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Top Five Off-Peak Destinations for Fall 2009

Germay-Castle Hohenzollern Fall (Photo: iStockphoto/Manuela Weschke)
by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on August 13, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Aer Lingus, airfare, Air Jamaica, American, Aspen, Berlin, car rental, Colorado, Colorado Springs, Curacao, Denver, destination, Dublin, Expedia, fall, Frankfurt, Frontier, Germany, Icelandair, Ireland, Jaclyn Liechti, low season, Orbitz, Orlando, Rail Europe, rail travel, shoulder season, Steamboat Springs, Stuttgart, Travelocity, vacation package.

Autumn is a great season to travel for less. Many popular destinations have enjoyable weather, while hotspots have yet to be besieged by snowbirds trying to dodge the freeze. But these places still have a lot going on for visitors. Whether you want to escape to sunny beaches, gaze at phenomenal foliage, or just relax with a beer in hand, this year's list has an option for everyone. Read on for the top five places for off-peak travel this season.

Germany

Summer may be the most popular time to visit Germany because of school breaks and warmer weather, but autumn brings cooler temperatures, along with plenty of pleasant days. The Black Forest and mountainous uplands provide lovely views of fall colors. Plus, November marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. What better way to mark this memorable occasion than a visit to the motherland?

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Getting to Germany might seem like a big expense, but several airlines are offering round-trip fares for less than $500 this fall. At press time, IcelandAir offered round-trip airfare (before taxes and fees) from $399 to Frankfurt from New York, and from $469 to Frankfurt from Minneapolis. While these deals are first-rate, fares in general tend to be cheaper in the off season. On three sample routes I tested, savings totaled up to $281.

Route Off-Peak Fare Peak Fare
Boston to Frankfurt $649 $788
Chicago to Frankfurt $674 $885
New York City to Berlin $547 $830

Off-peak fares are based on travel from October 13 to 20, and peak fares are based on travel from June 8 to 15, 2010. Prices were found on Expedia and include taxes and fees.

When you arrive in Germany, trains are a great option for traveling throughout the country—they are very punctual, rides are smooth, and trips from one city to another are usually short. Rail Europe is offering a deal for unlimited travel for four through 10 days on both regional and Inter-City Express (ICE) trains. Prices start at $65 per person per day, but you can save more by going with a friend since twin tickets start at about $49 per person per day.

Accommodations in Germany are also heavily discounted this fall. Schloss Sommersdorf, a castle in Bavaria, offers prices from as low as €100 per night (see XE.com for current conversion rates), with a minimum of three nights. From October 1 through December 23, the Steigenberger Drei Mohren in Augsburg offers a package that includes two nights' accommodations, a ticket for a guided city walk, and one three-course meal at two area restaurants for €230 per person. And, the Berlin Tourism Board offers up to 30 percent off standard hotel rates when you book a minimum two-night stay online with your credit card.

Although costs may climb during the ever-popular Oktoberfest in Munich (which actually takes place during late September and the first weekend of October), visitors can drink their fill for less at other regional festivals. The Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart, for example, opens with the traditional tapping of the keg on September 25, and continues through October 11. Stuttgart, like most German cities, offers a tourist card for a small fee that provides discounts on food, souvenirs, and museum entrances. Later in the season, the city hosts a fantastic Christmas Market where discerning travelers can purchase decorations and gifts, or simply stroll through the stalls drinking gluewein, a traditional hot spiced wine. These markets are held across the country and typically open the last week of November.

For more information on a fall visit to Germany, read our travel guide.

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