23 Cheapest European cities and airports to fly into in 2014

Budapest RiverviewSo many of us starting in the US or Canada will be visiting multiple cities when we tour Europe that we have the luxury of flying into several different destinations. But with the airline business changing so rapidly, how do we know which are the cheapest cities to fly into?

Not too many years ago the cheapest flights into Europe were almost always into the largest and busiest airports, which are in London, Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam, but times have changed. Several of the busiest airports have also raised passenger fees way up so now they are actually among the most expensive. I wanted to find out for myself, so I tested fares at all major European international airports with overseas flights to create the list below of the 23 cheapest European cities to fly to in 2014.

How the test was done

For each city tested I found the cheapest fare starting from the 4 largest cities in the US (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston) plus Atlanta (by popular demand in 2014) along with Canada’s largest city (Toronto) in early May, and the cheapest fare in mid August. Then I averaged the two fares and then averaged the fares into all 6 cities into on Index number.

Needless to say, the rankings starting in individual cities can vary from the combined list, but generally they aren’t far apart. A bit surprisingly, only a handful of the cheapest flights were non-stops, so almost everyone will be changing planes exactly once in each direction over the Atlantic.

How to use the list below

Prague castleEspecially since many of the cheapest cities below are remote, the obvious strategy is to keep going down the list until you come across one of the cities you intend on visiting. Hopefully you can then find a cheap flight and use that as a hub to explore other cities by rail or low-cost airlines.

Overall, the differences in fares from the top to the bottom of this list are not great enough to justify flying into one and then booking another separate round-trip to your final destination on a low-cost airline, though in some cases it might work out cheaper.

Related information

Cheapest 10 European airports from 6 major cities

This year we broke the list out by city so it’s easier to see that some European airports have cheap incoming flights from some places but not others.

Complete list of 23 is below

10 Cheapest European airports from New York City

  1. Moscow: $700 (index average)
  2. Milan: $753
  3. Istanbul: $797
  4. Copenhagen: $845
  5. Dublin: $847
  6. Oslo: $876
  7. Rome: $885
  8. Stockholm: $895
  9. Warsaw: $918
  10. London: $920

10 Cheapest European airports from Chicago

  1. Warsaw: $914 (index average)
  2. Copenhagen: $957
  3. Oslo: $959
  4. Moscow: $969
  5. Dublin: $970
  6. Stockholm: $980
  7. Berlin: $1,030
  8. Istanbul: $1,031
  9. Amsterdam: $1,060
  10. Munich: $1,093

10 Cheapest European airports from Los Angeles

  1. Moscow: $919 (index average)
  2. Warsaw: $960
  3. Stockholm:$1,025
  4. Dublin: $1,064
  5. Istanbul: $1,064
  6. Oslo: $1,078
  7. Berlin: $1,098
  8. Amsterdam: $1,104
  9. Budapest: $1,107
  10. Prague: $1,108

10 Cheapest European airports from Houston

  1. Istanbul: $904 (index average)
  2. Oslo: $912
  3. Stockholm: $915
  4. Copenhagen: $930
  5. Moscow: $935
  6. Milan: $936
  7. London: $936
  8. Zurich: $939
  9. Rome: $947
  10. Amsterdam: $954

10 Cheapest European airports from Atlanta

  1. Milan: $1,061 (index average)
  2. Dublin: $1,075
  3. Istanbul: $1,088
  4. Moscow: $1,117
  5. Oslo: $1,119
  6. Copenhagen: $1,147
  7. Stockholm: $1,150
  8. London: $1,161
  9. Warsaw: $1,176
  10. Lisbon: $1,190

10 Cheapest European airports from Toronto

  1. Lisbon: $728 (index average)
  2. Dublin: $739
  3. Barcelona: $863
  4. Frankfurt: $867
  5. Madrid: $869
  6. Stockholm: $880
  7. Moscow: $880
  8. Paris: $888
  9. Brussels: $888
  10. Milan: $888
  11. Oslo: $888 (tie)

23 Cheapest European cities & airports to fly to in 2014

(prices shown are cheapest spring/summer – average)

1 – Moscow, Russia

City code: MOW
Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO)
Domodedovo International Airport (DME)

Russia’s national airline – Aeroflot – is one of the cheapest in Europe, and many of the cheapest fares to cities below change planes in Moscow.

  • New York City: $542/$857 – $700
  • Chicago: $941/$996 – $969
  • Los Angeles: $827/$1,011 – $919
  • Houston: $829/$1,041 – $935
  • Atlanta: $995/$1,239 – $1,117
  • Toronto: $791/$969 – $880
  • Index average: $920

2 – Dublin/Shannon, Ireland

Dublin Airport (DUB)
Shannon Airport (SNN)

Dublin and Shannon airports are on opposite sides of Ireland, and both are busy hubs of Aer Lingus, which offers cheap flights including those that then go onto other continental destinations. Both are similar in airfare price (with Dublin usually being just a bit cheaper) so they are combined here. Basically, if you want to start your Ireland visit in Dublin, fly into Dublin, and if you want to start your visit elsewhere, fly into Shannon.

