The Cheapest Way to Get to Europe from the USA (in 2024)

by Global Viewpoint
Airplane flying over Eiffel Tower from the US
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Looking to fly to Europe this year but put off by the flight prices? Below, I’ll be sharing the cheapest way to get to Europe from the US in 2024. Get ready to learn some of my top travel hacks and tips, which save me $5,000+ per year on flights.

Imagine jetting off to Europe in 2024, where adventure awaits at every corner, from the romantic streets of Paris to the sunny beaches of Greece. And here’s the best part: it’s more affordable than you think!

I’ve been there, scouring the web, finding those unbelievably cheap flights from the USA to Europe. I’ve visited nearly 40 countries in Europe (38 to be exact), never paying more than $500 roundtrip from Boston. In fact, I’ve spent as low as $190 from Boston to Barcelona during shoulder season, which is 100% doable if you apply the tips and tricks below.

I’m here to guide you through this maze of budget travel, sharing the very strategies that have taken me to Europe’s most enchanting spots without breaking the bank. I’ll also share some of my favorite free tools, like Going.com, which help me find the best deals on transatlantic flights. And lastly- I’ll be covering the hidden flight routes that will get you to Europe in a cheap and efficient way.

So, are you ready to explore majestic castles, savor delicious food, and create memories that will last forever, all while keeping your wallet happy? Let’s dive in!

The #1 secret to scoring cheap flights: Going.com

Looking for the cheapest flight deals to Europe? This is a game-changer: Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights).

Here’s the deal: Sign up for free email alerts, set your departure and destination, and boom – you’ll get alerts for insanely cheap flights. Mistake fares? Deep discounts? They’ve got it all.

I save thousands of dollars per year using Going. Recently, I even found a $305 roundtrip fare from Boston to Paris in May. Such a steal!

If you live on the East Coast and are planning to fly to a major European city (think London, Paris, or Amsterdam), the free version is all you’ll need. In my experience, Going tends to cover these routes quite extensively.

Want even more deals? Their $49/year premium version is well worth it- just one discounted flight pays for the whole thing (for reference: I save $200-300 on average per flight). This is especially a good idea if you’re from a secondary city or the West Coast, in which case it will be valuable to get more deal alerts through the premium service.

And if you’re into business/first class, you’ll want to sign up for their Elite version, which saved me $1,500 on a business class flight last year. At just $199 year year, trust me, it’s a small price for massive savings.

Tip #2: Use Skyscanner’s Everywhere Feature

For years, this has been one of my favorite ways to score cheap flights to Europe from the USA.

Skyscanner is a travel search engine that helps travelers compare flights options across different booking sites and airlines. It has a super sleek and simple interface, making it easy to see the best deals on airfare all in one place.

Before flying, I always check multiple search engines – including Skyscanner, Google Flights, Hopper, and Kayak. And year after year, Skyscanner seems to always have the best and cheapest options from North America to Europe.

The main reason why Skyscanner always comes out cheapest is because of its “everywhere” feature. This helps travelers search for cheap destinations from their home airport. Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Enter your departure city
  2. Select “Everywhere” as your destination
  3. Skyscanner will show you the cheapest destinations in order

When flying to Europe from the US, the cheapest countries you’ll typically find are Iceland, the UK, Spain, France, and Portugal. From there, click on the country and you’ll see the cities with the cheapest flights during your selected dates.

Skyscanner's Everywhere feature

To unlock even more savings, I recommend selecting the “Everywhere” feature alongside the “select whole month” option. This will show you the cheapest fares for the entire month. So if you’re flexible in your travel dates, I highly recommend starting every Skyscanner search in this way.

Select whole month feature in Skyscanner

Using the “everywhere” and “select whole month” features in Skyscanner, you’ll get a good idea of how much roundtrip fares to Europe cost during your preferred dates. In many cases, this tip alone will help you find the flight prices you’re looking for. However, if you are willing to be more adventurous in your flight search, proceed to the next tip.

