Travel through Europe without taking a single plane!
By Sophia Moss (follow Sophia on Twitter: @EndlessMoss)
Many people are put off the idea of travelling for two reasons: A) they think it’ll be too expensive and they just don’t have the money, B) they don’t like planes and they think this will limit their travel options. One of the best things about living in the UK is that we are so close to tons of different, exciting (and often cheap) European countries. Even better, most of these countries share the same landmass, so you can actually travel around Europe very easily without ever having to take a single plane.
I just came back from a trip where I travelled around Europe for a month without flying and I can personally vouch for how much money you’ll save whilst gaining new insights into the places you are visiting. If you’re looking for cheap alternatives to flying and you want to travel Europe without breaking the bank then read on as I show you how I did it and how much it cost
#1 | London to Cologne
If you want to travel from London to Germany via bus then Cologne is your best bet. There is a daily bus which runs from London to Cologne operated via Megabus and it’ll get you there in about 9 hours. Megabus isn’t as comfortable as some other European bus companies and you’ll have to remember to pack water and snacks because chances are you won’t get any stops, but if you don’t want to fly it’s a great way to gain access to Germany and beyond.
Time: 9 Hours
#2 | Cologne to Berlin
There is a great network of buses and trains all over Europe and chances are there are many plane free options for the destinations you want to visit. Berlin is a great place for anyone who is travelling on a budget; you can get cheap beer, free walking tours which will help you gain a deeper understanding of Berlin’s culture and history. There are loads of iconic free things to see like the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall Memorial.
Time: 10 hours
#3 | Berlin to Prague
Berlin is pretty well connected and it’s very easy to travel via bus to other destinations in Germany as well as to Vienna, Prague and beyond. Prague is an awesome location for budget travellers for many reasons: the exchange rate is far better because they don’t use the Euro so you can get cheap food and drink – for example – hot wine for about £1. It’s also so beautiful that you could spend days just wondering around and soaking up the scenery.
Time: 4/5 hours
#4 | Prague to Budapest
Anyone who thinks Europe is expensive has clearly never travelled to Budapest. Eastern European countries are a great option for budget travellers because a lot of them use their own currencies so the exchange rate is good, they are rich in history and architecture and accommodation is ridiculously affordable. I stayed in a six person hostel that was two minutes away from a central underground station in Budapest and I paid (I kid you not) about £5 a night!
Time: 7/8 hours
#5 | Budapest to Brasov
I was actually quite nervous about getting the train from Budapest into Romania because I’d read so many things on TripAdvisor which were saying the only safe way to do it was book a sleeper carriage in first class. As a budget traveller I just wasn’t willing to spend over £100 for a train journey and so I booked the cheapest possible option i.e. a seat in second class. Despite the warnings it was absolutely fine. The toilets aren’t exactly ideal and I’m not sure if anyone actually uses the restaurant car so you’ll have to bring some snacks but it was a safe and comfortable (if sleepless) journey.
Time: 14/15 hours
#6 | Brasov to Bucharest
I took one of those mini van style buses from Brasov train station to Bucharest. Now the price was cheap (although it’s about the same as the train) and the journey was quick but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you take this route unless you are really good at reading maps. The journey itself was fine if a little cold but the drivers dropped me off on some random street in Bucharest and as they didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Romanian I literally had no idea where I was. Local transport links in Bucharest are pretty good and their tube system especially is pretty straight forward so if you use this route try and see if they can drop you off near the underground and take it from there.
You tend to hear bad things about Bucharest and it’s definitely not the most beautiful city in Europe, but it is a fun, affordable destination which doesn’t seem to be nearly as dangerous as you may have heard.
Price: Around £25
Time: 3 ½ hours
#7 | Bucharest to Sofia
There are daily trains which run between Bucharest to Sofia and second class is pretty affordable. One important thing to note though is that the second class carriages on this train don’t have charging points and there is no on board restaurant so if you want to save as much money as possible and you don’t want to spend more on a first class seat charge all your devices, bring some food and beer and sit back and enjoy some pretty spectacular views of the Bulgarian countryside.
Bulgaria is one of the most affordable places in Europe but for some crazy reason it doesn’t often feature in the destination guides. Sofia is a great city which is rich in history, it has a diverse range of architecture from Roman times all the way to the post-Communism era, and it has loads of well located and super friendly hostels.
Price: Around £25
Time: 11/12 hours
So that’s how you can get from England to Bulgaria without taking a single plane! From there you could make your way to Greece or Istanbul via bus or if you want to get back to western Europe you can get an Ardur Tur bus from Sofia which can take you to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and even all the way back to Germany! There are loads of bus and train routes all over Europe and beyond which can help you make the most out of your time and money so don’t let your budget or fear of planes stop you planning the trip of a lifetime.