When I first arrived in Europe back in 2015, I was quickly introduced to Megabus. It immediately became my favorite way to get around. A few months later, all the routes outside the UK were bought out by Flixbus. If you’re traveling on a budget, using Flixbus in Europe is your best choice.
- Cheapest Bus Tickets in Europe
- Comfort of the Bus
- My Journeys on Flixbus in Europe
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- Further Reading
Cheapest Bus Tickets in Europe
With my tight budget when I started traveling, I couldn’t be happier with the Megabus ticket prices. I was riding around the UK for as little as £4 ($6 at the time) per ride. When I went over to mainland Europe, I continued to use Megabus as much as possible. They were almost always the cheapest way to get around, such as my ticket from Toulouse, France to Barcelona, Spain for €5 ($6)!
When Flixbus took over, they continued to be one of the cheapest bus companies in Europe, but not quite as cheap as Megabus. Gone were the great specials. That wonderful ticket I got to Barcelona tripled in price! I also learned about Blablacar and would use them more often than not, but Flixbus was always an option for me.
Comfort of the Bus
Flixbus does one thing right in keeping their buses fairly consistent. The shorter-distance buses are usually one level, while the longer rides are double-decker buses. The seats are moderately comfortable, not particularly spacious but not small either – certainly not as small as some of the buses in Asia! Their buses all have a toilet (although sometimes it’s out of order) and Wi-Fi (which doesn’t work as often as it does).
Some of the buses in Europe, such as the Student Agency or RegioJet, are considerably more comfortable. Those are more spacious, come with meals and even have entertainment systems on the seatbacks. Surprisingly, every now and then you can find one of those tickets as cheap as Flixbus! It’s definitely worth a search.
My Journeys on Flixbus in Europe
Milan to Rotterdam – 19.5 Hours
My longest journey with Flixbus (and one of my longest bus rides ever) was from Milan, Italy to Rotterdam, Netherlands. I left the Lampugnano FlixBus Bus Stop at 9 p.m. and arrived at Rotterdam Central Station at 4:30 p.m. the following day. I traveled through six countries (barely missing a seventh). Distance aside, this was one of the best bus rides…and the worst.
In Milan, I was one of the first ones onto the bus. It was one of the biggest models that Flixbus uses and had two decks. On the lower deck, there were two tables with four seats apiece. I quickly grabbed a seat at one of the tables so I could set up my laptop and get some work done before I was ready to catch some shuteye. Somehow, by the time the bus pulled away from the station, no one else had joined me at the table! There were very few people on the bus but I feel I got really lucky. Not only could I use the table for working, I was later able to stretch out across the seats to have a good sleep.
Disaster struck twenty miles outside Brussels, the terminus of the first bus. I wasn’t entirely sure what happened as everything was being shouted in French, but apparently our bus broke down. Another bus was on the way and I was told it wouldn’t be a long wait. I was in a bind because my connecting bus left soon after we were scheduled to arrive, and Flixbus won’t wait for a prior, late bus. Then I found out the driver (or possibly another passenger) needed to be at the airport immediately, and there was a van to take a dozen passengers to the Brussels station right away.
I went to grab my baggage out of the hold, and found it completely flooded. Putting my waterproof cover over my 85L backpack doesn’t help when it’s sitting in several inches of water. All my clothes, my sleeping bag and several other objects were completely saturated. Miraculously, nothing important was damaged! I keep my notebooks sealed in dry sacks, and all my electronics were with me inside the bus. So while I had a few extra pounds of water to carry and spent the evening doing laundry, my possessions were basically okay. I did reach out to Flixbus to see if they would address the matter but didn’t get a response. I wasn’t surprised. When dealing with budget companies, customer service is usually the first aspect to suffer.
Amsterdam to London – 10 Hours
In 2016, I made my first long-distance trip with Flixbus in Europe…after they had bought out Megabus. It was just one segment of a rather long journey – a train from Alkmaar to Amsterdam, the Flixbus to London, a Megabus to Edinburgh, and then a local bus up to Dundee where I spent two weeks at my first housesit. The trip was rather uneventful, or maybe I just couldn’t think of anything but the pain in my feet. In my attempt to catch my train in Alkmaar (which I failed to do), I fell down the stairs and seriously injured both of my ankles. Rather than cancel all my travel plans, I bore the pain all the way to Dundee where I could get to the hospital (with my British citizenship’s medical coverage).