  • New York City: $697/$997 – $847
  • Chicago: $847/$1,092 – $970
  • Los Angeles: $823/$1,304 – $1,064
  • Houston: $786/$1,247 – $1,017
  • Atlanta: $893/$1,257 – $1,075
  • Toronto: $671/$807 – $739
  • Index average: $952

3 – Oslo, Norway

Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL)

The good news for anyone flying from the US or Canada to Norway is that flights into Oslo are strangely cheap from major North American cities. The bad news, of course, is that everything else once you are there is jaw-droppingly expensive.

  • New York City: $785/$967 – $876
  • Chicago: $843/$1,075 – $959
  • Los Angeles: $910/$1,246 – $1,078
  • Houston: $801/$1,023 – $912
  • Atlanta: $982/$1,256 – $1,119
  • Toronto: $777/$999 – $888
  • Index average: $972

4 – Stockholm, Sweden

City code: STO
Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN)
Stockholm Bromma Airport (BMA)

Scandinavian Airlines operates its second busiest hub out of Arlanda Airport so fares there are usually cheapest, but Bromma Airport is closer to the city center and its fares are usually only a bit higher.

  • New York City: $803/$986 – $895
  • Chicago: $884/$1,076 – $980
  • Los Angeles: $805/$1,245 – $1,025
  • Houston: $816/$1,014 – $915
  • Atlanta: $1,001/$1,299 – $1,150
  • Toronto: $757/$1,002 – $880
  • Index average: $974

5 – Milan, Italy

City code: MIL
Malpensa Airport (MXP)
Linate Airport (LIN)

The smaller of the two main hubs of Alitalia, Milan’s main airport has similar passenger numbers to Rome, and usually similar prices as well so it’s best to fly into the one you prefer. Strangely, Alitalia never seems to have the best fares. In 2014 the city appears to have become more affordable for incoming flights, but mostly because Emirates is crossing the Atlantic with cheap fares from some cities.

  • New York City: $630/$875 – $753
  • Chicago: $1,002/$1,243 – $1,123
  • Los Angeles: $943/$1,275 – $1,109
  • Houston: $830/$1,042 – $936
  • Atlanta: $863/$1,259 – $1,061
  • Toronto: $767/$1,009 – $888
  • Index average: $978

6 – Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Airport (CPH)

Scandinavian Airlines (also known as SAS) operates the largest of its three hubs in Copenhagen, and that leads to surprisingly low airfares, especially on its non-stop flights from New York, Chicago, and Toronto.

  • New York City: $701/$988 – $845
  • Chicago: $836/$1,078 – $957
  • Los Angeles: $923/$1,313 – $1,118
  • Houston: $824/$1,036 – $930
  • Atlanta: $1,035/$1,259 – $1,147
  • Toronto: $793/$1,063 – $928
  • Index average: $987

7 – Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST)

In spite of the greater distance, Istanbul can offer some reasonable trans-Atlantic airfares so it’s worth considering if it’s part of your itinerary anyway. There is another airport in the Asian suburbs (SAW) but its cheap flights tend to be from nearby.

  • New York City: $788/$805 – $797
  • Chicago: $762/$1,299 – $1,031
  • Los Angeles: $901/$1,226 – $1,064
  • Houston: $696/$1,111 – $904
  • Atlanta: $1,027/$1,148 – $1,088
  • Toronto: $963/$1,196 – $1,080
  • Index average: $994

8 – Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW)

Warsaw is home to LOT Polish Airlines, but that one is rarely cheapest for trans-Atlantic flights. Again, the competition here combined with lower taxes and operating costs has turned into relatively cheap incoming flights.

  • New York City: $830/$1,005- $918
  • Chicago: $806/$1,022 – $914
  • Los Angeles: $927/$992 – $960
  • Houston: $1,056/$1,425 – $1,241
  • Atlanta: $1,015/$1,337 – $1,176
  • Toronto: $907/$1,032 – $970
  • Index average: $1,030

9 – Paris, France

City code: PAR
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
Orly Airport (ORY)

Charles de Gaulle Airport is another of Europe’s largest and best connected, plus the main hub of Air France. In our 2014 tests we found some very competitive flights starting from some cities, but very expensive from others (Atlanta, in particular). Things are looking better than last year so here’s hoping that Paris will carry on as a good incoming option to Europe.

  • New York City: $858/$986 – $922
  • Chicago: $947/$1,251 – $1,099
  • Los Angeles: $980/$1,292 – $1,136
  • Houston: $984/$1,077 – $986
  • Atlanta: $1,145/$1,327 – $1,236
  • Toronto: $759/$1,016 – $888
  • Index average: $1,044

10 – London, England

City code: LON
London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
Gatwick Airport (LGW)
London Stansted Airport (STN)
Luton Airport (LTN)

London has 4 major airports (plus London City Airport for short-haul flights) and the cheapest trans-Atlantic fares could be into any one of them. Heathrow is the busiest, but Gatwick is often the cheapest by a little.

