So you have your trip all lined up and you’re wondering about the best (and possibly cheapest and most effective) ways to travel around Europe.
In this article, I will share some of my top recommendations around the different commute options you can consider.
Europe has an amazing network of buses. Among the various options, Flixbus and Eurolines are by far the most popular. This is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to get around the continent. Tickets are cheap (starting at 5 Euro depending on your destination), buses are clean, you get free Wi-Fi, and the seats are comfortable. Buses also offer a lot of flexibility – there are multiple departure times throughout the day and you don’t need to book months or days in advance. I typically book one day before travel through leveraging travel apps.
Overall, I’d recommend this option if cost is a consideration and your travel time is limited to under 6 hours.
Trains are, by far, my favorite way of traveling around Europe. They are extremely comfortable (no other mode of transport gets close to the comfort level that trains offer) and fast. You get free Wi-Fi, seats are a lot more spacious than what you’d find in a bus, and best of all – they keep you close to the scenery. They’re also a great option for overnight travel and can help you save considerably on time. Tickets however are typically a lot more expensive than bus tickets. I’d recommend this option if cost is not a consideration OR if your commute time is over 6 hours (your body will appreciate the added comfort over 6 hours :)).
In my view, upgrading to first class (or sleeper cabins for overnight travel) for a small premium is worth it depending on commute time and distance. If you will be traveling for an extended duration covering a lot of different countries and cities, you can even consider purchasing an EURAIL pass to cut down on your cost per trip. A 3 week EURAIL ticket however can run close to $600, so work out the math on whether this would actually be a cost-effective option for you or whether purchasing tickets separately would make more sense.
I’m not a big fan of air travel in Europe. There’s something about airplanes and airports that just stresses me out! This is, infact, my second-to-least favorite mode of transport in Europe.
That being said, air travel is definitely a viable (and cheap) option for long haul journeys. With the proliferation of budget airlines in Europe, over the years, ticket prices have come down considerably. More often than not, you’ll actually find cheaper airfares than train tickets! Infact, I’ve been lucky to fly across different countries in Europe for under $20! Ryan Air, Norwegian Air, and EasyJet have amazing deals year round. In most cases however, some planning will be required with air travel and you will need to book a few days in advance to avail such offers.
One red flag on flying with Budget Airlines – REMEMBER TO READ THEIR FINE PRINT! Budget airlines are notorious for overcharging customers who haven’t followed their rules, so remember to print your boarding pass prior to checking in, check-in online in advance, adhere to baggage weight limits, and avoid over-size baggage.
To compare ticket prices or to find good deals, I’d recommend you use Skyscanner or Google Flights. Net-net, consider air travel as an option for long haul journeys or if it can help you save on commute time.
This is my least favorite way of traveling around Europe. The bus and train network in Europe is so good that I have seldom had to resort to renting a car. I only consider this is an option if I need to use the car for a day trip or for traveling to remote towns or villages.
Its also not very cost-effective – often times when traveling in Europe, you need to start your trip at one point and need to drop off the car at another. Rental car operators charge abysmal amounts if your pick-up and drop-off points are not the same.
Which option do you prefer and what have your experiences been like to travel around Europe?