Europe burns a smaller hole in wallet

Deals Of The Week

October 14, 2007|By New York Times News Service

Americans who visited Europe this summer encountered the sticker shock of $500 hotel rooms and $10 cans of Pepsi.

But while the dollar continues to be weak against the euro, Americans can lessen the blow by heading to Europe in the fall, when they can find lower prices and fewer tourists.

Some of the biggest savings can be found in the air. The average airfare from the United States to Europe dropped roughly 20 percent, to $928, this fall from $1,171 in the summer, according to an Expedia spokeswoman.

Hotel rates have come down as well. The Four Seasons Hotel in Prague, for example, is offering a Bed and Breakfast package from Wednesday to Dec. 27, with rates starting at about $345 a night , down from $500 in high season. The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, is offering rates from about $317 a night in November, including breakfast and two glasses of champagne. Prices normally begin at $500 a night.

To get even more bang for your buck, Pam Baldwin, a Europe travel specialist at Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Richland, Wash., recommends package tours. Since tour operators tend to plan itineraries months in advance, she said, "hotel rates have, in general, already been locked in at better rates than the current exchange."

Globus, for example, is offering an 11-day Portugal in Depth tour this month starting at $1,349 a person, or about $123 a person a day. Highlights include visits to Obidos, Fatima, a Port wine cellar and the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. Globus is also offering a Legendary Danube river cruise, which sails from Nuremberg, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, with prices from $1,949 a person this November, including wine tastings and lectures. In August, the same cruise cost about $2,600, without the wine.

The regions that tend to offer the best value for fall vacationers are Spain, Portugal, central Europe, Greece and Turkey.

Airfare and hotel packages to Madrid, Spain, this fall are averaging $1,741 a person from cheaptickets.com, down 21 percent from this summer.

Packages to Barcelona, Spain, from New York are about $1,572, down 41 percent. And Azores Express, a U.S.-based tour operator, has packages from Boston to the Azores in Portugal starting at $699 for a six-night trip, including air and hotel with breakfast.

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