Europe: accommodation and transport

Getting from the airport to your hotel at 44 European airports, links to 19 train booking sites, and the best sites for booking accommodation in Europe.

Getting there and around

Browse online here, or download the Europe travel guide.


Flight time from Australia: 19+ hours

  • There are no direct flights from Australia to Europe. Australian travellers usually fly via Asia or the Middle East.
  • Many airlines have routes between Australia and Europe. Choosing the right flight can depend on price, travel time, the airline's service reputation, and the location of your stopover point, if you want to take a side trip.
  • To compare airlines, read customer reviews on and, or compare aircraft stats like seat dimensions and on-board amenities at
  • If you're booking your flights online, see our guide to using airline booking sites and avoiding booking traps.

Warning: If you are flying via the UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei or any other country with strict drug laws, be sure to check that any medication you're carrying (such as strong painkillers, sleeping pills, cold and flu tablets and ADHD medication) isn't illegal. In rare cases, airline passengers have been jailed when caught with medications that were classed as narcotics. If you're concerned, check with your airline or with the embassy of the country you'll be transiting through.

At the airport

If you're an Australian passport-holder arriving in a Schengen country and visiting as a tourist for less than 90 days within a 180-day period, then you won't need a visa. Many non-Schengen European countries (such as the UK and Ireland) also won't require you to have a visa, but some, including Russia, will. See more about visas.

Passing through immigration and customs is usually quite straightforward in Europe, depending on which airport you arrive at, and at what time. In most of Europe's larger airports, Australians will need to join the 'non-EU passport holder' queue – which sometimes moves a lot slower than the queue for EU citizens.

You may be quizzed about the purpose of your visit and the contents of your luggage, or you may simply be approved and waved though.

Important: Make sure you get your passport stamped if you're entering a Schengen country. You'll need it as a record of the date that you entered the Schengen area, and you could even be fined or encounter problems with authorities if you don't have an entry stamp.

The following are guides to some of Europe's main airports:

  • 32km west of CBD.
  • The Heathrow Express is the fastest way into central London. Departing from Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 5 (shuttle available from terminal 4), trains run every 15 minutes and take 15 minutes to reach Paddington station.
  • Heathrow Connect is a cheaper but slower train service departing from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 every 30 minutes and taking 25 minutes to reach Paddington.
  • The London Underground (or 'tube') is cheaper and slower still. Trains leave every ten minutes and take up to an hour to reach central London via the Piccadilly line. There are stations at Terminals 4 and 5, and a combined station for Terminals 1, 2 and 3.
  • Buses and coaches run to central London, other airports, some hotels, and stations on the national rail network.
  • Taxis leave from outside every terminal. Minicabs or private drivers can be pre-booked via or
  • Car hire companies Hertz, Avis, Europcar, National, Alamo, Enterprise, Budget and Sixt all operate out of Heathrow.
  • Airport website:
  • 45km south of CBD.
  • Trains leave from the South Terminal and can be reached from the North Terminal by free shuttle.
    • The Gatwick Express is the fastest way into central London. It leaves every 15 minutes and takes 30 minutes to reach Victoria station.>
    • Thameslink runs to London Bridge, St Pancras International and Luton Airport.
    • Southern runs to London Victoria via Clapham Junction and East Croydon.
    • Other train services can take you to destinations outside of London, including Brighton, Southampton and Reading.
  • Most buses leave from the South Terminal forecourt. Some also pick up passengers at the North Terminal.
    • Easybus runs to Earls Court/West Brompton, London Victoria coach station and Waterloo train station.
    • National Express runs to many locations including central London, Heathrow and Brighton.
  • Taxis are available from both terminals. Drivers can be booked in advance.
  • Car hire companies operating out of Gatwick include Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Sixt, National, Alamo, Enterprise and Budget.
  • Airport website:
  • 30km north of CBD.
  • Taxis leave from outside all terminals. Expect a 15% surcharge if you're travelling at night, on a Sunday or on a public holiday. Check here for estimated fares.
  • The airport has two train stations, one at Terminal 2, and another between Terminals 1 and 3 (with a free shuttle service). The RER B train links to central Paris and its suburbs.
  • A range of bus services run to central Paris and surrounds, including a night bus and an express 'Magical Shuttle' to Disneyland Paris.
  • A free rail shuttle connects all terminals.
  • Car hire is available from Terminals 1 and 2. See the airport website for a list of operators, their location and their opening hours.
  • Airport website:
  • 12km south of CBD.
  • Taxis leave from outside both terminals. Journey time to central Frankfurt is 20-30 minutes.
  • The airport has a regional and a long-distance train station, with services departing to central Frankfurt and its suburbs, as well as to other cities in Germany and Europe. See the airport website for information on timetables and ticketing.
  • The Lufthansa Airport Buses run from Terminal 1 to a range of destinations. Local buses depart from outside both terminals.
  • Car hire is available from both terminals. See the airport website for a list of operators, their location and their opening hours.
  • Car share is available from Terminal 1.
  • Airport website:
  • 20km south-west of CBD.
  • Taxis leave from outside the terminal. The journey to central Amsterdam takes around 15 minutes.
  • Trains leave from below the terminal. Services to central Amsterdam leave every 10 to 15 minutes (between 6:00am and 12:30am) and take 15 to 20 minutes.
  • International trains depart from Schipol to various cities in Europe.
  • A range of bus services leave from outside the terminal.
  • Car hire desks are located at Schipol Plaza, directly behind Arrivals 3.
  • Airport website:

