We keep hearing what a bargain Europe will be this summer, but some parts will be much more affordable than others. TripAdvisor’s TripIndex Europe compares average travel costs—airfare plus hotel—for 25 cities across Europe. To help you decide where to go and how to save the most, here are my five biggest takeaways:
- Think Istanbul.
The real steal this summer? It’s TripAdvisor travelers’ favorite destination in Europe: Istanbul. Of the 25 European cities, it’s the least expensive. In fact, a one-week trip will cost about 25% less this summer than it did last summer.
- Go East.
After Istanbul, the least expensive cities in Europe are Bucharest, Krakow, Budapest, Prague, and Athens. Eastern Europe has traditionally been more affordable than Western, but the current drop in hotel prices makes it even moreso. For instance, the average nightly hotel rate in Prague is $80—vs. $104 last year. The most expensive cities tend to be in Western Europe, with Zurich, London, Reykjavik, and Edinburgh topping the list.
- Save on airfare by flying to Scandinavia.
The lowest airfares from the U.S. to Europe are to Reykjavik, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo. Shockingly expensive most years, Scandinavia’s capitals are seeing the biggest drop in travel costs of any destination aside from Istanbul— Stockholm is 23% less expensive than last summer, Copenhagen is 21% less, Oslo 20% less—so now might be the time to splurge on Scandinavia, especially if you can rent an apartment or stay with friends.
- Bound for the British Isles? Start your trip in Edinburgh or Dublin rather than London.
London is usually one of the least expensive European cities to fly to, thanks to significant airfare competition, but this summer it’s the most expensive, with airfares averaging $1,763. So, if you’re traveling with a family or a group, research the cost of flying into Dublin ($1,207) or Edinburgh ($1,337), incorporating those places into your British Isles itinerary, and getting to England by train, ferry, or low-fare airline.
- Consider connecting in Istanbul. Seriously.
The average airfare to Istanbul is only $1,197, and that’s because Turkish Airlines has been rapidly expanding its fleet (with new planes with comfy seats and great food) and offering low fares from its U.S. gateways. If you’re willing to connect in Istanbul en route to your final European destination, you might have an overnight, but they’ll give you either a free hotel at the airport or a free tour of Istanbul. Other lesser-known European airlines that might require a long layover but offer substantial savings are Icelandair, Condor, and Norwegian Air Shuttle.
You’ll find plenty more Europe travel advice from Wendy at WendyPerrin.com.