updated 3/28/2008 10:57:32 AM ET 2008-03-28T14:57:32

Book by:ASAP
Travel by:Various through September 2008

The deal
With spring finally here and summer just around the corner, it’s time to plan your Mediterranean escape before prices skyrocket. This spectacular coastal region of Europe beckons with its stellar beaches, vibrant cities, and unique history. We found a foursome of exceptional bargains to Mediterranean hotspots, good for departures through fall. Choose between Barcelona, Malta, Greece, or a multi-country tour of Spain, France and Italy. All prices — starting at just $1,199 — include airfare, hotels and more.

Barcelona Bargain from just $1,349
Want to take in the colorful delights of the Med’s star city: Barcelona? With the Virgin Vacations special we found, you can explore the Catalan capital for next to nothing. The six-day city break this spring costs just $1,399 for departures through May 15. This covers airfare from New York and lodging at a conveniently located three-star hotel. For $1,529, you can travel during the summer, between July 17 and August 25. Save even further by waiting till fall: between September 8 and October 25, you can enjoy the same inclusions and mild weather for only $1,349!

Save money in Malta, from $1,199
Want to get off the beaten path? We suggest the historic Mediterranean island of Malta, with its ancient sights and prime beaches. We found a terrific offer by Foreign Independent Tours that bundles round-trip airfare and accommodation from only $1,199. This gets you a breakfast-inclusive five-night sojourn at Victoria Hotel Sliema. Also covered is the flight between New York, D.C. or Boston ($50 extra from Chicago, Miami, S.F. or L.A.). A variety of optional island tours is on offer, too. The quoted price is valid for departures in late September.

Air-Land-Sea Deal to Greece for $2,079
The Greek islands’ peak season will soon kick in, meaning the prices are rising by the minute and deals are selling out. With the Homeric Tours package we spotted, you can go Greek at a bargain price! Their fantastic special for $2,079 gets you a one-off Homeric journey. This package covers your flight from New York; a three-night stay with breakfast at upscale hotel in Athens; a three-night islands cruise; and all transfers. En route, the ship takes in Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, and Rhodes. The low price is valid on several departures through September 1.

Mediterranean Trio from only $2,299
To see several Mediterranean gems in one fell swoop, we recommend the three-country package we found on Virgin Vacations. Priced at only $2,299, this 10-day trip is chockablock with inclusions such as round-trip airfare from New York; a three-night sojourn at a midrange hotel in each of the following cities: Barcelona, Nice and Rome; first-class rail tickets between the destinations; and continental breakfast during your nine-night stay. The quoted price is valid for regular spring departures valid through May 15.

The dollars
The package rates above are listed per person, based on double occupancy. What makes the above deals such great value is the fact they’re valid in the off-season. The Barcelona package is priced at a hefty $1,729 for peak summer departures — that reflects serious savings if you book the $1,319 spring package! Summer trips to Malta will cost you up to a wallet-busting $1,999 so you’re pocketing $800. The Greece holiday is valid for several spring departures (one in late April and two in May) as well as the September 1 departure; the price during the peak summer season goes up to $2,579. As for the Mediterranean journey, $2,769 is the price of peak-season summer departures. The price drops again in the fall — leave in September or October and you’ll pay just $2,329.

The catch
Vacationing crowds included too.

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