Key destinations and their airports

UK and Ireland
Airport Airport code
London Heathrow LHR
London Gatwick LGW
London Luton LTN
Edinburgh Airport EDI
Dublin Airport DUB
Airport Airport code
Charles de Gaulle Airport - Paris CDG
Paris Orly Airport ORY
Airport Airport code
Frankfurt Airport FRA
Berlin Tegel Airport TXL
Berlin Schönefeld Airport SXF
Munich Airport MUC
Airport Airport code
Fiumicino Airport - Rome FCO
Milano Malpensa Airport - Milan MXP
Venice Marco Polo Airport VCE
Airport Airport code
Madrid Barajas Airport MAD
Barcelona El Prat Airport BCN
Airport Airport code
Athens International Airport ATH
Airport Airport code
Istanbul Atatürk Airport IST
Airport Airport code
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol AMS
Airport Airport code
Zurich Airport ZRH
Airport Airport code
Vienna International Airport VIE
Airport Airport code
Copenhagen Airport CPH
Airport Airport code
Oslo Airport OSL
Airport Airport code
Stockholm Arlanda Airport ARN
Airport Airport code
Helsinki Airport HEL
Chzech Republic
Airport Airport code
Václav Havel Airport - Prague PRG
Airport Airport code
Domodedovo International Airport – Moscow DME
Sheremetyevo International Airport – Moscow SVO
Pulkovo Airport – Saint Petersburg LED

Getting around


One of the best ways to see Europe is from the comfort of a train carriage. The continent has an extensive network of slow-speed and high-speed trains connecting towns and cities and crossing international borders. Each country runs its own rail system and has its own processes for booking tickets, but the systems are mostly interconnected, so international rail travel is easy enough to organise.

For short-distance travel within a particular country, you can usually buy your ticket at the station. For long-distance and international journeys, it's usually best (or sometimes essential) to book in advance.

Tip: The German Railways website is the best place to check timetables for train journeys all over Europe (it's zehr efficient!).

To buy tickets online, the standard way is to book via the rail website of the country/city you're travelling from.

Train booking websites by country
Country Train site
UK (more on train travel in the UK)
France (see these tips on how to use the site, or simply use the less-complicated unofficial site
Italy (see these tips on how to use the site.)
Spain (see these tips on how to use the site.) NB: The renfe site won't load for Australian Telstra Bigpond customers.
Sweden (or
Czech Republic

If you want to hunt down a bargain fare, has a wealth of advice based on specific routes. This might mean booking via the website of your destination country rather than your departure country, booking on a certain date, or using a third-party booking site.

