EUROPE

A Complete Guide to Transport in Europe

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A trip to Europe almost never consists of staying within one countries’ borders. Europe is a fascinating region with so much to offer at every turn, so be sure to do your research and pick your destinations carefully as there is so much to see in Europe no matter how long you intend your visit to be! Below you will find a full guide to transport in Europe, including which countries are best to travel on train routes, which destinations are better reached by car or public bus, and which destinations require flights. Happy travels!

hogwarts express train

Train Travel in Europe

For sure the most popular way to travel through Europe and in my opinion the most enjoyable, train travel is a great way to see the countryside of Europe without the hassle of navigating for yourself.

However not all of Europe is well connected by trains or at least not all of Europe offers the most reliable services.

In Western Europe, you can travel to nearly every single destination (even small towns) by train. This makes it very feasible to purchase a train pass, such as a Eurail global pass if travelling across a number of countries at a fast pace or regional passes like the Benelux pass to travel between Belgium, Holland & Luxembourg.

In central Europe, the trains are still very reliable, plentiful, clean and efficient. Cities like Prague, Vienna, Bratizlava & Budapest are extremely well connected with plenty of departures each day, however if you would like to visit smaller towns like Hallstatt in Austria you will need to be prepared for quite a few train changes! Alternatively, consider one of the below modes of transport for travel days like these.

In Eastern Europe train travel becomes a little more difficult. One of my biggest mistakes on my first trip to Eastern Europe was thinking that it would be as well connected as the West, even going so far as to pin point two cities on the map and assume there would be a train between the two. Time wasn’t an issue so I was prepared to take an overnight train, however no such train existed on many of the routes I had planned (rookie error, yes!) Be sure to do your research in advance and be prepared for changes in Eastern Europe – delays, cancellations and poor weather conditions are much more common generally speaking.

brooke flying

Air Travel in Europe

Although my least favourite way to get around Europe (you don’t see nearly as much from a plane window as you do on the train), air travel is still often necessary in Europe and sometimes a better option. For example if you intend to visit Ireland, better to book a cheap flight with Aer Lingus from one of their connecting cities in Europe than to get stuck paying for a premium airline on the same route.

If you’re looking to save money on airfares that can’t be avoided, below is a comprehensive list of Europe’s budget airlines:

Airline Hub(s)
Aer Lingus Dublin, Shannon, Cork, Belfast
airBaltic Riga (Latvia)
airberlin Multiple German cities
Air One Milan, Venice, Pisa
Blue Air Bucharest, Bacău (Romania)
Brussels Airlines Brussels
CityJet London City Airport
Condor Multiple German cities
Darwin Airline Geneva, Lugano
easyJet London, Milan, Berlin, Paris, Liverpool, Geneva, Basel, Nice, Toulouse, Edinburgh, Madrid, and more
Estonian Air Tallinn
Flybe Manchester, Newquay, Exeter, Southampton, London (southern England); Jersey, Guernsey (Channel Islands)
Germanwings Multiple German cities
Helvetic Airways Zürich, Bern
Icelandair Reykjavik
Jet2 Multiple British cities
Jetairfly Brussels, Liège, Ostend (Belgium)
Meridiana Olbia, Cagliari (Sardinia); Rome and other Italian cities
Monarch Airlines Multiple British cities
Niki Vienna, Salzburg
Norwegian Oslo, Bergen, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Alicante, and London
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul, Antalya (Turkey)
Ryanair London, Dublin, and several other cities
SmartWings Prague, Ostrava (Czech Republic)
Thomsonfly Connects various British cities to Mediterranean resorts
Transavia Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven
TUIfly Multiple German cities
Vueling Multiple Spanish cities, Amsterdam, Florence, Rome
Widerøe Oslo
Wizz Air Budapest and many other Eastern European cities
XL Airways Paris

Read more: Hacks to save money on travel in Europe // The cheapest cities in Europe to fly in to

bus

Bus Travel in Europe

After trains and planes, the next most popular mode of transport in Europe is buses. Although I much prefer trains (they get you there faster and are a smoother ride), sometimes it is nice to take it slow, much cheaper, and even sometimes a necessity.

If you’re on a budget you really can’t beat bus travel. For a few euros you’ll find yourself hopping from A to B and the further East you travel, the further your pennies will take you.

When I was travelling in Romania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and across borders in central Europe, more often than not it was a necessity to travel by bus. Many countries in the East of Europe do not have extensive train services as is so common in the West, so more often than not you will find yourself looking out a bus window on journeys that can last up to 10 hours or even more!

To see what buses are available for your routes, I would highly recommend checking out the Eurolines website as it is one of the easier to use websites for searching bus travel in Europe.

Road_Trip_Wales

Hire Car Travel in Europe

One of the more expensive options that does have an added benefit of providing more freedom and flexibility is to hire a car in Europe. The cost of car hire in Europe varies widely, depending on the country you are visiting and your age will also play a factor.

