Say what you will about budget airlines, but for those of us who’ve flown with the likes of Ryanair, EasyJet, Aer Lingus and Flybe for a ‘cheap and cheerful’ journey to a sunny getaway, you’ll probably agree they served a great purpose – and, here at Campsited, we’re a big fan!
Budget airlines offer short-haul flights to many idyllic European destinations from most airports in the UK and Ireland and they’re a great way to explore new places abroad, without high ticket prices (with some tickets starting from £20 return!).
Many of us would even compare the professionalism, cleanliness, accessibility and punctuality of cheap airlines on par with some of their larger, international competitors.
They can be our trusty friend for inexpensive family trips to European cities, lary group weekenders, romantic couple holidays, solo expeditions, links to other transatlantic countries and of course, our favourite type of holiday…. one in the open-air!
There’s no shortage of amazing places to explore, with great value, domestic flights from the UK and Ireland at your disposal.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best destinations you can get to on a budget airline, so that you can make your hard-earned money stretch further without compromising on quality. So buckle your seatbelt – here’s our pick…
5 open-air destinations near to a budget airline airport
First stop, it’s our motherland and ultimate open-air holiday destination, France. It’s no wonder, our first 3 recommendations can be found here…
1. Nice, France
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is the leading resort city of the Côte d’Azur in southeastern France. You can bask in 300 days of sunshine on fabulous beaches with stunning mountainous views – and embrace a vibrant culture of friendly locals, world-class cuisine, quaint villages and cutting-edge architecture.
Don’t be put off by it’s popularity, there’s plenty of open-air escapes and off-the-beaten track hidden gems to uncover here, like a trip to Parc Forestier Du Mont Boron (or Mont Boron Forest Park if your French is a little rusty!).
A former stomping ground of our pre-historic ancestors, this hill-top forest park is breathtakingly beautiful, filled with native fauna and flora – and grants you access to panoramic views of neighbouring mountains and rolling countryside. It’s free parking here too, so well worth a pit-stop if you’re driving around the French Riviera.
And, if time permits, you could hop on a tour to the nearby Verdon Gorge, Europe’s largest Canyon and arguably France’s greatest natural wonders.
UK airports that fly to Nice
You can fly directly to Nice airport (NCE) from any major London airport, as well as Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Belfast International. The flight time is around 2 hours – and the cheapest month to fly is March (according to SkyScanner Feb 23).
Open-air resorts and campsites near Nice
15 minutes / 12km from Nice airport. This luxurious campsite is full of Provençal charm, with natural landscapes as the backdrop. Here you can rent a static home, unique glamping pod or pitch up a tent with access to high-quality amenities.
20 minutes (11km) from Nice airport, this peaceful getaway is situated among mountains and trees and features numerous self–contained cabins, as well as a refreshing outdoor pool.
2. Lourdes, France
Not only is the sacred town of Lourdes a spiritual haven that attracts tourists from all over the globe, but it’s also one of the most upcoming open-air travel destinations too. Its iconic healing shrine is nothing short of spectacular – an absolute must to witness and experience!
Lourdes is perfect for getting out in nature, and why? Well, it sits at the foot of the picturesque Pyrenees mountains, inviting you into a whole natural world of valleys, rivers, ancient granite formations, wildflower meadows, and so many ways to experience it all…
There’s hiking suitable for all levels, as well as mountain biking trails on popular routes like Pic du Jer, Demoiselle Refuge and Rochers de Massabielle. Or, you could go rock climbing and abseiling on the Gran Galet, to see Lourdes from a multitude of exciting angles!
If being on the water is your sanctuary, then renting a kayak along the Gave de Pau river, passing bankside villages and ancient wooded forests is just dreamy!
UK airports that fly to Lourdes
You can fly directly to the main airport in Lourdes (LDE) from London and Dublin. The flight time is around 2 hours – and the cheapest month to fly is in March (according to SkyScanner Feb 23).
Open-air resorts and campsites near Lourdes
15 minutes / 12k from Lourdes airport, this year-round, open-air retreat really does have it all! You’ll be situated close to some of the renowned natural wonders of the Pyrenees area, and while you’re there, you’ll have access to miles of private parkland, including a mini-farm and aquatic area, as well as an outdoor heated swimming pool, static homes, and camping spots.
