Here are the cheapest times of year to travel to Europe

Come summer, travel to Europe will be top of mind for plenty of Americans with vacation on the brain.

But can we afford it? Summers especially can be crowded, hot and packed with tourists driving up rates as locals flee for the countryside and beaches — not really the best time to be visiting.

Plus, this year, there’s an extra level of expense added, with the 2024 Olympics taking Paris for the months of July and August.

Already pricey Paris will be almost untouchable this summer with the arrival of the 2024 Olympics. D. Lentz

And that won’t just impact Paris, but all the destinations like the French wine regions, the Cote d’Azur and even London and Brussels and Amsterdam — all easily accessible by rail and likely to receive plenty of extra visitors.

So you might still be going — but you might be going before or after the summer, this time around. And according to a new study, that’s totally fine.

For example, did you know that Paris can be a pretty good deal, as long as you’re not insisting on the peak travel periods?

The number crunchers at Radical Storage urge travelers not looking to go into heavy debt to select the shoulder season, when visitors can save a whopping average of 60.3% on their hotel stays, one of biggest budget busters on a Paris itinerary, where peak season nightly rates averaged $866.

Wait until shoulder season and see those same rates plummet to $344, the research revealed. That’s a discount of $522.

Shoulder seasons can vary by destination, but are by definition the times between peak and off-peak. And, most importantly, unlike during low season, the weather isn’t terrible. (If you’ve spent a winter in Paris, you know that’s an issue.)

Shoulder season travel to Budapest can save you a hefty amount of money on flights. RudyBalasko
Copenhagen is another city where shoulder season travel can save you a princely sum. Jan Kostelnik

“Shoulder season is the period before or after peak season but not yet the off-season. For example, many European destinations have a very busy summer (July/August) but May, June, September, and October may be considered shoulder season (it varies per destination), while January could be considered the off-season or low season,” the study stated.

“Visiting destinations in shoulder season usually means lower costs and lower crowds, while still keeping good enough weather for tourism.”

To find the best times to travel to Europe, the study pored over data from Google Flights and prices for thousands of hotels. Besides beaucoup bargain boltholes in Paris, they also found that flights to Budapest in the off-season sank to 56.6% of peak season highs, Thrillist reported.

And while Budapest had the best drop in prices, it was far from the best deal, overall — peak pricing for cities like Stockholm from the States averaged about $778, according to the study, and $537 during shoulder season — a drop of 30.9 percent.

As part of the study’s findings, the authors compiled a list of the best shoulder season month to visit a selection of cities around the world. Here are their picks for many of Europe’s most popular destinations.

The cheapest time of year to visit these European cities

  • Athens – April
  • Barcelona – April
  • Brussels – April
  • Copenhagen – April
  • Florence – April
  • Frankfurt – April
  • Milan – April
  • Munich – April
  • Prague – April
  • Venice – April
  • Vienna – April
  • Berlin – May
  • Edinburgh – May
  • Madrid – September
  • Nice – September
  • Amsterdam – October
  • Budapest – October
  • Dublin – October
  • Lisbon – October
  • London – October
  • Paris – October
  • Stockholm – October
  • Zurich – October
  • Rome – November