  • New York City: $782/$1,057 – $920
  • Chicago: $990/$1,271 – $1,131
  • Los Angeles: $1,108/$1,409 – $1,259
  • Houston: $755/$1,117 – $936
  • Atlanta: $1,003/$1,318 – $1,161
  • Toronto: $787/$1,022 – $905
  • Index average: $1,052

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11 – Brussels, Belgium

Brussels Airport (BRU)

The home of Brussels Airlines, which flies nonstop to New York-JFK, this airport is also served by most of Europe’s majors so fares are competitive.

  • New York City: $845/$1,130 – $988
  • Chicago: $950/$1,257 – $1,104
  • Los Angeles: $946/$1,333 – $1,140
  • Houston: $860/$1,060 – $960
  • Atlanta: $1,024/$1,533 – $1,279
  • Toronto: $819/$956 – $888
  • Index average: $1,059

12 – Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS)

The city of Lisbon is quite a good travel bargain once you get there, and fortunately there are some affordable inbound flights as well, especially from Toronto.

  • New York City: $883/$1,157 – $1,020
  • Chicago: $947/$1,309 – $1,128
  • Los Angeles: $1,043/$1,509 – $1,276
  • Houston: $953/$1,172 – $1,063
  • Atlanta: $1,035/$1,344 – $1,190
  • Toronto: $679/$776 – $728
  • Index average: $1,067

13 – Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

Frankfurt Airport is the 3rd busiest in all of Europe, making it easily the busiest in Germany, and it’s also home to Lufthansa which covers the world. But these days its trans-Atlantic flights are trending more expensive than those to Berlin, and the city itself isn’t much of a tourist hub so think twice before flying here.

  • New York City: $891/$1,093 – $992
  • Chicago: $977/$1,266 – $1,122
  • Los Angeles: $1,013/$1,400 – $1,207
  • Houston: $900/$1,112 – $1,006
  • Atlanta: $1,075/$1,421 – $1,248
  • Toronto: $884/$850 – $867
  • Index average: $1,074

14 – Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Airport (ZRH)

Zurich Airport is the primary hub of Swiss International Air Lines (aka SWISS), and it’s quite surprising that they offer fairly competitive fares on incoming flights, including to many destinations in Germany as well. Beware that everything else in Zurich is incredibly expensive once you are through security.

  • New York City: $839/$1,138 – $989
  • Chicago: $980/$1,227 – $1,104
  • Los Angeles: $945/$1,332 – $1,139
  • Houston: $833/$1,045 – $939
  • Atlanta: $1,145/$1,486 – $1,316
  • Toronto: $907/$1,050 – $979
  • Index average: $1,077

15 – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)

Europe’s 4th busiest airport has nonstop connections to destinations around the world as the main hub of KLM, but an increase of taxes and landing fees has translated into higher fares, so it’s rarely a bargain anymore.

  • New York City: $808/$1,053 – $931
  • Chicago: $959/$1,160 – $1,060
  • Los Angeles: $948/$1,260 – $1,104
  • Houston: $862/$1,045 – $954
  • Atlanta: $1,295/$1,748 – $1,522
  • Toronto: $821/$991 – $906
  • Index average: $1,079

16 – Rome, Italy

City code: ROM
Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO)

Italy’s largest airport and the home of Alitalia isn’t known for cheap trans-Atlantic flights, though it’s still a good choice for anyone starting in Rome and heading north on a larger tour of Europe.

  • New York City: $846/$924 – $885
  • Chicago: $1,024/$1,265 – $1,145
  • Los Angeles: $956/$1,343 – $1,150
  • Houston: $840/$1,054 – $947
  • Atlanta: $1,240/$1,617 – $1,429
  • Toronto: $790/$1,055 – $923
  • Index average: $1,080

17 – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)

The cheapest fares into Budapest are often those that change planes in Moscow or Helsinki, but SWISS isn’t much more expensive for a change in Zurich and much less elapsed time. Fares during our 2014 tests are quite a bit higher than in 2013, unfortunately.

  • New York City: $860/$1,098 – $979
  • Chicago: $832/$1,380 – $1,106
  • Los Angeles: $958/$1,256 – $1,107
  • Houston: $812/$1,442 – $1,127
  • Atlanta: $1,080/$1,462 – $1,271
  • Toronto: $772/$1,064 – $918
  • Index average: $1,085

18 – Berlin, Germany

City code: BER
Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL)
Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF)
Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) opening 2015 or later

With the rise of Air Berlin and greater popularity of the city itself, it’s now similar in fares to flying into Frankfurt, which is particularly helpful due to Frankfurt not really being a tourist city. Tegel Airport is usually cheapest for trans-Atlantic flights, and in 2015 or 2016 Brandenburg Airport will open to replace both of the current two.

  • New York City: $903/$1,039 – $971
  • Chicago: $917/$1,142 – $1,030
  • Los Angeles: $984/$1,211 – $1,098
  • Houston: $878/$1,161 – $1,020
  • Atlanta: $1,124/$1,628 – $1,376
  • Toronto: $941/$1,093 – $1,017
  • Index average: $1,085

19 – Madrid, Spain

Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)

This is Spain’s busiest airport and Europe’s 4th busiest, but being home to Iberia Airline doesn’t mean it’ll always have cheap non-stop trans-Atlantic flights.

