At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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From pesky visa application costs to buying various swimsuit options for your vacations, a trip abroad can be expensive. While there are a variety of techniques in order to plan a cost-effective experience, one of the main expenses that is critical to budget is your flight ticket.

There is a wide selection of budget airlines and yearly deals that provide a kaleidoscope of European destinations to fly into for a great price. Whether taking direct flights or a series of connecting air travel trips, there is something for every type of flyer.

Are you unsure which European cities would be the lowest blow to your travel budget? We’ll provide an in-depth glance into the array of destinations that offer cheap travel fares to enjoy a wonderful holiday abroad.

Cheap Flights to Europe – Top Penny-Friendly Places

Cheap fares to European cities often have a variety of factors that contribute to the lower cost, such as budget airlines and regular flight deals. Take a look at a few European cities to fly to that are known for having budget-friendly flight costs regularly:

Prague View from Above

Prague

The crowning jewel of the Czech Republic, Prague is a captivating city filled to the brim with historical significance, activities, and affordable accommodation options. As one of the cheapest European cities, you’ll have plenty of financial leeway to explore the area and its hidden treasures fully.

The Czech Republic is often seen as the middleman when it comes to places in Central Europe, which makes it the ultimate place to start your journey for country-hopping. From here, you’ll be able to travel to the major cities in Europe for very affordable prices.

For example, estimated average flight prices between Prague and London can go as low as $57 with budget airlines or $142 with a bigger airline, such as British Airways.

Prague is also a charming city to explore, with its medieval architecture, exciting museums, and attractions to explore and enjoy. With the Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square on the list, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale setting.

Within the city’s bounds, you’ll also find plenty of backpacker options and street food vendors that will be sure to keep your holiday within budget. Then, when you’ve had your fill of Prague, air travel establishments, such as Berlin Tegel Airport, are a short flight away.

Cheapest time to visit: November to early March is a great time to travel and find affordable travel options. This is where the swell of crowds diminishes, and cold weather conditions become more frequent.

Extra Tips: Check my 24 hours in Prague guide to see what you can do in just a short time there.

Budapest Aerial View at Night

Budapest

As one of the cheapest cities in Europe to visit, Budapest is an excellent option for a cost-effective trip filled with cultural splendors to add to your itinerary. Budapest also provides a central location to visit neighboring cities and countries easily.

The capital of Hungary is a wonderful change of pace from the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced urban life, as it provides a balance of modern meets historical architecture. With stately locations, such as the stoic yet awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Basilica at your disposal, you’ll find yourself drawn in by its understated beauty.

There are no non-stop flights from the US to Budapest. However, there are plenty of deals and offers in the off-season, which have lower roundtrip fares from other locations. If you want to travel from the US, there are connecting air travel options from reputable airlines, such as Turkish Airlines.

City living itself is relatively less heavy on the wallet, with affordable eateries and inexpensive accommodation options.

Cheapest time to visit: November to March is a superb time to visit if you’re hunting for a real budget deal at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

Extra Tips: You can read my weekend in Budapest guide to plan a quick yet comprehensive trip that shows you the best highlights in the city.

Milan Duomo in Italy

Milan

Milan is known for producing a wide range of luxury fashion brands and has fast-paced metropolitan living. This is interesting, considering that cheap airfare to this city is possible. Malpensa Airport is the biggest international airport there, and that’s where you’re more than likely to arrive.

As one of the busiest airports in Italy, you can expect an influx in specials and deals from a variety of airlines. Malpensa Airport also has a speedy and efficient express line to make your travel to the city center very easy.

If you’re looking to travel more regionally from Milan, Linate Airport is a great option and is also closer to Milan’s center.

This city in northern Italy pulses with a particular type of energy that will have you wanting to explore every nook and cranny of this cosmopolitan delight. From experiencing the bravado of an Italian opera or spending your days people-watching to see the latest fashion trends, you’ll surely leave Milan feeling worldly.

