There is already a slight chill in the air in Split, Croatia, in early September. The aroma of ripe figs and pine needles permeates the old city center. Residents seem relieved that the fall travel season has begun in Europe.
But this year, your relief may be short-lived.
“Travel to Europe this fall is booming,” says Mandy Pullin, travel advisor at DPP Travel. “Travel providers and advisors are struggling to meet people’s intense need to get away. Adding to that urgency is the fact that the euro and the dollar are almost one to one, so travelers can more easily see the value of their dollars.”
Airfares and room rates are falling like fig leaves in Split and elsewhere, but the dynamic has changed. The demand for travel to Europe remains unusually high. And there are the wild cards, like inconsistent air service and COVID. All of that may make you wonder if Europe is still worth visiting this fall.
In Split, hope for a return to “normal”
Vjeran Mlačić, a tour guide in Split, says the city’s tourism officials are pleased to have visitors back after two slower years of the pandemic. But the tourists have kept coming and there is no sign of them stopping.
Split’s city center, with its narrow streets and Roman ruins, is busier than ever. In some of the smaller corridors, bottlenecks can even bring pedestrian traffic to a standstill.
“When the flights to Split stop,” he says. “Things are back to normal.”
But this year, seasonal flights from European hubs will continue until October. Every year, says Mlačić, the dates are pushed further back. It is something that is happening throughout Europe, as interest in tourism remains at record levels.
“September is actually busier in Europe than August for the first time in my 22-year career,” says Jack Ezon, Managing Partner of EMBARK Beyond.
Sales were up 34% in September, and October was up 34% from 2019 and 37% from 2018, a new record. Croatia and Montenegro are among the most popular destinations, with their clients flocking to resorts like the new One&Only Portonovi, “which is probably the best luxury value in the Mediterranean and amazing,” according to Ezon.
Drop prices to Europe are lower, but…
- Airfares from the United States to Europe are down 24% since this summer, an average savings of $182 per ticket, according to Hopper.
- Hotel occupancy in the region in September is 54%, on par with 2019 performance but well above 2021 (31%), according to travel technology company Amadeus. Expect some discounts in tourist areas, where rates can be up to $136 a night lower in places like Mykonos, Greece.
- But bookings for short-term rentals in Europe for the rest of the year are pacing 7% higher than pre-pandemic levels and 36% higher than last year, according to Airdna. September and November are the two best performing months, with booking growth of 10% over 2019. Compared to last year, October sees booking growth of 49%.
Demand is high to travel to Europe
Earlier this year, Allianz Partners predicted that travel to Europe would increase 600% by 2022. By all accounts, that may have happened this summer, and it may be true for the fall as well. There are no reliable predictions for autumn in Europe. The European Travel Commission has not released a forecast for the fall, leaving experts to speculate.
“While some expect travel volume to Europe to remain low compared to pre-pandemic levels, it is likely to remain the busiest fall travel season since 2019,” says Narendra Khatri, director of Insubuy, a travel insurance company. “Also, with so many canceled flights, it can feel like it’s busier than ever to the average traveler.”
But talking to people in Split, you get the idea that summer may never end. There is no Labor Day in Croatia, but the streets are still packed with tourists this weekend. On a warm Friday afternoon, you can hear English, French, and German spoken by visitors on the streets and in the cafe. August, the traditional vacation month, may be over, but apparently these folks didn’t get the memo.
How to save money on a trip to Europe this fall
In Europe, prices can be misleading. Croatia, for example, still uses the kuna as legal tender; switch to the euro at the end of this year. But even with the dollar on par with the euro, inflation in Europe has been high. That means you can pay more for your hotel, restaurant meal, and tour. Here is my complete guide on planning a trip.
- If you want to save on accommodation, aim for late fall. That’s when everyone here expects a more significant drop in visitors. But aim carefully. If you arrive in Europe too early, you’ll still face crowds and high prices. You arrive in Europe too late and it’s too cold to really enjoy the outdoors. Depending on your destination, mid to late October is the latest you’ll want to go.
- Restaurants don’t often lower their rates in the off-season, but many visitors to Europe save money by booking a vacation rental and cooking for themselves. Or they venture out of town to find a more reasonably priced restaurant outside the tourist areas. These are tried and true strategies that will work this fall.
- When it comes to transportation, one of the best secrets is public transportation. It is cheap and reliable in most European countries. So unless you’re touring Alpine towns by car or driving along Norway’s coast, you’ll want to check bus and train options before renting a car.
But face it: Europe has never been a cheap travel destination. you can save some money due to the favorable exchange rate, but you will not be able to buy a castle.
Expert tips for your autumn trip to Europe
Here are some expert tips on how to plan a better trip:
Don’t wait to plan your autumn trip to Europe
Plan ahead to ensure access to all the sites on your list,” advises Sara Kramer, director of marketing for Ker & Downey. If you do, you may have more options, such as special tours, private villas, river barges, and more. yachts. Those are filling up fast, even during the fall.
Yes, COVID is still a problem.
That is the assessment of Betsy Ball, co-founder of Euro Travel Coach. “COVID is still a problem because it’s still with us,” she says. But she says it’s much easier to travel to Europe than it has been in recent years. Additionally, the US no longer requires a negative test to enter, making it easier for you to travel back.
Give yourself extra time on the floor
“Plan two extra days before and after the main trip,” advises Marino Cardelli, CEO of Experience BellaVita. “I’ve had many clients whose flights were canceled or delayed. So having extra time before and after makes for a safer trip.” That’s always good advice, but with airline delays this summer expected to continue indefinitely, it’s essential not to let your guard down. Your trip to Europe could be seriously affected this fall.
So should you visit Europe this fall?
With everything going on (high prices, ongoing airline chaos, COVID), should you visit Europe this fall? Absolutely, experts say.
“Fall is probably the best time to visit Europe,” says Kat Kalashian, special projects manager for Live and Invest Overseas. “The weather is cool and nice, much like spring but without all the spring tourists. All the locals are back to their routines and the kids are in school, so the museums and monuments are much less crowded overall.” “.
If you visit Europe, expect fall conditions, but treat it like summer. Prepare for airline delays, keep an eye on COVID, and keep an eye on your results. COVID has turned everything upside down, including the predictable nature of fall travel to Europe. At least, that’s what they’ll tell you in Split.