European cities often have rail connections to the major airports. Cities with direct subway lines include London and Madrid, while others have good train connections including Paris Charles De Gaulle, Milan and Amsterdam.
From Heathrow (LHR), your best option is either the Heathrow Express or the Tube as taxis will cost upwards of $100. The Heathrow Express is a quick 15 minute jaunt, but not always convenient, depositing you at Paddington Station where you’re still likely to need a cab or to connect to the Tube. Look for frequent price discounts – the DUO ticket allows for 2 people to save £18 on a round-trip ticket (R/T single adult is £34). Book in advance at HeathrowExpress.com. The Tube is a great option for getting into Central London as the Piccadilly Line passes beneath Knightsbridge, Soho and Piccadilly – a ticket will cost you £5.50. If you arrive after 9:30am, you can get a 1-6 zone fare card for only £8.90 good for rest of the day (valid all day Sat and Sun). Since a single ride fare is £4.50, you start saving on your 2nd ride. Depending on your destination, the trip will be about 35 – 45 minutes and the trains are rather small so expect crowding.
The suburban RER B line connects Charles De Gaulle (CDG) directly with central Paris in a little over half an hour. A ticket (€9.50) on the RER also allows you to continue onwards on the Metro – you can catch trains at Gare du Nord, Chatelet Les Halles and Denfert-Rochereau. Note that the ticket lines at CDG are often lengthy and all the machines either take the new chip credit cards (not American ones) or coins (there is a good chance the change machines will be out of order). If you can’t use the machines, join the line inside the ticket office.
Schiphol Airport (AMS) has an extensive number of rail connections, its train station conveniently directly beneath the airport. On the Fyra service, you can be in Amsterdam’s Centraal Station in 13 minutes and reach numerous cities both within The Netherlands as well as in Belgium and Germany. Once you arrive at Centraal Station, cross the street to catch a tram or take a taxi on to your destination. A one-way ticket on the Fyra is €3.90 and can be bought online. If you are traveling to Rotterdam, the train takes 27 minutes and costs €13.50. Trains run every half hour (hourly at night).
Flights to Rome land at Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino (FCO) on the Adriatic Coast. From there, you can take the Leonardo Express to Roma Termini, the main station in the center of town. Trains depart every 30 minutes and take 31 minutes. (Tickets are €14 one-way with discounts for a carnet of 10). If you are headed to other destinations, take the FL1 Regional line with stops including Roma Tiburtina.
Lisbon’s airport (LIS) is so close to the city that it really makes the most sense to jump in a taxi, especially if you are more than one traveler. Make sure the meter is turned on the entire way and preferably have a gps of your route to ensure the driver does not take the long way round. Fares include €2 fixed tariff (€2.50 at night) and €1.60 luggage surcharge (not per piece). Expect to pay €10 – 15 to most places in the city center. Ask for a receipt.
The only recommended way to get to Istanbul from Atatürk Airport (IST) is to take a car service arranged by your hotel. These are somewhat expensive and charge in Euros (make sure you have cash) but you are guaranteed a driver who can find his way. While in the city proper, you can take taxis but do not do so from the airport (when in the city, make sure the meter is on). The going rate for airport service is €25 each way but the peace of mind is worth it.
Barcelona – El Prat (BCN) Airport is located 12 km outside the city and connected by a rail line (R2) directly to Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia station. Trains depart every 30 minutes and the journey takes 26 minutes. For other stations, transfer at Barcelona Sants. Fare is €3.80 one-way.
Madrid’s Barajas Airport (MAD) is conveniently serviced by Metro Line 8, stopping at both Terminals 1/2/3 and the gleaming new Terminal 4. Tickets are just €4.50 (including a €3 supplement – travel pass holders do not need to pay the supplement). The line terminates at Nuevos Ministeros so you will have to change at least once to reach your destination. A taxi will cost around €25 – €30 depending on your destination. The initial leg takes 18 minutes and generally you can reach your destination in 35 – 45 minutes.
The taxi trip from far off Keflavik Airport (KEF) will famously set you back over $100 so the only affordable alternative is to take the Flybus. Be warned that the bus departures are tied to the arrival times of flights so don’t linger at the arrival duty free – if you arrive in the morning, there are a few buses for the early American flights and then a long gap before the European flights start landing. Watch the screens as buses depart 35 – 40 minutes after flights arrive. (The good thing is if your flight is delayed, even very late, there will be a bus for the flight.) Travel time is about 45 minutes and you’ll need to transfer at the bus station to smaller buses to get to the city’s hotels (Flybus + service). Book Flybus tickets online to save 10% on R/T tickets. Cost is 1950 ISK (3500 R/T), 2500 ISK for Flybus + (4500 ISK R/T). For Flybus +, ask your hotel to book your pickup the day before departure.
