The so-called popular ways of travelling around Europe (by train, bus, and plane) are not necessarily the best. We recommend car as a vastly superior alternative, whether its yours or a hire car. Lets also toss camper van into the mix and discuss five touring options for you to pick from.
While trains may be a romantic way to travel around Europe, they are certainly not the cheapest or the most convenient. Finding the right Eurail pass for your specific needs will usually be cheaper than buying individual tickets. On the other hand a pass may mean a real loss of flexibility if you like to modify your plans as you go.
Train choices range from buying passes valid for 1-5 countries of your choosing for 3-10 days within 1-2 months, or choosing a Global pass that covers the whole region. Eurail passes can provide free or discounted ferry rides, in particular ferries between Italy and Greece (though not ferries into or out of Croatia).
As a young man I once traveled by train in Europe but, after having to stick rigidly to my bookings, I resolved that train was not the way to go.
Yes you can usually bus along the same route as a train and for less. In countries like Greece, Turkey, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco, buses are often the only option to trains. Elsewhere if trains between cities is your choice, buses will serve you well where the train system leaves off. Buses more often fan out from train stations to places trains don’t get to. For towns with train stations far from the center, buses often shuttle passengers to the centre of town.
Bear in mind that there is not as much English language information about buses accessible online or at your destination. Try the Eurolines site, which covers many countries, or just Google “bus Copenhagen to Venice”. The Rome2Rio website comes up with a range of travel choices, bus about the cheapest of them. Personally we favour buses over trains where possible, but they are not our preferred option.
Book in advance and you can get cheap flights on budget airlines like Jet2, RyanAir, Easyjet, WizzAir or Vueling. But be wary of the extra fees and read the fine print before you book.
Also the discount airlines often fly into secondary airports that are an hour or more outside of the city you’re trying to visit. Trains and buses on the other hand, typically arrive in or near the center of town, and usually link up easily with the city’s mass transportation system.
Travelling longer distances and air tends to make economic sense but of course you miss the beauty of the countryside.
We had this romantic notion of a trip round Europe by van until friends persuaded us this was not a good idea for Europe. Traveling by car .