Travelling around Europe may seem quite daunting at first, especially as there are so many wonderful places to go. However, most countries throughout Europe have developed with tourism in mind, meaning you will find the infrastructure in place which helps both travellers and those living there. If you’re wondering how to get from one city to the next, how to travel between European countries, or just how to see some of the rural areas then keep reading. Here you’ll find some of the best ways to travel around Europe and this is based on my experience of living and travelling all over the continent, including getting the train, driving, flying and even sleeping on overnight buses and night trains.
This article has been written by Mike Clegg who has lived in Europe most of his life. Mike has visited and travelled between a large number of countries in Europe and has done so using transport options such as below. You can read more about him below and on his bio.
Factors to consider when choosing your Europe mode of transportation
When deciding how to travel around Europe, there are several factors to consider. One of the most important factors is your budget. Some modes of transportation, such as flying and sometimes the train, can be more expensive than others.
Another factor to consider is the distance you will be travelling. For shorter distances, a train or bus may be a more practical option, while for longer distances, flying may be the best option. You will want to consider the amount of time you have for your trip. If you have limited time, flying may be the best option as it will get you to your destination quickly.
Best ways to travel around Europe
1. Take a bus
A very cheap way to travel around Europe, including between cities, or across borders is using the bus. You’ll find various bus companies available including Flixbus and Regiojet which offer very cheap and competitive fares.
This type of travel is good for medium distances, such as up to 12 hours, as for longer periods you’ll probably get restless and tired of sitting.
2. Catch a train
Europe has great transport connections and this includes the railway. You will find you can get around most of Europe this way. This method of transport will often be quicker than driving or getting a bus, but slower than flying. Benefits of using the trains also include that you can walk around and stretch your legs more easily. Overnight trains are sometimes an option too.
For those wanting to visit many destinations in Europe then consider an Interrail (European residents) or Eurail (non-European residents) pass. These can (depending on your option) provide unlimited travel which is great for multi-destination trips.
Other good sites for planning your train travel is Omio and Trainline. Omio also provides other transport options for you to consider too.
3. Take a plane
Often the fastest and easiest way to travel around Europe is by plane. In Europe, you’ll find heaps of budget airlines which make travelling this way that much more affordable. The cost of these fares can even be as low as £10 if you manage to book early or catch a deal. We did this between London and Luxembourg using Ryanair.
As this would be a short-haul flight you will need to check the baggage allowances as often such flights only include hand luggage. If you do need to buy checked luggage this might add 50% or more to the cost of your flight. You should also always read the rules for luggage to avoid any surprise baggage fees at the airport.
You can start searching for your flights via the Skyscanner tool below:
A few budget airlines to consider include:
- Wizz Air
4. Rent a car or camper
Renting a car or camper can sometimes be the most expensive option, but will give you the freedom to explore the more rural areas in Europe.
A car or camper can also be a quick option as there can often be less waiting around. You’ll also be able to pack it to the brim, taking as much luggage as you like. They are also great for families and groups.
Before renting a vehicle make sure your driving license would be valid in the countries you are visiting. You should also read official sites on road laws. Such as what is the speed limit, do you drive on the left or right, do pedestrians have the right of way etc.
Another tip is to take the insurance waiver option. This means that you have to pay a little extra, but should there be an accident you’ll not have to pay an excess (depending on the terms).
5. Go on a tour or cruise
For those that would like a trip where you can sit back and leave the planning to others then consider booking a tour or cruise. There are various tour companies you could consider such as Princess Cruises, Viking River Cruises, G Adventures and many more. These often come with an itinerary full of fantastic destinations and places you’ll visit. Here is an example of a Europe multi-destination tour:
Tours might be within the mainland such as along rivers or using roads, whilst other tours might include travelling on a cruise ship along the Mediterranean or Baltic Sea. Click to see cruise options.
Where are the best places to book Europe transport online?
Here are some recommendations for where to book your Europe transport:
- Direct – Book through national and local services such as nationalrail.co.uk (UK), italiarail.com (Italy) etc
- Omio – Use Omio which helps you to find the best travel routes using buses, trains and flights as well as to book your tickets too if you wish
- Trainline – Use Trainline to find and purchase rail and bus travel across 45 countries
- Flixbus – A great service linking 2,500 destinations between 34 countries
- KAYAK, Skyscanner or Google Flights – For search for flight connections
- easyJet – For flights between many destinations in Europe
- Interrail (European residents) or Eurail (non-European residents) for train passes
Is travelling between destinations in Europe expensive?
