The country where your pound will stretch furthest

Turkey is the most cost-effective country for British holidaymakers, according to a new report.

Analysis of currency sales by Post Office Travel Money found that sterling has strengthened in value most against the Turkish lira, whose long-term collapse continued during 2023. This means that holidaymakers will now get around 73 per cent more lira for their pound than a year ago, the equivalent of almost £211 extra when exchanging £500 for Turkish currency.

According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living database, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Istanbul costs £7.60pp, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs £30.

The news follows a November report that found the country experienced a 73 per cent increase in tourists in 2023 compared to 2019. The World Travel Market Global Report, prepared by Tourism Economics, predicted that Turkey would become the second-most valuable country in Europe, in both volume and value of inbound tourists visits this year, leapfrogging France.

Last year, more than 1.1 million British tourists visited Turkey in July and August, and more than 3.8 million throughout 2023. The leading coastal destination was Antalya, followed by city breaks to Istanbul.

According to hospitality analyst Lighthouse, hotel rates have fallen by 15 per cent in Antalya compared to 2023, with the average room costing £85 this April. However it forecasts that in August they will be higher than last year, costing on average £150 per night, compared to £146 in August 2023.

Sunrise drone photo of Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Istanbul cityscape in the dawn. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque???The Blue Mosque) is a historic mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. A popular tourist site. Photo taken on 08/11/2019 by drone device.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, is a historic mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey (Photo: SW Photography/Getty)

The improving value of sterling against a number of foreign currencies – 21 of Post Office’s 25 bestselling currencies – means holidaymakers can look forward to getting more for their money in many destinations this year. The most popular currency transactions for Post Office Travel Money are for euros, for which Britons will receive 3.8 per cent more than a year ago, and US dollars, which will see an improvement of 5.5 per cent this year.

The five fastest-growing currencies for transactions in the past year are Chinese yuan, Egyptian pound, Japanese yen, Hong Kong dollar and Vietnamese dong.

Laura Plunkett, head of travel money at Post Office, said: “Most currencies have weakened against the pound in the past year and may of these are for destinations that traditionally offer the cheapest prices for meals, drinks and other tourist staples.”

As well as Turkish lira, notable gains for sterling include Kenyan shilling (up 20.9 per cent year on year), Japanese yen, Czech koruna, Thai baht and South African rand. Among other European currencies, Britons will find better value in Hungary, Norway, Sweden and Bulgaria. The pound has also strengthened 8.5 per cent against the Australian dollar.

Budget-conscious travellers seeking an economical holiday in Europe might consider Czechia, where the pound has increased in value against the koruna by 12.7 per cent.

Elsewhere, sterling rose by 7.8 per cent against the Hungarian forint, while the Norwegian krone fell by 5.8 per cent against sterling.

Countries where the pound is now weaker

At the other end of the scale, sterling’s biggest fall – 4.3 per cent year-on-year – has been against the Polish zloty, although this is eclipsed by two-year losses of more than 20 per cent against the Costa Rican colon and Mexican peso. The pound is also weaker for purchases of Swiss francs, making ski and mountain holidays more expensive in this typically pricey country.

Post Office Exchange Rate Monitor: sterling’s year-on-year gains and losses against 25 of the bestselling Post Office currencies

  1. Turkish lira (72.9 per cent)
  2. Kenyan shilling (20.9 per cent)
  3. Japanese yen (15.7 per cent)
  4. Czech koruna (12.7 per cent)
  5. Thai baht (9.9 per cent)
  6. South African rand (9.2 per cent)
  7. Vietnamese dong (9.1 per cent)
  8. Australian dollar (8.5 per cent)
  9. Hungarian forint (7.8 per cent)
  10. Jamaican dollar (7.5 per cent)
  11. Egyptian pound (6.3 per cent)
  12. New Zealand dollar (6.1 per cent)
  13. Norwegian krone (5.8 per cent)
  14. UAE dirham (5.5 per cent)
  15. East Caribbean dollar (5.5 per cent)
  16. Barbados dollar (5.5 per cent)
  17. US dollar (5.5 per cent)
  18. Singapore dollar (5.2 per cent)
  19. Swedish kronor (4.1 per cent)
  20. Euro (3.8 per cent)
  21. Bulgarian lev (3.8 per cent)
  22. Mexican (– 0.8 per cent)
  23. Swiss franc (–1.4 per cent)
  24. Costa Rican colon (–2.7 per cent)
  25. Polish zloty (–4.3 per cent)