I made this journey a couple times, most recently this summer after working in Rotterdam for a few weeks and then an amazing weekend in Haarlem. Just a few miles away from the train under the English channel, the bus pulled into a border patrol station and everyone had to get off the bus. A few minutes later, two men were pulled out of the cargo hold beneath the bus and detained. At first, the driver said we would have to wait for the police to arrive, but after half an hour, he told us to get back on the bus and we were on or way again. Apparently that’s becoming a rather common occurrence these days, and another reason never to put anything valuable into the bags you put under the bus (or checked-in baggage for flights).
London to Rotterdam – 12 Hours
I’m mentioning this trip separately from the last trip for an interesting reason. Although Rotterdam is two hours closer to London than Amsterdam, the ride was two hours longer. That’s because the bus sometimes can ride the train that goes under the English channel, and sometimes it takes the ferry. Also, some of the buses between London and the Netherlands are direct, while others have a bus change in Brussels. Unlike flights, these details aren’t covered clearly on the website and can make your journey a lot more interesting.
My journey took longer because we took the ferry instead of the train, and that then caused me to miss my connecting bus in Brussels. As I said earlier, they don’t care if a scheduled bus will leave before another bus arrives, although Flixbuses rarely leave on time anyway. So instead of a short wait in Brussels, I had nearly two hours to wait for the next bus to Rotterdam.
This was also the journey where the driver gave me a hard time in London for my bag being too big, enforcing the brand new regulation (at that time) for luggage size with Flixbus. That was the only time I’ve ever had a bus anywhere in the world complain about my bags, and truthfully, it’s a primary reason why I prefer to take buses over planes.
That driver wasn’t just crazy with me. A few minutes later, he told a guy he could use the bathroom in the station, and then drove off a moment later, making the guy literally chase after the bus on the streets of London while the guy’s girlfriend and half the passengers were screaming at the driver to stop!
Copenhagen to Stockholm – 9 Hours
Sometimes an amazing travel hack is to book a flight to a city or country near your final destination, and then take a bus the final leg of the journey. I did this back in 2016 when I was trying to get from Edinburgh to Stockholm for the TBEX conference. Direct flights were nearly $200 pounds, but flights to Copenhagen were a mere $25! Copenhagen is 400 miles south of Stockholm, but the bus tickets were only $20 for an overnight bus, which also covers the cost of a hostel (more than $20 in both Copenhagen and Stockholm). So I spent 4 amazing days in Copenhagen before my bus to Stockholm, and ended up saving well over $100!
I do have to mention that the trains in Sweden are seriously luxurious (some of the best I’ve been on) and also much faster than the bus. While they cost a bit more than the bus, I’d highly recommend them as the best way to get around the country.
Amsterdam to Prague – 14 Hours
The other long ride I had with Flixbus in Europe was for TBEX Ostrava in 2018. This one was the most uneventful rides of the bunch. Once again, I opted for the overnight bus and arrived in Prague at 7 a.m., just in time to get some amazing shots of the central square with hardly any tourists in it. In fact, three of the five people in the square were also bloggers headed to TBEX! It really is a small world after all.
Rotterdam to Amsterdam
I’ve also used Flixbus several times for shorter journeys. The train is faster, but the cheapest way to get between Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands is by Flixbus (except maybe Blablacar). For just €5 ($5.50), buses leave about every hour between the two cities. Somehow those journeys always seemed to have the best drivers too. They were crazy funny and friendly. One of them, in particular, had my girlfriend and me in stitches for several minutes as he gave one joke after another, mostly about the toilet and things you could do to the person sitting next to you.
Malpensa to Milan
One other Flixbus in Europe worth mentioning is the regular shuttle from the Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy to the city center. Once again, it’s the cheapest way to commute between the two. Buses run a few times an hour and costs €8 ($8.80). The taxis will try to charge you nearly $100!!!
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Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.