While Stockholm has four airports, most international travelers will arrive at Arlanda (ARN) (Ryannair service flies to two distant airports). The airport is well integrated in the country’s train network and you have a choice of either the non-stop Arlanda Express or an SL Commuter Train. The Arlanda Express will get you to Central Station in Stockholm in 20 minutes while a regular train will take around 38 minutes. A round-trip, non-discounted Arlanda Express costs around $75 (prices drop with promotions and weekend discounts on ArlandaExpress.com). Prices are less on the SL trains – $19 one-way but make sure to switch trains at Upplands Väsby (leaving Stockholm for the airport you will switch onto the Upptåget).
Getting to the airport by boat just seems so Venetian. Here you can take a shared boat or a public line to/from Venezia Marco Polo Airport (VCE). The Alilaguna service operates over three routes (blue, red, yellow) with stops at all the major vaporetto stops. Fares are €14 one-way, €25 round-trip. A less crowded option are the shared ride boats – they take a maximum 6 – 8 people and you need to be a party of at least two to reserve. Fares are more expensive at €20 one-way (€38 round-trip) but in addition to stopping at the major stops, they will take you direct to most major hotels with docks. Tickets for both services are available at VeniceLink.com or at stations in the airport arrivals area. If you prefer a bus, you can take the ATVO to Piazzale Roma for only €6 one-way (€11 round-trip) purchased in advance at ATVO.it. Buses depart every 30 minutes and travel time is 20 minutes. The ACTV bus is not express and though the cheapest option, is not recommended unless you have budget limitations.
The Zurich Airport (ZRH) is connected to the city by direct train service departing every 10 minutes during peak hours. Tickets are a reasonable 6 CHF. Travel time is 11 – 14 minutes.
USA & Canada
Logan Airport (BOS) is situated across the bay from downtown and easily accessible via subway. Grab a free shuttle bus to Airport Station and take the Blue Line three stops to State Street (Orange Line) or four stops to Government Center (Green Line). The fare is $2.50. If you prefer a taxi, the cost should be $25 – $40 depending on your destination.
New York JFK and Newark
A taxi between JFK and Manhattan will set you back $52 (flat fare) plus tip and toll. Luckily there are rail options for those who are traveling light. You can take the Air Train to the A Train at Howard Beach to get to Manhattan ($5 for the Air Train plus subway fare of $2.50; $2.75 for single ride ticket purchase). You can also connect with the Air Train to Jamaica for the Long Island Rail Road. Numerous buses go into Manhattan from JFK to Grand Central, Port Authority and Penn Station – the one-way fare is $16 and can be bought online. Bus service to Manhattan from LaGuardia costs $13 while taxis will cost upwards of $30 – $35 plus tip and toll. You can also take the M60 bus to connect to the N and Q train at Hoyt Avenue/31st Street Astoria, Queens for $2.50 (free transfer).
From Newark (EWR), you’ll pay $50 – $70 ($5 rush hour fee applies) for a taxi to Manhattan plus tip and round-trip tolls. Olympia runs the Newark Airport Express bus every 15 minutes – one-way fare to Grand Central, Port Authority or Penn Station cost $16/ $28 round-trip (online tickets here). The rail option from Newark involves taking the Air Train to the NJ Transit stop where you can board a train for Penn Station ($12.50 including Air Train charge).
Both of Chicago’s Airports – Midway (MDW) and O’Hare International (ORD) – are reachable by CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) trains. The service is not express so expect a somewhat lengthy ride, especially on the Blue Line to O’Hare, which is well outside downtown Chicago (40 – 45 minutes, $5 one-way). Midway is closer, about 20 – 25 minutes via the Orange Line, and the fare is only the regular fare of $2.25 (2 transfers additional $.25). You can use a Ventra Card (refillable) or Ventra Ticket (single-use and day passes) – both are contactless tickets that you tap on the fare reader for entry.
Denver International Airport (DEN) has limited connections to the city – you can take the bus or a taxi. RTD operates Skyride Buses ($11 one-way) with multiple stops downtown including Union Station for connections to light rail, Market Street and Denver Bus Center. Taxis have a flat rate of $55.15 to Downtown.
Options at George Bush International (IAH) are limited. You can take Metro Bus 102 to the downtown Metro Station from outside Terminal C baggage claim ($1.50). The trip will take about 70 minutes. A shared Super Shuttle will cost $23 per person each way. Taxis run $45 – $60 plus a $2.75 airport fee + $1 night fee after 8pm. The price is the lesser of the meter or flat rate. Credit cards accepted with 5% surcharge.
McCarran International Airport (LAS) may have the most convenient location of any on this list – literally located just off the strip. While most people will opt for taxis, be prepared for wall-to-wall traffic day and night on the strip. A mile ride can easily take 30 minutes or more. A shared Super Shuttle to a downtown hotel will cost $8 – $9 one-way, per person.
The Flyaway Bus service connects LAX with Union Station, Brentwood, Expo/La Brea and Van Nuys (Fernando Valley). Buses can be found outside the Arrivals Area. One-way fare $6 – $10, credit card only. Taxis are the most convenient way to reach your destination but subject to the area’s notorious traffic jams. Expect to pay $50 – $70 including the airport surcharge of $4.
