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Madrid, Spain

Flight Prices Too High? These are the Cheapest Cities in Europe to Fly To

High flight prices to Europe are still common, unfortunately, but you that doesn't mean you have to scrap your travel plans. Travelers who aim for the cheapest cities and figure out the rest of their (usually extremely cheap) travel from there are going to pull off the Europe trips of their dreams this year or next.

These days, a typical flight from the U.S. to Europe clocks in at around $800 or more, with some summer fares routinely eclipsing $1,000 per ticket roundtrip. But before you hand over your credit card, know there's a better way.

We've already identified some of the best U.S. airports for cheap fares across the Atlantic. But the same holds true on the other side of the pond: Some European cities are regularly cheaper (and we mean much cheaper) to fly into than others. Again and again, we're finding and sending our Thrifty Traveler Premium members cheap transatlantic fares to some of the same destinations.

From the Emerald Isle to the Iberian Peninsula and all the way up to Scandinavia and back, these destinations with roundtrip fares under $500 – and sometimes even under $300 – are easily worth a visit. But even if they're not on your radar, you'd be wise to hop on one of these flights. The reason? Flights within Europe are crazy cheap, meaning you could score a cheap long-haul flight, then connect onward to your final destination and come out way ahead.

Just see how cheap these flights from Madrid (MAD) across the continent can get…


Google Flights search for flights from Madrid to Europe


That's right! You just have to get there. After that, the continent is your oyster. So if you really want to go to Rome this year, the best way to get there isn't finding a flight from the U.S. to Rome (FCO). It will pay to look at flights to Lisbon (LIS) and Madrid (MAD), too, which could get you there for half the price.

So let's take a look at those places where the cheap flights are flowing and get started on planning your trip.



Thanks to the nation's flag carrier, Aer Lingus, and competition from the big U.S. airlines as well as ultra-low-cost European carriers, Dublin (DUB) is the perfect place to find a cheap flight and start a European journey. How cheap?


Ireland flight deal 

This Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal was a doozy. Dozens of U.S. cities featured Dublin fares for less than $600. Normally, these fares will run travelers closer to $700 or $750 to get over to Dublin.

If Dublin is on your list, great. Even if it isn't, you could book a cheap roundtrip fare like this, spend a few days checking it out, then head onward to Europe.

And it's not just budget carriers. Remember when we mentioned Aer Lingus? The Irish airline runs nonstop routes all over North America. From time to time, they put those routes on sale … big time!


Ireland flight deal


Get ultra-cheap fares to Dublin and elsewhere in Europe with Thrifty Traveler Premium!

This deal proves that Ireland is a first-ballot, hall-of-famer for finding cheap flights to Europe. Aer Lingus's nonstop routes can creep up into the $600s and $700s, but they routinely run big sales like this one throughout the year.

But allow me a second to dabble in a little luxury, too.


Business class flight deal to Dublin


Think about this: You book this sweet business class flight and arrive in Dublin (DUB) feeling refreshed and ready to explore Europe. Then, you jump on a quick, $50, intra-Europe flight to start your journey. Does that sound good to anyone else?

It's better than paying the $2,000-$4,000 this flight might otherwise cost you, too.

Only our Thrifty Traveler Premium+ members get these award alerts to use their points and miles!



Yes, you read that right. While they might have a reputation for expensive flights (and expensive everything else), we've seen fares to the likes of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden tumble.

It's all thanks to competition from a handful of airlines like SAS, Norse Atlantic, Icelandair, and even Finnair.


Norway flight deal


This flight deal from a few months ago featured fares in the $500s from all over the U.S. to Oslo, Norway (OSL). While fares have dipped to Norway recently, you can consistently find crazy cheap flights to Stockholm, Sweden, too. 


Stockholm, Sweden flight deal from Chicago


Finally, Copenhagen (CPH) also benefits from some consistently cheap airfare. From coast-to-coast, these fares were all below $599 roundtrip and some were even sub-$500. Plus, it included some of the smaller airports on our list of more than 200 North American cities. From Corpus Christi (CRP) to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (MDT), you don't need to live in a major hub to book deals like these.


Copenhagen flight deal


Overall, flights to Scandinavia can routinely run travelers around $700 or $800 depending on where in North America they originate. But these airlines consistently run big sales on their routes. If you're ready to pounce, you can save big!

And thanks to budget carriers like SAS and Norwegian, connecting on to the rest of Europe from these Scandinavian countries is easy – and cheap.



If you can get to Spain for cheap, you can get almost anywhere in Europe for less. Lucky for you, cheap flights to Spain aren't hard to come by.


