November 19, 2003 -- Europe may look at first glance like a continent of cities, but that's not the case. Europe still has towering forests, untouched villages and rolling, rural hills. The Highlands of Scotland, for instance, only have 8.4 people per square mile -- they're emptier than Colorado.
In general, though, you need a car to explore Europe's open spaces and secret places. Enter 1-800-Fly-Europe, a favorite discounter of ours; they're offering three-day discounted fly-drive packages that are competitive with the cheapest discounted air fares and car rentals.
The prices below are for travel between now and March 31, except between Dec. 15 and 24, and they're per person, before taxes, with midweek flights, based on two people traveling. Expect weekend flights to add $50 or $60 to the price, and expect taxes to run up to $240 per couple; then again, you suffer those taxes with everybody's deals.
The car you'll get for this low price is pretty basic: a tiny, manual-transmission, four-passenger vehicle. It'll get great gas mileage, though, which is important on a continent where "petrol" runs $4 a gallon. The following grid shows only some of the many locations these guys are selling airfares from:
|New York||Boston||DC||Miami||Los Angeles|
Why drive near these particular cities? Obviously, driving in all of these cities is a nightmare. But the Ardennes are a quick drive from Brussels. Munich is a gateway to the Romantic Road castles, and Milan, Zurich and Geneva all give you access to the villages of the Alps. Ireland is a small country with a rather spare rail network; you can get anywhere in Ireland in a few hours, as long as you have a car. The Cotswolds, near London, are best seen with a car, as are the villages of Brittany relatively near Paris. Flying into Madrid, meanwhile, lets you tool around Andalusia with your own vehicle.
1-800-Fly-Europe can also set you up in a bigger car, or with a car that isn't rented from your point of origin. For instance, if you want to fly into London, take the train to Edinburgh and tool around the Highlands by auto before returning to London by train, they'll get you a great price for that.
If these prices appeal to you, book by Nov. 28 at www.1800flyeurope.com or by calling 800/359-3876.
If you have questions or your own comments about this company, jump into the discussion on our Message Boards by clicking here.