Budapest RiverviewSo many of us starting in the US or Canada will be visiting multiple cities when we tour Europe that we have the luxury of flying into several different destinations. But with the airline business changing so rapidly, how do we know which are the cheapest cities to fly into?

Not too many years ago the cheapest flights into Europe were almost always into the largest and busiest airports, which are in London, Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam, but times have changed. Now those are sometimes the most expensive airports to fly into within Europe, so savvy travelers on multi-stop trips are better off starting elsewhere. The cheapest international flight destinations from the USA are largely in Latin America, but many of them are also the top cities in Europe.

How the test was done

For each city tested we found the cheapest fare starting from the 5 largest cities in the US (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta) along with Canada's largest city (Toronto) in early June, and the cheapest fare in mid July. Then we averaged the two fares and then averaged the fares into all 6 cities into on Index number. The cheap flights to Europe from the USA are mainly from the east coast, as you'd imagine, but there are many great deals from other regions as well.

Needless to say, the rankings starting in individual cities can vary from the combined list, but generally they aren't far apart. A bit surprisingly, only a handful of the cheapest flights were non-stops, so almost everyone will be changing planes exactly once in each direction over the Atlantic. The cheapest flights from New York to Europe are often non-stops, but from most other cities you have to change planes to get a decent fare.

How to use the list below

Prague castleEspecially since many of the cheapest cities below are remote, the obvious strategy is to keep going down the list until you come across one of the cities you intend on visiting. Hopefully you can then find a cheap flight and use that as a hub to explore other cities by rail or low-cost airlines.

Overall, the differences in fares from the top to the bottom of this list are not great enough to justify flying into one and then booking another separate round-trip to your final destination on a low-cost airline, though in some cases it might work out cheaper. The cheapest international flights from Atlanta are often strangely expensive because Delta dominates that airport to such a large degree.

Related information

Cheapest 10 European airports from 6 major cities in 2018

This year we broke the list out by city so it's easier to see that some European airports have cheap incoming flights from some places but not others.

Complete list of 23 is below

10 Cheapest European airports from New York City

  1. Dublin: 7
  2. Paris: 2
  3. Copenhagen: 6
  4. Zurich: 3
  5. Oslo: 6
  6. London: 3
  7. Berlin: 3
  8. Amsterdam: 2
  9. Barcelona: 6
  10. Madrid: 8

10 Cheapest European airports from Chicago

  1. London: 2
  2. Dublin: 3
  3. Brussels: 2
  4. Amsterdam: 0
  5. Copenhagen: 4
  6. Oslo: 2
  7. Frankfurt: 5
  8. Stockholm: 3
  9. Madrid: 5
  10. Milan: 0

10 Cheapest European airports from Los Angeles

  1. Oslo: 0
  2. London: 1
  3. Copenhagen: 6
  4. Dublin: 8
  5. Barcelona: 9
  6. Frankfurt: 0
  7. Paris: 2
  8. Madrid: 5
  9. Budapest: 6
  10. Brussels: 2

10 Cheapest European airports from Houston

  1. London: 0
  2. Warsaw: 4
  3. Stockholm: 5
  4. Copenhagen: 5
  5. Paris: 7
  6. Milan: 3
  7. Madrid: 1
  8. Dublin: 4
  9. Oslo: 6
  10. Istanbul: 6

10 Cheapest European airports from Atlanta

  1. Copenhagen: 0
  2. Dublin: 4
  3. London: 7
  4. Oslo: 6
  5. Milan: 6
  6. Barcelona: 6
  7. Stockholm: 5
  8. Paris: 21
  9. Warsaw: 38
  10. Amsterdam: 40

10 Cheapest European airports from Toronto

(fares shown below are in US dollars)

  1. Dublin: 8
  2. Paris: 5
  3. London: $ 617
  4. Barcelona: 6
  5. Rome: 1
  6. Lisbon: 4
  7. Milan: 4
  8. Frankfurt: 1
  9. Copenhagen: 8
  10. Amsterdam: 1

23 Cheapest European cities & airports to fly to in 2018

(prices shown are cheapest spring/summer – average)

1 – Dublin/Shannon, Ireland

Dublin Airport (DUB)
Shannon Airport (SNN)

Dublin and Shannon airports are on opposite sides of Ireland, and both are busy hubs of Aer Lingus, which offers cheap flights including those that then go onto other continental destinations. Both are similar in airfare price (with Dublin usually being just a bit cheaper) so they are combined here. Basically, if you want to start your Ireland visit in Dublin, fly into Dublin, and if you want to start your visit elsewhere, fly into Shannon.