Most tickets won't allow you to hop on and off, so you'll need to book your journey in separate legs. The exception is the German website, which allows you to book multi-leg tickets to, from or within Germany.

If a rail site won't accept your Australian credit card, or if you have a complicated itinerary and just want a simpler booking process, try a specialist site such as, or the Australian travel agent

If you plan to cover a lot of Europe by train, consider a Eurail pass. They aren't cheap (you have to use them a lot to actually save money) but they do give you the freedom to hop on and off and really explore. Tip: Eurail pass holders still need to book in advance to be sure of a seat.

If you're over 60 or under 26, you may be eligible for cheaper fares. However, many senior or youth fares are simply a discounted version of the full-price ticket, so they often aren't as cheap as the advance-purchase discount fares available to everyone.

See for more detailed advice on train travel in Europe, including recommended scenic trips, descriptions of train seats and carriages, advice on travelling with a wheelchair and much more


Buses are rarely as comfortable or charismatic as trains, but they usually cost less – and of course they'll take you to many places that trains can't.

Bus tickets can usually be bought on the spot, except during peak times. To book in advance, search for fares on sites such as, or, or if you know the name of the bus company operating the route, see if they have cheaper fares on their own site.

To compare the cost of bus, train and air travel, search at (UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Switzerland).

Multi-trip bus passes give you a similar hop-on/hop-off freedom to Eurail passes, and for a much cheaper price. They're available from,,, and many more agencies.

Flights within Europe

If you don't have time to travel by land, a quick flight can zip you from one must-see city to another in a matter of hours, or even under an hour! Fares are often extremely low, thanks to competition from budget (though not always reliable) airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair.

Book via the airline's website, or compare fares through international booking sites such as and See our tips on using airline booking websites.

Warning: Budget airlines often fly to secondary airports that may be a long way from your destination (they do this to save money on airport fees). For example, you might book cheap flights with Ryanair from London Stansted Airport to "Barcelona Girona Airport", only to find that Girona Airport is actually 115km from Barcelona.

Tip: If you're planning on taking a lot of flights in Europe and you prefer not to fly with budget airlines, consider a Visit Europe Pass from oneworld or talk to a travel agent about similar multi-flight deals.


With the boom in cheap flights, travelling by ferry in Europe isn't as common as it once was, but it's still the best way to cross channels and seas if you have a vehicle, or if you simply prefer to take the scenic route.

You can often buy tickets at the port, but if you're worried about missing out – particularly if you're travelling at a peak time, want a sleeping berth or need to take your vehicle on board – it's best to book ahead.

Once you know which ferry company runs the service you need, it's worth shopping around for the cheapest deal. is the most comprehensive European booking site, offering 1809 routes by 350 operators. For ferries from the UK, as well as some other routes in Europe, try For Greek island ferries, try Or simply search on the ferry company's own website.

Tip: Train tickets can often be combined with ferry tickets (for example, London to Dublin can be booked as one fare via British Rail). Eurail passes also include some ferry services.


Europe is one of the best places in the world to travel long distances by bicycle. The EuroVelos are a network of 14 signposted cycle routes, criss-crossing the continent for thousands of kilometres with bike-friendly accommodation and services along the way. The quality of these 'bicycle highways' varies from country to country, with the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Germany among the best, but in almost every part of Europe you'll find better and safer cycling infrastructure than in car-loving Australia.

Travel light with your own set of panniers and a map, or have a bike tour company organise your itinerary, transport your bags and even change your flat tyres for you.

Transport tip: is a great resource for working out how to get from A to B by any means of transport, anywhere in the world.

Local transport

Getting around towns and cities is easily done on public transport, by taxi, by bicycle or on foot.

