Lonely Planet Writer

Now is the best time for US travelers to get a deal on a winter European vacation

Europe is a popular destination for US travelers during the winter holidays, and the good news is that now may be a great time to obtain significant deals on flights. According to fare and travel search engine Kayak, most people don’t start thinking about booking their winter flights until October or November, which also happens to be the most expensive time of the year.

An aerial view of the city of Lisbon in Portugal
Travelers to Lisbon could score a saving of 50% on median airfares by booking before July 29. Image: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Based on research it conducted in 2018, travelers to Lisbon could score a saving of 50% on median airfares by booking before July 29. Savings of between 20 and over 40% were made to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Milan, London and Reykjavik. If you’re considering a holiday in Paris, Rome or Frankfurt, you have a little more time to take action, as the best value booking window was in the first two weeks of September, where travelers could achieve savings of 40%.

A view of a canal in Amsterdam by night.
Savings can be made on flights between the US and Amsterdam. Image: littlewormy/Getty Images

July is also the time to book if you’re considering a winter trip to Asia for the Christmas holidays. Kayak's research showed savings of 24 to 30% on median airfares to Bangkok, Bali, or Ho Chi Minh City if booked by July 29. For Beijing, the optimum was between July 29 to August 5, and for Hong Kong it is the following week, August 5 to 12. When analysing the cheapest European cities and countries to fly to every month in the next year, Spain is a good bet as Madrid and Barcelona appeared 11/12 times each through June 2020.

A temple on the water in Bali in Indonesia
Kayak's research showed savings on median airfares to Bali in Indonesia. Image: Guitar photographer/Shutterstock

Kayak's research looked at flights between December 15 and Dec. 31 2018, and its search dates were July 1 to December 1 2018. To read the report in full, please see here, and for for a guide to the best places to visit in Europe in 2019 according to Lonely Planet, see our Best in Europe list.