Italy also has extensive regional train systems, which will allow you to visit plenty of domestic destinations for relative prices. If you’re looking for the cheapest cities in Italy nearby, look at Turin,  a budget-friendly option for travelers looking to save on accommodation prices.

Cheapest time to visit: November to late February is one of the most cost-effective options to arrive at Malpensa or Linate airport.

Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin

A city that embodies the epitome of traveling on greener pastures, taking a cheap flight to Dublin is a no-brainer. Embark on a trip of a lifetime with an urban space filled with pubs, natural attractions, and a down-to-earth charm, you’ll always find something to do in the Emerald Isle

Ryanair is a popular and low-cost carrier entity that finds its roots in Ireland. So, you’ll find a bounty of cheap flights to and from Dublin Airport through their airline. While ticket prices might not be a problem, this city can be relatively expensive in regard to places to stay if you’re not booking at a Dublin hostel.

When you’re looking for entertainment, there are a variety of free things to do in Dublin. Activities range from beautiful gardens to a multitude of museums with free admission. If Dublin seems too rich for your taste, a selection of affordable, nearby countries in northern Europe might tickle your fancy.

Cheapest time to visit: As the cold makes its way to Ireland, Dublin Airport has fewer visitors, which means more reasonable ticket prices. The winter months (from December to late February) are the perfect time to pack your winter coat and arrive at this Ireland airport.

Extra Tips: Dublin is amazing, but it’s also a great city to do day trips from to explore more of Ireland. Here are some of the best day trips from Dublin.

Eiffel Tower at Sunset in Paris

Paris

While it might be a shock to see Paris on the list, France is known as a powerhouse when it comes to providing low-cost carriers and famous international airlines. However, this is entirely dependent on what country you’re flying from, which is why prices vary.

As Charles De Gaulle Airport is one of the largest airports in Europe, you’ll find a wide selection of airlines and flight deals throughout the year to choose from. JetBlue, a low-cost carrier from the US, is now offering direct flights from New York to Paris at more reasonable prices.

Beyond the largest airport in France, there are a vast number of airlines that frequent the airstrips in this country. This means an influx in flight deals to offer a competitive fare for travelers to capitalize on.

From the silhouette of the iconic Eiffel Tower to the lingering aroma of freshly baked baguettes in the air, Paris provides an escape by indulging in the everyday pleasures of life.

While the city itself can place some strain on your travel budget, there are plenty of affordable places close to the City of Lights. Nancy, a mere two-hour train ride away, is a fantastic cheap city alternative to experience the Parisian dream while keeping within your financial limits.

Cheapest time to visit: December to late February will be the prime time to visit Paris as the cold tends to ward off summer-loving tourists. However, who can resist gazing at the Eiffel Tower with a slight sugar-dusted effect from the snow?

Barcelona's view from Parc Guell

Barcelona

With a vibrant culture and an aura of celebration in the air, Barcelona is bound to leave you in a festive mood once you step foot off this Spain airport. A wide variety of airline types make their stops in this city, so you’ll be able to find various flight deals throughout the year that could potentially adhere to your budget needs.

It has also been reported that the Spanish government is planning to initiate a project to lower prices for UK travelers looking to travel to the country’s sunny shores.

While Spain, in general, can be a great place to find cheap flights, Barcelona has the second busiest airport, with many flights operating each day. This will likely increase the chances of a great deal to Barcelona that fits your traveling needs, such as price and time of year.

This city is a beautiful place to experience if you’re looking to save on flight expenses and spend your budget indulging in the decadent, slow-living lifestyle of Barcelona. It’s also one of the best cities for architecture lovers.

Whether sipping cocktails on pristine beaches or toasting the sunrise at a hip-swaying nightclub, you’re in for a treat.

Cheapest time to visit: You’ll be able to find cheap flights from November to early March when the low season commences in this energetic metropolis.

Extra Tips: Barcelona and Gaudi are almost synonymous, so a trip to Barcelona is not complete if you don’t visit some of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Here’s a guide to Gaudi’s best buildings in Barcelona.

