Europe’s climate varies drastically from the north of the continent to the south, and each country has it’s own particular peak tourist seasons. But as a general rule, the long summer holiday months of June through to August see many European’s on the move across the continent during their annual holidays. You can expect crowds at many of the major tourist sights, as well as inflated hotel and flight ticket prices.
There is another sharp peak in tourist numbers and accommodation prices over the Christmas/New Year period as travellers from across Europe soak up the festive atmosphere in neighbouring countries.
Apart from Christmas and New Year, the cold, rainy winter months of December through to February see far fewer tourist numbers across Europe. While some attractions and tourist sights close down for the season, you will benefit from some good hotel and flight deals if you are willing to brave the chilly conditions.
Spring and autumn are both favourable times to visit Europe, with milder weather and the majority of other tourists still at work. If you can time your travel for either May or September, these are both ideal months across much of Europe, with warm temperatures, relatively little rain, and some reduced accommodation and flight deals.
To take advantage of the best deals on flights to Europe, try and book your flight tickets as early as possible, no matter what time of the year you plan to travel. If you prefer to fly via the North American route, then be aware that there is an increased demand for flights during the annual summer break between June and August. With multiple airlines offering connecting flights to Europe from New Zealand, there are usually a number of good flight deals available if you shop around. This is particularly true if you are flexible on your exact travel dates or willing to make multiple connections.
Flights from Auckland to Europe – 25 hours.
Flights from Christchurch to Europe – 27 hours.
Flights from Wellington to Europe – 27 hours.
Flights from Queenstown to Europe – 28 hours.
The most direct route for flights to Europe from Auckland is with Air New Zealand, connecting in either Houston or Vancouver, then continuing on with Air France, British Airways or KLM, depending on your destination. From Christchurch, the best deals on flights to Europe are via Singapore with Singapore Airlines or via Guangzhou with China Southern. If you are looking for flight tickets from other New Zealand cities to Europe, then your best option is to connect through either Auckland or Christchurch first. Alternatively, there are sometimes good deals available if you fly to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane first, then connect through to Abu Dhabi with Etihad or Emirates.
Europe’s main international airports include London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Istanbul Ataturk and Amsterdam Schiphol. All of these airports offer a range of ground transportation options to get you to your city accommodation.
Most offer fast and efficient rail services that will whisk you from the airport into the inner city, avoiding the traffic-clogged streets. While you may have to connect onto other trains or buses to get to your final destination, this is usually one of the cheapest means of ground transportation.
Shuttle bus services are another economical way to get from your European airport to downtown accommodation. Some of these are door-to-door services while others will drop you at designated city destinations. But they all generally offer good luggage stowage and guaranteed seats, something that the public transport options don’t always provide.
The most hassle-free, but expensive, means of getting from most European airports into the city centre is with a metered taxi, which usually wait in designated ranks just outside the airport terminal buildings.
If you are planning to self-drive, all of the major European airports offer rental car services, with the best deals available if you book online prior to arrival.
(prices quotes are from London)