Travelers who don’t mind exploring destinations in the off-season can easily score discounted hotel rooms and more appealing flight prices.
But if what you want is to experience a destination like Europe during peak summer — either because the kids are out of school or you have your heart set on balmy Italian beaches — it can be tricky to find attractive airfare.
It is possible, however, to find cheap flights to Europe during the summer months.
Even without a well-honed strategy, airfare to the continent is simply becoming more competitive. New low-cost carriers like WOW Air and Norwegian (and a new player in Austrian airspace, LaudaMotion) are flooding the market with stripped-down tickets.
To help you find the best price on a prime ticket to Europe this summer, we spoke with airfare experts at the farecasting app Hopper, and CheapAir.com for full-proof tips and tricks.
Related: How to Have a Great Summer Vacation
Pick a cheaper time to travel.
Consider traveling on the edges of summer — the first week of June, or after mid-August — and you’ll definitely find less expensive flights, according to Hopper. CheapAir.com also determined that of the summer months, May and August are the least expensive times to fly to Europe.
Reserve tickets in advance.
If you want to travel to Europe during the summer (when, admittedly, everyone else wants to travel to Europe) you definitely can’t procrastinate. “Prices typically rise through the spring and peak in June as summer arrives,” Hopper’s data science team determined. And if you plan on traveling during a summer holiday — Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day — the best fares can typically be found at least three weeks in advance of your departure.
Buy during the Prime Booking Window.
According to a recent airfare study by CheapAir.com, travelers who want to fly during the summer months should be booking flights 47 days in advance of their departure. If you have a very fixed window during which you can travel to Europe, start watching fares 160 days before your flight, which is when the biggest savings are most likely to be found.
Choose a less popular destination.
Airlines can save big (and pass those savings on to you) by flying into less popular airports, meaning it may be worthwhile to fly just a little out of the way if you have your heart set on a destination like Paris or Rome. Travelers can also find less expensive tickets to less-touristed cities like Edinburgh and Prague.
Fly during the week.
If you have the flexibility to fly to Europe on a Wednesday, do it. CheapAir.com found that travelers can save an average of $76 by reserving flights for the least-popular travel day.