Travelling between destinations in Europe is generally quite cheap as there are lots of options available. Flights, such as through easyJet, Ryanair and other budget airlines can be very low cost. Buses and trains can also be very cheap, especially if you book in advance. However, it also depends on how you want to travel and where you’re going as cheap flights or cheap buses might not always be an option.
Which transport method is the cheapest in Europe?
There are many variables involved in estimating what’s cheapest. To work out the cheapest way to travel in Europe consider these things:
- Do you have lots of luggage?
- Are you travelling over the weekend?
- How many of you are there?
- Are you travelling during peak season (ie summer/national holidays)?
- Are you limited by time?
These are all points that would affect which would be the cheapest and best option. For example, a family might find hiring a car is cheaper than paying for multiple plane fares, while a budget traveller travelling light, might find flying hand luggage only, or taking a bus is a better option.
Which transport method is the quickest in Europe?
Often the quickest way to travel in Europe (depending on the distance) is:
- Taking a train
- Taking a bus
But you should also consider these things when deciding which method is quickest:
- The distance you are travelling
- Check-in time at the airports, as well as passport control and collecting any baggage
- Whether you could be subject to delays on the road
- How many stops you may have en-route
- How much waiting around will there be, such as on tours etc
To plan your Europe transport you could use a service such as Omio which searches routes and prices across over 800 transport providers. Using this you’ll be able to get a good idea of prices and the time it’ll take to get from one destination to another.
How do you find the best accommodation when travelling around Europe?
When planning a trip to Europe you’ll find a huge variety of accommodation available, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. We’d recommend trying to book as central as possible when visiting, or at least close to a transport connection such as a subway station. When we say “central” we mean close to the main attractions, or Old Towns/areas. This will help as you should be able to get around your destination a lot easier and see the best attractions.
Below is an interactive map that will help you start your search for accommodation. You can use the filters and other options to adjust your search.
Is taking an overnight train or bus in Europe safe?
Travelling overnight can be a great way to save on accommodation and travel between destinations whilst you sleep. Getting trains or buses this way should be perfectly safe but we would recommend you are protective of your belongings just in case there are any opportunists travelling at the same time. Therefore make sure your most important possessions, such as your passport and money, are in a hard to get to spot on your body, such as a tight/inside pocket.
Travel route ideas for Europe
Europe has so many beautiful destinations to explore, and there are many travel routes that are worth considering. Here are a few ideas…
- A northern loop with places such as Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki.
- A Balkan route covering Dubrovnik, Kotor, and Mostar
- A central Europe route including Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest
- A west Europe route including London, Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam
- A Baltic route with Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki
Here are a few articles that you may find helpful to plan different routes:
- Balkans Multi Destination Trip – Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Nordic Multi-Destination Trip – Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki
- Baltic States Multi-Destination Trip: Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn
- Multi Destination Trips – Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest
- 6 Top Places in Europe for First Time Visitors
Or have a look through all our Europe travel articles for more ideas and inspiration.
Best time to travel around Europe
The best time to travel around Europe will depend on your preferences and what kind of experiences you are looking for.
The summer months are the most popular time to travel, as the weather is warm and many attractions are open. Many of the best Europe beach destinations are also perfect around this time allowing you to relax on beautiful beaches and enjoy the sun. However, the summer months can also be crowded and expensive, especially in more popular destinations.
The off-season, which includes the fall and winter months, is often a more affordable time to travel, and popular destinations can be less crowded. The exception would be around Christmas and New Year’s Eve which are also very popular in some cities, but these are definitely worth experiencing. Read about some of the best cities for Christmas markets in Europe.
Other highlights in the winter are ski resorts and you’ll find some incredible ski destinations all over the continent. These can also be quite pricey so keep that in mind, although if you like winter sports it’s definitely worth it.
These are 5 of the best ways to travel around Europe, allowing you to explore and see the continent in a variety of ways. Which way works best will depend on how much time you have, the kind of trip that you’re going on and other factors but we hope this points you in the right direction.
Want more tips for Europe?
Then consider reading our Guide to Travelling in Europe for the First Time.