Looking for low-cost high-brow culture in Europe? The big secret is to head east.

A new survey has revealed that Eastern Europe is the dollar-stretching location of choice for a culture-cramming city break, while London remains the most expensive.

The UK’s Post Office’s Cost of Culture poll compared the price of ballet, opera and concert tickets together with entry to the city’s top museum, art gallery and heritage attraction in major European locations. Warsaw was the cheapest by far of 12 European cultural capitals surveyed.

warsawCreativecommons.org/Alberto Carrasco Casado

Tickets for world-class national ballet and opera performances in Warsaw cost just £20. In total the Polish capital’s cultural barometer basket weighed in at under UK£70 – that’s less than the cost of one ticket for the English National Opera’s production of Otello at the London Coliseum (£117.50) or the Royal Ballet’s Manon at the Royal Opera House (£91).

Culture vultures can also expect to pay more than three times as much as the Warsaw price in four leading eurozone culture capitals: Vienna (£223), Amsterdam (£223), Barcelona (£242) and Paris (£252).

viennaCreativecommons.org/Paul Hudson

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Budapest (£80 for the six cultural highlights) rivals Warsaw for low performance prices.

Dublin and Rome emerge as best value for a cultural break in the eurozone. Prices in Dublin (£102) are over 19 per cent cheaper than in 2009. However, autumn opera and ballet performances are thin on the ground in the Irish capital. In contrast to this, visitors to Rome (£132) will be spoilt for choice. Paris was the highest-priced eurozone city surveyed (£252).

parisCreativecommons.org/Peter Rivera

Although prices have plunged over 20 per cent since 2009, London was even pricier than Paris. Despite the benefit of free entry to galleries and museums like Tate Modern and the British Museum, high-priced opera, ballet and heritage attractions have again made London the most expensive option (£256). For example, a ticket to see the Royal Ballet (£91) costs 50 per cent more than one to see the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow (£60).

While every city surveyed boasts world-class cultural attractions, prices vary dramatically. This means culture vultures can save hundreds of dollars by doing their homework before booking they go.

The survey identified the three best value choices and the most expensive for each of the cultural attractions. Only Barcelona, Amsterdam, Moscow and Vienna failed to feature as a best value option in any category.

parisCreativecommons.org/Peter Rivera

At £19.75, Buckingham Palace State Rooms was the most expensive heritage attraction, whereas entry is free to many of its continental competitors. Rome’s Vatican Museum was the highest-priced museum (£13.20) and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was the most expensive art gallery (£12.38). Vienna charged most for music (Vienna Symphony Orchestra concert – £54), while Barcelona had the highest-priced opera ticket at £135 (The Barber of Seville at the Liceu).