  • New York City: $921/$1,034 – $978
  • Chicago: $964/$1,284 – $1,124
  • Los Angeles: $970/$1,439 – $1,205
  • Houston: $902/$1,085 – $994
  • Atlanta: $1,142/$1,551 – $1,347
  • Toronto: $884/$894 – $869
  • Index average: $1,086

20 – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona–El Prat Airport

A bit smaller and quieter than Madrid, the Barcelona Airport has a few trans-Atlantic flights of its own, and it’s served by all of Europe’s majors, so fares are similar to those into Madrid.

  • New York City: $866/$1,037 – $952
  • Chicago: $1,012/$1,285 – $1,149
  • Los Angeles: $1,009/$1,478 – $1,244
  • Houston: $867/$1,079 – $973
  • Atlanta: $1,083/$1,604 – $1,344
  • Toronto: $772/$954 – $863
  • Index average: $1,087

21 – Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Václav Havel Airport (PRG)

Prague Airport is the hub of Czech Airlines, but few if any of the cheapest trans-Atlantic flights are on the national carrier. In 2013 when we ran the numbers this airport was in the top half of this list, but as of 2014 it’s not among the cheaper incoming airports in Europe.

  • New York City: $913/$1,091 – $1,002
  • Chicago: $1,027/$1,378 – $1,203
  • Los Angeles: $935/$1,280 – $1,108
  • Houston: $916/$1,300 – $1,108
  • Atlanta: $1,084/$1,405 – $1,245
  • Toronto: $825/$1,007 – $916
  • Index average: $1,097

22 – Munich, Germany

Munich Airport (MUC)

Munich’s airport is busier than the one in Berlin, so it’s actually Germany’s #2 for flights. Fares tend to be a bit more expensive than the other German airports as well, but it can still make the most sense if Munich is part of your itinerary.

  • New York City: $892/$1,024 – $958
  • Chicago: $967/$1,218 – $1,093
  • Los Angeles: $997/$1,384 – $1,191
  • Houston: $885/$1,083 – $984
  • Atlanta: $1,146/$1,635 – $1,391
  • Toronto: $938/$1,043 – $991
  • Index average: $1,101

23 – Athens, Greece

Athens International Airport (ATH)

This airport is naturally the hub of both Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, and prices for hotels have come down a bit, but incoming flights are rarely bargains. If you will be touring Greece along with some other European countries, it’s probably better to first land somewhere else and hop over to Greece later in the trip.

  • New York City: $1,000/$1,214 – $1,107
  • Chicago: $1,128/$1,390 – $1,259
  • Los Angeles: $1,080/$1,384 – $1,232
  • Houston: $949/$1,383 – $1,166
  • Atlanta: $1,139/$1,547 – $1,343
  • Toronto: $894/$1,088 – $991
  • Index average: $1,183

NOTE: This post was originally published in May, 2013 with 2013 data. It’s been totally updated in March, 2014 with 2014 airfares.



50 Responses to “23 Cheapest European cities and airports to fly into in 2014”

Frequent Traveler says:

I was surprised to see that Zurich did not make your list. I’ve flown three years in a row (during winter) exclusively into Zurich because I’ve found the best fare. Granted its an incredibly expensive city but we usually just spend one day there and then hop on the train to our next destination.

 
Sugar says:

I’m travelling from South Africa to Spain. I intend going to barcelona in the middle of my stay so would like to arrive and depart from 2 different cities. What would you suggest?

 
pat halla says:

Hi, just writing to say thank you for the list. I know that it will come in handy.
sincerely pat

 
Davey says:

how did you not include or consider atlanta?

 

    Davey,

    I decided to go with the 4 largest cities in the US and Canada, and Atlanta isn’t even in the top 10, so relatively few people start their trip there. Also, Atlanta is notorious for having very little competition and high prices. -Roger

     
      Davey says:

      hey Roger-
      Atlanta may not be in the top ten for city size but it is Delta’s headquarters (biggest airline in the world) and the largest and busiest airport in the world. also, they have had some of the best deals I have come across, certainly not the best, but also not the worst. I travel a lot out of ATL to Europe and was hoping to find the best places to fly in to from here. Thank you for the research though! Much more than I’ve done :)

       
        Kelly says:

        Davey, I must recommend you fly out of Charlotte rather than ATL- the price difference can be staggering. You’ll have connecting flights rather than direct flights, but as delta has no competition in atl they charge whatever they please, so it’s worth it financially.

         
Whitney says:

I may have missed it in the article but are these round trip fares?

Also, are you considering adding Seattle as a starting point on your next update?