Spain flight deal


Madrid (MAD) is a great airport to target for cheap flights almost any time of year. Fares into Spain are regularly the cheapest you'll find across the continent. There are so many airports in the country, every airline flies there, and crazy low fares from Iberia always lead to big sales.

If you have a small stash of points and miles, even better! This AAdvantage miles deal flying to all over Europe included a few Spanish cities, including Barcelona (BCN).


Barcelona flight deal


That's an astonishingly low amount of miles to fly to Europe and back. And when you take into account you'll only need $45 in taxes and fees, this is one of the best points deals we've ever sent to Spain.

A sale like this to Spain had our heads spinning. Visiting Spain is as cheap as ever right now, and cheap flights from Spain to elsewhere in Europe are easy to come by. Let's take a look at that map again.


Google Flights search for flights from Madrid to Europe


Like the other cheap European hotspots, your best chance at a cheap summer fare right now is going to be in late August or early September. But if you aim for those weeks on the calendar, it's going to save you hundreds.



Whether you fly them or not, you can thank TAP Air Portugal for the low fares we routinely find to the beautiful coastal nation.

Portugal is an incredible place to visit all on its own, but either Lisbon (LIS) or Porto (OPO) would be the perfect place to start or end a European adventure with a cheap ticket. But Porto has been especially cheap of late.

Porto Portugal flight deal


This flight deal to Portugal featured some insanely low fares starting at just $413, a savings of about $200-$300 from where fares tend to end up.

For those who require a little more luxury for their European travels, TAP Air Portugal's business class would probably tickle your fancy.


TAP Air Portugal busienss class flight deal


These prices are gone now, get the next cheap fare in your inbox with Thrifty Traveler Premium!


Honorable Mentions

Ireland, Scandinavia, and the Iberian peninsula take the cake when it comes to consistently cheap flights. But the savings don't have to stop there.

The first runner-up is Reykjavik (KEF) in Iceland. It's a major hub for cheap flights from both Europe and North America thanks to some low, low fares from Icelandair.


Iceland flight deal


Plus, it's perfectly designed for stopovers, where you take a few extra days in Iceland heading either west or east before continuing on. I whipped up this perfect Iceland stopover itinerary after two long weekend visits to the island over the last few years, which should get those gears turning.

Way further east is the city of Vienna, Austria. Vienna (VIE) was one of the only airports that kept offering cheap flights from the U.S. as fares soared elsewhere in Europe. In fact, it's been an unexpected stronghold of cheap fares over the last few months whether you're flying nonstop from New York or flying all over the country.


Vienna flight deal


Plus, Austrian Airlines has a robust network throughout Europe that can help you connect on to the next destination with one quick flight.

Finally, we have Budapest (BUD): One of our favorite under-the-radar European cities and a spot where your dollar goes the furthest in Europe.


Budapest flight deal


This Budapest (BUD) deal could get you to Europe for under $598.

With all of these locations, flying to hot spots like Switzerland, Italy, or Germany will probably cost you double. But if you look around at the cheapest spots and do the math on what a connecting flight would cost you, you can stand to save big.

From any of these places, the rest of the continent is just a hop, skip, and jump away!


Bottom Line

Starting your summer trip to Europe with flights to Spain, Ireland, Portugal, or Scandinavian countries is a surefire way to save on airfare.

While we've seen airfare dropping across the board over to Europe, these destinations stand out as having the cheapest fares overall. Starting here, then connecting onward throughout Europe to your final destination is a sound strategy to save money on your next European excursion.

5 Responses

  • Great information as always. Very few investments in my lifetime (I’m 57) have had the return of my annual sub to TT for the incredible values we get in our inboxes every day.

    To be sure, I’ve leveraged the “connect in Europe” approach to maximize the biz fare sales that come from TT. May 2nd I fly on British Airways in their B-777 suite to FRA then connect on ITA to Rome. The BA sale fare with the AARP discount and Chaseba10 coupon code brought the fare down to a tick over $1500 from IAD to FRA with a stopover in LHR. Add the ~$200 fare from ITA to get to FCO and you’re still under $1800 to fly to Europe in biz with just a short connection (I bought exit row upgrades for under $50 each way) to get to Rome vs paying in excess of $4k to go direct.

    It’s a great strategy whether deciding to fly in steerage or lie flat land. You cannot lose.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Christopher! Our entire team appreciates the kind words – and being a Premium subscriber!

  • There are groups on Facebook where travelers ask one another questions and advice. It is astonishing how many prospective travelers are just now beginning to search for flights, hotels and other fundamentals for trips (some as early as July!!!) . I can’t imagine beginning the process right now, given how many people are travelling this summer. Even if they can find flights, finding hotels is going to be rough. Let alone so-called “deals”.

  • Should also mention that connecting within Europe is generally easier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly by train. I love European train travel!

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