Tip #3: Using flexible dates, search for one-way flights to Reykjavik, Iceland

If you’re having a difficult time finding cheap roundtrip fares to Europe, this tip is for you. I have personally done this travel hack over a dozen times in the last 10 years, and it’s helped me save thousands getting to Europe. Here’s what you do:

How to find cheap one-ways to and from Reykjavik

Using Skyscanner or Google Flights, search for a one-way flight from your home airport to Reykjavik, Iceland. No matter if you’re from the East or West Coast, Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik is often the cheapest stopover point between Europe and North America. This is thanks to Play Airlines and Icelandair, two budget airlines based in Iceland.

As you can see below, there are many one-way fares from Boston to Reykjavik for as low as $156.

Flight deals to Reykjavik from the US
Cheap one-way flight from Boston to Reykjavik

From there, I recommend opening up a new explorer tab to search for a one-way flight from Reykjavik to “Everywhere” using Skyscanner. Because most flights from the US to Iceland are overnight flights, look for a flight the following day. You’ll find many cheap one-ways from Reykjavik to mainland Europe this way.

As you can see below, I found cheap flights to Poland and Sweden, the following day (April 1) for $46 and $61, respectively. The layover time is just 3 hours.

NOTE: If you are open to spending a day or two in Iceland, you can find even cheaper deals on airfare on April 2 and 3. For me, this has consistently been the cheapest way to to travel to Europe.

Now, if I were to simply search for Boston to Poland for March 31, the cheapest one-way flight price would be $581, which includes 2 layovers. However, by booking two separate one-way tickets, the total price to Krakow, Poland is $157+63 = $220.

Note: there are some third party websites out there that bundle multiple tickets in this way (i.e. Kiwi, Trip.com, eDreams, and BudgetAir). But in my opinion, I would avoid those if you can- as I know plenty of people with horror stories using those services. Instead, it pays to find these separate tickets yourself using the Europe flight hack above!

Tip #4: Don’t bother with Incognito mode…it’s a myth

Over the years, many travel experts have praised incognito mode as a way to find lower flight prices. Many believe that using incognito mode while searching for flights prevents airlines from tracking their searches and raising prices. The idea is that airlines and booking sites use cookies to monitor your search history, hiking prices if they see you’re interested in a particular route.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s a myth. There’s absolutely no proof that incognito mode (or clearing your browser cookies) will help you save cash on airline tickets. In fact, even in Incognito mode, Google and other travel sites can still track you.

In 2024, airlines and travel sites use complex algorithms for dynamic pricing, which considers factors like demand, time of booking, and seasonal trends. This system is far more sophisticated than simply tracking an individual’s search history.

While cookies track website visits and user preferences, they don’t directly influence flight prices. Airlines set prices based on broader market data, not your personal search history. Studies have found no significant difference in prices when using incognito mode versus regular browsing.

Travel experts and industry insiders consistently agree that while incognito mode offers privacy benefits, it doesn’t lead to cheaper flights. I’ve independently tested this myself – using multiple devices to search for the same flight. And time and time again, I’ve confirmed that the flight prices are not cheaper in a private browser.

Tip #5: Select the right departure and arrival cities

When it comes to flying out of the United States on a budget, your choice of airport can make a significant difference in cost. Here’s a look at some of the most cost-effective departure points. Note: If you’re planning to fly from a secondary or tertiary airport in the US, you will likely connect in one of these major cities anyway:

Choosing your departure airport in the USA

  1. New York City (JFK and EWR): The Big Apple’s airports are known for their competitive pricing due to high traffic and frequent transatlantic flights. They often offer a variety of budget-friendly options to Europe.
  2. Boston (BOS): Boston’s Logan International Airport is a hub for several major airlines, providing relatively cheaper flights to Europe, especially for the northern destinations.
  3. Chicago (ORD): O’Hare International Airport, known for its extensive network, often has deals on flights to Europe, making it a smart choice for Midwestern travelers.
  4. Los Angeles (LAX): For those on the West Coast, LAX serves as a major gateway with numerous airlines offering budget-friendly flights to various European cities.
  5. Miami (MIA): Miami’s airport is a great starting point for cost-effective flights to Europe, particularly for southern European destinations.

