With so many different travel websites these days, it’s difficult to know the best sites to book holidays. Prices can vary wildly for the exact same booking and some companies definitely have better customer service and holiday protection than others! After working in the travel industry for over a decade and booking countless trips ourselves, we’ve assembled a complete list of the best sites to book holidays. It features some of the well-known travel sites, plus a few hidden favourites that we love. ?
The best sites to book flights
Without a doubt, one of the best sites to book holiday flights is Skyscanner. There’s a very high chance you use it already, however we had to include it at the top of the list! It compares flight options between destinations, combining options from most airlines in an easy to use website. You can then compare prices and book with the cheapest online booking agent. Skyscanner is essentially the middle man for finding cheap flights before finally booking with an airline or travel agent. Here are some handy features that you may know already know about:
- Use the ‘month’ view on the search form to find the cheapest dates to travel from your selected airports.
- Consider comparing nearby airports – prices can be cheaper, with better flight times.
- Always check the flight duration on long-haul flights. It may look cheap at first, but changing planes multiple times and taking twice the amount of time just isn’t worth it – trust us!
- Use the handy filters on the left-hand side. You can filter by flight times, airlines and journey duration to find your ideal flights.
- Check the reviews for the travel agent you’re booking with via Skyscanner. Some are better rated than others.
- Use their ‘Price Alerts’ function to sign up to flight change notifications. You’ll be notified by email if flight prices go up or down for the route you’re interested in.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
For when you’re completely flexible and fancy a low-cost and spontaneous trip to various destinations around the world, Scott’s Cheap Flights is where it’s at! This flight finding service sends you weekly email updates on cheap or error-fare flights to international destinations, from the UK and other European countries. We personally found direct return London to Singapore flights for only £300 with this site! We recommend signing up to the Scott’s Cheap Flight email list and monitoring your inbox for the weekly deals they share.
The best sites to book hotels
There must be over 100 hotel booking websites by now and many of them are owned by a handful of big travel companies.
For example, Booking.com owns Agoda, Kayak, Hotels Combined, Priceline and more.
Expedia group owns Expedia.com, Trivago, EBookers, Home Away and various other travel sites.
Similar to booking flights, the starting point for booking a hotel should always be a comparison website. We personally use Trivago and TripAdvisor. They’re both easy to use, have a large number of comparison options and filters and show the price differences between all of the main hotel booking sites. Most third-party booking websites offer the same services these days and going with the cheapest option is recommended.
Tripadvisor was once solely a travel content website and forum for finding holiday inspiration. They’ve since evolved and you can now compare prices for hotels on different third-party websites, book hotels and reserve tours. If top reviews are important to you when finding a hotel (which they should be!), using Tripadvisor reviews alongside your hotel price listings is a great way to book accommodation.
Simply search Tripadvisor for ‘hotels in **insert destination**’, enter your dates and order by ‘traveller ranked’, as shown in the screenshots below.
You’ll then be given a list of the highest rated hotels and the cheapest prices available for your dates, compared across all the major booking websites. Simply click through from TripAdvisor to book and see if any promo codes are available before pressing that payment button.
Trivago works in the same way as TripAdvisor, minus the collaboration with the reviews. We recommend using both comparison websites as Trivago is generally connected to more third-party booking agents, so you might find a cheaper price.
Once you’ve found a good hotel on TripAdvisor, you should do a quick comparison search for that hotel on Trivago and compare price options between Trivago and TripAdvisor, going with the cheapest option.
To use Trivago, simply enter your destination or hotel name and your dates/number of people into their search form. You can also filter the results to show hotels with swimming pools and other facilities.
The reason why we’ve included Booking.com and not one of the other hotel booking websites is because they have the largest range of accommodation in the world, by a mile! Whilst TripAdvisor and Trivago are always our go-to options for hotels, properties such as private villas, apartment rentals and other options are sometimes missing from those sites.
