Airports & how to use them

Getting between major airports and the city center they serve by shuttle, taxi, train, bus, or subway

Most of the world's airports are modern affairs that pretty much all look and work alike. And, now that Madrid's terminal has its direct line up and running, I can't think of a single major airport in Europe that doesn't have an excellent and rapid public transportation system to get you between the airport and downtown cheaply.

Well, maybe the Venice airport, where it's either a long, romantic (and expensive) water taxi ride right to St. Mark's Square—which, despite the expense, is a thoroughly thrilling and worthwhile way to arrive in Venice—or a slow bus through traffic to Piazzale Roma, from which you must lug your luggage up and over several footbridges before you can grab a vaporetto water bus that chugs down the Grand Canal towards a stop near your hotel.

How to find an airport's website

Well, you can always just Google it, or try the national or local tourism office site(s).

Another useful resource: Atlas Navigator (

Most airports have quite spiffy Internet sites, often with English versions available, that include all useful phone numbers, terminal maps, and details on public transportation methods that connect the airport with the local city center.

Getting to and from the airport

ViatorFor the best rundown on how to get downtown from the airport (or, of course, how to get to the airport from downtown ), the best resource is not always the local tourist office.

Rather, the best way to find out about all the airport transport options—from high-speed rail links and local buses to taxis, airport shuttles, and rental cars—is to hunt down the airport's own Web site , which you can find at Atlas Navigator (

The best sites even detail how much each method (taxi, train, subway, bus, shuttle, etc.) costs, the time each method takes, and provides links to (or at least phone numbers for) the companies that provide each service.

Private airport transfers

ViatorInterestingly, you can often get a private transfer from the airport to your hotel for about $15 to $30 (though some are as high as $45 ro $50.

This is usually only slightly more than the cost of local public transportation—but, for some reason, far, far less than the taxis or car services at the airport would charge you.

The only catch: you have to book these transfers in advance (though, since you know when your flight is due to arrive anyway, this is not such a hardship).

You can book these airport chauffeur services via our partners at

Stuck in the Airport

We all spend time stuck in airports, whether due to long layovers, departure delays, transit strikes, or simply arriving three hours before your flight as instructed only to breeze through check-in and security in 20 minutes. I have a whole page dedicated to this subject. Full story

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.