10 minutes / 10 km from Lourdes airport, you’ll find this open-air resort nestled in the mountains surrounded by lush green landscapes. Here, you can enjoy lots of family-friendly activities both on-site and nearby. There’s also the option to rent a camping pitch or adorable wooden cottage.
3. Béziers, France
Béziers is a great place to experience Languedoc’s culture, with its distinct gothic architecture, world-renowned wines, stunning pine-tree framed shorelines, bullfighting, rugged countryside and majestic mountain ranges greeting you from the off.
You could spend your days visiting one of the cities many hotspots like the 13th Century Béziers Cathedral. Stroll (or rent a bike) along the the beautiful Canal du Midi, the historic body of water connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea – or grab a café au lait and watch the world go bay in a quaint, in French cafe on the Place Jean Jaurès square.
There’s plenty of family activities at the beach too, such as sand boarding, sailing, and windsurfing you can try – or coast path hike’s that’ll take your breath away (for all the right reasons).
Most importantly, the area is famed for it’s food and drink, so be sure to find time for your tastebuds too. Sample local wine and cuisine at a traditional French Bistro, or at the very least, grab a crêpe (or two). You won’t regret it!
UK airports that fly to Béziers
Fly directly to the main airport in Bèziers (BZR) year-round from London and Bristol, and seasonally from Edinburgh and Manchester. The flight time is around 2 hours – and the cheapest month to fly is in March (according to SkyScanner Feb 23).
Open-air resorts and campsites near Béziers
8 minutes / 6k from Béziers airport, this beach-side resort has everything you need for a fun-filled, family getaway. There’s an incredible on-site water park for the kids – and a spa / wellbeing area for grown-ups! As well as all-day entertainment for everyone. Choose from a safari lodge, static cabin or pitch up a tent or motorhome here.
5 minutes / 1.5km away from Béziers airport, you can pretty much hop off the place and be sunbathing by the pool in next to no time! This 5 star holiday village features over 700 self-contained static homes, offers the highest quality facilities and amenities – and takes full advantage of the Languedoc-Roussillon’s year-round sunshine.
4. Antwerp, Belgium
Combining diamond culture, urban vibrancy and a gateway to rural Belgian tranquility, the port city of Antwerp is ideal for a short stay, or week-long adventure – and, if you’re an outdoor lover, you’ll relish in the area’s unique natural surroundings too.
If it’s a city break you’re craving, there’s an abundance of centuries-old Flemish architecture in the form of historic buildings, museums, religious structures, as well as a thriving art scene, fabulous coffee houses and eateries on the Scheldt riverside. You should jump on a walking or biking tour to get the full city experience!
But let’s talk about the open-air adventures beyond the city walls. Antwerp is surrounded by peaceful villages, thriving green spaces, rivers and nature reserves such as Hoge Ham Wildlife Park, just 15 minutes from Antwerp city centre. There’s an oasis of marshland surrounded by a network of canals, streams, and nature trails.
Or visit Hobokense Polder, a protected parkland filled with over 500 plant, bird and tree species.
UK airports that fly to Antwerp
You can fly directly to the main airport in Antwerp (ALG) from London all year round. Alternatively, you could fly into Brussels (BRU) from London, Belfast-City, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London-Heathrow, Manchester or Newcastle – and take a short drive north to Antwerp. The flight time is less than 1 hour and the cheapest month to fly is in September (according to SkyScanner Feb 23).
Open-air resorts and campsites near Antwerp
24 minutes / 24 km from Antwerp Airport and tucked away between heath and pine forests, you’ll find this cozy campsite located by the banks of Dessel-Schoten Canal. Choose to stay on one of the site’s 300 camping pitches (complete with electricity hook-ups and communal wash facilities) or a stay in a glamping tent or mobile home.
31 minutes / 34 km from Antwerp Airport, this family-run open-air resort blends in perfectly with it’s surrounding nature. It’s tranquil vibe is made even more wholesome by the on-site petting zoo and access to miles of public footpaths in the countryside. There’s a couple of unique glamping tents that you can rent, or bring your own trusted shelter.