Istanbul Sunset from the Bay

Istanbul

Filled with mosaics of mosques and bargain-hunting bazaars, Istanbul is one of the cheapest European cities that provide an array of experiences to enjoy. As the hub of the famous Turkish Airlines, you’ll be able to find a variety of reasonably priced flights throughout the year.

While connecting flights are generally considered cheaper, Turkish Airlines provides direct trips for travelers looking to skip the hassle of long layovers. Istanbul Airport is the main Turkey airport, which will likely be your destination if you fly internationally.

Istanbul is the perfect place to immerse yourself in a unique culture and venture into an in-depth experience of what makes this remarkable city so magical. Whether marveling at The Blue Mosque or enjoying some solitude in a Turkish bath, you’ll find some peace within this enigmatic space.

You’ll also have a large repertoire of accommodation types at your disposal. Ranging from the lap of luxury living to basic setups, you’ll have a wide range of options at your disposal.

Istanbul is also seen as a great gateway to the rest of Europe, so you’ll have plenty of European city options if you’re aiming to stop in multiple places.

Cheapest time to visit: The end of February is a stellar option to fly into Europe on ar a reasonable price, but be sure to pack warm clothing.

Extra Tips: Make sure you visit some of the best mosques in Istanbul. Here’s a list of Istanbul Mosques you shouldn’t miss seeing.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Athens

As Athens provides a colorful tapestry of beaches and whitewashed hills of houses in its wake, it’s hard to believe this city has cheap fares for flights. The Greek capital is an excellent option for travelers looking to expand their European vacation, as flight prices can be reasonably low at certain times.

Athens International Airport, also known as Eleftherios Venizelos, is where all international flights and departures occur. In comparison to other European airports, this entity is relatively smaller in size and is known as the busiest airport in Greece.

This is why it’s imperative to book your direct flight in the shoulder seasons to ensure you don’t feel like you’re sitting in a “sardine can” during your travels.

While Athens might not be the cheapest city to live in, you’ll be entranced by its natural beauty and historical relics scattered across its plains. You’ll be able to explore ancient sites, such as the Parthenon, and witness the remaining remnants of a world once lived.

Cheapest time to visit: March and May is the ideal time to book the cheapest fares, as it’s the low season in Athens.

Warsaw Square from Above

Warsaw

A stunning budget destination sprinkled with preserved Romanesque and neoclassical architecture, Warsaw is a hidden gem and a great place to experience Europe on a budget. You’ll more than likely fly into the Warsaw Chopin Airport, which has a direct train line to take you to the city center with ease.

As this urban space is the largest in Poland, you’ll have ample opportunity to marvel at the grand structures and cultural attractions. Warsaw has a wide selection of neighboring countries if you’re looking to add another destination to your itinerary.

While Ukraine is among the list of bordering countries, its political unrest currently makes this destination an unsafe place.

Cheapest time to travel: December to late January is a great time to book the cheapest flights, as the cold weather generally wards off the masses.

London Sunset from the Thames River

London

A city that is sure to frequent any travel bucket list, London is the perfect place to embrace the elegance and refinement European cities can provide. The busiest airport is London Heathrow Airport, which experiences an immense influx of foot traffic from tourists throughout the year.

This is why you’ll find a wide range of specials and deals pertaining to flights to London due to its wide range of airlines originating and operating from the UK. While there are plenty of direct flights from various destinations, the cheapest option would be to opt for a connecting flight.

London is not the cheapest European city to visit, but it packs a punch by offering a buffet of choices when it comes to sightseeing and popular attraction-hopping. From perusing arty excellence at the British Museum or simply strolling in Hyde Park, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a vacation with a manifold of memories.

As London often feels like a world in itself, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the multitude of boroughs of the city and find accommodation prices and types that fit your needs.

Cheapest time to visit: January to late April is considered a great time to book your round-trip tickets to London as the winter months make their way to the Big Smoke.  