  • New York City: 4/1 – 7
  • Chicago: 7/0 – 3
  • Los Angeles: 0/6 – 8
  • Houston: 1/8 – 4
  • Atlanta: 4/5 – 4
  • Toronto: 5/2 – 8
  • Index average: 0

2 – London, England

City code: LON
London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
Gatwick Airport (LGW)
London Stansted Airport (STN)
Luton Airport (LTN)

London has 4 major airports (plus London City Airport for short-haul flights) and the cheapest trans-Atlantic fares could be into any one of them. Heathrow is the busiest, but Gatwick is often the cheapest by a little. Starting with our 2016 tests, London actually had some very competitive airfares for the first time in quite a few years. If you want to start your vacation in London, then this year you should be able to get a fairly cheap flight.

  • New York City: 7/0 – 3
  • Chicago: 4/0 – 2
  • Los Angeles: 0/2 – 1
  • Houston: 3/7 – 0
  • Atlanta: 7/98 – 7
  • Toronto: 7/7 – 7
  • Index average: 3

3 – Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Airport (CPH)

Scandinavian Airlines (also known as SAS) operates the largest of its three hubs in Copenhagen, and that leads to surprisingly low airfares, especially on its non-stop flights from New York, Chicago, and Toronto.

  • New York City: 0/2 – 6
  • Chicago: 0/9 – 4
  • Los Angeles: 2/1 – 6
  • Houston: 5/5 – 5
  • Atlanta: 1/0 – 0
  • Toronto: US7/6 – US1
  • Index average: 8

4 – Paris, France

City code: PAR
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
Orly Airport (ORY)

Charles de Gaulle Airport is another of Europe's largest and best connected, plus the main hub of Air France. In our 2017 tests we found some very competitive flights starting from some cities (New York, Chicago, and Toronto), but more expensive from others. You might find that flying into another city and then moving on to Paris is cheaper unless you are starting from NYC or Toronto.

  • New York City: 3/2 – 2
  • Chicago: 2/8 – 0
  • Los Angeles: 2/2 – 2
  • Houston: 0/45 – 7
  • Atlanta: 7/45 – 21
  • Toronto: 2/8 – 5
  • Index average: 1

5 – Oslo, Norway

Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL)

The good news for anyone flying from the US or Canada to Norway is that flights into Oslo are strangely cheap from major North American cities. The bad news, of course, is that certain things (food and drinks) once you are there are quite expensive.

  • New York City: 3/0 – 6
  • Chicago: 5/0 – 2
  • Los Angeles: 0/1 – 0
  • Houston: 6/27 – 6
  • Atlanta: 7/25 – 6
  • Toronto: 8/55 – 6
  • Index average: 1

6 – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)

Europe's 4th busiest airport has nonstop connections to destinations around the world as the main hub of KLM. Fares in 2017 are much lower than in 2016, so Amsterdam is a good airport for bargains once again.

  • New York City: 0/5 – 2
  • Chicago: 0/0 – 0
  • Los Angeles: 2/40 – 1
  • Houston: 7/45 – 01
  • Atlanta: 3/58 – 40
  • Toronto: 5/7 – 1
  • Index average: 9

7 – Milan, Italy

City code: MIL
Malpensa Airport (MXP)
Linate Airport (LIN)

The smaller of the two main hubs of Alitalia, Milan's is now usually cheaper than flying into Rome, but if you aren't planning on visiting Milan then flying into Rome is probably still better. Strangely, Alitalia itself never seems to have the best fares. In 2015 the city appears to have become more affordable for incoming flights, but mostly because Emirates is crossing the Atlantic with cheap fares from some cities.

  • New York City: 4/5 – 9
  • Chicago: 3/8 – 0
  • Los Angeles: 1/81 – 51
  • Houston: 9/8 – 3
  • Atlanta: 9/83 – 6
  • Toronto: 0/8 – 4
  • Index average: 3

8 – Madrid, Spain

Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)

This is Spain's busiest airport and Europe's 4th busiest, but being home to Iberia Airline doesn't mean it'll always have cheap non-stop trans-Atlantic flights.

