Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe’s Top Destinations
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - London Calling on the Cheap
London is one of Europe's most iconic and exciting destinations. With world-class museums, royal palaces, West End theatre shows, and delicious fish and chips, it's easy to see why it tops many travelers' bucket lists. However, London also has a reputation for being an expensive city. Thankfully, there are ways to visit London on a budget so you can experience all this world capital has to offer without breaking the bank.
The key to affordable airfare is flexibility. London has several major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and London City. Checking prices across all of these airports, as well as considering nearby hubs like Paris, Amsterdam, or Dublin, will give you the most options. Being open to various travel dates is also helpful as airfare fluctuates. Traveling in the off-season between November and March provides lower fares, and avoiding school holidays helps too. Signing up for airfare deal alerts is an easy way to find discounted tickets once they become available.
Once in London, convenient and affordable public transportation like the Tube makes getting around simple. Buy an Oyster card to save time and money. Many of London's top museums like the British Museum, National Gallery, and Tate Modern are free. Wandering through iconic neighborhoods like Notting Hill and Borough Market offers endless entertainment without spending a penny.
Splurging on an exciting West End show or premier attraction like the London Eye or Tower of London is manageable by bundling with a London Pass. With over 60 included attractions, tours, and experiences, a London Pass allows you to customize your itinerary while saving up to 55% on individual admissions.
London has enticing food from all over the world. For an inexpensive British staple, grab fish and chips from a "chippy" shop or street food market. Affordable Indian curries can be found in Brick Lane. Try a free walking tour followed by a picnic in a park for a budget-friendly day.
What else is in this post?
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - London Calling on the Cheap
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Affordable Airfare to Picturesque Paris
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Get Your Gelato Fix for Less in Rome
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Madrid for Miles, Not Money
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Cheap Seats to Munich for Oktoberfest
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Roundtrip Rotterdam without Breaking the Bank
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Frugal Flights to the Canals of Amsterdam
- Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Budget Your Way to Beautiful Barcelona
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Affordable Airfare to Picturesque Paris
Ah, Paris. The City of Light draws millions of visitors every year eager to take in the romance of the Eiffel Tower, the masterpieces of the Louvre, and the croissants and cafés. But experiencing all that Parisian beauty and culture often comes with a hefty price tag, especially when it comes to airfare. Thankfully, there are ways to score budget-friendly flights to Paris so you can enjoy the city without blowing your travel budget.
The first tip is to fly into one of Paris' secondary airports instead of Charles de Gaulle. Paris-Orly and Paris-Beauvais offer flights on low-cost carriers like Ryanair, Vueling, and easyJet that regularly have deals under $100 roundtrip. Flying into these smaller airports means taking a shuttle or train into the city center, but the transportation costs are minor compared to the airfare savings. Just be sure to account for the extra transit time needed.
Another key strategy is traveling during the off-season. Paris is busiest from June through August and airfares reflect that. Visiting in the fall, winter, or early spring provides lower demand. Searching across a whole month using the calendar tool on booking sites like Google Flights helps pinpoint the cheapest travel dates within the off-season. Being flexible by a few days can yield even better deals.
Sign up for fare alerts from airlines that fly to Paris including Air France, Delta, and United. Snagging a discounted economy fare in advance beats paying inflated last-minute rates. Using miles and points can be an affordable way to upgrade to business class for the long transatlantic flight too.
Consider positioning to a gateway city in Europe to catch a cheap intra-Europe flight on a low-cost carrier. Flights from cities like Dublin, Madrid, Amsterdam, or Istanbul to Paris routinely cost under $50 one-way.
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Get Your Gelato Fix for Less in Rome
Ciao Roma! Italy's capital is home to unbelievable art, architecture, food, and romance. Meandering cobblestone streets lead you to jaw-dropping sights like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Vatican City. Of course, no trip to Rome is complete without indulging in pasta, pizza, and gelato. With so much to see, taste, and experience, Rome tops many travelers' bucket lists. However, with notoriously high airfares to Europe, is Rome just a pipe dream for budget travelers? Absolutely not! Here are insider tips for scoring affordable flights to the Eternal City.
The first step is checking both Rome's major airport, Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, as well as Rome's secondary airport, Rome Ciampino Airport. Some low-cost carriers like Ryanair exclusively fly into Ciampino, so checking both airports increases your chances of finding a deal. If your dates are flexible, use the calendar tool on Google Flights or Kayak to pinpoint the cheapest month. Fares generally dip from November to March during Rome's off-season.
When possible, book at least two months in advance. This increases the odds of finding an affordable economy fare before prices spike closer to departure. Sign up for fare alerts from full-service airlines like Alitalia, Delta, and American Airlines, as well as low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air and Vueling. Consider flying into another European city first on a cheap flight, then catching a budget intra-Europe flight on easyJet, Vueling, or Ryanair. Cities like London, Barcelona, Madrid, and Stockholm frequently have deals under $100 roundtrip to Rome.
