When to visit Berlin as a budget traveler (and what dates to avoid)

No doubt about it, Berlin is one of Europe’s sexiest and most exciting cities. Whether you come to while away the hours in its world-class museums, take in it fascinating but sometimes haunting history, stroll through its many peaceful parks or simply get lost in its notoriously wild and hedonistic nightlife, Berlin won’t disappoint you.

And, best of all, Berlin is one of Europe’s most affordable metropolises, which means it won’t break the bank in the way Paris or London might.

But one question remains: When should you come to Berlin? To answer this question, the three main factors you should keep in mind are price, weather, and major events.

More tips for visiting Berlin
Avoid these 7 first-time mistakes on your vacation to Berlin
12 Ways to save on your trip to Berlin
How to save on a shopping spree in Berlin
Best (and cheapest) times to visit Europe


When should you visit Berlin?

Below we’ve provided some details about each season, so you can get the low-down on the best time to plan your Berlin adventures.

Berlin Winter

Winter in Berlin can be chilly but cheap! Photo: ands78

Winter

Winter in Berlin is not for the faint of heart.

Complaining about the weather is one of the favorite pastimes of Berliners, and winter is definitely not the season when the city is at its best. The cold is one thing — and it’s often a wet, biting cold that chills you to your bones — but the other, even harder part, is the lack of sun.

In the winter, it gets dark as early as 4 pm; the skies are mostly dreary and overcast during the day or pelting down a freezing rain. It does snow some years, which brightens things up, but the snow doesn’t stay clean for long.

However, winter is a good time to find good deals on flights and off-season prices at hotels, so if you plan to spend most of your time indoors and are immune to the wintertime blues, this is a good time to visit.

December is the darkest month, but the Christmas cheer in the city helps offset the gloominess, not to mention a glass or two of Glühwein at one of Berlin’s many Christmas markets. On New Year’s Eve, Berlin turns into an absolute war zone, with drunken revelers throwing firecrackers at each other and lighting bottle rockets until the wee hours of the morning. But hotels fill up fast and get pricey at this time, so if you’d like to experience the madness, be sure to book far in advance. Check out our favorite budget hotels in Berlin. 

Although January and February are usually the coldest months, in March, you’re likely to see lots of locals, desperate to finally shed their down jackets, hats, and scarves after another too-long winter.

Watch out for these winter events in Berlin

The International Green Week exhibition and Berlin Fashion Week always take place in mid to late-January, so prices and competition for hotel rooms are likely to go up at this time.

In mid to late-February, film buffs and movie industry people fill up the city for the Berlinale film festival, so deals might also be harder to come by.

The same is true in mid-March, when the ITB Travel Trade Show is held, which may raise prices particularly in Charlottenburg, where the event takes place.


Berlin flocks to the beer gardens when spring finally rolls around. Photo: Jennifer M.

Spring

After suffering through winter, Berlin comes alive again with the arrival of spring. Crocuses push up their heads from the still half frozen ground and birds sing in trees bursting with new, tender green leaves. When spring comes, Berliners rush out into the streets and parks to bask in the spring sun, which creates a feeling of almost giddy euphoria in what is usually a tough, no-nonsense city.

The only problem is you never quite know when spring will begin.

April, April, der macht was er will.” This German saying translates as “April does what it wants,” which is a perfect way to describe the month. If you visit Berlin in April, you might get lucky with some t-shirt weather or you might get hail or snow; sometimes you’ll get all three within the span of a week.

May is usually a bit more predictable weather-wise, although it can still be cool and rainy.

In many ways, June is the best time to visit Berlin. The weather is (usually) lovely, the locals are cheerful, there’s life on the street, and the prices aren’t yet quite as high as they will be later in the summer. And if you have snow in late May and June, it’s only “Poplar snow.” Berlin is home to 10,000 Poplar, Aspen and Cottonwood trees whose seeds look like cottony snow that floats through the air and covers the streets this time of year, so keep this in mind if you have allergies.

Watch our for these spring events in Berlin

The Berlin Half Marathon happens in early April, which might make it harder and pricier to find a place to stay.


