CITY BREAKS • August 2023
You want to maximise your weekend trip, and are wondering: what are the closest airport-to-city break destinations? The ones that, thanks to doorstep proximity to their respective city centres, give you even more time on the ground? Wonder no more, as we tot up the quickest and easiest transfers in Europe
As every hour is precious on a city break, you don’t want to spend ages faffing to and from a terminal somewhere in the boondocks. In being brilliantly close to their cool city centres and offering hassle-free transport options to get there, these five airports will ensure you’re the savviest traveller of them all…
Quickest transfer time: 10 minutes
Keen to start exploring the design markets, Disney-like castles and lovely lakefront of Switzerland’s largest city? You won’t have to wait long: costing CHF 6.80 (£6), trips by train or the S2 and S16 S-Bahn lines whizz passengers from Zürich’s modern airport to the Hauptbahnhof main station in only ten to 15 minutes. Services run frequently between 5am and midnight. Departing in front of Terminals 1 and 2, taxis take slightly longer and might cost CHF 60 (£53). Factor in Zürich’s relatively small size and you should get to see plenty of this underrated city.
Quickest transfer time: 13 minutes
As with everything else in Copenhagen, the transfer from its international airport is slick and sensible. In Terminal 3, ignore metro services and buses in favour of speedier mainline trains to Central Station — which, in this instance, is genuinely central — for DKK 36 (£4). Taxis, meanwhile, tend to cost around £30. You can then walk to waterfront Nyhavn or rejuvenated Vesterbro or ride the Metro to multicultural Nørrebro and grungier Østerbro, before setting to work exploring the city’s cool coffee bars, retro Tivoli amusement park and fabled New Nordic food scene.
Quickest transfer time: 12 minutes
Once upon a time, most tourists exited Malaga Airport and turned right, away from the city towards Torremolinos or Marbella. Not anymore. Recently accompanying its Picasso museum, beaches, sardiney street food snacks and 11th-century Moorish fortress with a Centre Pompidou outpost and a regenerated harbour, Malaga has become a destination in itself. And one easily accessed: the C1 rail line connects Málaga-Costa del Sol airport with Centro-Alameda, right beside the Rio Guadalmedina, every 20 minutes. The price? A bargain €1.80. Taxis aren’t bad either, at an average of €20.
Quickest transfer time: 15 minutes
Tallinn Airport is a mere 4km from the Estonian capital’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town. Leaving its bijou terminal behind, arrivals should either take bus no.2 (€2 with contactless card) from a signed stop 100m away from Arrivals — ignore no.15, as this goes less far — or hire a taxi (roughly €12). Buses skirt the old town’s mediaeval walls, stopping at Freedom Square. Taxis can take you inside, past pastel palaces and onion-domed churches, but do try to explore the emerging districts beyond. No journey should exceed 20 minutes. Tram services are due to resume in 2024.
Quickest transfer time: 5 minutes
Less than 2km separate Pisa International Airport from Pisa Centrale, with the pair linked by €5 rides aboard the frequent People Mover bus shuttle (purchase tickets from machines in the terminal). Now, admittedly, Pisa Centrale isn’t quite as centrale as its name promises: this railway station – which offers high-speed connections to Florence – actually lines the southern edge of Pisa’s handsome tourism territory, with that famously wonky tower another 1.5km north across the Arno River. Even so, journeys from baggage carousel to bedroom should still take just half an hour.