Europe flights and travel guide

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Reasons to fly to Europe

In terms of land area, Europe may be the second-smallest continent but the 50 or so European countries offer an extraordinary diversity, from Russia in the north to Greece in the south, west to the Azores and east to the border of Asia. 

The countries of Western Europe are prosperous and stable and first in mind for family holidays, while some of the Central and Eastern European states are luring budget-minded travellers keen to enjoy the sun outside the pricey Eurozone.

Travellers visiting Europe have a wealth of holiday itineraries from which to choose: touring Ireland's Burren limestone plateau, seeing the Northern Lights in Sweden or Norway and exploring the French villages in Provence, skiing in the Swiss Alps or relaxing on a beach in the Greek islands.

Europe's jewel-like capitals have a captivating charm, with unique cultural, architectural and historic characters and sites. Romantic Paris is renowned as the beautiful City of Lights; stately Vienna was the centre of the Habsburg Empire for more than 600 years; stunning spire-dotted Prague is a gem of art and architecture, while medieval Krakow was once Poland's capital and seat of kings.

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Europe climate

The Mediterranean enjoys hot summers (May to August) and mild winters (December to February). In central and northern Italy and France, the climate is more temperate, with humid summers and cold, damp winters. Summer in Spain and Portugal can be very hot and dry, followed by cold and wet winters. Central Europe's temperate climate has four distinct seasons, with hot to warm summers and temperatures often dropping below zero in winter. Snow can fall as early as mid-September in the Alps. Ski resorts open from November to April. The climate in Scandinavia, the UK, Ireland and Iceland is kept fairly mild by a continuation of the Gulf Stream (North Atlantic Drift). Most Europeans holiday in August, when many cities close down and locals flee to the beaches and mountains.

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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 travelling 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.

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Europe insider information

  • Germany is a multi-faceted country, from modern to medieval architecture and world-renowned orchestras to the popular beer guzzler's celebration, Oktoberfest. German cities are leading cultural, financial and educational centres and include two of the greenest cities in Europe.
  • Ireland is a land of timeless traditional villages, friendly pubs, vibrant cities, spirited music and people and awe-inspiring landscapes.
  • France is renowned for its variety, with more than 400 types of cheese, prehistoric caves, sumptuous beaches, bustling cosmopolitan cities, quaint villages and mountain resorts. French cuisine is as diverse as the country and no-one should miss the magnificent art collection at the Louvre.
  • Italy's culture, history, fashion, food, stunning countryside and passionate people have made the boot-shaped country one of the most romantic and popular European destinations. Variety is the spice of life in Italy, whether you are soaking up the arts, visiting the Vatican City, taking a gourmet tour through the villages of Tuscany or soaking up the sun on the Amalfi coast.
  • Bullfights, flamenco and beaches aside, Spain's many charms come from its diverse regions, cultures, cuisines and landscapes - from the stunning mountains of Andalucia and lively nightlife in Madrid, to the arts and architecture of cosmopolitan Barcelona and Bilboa's futuristic Guggenheim museum.
  • Once the hidden gem of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal still retains a charm, with traditional villages, historic towns as well as a stunning coastline dotted with popular beach resorts.
  • The Netherlands has a rich history as a world power; Tiny Luxembourg has dense forests, medieval castles and a fairytale Heritage-listed capital city with more Michelin-star restaurants per capita than any city in the world; Belgium is a veritable feast for chocolate connoisseurs and gourmands.
  • Austria's regal buildings and cultural heritage stem from its heyday as the centre of the Hapsburg Empire. It's a year-round destination, thanks to the country’s hospitality and fine cuisine, historic cities, cultural institutions and popular winter sports.

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Oonagh Shiel
Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!
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    London (LGW) to Barcelona, Spain (BCN)
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    1. USA Offers - End 26 May fr £343 rt
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    Approx flight times

    Gatwick to Rinas:
    3 hr 0 mins
    Stansted to Rinas:
    3 hr 15 mins
    Heathrow to Zvartnots:
    5 hr 0 mins
    Stansted to Thalerhof:
    2 hr 5 mins
    Gatwick to Kranebitten:
    1 hr 55 mins
    Stansted to Horsching:
    1 hr 55 mins
    Stansted to Salzburg:
    1 hr 48 mins

    In-flight reading

    Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

    Bill BrysonU.S. writer Bill Bryson’s humorous account of his travels across Europe.

    A Tramp Abroad

    Mark TwainAnecdotes and stories—some of them quite tall—about the humorist’s travels through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Not one of Twain’s best books, nonetheless an amusing read.

    The Art of Eating

    M.F.K. FisherA collection of essays—some autobiographical and some about food preparation and consumption—from California, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Mexico, all interwoven with Fisher’s passion for food and cooking.

    Pillars of Hercules

    Paul TherouxChronicle of Theroux’s travels from Gibraltar around the Mediterranean coasts of Spain, Italy, Greece, and North Africa, with no shortage of insights and sardonic opinions.

    Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory

    Norman DaviesA new history of the Second World War in which Davies explores both the causes of the war and the great effects throughout the continent.

    Travel Tips

    Read expert tips on getting the most out of travel

    Adventure travel
    Skiing airports
    At the airport
    Airport lounges
    Bagging a bargain
    Shoulder seasons
    Before you fly
    Glossary of flying terms
    Carbon emissions
    Before you go
    Jet lag
    Family travel
    Buying homes abroad
    Travelling with children
    Romantic getaways
    Weddings abroad

    More travel tips