Berlin Summer

Come during summer to bask in the Berlin sunshine (hopefully!). Photo: simplethrill

Summer

What could be better than summer in Berlin? Barbecues in the park, a dip in a city lake or public outdoor pool, free festivals like Fête de la Musique, a beer or two on the canal: these are the joys of summer. The only downside? The prices are much higher on airfare, packed hotels and sights swarming with tourists.

If you do come in summer, opt for June. Like we mentioned above, the weather is usually at its best in this month, and prices are generally lower than July and August, especially if you book ahead.

If you manage to find a good price on flights in the high season, go for July over August. August tends to be hot and very humid, and there’s often a plague of wasps buzzing around, which will put a serious damper on your picnic.

But please note summer is sometimes an optional season in Berlin. It can get chilly and rainy, sometimes even in August, so be sure to pack a light sweater and jacket just in case.

Watch out for these summer events in Berlin

The second half of Berlin Fashion Week takes place in early July, so watch out for hotel price hikes, particularly in Mitte.


Berlin Fall

Fall is a great time for a bike ride through the foliage. Photo: visitBerlin

Fall

Fall is a great time to visit Berlin for many reasons. September is often still warm, but it’s less humid than July and August and the wasps are mostly gone.

October is often wetter, but the trees burst in brilliant fall colors and the sky is filled with golden light.

November is usually the darker, colder month when the weather starts to turn, but the month still has the beauty of fall most years. And best of all, the prices in fall for flights and hotels will be cheaper than in the summer which is, of course, the height of the high season.

Watch out for these fall events in Berlin

Two big events that might have an effect on hotel prices in the fall are Berlin Art Week and the Berlin Marathon (both in mid-September), so keep these in mind when making your travel plans.

Your favorite time to visit Berlin?

When is your favorite time to visit Berlin? Let us know in the comments below!

The post When to visit Berlin as a budget traveler (and what dates to avoid) appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

The Cheapest Places to Travel in 2019 for Americans

Bulgaria cheap Europe travel

I’ve been reading lots of articles on the cheapest places to travel in 2019 or the cheapest destinations. Most of them are crap. They’re poorly researched and written by people who don’t really travel much, sitting behind a desk in NYC or London. The idea is usually to focus on what sounds trendy (or who […]

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Source: Cheapest Destinations

Credit Card Annual Travel Credits You Need to Know About

There are so many rewards credit cards out there nowadays that offer annual travel credits to help customers justify higher annual fees. Most of these travel credits are added as benefits on credit cards with high annual fees. So it’s really important to make sure you put them to use in order to help offset these fees. Whether you have one of these cards or you’re in the market for a new one, here are some credit card annual travel credits you should know about:

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card offers the highest annual travel credit out there. Every year, cardholders receive a $325 credit to be applied towards travel purchases. Of course, the card also has a $400 annual fee, which lowers your out-of-pocket cost to $75.

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige does travel credits right. Every year, cardholders who pony up the $550 annual fee get a $250 travel credit. It can be applied towards anything that Citi codes as “travel,” including airfare, hotel bookings, cruises, OTA bookings and even some tour packages and public transportation.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 annual travel credit, which can be redeemed towards any purchases coded as travel by Chase. The credit is automatically applied, though you should always double check and report any discrepancies.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

There is a lot Marriott can do to get back into our good graces, but I gotta give credit where it’s due. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card’s $300 annual Marriott property credit is pretty generous. That’s assuming Marriott doesn’t cancel your reservation after redeeming it…

Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card

The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card only has a $95, which makes the $100 annual airline incidental credit quite generous. The $100 statement credit is applied towards airline checked bag fees, seat upgrades, change fees, lounge access, or in-flight purchases. Overall, a terrific benefit for a credit card with a $95 annual fee. Factor in the $100 Global Entry fee credit issued every 4 years and this card is definitely worth a second look.