Obviously the taxi companies and their phone numbers change from country to country, but the taxi-ordering app covers more than 100 cities throughout Europe. The ever-expanding Uber network is also working its way into the European market, with more than 30 cities under its belt already.

Almost every city and town in Europe will have public transport information available online via a website or app. Just search for what you need, or add the appropriate apps to your phone before you go. Moovit (Apple / Android) is an international public transport planner app covering more than 500 cities worldwide.

Many European cities have bicycle share schemes. Some simply require a swipe of your credit card, but some others require you to apply for a membership card. Bike helmets aren't compulsory anywhere in Europe.

Car hire

Although Europe has some of the best public transport in the world, having your own car is a great way to get off the beaten track and travel on your own schedule.

You'll find most of the major international car hire companies in Europe, as well as some local ones. If you're planning on picking up and dropping off in different locations, you're probably best off renting through one of the larger companies. International companies can also be easier to deal with if there's a dispute.

To compare car hire rates, use an international site such as or, or a European site such as

Tip: If you're planning to travel between countries, explain your itinerary when you make your booking enquiry. Most companies allow their cars to be taken across borders, but some will refuse for insurance reasons and many will charge an additional fee. Some companies don't allow their cars on ferries, and some companies have restrictions on driving cars from Western Europe into Eastern Europe.

See our car hire guide for more tips.

Driving in Europe

Which side of the road?

In the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and Armenia, vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road. In all other European countries, vehicles drive on the right.

Do I need an international driving permit?

Many European countries recognise Australian licences, but you'll need an international driving permit for Austria, Greece, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Turkey, Armenia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.

In some other countries it's recommended you carry an international permit, as it may be a requirement to rent a car. See this advice from RACV .

Road rules

Laws vary throughout Europe. The British AA has a list of country-specific road rules that you can check for the country (or countries) you'll be driving in.

  • Drink-driving is illegal in all of Europe but the blood alcohol limit varies from .02% to .08%, depending on which country you're in.
  • Almost all European countries prohibit the use of mobile phones, unless hands-free.
  • Under EU law, a seat belt must be worn in any seat fitted with one.
  • Rules about child seats vary, but the law is consistent across EU countries. See this guide.
  • In France, all vehicles must carry a breathalyser. If you rent your car in France, it should be included.
  • Some countries insist that cars carry a safety kit with a high-viz vest and reflective triangle for use at accident sites. Again, this should be included with your rental car.

Tolls and charges

There are plenty of toll roads across Europe (see this map), so consider an e-tag for your hire car. Some European cities, such as London, Stockholm, Oslo and Bergen, impose a congestion charge to discourage driving in city centres.


Many European cities have pedestrianised city centres and discourage, or even ban, car traffic. The more central the area, the more expensive and hard to come by the parking will be. It's best to leave your car on the outskirts and see the city by foot, bicycle or public transport.

Accommodation and tours

Accommodation options in Europe are many and varied - from renting your own medieval castle to staying in B&Bs, holiday parks, hotels and hostels. And of course the price you'll pay will vary greatly depending on which country you're in and what time of year you're travelling.

During peak seasons (summer holidays and Christmas in particular) it's essential to book ahead. At other times, you may have more freedom to follow your nose.

You can book online through the usual sites such as and, or try to get a better rate by contacting the hotel directly. Check tripadvisor for customer reviews before you book. If you're looking for a homestay or holiday house rental, is widely used in many parts of Europe.

See our tips on booking accommodation.

Tours can be arranged through a travel agent or online (try or, or search for recommended tours on or For the easiest option of all, consider a package deal from a travel agent such as Flight Centre, which includes flights, transport, accommodation and sometimes even meals.

Self-drive holidays (or self-guided cycle holidays) give you the freedom to travel independently, but with your itinerary already set out for you and your bookings already made. Try or or search around for other recommended agents.

Consider waiting until you're in Europe to book day trips. If your schedule is flexible, you may want to check the weather forecast a few days in advance before committing to outdoor activities. You'll probably also find a greater choice of tours once you're in your destination than you would online.

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