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The best spring Europe deals

Demand for Europe travel is rising along with the costs of airfare and lodging, which makes snagging a fantastic spring bargain all the more crucial. These some of the best Europe deals this season.
/ Source: Independent Traveler

Spring is perhaps the best season to travel to Europe, for a number of reasons: the weather's temperate, Europe's massive summer crowds have yet to arrive, and, of course, there are those spring deals. From discounted flights to cheap cruises, shoulder-season Europe deals abound each spring. But this year, demand for Europe travel is rising along with the costs of airfare and lodging, which, for budget travelers, makes snagging a fantastic spring Europe bargain all the more crucial.

If you've already checked prices for summertime transatlantic flights, we don't need to tell you that you're looking at jaw-dropping four-digit roundtrip fares. Couple this with an unfavorable exchange rate and the cost of a European vacation can become, well, a bit frightening. One solution to the airlines' summer price gouging is to travel during spring, in April, May and early June, before most fares reach the $1,000 mark. You can also take advantage of limited-time spring sales — like the excellent airfare, hotel, train and cruise deals listed here. These spring bargains, handpicked by our travel editors, are some of the best Europe deals we've found this season.

Spring fares to Europe from $226 one way
Lufthansa's spring Europe saleincludes departures from 11 U.S. cities to gateways across the Continent. Fly to cities like London, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Paris, Frankfurt and more from April through June. With its wide span of travel dates and numerous departure and destination cities, this offer is a good choice for travelers who are looking for a little more flexibility when booking their airfare. Expires May 3

Two-for-one fares on Viking River Cruises
Book a cruise with cruise with Viking River Cruises through the end of April and receive two cruises for the price of one, up to a 50 percent discount on airfare for two people and free wine with dinners onboard. This sale includes all 2010 Europe river cruises in addition to cruises in China and Egypt. Discounted cruises include a seven-night Rhine River sailing, a seven-night cruise through the South of France, a 10-night "Passage to Eastern Europe" cruise and even a nine-night Oberammergau Passion Play Danube sailing. Expires April 30

6-night Prague package with air from $799
This six-night Prague package from Europe Vacations is a steal at $799 per person (plus taxes and fees, which amount to roughly $150 per person). The package includes roundtrip airfare from select cities, six nights' accommodations and daily breakfast — all for practically the price of a plane ticket. You also have the option to upgrade your package by adding extras like a car rental, city tours or airport transfers for an additional cost when you book. Rates are cheapest for travel in April and early May, but the package price goes up to $1,149 per person for departures in June, July and August. Expires April 23

Europe flights: $684 RT with taxes and fees
This spring Europe fare sale from Alitalia includes warm-weather flights starting at $684 roundtrip — including all taxes and fees. Fares are valid for travel through the end of May, and destinations include Venice, Athens, Milan and Rome. We did some searching on the Alitalia Web site and actually found some cheaper flights than those advertised in the deal, including a roundtrip flight from New York to Milan in early May for $644.10 including all taxes and fees — so this sale is definitely worth a look. Expires April 20

Get a free day of travel with British Rail Pass
Traveling to the U.K.? Buy a BritRail or BritRail England Pass or Guest Pass this month and get an extra day of travel for free with this special offer from Rail Europe.BritRail Passes cover travel on the U.K.'s national rail networks (which include travel to Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland) for a certain number of days, depending on which level pass you select. The BritRail England Pass only covers travel throughout England, but it's slightly cheaper than the BritRail Pass. Expires April 29

Fly from New York to Europe from $279 one way
Delta is offering discounted spring sale fares from New York's Kennedy Airport to select cities in Europe, including Barcelona, Dublin, Nice, Venice and Rome. Flights start at $279 each way for travel from April through May or June, depending on where you're flying. In general, the earlier in the season you travel, the less you'll pay for your flight. The cheapest flights we found through this sale were last-minute April departures. Expires April 19

Save 50 percent on last-minute international weekend stays
Every Tuesday, All Seasons Hotels posts a last-minute special on its Web site that features half off a two-night weekend stay at select hotels around the world. The offer posted on Tuesday is valid for the coming weekend, which makes this deal especially advantageous for procrastinating travelers who still haven't booked their accommodations. All Seasons Hotels has properties in France, Germany and the U.K. (in addition to Australia and Asia), including seven hotels in Paris. Expires May 15

7-night western Mediterranean cruise from $649 plus onboard credit
Set sail on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas on May 16 and visit a host of western Mediterranean destinations — all within a week. This seven-night sailing includes port calls in Naples, Rome, Florence, Toulon and Marseilles. Since the ship sails roundtrip from Barcelona, there's no need to book an open-jaw flight (which, on most airlines, is a lot more expensive than a roundtrip flight). Plus, this offer includes up to $200 in onboard credit, depending on cabin category booked. Expires April 26

30th anniversary offer: Save 30 percent at International Hotels
If you've stayed at a Swisshotel resort before, you're eligible to save 30 percent on any international Swisshotel stay in 2010. Swisshotel has resorts in London, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Geneva, Zurich, Berlin, Basel and a few other European cities, as well as properties in Asia, Australia and Latin America. Swisshotel is a luxury chain, and base rates aren't cheap. While we've seen rates as low 107 euros (for a May weeknight stay at Swisshotel Dusseldorf), base rates at other properties aren't usually this cheap and can cost upwards of 300 euros per night. But knock 30 percent off the base rate and you can experience Swisshotel's luxury amenities, which include soundproof rooms, flat-screen TVs, fitness centers, free Internet and more, for a reasonable price. Expires December 31

May Europe flights from $239 one way
Through April 21, Aer Lingus flights to dozens of gateways in Europe start at just $239 each way for travel this May. These fares don't necessitate a roundtrip purchase and can be booked a la carte, which makes them a great option for anyone taking trip that requires an open-jaw flight. Keep in mind that this sale require a 30-day advance purchase, so it's already too late for last-minute travelers looking to visit Europe in early May to book. Expires April 21