Getting to the Maldives
While it feels like paradise once you arrive in the Maldives, and especially at your overwater bungalow resort, the location is quite remote for pretty much everyone. Spread over a huge area just southwest of India, it's many thousands of kilometers from Europe, and even quite a long way from the Middle East as well.
Fortunately, there are many flights into Malé International Airport from all over, meaning that most people will only have to change planes once along the way. The other nice thing is that since these are all long-haul flights you'll be in a proper wide-body plane, so even those in economy class will have a good-sized seat with decent legroom.
If you are planning on staying in one of the overwater bungalows in the Maldives then it's a reasonably priced and efficient flight from Europe. However, if you are coming from North America you might instead consider the overwater bungalow hotels in Bora Bora or elsewhere in the South Pacific, since they are equally nice and much easier to reach from the Americas.
Getting to the Maldives from Europe
There are surprisingly few nonstop flights between Europe and Malé International Airport, which is the hub for all visitors into the Maldives. However, the few airlines that do provide nonstop flights offer competitive prices, so if you book early you'll be able to avoid changing planes in the Middle East halfway there.
London to Maldives
Frankfurt to Maldives
Condor Airlines flies nonstop, taking about 10 hours each way.
From anywhere else in Europe to the Maldives
There are some seasonal charter flights nonstop originating in Paris, Brussels, and Milan, but for the most part nearly everyone is going to be stopping to change planes in the Middle East, in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, or Dubai. More good news comes with the fact that the airlines representing each of those cities is excellent and very comfortable for long-haul flights, so there will be no anxiety of being trapped in a tiny seat and having to buy cold sandwiches as your only nutrition.
Flights head to Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai from nearly every major city in Europe, taking about 6 hours. The layovers are usually only an hour or two, with the onward flight to the Maldives taking about 5 more hours. Prices start at around US$1,000 for the roundtrip flight, and tend to be very competitive since there are so many airlines from which to choose. It's best to book as early as possible since there are rarely fare sales that bring prices down much, and if the planes are filling up on your desired days the price will go up for sure.
>>>Check for airfare deals to the Maldives
Getting from Malé International Airport to your resort
Considering the distance and the time difference, it should be no surprise that every flight will be overnight, whether it's a nonstop or changing planes in the Middle East. Fortunately, most flights seem to leave Europe in the late afternoon, so you change planes around midnight, or they leave Europe late in the evening, so you change planes around 6am.
Once you land at the Malé International Airport you'll be greated by representives from your resort. Some of the larger ones have their own private lounge, while the smaller ones just have roving employees.
The closer resorts to the airport will put you on board a private speedboat for a journey that usually lasts between 20 minutes and an hour, while the more remote resorts will do the same for a sea plane (takes off and lands on the water) for an amazing flight to the hotel, which is often one of the highlights of the entire holiday. This transportation comes at an extra cost and must be arranged in advance, and the sea plane flights in particular are a bit pricey, usually running about US$400 roundtrip per person.
A note about bringing in alcohol to the Maldives
It's true that alcohol, and most everything else, is quite expensive at resorts in the Maldives, so it's a shame that this Muslim country is also extremely strict about allowing alcohol brought in inside luggage or duty-free containers. If you show up with any alcohol at all it will be confiscated and kept for you until you fly out, so best not to bring it at all.
Photo by Craig Grobler on Flickr