One ever-reliable option is off-peak city breaks. Popular destinations can get way too popular, and crowded sites and interminable queues can easily spoil the experience (if you've ever been to Venice in the summer, you’ll know exactly what we mean…). Narrow, picturesque streets can quickly lose their charm when you're pushed this way and that by the crowds, and you may fail to see the romance in queuing for an hour in the baking heat to get into a museum or paying way over the odds for your lunch.
So, why not try visiting somewhere like Rome, Florence, or Venice in winter? While everybody else goes skiing or chasing the winter sun, experience the best of Italy for less. You’ll find much cheaper flights and accommodation, far fewer crowds at all the sites and museums, and there are countless cozy bars and restaurants to warm up in if the temperature drops too much. The same applies to the likes of Prague or Amsterdam they’re equally gorgeous all-year round but much easier to move around in off-season.
Next up, the mountains. Love the spectacular scenery but skiing leaves you, er, cold? How about re-scheduling that Colorado trip to the summer? Take adventurous treks, fill your lungs with pure mountain air and save cash at the same time. The same goes for European skiing destinations in places like Austria—on a summer visit you can savor the spectacular scenery, enjoy the good weather, and cut the cost of flights and accommodation.
Or why not experience the best of Morocco off-season? Browse the souks in Marrakech or Fez, enjoy a spot of wind surfing in Essaouira or explore the Atlas mountains, all the while avoiding the crowds and saving those cents. On a similar theme, the Greek islands can be baking hot (and very expensive) in the summer months, and subject to torrential downpours in the winter. But if you time it right in between, you can pick up some real deals and have your pick of the choice spots on the beach, and the best tables in the taverna. You might have to dodge a couple of showers here and there, but your wallet will definitely thank you for it.
It’s worth bearing in mind that in smaller places some restaurants and hotels may be closed off-season, so it’s a good idea to check in advance. Closer to home—and where you definitely won’t have to worry about things like that—are exciting city break destinations such as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. If you’re planning a shopping and sightseeing trip, January and February are quiet months following the Christmas frenzy and can be the perfect time to pick up some great hotel deals.
So, there you go—a few ideas to get you thinking. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for those great coupon deals out there at websites like Expedia, Travelocity and Airbnb—often a great way to grab an unexpected bargain. Bon voyage!