Over 1,000 flights leave North American headed east to Europe and beyond on any given day. As little as 6 hours flying time from the east coast, a trip "over the pond" can be shorter than flying across the US. With so many different choices the hard part is deciding where to go. Reward Flying can get you on a flight to any of the cities below and more. Give yourself just a little tease of where you can visit when going east.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: So much to do. World class art museums like the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum just to name two. Clubs, bars, nightlife, world class restaurants on every street. Also the notorious coffee shops and Red Light District are interesting tourist attractions.
The city is a short tram ride from AMS international airport, about 20 minutes. Trams run everywhere as do buses. You don't need a car. Just do what they do in Amsterdam, rent a bike and have fun.
know your points program!
It's critical to understand the frequent flyer program you are accumulating miles with. While all of them have similarities, they also have major differences in fees, availability and routing. Many people live in cities that are main hubs for certain airlines, which might make choosing the right program easier. However if you live in a city that doesn't have a main major airline and want to travel to a city that isn't a major destination, the choices become more complicated.
Here is an example departing from Kansas City Missouri to Hamburg Germany in the fall of 2016. This was simply a random selection to show the differences of programs listed here in no particular order. (Click to enlarge.)
Program 1: There was availability almost everyday in the month I chose. Routing had 2 stops but there were no overnight connections. Total travel time for both trips is about 36 hours. Cost for the economy class ticket is 60,000 points and fees of $279.66.
Program 2: The availability was good for this program as well. But the routing was not good at all, requiring 2 overnight stays outbound and 2 overnight layovers returning for a whopping 90 hours of travel. On top of that the required points were 67,500 and fees of $573.86.
Program 3: This program had good availability as well, everyday during the month. The routing is straightforward and only required 1 stop. Travel time was the lowest at 29 hours round trip. Points are 60,000 and fees $94.16
Example 4: Good availability for this example too. Travel time was reasonable at 30 1/2 hours with no overnight layovers. But the cost was higher at 87,500 points with fees of $120.06
Example 5: No availability, for any day that month!
Obviously the clear cut winner is example 3. The issue is, you don't want to invest your efforts in getting points for the wrong program, such as Example 2. This is why you need a Reward Flying strategy.
Barcelona, Spain: Also known for its art and the place where Pablo Picasso spent his early years. Take a stroll and admire the city’s modernista architecture like the Sagrada Familia pictured here. Satisfy your ensuing appetite with pintxos, bite sized goodies on bread, traditional tapas or some of the freshest seafood in the world.
The weather in Barcelona is pleasant for most of the year. The average temperatures in the winter are highs in the 50's and lows in the mid 40's and usually sunny. The best weather is spring to early summer as later summer tends to be more humid. Anytime of year Barcelona lends itself to be a great place to get out, walk around and see the beautiful architecture.
Budapest, Hungary: A very affordable city to visit, located on the Danube River in Eastern Europe. You might take a river cruise to see more of the area. You can select from many different options including flying into one city and departing from another (which is easy to do with Reward Flying ticketing). A must however when in Budapest, is a sunset visit to relax while soaking in the thermal healing waters of the famous Sźecheny’s Bath.
Budapest is loaded with museums with no less than 24 to choose from. Learn about the history of transportation at the Museum of Transport or go back to the prehistoric ages and the Transylvania era at the Hungarian National Museum. Eastern Europe is often overlooked in favor of London, Paris and Germany when planing a European getaway. But if you are looking to relax, rejuvenate and go back in time, Budapest would be a great choice.
Cologne, Germany: A perfect place to anchor for exploring the Rhine, Germany or all of Europe. The Hauptbahnhof (train station) is located next to the famous Cologne Cathedral. Buy a Eurail pass and go wherever you want, getting there at tops speeds of 175MPH. For example, Dusseldorf in 20 minutes, Frankfurt 60 minutes. Baden-Baden 2 1/2 hours, Amsterdam 3 hours. The European rail system is very efficient and the pass is inexpensive as long as you use it to travel the maximum it allows. There is plenty of room for your luggage on these trains so don't worry about that. Your train travel choices are endless or you can just enjoy the old world charm of Köln and treat yourself to local wines and regional beers.
Doha, Qatar: While Doha is a modern city with much to do, first on your list must be shopping. And the Souq Waqig is the place to go. Interested in a falcon? Visit the Falcon Souq. Just be sure to reserve your new pet a seat on the return flight home (Qatar Airlines requires it!). Seriously, while falconry is a hobby in Qatar, you're goal is to experience the Qatari way of life and there is probably no better place to see and live the diverse cultures than this market. With shops of textiles to spices along with many restaurants, it's easy to get lost for a day. Once you're shopped out you can visit the Museum of Islamic Art. Then take a stroll down Al Corniche, the waterfront street with fascinating views of the Doha port and Arabian Gulf. You could easily make it a 3 city trip, Doha, Dubai and Abu Dubai all in one!
