Are you traveling to Europe and wondering the best options to get around when you’re there (and possibly cheapest and most effective)?
Here are some of my top suggestions to get around Europe that you can consider.
Getting around by Bus
Europe has a fantastic network of buses making it very easy to get around. Among the various options, Flixbus and Eurolines are by far the most popular. Bus travel in Europe 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 reserve one day before travel. For recommendations on booking apps, feel free to check out this useful post.
Overall, I’d recommend this option if the cost is a consideration and your travel time is limited to under 6 hours.
Commuting in Europe by Train
Trains are, by far, my favorite way of traveling around Europe. They are incredibly 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 on a bus, and best of all – they keep you close to the scenery. They’re also an excellent 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 the 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 are traveling to multiple cities and countries, you might even consider purchasing a EURAIL pass to cut down on your overall costs.
A 3-week EURAIL ticket, however, can run close to $600. So, work out the math on whether this would be a cost-effective option for you. Of course, purchasing tickets separately might make more sense.
Getting around on Air Travel
I’m not a big fan of air travel in Europe. There’s something about airplanes and airports that stresses me out! Air Travel is, in fact, my second-to-least favorite mode of transport in Europe.
That said, air travel is 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. Unfortunately, the airports are usually far from the city centers, and you’ll need directions on how to get there. For instance, if you fly to Rome – you won’t be flying anywhere close to the Colosseum. Instead, you’ll be flying to Fiumicino. Here’s how to get from Fiumicino to Downtown Rome.
More often than not, you’ll find cheaper airfares than train tickets! 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’ll need to reserve well in advance to avail such offers.
One red flag on flying with Budget Airlines – REMEMBER TO READ THE FINE PRINT! Budget airlines are notorious for overcharging customers who haven’t followed their rules. So remember to print your boarding pass before 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.
Renting a car is my least favorite way of traveling around Europe. The bus and train network in Europe is excellent. In fact, 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 areas.
Its also not very cost-effective – often 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.
Other Important Travel Tips
On my blog, thetoorister.com, I suggest there are other options available outside of the transport options covered above. These options include hitchhiking or riding-sharing services like BlaBlaCar, but the ones above are the most popular.
Further, I recommend that you not limit yourself to only one option for your entire trip. For example, if you’re traveling from Paris to Budapest, air travel might be a good option. And for other destinations, buses or trains might make more sense.
Which option do you prefer and what have your experiences been like to travel around Europe?