The 10 Cheapest European Cities to Fly Into in 2023
The 10 Cheapest European Cities to Fly Into in 2023 - Look to Eastern Europe for the Best Deals
When searching for cheap flights to Europe, look east. Eastern European cities tend to offer better flight deals than popular Western European destinations. Cities like Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, and Bucharest should be top of mind when bargain hunting.
One reason flights to Eastern Europe are cheaper is due to lower demand. Western hot spots like London, Paris, and Rome attract far more travelers. Airlines adjust prices based on supply and demand economics. Lower demand equals lower prices.
In addition, many Eastern European airports act as budget airline hubs. Carriers like Wizz Air, Ryanair, and easyJet operate key routes out of cities like Warsaw and Budapest. These low-cost airlines drive down average fares. Legacy flag carriers can’t compete on price.
It’s also important to remember that costs on the ground are lower in Eastern Europe. Hotels, restaurants, attractions and even transit is more affordable. This magnifies your savings versus pricier Western Europe.
Looking at specific cities, Budapest is a great option. Roundtrip flights from New York average around $500-600 in shoulder season. And Budapest offers fantastic culture, history, food, and nightlife. It’s one of Europe’s best bargains.
Bucharest is another Eastern European gem. Flights from Los Angeles can dip below $600 roundtrip with a bit of schedule flexibility. Costs in the Romanian capital are a fraction of the West.
Warsaw is the main hub for LOT Polish Airlines as well as budget carrier WizzAir. Flights from Chicago often run $600-700. And Krakow can be reached easily via a short flight or train ride from Warsaw.
Other cheap Eastern Europe entries include Sofia, Bulgaria, Riga, Latvia, and Zagreb, Croatia. Shop around and keep travel dates flexible. With the right routing and timing, $400-500 roundtrips are possible.
The 10 Cheapest European Cities to Fly Into in 2023 - Consider Secondary Airports to Save Big
Flying into a major gateway airport like London Heathrow or Paris Charles de Gaulle will almost always be more expensive than smaller secondary airports. By looking at all airports serving a particular city, you can unlock huge savings on your Europe trip.
For example, London is served by six airports - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, London City and Southend. Of those six, Heathrow is by far the most expensive given its prime location and abundance of premium class demand. Flights into Heathrow can run $200 or more higher than Stansted on the same route.
So be sure to check pricing across all London airports when searching for deals. The trade-off is you’ll have to budget more time and money for airport transfers. But those savings often outweigh the inconvenience.
The London example applies to most other major European hubs. Paris Orly and Beauvais will be cheaper than Charles de Gaulle. Milan Bergamo (Orio al Serio) offers better deals than Milan Malpensa. When flying into Amsterdam, consider Eindhoven over Schipol. For Frankfurt, look at Hahn as a budget option.
In some cases, nearby secondary cities can also offer value. For Germany, Leipzig is just 1.5 hours by train from Berlin. But flights can be $150 or more cheaper than arriving into Berlin Tegel or Berlin Brandenburg.
When exploring flights into Spain, look beyond just Madrid and Barcelona. Valencia, Malaga, Sevilla, Bilbao and Alicante all offer strong route competition. Budget carriers like Vueling, easyJet and Ryanair help keep prices low.
Italy is similar. Sure - Rome and Milan are popular. But flights into Venice, Pisa, Bologna or Naples on low-cost carriers can represent huge savings versus legacy airlines into Rome Fiumicino or Milan Malpensa.
One note of caution - make sure you account for total trip cost and time when considering secondary airports. The airport may be an hour outside the city requiring expensive, lengthy transfers. Often budget airlines fly less frequently meaning long layovers.
Do some homework around the airport location, transportation options and airline schedules. While a flight might be $200 cheaper, if it requires a $60 train ride plus two more hours of travel time, the savings are negated.
- London Stansted instead of Heathrow
- Milan Bergamo instead of Milan Malpensa
- Brussels Charleroi instead of Brussels Zaventem
- Frankfurt Hahn instead of Frankfurt International
- Paris Beauvais instead of Paris Charles de Gaulle
The 10 Cheapest European Cities to Fly Into in 2023 - Travel Off-Season for Lower Prices
One of the best ways to find cheap flights to Europe is by traveling during the off-season. Shoulder seasons—the periods between peak and low travel times—offer a sweet spot for finding deals. You'll avoid the huge summer crowds and save big on airfare versus peak season.
For Europe, late spring and early fall are ideal shoulder season targets. April-May and September-October tend to have mild, comfortable weather across much of the continent. With kids back in school, resort areas clear out yet most cities remain open. Airlines and hotels drop prices to incentivize off-peak travel.
I always aim to visit Europe in May or late September/early October. Over the years, this shoulder season strategy has saved me hundreds on flights versus traveling in the summer. One year I flew Washington D.C. to Rome for just $280 roundtrip traveling in late April. Mid-summer that same route can run $800-900 or more.
Off-season adventures do require some planning and research. Not all attractions and restaurants stay open year round—especially in small towns and beach destinations. Pack layers as weather can be unpredictable. But the trade-off is having famous sites and museums nearly to yourself. And local businesses are thrilled to see tourists during down times.
Another tip is targeting destinations with year-round appeal like major cities. London, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam—these urban hotspots hum along even in the off-season. Museums, restaurants, pubs, and theaters all stay open. You'll skip out on summer crowds and save big on flights and hotels.
