What’s the cheapest way to travel Europe?
After 3 years of bouncing around Europe as a) a backpacker, b) a broke student and now c) a restless expat, this is a question I’ve relentlessly sought the answer to.
I can still remember my first taste of European budget travel. It was during my first ever backpacking trip around Western Europe. I had travelled from Paris to London, two major bucket list cities of mine, for less than the price of 6 Chicken Nuggets. It was exhilarating. My mind was blown… and I suppose you could say, that’s when a monster was born.
When I returned a year later as an exchange student, I took advantage of budget travel options to go absolutely insane and indulge in weekend trips anytime I could. Along the way I discovered wild deals like 5 euro bus tickets to Paris, 20 euro roundtrip tickets to London, 40 euro roundtrip tickets to MOROCCO.
Guys, not to be dramatic: but a whole new world was born. Since moving back to Europe, I’ve continued to take advantage of the countless cheap options out there – after all, why spend extra when you don’t need to? That’s why I want to share with you my top tips today, lifting the veil on the cheapest way(s) to travel Europe. Enjoy!
The Cheapest Way to Travel Europe
Travelling Europe on a budget is totally possible if you’re smart about it, though there are some costs you’re just going to have to deal with like for travel insurance plans. Options for cheap transportation in Europe are plentiful, and you can score some mindblowing deals if know where to look. Luckily, that’s what I’m here for! Below are some of my favourite (affordable) ways for traveling between European countries.
If affordability is what you’re after, I highly recommend traveling around Europe by bus. While it’s not as comfortable, convenient or scenic as train travel, it comes at a fraction of the cost (which means more euros in your pocket for croissant hoarding and wine guzzling).
These days, the main contender in European bus travel is FlixBus. For me, Flixbus wins in terms of price, flexibility and convenience. With fares as cheap as 5 euros one way, the price simply can’t be beat. Plus, you can easily download an app where you can check different bus times/purchase tickets up to the day of. They even have the most chilled out cancellation policy ever – you can cancel/change your ticket up to 15 minutes before departure for only a euro (note: in the good old days, this was even free!) That’s why I think Flixbus is the perfect choice for a spontaneous budget traveler.
They even have an awesome pass called Interflix that allows you to book 5 journeys for only 99 euros. That means you can ride from one European hotspot to another for only 20 euros… an absolute steal.
NOTE: As with all things in life, you get what you pay for. Flixbus isn’t world-renowned for amazing service or punctuality, but they do get you from Point A to Point B eventually. I’d recommend them if budget is your #1 priority.
Other bus options to check out in Europe:
Eurolines: I’ve only used Eurolines a handful of times because Flixbus is so convenient to book, but they offer a lot of routes around Europe and in my experience, tend to be more punctual than Flixbus. However, they’re a lot less flexible when it comes to modifications/cancellations, with a zero refund policy within 48 hours of the trip date, and a 25-50% deduction of the total fare if you cancel earlier. In other words, if you want to be flexible, Flixbus is a better choice!
Student Agency Bus: I took this one from Prague to Budapest 2 years ago and it’s still (to date) the most luxurious bus trip I’ve ever had! It was super affordable, there were movies available on board and even a “bus attendant” who gave us free hot chocolate and tea. Most of their routes seem to be in/out of the Czech Republic, but they’re an amazing deal if you’re travelling in that area.
Megabus: Megabus used to be my go-to bus company (they’re how I got from Paris to London for two pounds in 2014 – like I said, for less than the price of 6 nuggets!) but their European routes have since been acquired by Flixbus. That said, they’re still active in the UK, and have some crazy deals if you book early enough (the first to buy tickets on certain routes can score them for only 1 pound)
Another cost-effective option in the UK is National Express. I’ve used them many times and they’re always very professional and punctual. The key with them is to book as early as possible to score the best deals!
Local bus lines: While travelling around the Balkans, I relied on a number of local coach companies to get around. If you happen to be travelling around the Balkans, your best bet is to inquiry at the local bus station for tickets – they’re usually very affordable even the day-of.
One of the most popular (and cheapest) ways to travel Europe is through budget airlines.
Unlike North America, Europe is crawling with budget airlines that can take you from Point A to Point B at ludicrously low costs. … Sometimes even cheaper than the bus! With Ryanair for example, I can get from Munich to London for only 10 euros if I book early enough. That’s cheaper than the cost of actually getting to the airport!
One note with budget airlines: you absolutely, 1000% get what you pay for. This means limited legroom, ‘meh’ service and additional costs for everything (including extra bags, in-flight meals and even printing your ticket at the airport). But hey, for the price, you really can’t beat it. So long as you familiarize yourself with each airline’s rules and hidden costs, you’ll be fine.
After all guys, you are paying 10 euros to fly in a hover-box through the sky. Chill out, and enjoy the (dis)comfort of your legroom-less seat.