Off-peak holiday deals will warm the heart
EACH year large numbers of Australians forgo long summer holidays at home for snow-dusted European sojourns and picture-book Christmas celebrations.
Testing skiing and boarding skills in the French, Austrian or Swiss alps; wandering through museums and galleries free from high-season crowds; visiting Christmas markets or stocking up during new-year sales are all drawcards for visitors to Europe in winter, as are cultural events such as Vienna’s extravagant balls in January and February, or Italy’s Carnevale, celebrated in the lead-up to Easter.
But these are not the only lures for Australians wanting to make the holiday budget stretch further overseas.
Cut-rate flights and cheaper accommodation during off-peak months add value to the holiday experience.
‘‘Airfares to Europe tend to be cheaper in October and November, with a small rise in December,’’ says Flight Centre’s Haydn Long.
And canny Australian tour companies are cashing in by broadening their range of tour packages to combine a variety of options, often including river cruising, in the region.
Europe is still our most popular holiday destination, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing that 17 per cent of all overseas departures last year were to Britain or continental Europe.
And according to Expedia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Latvia are particular hot spots for Australians this year.
While the northern summer remains our favourite time to venture to Britain, the cooler months offer great value to those who wish to spend extended time with relatives in Europe, and to students who want to take longer holiday breaks.
But do your research before making bookings, to avoid disappointment. Smaller attractions (including, say, stately homes and gardens) may not be open during the off-peak season.