Book early to see the best of Europe in 2024

Trevi Fountain in Rome Italy

Blanche Clark

Posted October 30, 2023

The enduring appeal of Europe means it's worth booking early to get the
best deals at a time of year that suits you.

Europe's timeless appeal is a testament to its captivating blend of ancient landmarks, rich traditions, and stunning natural beauty. With more than 40 countries to see, it's a travel destination that never goes out of fashion, with the summer months of June to August considered the best time to go.

Unlike a spontaneous trip to a Bali resort, exploring Europe requires careful planning to make the most of your experience. If you’re considering a European adventure in 2024, remember that booking in advance not only secures your spot but also provides more choices, better value, increased savings, certainty, and time to tailor your itinerary.

Big Ben in London

London is a popular starting point for a European holiday. Image: Shutterstock


Why do I need to book early for Europe?

RACV Travel and Experiences Head Nathan Ward says it is best to book in advance to get access to early booking rates on tours and flights. 

“Historically, the booking season for European holidays begins around September of the year prior to travel. Airlines and tour operators typically release their best offers during this period,” Ward says.

“Booking early also ensures you get the exact departure dates, hotels, and tours you want. Last-minute offers can be great, but you don’t get as much choice."

It's important to factor in major events in the Europe that could impact demand. For example, the Summer Olympics are being held in Paris from 26 July to 11 August 2024, so accommodation will book up quickly and you may want to avoid the crowds. 

What are the benefits of using a travel agency?

Booking your European adventure through RACV Travel and Experiences offers numerous advantages.

“Not only do you benefit from member savings, which puts more money in your pocket for your trip, but RACV Travel and Experiences gives you access to trusted and respected brands, ensuring the quality of your holiday experience,” Ward says.

“Additionally, the ability to speak directly with the team that is handling your booking, either by phone or by coming in person to our Little Collins St store, provides a personalised touch and peace of mind.”


People walking around Nuremburg

A cruise starting in Nuremberg is a great way to experience river cruising. Image: Getty


Is demand for multi-country tours increasing?

In recent times, there has been a noticeable increase in demand for longer, multi-country tours in Europe.

“This trend can be attributed to several factors," Ward says. "Firstly, with elevated flight prices compared to historical levels, travellers are keen to make the most of their time in each destination, making extended stays more attractive."

“Another factor is that many people have accrued larger leave balances and savings for travel due to restrictions in recent years. As a result, the concept of a ‘bucket list’ has transformed into a ‘let's do it now’ mentality.”

Should I book my airfares at the same time as a tour or wait in case there are cheaper flights?

When it comes to booking airfares for European tours, it's generally advisable to add flights to your tour or cruise booking.

“This approach provides flexibility in choosing your travel dates and allows you to add extra tours to your itinerary as desired,” Ward says. “The RACV Travel and Experiences team can assist you in securing competitive airfares, whether you prefer economy class or wish to indulge in the luxury of business class."

Booking early is the best practice to secure the most favourable prices and ensure availability of your preferred travel dates.

Gondola in Venice

Riding a Venetian gondola is one of the great experiences in Europe. Image: Shutterstock


What are the most popular European destinations? 

Looking ahead to 2024, some of the most popular European destinations include France, Italy, Greece and Croatia, with particular interest in both river and ocean cruising.

“Traditional favourites like the UK and Ireland continue to draw interest from Australian travellers," Ward says. “Interestingly, there is a resurgence of demand for more exotic destinations, like Morocco and Turkey."

Along with enjoying the best of cities such as Rome or Venice, side trips to regions like Cinque Terre also offer the chance for unique adventures.

Land or sea: what is the best way to see Europe?

Choosing between exploring Europe by land or sea is a matter of personal preference, as both options offer distinct and rewarding experiences.

“A river cruise, for instance, allows you to be on a ship while regularly exploring charming towns and villages along the way,” Ward says. “On the other hand, cruising along the iconic Mediterranean coastline offers spectacular views and offshore opportunities. Given the trend toward longer holidays, you might even consider combining a European cruise with a land tour to enjoy the best of both worlds.”

Cruising along the Rhine, Main and Danube is a fun way to see multiple cities and these types of river cruises are often booked almost a year in advance.

If you’re planning to drive while you’re overseas, you may need an International Driving Permit. You can apply online, but check the country you're visiting requires one before you travel and allow time for processing.



Porto in Portugal

Portugal's second largest city, Porto, is one of the oldest European centres. Image: Shutterstock


Five reasons to book a European getaway early

Given Europe's enduring popularity, meticulous planning ensures a memorable and hassle-free holiday. Here are some compelling reasons to book your European adventure well in advance:

  1. More choice: popular tours tend to sell out quickly. By booking early, you can secure your spot and ensure you don't miss out on the experiences you desire.
  2. More value: booking through reputable agencies like RACV Travel and Experiences gives you access to travel deals and all-inclusive holiday packages, allowing you to make the most of your budget.
  3. More savings: early planning provides you with months to save, allowing you to indulge in added luxuries, spa treatments, souvenirs, or extra hotel nights before or after your tour.
  4. More certainty: leaving your booking to the last minute can be stressful, and prices often rise as demand increases. Booking ahead ensures peace of mind and a smoother travel experience.
  5. More time: planning in advance gives you ample time to research your destinations, tailor your itinerary to your preferences, and maximize your enjoyment when you arrive.


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