When I hired a car in Ireland I was almost denied due to my age (car insurance in Ireland comes with a high excess and is incredibly expensive), though age didn’t play a factor at all when hiring a car in Portugal, so be sure to do your research in advance to determine whether or not you will be able to rely on a car rental.

In terms of expense, car hire in France is one of the most expensive in Europe, however just across the (virtually non-existent) border in Germany car hire is much more reasonable and of course comes with the added benefit of driving on the Autobahn!

Remember it is also possible to start your car hire in Germany at a lower fee and drive it through France, Italy and other surrounding countries, and bring it back to Germany without paying hefty fees for a French car rental. Also note that some companies allow you to drive point-to-point, leaving your car in a different city or even a different country after your journey.

Hallstatt

Private Drivers in Europe

Here’s something you probably haven’t considered before and bear with me a second, I promise it is not as elaborate as it sounds!

Private drivers in Europe are a great way to travel between two destinations that aren’t linked by train or have shuttle services that don’t run in the winter. I first tried a private car service when travelling from Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic) to Salzburg (Austria – pictured above) in the winter of 2012, when my shuttle bus service was cancelled last minute and I had booked (and paid) for a hotel in Salzburg the following evening.

As it turned out I was able to stop over on the way to a small town in Austria that had long been on my bucket list (Hallstatt) at no extra cost, even though it was a little out of the way.

Four years later a company has started up in Europe to cater to this increasingly popular demand of travellers trying to get from one destination to the next with stops in between, without the hassle of lugging themselves and their luggage off and back on to trains all day.

DayTrip is affordable and comfortable, so we decided to use the service between Milan, Annecy and our countryside chateau in France as we really wanted to stop and see Annecy, though train connections would not have allowed enough time to stop along the way in just one day. The car journey took around 6 hours but we were able to stop at any point to take photos, grab a bite to eat, or just to stretch our legs. The driver picked us up from our hotel in Milan and dropped us off at our doorstep in France. Talk about service!

my first cruise

Cruises & Ferries

And finally you have sea travel by way of cruises (very popular in the Mediterranean throughout the year) and ferries (a great way to island hop in Greece, Italy and Spain).

Cruises are available throughout the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and even throughout Europe’s river network. River cruises with AmaWaterways have been incredibly popular of late, allowing travellers the ease of falling asleep in one destination and waking up in another!

While cruises have been typically considered to be for older people, this is slightly changing as more and more young people see the benefit of a cruise: you check in once, you don’t have to change hotel rooms, you sleep and you arrive in a new city to explore. No time wasted travelling through the day, no hassle of unpacking and repacking, and if you snag a deal they are incredibly cheap!

Ferries in the Mediterranean are incredibly popular and necessary, unless you are a gazillionaire and can afford a private jet (in which case, I’d still take the ferry!)

Happy & Safe Travels in Europe!

This post contains sponsored material.

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  • marketa@ondaytrip.com'
    Marketa
    June 3, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Kari, we will be more than happy to help you with your trip through Europe! 🙂

  • charactersandcarryons@gmail.com'
    Joyce
    June 2, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Thanks for all these helpful tips! It’s always good to mix and match the different options! 🙂

  • proema01@luther.edu'
    Maja
    June 1, 2016 at 7:23 am

    This is such a great post! Bus is definitely the way to go in Eastern Europe, but I also found that getting a private driver (usually a shared shuttle) is really the best way to travel in the Balkans. A 9-hour bus ride from Bosnia & Herzegovina to Montenegro could have been a 4-hour shuttle–if only I had known! Also, Ryanair flies literally everywhere!

  • dear.lastblogavailable@gmail.com'
    Anyone Specific
    May 31, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Can’t believe you left out bicycles. The Tour de France will be very disappointed to hear this. Next time I talk to Amsterdam I’ll try and explain you did not mean to get personal. Berlin and Paris will be fine, they are easy going and only cycle for money. Not sure about Copenhagen, though. 🙂

  • mikaelacallejo@yahoo.com'
    Mika
    May 30, 2016 at 4:42 am

    I’m so glad that you replied! I’m not being a weirdo but I want to commend your work and how much it has inspired me. Cos of you I decided to make a travel blog as well. I’m also your IG follower for months now and even turned your notifications on so I can be as updated to your travel photos as possible. Congrats to your success and I hope to be at par from what you’ve accomplished soon when I become a full-time traveler as well. All the best!

