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Earlier this week, TPG announced a low-fare deal for just $399 round-trip from Houston to Moscow Domodedovo Airport. While that’s a great fare in and of itself, some folks might not be interested in Moscow as their final destination. (If you are, though, check out this post on How To Get A Russian Visa.)
However, Moscow is in a great position for connecting flights not only to the rest of Europe, but to Asia, the Middle East and beyond. Here is a quick list of 10 great alternatives for continuing travel from Moscow. (Note: The Singapore flight operates out of DME — you’ll need a Russian visa if you plan to connect to an onward flight from another airport in Moscow.)
This is not an exhaustive list of options, but rather some interesting places you might not have considered visiting or connecting in Moscow in order to reach otherwise. I have included a good nonstop flight option or two for each, an award option and a quick description about why you might want to visit. Some of these flights actually depart from alternative airports (in which case you will need a visa), so just pay attention if you end up booking. Have suggestions of your own? Feel free to comment below!
Distance/time from DME: 1,080 miles/3 hours 10 minutes
Flight option: Low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines, or Turkish Airlines from Vnukovo Airport (about a one-hour taxi from DME).
Round-trip cost: $189 on Pegasus, $256 on Turkish.
Award option: United is probably your best option, but its awards are pricing out at 30,000 miles and about $120 in taxes and fees round-trip, so save your miles and just buy your ticket.
Why you should go: Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities, dating back to ancient times but thoroughly modern in its makeup. You can spend your morning checking out the treasures of Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, then unwind with a hammam and tea in the afternoon or stroll the stalls of the Grand Bazaar. Plus, there are tons of hotels in town where you can put your points to use.
For more, check out Destination of the Week: Istanbul and How to Use Airline Miles for Award Travel to Istanbul.
Distance/time from DME: 982 miles/2.5 hours
Flight options: Aeroflot for nonstop travel, though there are some cheap options with a single stop on SAS, Lufthansa and more.
Round-trip cost: $257 for the nonstop flight on Aeroflot, as low as $181 with stops.
Award option: Delta SkyMiles on Aeroflot for 30,000 miles and about $300 in taxes/fees (so not great!).
Why you should go: Though small, Copenhagen is one of Europe’s most interesting capitals, with a vibrant arts scene, great fashion and design and some amazing museums (check out the royal jewels at Rosenborg Slot!). Foodies flock here thanks to restaurants such as Noma and the delicious imitators it has spawned.
For more, see Destination of the Week: Copenhagen.
3. Munich (for Oktoberfest)
Distance/time from DME: 1,205 miles/3 hours 15 minutes
Flight option: S7 nonstop, or Swiss or Lufthansa with stops.
Round-trip cost: $205 nonstop on S7, from $224 with stops on Swiss.
Award option: Delta is pricing out awards on its partners Aeroflot and KLM at 30,000 miles and about $400, so skip that option. You could use United miles to fly Lufthansa for about 30,000 and $80 round-trip. Your best bet if you’re looking to save money would probably be to use 20,000 British Airways Avios and about $37 in taxes and fees to fly S7, since it’s part of Oneworld, and availability is pretty good.
Why you should go: Oktoberfest starts on September 19 this year, and there is plenty of flight availability both at low fares and using award miles. Beyond the beer, Munich has a beautifully reconstructed historical city center and more contemporary draws like the BMW Museum and Olympic Park.
For more, see Destination of the Week: Munich.
Distance/time from DME: 2,672 miles/5.5-6 hours
Flight options: Air India or Aeroflot.
Round-trip cost: Air India $359, Aeroflot $370.
Award option: You could use your United miles to fly here nonstop on Air India or on Lufthansa via one of its hubs for 50,000 miles round-trip. Not the best. Neither is using Delta miles on Aeroflot, since it’s pricing out at 70,000 miles and $500 round-trip.
Why you should go: Dip your toe into India by visiting its capital and sights like the Red Fort, Gandhi’s home at Gandhi Smriti, and the Chandni Chowk bazaar. You can hire a driver for the day for mere dollars … all the better to spend those rupees on all the delicious food you’ll encounter at restaurants like Bukhara and Indian Accent.
For more, check out Destination of the Week: Delhi.
Distance/time from DME: 727 miles/2 hours 15 minutes (from SVO airport)
Flight options: LOT Polish Airlines.
Round-trip cost: $157 (about half what Aeroflot is charging for its nonstops on the same route).
Award option: Your best bet here is United, which will charge you 30,000 miles and about $40 in taxes and fees round-trip with plenty of availability on LOT’s nonstop flights between the two cities. Just note that it flies to and from Sheremetyevo airport (SVO), which is about a 1.5-hour drive from DME if you’re just shuttling between airports.
