At the beginning of September in Split, Croatia, a slight chill is already felt. The aroma of ripening figs and pine needles permeates the ancient city center. Residents seem to be happy that the autumn tourist season has begun in Europe.
But this year, their relief may be short-lived.
“Travel to Europe is picking up steam this fall,” says Mandy Pullin, travel consultant with DPP Travel. “Travel providers and consultants are struggling to meet the urgent need for people to leave. Adding to this urgency is that the euro and the dollar are almost exactly the same, making it easier for travelers to see the value of their dollars.”
Airfare and room prices are falling along with the fig leaves in Split and elsewhere, but the dynamics have changed. Demand for travel to Europe remains unseasonally high. And there are wildcards like inconsistent air travel and COVID. All of this may make you wonder if it’s still worth coming to Europe this fall.
Split hopes for a return to “normal” life
Vieran Mlačić, a guide in Split, says the city’s tourism officials are pleased to see visitors return after two years of a slow pandemic. But the tourists keep coming and there is no sign that they are stopping.
The center of Split, with its narrow streets and Roman ruins, is as crowded as ever. In some small aisles, bottlenecks can even bring foot traffic to a complete halt.
“When flights to Split stop,” he says. “everything is back to normal.”
But this year, seasonal flights from European hubs will continue until October. Every year, Mlacic says, the dates are pushed further back. This is what is happening across Europe as interest in tourism remains at an all-time high.
“September is actually busier in Europe than August for the first time in my 22-year career,” says Jack Ezon, managing partner at GO.
Sales were up 34% in September, up 34% in October compared to 2019 and 37% compared to 2018, a new record. Croatia and Montenegro are among its most popular destinations and its clients flock to resorts such as the new One&Only Portonovi“which is probably the best luxury deal in the Mediterranean and amazing,” according to Ezon.
Autumn prices to Europe are lower, but…
- Airfare from the US to Europe is down 24% compared to this summer, with an average savings of $182 per ticket. according to Hopper.
- According to the travel company, hotel occupancy in the region in September is 54%, which is in line with 2019 figures but significantly higher than 2021 figures (31%). Amadeus. Expect some discounts in tourist areas where prices can be as low as $136 a night in places like Mykonos in Greece.
- But the number of short-term rental orders in Europe for the rest of the year is 7% higher than before the pandemic and 36% higher than last year, according to the data. Airdna. September and November are two of the best performing months, with a 10% increase in bookings compared to 2019. Compared to last year, bookings increased by 49% in October.
Demand for travel to Europe is high
Earlier this year, Allianz Partners famously predicted that trips to Europe would increase by 600% in 2022. Apparently, this could happen this summer, and maybe in the fall. There are no reliable forecasts for autumn in Europe. The European Tourism Commission has not published a forecast for autumn, leaving experts to speculate.
“While some expect travel to Europe to remain low compared to pre-pandemic levels, this is still likely to be the busiest fall travel season since 2019,” says Narendra Khatri, Director Insubbuy, travel insurance company. “Also, with so many flights cancelled, the average traveler may feel like they’re busier than ever.”
But when you talk to people in Split, you realize that summer may never end. There is no Labor Day in Croatia, but the streets are still packed with tourists this weekend. On a warm Friday afternoon, you can hear English, French, and German spoken by patrons on the streets and in cafes. August, the traditional holiday month, may be over, but these people apparently haven’t received the note.
How to save money on a trip to Europe this fall
In Europe prices can be deceiving. Croatia, for example, still uses the kuna as its legal currency – it will switch to the euro later this year. But even with the parity of the dollar with the euro, inflation in Europe was high. This means that you can pay more for a hotel, a restaurant meal, and a tour. Here is my complete travel planning guide.
- If you want to save on housing, choose late autumn. That’s when everyone here expects a more significant drop in visitors. But aim carefully. If you get to Europe too early, you will still run into crowds and high prices. Come to Europe too late and too cold to really enjoy nature. Depending on your destination, mid or late October is about as long as you want.
- Restaurants don’t usually cut prices during the off-season, but many European visitors save money by booking vacation accommodations and cooking their own meals. Or they go out of town to find a restaurant outside the tourist areas at a more reasonable price. These are proven strategies that will work this fall.
- When it comes to transportation, one of the best kept secrets is public transportation. It is cheap and reliable in most European countries. So, unless you’re traveling through Alpine villages by car or driving along the coast of Norway, you should check your bus and train options before renting a car.
But face it: Europe has never been a cheap place to travel. You can save a little money due to the favorable exchange rate, but you won’t be able to buy a lock.
Expert Tips for an Autumn Trip to Europe
Here are some expert tips on how to better plan your trip:
Don’t wait to plan your fall trip to Europe
Plan ahead to ensure access to all the sites on your list,” advises Sarah Kramer, director of marketing at Ker and Downey. If you do, you may have more options such as special tours, private villas, river barges and yachts. They fill up quickly, even in autumn.
Yes, COVID is still relevant
This is the assessment of Betsy Ball, co-founder Euro tourist bus. “COVID is still a problem because it is still with us,” she says. But she says that traveling around Europe has become a lot easier than it has been in the past few years. In addition, a negative test is no longer required to enter the US, making your return trip easier.
Give yourself some extra time on earth
“Plan an extra two days before and after your main trip,” advises Marino Cardelli, CEO Discover BellaVita. “I have had many clients whose flights were canceled or delayed. So having extra time before and after makes traveling safer.” This is always sound advice, but with airline delays expected to continue indefinitely this summer, it’s important to stay vigilant. Your trip to Europe could be seriously disrupted this fall.
So should you visit Europe this fall?
With everything going on – high prices, ongoing airline chaos, COVID – should you still be visiting Europe this fall? Absolutely, experts say.
“Autumn is probably the best time to visit Europe,” says Kat Kalashian, Special Projects Manager Live and invest abroad. “The weather is cool and pleasant, like spring, but without spring tourists. All the locals have returned to their daily activities and the children go to school, so there are far fewer people in museums and monuments in general.”
If you are visiting Europe, expect autumn conditions but treat it like summer. Be prepared for flight delays, keep an eye on COVID and keep an eye on your bottom line. COVID has turned everything upside down, including the predictable nature of autumn travel to Europe. At least that’s what they’ll tell you in Split.