 

    Whitney,

    Yes, they are round-trip fares. Sorry for not making it clear. And I don’t think I will be adding Seattle as a starting point for the next update, unfortunately. The research for each city takes a long time, and the results for each starting city are fairly similar anyway. Actual prices vary by the hour, so this list is mainly just to get some ideas of cheap cities to consider if you are visiting more than one or two. Thanks for the feedback. -Roger

     
Keith says:

Roger, thank you for the research. I realize it is a lot of work but I would have to agree with some other commenters about including Atlanta (possibly knock out Houston). Great work. Your articles are very informative.

 

    Keith,

    Your timing is good here because I’m updating this list for 2014 today and I will add Atlanta (and keep Houston). I know it’s an incredibly busy airport, but I believe Atlanta is mainly a place to change planes for most people, so the fares starting from there don’t mean much. Still, it will be interesting to see, so I’ll run the numbers and update all of it by the end of the day today. -Roger

     
Alaina says:

I’m traveling to Budapest in August for a wedding, but I’m from Miami! I was hoping I’d find some useful information about flying out from MIA to a cheaper European airport, but nothing! I do find it hard to believe that MIA isn’t on this list, especially since I flew out of MIA to Florence,IT in 2011 for MUCH cheaper price than an NYC flight.

Anyway, help would be great though! I’m looking to fly in & out of different cities (I love trains, so I’m very open to those budget cuts).

Thanks!

 
Jonathan says:

Well done
We aspiring family of 4 appreciate the effort

Favorited

 
Libby says:

This is so informative! Thank you. Dreaming of a Slovenia trip in October from Kansas City.

 
Ferhat says:

Madrid Barajas Airport is actually 6th busiest in Europe now. Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Schiphol, Ataturk, Madrid…

 
charms says:

I’ll be travelling mid July with my two kids to Madrid wondering if I can get any flights cheaper than $1,500. I’m will to go to another city to save. Help! Any suggestions?

 

    Charms,

    It would help to know where you were starting from and also where else you are planning on visiting on that trip. Spain is a tricky one for inbound flights because Madrid and Barcelona both tend to be relatively expensive, and there are no close alternatives that work well. For example, Lisbon has some cheap flights from some cities, and it’s a really interesting city on its own, but the easiest way to get from Lisbon to Madrid is by night train, and those aren’t a great choice for many people.

    If you are going to Madrid then I assume you will also be visiting Barcelona, so obviously check fares into both cities. Aside from that, I’d need more info to help. If you want to provide where you are starting from, your ideal travel dates, and where you want to visit once you get to Europe, I might be able to help you find something that works better. -Roger

     
      Sandy says:

      Hi Roger – great article. My daughter and I are planning a trip to Spain in July, we live in Nashville. also considering a side trip to Portugal while we are there. Sounds like flying into Portugal might be a good option? Since it’s just the two of us, we were considering staying in Barcelona and taking day trips (organized) to other cities. Any feedback you have is appreciated. I have never been to Europe.

       

        Sandy,

        Thanks for the kind words. Yes, if you can get a cheap (enough) flight into Lisbon, that could be a good strategy. Lisbon is really a lovely city, and it might even be an easier introduction because English is more widely spoken there than in Spain. The one possible complication is that getting from Lisbon to Madrid means either an overnight train, or a flight (which could be quite cheap). Or you could take a train down into the Algarve region of Portugal, and then a train or bus into southern Spain from there.

        As long as you have enough time, I’d recommend staying in Madrid for awhile, and in Barcelona for at least a few days. Both of those cities are very large, and quite different from each other. Madrid has the royal palace and more of the Old World kind of sights, while Barcelona has the beach, some very interesting architecture, and plenty of good nearby day trips. It really depends on how long you have on the trip. If you have more than 10 days or so, I could even make more suggestions. Best of luck. -Roger

         
Catherine says:

Hi Roger,

This is a really useful article. Thanks for posting! I am trying to decide whether I want to start and end my trip in the same airport or if I can do an open jaw trip for relatively cheap.

While finding a decently priced one way flight from NYC to LON is pretty simple, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out where would be a good ending place. Do you have any suggestions?

 

    Catherine,

    Always happy to hear that this information is useful. All of my testing with these European airfares actually demonstrated that it’s difficult to save money by flying in and out of specific cities there. What I mean by that is, it’s hard to save enough money by flying in or out of a city you don’t really want to visit, to justify doing it. In other words, you are most likely to have the best trip by just flying out of the farthest place you want to visit on that trip. So the real question is, where do you want to go?

    You might save a bit of money by flying out of Copenhagen, which is a lovely city with surprisingly cheap flights, or by flying out of Lisbon, which is another really nice destination that is at one of Europe’s edges. Amsterdam and Berlin could also be good choices if you want to visit them.

    In the end, I think you might find the best deal by booking a round-trip to Europe, and then flying back to your landing airport at the end of the trip. As in, fly into London, take the Eurostar to Paris, then take a train down to Nice, then another one over to Barcelona, then Madrid, then Lisbon, and have a cheap flight from Lisbon back to London booked so you can get back on the flight home from there. In my experience, that will usually be cheaper than a one-way flight to London and then a one-way flight from Lisbon back to NYC. Of course, you should try all the main options before booking.

