Where to go, how to save, what to avoid

Bargain of the week: New York for less in August

Fares on the world's premier intercontinental air route, between London Heathrow and New York JFK, usually go through the roof in August. This year is no exception. If you consult an online agent such as www.expedia.co.uk, for outbound departures on 2 August for a week, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are quoted as the cheapest direct flights at £664 return. But Air India also flies daily on the route, and is being sold through www.travelocity.co.uk for £624 return.

There is even a bargain in first class; while Air India offers the cheapest direct flights, at £2,044 return in the top class, Delta is selling indirect first-class flights at only £1,218 return through Travelocity. The catch is that you have to fly from Gatwick to Atlanta (over nine hours), then fly back to New York. The same applies on the homeward flight; by the time you have been on board for 13 hours, and endured an extra security check at the intermediate airport, you may well conclude that Air India economy, at almost half the fare, looks better value.

Destination of the week: on your bike

This year's Tour de France starts today in Brest, and runs until 27 July. If the world's greatest bike event inspires you to get on two wheels, then consider the European Cycle Route network (00 49 421 346 2939; www.eurovelo.org). Run by the EuroVelo Project, it comprises 12 long-distance routes that will eventually cross the whole of Europe. The manager, Fabian Küster, says of the 66,000km total, "Two-thirds are in place and we are working on uniformity of signage to aid the project."

The latest development is a route from the French Atlantic coast – close to Brest – to the Black Sea in Romania. A more accessible option is the loop around the North Sea; see www.northsea-cycle.com.

Warning of the week: Dream Line Shut Down

A stretch of England's most beautiful railway line is to close for 15 days from tomorrow, just as the summer peak gets under way. The Settle to Carlisle line connects Yorkshire with Cumbria across breathtaking scenery. But Network Rail is imposing a maintenance break between Settle and Appleby from 6 to 20 July. Special buses will fill the gap, but the road journey is not nearly so interesting – and misses out the lonely station at Dent. Journey times from Leeds to Carlisle will be extended to four hours or more. Call 0845 748 4950 or visit www.settle-carlisle.co.uk for more information.