    @mikacallejo
    mikaelacallejo.wix.com/mysite

    • Brooke Saward
      May 30, 2016 at 6:07 am

      You have just made my week with this comment! I’m so so so appreciative for your words 🙂 Always keep at it, the secret is persistence! xxx

  • barbara.araujo.p@gmail.com'
    Barbaraap
    May 29, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Just a suggestion. From my experience one of the best ways to travel in Eastern Europe is BUS! There are amazingly cheap bus companies with high quality vehicles.
    Some suggestions:
    – Poland: Poslki bus (it even connects cities like Krakow to cities like Berlin Prague Bratislava etc)
    – Student Agency (a czech company very cheap. all seats have their own tv w lots of movies choices in english – they even offered me a snack – it operates between the czech republic and countries like hungary or austria)

    • Brooke Saward
      May 30, 2016 at 4:18 am

      Thanks for reminding me! Somehow managed to completely forget buses and now edited to include! 🙂

  • thea.noffke@web.de'
    Thea
    May 29, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    I loved this article, however you forgot to mention a very important way of transportation: busses! In the last years long distance busses in Western Europe have taken over and they are so much less expensive than trains! I live in Berlin and from here you can take busses to Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague, Munich and much more and they only cost between 10 and 30 Euros. If you are traveling on a budget I would always recommend to choose long distance busses over trains.

    • Brooke Saward
      May 30, 2016 at 4:19 am

      Thanks for reminding me! I somehow managed to COMPLETELY forget!!! Have edited to include – really appreciate your comment 🙂

  • katewilson96@hotmail.com'
    Kate Wilson
    May 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Just bookmarked this for as soon as I’m back in Europe! So helpful x

  • mikaelacallejo@yahoo.com'
    Mika
    May 29, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I have been doing my itinerary for a month’s trip in Europe next year! Great guide Brooke!

    • Brooke Saward
      May 30, 2016 at 4:19 am

      Thanks Mika – you will have the BEST time!!! My favourite region to explore 🙂 🙂

  • stuff4joyce@gmail.com'
    Joycre
    May 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I am not seeing where DayTrip goes to Italy or France on their link. Am I missing something?

    • Brooke Saward
      May 30, 2016 at 12:05 am

      Hi Joyce,

      The company has just launched so this was a special trip as they plan to expand to offer all of Europe soon! Right now they’re just based in Central Europe but it shouldn’t be long before they are all over Europe 🙂

  • chibimokuproductions@gmail.com'
    Chibi Moku
    May 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Thank you so much for the list of airlines!!! Perfect timing. We live on the road and out of our suitcases as well…and head to Europe for a few months leaving Tuesday. This list really helps us explore the possibilities of airlines during our time there. Bookmarked!

    Good luck out there!

    Joshua & Natsuko

  • lexi@theygetaround.com'
    Lexi
    May 28, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Love love love this! We’re going sometime next year so this is going to be so helpful!

  • luminitamoga515@gmail.com'
    Luminita
    May 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    I’m glad you mentioned private drivers. In Eastern Europe, trains do seem to have their own schedule, that nobody really knows, so that’s why may tourists travel by bus or, they can book car transports from an to the airport whenever needed. It’s still affordable and it’s easier than renting a car, because you don’t have to deal with the paperwork and all the strange requirements car renting companies sometimes have.

  • fabiorosado@travelsandgazes.com'
    FabioRosado
    May 27, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Loved the post!
    Using a train is always a great way to move around and doing an interrail trip around Europe is still on my bucket list.
    I agree with you when you say that we should do our research before travelling. For instance train, fares in the U.K. are quite high and sometimes it’s cheaper to catch a flight with a layover on a low-cost carrier than use the train from London to Edinburgh.

    I was surprised that you had problems with renting a car in Ireland. What age and experience did they require for you to rent a car?

  • petiteadventures@gmail.com'
    Kate
    May 27, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Great guide! Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips and suggestions!

    Kate |

  • lizcpratt@gmail.com'
    Liz @ Poulet s’il vous plaît
    May 27, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    One of my best experiences on my two month trip to Europe was taking overnight trains. It was such an adventure and really quite a romantic way to travel across countries. Would highly recommend it!

  • srajnee00@gmail.com'
    rainias
    May 27, 2016 at 11:58 am

    World of Wanderlust is home to a collection of the world’s best experiences, destinations, tours, hotels, restaurants, and lifestyle brands.

  • flyprkr@aol.com'
    Tony Parker
    May 27, 2016 at 10:26 am

    My partner and I sold our home 18 months ago and have been Nomads every since. This is a great blog and glad I found it. I actually wrote an blog entry myself, called Wanderlust, on my site play hard-havefun.com. I live by that noun, A strong desire or urge to wander to travel and explore the world. Word Porn
    Enjoy

  • styletostay@gmail.com'
    Stefanie Ni
    May 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

    For travelling between short destinations on a budget,I would also recommend buses! They are really really affordable 🙂

  • kariguastella@gmail.com'
    Kari
    May 27, 2016 at 8:28 am

    That personal driver service is pretty much exactly what I’ve been looking for!
    Kari

  • Redouanemenad@gmail.com'
    Redouane menad
    May 27, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Hello à would to visit to europ