Traveling around Europe is extremely popular. Not only do many people from outside Europe come to the continent to explore, people from one European country still have so much that they can see by jumping in a plane or onto a train and heading around this vast and fascinating continent.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can see such a huge difference in cultures, lifestyles and even climates, all of which are relatively easy to access once you are in Europe. In fact, you could see most of Europe without having to board a plane, making it popular for people who struggle with air travel too.
Perhaps surprisingly, Europe is actually the world’s second smallest continent. This can only be a good thing if you’re planning on traveling across it, and means less distance to get from one city to another. One of the smallest in size, Europe is actually one of the most densely populated continents meaning you are never far from a large city or interesting area to explore. So what are the best ways to get around Europe? What are the main ways people hop from country to country?
Airplane Travel Around Europe
Besides a few islands such as the UK and Ireland, Greek islands and other mediterranean islands, there isn’t much of Europe that can’t be reached on land. Even the UK can be reached on the Eurostar, so there is little need to take to the skies if you don’t want to. However, there is a very valid argument that airlines can be the best way to travel around Europe, especially if you are traveling light. If you have a lot of baggage to take with you then this can quickly become expensive, but if you are able to get away with hold baggage sizes then you can find some absolute bargain prices on airlines across Europe. Airlines such as Ryanair, the Irish airline renowned for their crazy prices, Norwegian Air and WizzAir all offer some wonderful prices for flights.
To get the best deals you can look to travel on less conventional days (Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be cheap for flights) and, most importantly, be flexible about when you are going. By doing this you can get flights that cost as little as 10 USD, an absolutely crazy amount. Avoid spending at the airport and having to take luggage and you will save even more money. If you are super flexible, you can even be relaxed about your next destination, meaning you can work through a list going to wherever is cheapest to travel to.
It isn’t all about cost, and airline travel is great for a variety of reasons. If you are in a hurry, you may not have the time that some of the other transportation requires. People fly around Europe all the time in order to conduct both business and pleasure activities, and the flights tend to be fairly reliable and fast. One side of Europe to the other would only take four to five hours, so city hopping is even faster. It is much like taking internal flights across America.
Trains Around Europe
Although different train operators run in different countries across Europe, there are some very clever alliances and schemes which mean it is super easy to hop from country to country via railways. In fact, some of the rail journeys across Europe are nothing short of iconic due to the amazing scenery. A lot of the train routes go through countryside and astonishing scenery that you otherwise wouldn’t get to see easily.
There are fast trains across Europe which can travel at speeds of up to 140 mph and allow you to get to your destination quickly, but there are also slow trains designed to be an enjoyable experience as much as they are to get you from A to B. Train journeys in Switzerland, Austria and Scandinavia are renowned for their beauty. A great way to jump from place to place.
Europe offers a scheme called “interrail” and it has become a common saying to “go interrailing” across Europe. The scheme is like a train pass for most of the railways in Europe and tickets can be used either for continuous travel (using the trains every day) or for a certain number of days out of a month, for instance. This means you can use the trains for say 10 days out of 21, meaning plenty of opportunities to stay over in new locations for a couple of days. This is a very cost effective way of doing things, made even more cost effective if you use some of their night trains. These give you the chance to sleep in some really nice carriages, and can save you money on hotels. It is always nice to wake up in a new location, ready to explore.
Buses and Cars
Bus travel is a very popular way to get around Europe. The roads are relatively simple and many countries are only a couple of hours drive apart. In central, eastern and southern europe you can quickly and easily hop from country to country on some very affordable bus schemes.
Just like plane travel, it helps to be as flexible as possible and if you don’t mind the times at which you are traveling then the prices will be even better. This is a great way to see the sights too, and some impressive scenery can be passed without the stress of having to be the driver.
There are bus pass schemes for students and depending on your age and how long you plan to be traveling, some companies offer bus travel passes to allow you to enjoy locations on either a flexible or set itinerary. Buses travel all across Europe, you can get a bus from London to Barcelona if you wish, and though it isn’t a fast way of getting around, it can be affordable and enjoyable.
Car travel is of course an option due to the roads, but it can be stressful. If you are traveling as a group, splitting the cost and driving responsibilities on a rented vehicle can be great fun, and for some people driving on the Autobahn or through the Swiss alps is a dream. If you enjoy driving, this could be a great option. If you don’t, there are plenty of other choices.
Some choose to hitchhike around Europe. This is something that is possible, but requires both caution and research. Some countries require you to have ID or a special application to hitchhike, and in some countries it is more dangerous. It is certainly the cheapest way, but it can be risky, and there is no guarantee of getting a ride.
Europe is a fascinating part of the world. Within just a couple of hours you can go from snowy alps to roasting hot beaches. There is so much to explore, and with such ease thanks to all of the above methods. The truth is you may use a combination of all the various travel methods, but having options can make your trip both enjoyable and affordable.