Best travel websites for planning a European vacation?by david daly on 03/30/12
QUESTION: Dear Dave- We are going to Europe again in June on a cruise of the Baltic. I was wondering if you could help lead me in the right direction for making our travel arrangements. I am going to look for hotels in Stockholm and Copenhagen and flights to go with these locations. Are there particular websites/airlines that you would suggest I look into?
RESPONSE: Hi Joan- I have not yet been to Stockholm but Copenhagen is wonderful and the best part about Scandinavia is that almost everyone can speak English. For hotels in cities I have become a big fan of www.Hotels.com because they always seem to have the best available price (often even lower than the individual hotel website), you can view your search on a map to select exactly where you want to stay in each city, they have an excellent reward program (FREE night after 10 nights), and they clearly state the cancelation policy etc. I always cross reference a hotels.com selection with www.tripadvisor.com to make sure the hotel is highly recommended. On tripadvisor- I pay more attention to the overall rating (I like to see more than 60% of ratings fall in the excellent or very good category) rather than individual reviews. The individual reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt- there are ALWAYS some complainers- so they are more useful to check that the location was convenient or that the amenities were as advertised- like free wifi or breakfast included.
For flights- the best European site is www.bravofly.com because they search all airlines including the low cost carriers that are often omitted from sites like Expedia and Travelocity. Often there are nonstop options on the discount airlines, while the national carriers require layovers through their hub city. Just be aware of the baggage restrictions on the discount airlines and boarding procedures. If the prices and route are on par with a national carrier (like SAS, KLM, British Airways, or Lufthansa) then go with the name brand airline because its almost always a better flying experience.
Copenhagen is linked to Sweden via a train that goes over a series of bridges across the sea to Malmo, Sweden on the southern tip. The crossing takes about 40 minutes and there are hourly trains making this journey, so if you are exploring southern parts of Sweden you can make the journey from Stockholm to Copenhagen via Malmo without taking a flight. Trains area great option for shorter trips and you usually do not need to purchase tickets ahead of time.
Have a great trip and please let me know if you have any other questions!