  • New York City: 7/9 – 8
  • Chicago: 4/7 – 5
  • Los Angeles: 3/8 – 5
  • Houston: 1/11 – 1
  • Atlanta: 87/03 – 95
  • Toronto: 6/6 – 1
  • Index average: 4

9 – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona–El Prat Airport

A bit smaller and quieter than Madrid, the Barcelona Airport has a few trans-Atlantic flights of its own. It is served by all of Europe's major airlines, and this year it's basically the same price as flights into Madrid.

  • New York City: 2/1 – 6
  • Chicago: 5/91 – 83
  • Los Angeles: 0/9 – 9
  • Houston: 3/79 – 1
  • Atlanta: 2/00 – 6
  • Toronto: 5/707$ – 6
  • Index average: 0

10 – Berlin, Germany

City code: BER
Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL)
Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF)
Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER)

With the rise of Air Berlin and greater popularity of the city itself, it's now a bit cheaper in fares than flying into Frankfurt, which is particularly helpful due to Frankfurt not really being a tourist city. Tegel Airport is usually cheapest for trans-Atlantic flights, and in 2017 or 2018 or 2019, Brandenburg Airport will open to replace both of the current two.

  • New York City: 7/9 – 3
  • Chicago: 0/9 – 4
  • Los Angeles: 8/13 – 5
  • Houston: 0/29 – 4
  • Atlanta: 5/66 – 90
  • Toronto: 4/2- 3
  • Index average: 3

11 – Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

Frankfurt Airport is the 3rd busiest in all of Europe, making it easily the busiest in Germany, and it's also home to Lufthansa which covers the world. And these days its trans-Atlantic flights are trending a bit pricier than those to Berlin, though the city itself isn't much of a tourist hub so think twice before flying here.

  • New York City: 1/8 – 4
  • Chicago: 0/0 – 5
  • Los Angeles: 0/0 – 0
  • Houston: 55/67 – 11
  • Atlanta: 16/58 – 87
  • Toronto: 1/1 – 1
  • Index average: 3

12 – Brussels, Belgium

Brussels Airport (BRU)

The home of Brussels Airlines, which flies nonstop to New York-JFK, this airport is also served by most of Europe's majors so fares are competitive.

  • New York City: 0/0 – 0
  • Chicago: 1/3 – 2
  • Los Angeles: 0/5 – 2
  • Houston: 37/40 – 38
  • Atlanta: 4/60 – 22
  • Toronto: 5/7 – 6
  • Index average: 8

13 – Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW)

Warsaw is home to LOT Polish Airlines, but that one is rarely cheapest for trans-Atlantic flights. This used to be one of the cheaper cities to fly into Europe through, but as of 2016 it has moved to near the bottom of our cheap list.

  • New York City: 9/8 – 3
  • Chicago: 0/4 – 7
  • Los Angeles: 7/24 – 05
  • Houston: 1/7 – 4
  • Atlanta: 8/38 – 38
  • Toronto: 7/2 – 4
  • Index average: 3

14 – Stockholm, Sweden

City code: STO
Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN)
Stockholm Bromma Airport (BMA)

Scandinavian Airlines operates its second busiest hub out of Arlanda Airport so fares there are usually cheapest, but Bromma Airport is closer to the city center and its fares are usually only a bit higher.

  • New York City: 4/6 – 5
  • Chicago: 7/9 – 3
  • Los Angeles: 6/75 – 70
  • Houston: 1/80 – 5
  • Atlanta: 2/18 – 5
  • Toronto: 9/3 – 6
  • Index average: 7

15 – Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST)

In spite of the greater distance, Istanbul once offered surprisingly cheap fares, but those bargains seem to be gone in 2017 for the most part. There is another airport in the Asian suburbs (SAW) but its cheap flights tend to be from nearby.

  • New York City: 2/0 – 6
  • Chicago: 0/0 – 0
  • Los Angeles: 7/0 – 3
  • Houston: 0/32 – 6
  • Atlanta: 5/00 – 22
  • Toronto: 4/11 – 7
  • Index average: 4

16 – Rome, Italy

City code: ROM
Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO)

Italy's largest airport and the home of Alitalia isn't known for cheap trans-Atlantic flights, though it's still a good choice for anyone starting in Rome and heading north on a larger tour of Europe.

