The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, three nights' accommodations, and a six-night car rental with unlimited mileage, from $989 per person—plus an estimated $139 in taxes.
When: Departs daily Oct. 27-Dec. 11, 2008, and Jan. 7-March 19, 2009.
Gateways: New York City; add $50 for Atlanta, $70 for Minneapolis, $90 for Miami, $180 for Portland, and $190 for L.A.; additional cities available.
The fine print: Does not include taxes of $139 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $310. There may be a $50 surcharge for travel Thursday through Sunday. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; no visa is required. Includes round-trip airfare, three nights' accommodations with breakfast daily in Amsterdam, hotel taxes and fees, and a six-night economy-class, two- or four-door manual-transmission rental car with insurance and unlimited mileage. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: Aug. 4, 2008.
Contact: EuropeASAP, 415/750-5449, europeasap.com.
Why it's a deal: A recent Kayak search produced a $709 round-trip fare between New York City and Amsterdam in late October (United/Lufthansa). If you booked a car independently for six nights, the price would be about $116 per person. For an additional $303 per person, including taxes, EuropeASAP covers airfare and a rental car as well as three nights of accommodations in Amsterdam and saves you the time of booking this trip's elements separately.
Trip details: The Netherlands Holiday package begins with an overnight flight (on an airline such as United or Delta) to Amsterdam. The HEM Hotel, your base for three nights, will provide complimentary shuttle service from the airport.
The 216-room hotel has modern decor and offers breakfast; there's also a bar and a lounge. It's in the southwest part of the city, near the World Trade Center, a beautifully designed building. Other popular attractions, especially for first-time visitors, include the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, and the city's historic canals and bridges. Then, of course, there's the rollicking nightlife and liberal attitudes of Amsterdam's red-light district.
You won't have a car while in Amsterdam, but the GVB, the city's public transportation service, can help. A single journey costs about €1.60, or $2.50 at press time.
After your three-night stay, you'll pick up your rental car and begin the road-trip part of your journey. Included in the package is an economy-class 2-or-4 door car with a manual transmission; upgrade to an automatic for $70 per person. You'll have the car for six nights and can head in whatever direction you'd like to explore most. A good resource for B&B listings is bedandbreakfast.com.
One area you could visit is Utrecht, about 45 minutes by car from Amsterdam. Here you can view more canals, plus the Gothic spire of Domtoren, the tallest cathedral tower in the Netherlands. Leiden, a picturesque town with canals, windmills, and several museums, is also within a short drive. Delft, Rotterdam, The Hague, and even a drive across the border into Belgium could be fit into a weeklong itinerary.
Can't get enough? There is no fee to extend the flight dates.
The trip's dates are during low season in Amsterdam, so you will avoid crowds of tourists. In October and November, the fall foliage will be beautiful, and temperatures will range between the low 40s and the upper 50s.