The days for booking winter travel bargains in Europe are numbered, though many of the continent's greatest off-season events have yet to occur -- carnival festivals begin erupting the last week of January through early February, skiing in the Alps remains superlative until early April, and southern Europe creeps out of the cold, slowly warming and blooming in mid to late March.
Unless you're buying a last-minute deal, most winter travel packages must be purchased by the end of this month. To wit: travelers have until January 30 to buy winter airfare & car rental packages from 1-800-fly-europe (tel. 800/59-3876; www.1-800-flyeurope.com) good for departures through March 17. For $269, you can fly into London from Boston and spend seven days driving around, through the old fishing villages of Cornwall to the artist's colony of St. Ives, with its new branch of the Tate, to England's crown jewel, the Lake District, and the remains of Emperor Hadrian's second-century wall -- even as far north as Scotland. The price includes round-trip airfare, a seven-day, manual economy car rental with unlimited mileage, and cell phone use throughout the trip. The same journey for three days is only $237 (available at www.autoeurope.com/showspecial.cfm?specid=177&aff=frommers), but the seven-day trip is worth the extra $30 if you want to explore a region, rather than a major city.
Hundreds of city pairs are available, but the main European destinations are London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Brussels, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Zurich, Milan, and Munich. From the East Coast, Rome is the most expensive destination, at $387 from Boston for three days, and $447 for seven. From New York, prices are the same or slightly higher; Chicago is $357 to London for seven days and $457 to Rome, with comparable rates from Miami and Orlando. West Coast fares are $397 from Los Angeles and San Francisco to London for seven days, and $537 to Rome. Consult the Web site for the twenty most popular departure and arrival cities, or call for additional options.
Prices are per person based on travel for two. Totals do not include hotel taxes, car taxes up to 19.6%, fees up to $157, and foreign departure taxes up to $45.
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