Summer is a notoriously busy, and therefore expensive, time to fly. Between school vacation and warm weather, there’s no question that the months of June, July, and August make up the high travel season for much of the world. But that doesn’t mean all of the worlds.
To find an airfare deal for your summer vacation, you might think you’ll need to hit a sweltering locale when most people are avoiding the sky-high temperatures, but some of the cheapest places to fly this summer are bucket-list spots with comfortable weather.
Thanks to new air routes and changing travel trends, some particularly far-flung locales are surprisingly cheap compared to how much the journey cost just last year. Here are the cheapest places to fly for summer 2019 according to airfare experts, plus when to travel for the best deal.
Think of visiting the U.K.’s most expensive city in summer can’t be affordable? Not so if you’re up for August flights. CheapOair data shows that the English capital’s average summer fares are down about 10 percent from the same period last year, and Airfarewatchdog analyst Ricky Radka tells me the price drops can be even more substantial in late summer.
“Mid- to late-August travel to London has routinely seen some phenomenal price drops compared to years past. Boston to London on select dates in August is currently listed as low as $342 on Virgin Atlantic and Delta; some late-July departures can be had for around $10 more. For example, July 31 returning August 12 is $353,” Radka says. “Newark and JFK are pricing at $410 in August and can often dip below the $400 mark. Chicago and San Francisco are both bookable for sub-$400 round trips if travelers have a flexible window.”
Airfarewatchdog data also shows that about 40 percent of departure airports are seeing “favorable” fares (defined as being at least 10 percent cheaper than the same trip last year) to London.
The Dutch Caribbean island with unwaveringly warm weather year-round is one of the cheapest places to fly in summer, with the most competitive fares available just before the most active part of hurricane season (September). Airfarewatchdog data shows that 36 percent of airports are seeing Aruba fares drop 10 percent or more from last year, and Radka tells me that South Florida airports are seeing the most advantageous prices.
Radka says Aruba deals are via “mainly Mami and Fort Lauderdale with JetBlue, American, and occasionally Southwest pitted against each other price-wise. Most fares hover around $230 on these routes. For summer season I’d consider them to be a good option for procrastinators, as many are available for travel just a few weeks out.”
Aruba hotels are also surprisingly cheap in summer: Booking.com hotel data shows lodging options are 24 percent off in Oranjestad and 38 percent off in the popular Palm Beach resort area.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Perhaps the single cheapest place to fly this summer in St. Petersburg, Russia, which is a whopping 53 percent off compared to last year according to Fairness data—from $365 roundtrip—despite June also being the best time of year to visit.
An air hub for Aeroflot, St. Petersburg is also served by Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, and Delta, among many others, which makes for ample air competition. And visiting in summer means not only perfect weather but nearly 24 hours of sunshine per day—including a few consecutive nights when the sun never fully sets, thanks to St. Petersburg’s far-north location. The White Nights Festival celebrations marking the phenomenon are in mid-July.
Another city that’s at its cheapest during the best time to visit, Minneapolis comes alive in summer and, according to Airfarewatchdog data, is offering airfare significantly lower than last summer from 25 percent of departure airports. Radka tells me it’s thanks in part to an expanding airline that’s creating new competition in the area.
“Minneapolis flights have dropped quite a bit since Sun Country expanded its route network and continues to transform into an ultra-low-cost carrier. … Delta has been price matching Sun Country on select city pairings and driving down costs to MSP,” Radka says. “Many of Sun Country’s fare deals include summer travel dates, which [are] its bread and butter as a seasonal airline.”
Las Vegas, Nevada
Another hot locale both temperature- and budget-wise, Las Vegas makes for a surprisingly cheap summer vacation this year. Airfarewatchdog shows that 46 percent of origin airports are showing 10 percent or higher fare drops, and Radka notes Vegas as a frequent deal outlier for summer 2019.
“Heading to 100-plus temperatures isn’t tops on everyone’s summer travel plans, but flyers from MSP, ORD, IND, LAX, PDX, SEA, SFO, DFW, and IAH can roll the dice on deals to Sin City for around $100 departing West Coast and Texas airports and $140-180ish from ORD, IND, and CVG,” Radka says. “With low-cost carriers like Spirit, Sun Country, Allegiant, and Frontier fiercely competing in this top leisure market, there are often cheap deals to be had. … In some instances, you might be able to hit the jackpot with a traditional legacy carrier price matching with one of the no-frills airlines on head-to-head routes.”
For late-summer hiking, sailing, and nature tours in breathtaking landscapes like the Gulf of Alaska and Denali National Park, Anchorage is seeing hefty airfare deals from late July into August on flights from West Coast. And this is a deal trend that’s again square in the best time of year to go.
“Cities like Seattle and Portland up to Anchorage have been reasonably low for seasonal summer travel to Alaska,” Radka says. “Seattle to Anchorage is routinely around $150 round-trip for peak travel, allowing for a cheap link north to catch a summertime cruise. Piggybacking or competing with those fares, other cities like Chicago, Boston, and Denver can be found around the $350 round-trip price point, which is quite good for that time of year.”
Airfarewatchdog data concurs, showing that 25 percent of Anchorage’s airfare origins are at least 10 percent lower than the same trips last year.
Madrid and Andalusia, Spain
If you think visiting Europe in summer is worth taking some heat, another steamy locale that sees deals in late summer when most locals are on holiday in Madrid. CheapOair reports that average airfares are about 10 percent lower than last summer’s, and Airfarewatchdog data agrees, showing that 38 percent of origin airports are seeing at least a 10 percent fare drop for Madrid compared to the same trip last year.
And if 10 percent isn’t enough to convince you, hotels in Spain are a whopping half off this time of year. Booking.com data shows that hotels in Andalusia are about 30 to 50 percent off for June, July, and August. Andalusia is the warm southern region of Spain that’s just an air-conditioned train ride from Madrid, and home to bucket-list cities like Granada, Seville, Toledo, and Cordoba.