Another way to cut costs is by using miles and points to book award tickets. American Airlines frequently offers off-peak economy awards to Rome for only 30,000 AAdvantage miles roundtrip. United and Delta also fly to Rome, so compare award charts. Consider pooling household points balances across multiple loyalty programs to boost your redemption options. Upgrading to a premium cabin like business class is often a better value when redeeming miles instead of buying tickets outright. This transforms the long overseas flight into a relaxing experience so you touch down in Rome refreshed and ready to dive into la dolce vita.
Despite Rome's reputation for being pricey, it's easy to experience the city affordably once you arrive. Public transportation like the metro, buses, and trams make getting around simple with passes starting around €1.50. Vatican City, famous for the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica, offers free admission. Piazzas like Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps are free. Soak up over 900 years of history by wandering the ruins of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon using a combination ticket to save.
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Madrid for Miles, Not Money
Madrid is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, with world-class art museums like the Prado and Reina Sofia, lively plazas perfect for people watching while sipping sangria, and an exciting food scene spanning tapas bars, market halls, and Michelin-starred restaurants. As Spain’s capital and largest city, it attracts millions of visitors annually. Many hope to experience Madrid’s culture, nightlife, food, and sightseeing on a budget. With strategic planning, you can not only get cheap flights to Madrid but even fly for free using miles and points.
The key to affordable airfare is advance planning and date flexibility. Set up fare alerts for flights from your departure city to Madrid on full-service carriers like Iberia, American Airlines, Delta and United. Also watch for deals on low-cost airlines like Norwegian Air, Volaris, and Vueling. Consider flying into an alternative gateway city in Europe first, then booking a separate onward ticket on a low-cost carrier like Ryanair, Vueling or easyJet. Cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam and Lisbon often have cheap flights to Madrid under $100 roundtrip.
However, the best way to experience Madrid without cash is by booking award tickets using airline miles and points. American Airlines MileSAAver off-peak awards are only 30,000 AAdvantage miles roundtrip to Madrid. United and Air Canada both fly direct from numerous North American cities to Madrid and offer good award availability using MileagePlus miles or Aeroplan miles respectively. Search oneworld partner airlines like Iberia and British Airways for awards booked with AAdvantage miles. Consider pooling points from credit card bonuses or household members.
Even when cash fares are cheap, using miles allows you to fly in a premium cabin like business class that would be very expensive to purchase outright. Lie-flat seats for sleeping make red-eyes actually enjoyable. High-quality meals, lounges, priority services and extra baggage are perks. This transforms an exhausting overnight haul into a relaxing experience so you touch down energized and ready to fully indulge in Madrid’s food, art and nightlife.
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Cheap Seats to Munich for Oktoberfest
Each September, Munich hosts the world's largest folk festival - Oktoberfest. Over 6 million revelers flock to the Bavarian capital to partake in beer drinking, bratwurst eating, music, rides, games, and merriment. But airfare to Munich during the 2-week festival understandably skyrockets. Is it still possible to score an affordable flight to join the festivities? Absolutely! With strategic planning, you can land discount airfare to Munich and have an epic Oktoberfest experience without draining your wallet.
The key is booking early. Set calendar fare alerts for Munich departing from your nearest airport 9-12 months prior to your target Oktoberfest dates. Watch for fare sales and snag tickets as soon as you see a good deal. Following airfare trends over the year helps you determine the baseline for a “cheap” flight during peak season. Signing up for newsletters from German carriers like Lufthansa and budget airline Eurowings also provides advance notice of sales.
Consider positioning to Europe from North America first on an affordable standard economy or basic economy fare. Then book a separate intra-Europe ticket on a low-cost carrier like easyJet, Vueling or Ryanair. Flying budget airlines means no frills, but the base fares regularly dip below $100 roundtrip during shoulder season.
Check alternate Bavarian airports like Memmingen Airport or Nuremberg Airport which are served by ultra-low-cost carriers like Ryanair, Wizz Air, and Vueling. The airports are smaller and farther from Munich, but the cost savings of $100+ over flying directly into Munich Airport may justify the longer transfer.
Using miles and points to book award flights is another terrific tactic for cheap award flights to Munich for Oktoberfest. American Airlines runs MileSAAver off-peak awards to Munich for only 30,000 AAdvantage miles roundtrip from North America. United, Air Canada, Turkish Airlines, and Lufthansa all fly to Munich and offer reasonable award rates. Waitlisting award tickets often clears last-minute too. Consider pooling points and miles across different programs and household members.
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Roundtrip Rotterdam without Breaking the Bank
The port city of Rotterdam offers a funky, fun, and affordable European getaway. As the Netherlands' second largest metropolis behind Amsterdam, Rotterdam packs in innovative architecture, vibrant nightlife, excellent museums, and multicultural dining. Best of all, several strategies exist for scoring a cheap flight to Rotterdam so you can experience this up-and-coming destination without draining your vacation budget.
The first tip for affordable airfare is checking both of Rotterdam's airports. Some airlines and routes only fly into Rotterdam The Hague Airport, while others utilize the larger Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Expanding your airport options increases the odds of finding a discount fare. When using flight search engines like Google Flights or Kayak, select "All Airports" for your destination to compare pricing across both.