Booking.com lets you compare a wider selection of accommodation options and is a great port of call for when you can’t seem to find a hotel on the other websites. This might happen if you’re travelling in a large group and want a big room or you’re travelling during dates where most accommodation is fully booked.
To use Booking.com, simply enter a destination into their search form and filter by preference. Always remember to do a quick comparison search before booking to see if you’re getting the best price!
The best sites for researching and booking tours (multi-day)
For organised, multi-day tour groups, the best tour companies depend on where in the world you’re travelling to. There are some great tour companies out there, as well as some pretty terrible ones. The reason we prefer Tour Radar for booking tours is all of the following:
- They collate reviews from other travellers – you can compare the top reviewed and worst rated tours in one place and then go with tried and tested travel recommendations.
- They’re usually very good price-wise, and sometimes even cheaper than booking directly with the tour company themselves! We’ve booked and compared numerous tours with them and they always have competitive pricing.
- Similar to above, Tour Radar frequently have sales where you can save extra money off the tour cost.
- You earn credit when you book tours and can use it to save money on future travel plans.
Tour Radar is one of the best sites to book holidays when you want a multi-day all-in-one itinerary.
To use the site, simply enter your destination into their search bar. They collate tours from tour providers worldwide, in most worldwide destinations. We recommend a guided tour for solo travellers, short un-planned trips and destinations that are difficult to travel around without a guide.
The best sites to book in-destination excursions
Our first port of call for finding out the top things to do in a destination and the cool excursions and day-trips on offer is TripAdvisor. Their excursion listings are ordered by reviews and give you an idea of what’s on offer.
Simply search Tripadvisor for your destination and scroll down to the activities on offer.
Some excursions can be booked directly with TripAdvisor, whereas others will need to be booked with the tour companies themselves. You’ll usually find website links within the activity listings, where you can then book online or contact the company to reserve a place.
Viator is one of the best sites to book holiday excursions. It has the biggest collections of day-trips in the world and you’ll find options for most destinations. Excursions are bookable online and reviews are available so you can see what other customers had to say about the activity. As there’s quite a large collection of excursions and prices vary, itineraries are often the same and we recommend comparing all options and reviews to find the best option for you.
The best sites for finding cheap holidays
For when you’re a little bit flexible on dates, destinations and departure airports, Holiday Pirates couldn’t be a better option for finding great holiday deals. Every day they publish low-cost offers they find on flights, hotels and package holidays and they cover airports throughout the UK. You can also filter by month of travel to see deals for when you want to travel.
We recommend visiting Holiday Pirates a few times a week to see if any of their offers catch you eye. If you find something you like, you’ll be linked through to separate travel booking websites to book the trip directly with the online travel agent where Holiday Pirates found the deal.
Book your holiday separately yourself
Do you usually use a travel agent to book your holiday as a package? It may take a little more time to research, however booking your flights and accommodation separately yourself can save you a great deal of money. As long as you book using a credit card and have a decent travel insurance policy, you’ll have all of the booking protection as you would booking everything with a travel agent.
Use our list of the best sites to book holidays above (Skyscanner, Trivago and TripAdvisor) to find the best deals yourself. Our complete guide to booking a holiday here will teach you all of the tips and tricks!
The best sites to book package holidays
When it comes to booking a package holiday, the best deals are to be found with companies that operate their own airline and have exclusive access to hotel rates. In the UK, these are the likes of TUI, British Airways, EasyJet and Jet2 Holidays. We always recommend comparing the package holiday option with the exact accommodation and flights if you were to book them separately yourself, and then going with the cheaper option. Here are some of our favourite package holiday websites to book with.
A relatively newer online travel agent that are notorious for their low prices. Whilst they don’t have their own airline or hotels, they collate some of the best deals and you can find some excellent prices. They’re also competitive for hotel only bookings.
As TUI are such a big holiday company, they have their own hotels and operate their own flights from most UK airports. This means that you’re likely to get a cheaper package deal with their hotels and flights than you would booking the same options yourself. Sometimes TUI prices can be expensive so we recommend comparing all options for your holiday and seeing what works out the cheapest. They’re the go-to for all inclusive and half board holidays in Europe!