I've had amazing off-season trips to Berlin, Prague, and Budapest. Average highs in October run 50-60 degrees—perfect for long walks and exploring. With fewer tourists clogging prime sites like Checkpoint Charlie and Charles Bridge, you can really immerse yourself in the ambiance.
Off-season adventures do require packing in layers, being mindful of attraction opening hours, and budgeting more for rain gear. But the trade-off is having these incredible European cities to yourself without battling massive tourist crowds. And flight deals in shoulder season can run 50% or more cheaper versus summer pricing.
For beach destinations, carefully research the weather outlook when planning an off-season trip. Some coastal areas like the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, and Cyprus enjoy mild temps nearly year round. But North Sea and Baltic Sea beaches in places like Denmark, Germany, and Sweden are best avoided in winter months.
No matter your destination, travel blogs and forums are great resources when researching off-season viability. Connect with travelers who've visited during your target months and learn from their experiences. This helps set proper expectations around weather, closures, and tourist numbers.
The 10 Cheapest European Cities to Fly Into in 2023 - Use Budget Airlines to Get Rock Bottom Fares
Flying with ultra-low-cost and budget airlines is one of the best ways to get rock bottom fares to Europe. Carriers like Ryanair, easyJet, Vueling, Wizz Air, and Norwegian have exploded in popularity across the continent over the past decade. These airlines strip back comforts and amenities to offer bare bones, point-to-point transportation. For travelers focused solely on price, budget airlines are a no brainer.
I always search budget carriers first when planning Europe trips. In many cases, they offer routes and prices unmatched by legacy flag carriers. While lacking frills like seatback entertainment, free food, and spacious legroom, budget carriers excel at efficiently transporting passengers between European cities for astonishingly cheap fares.
For example, I frequently see one-way flights between London and Amsterdam in the $30-$60 range on easyJet. The route is operated up to 10x daily meaning ample schedule flexibility. Even factoring taxes and fees, it's possible to fly roundtrip for under $100 on this sector. Amazing!
Budget airlines like Ryanair, WizzAir, Vueling, and Norwegian also serve smaller secondary airports that may be overlooked. These out-of-the-way airports often welcome the traffic and offer incentives. Carriers are then able to pass savings to customers.
One favorite example is Ryanair and WizzAir flying into Frankfurt Hahn Airport – about 1.5 hours outside the city by bus. While hardly convenient, flights from cities across Europe often run 75% or less versus Frankfurt International. For travelers on a strict budget, 2 hours of bus transport each way is worth saving $300 roundtrip.
I have a friend who lived in Berlin and religiously searched for Ryanair deals out of Frankfurt Hahn. Every other month he'd hop a $20 flight down to Italy or Portugal for a long weekend. For just $40 roundtrip he could explore a new culture and cuisine. Brilliant!
Budget airlines also open unique route pairings that legacy carriers ignore. Norwegian offers cheap flights between Helsinki and Oslo that connect the Nordic capitals. Vueling flies point-to-point across Spain better than Iberia or Air Europa. And WizzAir serves countless niche Eastern European cities.
These cheap flights allow you to craft interesting, budget-friendly itineraries versus just bouncing between major hubs on expensive flag carriers. Instead of just London - Paris - Rome, you can ahora trek from Porto to Oslo to Riga to Santorini and more.
Of course, flying ultra-low-cost carriers comes with compromises. Seat pitch is very tight, even in "extra legroom" spots. Don't expect recline or pillows. Baggage allowances are strict - some airlines like Ryanair charge for any checked luggage. Food and drinks aren't free, not even water.
Many budget flights utilize regional airports farther from the city center versus major international gateways. This adds time and cost to your airport transfers. Budget airlines also tend to fly less frequencies meaning longer layovers. And their spartan websites often confuse travelers during booking.
Familiarize yourself with all fees and restrictions before purchasing budget airline tickets. Understand luggage, seat, food, and change policies. Always read the fine print! Budget carriers make a fortune on ancillary charges from passengers unclear on the rules.
Also consider total journey time when evaluating route options. That cheap ticket may require lengthy train and bus connections whereas a pricier airline has a direct flight. For short getaways, that time savings can justify the fare premium.
Once aware of the pros and cons, budget airlines are a viable, often preferable option when shopping Europe flights. Airfare can be so deeply discounted that minor frustrations pale in comparison. Just pack light, do your homework on fees, and temper expectations around comfort.
If debating budget versus legacy, I suggest checking routes on both. Legacy carriers periodically run sales too. Sometimes the price difference is negligible and a full-service airline makes sense.
Other times, the budget option is less than half the cost. On a recent search, roundtrip Miami to Rome was $980 on Alitalia versus just $425 flying Norwegian through London. For many travelers, a $550+ savings easily justifies the no-frills Norwegian experience.
Increasingly, I'm checking budget carriers first when pricing Europe flights. If one can get me efficiently and affordably from points A to B, I'm likely to book. Dozens of trips around Europe on Ryanair, WizzAir, easyJet and Vueling have proven to me these airlines should never be ignored.
For travelers focused strictly on costs, flying budget airlines is the obvious choice. Just know the restrictions before booking, pack smart, and have proper expectations around comfort. Approach flexibly and you can have an amazing European vacation at rock bottom fares!