'Off the beaten track' holiday destinations with 'picturesque' views and 'cheapest' deals – Express
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Bulgaria and Croatia have long been popular with British travellers, but there are plenty of other holiday hotspots to explore in the southern Balkans. Whether you’re on the hunt for a winter getaway or are planning ahead for an affordable summer holiday, the Southern Balkans offer a “refreshing” insight into the lesser-visited European region. Express.co.uk spoke to travel experts Tim Hentschel and Joshua Dunne who shared the best deals and destinations to guarantee value for money.
Tim Hentschel, Co-Founder and CEO of leading UK-based booking platform HotelPlanner.com said: “Destinations in the Southern Balkans offer a refreshing and affordable option for those looking to get the best value for their travel whilst also experiencing a culture different to the traditional offerings of beach resorts in Western Europe.
“From the azure waters of the Adriatic coastline to the picturesque mountains of Romania, there are so many things to see and discover. The main reason destinations in the Southern Balkans are considered cheaper than those in Western Europe is the cost of living, notably the affordability of food and drink when compared to the likes of Spain, Germany, France, the Netherlands and particularly the Scandinavian countries.”
Low prices in the likes of North Macedonia and Croatia are a result of several social and economical factors, according to Joshua Dunne, CEO of travelplanbooker.com.
He explained that good political stability and European Union membership has led many investors to build hotels, resorts and holiday apartments in these regions over the last few
READ MORE: Barcelona hikes tourism tax – ‘quality over quantity’These countries have also found that the tourism industry can be lucrative, and therefore people are now schooled in English or German languages to support the increased number of tourists.
When it comes to visiting “off the beaten track” destinations on the Balkan peninsula, you can expect lower booking fees, excursions and much cheaper beer than what you’ll find in Western Europe.
Tim recommended planning your trip for winter to get the “cheapest” deals in line with the “off-season”. He said: “The Southern Balkans are no different to their European counterparts when you consider the fact the price hikes in the summer and during holiday periods.
“A week-long trip to a four-star hotel in Split, Croatia, for two adults in February can be purchased for approximately £550 per person with flights included via British Airways. The price per person jumps to £1,156 for the same arrangements in August!”
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He added that “the single best way to save money on travel” is to book all flights and hotel reservations for the entire calendar year “as early as possible”.
This will not only ensure availability but will act as a hedge against inflation and ongoing cost increases which could see your winter holiday travel costs soar if you wait until later in the year.
Tim recommended booking flights and hotels during non-peak hours, for example, at 6am or midnight on Saturday or Sunday, when there is less real-time competition.
He noted: “Airline and hotel prices are fluid and dynamic and can change by the minute. Booking during non-peak hours can save you a lot of money.”
READ MORE: Dubai scraps alcohol tax in ‘very welcome move’In terms of cost, Josh advised that prices can vary considerably depending on your departure dates.
For example, flights from London to Skopje and then Dubrovnik, travelling on April 6, 2023, and returning to London on April 11, can cost around £300 to £350.
However, by choosing a departure date of April 7, Good Friday, and returning on Easter Sunday or Monday, the same three flights will cost around £500 to £700.
Fortunately, hotel prices are slightly more stable. Josh said: “Based on 2022 data (within Europe), it’s cheaper to fly on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday than on the weekend, especially Friday and Sunday where prices are generally the highest. Customers can expect to save up to 30 percent by adopting this strategy.”
Some of the best destinations in Western Europe include:
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