Krakow and Reykjavik topple Amsterdam and Barcelona as city break favourites

Golden hour: Winter visitors in the main square in Krakow, southern Poland (Charlotte Hindle)
Golden hour: Winter visitors in the main square in Krakow, southern Poland (Charlotte Hindle)

Amsterdam and Barcelona have been deposed as city break favourites for British travellers by Krakow and Reykjavik, a leading travel organisation has revealed.

Kelly Cookes, chief commercial officer for Advantage Travel Partnership, told The Independent: “Amsterdam and Barcelona are still up there, but are not driving the same kind of volumes.

“Krakow is mainly price-driven. We see Prague in there quite a lot because of price.”

Ms Cookes said Reykjavik represented a novel alternative to traditional city break destinations. “People want to try something different and they’ve done a lot of those traditional Amsterdams, Barcelonas,” she said.

Paris and Rome remain popular, and Ms Cookes predicted that the French capital would see a surge of bookings because of what she called “the Netflix effect”.

She said the third season of Emily in Paris – about a Chicago marketing executive who moves to the French capital – will trigger “a big boom” in sales of Paris city breaks.

Travellers are paying significantly more for summer 2024 package holidays than they did in previous years. Partly they are trading up.

But demand from British travellers with family ties – the so-called “VFR market” – has pushed prices to some destinations extremely high.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, said trips to Cyprus in the school summer holidays are “eye-watering extortionate”.

She told The Independent: “The VFR market drives those high prices – just ask any of my relatives.

Spain and Greece continue to offer great value due to the wide range of flights and types of properties available.

“Also Turkey is fantastic for families with the pound going even further once in destination.

“If you’re flexible where you want to go, then I would say that there is still great value to be had.”

Almost half of holidaymakers now book all-inclusive packages. The proportion sold by Advantage has risen from 35 per cent in 2019 to 47 per cent in 2024 – representing an increase of one-third.

To meet the demand, some Spanish hotels that traditionally offered only breakfast or room-only accommodation are laying on three meals a day as well as unlimited drinks.