When I was planning my first Europe-wide trip, I really struggled on finding an answer on how to travel around Europe. Now that I’ve been to Europe three times – I have tried everything! I have traveled by plane, train, bus, and even ferry in order to travel between countries. Read on for the pros and cons of different travel methods!
Travel Europe by Airplane
Travelling by airplane is soooo fast, but traveling by airplane isn’t actually my first choice unless I am trying to travel long distances (think London -> Croatia), or I’m short on travel time (think 1 week trip vs 1 month trip). It will also get you where you need to go fast, and sometimes for an awesome price! But be careful because there are trade offs- some budget airlines have tight restrictions, hidden costs, or are far from main cities.
PROS OF PLANE TRAVEL IN EUROPE:
- Very Fast
- Can be inexpensive for longer distance travel
CONS OF PLANE TRAVEL IN EUROPE:
- Can be expensive depending on the day
- Typically there is a weight limit on bags
- Can be squishy
- There can be a lot of hidden costs added in for cheaper airlines (Ryanair)
- The cheaper airports are typically farther from the city (extra cost to transport)
Travelling Europe by Train
If I was rich, I would travel everywhere by train. I absolutely love looking out the window, it is pretty fast, and there aren’t really many restrictions with taking the train! Train stations are usually right in the city (Amsterdam is the most convenient train station I’ve come across 🙂 ) and it’s just overall an awesome and classic experience! Train travel can get pretty pricey though and adds up quickly – which is the biggest downside!
TRAIN TRAVEL PROS:
- Fast (won’t get stuck in traffic)
- More comfortable (usually theres a lot of space on trains)
- Typically no restrictions on number of bags and weight
- Train stations are usually located in the centre of cities
- Usually theres a dining cart on board if you get hungry (at an extra cost)
CONS OF TRAIN TRAVEL IN EUROPE:
- Train travel can be expensive (depends on the route, country, etc.)
- Finding a place to store your bags on a train can be difficult if its a full train
*If you are looking to travel by train, a popular thing to do is invest in a Eurail pass. Definitely do your research though – sometimes it can be cheaper to book each train individually, but the Eurail pass is definitely waaay more worry free.
Travel Europe by Bus
Traveling by bus is my main choice when deciding how to travel Europe for an upcoming trip. I usually compare prices of bus vs train (because I do prefer train but…. I have limited funds), and most of the time the bus is usually the cheapest option. To me, the pros and cons are balanced – it’s within my price range, no baggage limit, and I can still look out the window. And I can deal with the cons because they aren’t that bad (in my opinion) and nothing in travel is going to be perfect anyway!
PROS OF BUS TRAVEL:
- Typically no restrictions on the number of bags and weight (check with bus company though)
CONS OF BUS TRAVEL:
- Can be slow & semi-unpredictable (prone to being stuck in traffic)
- Bus stations can be located near the city, but some can be semi-far
- A lot of buses only run at certain times, or on certain days
- Limited airflow (it can get stuffy in a bus)
- You have to be prepared to bring all snacks in advance!
Travel by Ferry
When planning my first Europe trip, I was SO stuck on figuring out how to get from Scotland to Ireland, and how to get from Ireland to France. Planes were so expensive at the time I was traveling, but I really wanted to visit Ireland and didn’t want to cut it out of my itinerary! Cue the ferry. A lot of travelers overlook taking the ferry, but it’s really an awesome option to explore if you’re trying to get across an ocean!
PROS OF TRAVELING EUROPE BY FERRY:
- If you book an overnight ferry, you can save money on a room for that night
- Usually no baggage limits
- Relaxing, and room to move around
- A unique way to travel with cool views
- Typically budget-friendly (you don’t have to book a room, even if it’s an overnight ferry – and you’re okay sleeping on a random couch)
- You can combine ferry passes with train passes for a deal
- They have food on board if you forget to pack some!
TRAVEL BY FERRY CONS:
- Sometimes it can be pricey (especially if you book a private room)
- Usually ferry stations are from the city center (because they’re on the coast)
- It can take a long time to get from one point to another – traveling by ferry can be slow!
*The only ferry company I have traveled with is Stenaline. I’ve traveled with them three times and never had a bad experience!
*A popular choice is to travel through canals and waterways by river ferry as well – I don’t know much about this option but wanted to mention it anyway
Traveling With a Tour Company
If you decide to travel Europe with a tour company, they basically do everything for you. Some travelers might love this, others might not! It takes a lot of the guessing work and stresses out of travel – they’ll tell you where to be and at one time, they know which train to take and how to navigate the bus stations. It can be some traveler’s dream, but then again for me, the freedom and figuring things out for yourself is what can make travel exciting! So it really depends on what you want out of your trip.
PROS OF TRAVELING EUROPE WITH A TOUR COMPANY:
- They plan everything for you
- They tell you where to be and when
- Most problems are their problems to figure out
- Same bus/transportation method, same seat, etc.
- Group environment – make friends easily and have fun!
CONS OF A TOUR COMPANY:
- Very limited flexibility on activities and travel times
- Can have hidden/extra costs – usually you pay for the base tour, and there is always stuff you can add in – plus they expect a tip for different crew members at the end of the tour (which is usually not unreasonable!). But make sure to factor this into your budget. Because of this, this option can be a bit more expensive (cant choose activity company, etc.)
There are so many ways to travel around Europe, you just have to pick the way that works for you! Usually, my trips look like a mix of all these methods – it can just take a lot more effort in planning (but it’s worth it for my budget and I love researching travel :).
Have you travelled Europe before using any of these methods? What is your favourite way to travel around Europe?
KEEP READING –
Hey! I’m Kat. Based in Alberta, Canada I love to travel to the Rockies and explore new places around the world. Follow along on my adventures and find inspiration and tips for your own travels.