Why you should go: Poland’s capital is buzzing these days thanks to a beautifully reconstructed Old Town including Castle Square and the Royal Castle, museums such as the recently opened Museum of the History of the Polish Jews and the small but information-packed Fryderyk Chopin Museum. Though tourists have discovered the city, it remains relatively affordable compared to many other European destinations.
For more, see Destination of the Week: Warsaw.
Distance/time from DME: 1,013 miles/2 hours 40 minutes
Flight options: Air Berlin, S7 or Transaero.
Round-trip cost: Air Berlin clocked in cheapest on this one, at just $196 round-trip.
Award option: British Airways will charge you just 15,000 Avios and $54 round-trip to fly its Oneworld partner Air Berlin, and award availability is great.
Why you should go: It’s Berlin! Do you need any more explanation than that? Germany’s capital is not only one of Europe’s great metropolises, but it contains some of the world’s best museums including the neoclassical Pergamon Museum and the contemplative Jewish Museum. You can climb the glass dome of the architecturally stunning Reichstag, and hear classical concerts and operas performed by some of the world’s best companies in various venues like the Konzerthaus on the expansive Gendarmenmarkt.
For more, see Destination of the Week: Berlin.
7. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Distance/time from DME: 1,827 miles/4 hours 10 minutes
Flight options: Aeroflot is your best bet and offers nonstops almost every day.
Round-trip cost: $383 seems to be the lowest going price this fall.
Award option: There seems to be an incredible amount of award availability on this route using Delta miles to fly Aeroflot. Even better, it’ll only cost you 30,000 miles and $16 in taxes and fees!
Why you should go: The ‘Stans, as they’re cheekily referred to — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — are quietly becoming some of the world’s next great, untapped travel destinations. Their relative isolation means that they are still hard to get to, so this cheap airfare to Moscow, one of the major gateways to the region, might be just the ticket you need to be the first of your friends to visit these fascinating, historically rich, ruggedly beautiful lands. Bishkek is the capital of one of the smaller, less-developed ‘Stans, Kyrgyzstan. The country lies on the ancient Silk Road among the “Celestial Mountains” dotted with snow-capped peaks, millennial glaciers and hot spring-fed lakes, and is home to nomadic tribes that will welcome you to their yurt villages for demonstrations of traditional handicrafts and warrior-like skills including falconry, horseback-riding tricks and more.
8. Tel Aviv
Distance/time from DME: 1,628 miles/4 hours 15 minutes
Flight options: El Al, Aeroflot.
Round-trip cost: $288 on El Al, $303 on Aeroflot.
Award option: Though El Al’s Matmid program is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, the redemption rates and taxes/fees are not very favorable, so you’re better off paying for a ticket with this specific option. If you wanted to take the Aeroflot flight, you could use 50,000 Delta miles round-trip and expect to pay about $130 in taxes/fees.
For more information, Destination of the Week: Jerusalem, Best Chase and Amex Transfer Partners for Travel to Israel.
9. Tallin, Estonia
Distance/time from DME: 560 miles/1.5 hours
Flight options: Aeroflot and Estonian Air.
Round-trip cost: Starting at $180 on both.
Award option: You’re out of luck with Estonian Air, but Delta will only charge you 30,000 miles round-trip to use miles for this flight on Aeroflot.
Why you should go: Tallinn is one of Europe’s hidden gems. This Baltic capital has a gorgeous waterfront setting, a storybook medieval town center, some great museums and a thumping nightlife scene for the party animals. You can also hop from here to the rest of Europe on Ryanair for pretty cheap.
Distance/time from DME: 1,032 miles/2 hours 45 minutes
Flight options: Austrian or Aeroflot.
Round-trip cost: Aeroflot’s flights are pricing out slightly higher at $225, but Austrian is clocking in at just $205.
Award option: You can use 30,000 United miles and about $80 in taxes round-trip to fly Austrian, or 30,000 Delta miles but award availability is not looking good so far this fall.
Why you should go: Though considered a backwater by some, Vienna was once one of Europe’s most important cities and the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Today, you can take in that bygone splendor strolling the Ringstrasse, noshing on snacks at the Naschmarkt, and perusing the masterpieces at the Kunsthistorisches Museum or the crown jewels at the Schatzkammer. The little Haus der Musik museum has innovative exhibits on famous composers, but go hear their work for yourself at famous venues like the Staatsoper or the Musikverein concert hall. For a bit of ambiance, head here in December when the Christmas markets at the Rathaus and Belvedere Palace will be in full swing.
For more, see Destination of the Week: Vienna.
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