Travel during shoulder season between September-November and February-March. Rotterdam lacks the hordes of summer tourists that flock to Amsterdam, meaning lower demand and better flight deals in the fall, winter and early spring. Skyscanner's whole month search calendar lets you easily spot the cheapest travel dates within your flexible timeframe.
Sign up for fare alerts and sales from airlines offering service to Rotterdam like KLM, Transavia, easyJet, and Vueling. Consider flying budget carriers like Eurowings, Condor, and Level for deals under $400 roundtrip from North America. Utilize low-cost intra-Europe carriers to connect from a major hub like London, Paris or Frankfurt for under $100 roundtrip.
Frequent flyer programs like American's AAdvantage or Delta's SkyMiles can offer reasonable award ticket rates, especially when flying during off-peak dates. Though the mileage cost is slightly higher than other European destinations, the ease of redeeming points for Rotterdam flights during high season makes this option worthwhile. Upgrading to business class is generally a better value when using miles instead of cash.
Once in Rotterdam, affordable lodging can be found at centrally located hostels like King Kong or Ani & Haakien. Public transportation like the metro, tram, and bus provide easy access around the city with day passes under $10. Most museums offer discounted rates for students and youth under age 25. Free attractions include the striking Markthal food hall and the Kubuswoningen Cube Houses architectural wonders.
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Frugal Flights to the Canals of Amsterdam
Amsterdam's stunning canals, world-class museums, and lively cafés have been attracting visitors for centuries. As the Netherlands’ largest city, Amsterdam offers countless cultural, culinary, and sightseeing experiences. However, many budget-conscious travelers assume a trip to this popular destination will blow their vacation budget. Thankfully, flexible travelers can score affordable flights to Amsterdam with some strategic planning.
The key is checking rates to all five of Amsterdam's airports. Fares can vary significantly across Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Eindhoven Airport, Lelystad Airport, and Brussels Airport in nearby Belgium. Utilizing flight search engines that allow you to select "All Airports" or specifically choose each airport you want to check is crucial for uncovering deals. Signing up for airfare sale alerts from KLM, Transavia, and easyJet will notify you the moment discounted fares become available.
Visiting during shoulder season between September-November and February-March provides lower airfare as the summer crowds dwindle. Using the calendar function on sites like Google Flights and Skyscanner helps identify the cheapest travel dates within your flexible range. Maintaining an open mind about departure days and trip length is key, as prices can fluctuate drastically depending on 7, 10, or 14 day excursions.
Many European low-cost carriers offer affordable flights to Amsterdam from cities across the continent. Connecting through major hubs like London, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, or Dublin then booking separate onward travel to Amsterdam is a proven budget strategy. Ryanair, easyJet, Vueling, Eurowings, and Transavia regularly offer intra-Europe fares under $100 roundtrip.
For the best free flight options, American Airlines' off-peak awards allow roundtrip travel from North America to Amsterdam for only 30,000 AAdvantage miles. United, Air Canada, and KLM also fly direct and offer reasonable award rates. Tack on a free one-way flight using miles to position from your home airport to the gateway city abroad. Strategically pooling miles across household members and credit card bonuses maximizes award redemption opportunities.
Hop Across the Pond: 5 Budget-Friendly Flights to Europe's Top Destinations - Budget Your Way to Beautiful Barcelona
Barcelona dazzles travelers with its sunny Mediterranean beaches, whimsical modernist architecture, and exciting culinary experiences. As the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, Barcelona offers boundless culture, nightlife, shopping, and sightseeing. Visitors flock to wander the alleys of Barri Gòtic, admire the Sagrada Família, and relax at sidewalk cafés on La Rambla. However, the popularity of this cosmopolitan coastal city makes airfare notoriously expensive, especially during the summer high season. Thankfully, flexible travelers willing to hunt for deals can unlock affordable flights to Barcelona.
The key to cheap airfare is checking rates across Barcelona’s multiple airports. Prices can vary greatly between Barcelona–El Prat Airport, Girona–Costa Brava Airport, Reus Airport, and even Madrid-Barajas Airport. Utilizing flight search engines that compare all nearby airports in a single search saves time and surfaces hidden deals. Signing up for fare alerts from Vueling, Iberia, and Ryanair will notify you when sales launch.
Visiting during the shoulder season from September–November provides a respite from summer crowds and inflated airfare. Using the calendar function on Google Flights identifies the cheapest travel dates within your flexible timeframe. Maintaining an open mind about departure days and trip duration is crucial, as fares fluctuate daily.
Many European low-cost carriers offer ultra-cheap flights to Barcelona from cities across the continent. Connecting through major hubs like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome or Frankfurt then booking separate onward travel to Barcelona can slash costs. easyJet, Vueling, Ryanair, Eurowings, and Norwegian regularly offer fares under $75 roundtrip for intra-Europe hops.
Another money-saving tactic is using miles and points to book award travel. American Airlines offers roundtrip awards from North America to Barcelona for just 30,000 AAdvantage miles during off-peak dates. Iberia, British Airways, and Air Canada also fly direct from many cities and provide solid award availability. Strategically pooling points across programs and household members maximizes redemption opportunities.