Food, Travel and Tech

Flights to Europe are cheaper than they've been in years—here's where to go to get the best deals

Couple on the Southbank of the Thames with the Houses of Parliament in the background
Nick Dolding | DigitalVision | Getty Images

Dreaming of strolling along the wide avenues in Paris or eating pastas in Rome? Now is the time to make those daydreams of traveling to Europe a reality.

That's because flights to Europe are the cheapest they've been in three years, according to travel app Hopper.

Prices on flights from the U.S. are currently averaging $637 roundtrip, which is down 15 percent from this time last year. That price, however, is an average across all European cities, so you may find the more popular cities have higher airfares.

Additionally, if you travel in March, April or May, fares to Europe are 20 percent cheaper on average, compared to the summer months of June, July and August.

Traveling in late spring will not only save you money on flights, but on lodging and other travel costs as well. In fact, May is the best time of year to go if you want to spend less on your trip than you would during the summer high season, Liana Corwin, Hopper's consumer travel expert, tells CNBC Make It.

"Early May is still considered 'low season' in many destinations, which means you'll also be able to scoop up hotel rooms and attractions at a fraction of the high season cost through most of the spring," Corwin says.

Where to travel in Europe to get the most for your money

Europe tops the list for many travelers. Last year, 51 percent of all tourists took a vacation in Europe, according to the World Tourism Organization. Among millennials, London is the No. 1 destination in Europe, followed by Paris and Rome, Hopper finds.

And Brexit is certainly making London more affordable. With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union, the country's currency has been trending down against the dollar. That means you can get more for your money right now. The British pound is currently around $1.31, which is the lowest it's been in 30 years.

Plus, "with Brexit set to happen this spring, it's likely the pound will see a further drop in value, making travel to the U.K. even more attractive," Patrick Surrey, Hopper's chief data scientist, says. Currently, the average cost of a roundtrip flight from the U.S. in spring is $960, Hopper says.

For a cheaper long weekend flight in May, consider Lisbon, Portugal, Corwin says. During spring, the average cost of a roundtrip flight from the U.S. is just $648, Hopper reports. The overall costs of a trip to Lisbon are relatively low, especially if you save on your hotel by staying slightly outside of the main downtown area. And Lisbon's location means it will be one of the warmest options this time of year.

Other budget-friendly cities include Prague, Czech Republic; Krakow, Poland and Budapest, Hungary. Airfares to Budapest are the cheapest of the three for spring trips, costing $751 for a roundtrip ticket from the U.S. But keep in mind, these cities will not offer particularly balmy weather this time of year unless you're heading there toward the end of spring, Corwin says.

"One of the great things about planning a European vacation is how many wallet-friendly cities there are to explore, which can be surprising given the continent's popularity," Corwin says.

Note: The "deal price" listed is the cost consumers should expect to pay with flexibility and advanced planning for economy-based tickets.

How to book the best flight deals

Don't be afraid to book trips around weekends, Hopper says. The company finds that, with the exception of flights to the Caribbean, trips with a Saturday-night stay get a discount. For example, flights for a five-day vacation that runs Thursday through Monday may be cheaper than flights for a trip that goes Monday through Friday.

If you're heading to Europe, for example, Hopper finds staying through a Saturday can net you a 40 percent discount off the flight, compared to airfares for trips without a Saturday-night stay. That's an average savings of $206 off average spring airfare prices. Of course, the hotel price may be more expensive for a weekend stay, so make sure to factor that in before you finalize your plans.

When it comes to booking your trip, it can be tricky to find the best time to buy. Hopper finds that flight deals don't really start popping up until five months before the flight is set to depart, so if you're booking a year in advance, you're likely paying more.

Hopper recommends tracking flight prices three to four months in advance. You can use Hopper, but you can also sign up for flight alerts from Kayak and Google Flights as well.

Don't miss: The easy trick that could save you $100 on your holiday flights — plus the best days to book

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This story has been updated with additional average prices to European cities. 

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