Getting around Europe
To find the cheapest flights to Europe:
- Plan a one-direction trip, such as London to Amsterdam to Madrid. Then buy an open-jaw ticket where you arrive in London and return home from Madrid.
- Look into a surface-sector ticket if you’re traveling some of the legs of your trip via surface transport.
- Icelandair has some great airfare deals if you fly via Reykjavik. Aer Lingus offers deals for flights to Europe via Dublin or Shannon.
Europe is well connected by planes, trains and buses. It is easy (and cheap) to take trips between major cities in Europe, especially if you start or finish in the UK, Ireland, Germany, or France—all countries where low-cost carriers fly extensive routes.
Trains run throughout mainland Europe and, since the Eurotunnel, also connect France to the UK. Check out www.raileurope.com for tickets and advice as well as interactive route maps.
Buses (coaches) are readily available and a much cheaper way of traveling. However, they are typically a lot slower and often more uncomfortable than trains. Eurolines is a good low-cost coach operator to check.
If you’re driving, consider renting a diesel. Diesels often get better mileage and are a great deal in countries that subsidize diesel. Drive on the left in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and keep the speed below 130 kmph (80 mph) on the Autobahn.
Even if you’re planning on traveling independently, check out tours as many (such as a 1-day city or 14-day country tour) can be combined with independent travel.
Why you should take a flight to Europe
For history, fine arts, winter sports, beach resorts, modern cities, and charming villages, book a flight to Europe. Whether you're heading to rich and sultry areas, or rough and rugged territory, travel around Europe is easy.
The changes in Europe's landscape and climate are as dramatically diverse as the attractions. Book cheap international flights to Europe during the hot, dry summers along the Mediterranean or experience the midnight sun in Scandinavia. Trips to Europe allow travelers to explore historical sites, museums, cities, country villages, or retrace your ancestry. Maybe you prefer shopping, lying on a beach, scaling a mountain, or backpacking through remote villages. Which is better, a remote chalet or a vibrant resort? Perhaps there’s a country you’ve always wanted to visit: England, France, Portugal, Spain, or Ireland. Or maybe you just want it all.
The possibilities are endless when you book airline tickets to Europe. Whether backpacking for a year or just popping over for a long weekend to soak in a thermal spa in Iceland or catch the theater in London, you’re bound to have an excellent time.
Mediterranean summers are hot and winters mild. In central and northern Italy and France, the climate is more temperate with humid summers and cold, damp winters. Spain and Portugal can be very hot and dry in summer, with cold and wet winters. Winter in Madrid and Spain’s high central region can be quite cold. Central Europe has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot to warm and winters cold with temperatures below freezing. Snow can fall as early as mid-September in the Alps, and the ski resorts start opening in November and remain open until April. A continuation of the Gulf Stream (North Atlantic Drift) keeps the climate in Scandinavia, the UK, Ireland, and Iceland fairly mild. Iceland’s climate is close to that of New York, and Scandinavia is more like New England or the Great Lakes region in the U.S. In the UK winters are cold and wet with occasional snow, and summers generally warm with showers. Most Europeans are on vacation in August. Some shops and attractions are closed in the cities, and the beaches and mountains are mobbed. Check your favorite travel website for tips on peak and off seasons.
Getting around Europe
Europe is very well connected by planes, trains and buses. There are regular flights between major cities, especially from busy airport hubs in the UK, Germany or France, where low-cost airlines offer cheap flights around Europe.
Trains run throughout mainland Europe, with the Eurotunnel connecting the UK to France.
Buses (coaches) are a cheaper alternative, however, they are typically much slower and often less comfortable than trains.
If you’re driving, consider renting a diesel car, which often gets better mileage. They can be a good deal in countries that subsidize diesel. The UK and Ireland operate left-hand traffic but in the rest of Europe they drive on the right.
If you’re traveling independently, it is still worth checking out tours (such as a one-day city or 14-day country tours) that can be combined with your itinerary.
Europe Travel Information
- England’s scenery, villages, trendy cities and Scotland’s golf courses draw visitors to the UK. Reminders of the past and legends are everywhere, including paths of King Arthur and Merlin in Wales and Vikings and St. Patrick in Northern Ireland.
- Ireland has produced some of the world’s greatest poets and writers and remains a retreat for golfing, fishing, and hiking. The cities are young and vibrant; the countryside is peaceful and wears its scenery, ruins, and monuments with grace.
- Germany’s cities are leading cultural, financial, and educational centers, and include two of the greenest cities in Europe. From modern to Middle Ages architecture, world-renown exhibits and performances, and the all-time best Oktoberfest, Germany is a country of many facets.
- France is a land of variety: over 400 types of cheese, 25 languages and dialects, prehistoric caves, and the Louvre. France offers sumptuous beaches, bustling cities, quiet villages, and mountain resorts. And the cuisine is as diversified as the country.
- The passion, culture, history of Italy—one of the few countries everyone knows something about. Whether your ideal vacation is soaking up the arts, visiting Vatican City, hiking, or luxuriating in a spa, you can find it in Italy.
- On the Iberian Peninsula, step back from Spain’s beaches to find fascinating sights and charming towns. The world now comes to explore Portugal with its modern resorts and towns where old traditions remain the way of life.
- The Netherlands has a rich history as a world power; Luxembourg has dense forests, medieval castles, and Battle of the Bulge memorials; and Belgium is a feast for connoisseurs and gourmands.
- Austria has the regal buildings and culture from its days as the heart of the Hapsburg Empire. The country’s hospitality and cuisine make it a year-round destination, topped only with its winter sports, historic cities, and cultural institutions