Say what you will about budget airlines, but if you’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 serve 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 rate 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 sit down and fasten your seatbelt – here’s our pick…
5 open-air destinations near to a budget airline airport
First stop, it’s our number one fave ultimate open-air holiday destination, France. 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 a year on fabulous beaches with stunning mountainous views all along the coast – and embrace a vibrant culture of friendly locals, world-class cuisine, quaint villages and cutting-edge architecture.
Don’t be put off by the size of the city and its popularity, it’s very handy to get from the airport to the city centre and a whole host of nearby destinations, including Antibes, Cannes, Grasse and smaller villages such as St Paul de Vence, Gourdon and Greolières. All have epic road cycling routes, wonderful walks, restaurants and historic walled town centres to discover.
There are plenty of open-air escapes and off-the-beaten track hidden gems to uncover here. One example is 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. There is free parking here too, so well worth a pit-stop if you’re driving around the French Riviera.
And, if time permits, it’s worth the two-hour drive to the Verdon Gorge, Europe’s largest canyon and arguably France’s greatest natural wonder. An overnight stay or two near here will allow you to do a couple of stunning hikes, some kayaking or white-water rafting, or simply to drive around the impressive canyon, stopping off at some cute villages.
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
Sites et Paysages Les Pinèdes
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.
Camping Les Cent Chênes
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
Camping La Forêt
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.
Camping Plein Soleil
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 and its surrounding area is a great place to experience Languedoc’s culture, with its distinct gothic architecture, world-renowned wines, stunning pine-lined beaches, canal-bank paths, salt marshes, bullfighting, rugged countryside and majestic mountain ranges greeting you from the off.
You could spend your days visiting the attractions of this pocket-sized city, like the 13th Century Béziers Cathedral and the Ecluses de Fonsérane (an impressive series of nine canal locks). Stroll (or bike) along the the beautiful Canal du Midi, the historic body of water connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea at the lovely town of Sète – 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 are plenty of family activities at the nearby beaches too (accessible by public buses), such as sand boarding, sailing, and windsurfing – or coastal path walks that’ll take your breath away (for all the right reasons).
Most importantly, the area is famed for its food and drink, so be sure to find time for your tastebuds too. Sample local wine and cuisine with a plat du jour 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
Camping & Spa Cap Soleil
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.
Sandaya Domaine de la Dragonnière
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 to enjoy, 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 think about a walking or biking tour to get the full city experience! Book city tours here.
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.
>>Book a campsite in Flanders<<
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
Camping Floreal Het Veen
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.
Camping De Schuur
31 minutes / 34 km from Antwerp Airport, this family-run open-air resort blends in perfectly with its surrounding nature. Its 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
Camping Village Internazionale Firenze
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.
Camping Village Mugello Verde
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.
>> Read more about the joy of camping in Tuscany <<
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 the type of holiday you’ll have there suits you and the needs of 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 always 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, take the time to do some more research. The same thing applies to your accommodation, and there’s always an option to contact the Campsited Customer Service team for advice.
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 medication, travel insurance, day wear, sleep wear, swim wear… the list goes on.
>> You can hire a car, book travel insurance and book tours with us too <<
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. But there are generally options available to you at most destination airports, which may be cheaper, like local buses and trams or Uber (download the app before you travel for handiness).
You can also book a hire car through us here.
A great tip is to contact your campsite / open-air resort host and ask for recommendations on getting from the airport cheaply. They should be able to inform you about local public transport timetables, and 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.