Lonely Planet Writer

Top 10 best places in the world to go for cheap flight deals this summer

It’s a perfect storm for summer travellers, and it has nothing to do with the weather. A combination of a strong dollar, lower fuel prices and more competition from discount airlines has conspired to create the lowest airfares for five years.

Sunbathers on Cannes beach.
Summer travellers have plenty of choice . Image by justinknabb / CC BY-SA 2.0

Cheapflights.com, took a look at airfares for the top 50 most-searched destinations from January to April of this year and then compared average prices to the same destination for each of the past five years. 2016 was hands-down the winner. They have put together a top ten list of the ten destinations to go to while airfares are low (five US domestic, five international) where airfares had shown the biggest drops in the last year – all of them down more than 25%.

Chicago, Illinois

Downtown Chicago.
Downtown Chicago. Image by Bert Kaufmann / CC BY 2.0

Steely skyscrapers, top chefs, rocking festivals – the Windy City will blow you away with its low-key cultured awesomeness. Chicago boasts multiple free festivals this summer, including the Chicago Blues Festival in June and the Chicago Jazz Festival held Labor Day weekend, among many other must-see events. Pop culture enthusiasts should also be sure to grab some grub at the summer-long “Saved by the Bell” pop-up diner in Wicker Park, “Saved by the Max.” Airfares are down 41% compared with last year.


Key West, Florida.
Key West, Florida. Image by Ed Schipul / CC BY-SA 2.0

A hundred worlds – from magic kingdoms and Latin American and Caribbean capitals to mangrove islands, wild wetlands and artist colonies – are all contained within this flat peninsula. Four airports in Florida state have seen big average airfare drops this year: Southwest Florida International (serving Fort Myers and the Florida Gulf) is down 35%, Orlando International is down 32%, as is Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International and Miami International is down 25%.

New York, New York

Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Guggenheim Museum in New York. Image by Bryan Ledgard / CC BY 2.0

Epicenter of the arts. Dining and shopping capital. Trendsetter. New York City wears many crowns, and spreads an irresistible feast for all.  Big airfare drops for flights landing at LaGuardia look to be making the city that never sleeps a perfect city getaway. With airfares down 31% compared with last year, there is no better time to explore Central Park in all its summertime glory, and take advantage of a number of free events. The Annual Museum Mile Festival happens in June, opening up Museum Mile to the public for free. Soak up the culture (and the sun) and then take in Shakespeare in the Park, also free. Plan ahead as lines for tickets can get long. If the Bard isn’t your bag, NYC also offers free outdoor movies throughout the city.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta home to new National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Image by Terence S. Jones / CC BY 2.0.
Atlanta Image by Terence S. Jones / CC BY 2.0

The so-called capital of the South is booming as a tourist destination. Beyond the big-ticket downtown attractions you’ll find a constellation of superlative restaurants, a palpable Hollywood influence and iconic African-American history. Keeping your cool in Hotlanta this summer is a breeze and starts with low-cost flights to Atlanta International – down 28% compared with last year. Once there, check out free weekly rock concerts in Piedmont Park every Sunday throughout the summer.

Los Angeles, California

Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier Image by Getty

There is no shortage of things to do in Los Angeles. From the iconic glamour of Hollywood to the laid-back vibe of Santa Monica, a summer break on the West Coast can’t be beaten. And, this year, airfare prices to Los Angeles International have been down noticeably (27%), making it a good opportunity to see it all for less. Save even more by taking advantage of all the cheap and free activities the city has to offer.

London, England

London Eye outlook. Image by Tasan Phatthong

Thanks to some healthy competition for international travellers between Gatwick and Heathrow, average airfares to London are down (29% into Gatwick and 33% into Heathrow) and deals are there for the taking. So why not hop across the pond this summer? June brings the Trooping of the Colour, a parade in honour of the Queen’s birthday, as well as a two-day floating cinema tour.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney is still the most popular destination in Australia for international tourists
Sydney is still the most popular destination in Australia for international tourists Image by Mertie / CC BY 2.0

This vast country is affluent, multicultural and laced with natural splendour. Fly into Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney to save on airfare (with average flight prices down 33%). While it may be winter in Australia, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to keep you busy. July is the best month of the year to hike the Blue Mountains, which become even more scenic during Sydney’s winter months.

San Jose, Costa Rica

The streets of San José, Costa Rica.
The streets of San José, Costa Rica. Image by Everjean / CC BY 2.0

All trails lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. Explored by horseback, foot or kayak, Costa Rica is a choose-your-own-adventure land. Discover your own adventure while average flight prices to Juan Santamaria International are down this year (31%). Add to that, rich culture and tasty affordable dining options, and you will want to start packing immediately.

Bangkok, Thailand

The four-faced god at the Erawan shrine, Bangkok.
The four-faced god at the Erawan shrine, Bangkok. Image by Mith Huang / CC BY 2.0

Airfares to Bangkok International have been trending down (26%), making it a great time to check out this up-and-coming hot spot. Explore gorgeous temples, see the sights from aboard a canal tour and nosh on tasty and intriguing street food. Bangkok is the perfect out-of-the-box summer trip, and there is no better time to experience it than now.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana resort town, Dominican Republic.
Punta Cana resort town, Dominican Republic. Image by Ted Murphy / CC BY 2.0

Punta Cana has a lot to offer summer travellers by way of sun, fun and relaxation. It wouldn’t be out of line to equate the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic as a sort of sea and sun Disneyland. And, in 2016, add lower than usual flight prices to that list – down 31% compared to last year. Whether you prefer lounging on the beach with a cocktail or indulging in a little underwater adventure, Punta Cana will deliver.

(Additional reporting Amanda Festa)