If travelling alone or as a couple, the best way to get to the city centre from the airport is by an airport bus or train. A direct train to the city centre like the express rail link between Hong Kong island and the airport comes to my mind. There are also convenient trains from Toronto Pearson airport to the downtown. My recent trips to Scandinavia, having visited Norway and Sweden to ski shows they probably have some of the best airport to city rail links in the world.
Arlanda Express connecting Stockholm with Arlanda Airport
Travellers can board the train from either Terminal 5 or from Terminal 2, 3 and 4, though most travellers flying with SAS should arrive and depart out of Terminal 5. Signs to the Arlanda Express is visible and easy to navigate to, with elevators and escalators access making it convenient if one is travelling with luggage.
Tickets for the trip cost SEK295 for a single ride or SEK570 for a return trip, though there are discounts for early purchase of the tickets through the online website. Single ride tickets are available for SEK195 (~$21) when purchased 7 days in advance.
There are frequent and regular departures for the Arlanda Express with departure times ranging from every 10 minutes on peak hours to every 15 minutes on normal operating hours. In the late night and early morning, the trains run every 30 minutes, and detailed schedules are available on their website. Inside the train, seats are in a 2-2 configuration with travellers required to be seated for the 18 minute ride from the airport to the city centre, with a non-stop service.
Luggage racks are found in the train carriage with shelves for smaller bags and the deletion of several rows of chairs for bulkier luggage. Seats in the front are reserved for the handicapped.
Seats onboard the train was adequate and comfortable for the short ride to the airport. The ride was stable for the journey and free wifi is included for all passengers on the train. This is immensely useful for foreign travellers to check on their travel maps and recommendations while taking the train.
Passengers taking this train will actually disembark at the side station which is one block away from the Stockholm Central Station so there is a bit of a walk for passengers transferring to another train to get to other parts of Sweden. In addition, it is also important to let your taxi know you are taking the Arlanda Express so they can drop you off at the right destination, even though both train stations are connected.
Tickets can be purchased at the vending machines at either stations and there are maps and departure times on the LCD monitors around the station which will indicated the duration of the journey and the departure times. All of the information was in Swedish and English.
While the trains themselves are pretty basic, the ticket prices are not cheap for a round trip but it is fast, reliable and probably the most convenient method to get to the city centre from the airport. The trains themselves go up to a speed in excess of 110km/h and that alone would make it a great choice when visiting Stockholm in the winter since ice and snow can slow down traffic considerably.
Flytoget Airport Train connecting Oslo with Gardermoen Airport
My other experience taking the airport train in Europe was when I visited Oslo. Similar to my experience in Stockholm Arlanda, there was a large sign leading to the Lufthavn train station in the modern terminal at Gardermoen Airport. For foreign travellers arriving in Oslo, the Flytoget ticket vending machines are hard to miss past the baggage claim.
Unlike the Arlanda Express which is painted in bright yellow, the Flytoget trains looks very utilitarian in silver. In fact if judging by the exterior, the Arlanda Express might have looked more premium. Tickets for the single trip from the airport to Oslo Central (Oslo S) cost NOK196 (~$23), with the return trip costing NOK392 (~$46), which means there are no special deals for advance purchase. It is also worth noting that there is another stop between the airport and Oslo Central, with the train proceeding to other suburban towns after Oslo. Thus this airport train serves a wider community and stops at the tracks at the Central Station (Sentralstasjon).
The difference continues into the train, as there are some steps inside the carriage. This makes it less accessible for passengers with luggage. There is a central column by the entryway of the train with brochures and a central LCD panel that provides weather and route information with a news ticker.
This central column also acts as a storage compartment for small bags while there are larger luggage compartments further inside the train.
Schedules for the train are somewhat similar with departures taking place out of the airport every 10 minutes to every 20 minutes. The journey between Oslo Central to the airport takes about 22 minutes and the ride is equally comfortable and stable. Passengers are also requested to be seated with plenty of seats in a 2-2 configuration onboard the carriage.
Another thing that is common is that the wifi is free for passengers to use as well and that makes it nice to catch up with family and friends or just to check on travel conditions.
Comparing both train’s cabin, I thought there is more of a premium feel onboard the Flytoget trains as the partitions and large LCD on the central column made the train feel more unique. Basically it does not feel like an average commuter train. The interior of the Arlanda Express is more functional though with no steps in the carriage.
Another factor making the Flytoget more convenient is that the train arrives and departs out of the Oslo Sentralstasjon like all other trains in the city. This will negate any confusion amongst first-time travellers to the city and increase convenience for train transfers.
With my experience in taking both trains, it was really one of the best travel experiences to get to the airport from the city centre. The fuss-free travel with plenty of departure timings throughout the day meant it was easy to take the next train if you miss the earlier one. With free wifi onboard, it meant you are connected and can do things like checking up on restaurants or your itinerary, and communicate with family and friends on the move. The cost might not be the cheapest since the single-trip fare for one person can sometimes be more expensive than a taxi fare in other cities from the airport. However the comfort of the train definitely made these 2 trains the best connection for an airport to the city centre of any city I have visited (and that includes Hong Kong).