5. Florence, Italy
Tuscany’s love child Florence is nothing short of magical. The city itself is an eclectic mix of renaissance style and modern Italian culture – and is filled with lavish churches, iconic bridges and piazzas, world-class cuisine and those famous Florentine rooftops and fountains.
You can spend days getting lost in the city’s many celebrated art galleries, artisan markets and roman side streets, enjoying gelato and local wines – or spend time in nature, with many open-air activities and accommodation right on your doorstep.
You could try biking along the Arno river or taking a leisurely hike up Fiesole Hill for stunning views of Ponte Vecchio and Duomo di Firenze.
Or for something more ‘off the beaten track’, check out Apuan Alps Regional Park, a UNESCO world heritage sight, home to Tuscany’s own marble mountains. This legendary spot hosts seemingly endless miles of waymarked hiking trails and unique picnic spots, with plenty of Instagram worthy backdrops.
UK airports that fly to Florence
You can fly directly to the main airport in Florence (FLR) year-round from London and seasonally from Edinburgh. The flight time is around 2 hours – and the cheapest month to fly is in March (according to SkyScanner Feb 23).
Open-air resorts and campsites near Florence
18 minutes / 23 km from Florence airport and just 5 minutes drive from the heart of Florence, this popular camping village is easily accessible and features a pizzeria, heated swimming pool, children’s club and all the amenities you’ll need for camping. As well as choice of self-contained rental cabins.
35 minutes / 40 km from Florence airport this delightful open-air resort in the Mugello Valley is brimming with Tuscan flavour, quaint villages, pine forests, native art and architecture greeting you on every corner. Choose from a mobile home, wooden chalet or camping pitch (a cheaper option) here.
How to prepare for a budget airline holiday
Before you book your flight with a low-cost airline, remember to:
Do your research of the areas you’d like to travel to
Be sure they type of holiday suits the needs of you and anyone you’re travelling with. Consider the climate, local attractions, travelling distances from airports to resorts – and read reviews! Be sure that you can get a direct flight from a convenient airport (it’ll save time and a lot of faff).
Weigh up the price difference between booking a package holiday and separate flights / accommodation
Whilst you might get some great deals through a tour operator or travel agent, booking separately might actually save you money, so check both.
Focus when making your flight booking.
Take the time to charge your phone (or laptop), have your bank card ready and the full names and DOB of every passenger. Cheap flights might mean the lowest fares, but that will likely come with restrictions, so read what’s included by way of baggage allowance, advanced seat selection, check-in times, cancellation insurance. You’ll be offered the chance to upgrade in most cases.
If in doubt ask
Thanks to digital technology, booking a flight is easier than ever, but don’t feel pressured by that timer on screen. If you’re unsure about your anything, pick up a phone to customer services. The same thing applies to your accommodation host, there’s always an option to contact the host, so don’t be hasty!
Make sure you have everything you need to make your holiday run smoothly
We’re sure you’re already quite militant about packing for a holiday abroad, and it’s not like you can’t buy things when you’re out there, but don’t forget medications, travel insurance, day wear, sleep wear, swim wear… the list goes on.
We wish you the best on your European travels and don’t forget, we’ve got lots of choice for friendly campsites and open-air resorts right here.
Frequently asked questions about flying on a budget
Yes, discount airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet offer extra legroom seats on most of their airplanes. Reserved seating is usually an extra cost, so don’t miss out on these chance to stretch out on these comfortable seats.
Your baggage allowance will depend on your flight operator’s baggage guidelines – and this can also change regularly, so it’s a very important thing to check. Some allow a small piece of hand-luggage as part of the price, some will only allow a handbag (or manbag). You’ll be charged for extra luggage in each direction of your flight, so be prepared consider this in your budget. Consider sharing with someone else to keep the cost down.
Sometimes you can book transfers from the flight booking site. There are also options available to you at most destination airports, like shuttle buses or taxi hire.
A great tip is to contact your campsite / open-air resort host and ask for recommendations on getting from the airport. In some cases they can arrange travel for you – or at least point you in the right direction.
You can fly directly from all London airports, in addition to those leaving from Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol, Belfast, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff, Doncaster, Southampton, Exeter, Leeds, East Midlands – and few other smaller airports like Newquay.