Next, you’ll want to focus your flight search on the cheapest arrival cities to fly into Europe. As mentioned in tip #3, Reykjavik is often the cheapest arrival airport, but it’s always worth exploring some of the the others. Here are some affordable entry points:

Budget-friendly European entry points

  1. Reykjavik (KEF): Iceland’s capital is not just a stunning destination. It’s also a common stopover for budget transatlantic flights, often offering cheaper fares.
  2. Paris (CDG): Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris is one of Europe’s busiest airports, often featuring lower-priced flights due to high competition among airlines.
  3. London (LHR and LGW): London’s airports provide a wide range of budget-friendly options, thanks to the high volume of flights and the presence of several low-cost carriers.
  4. Lisbon (LIS): As a growing hub for transatlantic travel, Lisbon offers some of the most affordable entries into Europe, especially from the East Coast of the US.
Iconic photo of the Tower Bridge in London. Flying to London is consistently one of the cheapest ways to get to Europe from the US
Flying to London is consistently one of the cheapest ways to get to Europe from the US

To make the most of these departure and arrival points:

  • Stay flexible: If possible, be flexible with your travel dates and times. Sometimes flying mid-week or during off-peak seasons can lead to significant savings.
  • Compare and contrast: Use flight comparison tools to check prices from different US airports to various European cities. This can help you spot the best deals.
  • Consider secondary airports: Sometimes, smaller airports near these major cities can offer even cheaper flights. It’s worth checking these as well.

Cheapest routes to Europe from the US in 2024

Taking into account the arrival and departure cities above, I’ve gone ahead and analyzed the cheapest flight routes in 2024. In this analysis, I used both Skyscanner and Google Flights to find all flight routes that cost under $400 roundtrip. Here are the top 15 roundtrip flight routes with the best deals in 2024:

  1. Boston to Reykjavik: $274
  2. Washington DC (BWI) to Reykjavik: $290
  3. Boston to Barcelona: $294
  4. New York City (EWR) to Dublin: $308
  5. New York City (JFK) to Dublin: $308
  6. New York City (JFK) to Reykjavik: $313
  7. New York City (JFK) to Paris: $317
  8. Boston to Dublin: $332
  9. New York City (JFK) to Barcelona: $339
  10. Washington DC (BWI) to Copenhagen: $341
  11. New York City (EWR) to Reykjavik: $346
  12. Boston to Paris: $352
  13. Boston to Stockholm: $375
  14. Miami to Barcelona: $378
  15. Chicago to Reykjavik: $396

As such, if you’re looking for the cheapest way to go to Europe from the USA, I recommend starting your search with these airports.

Again, if you are flexible with your dates and want to find the best possible deal to Europe, I highly recommend signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights (Going.com). With the free version, you can track up to 5 US airports. So if you want to cover all 7 airports above, I recommend trying the free trial for the premium version. And if you like it, be sure to use my discount code: JON20 to save 20%.

Tip #6: Fly with one of Europe’s cheapest transatlantic airlines

In 2024, the best way to get to Europe on the cheap is by flying with a budget airline. There are several carriers to consider, each offering cheap transatlantic tickets from America to Europe. Sure, you’ll have to factor in added costs like baggage fees, seat selections, and meals, but overall you’ll save big with these budget airlines to Europe:

1. Play Airlines: Iceland’s Low-Cost Gem

  • Focus on affordability: Play Airlines, an Icelandic carrier, balances cost and comfort with its new Airbus fleet.
  • Unique stopover experience: Offering the option to explore Iceland, Play promotes deals for various European destinations, including special offers for seasonal attractions.
  • Streamlined service: Known for its no-frills approach, Play keeps it simple, focusing on essential services and competitive pricing.

