The biggest expense of just about any trip to Italy is the airfare. You can’t cut the flight out of your trip to save money, but there are some ways to find cheaper flights to Italy in order to stretch your travel budget a bit more.
Venice Airport || creative commons photo by Alberto Carrasco Casado
First off, you should know one terrible truth. Flying to Italy from outside Europe costs more than flying to many other European cities. Check fares to Europe from New York and you’ll often see great deals on flights to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam… But not Rome. It’s annoying. It’s not an insurmountable problem, though. You just need to be a little more creative with your planning.
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Here’s a list of the main airports in Italy, so you can see which is closest to your destination.
How to Find Cheap Airfare to Italy
- Travel during the low season or shoulder season. Italy’s high season is when airfare is most expensive. That high season used to simply be summer, but it’s expanded over the years to include May and September, too. You may also find spikes in airfare around Easter and Christmas, or even around the Carnevale in Venice, since those are mini-peak season periods during what is ordinarily not the high season. Prices on airline tickets are generally cheapest during the winter. After that, the shoulder seasons – spring and fall – are the next-best thing.
- Have flexible travel plans. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but most airfare booking systems have an option when you put in dates to look at flights on either side of the dates you actually put in. You can sometimes choose a day before and after, or a span of a few days around a specific date. This is a great way to see if you could save money simply by flying a day early or a day later.
- Book your flights on a Sunday. I don’t pretent to understand the reason for this, but I’ve read enough articles by smart people to believe that it’s true. The best day to book airfare (pretty much anywhere) in order to find deals is Sunday. If you’re the kind of person who avoids the computer on weekends, the next-best day is Tuesday.
- Fly mid-week. Most travelers end up flying on weekends, Mondays, and Fridays. That means those are the busiest days, and any deals are more likely to be found on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday flights.
- Fly into another country first. As mentioned, many of us end up with a layover in another European city before landing in our final Italian destination. If this is likely to happen to you no matter how you book your trip, then make the most of it. You can buy one ticket to a major European city – one that offers better deals than any Italian city – and then book a completely separate ticket from there to wherever you want to go in Italy. So, for instance, you might book round-trip tickets to Paris, and then from Paris to Florence. These are two totally different tickets, which means organizing the logistics of the trip can be more complicated. You may fly into one airport in Paris and out of another. You’ll need to collect your bags in Paris and re-check them through to Florence. Yes, it’s an added hassle. And it sometimes means big savings. It is, at the very least, worth looking into if you’ve got more time than money to spend on your trip.