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In addition to its other lures, London offers discount airlines that enable visitors to travel within Europe for no more than they might spend on a theater ticket in the West End. Travelers can use these budget airlines-Ryan Air, Buzzaway, Easyjet, and Go-to turn a quick visit to London into a multi-centered European holiday.

The budget airlines generally operate out of London's secondary airports, Luton and Stansted, which charge lower landing fees than major airports. Although requiring a little longer train journey than London's international airports, both Luton and Stansted are accessible from central London within about an hour.

To get the least expensive tickets, book early. Flying midweek or during odd hours is another way to reduce costs. For example, to fly roundtrip on Buzzaway from London to Marseilles, France, on a Tuesday in February (booked five months in advance) would cost £80 (approximately $112).

Easyjet www.easyjet.com flies to major cities within the U.K. and continental Europe, including Amsterdam, Madrid, Nice, Rome, and Palma de Mallorca. Ryanair www.ryanair.com flies to some relatively obscure European destinations - Gerona, Spain; St Etienne, France; and, Esbjerg, Denmark, among others. St. Etienne, a gateway to France's Rhone region, is great for a weekend of wine-tasting and many times cheaper than flying into Lyon. Do your homework and go.

Airport Information

Luton Airport: Easyjet flies out of London Luton Airport, which can be reached by rail or by bus. Thameslink trains leave central London's King's Cross tube station for Luton Airport every 15 minutes on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., less frequently evenings and weekends. The trip takes approximately 35 minutes. One-way tickets cost £9.50. For specific schedule information log onto www.nationalrail.co.uk.

Stansted Airport: Buzzaway, Go, and Ryanair fly out of Stansted Airport, also accessible by rail or bus. The fastest way to get to Stansted from London is via the Stansted Express, a train running every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays and every 30 minutes weekends. Journey time is approximately 45 minutes and the cost is £13. The train leaves from Liverpool Street station in Central London. Note: There is no train service between Stansted and Central London between midnight and 5 a.m., so if you have an early departure or late arrival you might have to take a bus or factor in a hefty taxi ride (approximately £60). For specific schedule information log onto www.nationalrail.co.uk.