Airplane Landing

Tips for Cheap Direct Flights to European Cities

While there is often a good selection of flight specials throughout the year, it’s best not to rely on Lady Luck to provide you with the right travel price at the right time. Take a look at a few tips and tricks to ensure you snag and find the deal of your dreams:

  • Be open-minded – A travel date is often the second step to planning a trip (after selecting your destination), but being flexible on your specific travel time could be beneficial. Finding cheap flights is all about knowing your destination’s shoulder seasons and checking which specific date is the most affordable.
  • Consider low-cost carriers – Budget airlines often offer low-cost flights and are a great option if you plan to fly regionally. These airlines often reduce amenities and services generally provided by more popular carriers, such as possible restrictions or extra fees for carry-on bags.
  • Book ahead – While this might be a no-brainer, it’s essential to capitalize on specific date selections when you spot cheap airfare. If you’re planning to fly internationally, secure your tickets a minimum of two months before departure. Be sure not to book too far ahead in order to give yourself some leeway if your plans change.
  • Search in multiple places – My go-to search engines to find the cheapest flights are Skyscanner, Kayak, Wayaway, and Google Flights. Typically I rotate through these sites in that order to compare prices before landing on the cheapest airfare possible. Check out this comprehensive post with plenty of resources detailing everything to know to travel hack your trip, and find the cheapest airfare.
  • Consider mixing overland options too – While this guide focused on budget flying, Europe has an extensive and well-connected train network that shouldn’t be discounted when planning your trip. Check out this other comprehensive guide showing you whether getting a Eurail Pass or purchasing train trips independently is better for you.
View from a window plane

FAQ – Affordable Flights to Europe’s Cheapest Cities

As easy as booking a flight special to the cheapest European cities might sound, there are various factors to consider while making your decision. Take a look at a few common queries to ensure you fly there with style:

Is budget traveling possible in Europe?

Flight prices are one of the main expenses during travel, so by choosing a budget-friendly European city to fly into, you’re already making a good headway. You can also research cost-effective accommodations (such as hostels) and local eateries to meet your predetermined travel costs.

You’ll also find that European cities have a broad scope of free activities to enjoy, such as free walking tours and free museum admissions on certain days.

What are the cheapest months to visit Europe?

The cheapest months for direct flights to Europe would be within the specific regions’ off or shoulder seasons. Winter months are often seen as the best time to travel for penny pinchers, which usually takes place around October to March (with the exception of the holiday season in December).

The months of June and July are when travelers stream into the seams of Europe. So, if you happen upon a flight special during this time, be sure to account for the increase in crowds and accommodation prices.

What is the most affordable way to travel in Europe?

Public transport is king in Europe, as it is generally considered to be well-run and a cost-effective way to travel. With an array of public travel options, such as bus and train lines, you’ll have no problem traveling to other European cities.

You’ll also find that some of the most budget and low-cost carrier airlines fly frequently in some vicinities, which increases your chance of finding a flight in your price range.

Kerns in Switzerland

Final Thoughts on Flying to the Cheapest Cities in Europe

The exciting intricacies of Europe are often dubbed as an expensive experience to invest in, but there are a few picturesque places that offer a budget-friendly option. Low-carrier and large airlines often have specific deals and specials throughout the year in certain areas that you can capitalize on.

Whether it’s the historical plains of Prague or the seaside escape of Athens, Europe has a wide range of locations that will lift your spirits rather than your travel expenses.

If you’re looking to keep within the momentum of cost-effective travel, be sure to do your research on booking cheap accommodation. With a selection of free activities and phenomenal sightseeing available, you’ll be able to simply walk through these streets and find yourself entranced and entertained.

Are you looking for a budget alternative to luxury locations beyond Europe? Take a look at a few under-the-radar destinations to embark on a memorable journey.

Cheapest Place to Fly Into Europe | Your Guide To A Budget-Friendly Trip
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