    So again, it mostly depends on your desired itinerary, and I’ll be happy to help you choose that if you like. -Roger

     
      Catherine says:

      Hi Roger, Thanks for the response.

      I’ve honestly never been to Europe at all so I am very open to most places. I am still eligible for the Youth pass for Eurail and I am considering getting the Select Pass for this trip and figuring out how to best utilize that.

      I’ve read that France and Italy don’t really like the pass and end up charging large amounts in addition to the cost of the Eurail pass. That being said, I’m thinking of saving one or the other for a future trip. I’m planning for 3 weeks, give or take 2-3 days. The itinerary isn’t set but I am considering something like the following:

      -Fly into London
      -Fly to Italy (Can swap in France) and either travel north by train or flight
      -Use the rail pass to continue north to some combination of these countries (2-4 countries is likely)
      -Austria, Czech, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark

      I’ll look into flying out of Amsterdam, Berlin, and Copenhagen, as well as just doing a RT flight in London as you suggested.

      Any thought on the use of the Select Pass with Eurail? Do you think I’m trying to tackle too many places? Any advice is greatly appreciated. :)

      Thanks again,
      Catherine

       

        Catherine,

        A Eurail Select Pass can be a great tool for some itineraries, as long as you are traveling enough within 4 bordering countries.

        Before we go on, the only thing to be careful of with a Select Pass is that France charges like €30 or even a bit more for a seat reservation on a few of their most popular high-speed trains, and they also have a quota of how many they allow on each train, so you sometimes have to make those reservations well in advance. There is also a high seat reservation for booking a bunk on overnight trains from France to Italy, but otherwise it’s easy and cheap to reserve seats on trains in Italy.

        So you could use a Select Eurail Pass for France, Italy, or both, as long as you are prepared to deal with a possible seat or bunk shortage on a few of their trains. A rail pass is a better deal in France than in Italy because France charges much more for train rides, especially on or just before the day of travel.

        You could do France, Germany, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg count as one country for rail passes), and Denmark. That way you could visit Nice, Paris, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Copenhagen, just to name a few. You could visit Munich and/or Berlin in Germany as well. In other words, you’ll really want to sort out a proposed itinerary to know whether a rail pass is a better deal than buying individual tickets online in advance.

        I’d recommend at least 3 days in London. From there you’d have about 18 days left, and I’d recommend no more than 6 additional stops, making it a total of 7 in those 3 weeks. You could push it to 8 total stops, but if you tried to do more than that then you’d be spending nearly half your time going between places rather than actually seeing the sights.

        Of course it also helps to choose cities that are easy to reach from one another. If you wanted to spend time in France or Italy, then you’d also have time for Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin OR you’d have time for Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, Hamburg (or Berlin), and Copenhagen, but you probably wouldn’t want to mix the lists. So think about which group of cities you are most drawn to, and then your method of transport between them should become clear. I’ll be happy to help with that if you need it. -Roger

         
Francisco says:

Hi Roger,

WOW, what a great tool, a bit confusing but I am sure “eventually” I will get it for future travel. I am planning a trip in July 2014 to Europe, back packing and staying at Hostels. I live in Vegas and since its just me I am VERY flexible as to where and when I arrive. My dates would be July 1st to arrive somewhere in the EU and be back to LV sometime July 27 or so. I have looked at a map of the EU and thought of doing a letter O starting in London. Some of my prime choice cities are as follows: London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Odessa/Dnepropetrovsk Ukraine(visit friends so 4 days), Moscow/St. Petersburg RU, Berlin and back to London. I am thinking of night time travel by train and sightseeing during day anywhere from 24-48hrs. I thought of “bidding” for my airfare as to keep costs low, staying at hostels or even sleeping on trains overnight. Can you give some great travel ideas for a first time back packer who wants to do the EU on the cheap!

 

    Francisco,

    I’m glad you find this helpful. I think your plan sounds pretty good, although be aware that from Rome to Athens you’d want to fly (quite cheap if you book way in advance), or take a train to a ferry. From Athens to Odessa you’d also want to fly because there is basically no train service in Greece these days. The other option would be a bus to Sofia and then another bus (or perhaps train) to Odessa.

    When you discuss “bidding” on airfare, I assume you are talking about Priceline? If so, I’ve heard that getting good deals that way has gotten harder and harder. The thing is, pretty much all airlines now fly most flights totally full, so it’s very rare that you’d find a half-full flight where they are ready to accept a low bid just to fill one more seat. Also, night trains aren’t often a good way of saving money, because usually the bunk (couchette) on a night train is going to cost a supplement of €20 or so, which is about the same as a hostel dorm bed.

    Honestly, the cheapest way of getting around will be by bus. Go to eurolines.com (it’s confusing at first) and you’ll find that they offer some really amazing promotional fares on long-distance buses. In some places they are almost as fast as trains, and they are usually pretty comfortable as well.