  • New York City: 3/9- 6
  • Chicago: 4/8 – 6
  • Los Angeles: 45/31 – 38
  • Houston: 05/39 – 22
  • Atlanta: 35/99 – 67
  • Toronto: 5/7 – 1
  • Index average: 1

17 – Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS)

The city of Lisbon is quite a good travel bargain once you get there, but the inbound flights are now fairly expensive, unless you are starting in Toronto.

  • New York City: 2/0 – 1
  • Chicago: 6/3 – 9
  • Los Angeles: 5/30 – 7
  • Houston: 77/80 – 28
  • Atlanta: 8/93 – 85
  • Toronto: 0/8 – 4
  • Index average: 7

18 – Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Airport (ZRH)

Zurich Airport is the primary hub of Swiss International Air Lines (aka SWISS), and it's quite surprising that they offer fairly competitive fares on incoming flights, including to many destinations in Germany as well. Beware that everything else in Zurich is incredibly expensive once you are through security.

  • New York City: 1/6 – 3
  • Chicago: 9/05- 12
  • Los Angeles: 58/86 – 72
  • Houston: 61/03 – 82
  • Atlanta: 1066$/91 – 28
  • Toronto: 6/5 – 5
  • Index average: 8

19 – Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Václav Havel Airport (PRG)

Prague Airport is the hub of Czech Airlines, but few if any of the cheapest trans-Atlantic flights are on the national carrier. In 2013 when we ran the numbers this airport was in the top half of this list, but as of 2017 it's one of the most expensive incoming airports in Europe.

  • New York City: 4/9 – 6
  • Chicago: 8/1 – 9
  • Los Angeles: 7/22 – 09
  • Houston: 9/53 – 61
  • Atlanta: 39/32 – 85
  • Toronto: 7/3 – 5
  • Index average: 4

20 – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)

The cheapest fares into Budapest are often those that change planes in Moscow or Helsinki, but SWISS isn't much more expensive for a change in Zurich and much less elapsed time.

  • New York City: 9/92 – 0
  • Chicago: 04/56 – 80
  • Los Angeles: 1/02 – 6
  • Houston: 43/28 – 35
  • Atlanta: 91/02 – 46
  • Toronto: 9/8 – 8
  • Index average: 12

21 – Munich, Germany

Munich Airport (MUC)

Munich's airport is busier than the one in Berlin, so it's actually Germany's #2 for flights. Fares tend to be a bit more expensive than the other German airports as well, but it can still make the most sense if Munich is part of your itinerary.

  • New York City: 3/7 – 5
  • Chicago: 3/7 – 5
  • Los Angeles: 55/3 – 9
  • Houston: 20/92 – 56
  • Atlanta: 72/13 – 42
  • Toronto: 6/90 – 8
  • Index average: 17

22 – Moscow, Russia

City code: MOW
Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO)
Domodedovo International Airport (DME)

Russia's national airline – Aeroflot – was recently one of the cheapest in Europe, but once again it's quite expensive to fly to Moscow, although changing planes in Moscow for another destination can still be a bargain at times.

  • New York City: 5/4 – 4
  • Chicago: 1/34 – 17
  • Los Angeles: 4/05 – 24
  • Houston: 20/26 – 23
  • Atlanta: 12/58 – 85
  • Toronto: 0/98 – 9
  • Index average: 18

23 – Athens, Greece

Athens International Airport (ATH)

This airport is naturally the hub of both Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, and prices for hotels have come down a bit, but incoming flights are rarely bargains. If you will be touring Greece along with some other European countries, it's probably better to first land somewhere else and hop over to Greece later in the trip.

  • New York City: 0/8 – 9
  • Chicago: 4/10 – 2
  • Los Angeles: 89/97 – 93
  • Houston: 36/62 – 99
  • Atlanta: 05/82 – 93
  • Toronto: 8/42 – 0
  • Index average: 57

 

NOTE: This post was originally published in May, 2013 with 2013 data. It's been totally updated in in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and most recently in May 2018 with current fare data.



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