2. Norse Atlantic Airways: The New Wave of Budget Travel

  • Modern Fleet: Norse Atlantic Airways, headquartered in Norway, is making a splash with its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, promising an efficient and modern flight experience.
  • Expansive Routes: Operating 15 routes between the U.S. and Europe, Norse offers flights from cities like Boston, NYC, Miami, and Los Angeles to European hubs like London, Paris, and Rome.
  • Affordable Options: With roundtrip deals below $350, Norse provides a range of economy options, from ‘Light’ to ‘Flextra’, and a luxurious Premium Class for those seeking extra comfort.

3. Azores Airlines: A Portal to the Azores and Beyond

  • Island Adventures: Specializing in routes to the Azores, this airline connects North America to Europe via this stunning archipelago.
  • Budget-Friendly Routes: Look out for deals from Boston, New York, and Toronto to Ponta Delgada, with easy connections to Lisbon, Barcelona, and Paris.

4. LEVEL: Your Budget Gateway to Europe

  • Cultural Hotspots: Based in Spain, LEVEL offers long-haul flights to vibrant European cities like Barcelona, with round trips starting at just $359.
  • Simplicity and Savings: LEVEL’s straightforward online check-ins and direct deal notifications make it a favorite among budget-conscious travelers.
LEVEL offers direct flights between the US and Europe
LEVEL offers direct flights between the US and Europe

Tip #7: Save big on Intra-European flights

Once you’ve landed in Europe, the adventure truly begins. Getting around the continent is surprisingly affordable, thanks to budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet. These carriers have revolutionized travel in Europe, making even the most distant destinations just a short flight away.

Ryanair: The go-to for budget backpackers

Ryanair, known for its ultra-low fares, is a favorite among travelers looking to hop across Europe without spending a fortune. With a vast network covering numerous European countries, it offers an easy and economical way to explore different cultures and landscapes.

The key to flying Ryanair? Pack light and be flexible. Their strict baggage policies and varying flight schedules are a small trade-off for the money you’ll save. I’ve flown with Ryanair countless times over the years. Even though it’s a bit of a hassle navigating all the fees, the cost savings are real!

EasyJet: Connecting Europe’s hotspots

EasyJet is another excellent option for budget-conscious travelers. It connects major European cities and popular destinations, often flying into main airports, which can be more convenient than the remote ones some budget airlines use.

Like Ryanair, EasyJet isn’t the greatest airline out there. In fact, as a 6’4″ guy, the legroom is always a pain to deal with. But what it lacks in comfort, it makes up for with its dirt-cheap flight prices.

EasyJet will help you figure out how to get to Europe for cheap

Tip #8: Time your European getaway to lower travel costs

The secret to snagging lower travel costs to Europe? It’s all in the timing. Stepping away from the crowd not only saves you money but also offers a more authentic experience. Let’s break down the best times to visit Europe for those savvy savings.

Plan your Europe trip during shoulder seasons

Spring and fall: These are the golden periods for travelers. Think April to June and September to October. You’ll enjoy mild weather, fewer tourists, and more affordable prices. Cities like Paris in the spring or Rome in the fall are not just poetic; they’re also practical choices for budget travel.

Winter wonders minus the crowd

Winter travel: While winter (excluding the holiday season) might seem offbeat, it’s a hidden gem for budget travelers. From November to March, you’ll find some of the lowest airfares and hotel rates. Imagine exploring the Christmas markets of Switzerland or enjoying the cozy cafes of Amsterdam without the summer rush.

If you're wondering how to travel in Europe cheaply, winter is a great option
Wondering how to get to Europe for cheap? Visit during December when the Christmas markets are in full swing!

Avoiding peak tourism season

Summer Drawbacks: July and August are peak tourist months in Europe. This means higher prices and crowded attractions. If summer is your only option, try to book well in advance and consider less popular destinations to stretch your budget. If summer is all you have to work with, I recommend visiting the Balkans or otherwise getting really off the beaten path in Central or Western Europe. This is the cheapest way to travel to Europe during peak season.

