Are you interested in visiting a couple of Europe’s great cities in the same trip, but unsure how to prioritize? Below you will find some suggested cities to pair and how to travel in between.

This concept is especially exciting for those booking award travel. You will want to study your particular airline, but for example, if you are flying with United, a flight in between your two open jaw destinations would be free with your award booking. This makes travel more efficient and broadens how far within your “zone” (the way airlines divide the world map) you can justify traveling.

The Itineraries: 

  • Classic Western Europe Tour
  • Mediterranean Adventure
  • Northern Europe Delight
  • Alpin Escape
  • Iberian Peninsula Journey

Even if you are not booking award travel, these suggested cities pair well for overland travel and can make quite a romantic experience.

Classic Western Europe Tour:

  • Fly into Paris, France (CDG)
  • Fly out of Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS)

How to Travel Between Paris and Amsterdam:

  • Fly with Air France or for less than 1.5 hour flight.
  • Take a high speed Eurostar train in less than 3.5 hours at approximately 1/3 the cost of a flight. This is my suggested method of travel.***
  • Traveling by bus is likely similar priced to a train and will take twice as long or more.
  • If you have access to a car, the drive is about 5.5 hours. It is possible to rent a car in Paris and drop it off in Amsterdam, but this is quite costly. In some European countries, you also need an International Driver’s Permit.

Why Pair These Two Cities:

  • Cultural juxtaposition: Paris is full of life’s fanciest things and iconic landmarks whereas Amsterdam is very progressive and lively
  • Beautiful waterways: Take a romantic trip down the Seine and travel the canals of Amsterdam from stop to stop. Houseboats are found in both cities.
  • Art and History: Visting the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Anne Frank House, and Van Gogh Museum gives perspective of the historical evolution of Europe all in these two important cities.
  • Don’t miss Onion Soup and strolling in beautiful parks in Paris, joining in the bike culture in Amsterdam

Mediterranean Adventure:

  • Fly into Rome, Italy (FCO)
  • Fly out of Barcelona, Spain (BCN)

How to Travel Between Rome and Spain:

  • Fly with one of several small air carriers inexpensively. Be sure to note the luggage restrictions which are often very different than the larger carrier you may use to travel from the US to Europe. This is my recommended route.***
  • Train travel is a bit involved, but requires two to three days to accomplish the route. Trains can be booked through RailEurope or ItaliaRail. This option offers a chance to stop in some other beautiful city, but requires extra time.
  • Driving between the two cities is over 14 hours and not suggested unless you have free access to a vehicle and time to enjoy the beautiful coastal route.

Why Pair These Two Cities:

  • Richness of History: Both cities have very different and fascinating history and multitudes of landmarks to visit.
  • Unbelievable Architecture: Roman ruins, the Vatican, and all of the accomplishments of Gaudi provide a gorgeou backdrop to both of these cities
  • Both cities offer sunny cultures, amazing food, and bustling streets that make for a fun getaway
  • Don’t miss out on authentic cacio e pepe, spending time in plazas in both cities, and tapas culture

Northern Europe Delight:

  • Fly into Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH)
  • Fly out of Stockholm, Sweden (ARN)

How to Travel Between Copenhagen and Stockholm:

  • Norwegian Air or ANA would be best choice for flying and travel time is just over an hour. This is just so quick it has to be my suggested route.***
  • Train travel will take at least five hours or you could choose an overnight route in a sleeper car. Pricing for the former is about half or less of the flight cost.
  • Driving is over seven hours and is not recommended unless you have free access to a vehicle.

Why Pair These Two Cities:

  • Scandinavian Vibes: The culture is different than any other part of Europe and seeing two major cities’ examples in the same trip is intriguing.
  • Enjoy innovative, minimalist urban architecture unlike anywhere else.
  • Visit in warm weather to enjoy biking and green spaces. In colder weather, fully embrace the sauna culture.
  • Don’t miss Tivoli Gardens, Nyhavn, The Little Mermaid, Gamla Stan, and the ABBA museum.

Alpine Escape:

  • Fly into Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)
  • Fly out of Innsbruck, Austria (INN)

How to Travel Between Zurich and Innsbruck

  • Air travel between these requires either a logger route (think 6-7 hours) to get a cheap fare or a pricier flight on a major carrier for a direct flight that’s less than an hour.
  • If you like the idea of an overnight train and can afford the cabin you desire, book your train through Trainline. This is much cheaper than direct flights, but requires more hours than an indirect flight. I would choose this method for the experience ***
  • Travel by vehicle is just three hours, but consideration for weather in cooler months and common traffic issues outside of the cities make it less attractive.

Why Pair These Two Cities:

  • Both cities are nestled in alpine settings. The contrast of urban cities to the stunning nature makes a special experience.
  • Outdoor Enthusiasts: Both cities boast many outdoor activities regardless of the season and attract skiers and cyclists.
  • Unique dining: The region give visitors a chance to enjoy beer halls and taste comfort foods like spaetzle and schnitzel.
  • Don’t miss visiting the Swiss Alps, Zurich’s Old Town, and Ambras Castle in Innsbruck

Iberian Peninsula Journey:

  • Fly into Lisbon, Portugal (LIS)
  • Fly out of Madrid, Spain (MAD)

How to Travel Between Lisbon and Madrid:

  • Air travel between these cities is quick (1.5 hours) and inexpensive. This is my suggested route.***
  • Train travel is also affordable, but will take longer.
  • Travel by car takes about six hours.

Why Pair These Two Cities:

  • Shared cultural background with unique personalities
  • Both cities offer gorgeous architecture. The tile walls of Lisbon are like no where else.
  • Food will be a feature of a visit to either city. Beyond amazing restaurants are the delicious items that are staples of these cultures like jamon, churros, tapas, and paella.
  • Don’t miss a visit to Belem, Alfama district, the Royal Palace and Retiro Park.

Remember to check for any travel restrictions or visa requirements before planning your trip. Enjoy your European adventure! Make the most of your flight to Europe by combining two unbelievable cities!