    As for budget tips, it’s mostly about going to the cheaper places. London, Paris, and Rome are all among the most expensive cities in the world. Check the Europe Backpacker Index for ideas on cheaper cities that are also great. Krakow and Budapest are probably the best bargains.

    Otherwise it’s too big of a question to try to answer here. If you have more specific questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them. Good luck. -Roger

     
eileen says:

How about Birmingham UK

 

    eileen,

    I tried to limit this test to the cheapest and most popular European cities and airports. It appears that flights into the London airports are almost always quite a bit cheaper than those into Birmingham, and there also doesn’t seem to be much demand to fly into Birmingham for tourists from the US and Canada. -Roger

     
Irina says:

We’re planning to go across the pond soon and I was hoping to find some info from Miami to London (2 adults, 2 kids 9, 13). We plan to take Eurostar to Paris, then possibly Italy(Tuscany), and Santorini and possibly Latvia. We plan on staying 3 weeks +- some days and probably will rent a car in Paris to explore the surrounding areas. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Thank you!

 

    Irina,

    I’d be happy to try to help, but I don’t quite understand what advice you are looking for. Latvia and Santorini are not often found on the same itinerary for a 3-week trip, and including both will require several extra flights. If you give me an idea of what help you are looking for, I’ll be happy to try. -Roger

     
Douglas says:

Thank you for this very valuable information. My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe (Germany or France)leaving LA in mid April 2015. Would you suggest we wait on purchasing the flights or buy them now?

 

    Douglas,

    According to the data as well as my personal experience, you’ll be better off waiting. I’d think you’d get the best fares starting around next January, and since April isn’t really high season, there is no risk of fares shooting up and planes being full. Time is on your side, for now. -Roger

     
Thomas says:

Wow! Great site. Thanks. Maybe you can help me.
I have accepted a two week teaching assignment in Rezekne, Latvia in late September 2015 (over a year from now). I live in San Diego.
I am thinking I’ll have someone drive me to LAX if cheaper airfare.
I’m trying to figure out how to get to Rezekne, without LAX to Moscow to Riga on Aeroflot, and then 4-hour train to Rezekne, which would leave me exhausted.
One thought is to book round trip to another nearby city I’d like to see for two or three days on the way. Maybe Prague, Copenhagen, or Stockholm? Then take the short flight from that city to Riga and hop a train. Reverse it on the way back to catch the return leg without the overnight stay.
Do you have any thoughts? I can’t seem to find anyone with much Baltic states experience.
Thanks.
Thomas

 

    Thomas,

    Thank you for the kind words. Interestingly, I’m currently planning my own first trip through those Baltic countries, so I’ve actually done quite a bit of research even though I’ve yet to visit.

    For one thing, everything I’ve read says that train service in that whole region is still terrible and very spotty. The train from Riga to Rezekne might be your best bet, but most people seem to agree that bus service is much better and more thorough. There are frequent normal buses between the cities, and also quite a few “VIP” buses with only 3 seats across for only a bit more than the others. If you buy in advance, they seem to be under US$20 even for the luxury ones.

    The other complication, as you’ve discovered, is that none of those Baltic cities seems to have decent airfares from anywhere. Warsaw seems to be the closest large airport, and that’s not very close at all. If you flew into Stockholm (which DOES have cheap flights) then you could even take a ferry to Riga. Or you could get a cheap flight from Copenhagen, although the city itself (along with Stockholm) is so expensive that you might use up your savings with a few meals and a night in a hotel. Prague is probably a better tourist city and it’s cheaper as well, so that idea seems worth pursuing.

    By the end of September, 2014, I will have toured that whole area so I might have more ideas for you at that point. Best of luck, and feel free to write back at any point. -Roger

     
Kathleen B says:

Roger, we took your advice and flew from Chicago to Munich in route to Zagreb, Croatia. We really got the lowest price for flying in July.

Thanks for your research effort. With 5 of us traveling small fees add up

 
Leanne smith says:

Want to go to croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia. Italy? Circle tour or fly in and out of different cities. Renting a car for entire trip. Where should we fly to, from. Starting in Minneapolis, MN. Nothing written in stone. We have three weeks.

 

    Leanne,

    There are no major airports in Croatia (for international travel) or Bosnia, so you will almost certainly be best off flying into Rome or Milan. You can take a ferry from several different cities in eastern Italy to a few different cities in Croatia. The trains in Croatia are slow and don’t go to most beach areas, so the ferries and buses will be best. -Roger

     

Great site! Hope you can help me. Planning to go to Spain (Camino to Santiago, the Ingles Way from the north) Also want to see Avila, but not play tourist. Have to go to Rome at some point, either fly in or out of but no set plans. Traveling cheap. Probably in March or April, 2015 and leaving out of St Louis, MO. Any suggestions on how to plan, when to leave, where to start/stop would be appreciated. Thanks.

