We tried a new travel tool to find out the best time to visit some of Europe’s most popular destinations.
After a summer of travel plagued by extreme heat, disruption and unpredictable weather, many of us are looking to holiday outside of the peak season.
But how do you find out the optimum time of year to visit your chosen destination?
Travel search engine Kayak has just launched a new tool that could help you discover the best time to go. Using information on flight prices, hotel costs, weather and how busy your destination could be, it predicts the ideal time of year for your trip.
Once the tool has narrowed down which month is best, you can look at the cost of flights on each day to see exactly when to travel. It even recommends when you should make the booking to get the cheapest prices.
We gave it a whirl to find out when to travel to some of Europe’s most popular holiday spots.
For the purposes of this experiment, we’ve chosen Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam as our home base but bear in mind that your results could vary depending on where you are leaving from.
When is the best time of year to travel to Croatia?
Earlier this year, Croatia joined Europe’s free-movement Schengen zone. It has resulted in a record tourism season with travellers exploring its idyllic islands and historic walled cities.
The busy summer season brings average temperatures in the mid-20s but warm weather can appear as early as spring. And we found that March offers the cheapest flights from Schiphol to two of the most popular destinations in Croatia: the coastal city of Split and the walled city of Dubrovnik.
The average cost for flights to Split in March was €135 – dropping to €123 if you travel during the last week of the month, according to Kayak. For Dubrovnik, the average is €145 with the last week of March offering a lower price of €132.
The travel boom has meant bigger crowds too but both of these Croatian cities typically see some of their lowest visitor numbers in March.
Accommodation in Dubrovnik will set you back around €110 per night on a weekday and €123 on a weekend. It’s slightly cheaper to stay in Split at €105 per night on average for a weekday and €116 weekend.
With the money you save by travelling off-season, you could even visit both of these Croatian cities in one holiday.
When is the best time of year to travel to Barcelona, Spain?
February is the best time to take a city break in the Spanish city of Barcelona, according to Kayak’s new tool. This often-crowded city sees fewer visitors during the first two months of the year but flight prices are more expensive on average in January.
In February, we found that a flight from Schiphol to Barcelona El Prat will set you back around €104 but it can drop as low as €95 if you choose the right dates. In 2024, these exact dates would be from 6 to 12 February and the calculator recommends you book before the end of October to secure these prices.
There’s little payoff when it comes to the weather, however, with temperatures of around 10°C. But, if you wrap up warm there’s still plenty to enjoy in this cultural gem of a city – and you won’t have to share it with quite so many fellow travellers.
On average, a hotel will set you back €170 per night on weekdays and €188 a night on weekends.
When is the best time of year to travel to Cyprus?
Cyprus is famous for its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. But its beautiful seaside scenery has also seen the country suffer from overtourism in recent years.
Kayak recommends November as the best month to travel to this Mediterranean island. Airfares from Schiphol to Larnaca International Airport are lower than average, temperatures are still around 17°C and you’ll miss the busiest months of July and August.
This year, it recommends travelling from 8 to 14 November when flights cost around €140 and hotel rates in Lanarca are roughly €85 per night.
But what if you are looking for the absolute best rates available? Flights to Cyprus are at their lowest in March according to Kayak – around €136.
If you want some warmth, however, you’ll be disappointed with average temperatures hitting just 13°C and falling as low as 8°C.
When is the best time of year to travel to Athens, Greece?
Greece has suffered from record heatwaves this summer. In Athens, opening hours at the Acropolis were limited during the hottest parts of the day to keep tourists safe.
If you are looking to visit when the weather is a bit cooler, March might be the best time to travel. Kayak’s new tool says the airfare is lower than usual, temperatures are an average of 12°C and there are fewer visitors than at other times of year.
Flight tickets from Schiphol cost on average €160 during this month but travelling from 20 to 26 March sees them drop as low as €146.
When it comes to accommodation in the Greek capital, the average price per night on weekdays is €97 and €110 on weekends.
How does Kayak’s Best Time to Travel tool work?
If you want to give it a go yourself, here’s a run down of how to use the tool.
First, you’ll need to enter your home airport, final destination and the length of your trip. The tool will then tell you the best month to visit with details on flight and hotel prices, average weather and visitor numbers.
Once you’ve locked in your month, you can take a closer look at the cost of flights on specific days. It will tell you which dates are the cheapest when compared to the rest of the year.
After you’ve chosen your dates, it will advise you when you need to book by to secure the lowest hotel and flight prices. Some destinations are worth the risk of waiting for last-minute deals.
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