My Top 5 Airport Hubs in Europe

backpacking belfast

My top 5 stopover cities in Europe – Belfast, Northern Ireland.

This week I arrived back in Europe for what is likely to be my longest stay in my home continent in over 5 years (I might be here for 3 months touring!). Despite not wanting to be based in Europe any more, I do love my stopover cities in Europe and always buzz off my flights in and out and the places to check out. These are my 5 favourite stop over cities in Europe that I love to explore and also use their airports for.

The taste of Northern Ireland - arrival back in Belfast - Tayto Land.

The taste of Northern Ireland – arrival back in Belfast – Tayto Land.

1. Belfast, Northern Ireland
No surprises that Belfast is top of the list. It’s the capital city of my home country and where I spent a lot of my childhood and my family still all live within half an hour drive of the airport, so this is a must for me. I love landing back in Belfast, going down my local pub in Bangor for a pint and eating Northern Irish food again.

Having a drink with my brother in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Having a drink with my brother in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

2. London, England
You’ll know I’m a London freak – remember my crazy pub crawls? I once burnt myself out there working in PR before I turned into a long term budget backpacker. These days I love using London as a hub. When I lived in Kent, I used Gatwick and Stansted, mainly because I could use Gatwick parking when I owned a car. These days I tend to favour Heathrow as it has slightly more flights and is served by the tube line.

Welcome to London, England.

Welcome to London, England.

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
In January 2014 I made my first trip back to Amsterdam in over 20 years and loved it. Being able to use Amsterdam as a hub gives you quick access to places like France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany too. Plus Amsterdam is a great city to drink and smoke weed in.

Cycling in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Cycling in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

4. Paris, France
My original stop over city used to be Paris, but I’m not actually a big fan. Once you’ve seen Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral a few times, it gets a bit repetitive. However for the love of cheap flights, I still often check the flight routes for potential Paris jaunts.

Backpacking in Paris some moons ago - decent stop over for cheap flights, but average city.

Backpacking in Paris some moons ago – decent stop over for cheap flights, but average city.

5. Barcelona, Catalonia
This is a new addition! My recent trip back to Europe involved an awesome cheap flight from New York City to Barcelona.

barcelona backpacker

Backpacking in Barcelona – great stop over city.

I was then able to head into Andorra for a few days and tour Barcelona. It’s a great city and also a cool base to use as it’s close to Madrid, Gibraltar and even better – direct flights to north Africa, so I dare say I’ll pass through the streets of Barcelona again.

"sometimes I wish I was in Barcelona"

“sometimes I wish I was in Barcelona”

In other news, I’m now confirmed for Romania next month, it’s another new country for me and I’ll be going via London this time!

Safe Travels.

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6 thoughts on “My Top 5 Airport Hubs in Europe

  • Hi Ray – I mix it up a bit to be honest and I do spend 2-3 hours looking at flights to get the right one or the cheapest ones. For my recent travels I used Delta from NY to Barcelona and Ryanair from Barcelona to Dublin. I bought them straight from the companies themselves. When I fly into Belfast I use Easyjet and all my London flights are normally Ryanair, except longhaul to Hong Kong is on British Airways (which isn’t the cheapeast but always direct to HK and a return is decent value). For those I usually book them through the airline. I’ve used Expedia and Momondo before as well, but honestly – I don’t think there is a trick or a rule just knowing what routes are generally cheaper, spending time looking at dates and routes and booking when you know you like the prices and routes. Toronto to London on Canadian Affair maybe? ( Or the Belfast flight which is once a week only? Safe travels. Jonny

  • Thanks for the feedback! That is extremely helpful. I may look into Icelandic Air, as well. They sometimes have flight specials from Toronto to Reykjavik for like $600 CDN and you can stay up to 7 days there plus have an add on to fly anywhere else in Europe, which sometimes works out to be a bit cheaper than flying direct from Toronto to major European cities direct.
    Ray recently posted…São João Farm – Two Days in the PantanalMy Profile

  • Just spend 2-3 hours looking at flights has always seemed to me to be the best way down the years. When in Europe, internal flights can be got for cheap with Ryanair and Easyjet. Keep me updated on your Europe plans. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Damien, Yes as part of my Romania and Moldova adventure, I will be visiting two football stadiums (as ever) and watching one match in Bucharest in November time. Safe travels. Jonny

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