Image: Athens, Greece
Petros Giannakouris  /  AP
Want to walk on the cobblestoned streets of Athens and see the ancient Parthenon? For a Greek vacation, consider the Athens flight/lodging bundle available through Air France starting at just $1,309.
updated 9/3/2008 10:00:22 AM ET 2008-09-03T14:00:22

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Various dates through November 2008

The deal
We love the idea of a trip to Europe this fall, but shudder at the thought of going into debt as a result. Fortunately, as summer wanes, so do the prices — not to mention the crowds, making autumn an all-around savvy time to visit. We searched for a combination of spirit-bolstering/non-billfold-flattening travel options between September and November. What we found: Reductions of up to $900 on cruises, savings of at least $500 on air/lodging packages compared to high season, and discounts of up to 25 percent on hotels. Excursions start at just $699!

Mediterranean cruise from only $699
If you like to tour by water, we suggest this seven-night expedition on Norwegian Cruise Line. The Norwegian Gem cruises four times in October from Barcelona with four international stops. Valletta, Malta, is the first port of call after a day at sea, followed by three Italian destinations: Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Livorno (Florence and Pisa). Villefranche-Sur-Mer in France is slated for the seventh day before returning to port in Spain. Sail October 12 for discounts of up to 56 percent. Interior cabins, normally tagged at $1,599, start at $699. Oceanview rooms are just $150 more ($849). Your next best bet is the October 26 departure, when inside rooms start at $749 and balcony accommodations are priced $1,099 and up.

Amsterdam vacation from just $899
Fancy a four-night getaway in Holland? Virgin Vacations’ Amsterdam city break offer is perfect for a stroll around the picturesque canals, indulging in hours of Van Gogh and Rembrandt and sating your sweet tooth with pannekoeken. Round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations for four nights and continental breakfast daily are included in the package. The base cost of the trip, when traveling November 16–December 11 from Boston, is $899. If you can’t wait that long, November 1–15 prices are only slightly higher, starting at $949. Flying between September 17 and October 31 raises rates to $999.

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Go Greek with Athens deal from $1,309
For a Greek vacation, consider this Athens flight/lodging bundle available through Air France starting at just $1,309. The package includes round-trip air, lodging s for six nights and continental breakfast daily. The quote is based on a tourist-category hotel and travel from Philadelphia between September 5 and October 31. If you prefer to island hop, the airline is offering a nine-night trip — three nights each in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, with transfers between the destinations — from $2,079. That rate, based on round-trip travel from Philadelphia, is valid October 1–20. Hotel taxes and services charges, as well as airline fuel surcharges are included in the package price, but airport fees and taxes are not.

Danube discovery from $1,849
Take in the castles, wineries and medieval towns along the banks of the Danube on Uniworld’s seven-night river cruise. The River Countess has four autumn sailings between Vienna and Nuremburg from September 28 to November 16, traveling in alternate direction every other outing. Departing from Vienna, the ship makes its way through Austria’s Wachau Valley, stopping in Krems and Melk. After crossing into Germany, it anchors in Passau and Regensburg before arriving in Nuremburg. Each port of call includes excursions led by English-speaking guides. Riverview cabins on the September 28 and October 19 journeys begin at $2,199. You’ll save $350 by booking on the October 26 and November 16 cruises, when starting rates drop to $1,849.

Free nights in Madrid, Valencia
Hoping to rest your head in the lap of luxury during an upcoming Spanish holiday? If so, splurge on accommodations at select Westin properties in Spain, then sleep for free. The Westin Palace Madrid is offering one night at no charge when you book three to five nights. You’ll get two nights free when you buy four for a six-night stay. And you’ll save 25 percent on a reservation of five nights or longer. Prices at the hotel, which Travel+Leisure included in its 2008 Top 50 in Europe list, are from €219 per night ($341). The Westin Valencia is also participating in the Starwood promo with an added incentive: 20 percent off a two-night stay. Plugging in the details for a midweek stay in mid-October, we found rates from €143 per night (about $224). Valid arrival dates vary with each promo.

The dollars
Cruise and package rates are quoted per person. Cruises exclude port charges and taxes. Packages exclude airline taxes, fees and surcharges. All quotes are based on double occupancy. See above for other details.

The catch
Despite these savings, with the exchange rate as it is, expect to drop substantial cash while abroad.

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