Whenever you travel, the first order of business it to get where you want to go – and when you’re talking about international travel, that almost always means flying. Airfare represents the biggest piece of most travel budgets, so saving money on airfare is an excellent way to save money on your trip overall. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you find cheaper airfare to Germany.
How to Find Cheap Airfare to Germany
While some of these tips will be different depending on where in Germany you’re headed, some of them are true no matter what airport you’re looking at. In all cases, it pays to do your research well enough ahead of time that you can take advantage of deals that come up. If you know what the going rate is for various tickets, you’re more apt to know a deal when you see one.
- Fly in the off-season. This is probably the best way to save money on airfare, regardless of where you’re going. By avoiding the high season when most people travel, you’ll automatically save a huge amount on airfare (not to mention other stuff). If you don’t want to visit Germany during its cold winter (which is when flights are often cheapest), consider going in the early spring or late fall – these shoulder seasons usually still have good weather and the prices aren’t summer-season expensive. Note that the popularity of Germany’s Christmas markets means that around the holiday season there’s usually a small spike in airfare and things like hotel rooms, too – and in Munich especially, the period during Oktoberfest represents a major spike in prices.
- Fly midweek. You may know that weekends are the busiest travel days in most places, and “busiest” translates to “most expensive” in this case. In addition to weekends, Mondays and Fridays are also busy airport days thanks to business travelers. If you can plan your flights (both ways) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays you can often save money.
- Fly to a different country first. This may sound silly, since you’re trying to go to Germany, but sometimes you’ll find a killer deal on a flight to a more major airport in another European country – like London, Paris, or Amsterdam. If you can then find a super-cheap flight on a budget carrier from there to Germany, your flight may be quite inexpensive. You’ll need to make sure you’re paying close attention to airports and flight times when you make an arrangement like this, since they’re two separate tickets and no one’s going to say, “Hey, you can’t make that connection.”
- Fly on airlines using Germany as a hub. This isn’t always true anymore due to the proliferation of the budget airlines in Europe, but sometimes knowing what airlines use various airports as a hub means you stand a better chance of finding a deal. Why? Because those airlines have the busiest schedules in and out of that airport, and may end up with more unsold seats as a result. Airlines are far happier selling those seats at a steep discount rather than leaving them empty.
Major Airports in Germany
There are many international airports in Germany, but these are the main ones visitors from outside Europe are likely to fly in and out of.
- Berlin – Berlin has two airports, thanks to its former days as a divided city, and although both are international airports neither is particularly huge (especially when compared with the airports in Frankfurt and Munich). Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) has about twice the passenger traffic of Berlin Schonefeld Airport (SXF).
- Cologne-Bonn – The Cologne-Bonn Airport (CGN) is the 6th busiest airport in Germany.
- Dusseldorf – Dusseldorf International Airport (DUS) ranks third on the list of Germany’s busiest airports.
- Hamburg – Hamburg International Airport (HAM) is Germany’s 5th busiest airport.
- Frankfurt – Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is Germany’s busiest airport by a long shot. It’s the home airport for Lufthansa, and although Frankfurt isn’t necessarily high on most tourist to-do lists, don’t be surprised if the best deal on a flight to Germany means you have to fly to Frankfurt first.
- Munich – Munich Airport (MUC) is the second-busiest airport in Germany behind Frankfurt.
- Stuttgart – Stuttgart Airport (STR) is Germany’s 7th busiest airport, right behind Berlin Schonefeld.
photo by Andrei Dimofte