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Three Affordable European Vacations for Spring


The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel’s resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She’s always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.

ysnowden writes, “My husband and I are both early 50’s, recently married and were second grade sweethearts. He currently serves as a Lt. Col. in the Army National Guard and has been deployed to Afghanistan for the next six months. When he returns early April, he would like for us to go on a wonderful trip. He loves history and I love architecture. Our ideal trip is to have everything within walking distance (or subways) from our hotel and never worry about taxi cabs or renting our own car. All inclusive trips are fine with maybe lunches on our own. We love quaintness of old buildings, old neighborhoods, love old ports/boating, but we are not sun worship people. Love sidewalk cafes and places where English is spoken. We have possibly 10 days to enjoy this wonderful homecoming trip and don’t want to miss anything while on vacation. We are both early birds and love to be on the go. Thought about a River Cruise to Europe, but they are very pricey … but that type of connecting to the villages of these small towns would be heaven for us. Any suggestions?”

Nothing would make me happier than helping you plan a well-deserved homecoming vacation for your husband. And it just so happens that the possibilities really are endless—that is, as long as we keep you within walking distance of your hotel. With this in mind, we’ll skip trips that include bee-bopping around the countryside in a rental car and instead focus on big-city destinations.

I’ve included three trips that I believe are ideal matches for your desired vacation. However, the world is a big place and before I settled on these three, I also considered Quebec City, Canada; taking the train down the California Coast; a cruise; and a Rick Steve’s Tour (a little pricey though).

Without further ado, I give you the best of the best vacations for you and your husband.

When it comes to architecture, history, old neighborhoods, and sidewalk cafes, Berlin has it all, and then some. The city is considered the cultural epicenter of Germany, with a smorgasbord of museums, a dynamic music scene, and an exciting nightlife. The transportation system is an easy and inexpensive way to get around, and you can also choose to rent a bike or take a boat cruise to see the sights. As for getting there, EuropeASAP has the answer with its Berlin Spring City Break package starting at $1,099 per person (without taxes and fees). The deal includes roundtrip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher cost), six nights’ accommodations, and daily breakfast. Travel is valid between April 1 and May 14, 2010, and you must book by November 23. Just for a quick comparison, I priced airfare from New York City starting at $748 per person (with taxes and fees) in April. Granted this airfare includes taxes, whereas the package does not, but it will give you an idea of what it might cost to book hotel and airfare individually.

If you’d prefer using your time to see a bit more of the world, then a multi-city vacation might be right up your alley. Go-today is offering a six-night Budapest, Vienna, and Prague package starting at $1,189 per person (without taxes and fees) for travel in April. The deal includes round-trip airfare from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher cost); two nights’ accommodations in Budapest, Vienna, and Prague; second-class rail between cities; daily breakfast; hotel taxes and service charges; and airline fuel surcharges. Though this may seem like a bit of a whirlwind trip, it will give you a chance to become acquainted with these three cities. For instance, you can visit Budapest’s lively flea markets, sip a cafe au lait in Prague’s historic city center, and listen to Vienna’s world-renowned music all within a week. Plus, it will give you a chance to enjoy all the architecture and history of three exciting destinations. You must book by November 19.

If you’d like to spend a bit more time exploring, yet still want to visit places with an immense amount of history and culture, then go-today’s nine-night Italian Adventure may be just the ticket. You’ll visit the cities of Rome, Florence, and Venice, where you and your sweetheart can get swept away in the romance of Venice’s canals, the powerful remnants of the Roman Empire, and the beauty of Florence’s glorious landscapes. Since you will be traveling by train, you can enjoy the Italian countryside without the hassle of driving. The deal starts at $1,549 per person (without taxes), and includes roundtrip airfare to Rome from New York City (other departure cities are available at a higher cost); three nights’ accommodations in Rome, Florence, and Venice; second-class rail between cities; daily breakfast; hotel taxes and service charges; and airline fuel surcharges.

As I mentioned above, these are only three picks from a world of possibilities, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, don’t get discouraged. The right trip is out there waiting for you. I do hope, wherever you choose to go, that you both have the trip of a lifetime.

As for my other readers: You know the drill. Do you know of a great vacation spot for ysnowden and her husband? Have you taken a trip that fits the bill for what they’re looking for? If so, please don’t be shy and share your suggestions below.

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All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.

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