There was a time when flying around Europe was just for the rich and famous. Ticket prices were sky high, no pun intended, and it just made more sense to take the train. Today though, the world is a much different place. Thanks to a handful of budget airlines all competing for customers, you can score discount tickets for half or even a quarter of the price of a long distance train. The best part is that every few years a new budget airline pops up and prices drop even further.
Budget airlines can definitely make a trip around Europe more affordable and fun but it is important to remember why the prices can remain so low. Budget airlines often cut corners when it comes to service. Don’t expect fancy new planes, great customer service, or any free amenities. That being said, even the most basic one hour flight tops a 12 hour overnight train ride, especially when you only have a short vacation to see as much of Europe as you can.
Below are three of the top budget airlines in Europe. They each have their own pros and cons but across the board they all offer great discounted prices.
Connecting over 30 countries and flying 600 routes, EasyJet is easily one of Europe’s most popular budget airlines. Based in the UK, they offer most of their point to point tickets from their UK hub which makes them a great option if you are beginning or ending your trip in London. Beyond the UK though, they fly to many of the major cities in Europe as well as running flights to Moscow, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.
Sign up for the EasyJet newsletter to hear about their discount sales first. If you are flexible with travel plans, it is also worth checking out their Inspire Me tool, which lets you put in your departing airport and your budget before listing all the potential destinations you could reach.
If you will be traveling north to Scandinavia, you will definitely want to check out the highly rated and award winning Norwegian Airline. This budget airline is considered one of Europe’s best with good service and nice planes. The tickets are not quite as cheap as some other budget airlines but they are usually the best option if you are flying to anywhere in Sweden, Norway, or Denmark.
Beyond Scandinavia, Norwegian also flies to destinations throughout Europe and even down to the Canary Islands. Beginning in 2013 the airline created a separate part of the company for long haul flights. These offer connections from Oslo and Stockholm to cities as far away as Bangkok and Los Angeles, all for budget prices.
While they are probably Europe’s most well known budget airline, they are also considered by many to be the worst. You can’t beat the prices with crazy sales offering tickets for as low as €10. They fly throughout Europe and offer many popular routes which are booked up quickly by budget travelers and European youth looking for a cheap holiday.
All that being said, it is very important to understand all of RyanAir’s rules and fees before booking a ticket. While the airline’s base ticket prices are as low as you can go, they quickly make it back in fees for everything from credit card books to carry on bags. If you are aware of the fees beforehand and plan ahead, RyanAir can often be a great deal.