Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

After a 24 hour (or longer) flight to Europe from Australia, the last thing you probably feel like doing is working out how you are going to get from the airport into the city, and I don't blame you! I've been there and somehow miraculously found my way from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport to my apartment via public transport and let me tell you, it was no fun - especially with one husband, two kids and assorted luggage in tow and only a miniscule understanding of French.


Getting to and from Europes major airportsImage © HappyAlex / Adobe Stock Photo


So, in order to make your journey from airport to accommodation as hassle-free as possible, I thought I'd give you the run down on what the most convenient public transport options are from some of Europe's major airports.


It's worth noting that in most of these destinations it is possible to pre-book and pre-pay (in Aussie dollars) a private transfer from the airport to the city centre and I highly recommend you do this (here's why), and of course taxis will be available, but if you're happy to join the throng of other travellers and use public transport, I hope you'll find the following guide useful.


I'm going to make this a two-part article as I want to cover a number of Europe and the UK's major airports.


London

Let's start with London, one of the most popular entry points into Europe for Australians. The two major airports serviced by international carriers are Heathrow and Gatwick.


London Heathrow Airport is huge. It's one of the busiest airports in the world and has five different terminals to accommodate over one thousand flights per day. The fastest way to reach Heathrow from central London is on the Heathrow Express, a 25 minute non-stop train between the airport and Paddington station. Trains depart every 15 minutes between approximately 5am and 11.30pm. Cost £26 if purchased on the train, £21 if purchased in advance. Return fares are cheaper.


Gatwick Airport, London's other major international airport, is also connected to central London by an express train. The Gatwick Express takes passengers to London Victoria Station in 30 minutes. Trains operate every 15 minutes from 5am to 11.45pm. Fares are £17.75 (online purchase) or £19.90 if purchased onboard, for a single fare. Discounted return fares are available.

 

airport-scene

Paris

If you've flown into Paris' Roissy airport (also known as Charles de Gaulle airport), you should allow around 40 minutes to reach the centre of Paris by train. The airport is at the end of the "B" RER train line and trains depart every 10 to 15 minutes on weekdays, less frequently on weekends. The RER "B" line has stations at both Terminal 2 and Terminals 1 & 3 of the airport, and stops at the following stations in Paris - Gare du Nord, Chatelet Les Halles, St. Michel Notre-Dame and Denfert-Rochereau. Fare: €9.50 one way. Tickets should be purchased from the ticket office on the station. Refer to this map for further info.


The other major airport in Paris that you might find yourself flying into (or out of) is Orly airport which is located on the south side of the city. Low-cost carrier, easyJet, operate some of their flights out of Orly, as do some other airlines. Transport from Orly is not as direct as Charles de Gaulle - you can take the ORLYVAL light train between the airport and Antony station (journey time 32 minutes, fare €10.90), or the OrlyBus which travels between the airport and Denfert-Rochereau station (journey time 20 to 30 minutes, fare €7.50). Journey times and fares from Denfert-Rochereau or Antony to central Paris are additional. This link has further details.


If you prefer to catch a taxi, as of 2016 fares have been capped for taxi rides between central Paris and both Charles de Gaulle airport and Orly airport.  Passengers will pay no more than €55 and €35 respectively for a one way cab ride.

 

Amsterdam

Schiphol is Amsterdam's major international airport and you can be in central Amsterdam in 15 minutes after boarding a train at the airport's station. Tickets for Fyra, the Amsterdam Airport City Centre train, cost €3.90 and can be purchased in advance (online) or at the station. Trains depart approximately half hourly between 5.55am and 7.55pm.

 

Rome

Reaching central Rome (Termini railway station) from Fiumicino Airport is easy with the Leonardo Express train. Departing every half hour, the journey takes 32 minutes. Tickets cost €14 per adult. The Leonardo Express is guaranteed to depart every day of the year, even during strikes (which are common in Italy).

 

Getting to and from Europe's major airports

 

Milan

Trenitalia offer a rail service between between Milan's Malpensa airport and the city. A shuttle bus (€1.50) takes passengers from Terminal 1 to Gallarate where they can catch a train to either Milano Centrale or Milano Porto Garibaldi stations (€3.60). Travel time from Malpensa to Milano Centrale is approximately 43 minutes. Alternatively, the Malpensa Express links the airport and Milan's Cadorna Station - 40 minute journey, fare €11.


