Bus & Coach Travel in Europe

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When most people think about traveling around Europe, they think about buying a Eurail pass and taking the train everywhere or about flying from city to city.

One of the cheapest ways to travel around Europe, however, is by bus/coach.

Although buses can be slow, uncomfortable to travel on and their timetables can be confusing, for the budget traveler they are well worth considering.

Why? Well, for example, in the England you are able travel from Southampton (on the South coast) all the way up to London for just £1 ($1.55)! That’s an 85 mile journey for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

So what’s the downside? Some bus stations (although not all) are located in the parts of town you wouldn’t want to visit at night (so make sure you arrive there in the daytime).

In addition to this, bus journeys can take a LONG time. Sometimes they’ll stop at every town along the way, and sometimes you’ll get stuck in a traffic jam.

So what are the buses/coaches in Europe like? Most companies will have fairly modern bus fleets (sometimes with reclining seats and usually with restrooms), but the cleanliness of the buses themselves does tend to differ from one company to another.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular bus/coach services in Europe:

Eurolines

Eurolines is perhaps the largest bus company in the whole of Europe. They’re similar to Greyhound buses in the USA in the way that you can purchase 15 or 30 day unlimited travel passes (or simply by single journey tickets).

They have buses that travel to over 40 cities throughout Europe, and they’re well worth checking out.

Megabus

Megabus (UK Only)

Remember that super-cheap £1 bus journey I talked about earlier? That was with Megabus.

Megabus operates solely in the United Kingdom and travels to and from most major towns/cities.

Most Megabus routes will make a lot of stops along the way (meaning journeys can be extremely long), they have been fitting a lot of their buses with WiFi (which can help to pass the time).

Note that to get super-cheap rates with Megabus it’s important to book early.

National Express (Great Britain Only)

National Express is one of the most popular bus companies in Europe, and is the one that most people will have heard of.

They are pretty similar to Megabus in that they operate in England, Scotland and Wales only and that they’re extremely cheap.

You can get a National Express bus to almost anywhere within Great Britain, as they have over 1000 registered stops.

Unlimited National Express travel passes are available (for either 7, 14 or 28 days) and can provide excellent value.

Busabout

Busabout is one of the most popular bus services in Europe among backpackers/travelers, although it’s slightly different from what you might normally be used to.

Their buses visit 11 different countries within Europe and stop at all the major cities along the way. What’s different about them though is that they are more like a tour company than a simple bus service.

Their buses start of in a major city (such as Paris), travel around a bunch of neighboring areas/cities before returning to where they’ve started. Rather than traveling from point A to point B, they travel in (what they like to call) loops.

They’re perfectly geared towards travelers who want to visit Europe on a budget, as they allow you to get off at each stop, stay for as long as you like before moving onto the next area.

Because they attract a lot of travelers, they’re great for solo travelers looking for like-minded people.

Lastly, Busabout only run buses from May to October, so remember this when planning your trip.

While I have provided some information about the various bus services around Europe, it’s always good to ask the hostel staff (if you’re staying in a hostel) for their recommendations as to which bus services are best. They should have a good amount of local knowledge, and will be able to advise you accordingly.


Related posts:

  1. An American’s Guide to Packing for a Trip to Europe
  2. When’s the Best time to Travel to Europe?
  3. How to Tip in Europe
  4. How to Rent a Car in Europe




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  • Sylvia Jordan

    Great article, and I agree with you. Whenever I read some smart backpackers’ Travel Republic reviews, I always encounter many of them prefering cheaper buses. Additionally, buses can let them take a closer look at the country.