Tips for timing your trip

Here are some strategies that have helped me time my trips to Europe over the years:

Plan around festivals and events

Europe’s festival season can significantly impact travel costs. For instance, avoiding Venice during Carnival or Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival can save you a bundle on accommodations. Conversely, attending lesser-known festivals in smaller towns can enrich your experience without the hefty price tag.

Avoid local holidays and school vacations

Each European country has its own set of holidays and school vacation periods. For example, avoiding travel during the UK’s half-term breaks or France’s national holidays can lead to cheaper flights and hotels. Researching the local calendar of your destination can help you dodge these costly periods.

Utilize Price Tracking Tools

Tools like Google Flights or Hopper allow you to track flight prices for specific routes. Set alerts for your desired destinations and travel dates to catch price drops. Booking when prices dip, often well in advance or just before off-peak periods, can lead to significant savings.

Hopper's Price Watch feature
Hopper’s Price Watch feature

Consider the day of the week you travel to Europe

Weekday vs. weekend travel: Flying on certain days of the week can be cheaper. Typically, mid-week flights (Tuesday to Thursday) are more affordable than weekend flights. This pattern can vary, so use flight comparison tools to identify the cheapest days for your specific route.

Traveling to Europe doesn’t have to mean splurging during the summer. By choosing the right time to visit, you can uncover a different side of Europe – serene, authentic, and more affordable. It’s about experiencing the continent in a way that’s not only easy on your wallet but also rich in unexpected delights.

Again, if you are flexible with your travel dates and want to find the best possible deal to Europe, I highly recommend signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights (Going.com). The free version is great for most people, but if you’re looking to find the best deals before anyone else, I recommend trying the premium version or Elite version.

Tip #9: Save on ground transportation in Europe

Looking for the cheapest way to travel around Europe? Here are some ground transportation options that have saved me a boat load over the years.

Flixbus: My go-to for affordable and flexible travel

Flixbus is an intercity bus service that connects many destinations across Europe, including major cities and hidden gems alike. It’s an ideal choice for budget travelers looking to explore multiple European destinations without the high cost.

I recommend planning and booking your routes in advance through their user-friendly app or website. Look out for their frequent sales and special offers to snag even better deals. Social media promos will help you figure out how to get to Europe cheaply.

Beyond the savings, Flixbus offers a comfortable travel experience with Wi-Fi, power outlets, and ample legroom. As such, I consider it a practical and cheap way to travel through Europe.

Carpooling with BlaBlaCar: A journey with stories

BlaBlaCar is a helpful travel app that connects you with locals and fellow travelers going the same way. Essentially, the site matches drivers with passengers who want to share the cost of a trip. It’s not only a great way to save money, but it’s also an opportunity to share stories and gain new insights into the places you’re visiting.

BlaBlaCar is available in 22 countries in Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Belgium. I’ve especially had luck finding convenient carpools in France, where the company is headquarted.

With user profiles and reviews, BlaBlaCar ensures a level of trust and safety. Plus, it often provides more direct routes to your destination than public transport. Splitting the cost of travel with others is wallet-friendly and reduces your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win for your budget and the environment!

Train travel: Scenic routes worth every euro

Train travel in Europe can be an absolutely amazing experience, especially if you’re crossing scenic routes like the Swiss Alps or the French countryside. For longer distances or less accessible destinations, trains can be a time-efficient option.

Look for rail passes like Eurail or Interrail that offer unlimited travel within a certain period. Booking in advance can also secure you lower fares. Night trains can save a night’s accommodation, adding to your savings.

While trains can be pricier than buses or carpooling, they offer comfort, speed, and picturesque views. Weigh the cost against the experience to decide when train travel is worth the splurge.

Scenic train ride through Switzerland
Trains may not be the cheapest way to see Europe, but it’s definitely the best!

Ground transportation in Europe offers diverse options to suit every traveler’s budget and style. Whether it’s the affordability of Flixbus, the unique encounters of BlaBlaCar, or the scenic charm of train travel, each mode has its own appeal. By mixing and matching these options, you can enjoy a rich European travel experience without overspending.

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