Festive European breaks: where to go, when to book and how to save

  • AirHelp data reveals most popular winter European destinations for Brits
  • Amsterdam, Dublin, Paris and Geneva top the chart
  • Tuesdays between 22:00 – 05:59 reported as the best time to fly in December
  • You could save 29 per cent on Christmas travel if you book now

If you’re in search of twinkling fairy lights, festive smells and hand-made crafts, it’ll be music-to-your-ears to hear that you could save up to 29 per cent on your yuletide European break if you book it 13-weeks in advance. So, you ought to get a wriggle on, because that’s right about, well, now.

If you’re looking to book a winter break to get you into the festive spirit and do some Christmas shopping, but are struggling to decide where and when to travel, fear not – AirHelp has done the legwork for you. Its travel team has studied seasonal flight data to reveal the most popular destinations and the best time to travel.

And the results may come as a surprise. With traditional German Christmas markets now commonplace in many UK cities, discerning Brits are choosing to get their festive travel fix elsewhere in Europe.

Where to travel to – the UK’s favourite winter travel destinations

AirHelp’s travel team has studied real flight data from December 2017 to reveal the UK’s favourite pre-Christmas travel hotspots. More than 65,000 flights departed from UK airports full of passengers in search of a small slice of winter magic, but where were they heading to?

Amsterdam came out on top, with over 3,800 flights departing from UK airports in December last year to arrive at Schiphol Airport. Famed for its picturesque canals and laid-back vibe, December is when the city really comes alive. Its canals become shining beacons of light during the Amsterdam Light Festival, the crème de la crème of the circus world congregates at the Royal Theatre Carre for a season of shows and the Winter Market sets up camp on the Museumplein.

Dublin came a close second, with over 3,400 departures from the UK arriving in the city last year. The town of Dundrum transforms into a magical and twinkling Christmas village, hosting ice-skating and warming food and drinks stalls. If you’re looking for a genuinely unique stocking filler, Dublin’s Christmas Flea Market at The Point Square is the ideal place. Over 130 traders sell all manner of things, from hand-made crafts, bric-a-brac, art and antiques to Irish design and retro furniture – the list goes on.

Picturesque Paris, elegant Geneva and bustling Barcelona also made it into the UK’s top ten most popular European winter destinations.

When to travel

Now it’s time to book your break and like all travellers, you’ll be looking for the smoothest journey possible. By looking at on-time (OT) flight performance, AirHelp can reveal that Tuesdays are the best day of the week to fly in December (over 77 per cent OT performance) between 22:00 – 05:59 (over 73 per cent OT performance).

Like it or not, there are some things you just can’t plan for. No matter when and where you fly, there’s a chance you’ll experience a delayed or cancelled flight somewhere along the way – according to AirHelp, more than 90,000 passengers were entitled to compensation by cancelled or delayed flights in December last year. There’s no need to let a flight delay spoil your festive travel, visit the AirHelp website and the travel experts will deal with your compensation claim for you.

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