I can’t count the number of times people have told me they’d love to go to Italy, “but the flight is just too expensive.” There seems to be this common idea that flights across the Atlantic are always exorbitantly priced and that finding one for a good price is an impossible reality. Well, this is just blatantly wrong. If you are not sure where to look or what to look for, the flights can certainly cost you a pretty penny. However, if you read my post about finding cheap airfare, you should know by now that there are several things you can do to cut that airfare by more than 50%.
What is a hub airport? I use the definition more loosely than some people, but I consider a hub airport to be an airport that hosts a massive traffic of flights on a daily basis. These airports will not be in small towns, and are often several hours apart from each other on the ground. However, taking the time to get to a hub airport can save you hundreds of dollars and several hours of flight time. If you’re wondering “What airport should I fly into in Italy?” this post is for you!
This post isn’t going to explain why hub airports are great. I’ve written about that in other posts, like the one linked above. What this post will do, though, is provide a list of the best airports to look at when you are thinking of booking a flight to Italy. If you are flexible on what city you fly into, your options will open up greatly and the airfare could plummet. If you are set to the idea of only going to Venice, for example, then your choices may be a bit limited. However, if you know you want to visit several cities in Italy, being flexible as to the order of them can be a major money saver.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Welcome Pickups in this post. The best (and one of the cheapest) way to get from most of these airports to your hotel is by booking a private transfer with our partners at Welcome Pickups. Welcome Pickups offers personalized, private, comfortable rides from the airport into the city for about the same price as a standard taxi. They monitor your flight status while you are in the air, and a driver will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name on it as soon as you arrive. If you are traveling with luggage, this company is an absolute lifesaver.
Without further ado, here’s my list of the best airports in Italy for cheap airfare.
1. Rome Leonardo da Vinci – Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
Rome is the biggest city in Italy, and Fiumicino is its biggest airport. Fiumicino is the biggest and busiest airport in all of Italy, and it offers more international flight options than any other airport in the country. If you want to go to Italy from anywhere other than Europe, Fiumicino will almost always offer you the most direct flights at the best prices.
Rome is also very centrally located in Italy. Not only is it the best city to visit in Italy (in my opinion), but it is also close enough that you can get to many of Italy’s top destinations by train or bus in a relatively short time. Italy has the best train network I have ever used, making places like Florence, Naples, and Milan all reachable within a couple of hours.
2. Milan Malpensa International Airport (MXP)
If Rome Fiumicino isn’t showing you the flight options that you are hoping to see, your next best bet is Milan Malpensa International Airport. Malpensa is Milan’s busiest airport, and is the second-busiest airport in all of Italy. This airport offers many international flights and there is a good chance that a city near you offers a direct flight to Milan Malpensa.
The drawback with Malpensa is that Milan isn’t nearly as centrally located as Rome. Milan is way up in the north of the country, making southern Italy much more of a trek. Still, if you are looking to go somewhere in central or northern Italy, like Milan, or Turin, this airport could be a great choice for you.
3. Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE)
Venice has the third busiest international airport in all of Italy, and this is due strictly to tourism. Venice is way up in the northeastern corner of Italy, and most of its flights are coming in from far away destinations (like yours). Venice is one of the most visited places in all of Italy, and its airport has grown to accommodate that.
If you are going to Venice, by all means you should check out flights to Marco Polo Airport. However, if you are going pretty much anywhere else, this is not a great option. Venice is pretty far away from just about every other city in Italy, and the time and money you save on the flight will be used buying a train ticket to wherever you were truly hoping to go.
4. Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ)
Are you surprised to see Bologna as the fourth-best airport to fly into in Italy? Bologna is a city of under half a million people, after all. Don’t let the seemingly small population fool you. Bologna is actually bigger than Florence! Bologna is a city that most travelers wrongly overlook, too, and I think if you read my Bologna travel guide you may be convinced to check this gorgeous city out.
Anyway, Bologna is the fourth-best airport to fly into in Italy in terms of flight options and dollars saved. However, Bologna offers one big advantage over the two airports directly above it on this list: location. Bologna, like Rome, is very centrally located and is a short trip away from some of Italy’s best destinations. Florence is less than an hour away, Milan and Venice are less than 90 minutes away, and Rome is just over two hours away.
5. Naples International Airport (NAP)
Naples has seen its popularity continue to grow each decade, and it is now one of the most trafficked airports in all of Italy. Thanks to its reputation as the home of pizza and its proximity to major tourist destinations like the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Positano and Mount Vesuvius, Naples deserves a trip of its own and is a very affordable city to fly into in Italy.
