europe by BUS
this summer we’ve done europe by almost all means of transport:
cars, trains, planes, boats, ferries, segways (ha!) and yes, buses.
europe by bus is perhaps the most affordable way to travel the continent,
but it can be very hit or miss – so we’re here to provide some tips and
favorite bus lines, similar to somewhere like United Coachline, in case bussing around europe is of interest!
depending on the region, there are different bus lines that we recommend.
for example, we already talked about traveling the baltics with lux express,
a great bus company offering really high quality rides through estonia,
latvia and lithuania…complete with wifi and free movies! that proved
to be a great option on the shorter itineraries and kept things simple.
for mainland europe, we found our best bet was flixbus, as it offered the
most options at the lowest prices. we used them for a majority of our
travels through germany and austria and it was great! they currently
offer routes through france, the netherlands, switzerland, germany, italy,
czech republic, hungary, croatia, as well as sweden, denmark, austria,
luxembourg, slovenia and. flixbus also offers wifi! we like flixbus for
allowing some flexibility if you’re backpacking through europe: you can
buy a ticket online ahead of time, on your phone using the app, or just
right directly from the bus driver. 400 destinations are offered through
flixbus, so you are guaranteed to find a new adventure for a low cost.
now that we’ve outlined a few recommended lines, here are some tips for europe by bus:
– before deciding to travel by bus, be aware that they can be unpredictable. unlike trains or planes, buses are affected by traffic jams, road closures, and other problems more often. to go along with this:
– plan extra time into your schedule when booking bus times. this flexibility will save you from being stressed if the bus is late.
– be sure to check where the coach station is in each city – not the train station. coach stations will often be a stop or two away from a train station, and you don’t want to miss a bus because of it!
– try to book buses on shorter routes. a bus is a great way to travel between two cities that are a few hours apart, but an 8 hour bus may have you wondering why you booked it in the first place ;) break your trip up by seeing more cities and having shorter rides.
– come prepared! you’ll never survive a bus ride without: a sweater, a neck pillow, a book, water, and some snacks (at least i won’t!!) some buses have climate control and have AC pumping out the entire ride, so you’ll always want a sweater. if you don’t need it, you can bunch it up and use it as a pillow against the window! (or bring a neck pillow). have some sort of entertainment to distract from the long drive / other passengers, and always bring snacks + water since you’re on a bus and there normally is not food for purchase. you should also bring a universal plug adaptor so that you can charge your phone/laptop on the way.
– on the same note as above, you can never have too much entertainment. download podcasts, movies, books, and have things to work on. unlike a train, you can’t get up and walk around or distract yourself…so have things to do! (even better, bring a book or podcast about the place you are headed! we always love the lonely planet ones.)
–be polite. a full bus can feel like very cramped quarters riding right alongside strangers, so treat others how you would like to be treated. don’t have long phone conversations, music that is so loud it can be heard through headphones, smelly food, or your things spread out. be pleasant and hopefully others will follow suit!
– if you get motion sickness, sit at the front or near a window. bring medication if needed, since some roads in europe can be windy and bumpy. Hopefully, the bump roads won’t cause anything more than motion sickness for you, the last thing you want is to be is in an accident while you’re on vacation. However, if it happens, some people try to seek out a lawyer who might be able to help them.
– wear your most comfortable clothing. even more than a plane or train, you need to be comfortable on a bus ride. also have a bag on board with all necessities (chargers, book, food, wallet) so that you don’t find yourself in need of something underneath the bus mid-ride!
– try to avoid taking buses in certain areas. our experience with flixbus was all positive through central europe, and we’d recommend our routes. we took a different bus company through south croatia and bosnia and had a very different experience (think: buses that were hours late, rude drivers, bumpy roads that made everyone sick, etc). look up reviews and routes and book smartly. also be sure you know which documents you need. for passport/visa, you only need to worry about countries that aren’t in the schengen agreement
– avoid peak times. if you can manage an earlier departure time, you’ll have the luxury of less people and hopefully more space on the bus. earlier and later departure times are usually less expensive, too! you can load a travel money card with euros before so that you have a backup.
– always print out a copy of your ticket, and not just on your phone. have your passport accessible as well! to cross some borders in europe you will need both.
– use the time to research for your travels, like finding super smart ways to save money on hotels.
– bring hand sanitizer. although many good bus lines have bathrooms, sometimes the soap is out or you just may want your own sanitizer to avoid germs in the tight space.
– the windy roads around europe can lead to quite a few accidents so dont go walking up and down the bus and wear your seatbelt. if you are in a bus accident that injures you then you may need to contact a personal injury attorney to see if you can get compensation for something that’s ruined your holiday.
– try to avoid overnight buses. this goes against my budget-loving mind since you can skip a hotel cost and get somewhere new for a small price, but each time i am actually sitting on an overnight bus i am usually regretting it. you don’t want to get to a new city feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus ;) so try to ride during the day to enjoy it more! if you do book an overnight bus, bring an eye mask, gum, and a blanket if you can. those things always help me make it through.
– look out the window! use a bus ride to get to know a new place even better… you are actually on the road with locals, without having to drive/worry about directions. sit back, relax, and people watch as the scenery goes by. it can actually be quite relaxing compared to renting your own car!
i hope these bus tips help – please comment with any experiences you’ve had!
the bus is so great for many short routes, and for longer ones we buy an interrail pass.
*thank you to lux express and flixbus for being our partners!
all opinions are our own.