American Express Hilton Honors Aspire

I love Hilton Honors. Aside from the fact that I’ve had some incredible stays at Hilton properties (not to mention room upgrades to boot), the program is one of the best when it comes to earning free nights. Hilton is very generous to its members and the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card is no exception. It boasts not one but three annual travel statement credits:

  • $250 annual airline incidental credit
  • $250 annual Hilton statement credit
  • $100 statement credit on qualifying stays of two nights or more at Conrad and Waldorf Astoria properties

That’s beyond generous, considering the annual fee is *just* $450 and cardholders also receive free Diamond elite status. Needless to say, this card is staying in my wallet for good.

American Express Platinum (Business and Personal)

Both the American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cards offer annual $200 airline fee credits that can be applied towards fees. Of course, lots of people use the credit for airline gift card fee purchases, which is a great way to roll the credit over. Additionally, the Amex Business Platinum card has a $200 Uber credit that is paid out in monthly installments. That’s great for those of you who have trouble remembering to redeem these credits (guilty).

American Express Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card offers two annual travel-centric credit statements. The first is a $100 airline fee credit that can be applied towards incidental charges (i.e. bags, change fees, in-flight purchases, etc.). The second is a $120 annual dining credit that can be applied towards food delivery apps like GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. The credit is issued in $10 monthly installments, kind of like the Uber credit from the Amex Platinum Card. Overall, these are solid benefits considering the American Express Gold Card has a $250 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

What’s better than getting the Southwest Companion Pass after picking up two co-branded credit cards? A $75 annual travel credit to offset the annual fee. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card carries a $149 annual fee, but $75 of which is recouped every year thanks to the travel credit.

Which of these annual travel credits are you looking forward to redeeming this year?

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

Source: frugal travel guy

American opens new satellite terminal at DFW Airport, reorganizes gates

American Airlines unveiled a massive amount of new gates at their home airport today, how will it affect your travel experience? Click through because if you fly American Airlines at some point you’ll pass through DFW.

The post American opens new satellite terminal at DFW Airport, reorganizes gates appeared first on Andy's Travel Blog.

Source: Andys travel blog

Where Do You Keep Your Travel Fund?

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine informed me that she finally built up a travel fund of $5,000. She was planning a multi-week trip to Spain, France, and Portugal, and needed cash to cover hotels, food, and excursions. She has plans to book her flights with Air France/Flying Blue miles, but she hasn’t earned any rewards to cover accommodations or spending while she is there.

Saving up to that amount is great, I told her. It’s probably also more than she needs as well if she plans to stay in affordable condos or bed and breakfasts and travel like a normal person.

Since her trip isn’t until next summer, she asked me about where she should keep her savings. I told her that I keep my travel fund (as well as my personal savings) in a CIT Bank Savings Builder Account. No, they don’t pay me to say that. I use a CIT Savings Builder account because it gives you 2.45% APY with no fees. All you are required to do is a) maintain a balance of at least $25,000 in your account, or b) deposit at least $100 in your account. And you only need $100 to get your account started.

My friend said she was shocked to find out she could be earning 2.45% on her money without a huge balance. Her current savings are with Chase, and she is only earning .01%!

Fortunately, there really are a ton of online bank accounts that come with higher than average interest and zero to low fees. Some of the best options available today include:

I use CIT Bank because they offer slightly more than everyone else, but also because you only need to deposit at least $100 in your account each month to score their highest rate. I also like the fact their savings accounts don’t have hidden fees.

The Bottom Line

If you’re saving up for a big trip and have enough money in your account, it makes sense to open a targeted savings account that earns more interest than average. The difference in the amount of money you can earn can be a lot more than you think.

Let’s use my friend’s $5,000 travel nest egg as an example. She is currently earning .01% APY on her savings, which would yield exactly $5 if she saved that money for ten years. If she earned 2.45% APY, on the other hand, she would $1,369.27 over the same timeline.

That’s free money, so why not take advantage?

Where do you keep your travel fund? Why?

 

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

Source: frugal travel guy

Barcelona: 25 Do’s and Don’ts that will improve your trip

Are you planning a trip to Barcelona and worried about looking like a blundering tourist? That’s natural, of course. But don’t get too hung up on this  — you’re visiting the city and taking in its biggest sights. You’re allowed to look like a tourist!