 

    Rosanne,

    That sounds like a really great trip you are planning. Unfortunately I can’t be of much help because that’s a part of Spain I don’t know too well. The one thing I can recommend is that you’ll want to fly between Spain and Rome, as the train takes a LONG time and isn’t cheap either. The earlier you book the flights, the cheaper it will be for those shorter hops within Europe. Best of luck, and sorry I don’t have more info for you. -Roger

     
Uche says:

Hi Roger,

I ran into your website whilst doing some research on the best place to fly into in order to explore Milan, Rome and Florence. Do you reckon Rome is the best city to fly and depart from? I see the distance for trains from Milan to Rome is about 8 hours and same for Florence as well. I’ll be traveling somewhat on a budget utilizing Airbnb. Any insight would be helpful.
Thanks!

 

    Uche,

    The cheapest and best airports to fly into Italy from abroad are Milan and Rome, but from elsewhere in Europe you can also get good deals into Venice and Pisa (which is close to Florence). A train between Milan and Rome only takes about 3 hours, and from Milan to Florence it’s only 1 hour and 40 minutes. Those train fares are quite cheap if you buy them at least a few weeks in advance, but still pretty reasonable if you buy them closer to the travel date.

    I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Adeline says:

Hello Roger!

Your article has been most helpful!
My cousin and I are planning our first eurotrip for next summer – most likely around July for an average stay of 21-25 days

It is our first time there so our list of locations include: Paris, London, Barcelona, Rome and Venice.

She is flying in from Australia while I will be flying in from San Francisco, do you have any recommendations as to where we should meet?

Also if you have any comments/suggestions about how we should plan the commute between our locations ( train vs air via skyscanner) please share!

 

    Adeline,

    I’m glad this has been helpful. You’ll both most likely get the cheapest flights into London or Paris out of that group, and it probably makes the most sense to choose London if the price seems reasonable. London is an easy place to get oriented for a first Europe trip, and then you can quickly take the Eurostar train to Paris as a next stop. After Paris it will depend on just which cities you plan on visiting, as to which direction to go in. In 3 weeks you’ll have time to visit the 5 cities on your list, plus maybe 2 to 4 additional cities. You could add in Florence, Italy, and perhaps Madrid as well.

    You’ll want to take trains between cities for the most part, although depending on your route you might want to fly once or twice. Buying train tickets online at least a month or two in advance will get the best prices. You might even consider a Eurail Pass if you add a few more stops. I’ll be happy to help more with specifics as your itinerary comes together. Good luck. -Roger

     
Bob says:

Hello Roger,
I have a wonderful deal in Paris for an apartment from June 22 to July 11. I’m thinking of flying into Istanbul in April and working my way east through Greece and then to Budapest, Vienna and then to Paris.
I have flown round trip into Paris before. I found the train prices going east to be rather expensive. What is the name of that pass you can get in the USA that allows cheap flights within Europe?

 

    Bob,

    Hmmm…I’ve never heard of a Eurail-style pass for planes in Europe, and I don’t really think one exists, at least in the modern era.

    Otherwise, that plan sounds pretty good, and if you can buy tickets in advance the train fares should be pretty cheap. Actually, there is still pretty much no train service in Turkey for the time being, and the trains between the Bulgarian border and Zagreb are quite slow and old. Fortunately, the bus service in that region makes up for it, with comfortable and inexpensive coaches leaving all the time.

    So plan on taking buses from Istanbul to Sofia and then onto Zagreb or anywhere else in the area. Once you get there you’ll find decent trains that are still quite cheap, especially if you buy at least a few days (or a few weeks) in advance. From Budapest to Vienna the trains are even nicer, though fares are a bit higher, and it’s really only the train that takes you into Paris that will be expensive. In general, the earlier you buy the tickets, the cheaper it will be. Have a great trip and let me know if I can help further. -Roger

     
      Bob says:

      I would like visit the Greek Islands. If I started from Istanbul, where would I go to base myself so that I could get to many of the islands. Then how would I get out of there to get to Budapest?

       

        Bob,

        This is an usual request because getting to the Greek Islands is not particularly easy from most of Turkey. You could go from Istanbul down to Bodrum, which is a short ferry ride to the Greek island of Kos. And from Kos you could hop a ferry to another island or head all the way back to the main Piraeus port near Athens.

        But generally, it would be far easier to start in Athens because you’ll have all the ferry options and even quite a few (cheap) flight options to some of the larger and more distant islands.

        From either Athens or Istanbul, it would take at least two days to get to Budapest by a combination of buses and trains, so flying to Budapest is your best option. -Roger

         
Mattie says:

Hello – I am planning my honeymoon for March 2015 in Italy and I am not finding any flights out of JFK, Dulles or Philadelphia to Rome for under $2k one way. I live in Baltimore and know BWI is always more expensive so I am looking at all airport options around us. Can you shed some light on the airlines you found for the prices above? I’m interested in seeing why I can’t find anything that cheap.

 

    Mattie,

    I just checked for flights from JFK to Milan and Rome, departing on March 11, 2015 (on kayak.com) and they are all looking very cheap. Roundtrips (returning March 18) are only US$550 and one-ways are US$498. The fares in and out of Rome are a bit higher, but all of them are lower than I’ve seen in two or three years. Were you checking for business class fares? -Roger

     

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