Naples is in southern Italy, which makes its airport your best option other than Fiumicino if you want to visit places in southern Italy. Naples is a bit further away from many of the popular cities in the north, but the amount of things to do in and around Naples make those other cities seem irrelevant in your trip planning, anyway. Naples is the third biggest city in Italy, after all, and is about three times bigger than Florence!
6. Pisa International Airport (PSA)
Another airport you may not have expected to see so high on this list, Pisa is a sneakily great option to look at when flying into Italy. Pisa’s airport is the busiest one in all of Tuscany, and it offers direct flights to places around Europe and beyond. While your chances of finding a direct long-haul flight to Pisa are lower than some of the other airports on this list, you are very likely to find a very affordable flight with just one layover.
Pisa is located about 40 miles west of Florence, which is a train ride of less than 30 minutes. In fact, we just used the Pisa airport to arrive in Florence this past summer. From there you can access just about anywhere in central and northern Italy within just a few hours. Be sure to at least check out the leaning tower while you’re in Pisa!
7. Rome Ciampino International Airport (CIA)
Ciampino is the much smaller Roman airport, but don’t let that turn you away. While Ciampino may not offer nearly as many flight options as its local counterpart, it still has many great options. I used Rome Ciampino Airport to fly to Marrakech, and while it was much smaller than Fiumicino, it was still a very nice airport.
Just like with Fiumicino, flying into Ciampino gives you all of the advantages of Rome’s central location. From here you can get to just about any part of the mainland within just a few hours. There will be less options and you’re probably 10 times more likely to use Fiumicino, but if you are flying into Rome I advise at least checking out the options into Ciampino. You never know when you’ll get a bargain!
8. Milan Bergamo Airport (BGY)
Milan Bergamo is one of the busiest airports in all of Italy; it definitely isn’t all the way down at number eight. However, the reason I dropped it so far down on list is the limited airlines that it utilizes. Milan Bergamo tends to be used primarily just for budget airlines, and the vast majority of these flights are just within Europe. As a result, you are not likely to find great long-haul direct flights into this airport.
If you are flying from somewhere in Europe, though, be sure to check this airport out. There are some bottom of the barrel prices on flights into Milan Bergamo Airport, and I mentioned earlier than Milan is a relatively convenient city to fly into. If you are wary about using budget airlines, be sure to check out my post with tips on flying on budget airlines.They can be scary to people who don’t know much about them and they have some annoying fees, but if you know how to get around those fees budget airlines are a true blessing!
9. Florence Peretola Airport (FLR)
Finally, Florence makes the list. Florence, somewhat shockingly, does not have a very big airport. Peretola Airport is not a great option to fly into, frankly, and only made this list because of Florence’s central location. Flying into Pisa, Bologna, and Rome will almost always get you a better flight option, and getting to Florence from each of these cities is a very short trip.
If your destination is Florence, it doesn’t hurt to look into flying into Florence’s airport. However, I really think you’ll have a better bet flying into a different city. According to our one driver, most Florentines don’t even use their Florence airport as the Pisa airport has better options. Even if money isn’t a concern for you, a flight into Florence is almost bound to have a layover, while Bologna and Rome offer many more direct flights. The time you save by skipping the layover is often more than the quick train ride you need to take after you arrive in a different city!
10. Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (BRI)
Bari’s airport is also not very large, but it is big enough to make this list. The main draw to flying into Bari is its location. Bari is the only city on this list on Italy’s southern east coast, and it is only one of two cities in the southern part of the country. If you want to get to places like Lecce and Brindisi (or anywhere else on the heel of the boot), flying into Bari is your best option.
Another nice aspect of flying into Bari is its degree of connection on the train line. Italy has a train line that goes straight up and down its east coast, and flying into Bari puts you directly onto that line. This is useful if you want to get to any of Italy’s cute east coast beach cities like Rimini, Pesaro, and Ancona. If you want to go anywhere but Italy’s east coast, fly into a different airport.
Thanks for reading my post on the best airports to fly into in Italy for cheap airfare! I hope that this post helped you to plan your trip. At the end of the day, keep in mind that Italy is only about the size of Arizona in terms of square mileage, so most of these airports are fairly close to each other – at least compared to a place like the United States. From the top of Italy to the southernmost point is about the same distance as Atlanta to Miami.
Being flexible about the airport that you fly into is a great way to save money, and you really don’t need to inconvenience yourself much, either. If you have any questions or comments, either drop a comment below or send us an email. Otherwise, stay present!