As a traveler in a new culture, it will be really hard, if not impossible, to look “local” so why not just be comfortable and go with the flow? (However, this doesn’t mean wandering La Rambla with three cameras tied around your neck wearing socks and sandals — there are limits!)

However, acting like a tourist is a different subject. We’re here to help you overcome some common mistakes that tourists make when visiting Barcelona, from spending too much time on La Rambla to trying to eat at 6 p.m.

Related:
How to navigate Barcelona’s most popular attractions

 10 Best cheap hotels in Barcelona


25 Do’s & don’ts that will make your trip to Barcelona better

Follow our lead and you’ll be acting (and eating) like a local in no time!

Basics

1. Do try to learn a few words in Spanish and Catalan.

Por favor, gracias and bon dia go a long way.

2. Do try to adhere to local customs and schedules.

Remember that Spaniards eat late and that many shops will be closed midday for lunch and on Sundays.

3. Don’t get too political.

It’s fine to ask locals their opinion on Catalan independence, but be careful if you’re voicing very pro-Catalonia or pro-Spain opinions. You might end up offending those around you and find yourself in a heated debate or fight.

Barcelona tapas

Late dinner means more time for snacking on tapas beforehand! Photo: Craig Nelson

Eating & drinking

4. Don’t eat on La Rambla if you can avoid it.

We’ve been over this many times before, but it’s worth mentioning again.

5. Do visit Barcelona’s wine bars.

Head to these spots to sip reds and whites from all over Spain.

6. Don’t tip 20% on your restaurant bill.

Tipping is not common in Spain. If you want to leave something, leave your change or a couple of euros.

7. Do take a cooking class.

Learn how to make Catalan dishes and Spanish classics like paella.

8. Don’t try to go to dinner at 6 p.m.

Any respectable restaurant won’t even open the doors until 8 p.m. (Here are 18 tips for eating like a local in Barcelona.)

9. Do eat delicious tapas.

They will get you over the 6 p.m. hump and tide you over until your late Spanish dinner.

10. Do visit the famous Boqueria Market, but…

Also visit Barcelona’s lesser-known markets, all of which will be less crowded. Santa Caterina is a good option.

11. Don’t order paella for dinner.

It’s a lunch dish considered too heavy for a late meal.

Barcelona market

A shop selling Spanish jamón in La Boqueria Market. Photo: Jessica Spengler

Shopping

12. Don’t take photos in shops or at market stands unless you’ve asked permission.

Fortunately, most of the time, the vendors will say yes.

13. Do shop for exquisite Spanish shoes and clothing.

Looking for Zara, Mango, etc.? Head to the Gothic Quarter around Portal de l’Àngel and Carrer Comtal.

14. Do score deep discounts during the twice-annual city-wide sales.

They’re held in Barcelona in January/February and July/August.

15. Don’t buy souvenirs on La Rambla.

Look for locally made goodies to take home on side-streets off La Rambla.

16. Do check out museum stores.

They offer a great selection of books on Barcelona and artsy souvenirs crafted in Barcelona.

Park Guell

The spectacular Park Güell designed by Gaudí. Photo: Carlos Lorenzo

Sightseeing

17. Do pay the entrance fee to see La Sagrada Família.

It’s Barcelona’s most important sight and there is a reason for this — it’s stunning! Cough up the entrance fee and spend a few hours inside gawking at Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece. (And do get tickets online and skip the wait. Read all of our tips for visiting Sagrada Familia.)

18. Don’t go to Park Güell if you’re short on time.

It’s a bit of trek to get up to Park Güell that can easily eat up most of the day. Stick to Gaudí sights in the city center if you’ve only got a couple of days.

19. Do rent a bike.

Ride along Barcelona’s beachfront boardwalk from La Barceloneta to Llevant beach. Stop along the way for lunch at a seaside eatery.

20. Don’t spend all your time on La Rambla.

It’s tempting to spend too much time with the human statues, cheesy vendors and crowds of tourists. But do walk down La Rambla at least once and stop in to see La Boqueria Market.

21. Do take a tour of the Gothic Quarter.

Get an in-depth look at what Barcelona was like in Roman times.