But you might go the adventurous route. How about a 4x4 desert safari, or a Dubai seaplane flight or even try sandboarding? Dubai.com has the details. Whatever your choice, Dubai is fast becoming a top tourist destination for the whole world.
London, England: Double-decker bus rides are a must. Tour the city and see Big Ben, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, the Tower Bridge and Buckingham palace. Maybe you’ll see the changing of the guard. London has many attractions, it might even be wise to get the London Pass if you are interested for than a few of them.
London is a vibrant city that never sleeps. With weather that never gets too warm and never too cold and despite its reputation for being a rainy city, gets less precipitation than places like Rome Italy. But just to be prepared, take that umbrella anyway.
Mumbai, India: Formerly know as Bombay, Mumbai is a massive city that boasts wonderful British architecture, beaches, museums and is home to the famed Bollywood.
Your stay could be at the famed Taj Mahal Palace, said to be one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. You'll join the list of who's-who that have stayed there, including the Beatles' George Harrison and John Lennon, U.S. Presidents G.W. Bush and Obama along with movie stars such as Gregory Peck and Richard Gere to name a few. With 11 restaurants in the hotel you're sure to be fed well.
And in the event you want to stop eating for awhile, there are many sights to see around the hotel, namely the cities' famous landmark, the Gateway to India. Many tours are available as well. To see Bollywood you must take a tour as it's the only way in. There are many, here is one to consider.
Rome, Italy: History buffs are in for a treat. Vatican City, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican Museum, Roman Forum, Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Pantheon, the list goes on. You could even take a day trip to see the ruins of Pompeii.
One thing is for sure as well, you won’t go hungry in Rome.
Made famous in the states from Anthony Boudain's Layover series, Pizzarium might be the place if you're a pizza lover. Looks pretty good to me! Just be sure to eat where the locals eat, not where the tourists go!
Stockholm, Sweden: Start your day with a fika fix. Swedes love their coffee and pastries, cinnamon buns, apple pies, semlor (marzipan and whipped cream) and more.
Or if you prefer head down to Södermalm Square and the Nystekt Strömmingvagnen. This is a local fisherman's herring wagon where for 20 years they've been serving skåning, fresh herring on rye topped with onion, dill and mustard. A local favorite.
If you visit in the summer you can have up to 18 1/2 hours of sunlight, plenty of time to soak up the sights. Start by taking a river cruise to familiarize yourself with the city’s intricate 14 island layout and it’s 50 connecting bridges. Stockholm has an extensive transportation system with an integrated ticket system call "SL Access" giving you access to subways, trams and buses.
Vienna, Austria: While Vienna is best known for it's music, being the home of Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart to name a few, most visitors would pick the summertime months to visit this beautiful town in northeastern Austria. While Reward Flying can't argue with that, we can point out that maybe the most festive time to visit is during the final six weeks of the year when the Christmas Markets are open. With plenty of shopping, fun things for kids, sweets, delicacies, Christmas lights and probably some snow to set the mood, what a better way to get ready for the holidays than to be apart of this tradition!
Zürich, Switzerland: Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills doesn’t hold a candle to Zürich 's Bahnhofstrasse, so be prepared or at least marvel at one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world. If you go in December you’ll see the dazzling holiday lights of “Lucy”. You could even combine a Vienna and Zürich holiday trip! There are plenty of day trips you can take to see water in the summer and mountains in the winter. Go ahead and take the tram up to the Uetliberg, Zürich’s backyard mountain for some incredible "aussichts".
The one thing we know for sure, you won’t be leaving without sampling plenty of Swiss chocolate!
Of course these suggestions are only a small sample of what you can do flying east. But one of the benefits of going to Europe and Middle East are the Intercontinental rail systems and/or inexpensive short haul flights that make seeing many locations during a single trip easy and affordable. Get a rail pass and tour the region. Eurail passes are very flexible and allow you to travel anywhere throughout Europe and are designed to fit any budget.
If you create a go east strategy we will show you how you can fly into one city, like London. Then you will exploreEurope by train, plane, or car and depart back to the US from another city like Frankfurt. It doesn’t increase air cost (reward points or fees) to do this is most cases.
Also some strategies will allow for a stopover before your final destination. A stopover is more than 24 hours between plane connections. Say you are going to Munich. Do you want to stopover in London for a couple days at no charge? There are ways to accomplish this. You just need a strategy.