Some of the above airport to city train tickets can be purchased online from Rail Europe, or alternatively visit the website of the relevant airport for further details and online reservations.

 

Still to come .....

In part 2, I'll cover public transport options servicing Barcelona, Prague, Stockholm, Berlin, Munich, Athens and Istanbul airports.

 


All information and prices are current at time of publication but are subject to change without warning. If you are aware of changes to any of the above information, please let me know and I'll gladly update this page.


Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. Should you choose to make a purchase via these links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

 

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Comments   

# Carolyn 2014-05-05 09:25
Quoting Marie:
Looking forward to information on Munich. Have used Viator in Paris and have been very pleased with the service. Prefer private transport, booked in advance, to public transport.

Hi Marie, thanks for stopping by. The Munich info is now on the website in part 2 of 'Getting to and from Europe's major airports' - hope you find it useful.

Like you, I also prefer a pre-booked, private transfer but I always like to know the public transport options before I go 'just in case'!
Reply
# Marie 2014-05-05 08:12
Looking forward to information on Munich. Have used Viator in Paris and have been very pleased with the service. Prefer private transport, booked in advance, to public transport.
Reply
# Carolyn 2014-04-09 17:52
Quoting Susan Walter:
Tickets for the RER can also be bought from the ticket machines at CDG. The instructions switch to English, so it is not difficult, so long as your credit card works without having to sign. Note that these machines do not take cash (in other stations they normally do).

Fabulous tip, Susan. That's great info to know.
Reply
# Susan Walter 2014-04-09 17:26
Tickets for the RER can also be bought from the ticket machines at CDG. The instructions switch to English, so it is not difficult, so long as your credit card works without having to sign. Note that these machines do not take cash (in other stations they normally do).
Reply
# Carolyn 2014-04-09 17:14
Quoting Pamela:
Agree. At end of long haul, private transfer best.
I ask travel agent for quote. Then email hotel,ask them for quote too. Usually go for cheapest. But if v. similar, generally take hotel's as local, if anything goes wrong, can call hotel from airport.
This year renting a private apartment in Paris. Our travel agent was doubtful about a transfer. I emailed staff at lovely hotel where I stayed in 2013. Only too happy to help, even though we're not staying there. Rate below travel agent's for transfer to a central Paris hotel. So it pays to shop around - and to build up contacts network every trip. If you really like a hotel, tell the staff (doesn't have to be huge tips - I usually buy staff a lovely box of luxe chocs as a thank you and send an email to thank them all for a lovely stay. They always appreciate and remember you. We book small hotels that take pride in looking after guests. Don't think it would work in a large impersonal place. Cheers, Pamela

Thanks for your comments, Pamela - there's some great tips there for everyone. It's always a good idea to get a couple of prices for your transfers - as you say, sometimes a hotel might have negotiated a better price and there's someone you can call if something goes array.

What a lovely thought leaving a box of chocolates for the hotel staff. I'm sure they really appreciate it and would remember you fondly.
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# Pamela 2014-04-09 10:53
Agree. At end of long haul, private transfer best.
I ask travel agent for quote. Then email hotel,ask them for quote too. Usually go for cheapest. But if v. similar, generally take hotel's as local, if anything goes wrong, can call hotel from airport.
This year renting a private apartment in Paris. Our travel agent was doubtful about a transfer. I emailed staff at lovely hotel where I stayed in 2013. Only too happy to help, even though we're not staying there. Rate below travel agent's for transfer to a central Paris hotel. So it pays to shop around - and to build up contacts network every trip. If you really like a hotel, tell the staff (doesn't have to be huge tips - I usually buy staff a lovely box of luxe chocs as a thank you and send an email to thank them all for a lovely stay. They always appreciate and remember you. We book small hotels that take pride in looking after guests. Don't think it would work in a large impersonal place. Cheers, Pamela
Reply
# Carolyn 2014-04-08 14:43
Quoting jo:
Fabulous advice, thank you, and we shall be using some of it very soon! Yay!
Ooh, how exciting, Jo! Glad this info is useful. Bon voyage!
Reply
# jo 2014-04-08 13:36
Fabulous advice, thank you, and we shall be using some of it very soon! Yay!
Reply