Take advantage of more frequest transportation options due to the summer tourist season and get to far away destinations like Barcelona and the Greek Islands.
It is the heat of the summer, and Europe is being invaded by throngs of map-wielding and bikini clad tourists. Sure this is the cause for the bottleneck traffic in Florence’ Piazza del Duomo, and makes for navigating through the Roman Forum that much more stressful. As the backpacker and weekend tourist influx grows, Europe’s extensive travel network opens up to the outlying locales like Greece, Barcelona, Portugal, the Baltics, the Balkans, and Sicily. Of course, it is still logical to hop on overnight buses and trains if you are traveling within Central Europe, with travel times on buses and trains comparable to the timely process of air travel (getting to the airport, check-in, etc). However, far-reaching cities like Athens and Lisbon that may take 16 – 24+ hours to reach overnight in the spring, winter, and fall months, are now reached in a fraction of the time by newly opened flight routes, and high speed ferry connections.
In the low-season it may be in vogue to hop a plodding 20+ hour bus, or overnight ferry to reach places like Barcelona, Lisbon, Ibiza, Mallorca, Sicily, and Corsica with some coin in your pocket. I don’t blame you as I would be standing at the ticket window with you. However, discount and national airlines cash-in on the tourism boom by opening up more frequent flights, and allowing greater flexibility for arrival times, and leave more money in your pocket. For trips to cities on the Iberian Peninsula (Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Lagos) and the nearby islands of Ibiza and Mallorca, frequent flight routes with TAP Portugal, Spainair, Vueling, RyanAir, Iberia, EasyJet, Air Europa, and other major national carriers provide dozens of daily flights allowing you to find the best deal. Wikipedia does a fantastic job of laying out all of Europe’s discount airlines. Keep in mind that the bulk of many of these airlines flight patterns are designated for the busy summer months only. Want some posh beaches closer to Central Europe and without the pick pockets of Barcelona? Have a look at the French Riviera!
For much of the year it is difficult and costly to reach the stunning white houses of Greek Islands Santorini and Mykonos. These iconic Greek Islands are only accessible via Athens in the low-season. Alas, the summer provides numerous flights at modest prices, providing an alternative to the 24+ hour ferry trip to the Greek mainland or having to pay an exorbitant price to fly from other major cities. Even places like the Corfu (home to the world famous Pink Palace) have frequent discount flights arriving through airlines like EasyJet, getting you there in a third of the time as the ferry). Of course if you are traveling in the spring, winter, and fall, the ferry becomes the ideal option as flight prices to Athens skyrocket and become very infrequent, as again, I will be in line right next to you, buying my overnight ferry ticket to Corfu and The Pink Palace.
For direct flights to Athens, Mykonos, Heraklion, and Santorini check out Aegean Airlines, Olympic Airlines, EasyJet, as well as the national carrier of the country you are in (i.e. in Italy check our fares with Alitalia). Once in Athens, freshly opened high-speed summer ferries connect you to the further reaches of the Cyclades and Dodecanese Islands in 4 to 8 hours. These new ferry routes sail many times a day, allowing maximum flexibility to check out Ancient Athens, and still see the white and blue houses of Greece. If you are staying in Athens, we recommend checking out Athenstyle and Easy Athens. For Santorini Hotels, check out Hotel Antonia and Villa Alizea. For Greece ferry timetable, head here. Do you want to get to some incredible beaches off the beaten path beaches, but want to be able to get there by bus or train? Why don’t you take a look at Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, the up and coming beach destination in Mediterranean.
Sure the summer months may ratchet up the stress level, with long lines for museums, and trying moments trying to negotiate a place a stay. But summer is also the time to take advantage of the opportunities of more flexible and readily available transportation options. Get out there and enjoy, because the summertime is for getting around in Europe!