Similar to TUI but often with cheaper flights, Jet2 Holidays in the package holiday branch of the Jet2 travel brand. If you find a Jet2 flight on Skyscanner and are planning to fly with them anyway, you may be best suited to a Jet2 Holidays package. We recommend them for a week away in Europe and European city breaks. A higher quality and more reliable airline than the likes of Ryanair and WizzAir.
British Airways City Breaks
British Airways may not be the first company you think of when it comes to affordable getaways and the best sites to book holidays, however their new city breaks packages can be very affordable. If you live in London and usually fly from Heathrow or Gatwick, you can score some affordably priced city break packages throughout Europe. Their package deals are usually cheaper than booking British Airways flights and hotels separately and as you’re with BA, you’ll benefit from a more comfortable flight and better arrival times.
The best sites to book your holiday extras
Once you’ve booked your flights and accommodation, it’s time to start thinking about extras such as car hire, activities and getting to/from the airport. Here are our top recommendations on booking sites for all your holiday add-ons.
Compare the Market travel insurance
Most travel insurance comparison websites are the same these days. They’ll compare similar companies and prices are closely matched. Out of all the comparison options, we prefer Compare the Market. Their website is easy to use, quotes can be saved, and best of all, you get 12 months access to Meerkat Movies, where you can claim 2 for 1 cinema tickets on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. Travel insurance is very important these days, especially with natural disasters, airline insolvency and other unforeseen events.
Here are our top tips for finding decent but affordable travel insurance:
- Check that medical expenses are covered up to £1 million (or £2 million for USA visits).
- Disclose any pre-existing medical conditions – your claim may be denied if you forget to declare an existing condition such as Asthma.
- Read your policy details carefully. It should include baggage cover, delay, missed departure, cancellation and travel abandonment.
- Choose a policy with a low excess fee (£100 or less). This is the amount you have to pay out in order for the travel insurance company to issue payment.
- Check that you have cover for extenuating circumstances. This includes terrorism, natural disasters and airline/travel company failure.
Car Hire on Skyscanner
Car hire companies have a bad rep for ripping off customers and it can be tough to find an option that’s both reputable and affordable. The best car hire company all depends on the destination you’re visiting!
We chose Skyscanner as one of the best sites to book holiday car hire as it compares all available options at your arrival airport or city. You can then find the cheapest prices and look at the reviews for the company you’re booking with, and it’s always worth paying a little extra for a car hire service with a positive reputation. You’re less likely to be ripped off!
Simply search for car hire using Skyscanner’s booking form, select your car type filters and book the best option for you on the third-party booking site. Google the company name before booking to check their reputation. For example, “budget car hire Dubrovnik reviews”, will show you the Google reviews, TripAdvisor comments and other positive or negative feedback about this specific company.
Check out our car hire guide here for more tips and tricks for reserving a car for your holiday.
Airport transfers on Skyscanner
Once again Skyscanner is to the rescue for being able to compare all of your airport transfer options in one place. They’re not just for finding cheap flights! Use their airport transfer comparison service to find affordable one-way or return transfers from the airport to your hotel.
They compare options from both international and local transfer companies and you’re then directed to book with the third-party website once you’ve found an option you like.
Choose shared transfers (usually a minivan) for the cheapest airport transfers or a private car if you have a larger group and want to travel by yourselves. In our experience, airport transfers booked in advance are far cheaper than airport taxis and more convenient than public transport.
We hope we’ve helped you decide on the best sites to book holidays! Each of the above recommendations are used by us personally and we had a great experience with them. Some of them we use for every single trip we take (looking at you Skyscanner!). For tips and tricks on making the most out of holiday booking site features and finding the best prices, check out our guides below. You’ll be booking holidays like a pro in no time. ?
- Our complete guide to booking and planning a holiday yourself
- How to find the cheapest hotel prices
- How to find cheap flights from the UK
- Our complete guide to finding cheap and reputable car hire