With the recent opening of a rail connection to Miami International Airport (MIA), the airport is now connected to Downtown, Hialeah, South Miami and the University of Miami via Metrorail ($2.25). Just hop on the MIA Mover (3rd floor) and head to the Miami Central Station, where you can also pick up the Metrobus for other connections ($2.25, transfer $.60) or get a rental car. To get to South Beach and Miami Beach, take the Miami Beach Airport Flyer 150 which departs every 30 minutes from the Miami Central Station.
Skyharbor Airport (PHX) is connected to the Metro Light Rail via a free Skytrain from Terminal 4 (take a free shuttle bus if arriving at Terminal 2 or 3). A single ride on Metro Light Rail costs $2. A taxi ride will cost from $15 (minimum) to $50 depending on where you are traveling to.
San Francisco International (SFO) lies well south of the city but is conveniently connected to the regional BART system, which includes the city as well as Berkeley and Oakland. Pick up the BART at the station located in the International Terminal near Gate G. A free Airtrain connects the other terminals with the station. One-way fare to downtown San Francisco is $8.25. You can pick up Caltrain at Millbrae Station for service to San Francisco, San Jose and other destinations. SamTrans provides bus service to parts of San Francisco and Palo Alto ($4) on routes 292 and 397, as well as KX Express ($5).
Most flights to Toronto land at Pearson International Airport (YYZ), though some regional flights from Porter Airlines and Air Canada land at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) which is on an island across from downtown. Pearson is well outside the city and connected only by bus or taxi. The Toronto Airport Express connects the airport with many major hotels and the ride can take 45 minutes or more. Buses depart every 30 minutes and cost $26.55 one-way (online discount purchased at TorontoAirportExpress.com). A taxi will run you $40 – $65 CAD depending on your destination – fares are determined by a fare chart so ask the driver to show you before you depart. Depending on the gas price you may also be assessed a fuel surcharge of up to $5 per trip (see details here).
If you are flying into Billy Bishop, you can take a short free ferry ride to downtown or grab a free bus at Union Station (Front and York Streets).
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has a new Canada Line rail link connecting to downtown Vancouver in 25 minutes and downtown Richmond in 18 minutes. You can access trains from both the International and Domestic Terminals. Trains depart every 7 – 15 minutes and tickets cost $9.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) is connected by rail but just as convenient and well monitored are the taxis. It’s best to have your hotel name in Thai (and printed directions if available). Join the queue and get a receipt from the dispatcher who will tell your driver your destination. All fares are metered so expect to pay $10 – $12 for a taxi including the airport surcharge (50 baht) and tolls if you take the expressway. The trip will take 30 – 60 minutes depending on traffic. The Airport Rail Link opened in 2010 and connects the airport with Phaya Thai and Makkasan. The ARL Airport Express is non-stop ($4.50) while the ARL City Line makes eight stops ($.45 – $1.40). Trains run 6am – Midnight though the last trains depart earlier than that. Fom Makkasan, you can take a taxi to your destination, or walk to the Phetchaburi MRT station. At Phraya Thai you can transfer to the BTS Skytrain. The ARL City Line makes eight stops (Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai), takes 27 minutes.
The Airport Express train runs every 10 minutes from 5:50am – 1:10am from Hong Kong International (HKG) to downtown Hong Kong. The ride takes 24 minutes and costs about $13 ($12.25 if bought online).
Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport (PVG) has two train connections to the city – the Metro and a high-speed Maglev train. Metro Line 2 runs directly to the airport, with trains every 8 minutes from 6am – 10pm. You will need to connect to another train at Guanglan Road Station and the trip takes about an hour. Fare is about $1.50 one-way. Maglev trains take only 15 minutes to the city though you will be on the outskirts and need to transfer to the Metro Line 2. Trains run every 15 – 20 minutes from 6:45am – 9:40pm. Fare is $16.50.
Changi (SIN) is conveniently connected to the city by train on the East/West Line – descend to the station below terminals 2 and 3 for service. You will have to transfer to westbound trains at Tanah Merah to reach the city. Keep in mind, the last train leaves the airport at 11:18pm. Fare to the city is about $1.65 – $1.75 depending on the distance traveled. You can also take Airport Shuttle buses to hotels in the city – one-way tickets around $7.
Two train options are available from Incheon International Airport (ICN) – an Express Train and a local commuter train, both ending at Seoul Station. The express takes about 43 minutes to the city, while the commuter takes around an hour. Express trains generally run every 30 minutes except after 10pm while commuter trains run every 7 – 15 minutes. Express tickets cost around $7.50 while commuter tickets will cost at most half that, depending on your final destination.
Tokyo’s two airports Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND) are both connected to Japan’s extensive rail network. From Narita, take the Skyliner (41 minutes) or Narita Express (53 minutes). The Narita Express runs every 30 minutes to Tokyo Station and costs about $28 (website) while the Skyliner runs three times an hour and arrives at Ueno Station. The Skyliner fare is about $23. From Haneda, take the Keikyu Line to Shinagawa and transfer to the JR Line for Tokyo. Fare is about $5.30.