Connecting to the Continent

August 03, 2008|By Richard P. Carpenter | Richard P. Carpenter,Boston Globe

Yes, Europe can be expensive, and yes, the dollar is taking a battering against the euro. But, no, that doesn't mean there are not good deals on the Continent. Consider:

*A 7-Day Classic Spain & Portugal package from Gate 1 Travel starts at $1,529, including round-trip airfare from select U.S. cities and four-star hotels. The escorted tour visits Madrid, Segovia, Avila and Salamanca in Spain, and Fatima and Lisbon in Portugal. Included are daily breakfasts and one dinner with wine, an air-conditioned coach, tour managers and local guides, two nights' lodging in Madrid, an overnight in Salamanca and two nights in Lisbon. Departures take place through Nov. 21. Go to gate1travel.com or call 800-682-3333.

*An all-inclusive six-night guided hiking excursion in Switzerland's Appenzellerland is being offered by Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures Sept. 20-25, for $1,750, land only. Hikes average six miles a day, with ascents up to 3,000 feet. Overnights are in inns, berghauses and a high mountain "hut," featuring down comforters and hot showers. The return to Appenzell is through forest and meadow, with the last night in a first-class hotel. The price includes daily breakfast and dinner and transportation from Zurich. Go to ryderwalker.com/appenzellerland.html or call 888-586-8365.

*A nine-day air/hotel package from Go Ahead Tours to London and Paris costs about $2,000-$2,500, depending on the fall departure date. The price includes round-trip flights, transfers, a tour director, motorcoach transport and seven nights' accommodation, along with daily breakfast, hotel services, charges and tips, and a ride on the high-speed Eurostar train. Go to goaheadtours.com or call 800-590-1170.

*Independent seven-night King's Road Tour Packages to Helsinki and Turku, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden, cost $1,370, land only. The package from Scanam World Tours includes three nights in Helsinki and one in Stockholm at first-class Scandic Hotels, with breakfast, two nights at the Naantali Spa Hotel in Turku and an overnight crossing from Turku to Stockholm in a seaside cabin with breakfast. Go to scanamtours.com or call 800-545-2204.

Readers may have noted that the above offers are tours of one sort or another, and there is a reason for that. The US Tour Operators Association says such trips can save travelers about 30 percent over the cost of making their own arrangements because tour operators negotiate long-term contracts and buy airfare in bulk.

For more information on European travel, including accommodations and weather, go to visiteurope.com.

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