘vibrant city, full of history’.
They also recommended numerous local attractions, including Diocletian’s Palace and the Archaeological Museum. Being a popular destination, however, meant it scored slightly lower for lack of crowds, receiving two stars.
Visitors to Milan rated the city four stars for food and drink, though it received lower star ratings in other categories, including just two stars for value for money, and three stars for ease of getting around, cultural sites, and accommodation.
Funchal, pictured, scored 89 per cent and ranks in joint third position with Berlin and Seville
Brussels also scored just two stars in the value-for-money category, with visitors warning of some ‘overpriced and poor quality’ eateries in the area around the main square, and two stars for cultural sites and attractions.
However, visitors ‘thoroughly enjoyed the city’s wider food and drink offering’, rating it five stars and singling out the ‘great beers and chocolate shops on offer’, Which? said.
Geneva, Hamburg, Istanbul, Monte Carlo and Naples were among the cities that did not make the list of most popular destinations as they did not have enough responses.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘The weak pound has made holidays to most European countries more expensive for British holidaymakers, but our survey shows that looking beyond the most famous destinations for your next city break pays off.
‘Whether you’re after a getaway packed with cultural sights or a foodie escape, the top-rated destinations in our survey this year all have something unique to offer, from the medieval charm of Krakow, to the sun-soaked beaches of Valencia.’
The survey is based on responses from 1,637 Which? members in October 2023 of their experiences visiting European cities in the past year. Results are based on 2,458 experiences. Only cities with more than 30 responses are included in the results.