22. Don’t confine yourself to Barcelona’s city limits.

Consider a day trip to Girona to wander its medieval lanes, Figueres to see the Salvador Dalí Museum, or the Penedès region for wine tasting.

Hostal Fernando

Hostal Fernando offers a central location and rooms for every budget.

Hotels

23. Don’t try to save money by staying at an out-of-the-way hotel.

It’s worth it to spend a little more to be central. You’ll save time and money getting to popular sights, and it will be easier to walk home at night. Check out these affordable hotels near Barcelona’s most popular attractions.

24. Do make sure your hotel has a safe in the room or at the reception desk.

Leave your passport, extra cash and credit cards, and anything else of value that you will not need on you in the safe. Here are 10 tips for staying safe in Barcelona.

25. Don’t pay for an expensive hotel breakfast at your hotel.

Instead, head to the nearest cafe and eat breakfast like a local for about $5 (coffee and a small sandwich or pastry).

Finally, do come to Barcelona with an open mind and flexible itinerary.

Travel is tricky and things may not pan out the way you planned. It could rain, a museum could be closed for remodeling, or the taxi drivers could go on strike.

However, good things can crop up too, and it’s rewarding to be able to spot these opportunities when they surface and embrace them. A restaurant owner offers you something that’s not on the menu, and it turns out to be the best meal of your life. A local invites you over to their condo for coffee, and you make a new friend. A wrong turn takes you down a winding alleyway with unique bars and boutiques.

The unplanned can many times be the best part of the journey — embrace it!

The post Barcelona: 25 Do’s and Don’ts that will improve your trip appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

How to Save on Your Trip to Europe

EuroCheapo’s Ultimate Budget Travel Guide to Europe


Welcome, budget traveler!

If you’re looking for ways to make your upcoming trip to Europe more affordable, you’ve come to the right place. Since 2001, EuroCheapo has been helping travelers save in Europe. It’s what we do.

On the following pages we’ve compiled our top budget travel advice. It’s organized into 10 quick chapters about ways to save on the big items in your travel budget: the flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, sightseeing, using your smartphone and more.

But let’s be clear: These travel tips aren’t only about spending less on your trip. They’re also about having a better experience when traveling in Europe.

We believe that the best budget travel is also about slowing down and traveling in step with the locals. If you can do that, and if you’ve learned a couple tricks of the cheapo trade, the savings will follow. And, in the end, you’ll have a richer experience. We’ll get into all of that below.

 

A quick note about us — and why we can help you save in Europe

My name is Tom Meyers and I started EuroCheapo back in 2001. I quit my job in New York and moved to Berlin and hand-coded the first version of this site that launched that June. Honestly, I had a blast — I spent the year hunting down the best small, budget hotels in the center of Europe’s most expensive cities. I felt like every day was a treasure hunt.

Since then, I’ve been joined by a team of writers and editors who have kept up our hotel picks (like these in Paris and Rome), but who’ve also written nearly 3,000 articles about simple ways to save on every aspect of your trip, from booking flights and train tickets to cheap eats and saving on sightseeing.

In the following pages, I’ll be sharing these tips with you in the first person, although many of these tips have been plucked from the thousands of posts published on our blog. I’m thankful to the dozens of fabulous writers who have shared their expertise with us on the site over the years and continue to write for us. You can read more about them if you click their names on any of the blog posts we link to.

I hope that you’ll find these budget travel tips helpful and that together, we can help you spend less while improving your travels in Europe. If you have questions or feedback on these tips, send me an email or leave a comment below. And please join us on Facebook.

Thanks — and bon voyage, Cheapos!

Our guide to saving in Europe


Chapter 1:  When to go to Europe (for the best bang for your buck)

If you have the flexibility to choose the timing of your next trip, you’re in a good spot. Which season makes the most sense for your schedule and for your budget? Is there a better time to go?

Cheapo Tip: If possible, travel during low season or “shoulder season” for the best deals.

 

 


Chapter 2:  Building an affordable itinerary

Travelers, especially those from North America, tend to overbook their trips to Europe. We can’t help it. Resist the urge to “see it all”, and you’ll save time and money — and probably have a much better travel experience.

