Image: Romania
Rupert Wolfe-murray  /  AP file
A view of traditional buildings in Miclosoara, Romania. Take in the best of the country with Continental Journeys' eight-night land-only tour for $1,099, with lodging, meals, and tours (to Bucharest, Transylvania, and beyond) included.
updated 3/6/2008 9:57:51 AM ET 2008-03-06T14:57:51

Travel by: Spring/fall 2008

The deal
The weak state of the dollar against the euro has become a major deterrent to traveling abroad. But there are ways to stretch your greenback in Europe this year — you just have to know where to go. Several countries have yet to enter the EU or adopt its currency, and you might be surprised at just how affordable they are, even after the exchange rate. So, while Paris, Rome, and Madrid command top dollar this year, you'll save by visiting Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, and more.

Romania holidays from $1,099
Romania, an Eastern European country that has reinvented itself of late, is already known for "spooky" but appealing Transylvania (the alleged home of Lord Dracula) and the scenic Danube Delta, but its capital of Bucharest, dubbed “the Paris of the East”, is equally captivating. Take in the best of the country with Continental Journeys' eight-night land-only tour for $1,099, with lodging, meals, and tours (to Bucharest, Transylvania, and beyond) included.

Bulgaria bargains from $1,159
Another non-euro destination that’s hot on the tourist circuit these days is Bulgaria, a country whose highlights include Sofia, one of Europe’s oldest capitals; a string of Black Sea beach towns; and pristine mountain villages. Discover the capital with the three-night escape offered by Austrian Airlines Vacations for $1,159 (good for travel March 21–May 15) and get lodging at the Hilton; buffet breakfast daily; and flight from N.Y., Chicago or D.C.

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Poland package for $1,579
Poland has been a member of the EU since 2004 but, luckily for U.S. travelers wanting to visit this history-rich country, it’s still on the local Polish zloty. We suggest you check it out before the euro switchover, while it remains affordable. Another terrific Austrian Airlines Vacations package will get you to Poland’s two major cities — the cultural capital of Krakow and Warsaw, the country's official capital — for $1,579 this spring (March 21-May 15). It covers air from New York, Chicago or D.C.; six nights’ lodging with daily breakfast in a four-star hotel (three nights in each city); and rail transfer between the destinations.

Croatia trip for just $1,598
Despite its non-euro economy, Croatia is admittedly not the ideal place to stretch your dollar — its booming popularity has generated a hefty price hike across the land. But here’s a money-saving tip: While summer is high season in this Adriatic beauty, going in spring or fall will save you a serious bundle. We spotted a land-only package by Picasso Tours that gets you nine days in Croatia for $1,598, with several departures through early November. This covers first-class lodging for eight nights; meals; and a variety of sightseeing tours (the famed seaside town of Dubrovnik and the picturesque national park of Plitvice are the highlights).

Other affordable trips to non-Euro countries
Slovakia
Hungary
Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia)
Switzerland

The dollars
The rates above are listed per person, based on double occupancy; see specific details on what they include. Aside from the sheer good-value prices of these deals, you'll also nab extra savings by visiting before (and after) the summer high-season. For the best of Romania package, you'll get the best value by picking May 23 and September 19 departures. For the Sofia city steal (in Bulgaria), you'll save $360 by going before May 15. The two-city Poland package is $240 less in spring than summer (but rates do go down again after September 8). As for Croatia, we recommend visiting in May or October, when airfare is considerably lower and the temperatures are still pleasant.

The catch
While land-only packages are definitely less-expensive in these destinations than in their euro-based counterparts, the cost of flying here (for the packages that don't include air) will definitely eat into your travel budget. Book fast for best fares.

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