Whether the dollar is up or down, the wanderlust is always high.
With the ongoing decline of the loonie, Canadians are presented with creative opportunities to fulfill our craving to travel with the challenge of a low Canadian dollar – one that hasn’t been this low since 2002. On one hand, the drop has allowed us to explore our own great Canadian backyard, and use this period as a time to save up for that big trip, or use vacation time for a much needed relaxing staycation.
But for the number of us with the incurable desire to cross the pond for the long, sun-drenched days of summer; to watch the sun set over the Eiffel Tower, to weave through bike traffic in Amsterdam, enjoy a siesta on the beach in Spain, the time to see Europe is now. So, to those who know who you are, here are five ways for the intrepid traveller to see Europe and save with the current Canadian dollar:
Take advantage of great flight deals
We swear by the adage, when you've found a good deal, book it - so don't wait. There are plenty of good deals to be found here and elsewhere. With daily service to some of Europe’s most popular destinations, getting there is easier than ever. Air Canada have the most daily non-stop flights from across Canada to London, and with the new summer service to London Gatwick with Air Canada rouge, the deals just got even better. Air Canada also ramp up the service from Toronto and Montreal to Paris during the summer, from June to September which is a great opportunity to take advantage of those stopovers. (Ask our Travel Experts about multi-stop fares and rack up those frequent flyer points while you're at it.)
England and Ireland
Take advantage of our Air Canada and British Airways multi-stop flight deal to London and Dublin out of Toronto or Vancouver. For the explorer that travels in the pursuit of adventure, culture, history, and nightlife, London and Dublin are absolute essentials. Set some time aside to rent a car to fully explore Ireland’s castles, abbeys, Giant’s Causeway in the north, and the Cliffs of Moher in the west.
Visit cities that are inexpensive to travel
While the cost of the euro is currently at an all-time high, not all cities were made equal. Some of the greatest cities and hidden gems in Europe, like Berlin and Lisbon, have been known to be comparably less expensive to travel through - from food to accommodations to attractions.
Lisbon’s sun-drenched landscape of Moorish architecture, buzzing sidewalk cafes, and winding cafes serenaded by the sound of a fado, blends old-world charm with modern luxury. Travelling Lisbon is not just easy on the eyes but also easy on the wallet. Many of the museums are free to tour on certain days of the week and discount cards are available for reduced fares on public transportation. Enjoy a glass of wine for just a euro or two and indulge in fresh seafood fare at a great value.
Visit a European country that doesn’t use the euro
Possibly one of the most obvious ways to travel Europe on a low dollar is to travel parts of the continent that simply don’t use the euro. Save on exchange rates by visiting countries like the Czech Republic, Turkey, and Croatia. Not only will the local currencies take your Canadian dollar further than the euro, but these destinations are also less expensive to travel.
The best things in Prague are free. From the enchanting skyline of dramatic peaks and curves that form Prague’s medieval castles, colourful buildings, and Gothic churches, cultural sites like the Dancing House and some grounds and gardens of the Prague Castle are also free. Prague, the City of a Hundred Spires, uses the koruna which currently exchanges at $0.056 Canadian per one Czech Republic koruna. So while you can save with the current rates, you can also double up on the savings at this wallet-friendly capital.
Visit during shoulder season
If the time of year is not a factor in making decisions for your travel plans, consider travelling during shoulder season – generally, March, April, and October – for a significant drop in airfares, hotels, and attractions. High season in Europe tends to be during Christmas and summer, when kids are out of school and travellers have time off work. Some destinations like Amsterdam in the early spring during the start of tulip season, as well as Iceland in the winter, can actually be more satisfying outside of the summertime. On top of that, the locals are back out mingling and enjoying their city and the top tourist draws are less crowded for a more relaxed, authentic experience.
Known as the land of fire and ice, Iceland is a captivating landscape of explosive geysers, geothermal hot springs, black sandy beaches, and stunning waterfalls. Whimsical folk tales, friendly locals, and a long list of budget-friendly sights and attractions to experience make Iceland worth a visit year-round. But one of the best times to visit Iceland happen to fall during shoulder season, as the summer turns to autumn when the Northern Lights are at its most vivid and electrifying.
Consider a tour or cruise
Not only are cruises and tours a great way to pack in as much of Europe as possible in one go, but cruise lines and tour companies add value and convenience by including some or most meals and accommodations. Cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line have been stacking more value on top of savings lately with programs like their Canadian at par offer: cruise fares sold at par to the American dollar, which is almost a 30% discount off cruises. Tour operators like Contiki and Topdeck also offer special deals from time to time, especially around the summer, by offering tiers of value with their tour packages.
Europe Express Tour
Topdeck offer value packages, “Club trips,” for 18-30 somethings as a way of experiencing Europe without spending a fortune. A lot of the savings are in the accommodations included which range from hostels to bungalows to campsites. Tours like the Europe Express includes similar non-hotel stays, and visits six countries, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, includes most meals, as well as special arrangements like a picnic next to the Eiffel Tower and bicycle tour of Amsterdam.