Cheapo Tip: We like to spend at least two nights in each spot. It helps our budget… and our sanity.

 

 


Chapter 3:  Finding cheap airfare to Europe

Flying to Europe is expensive — in fact, it’s probably the largest expense facing many American travelers. How can you actually find great deals on airfare to Europe? Here are some tips to help you fly the cheapo skies.

Cheapo Tip: Airfare alerts are your friend. So are “open jaw” flights.

 

 


Chapter 4:  Saving on hotels in Europe

Whether you’re planning to travel for two days or 20 days, where you stay can have a major impact on both your budget and your trip experience. Here are some tips for booking the right hotels for your trip — and at the best possible price.

Cheapo Tip: Small, family-run hotels can make all the difference on your trip. But you have to find them.

 

 

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Chapter 5:  Saving on train tickets in Europe

Americans are rightfully awestruck by Europe’s high-speed rail network, from the TGV in France to Germany’s Bahn and Italy’s Trenitalia. But what’s the best way to book those tickets in advance? And should you buy a rail pass?

Cheapo Tip: Book your train tickets like the locals, and you’ll save (just like the locals).

 

 


Chapter 6:  Saving on car rentals in Europe

What’s the best way to rent a car in Europe? Should you go through a European website or an American site? Do you need an international driver’s license? What should you be aware of before you sit down behind the wheel?

Cheapo Tip: Book early, and then re-book if you find a better deal. And double check the fuel type.

 

 


Chapter 7:  Saving on sightseeing and making the most of your time

Hooray, you’ve got the big stuff booked. Now what? How much of your time should you schedule in advance? Should you pre-book attractions? Wing it when you’re there? Let’s discuss.

Cheapo Tip: Too much pre-booking can actually stress you (and your travel companions) out later.

 

 


Chapter 8:  Using your smartphone abroad

With a little planning, it’s possible to use your phone while traveling abroad for a variety of purposes (calling, texting, emailing) without getting stuck with a huge bill when you return. Here’s a quick guide to setting it up.

Cheapo Tip: Our advice for using a phone in Europe? Keep it SIM-ple.

 

 


Chapter 9:  Money, ATMs, and credit cards

What’s the best way to get cash when you’re heading to Europe? Should you buy euros before you go? Are Travelers Checks totally passé? Will your credit card work? And which countries take the euro? We’ll break it all down.

Cheapo Tip: Get your money like the locals do… from a faceless machine.

 

 


Chapter 10:  Packing for savings

You want to pack it all, but remember: You’ll be hauling those bags through airports, train stations, down cobblestone alleys, and stowing them in rental cars, high-speed trains, and small hotel rooms.

Cheapo Tip: The time to lighten your load is now. Seriously. I’m talking to you. Yes, you.

–>


Chapters 5-8: Coming soon!

Stay tuned — we’ll be publishing our guides to saving on train tickets, rental cars, sightseeing and more in the coming week!

 


Now… where are you going?

Once you’ve read through these quick chapters, you’ll have a great grasp on many of the top budget travel strategies that work today. But wait — there’s more!

Now comes the fun part: It’s time to start researching ways to save in the countries and cities that you’ll be visiting. It’ll probably come as no surprise that we have a lot to say about that, too.

See our top budget travel advice for:

Top Cities:

Amsterdam | Barcelona | Florence | London | New York | Paris | Rome | Venice

Top Countries:

France | Germany | Italy | Netherlands | Portugal | Spain | Switzerland | UK

 


 

The post How to Save on Your Trip to Europe appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Tanzania with a Hustler, Healing Through Travel, and a Pilgrim’s Walk in France

Raja Ampat travel Indonesia

With a strange subject line like that, you know it’s time for a new issue of Perceptive Travel online magazine, home to some of the best stories on the web, written by wandering book authors. In the May issue, we take you to four continents through four traveling tales, long-form narratives that dig deeper and […]

Want to live a better life for half the price? Sign up for the Cheap Living Abroad Newsletter.

             

Source: Cheapest Destinations