February 20, 2004 -- Think of Brussels as a launching pad. The capital of the European Union is uniquely blessed by location to give tourists a wide range of possible experiences within a few hours' train journey. London and Paris are both under three hours away; Amsterdam, the gorgeous Belgian cities of Bruges and Ghent, and even Germany are just a quick ride away.
As the winter winds down, consolidator 1800FlyEurope.com is trying to grab your last few vacation days with fares to Brussels that make Europe a viable long weekend trip. London will probably always be the cheapest European destination to fly to -- FlyEurope's February and March fares to London run as low as $179 roundtrip -- but spending a little more to bounce into Brussels puts you in prime position to explore Belgium and the Netherlands.
1800FlyEurope.com's fares are, as usual, excellent:
- From Boston, Chicago, New York or Washington: $219 plus tax
- From Los Angeles or San Francisco: $287 plus tax
For $108 more ($104 from California), you can add in a three-day car rental. We think that's a good idea, especially for folks who have been to Europe often enough to visit most major cities and want something a little more off-beat. You can use your car to explore the Ardennes, for instance, or Normandy, places near Brussels that are beautiful and yet poorly served by public transportation.
We compared FlyEurope's fares to major airlines' fares we found on Expedia and Travelocity for March dates. All of FlyEurope's fares were considerably lower than published fares. The lowest fare we found from Boston was $308 plus tax. From New York, Travelocity gave us a lowest fare of $293. From Chicago, the lowest competing fare was $310; from DC, $294; and from California, $395.
If you're planning to take the train around Belgium and the Netherlands rather than drive, remember that for short-distance journeys, tickets bought once you arrive in Europe will be cheaper than tickets bought here in the US. For more information on the, go to www.frommers.com/book_a_trip/deal_car_rental/deal.cfm?articleid=1722&destid=CARRENTAL.
If you'd like to take advantage of this deal, book by March 13 for travel by March 31 by calling 800/359-3876 or going to www.1800flyeurope.com.