Europe For Less -- Weak Dollar Or No

A lone fisherman waits for a bite while fishing from his boat in the deep fog on La Due Reservoir in Auburn, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

European travel isn't cheap these days due to the dollar's weakness, but there are still places where the greenback is strong.

While you'd be disappointed in the dollar in Paris, a new agreement called "Open Skies" should make it easier to get to spots in Europe where your dollars have solid buying power, analysts say.

On The Early Show Saturday, travel expert Valarie D'Elia explained that Open Skies is a blanket accord between the United States and European lifting restrictions on air travel between the them. U.S.-based carriers and those based in Europe can now fly across the Atlantic between any two airports in each region. As a result, airlines have many more choices in operating routes.

The plum route up for grabs is U.S.-to-London's-Heathrow, a strategic hub for Europe.

In addition, we can now see flights from smaller U.S. cities to European hubs.

All this competition is supposed to reduce fares between four-and-ten percent. But we may not see those savings right away because of the high cost of fuel.

And, with the dollar so low against the Euro, a European vacation remains pricey, in general.

But D'Elia suggested some European countries where the dollar will still go further.

She also offered advice to help you save money anywhere in Europe.

Among the places she pointed to:

POLAND

Eastern Europe in general is a cheaper destination, because many of the countries still have their own currencies, which have better exchange rates with the dollar than what we are seeing with the Euro.

Poland has a great mix of history, scenery and urban appeal.

It has mountains, lakes and rivers.

Also, history -- of the Holocaust, with Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Many tourists will want to visit the major urban centers such as Warsaw and Krakow. The latter has Europe's largest medieval marketplace, surrounded by many historic buildings, castles and palaces.

There's also a burgeoning restaurant scene, café culture, and nightlife in the cities.

BULGARIA

Bulgaria is an affordable choice for travelers who love the outdoors. Highlights include a sandy coastline, beautiful beaches, and bays along the Black Sea. You can also go hiking and horseback riding along well-maintained trails, and get the chance to see wildlife.

Bulgaria is famous for its rock monasteries, containing frescoes, and historic manuscripts.

Sofia is one of the oldest capital cities in Europe.

And don't forget the legendary Zagorka Beer!

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