Transport in Europe on the Cheap

When I got back home (Poland) last November 2012, I decided to do some backpacking in random European cities I always wanted to visit as a little girl. These cities were Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Prague in Czech Republic, Oslo in Norway, Berlin in Germany, Brussels in Belgium and Warsaw (with some other smaller villages, towns and cities) in Poland. In order to do it on the cheap I used Couchsurfing (being hosted mostly by natives), took only one return flight (from Berlin Schönefeld to Oslo Rygge) and mostly travelled by trains and buses.

A girl carrying two backpacks one in front of her one on her back
That’s me carrying my two backpacks

In today’s post I would like to share with you some cheap and comfortable means of transport you can use when traveling to these places (Note: I have not been paid for any of those links by any of those mentioned companies).

 #1 Polski Bus (English: Polish Bus)

 Polski Bus is great value inter-city express coach service based in Poland, serving both national and international routes. The company offers cheap fares from just PLN1 (plus PLN 1 booking fee = $0.6).  It operates some of Europe’s most modern, high quality and fuel efficient coaches equipped with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. They serve 19 cities across Poland and Central and Eastern Europe, – including 5 European locations: Berlin, Berlin Schönefeld, Bratislava Prague and Vienna. For more info you can visit their website (available in English).

Polski Bus, red bus
Typical for this company red buses

My experience with Polski Bus:

  • I travelled with Polski Bus a lot, at least 4 times: from Wroclaw to Warsaw and return (price: PLN35 each way = $11) and from Wroclaw to Prague (price: PLN79 for return ticket = $25). 
  • The Wi-Fi didn’t always work properly on my laptop.
  • The staff were incredibly nice and helpful

#2 Eurolines Couches

Eurolines couches travel across Europe from the UK.  They provide very cheap and flexible bus travels from London to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Ireland and beyond. Check out their website for some deals they make every week.

2 backpacks, Eurolines bus and a girl waiting for her bus
Me waiting for my Eurolines service in Amsterdam. I was heading to Brussels

My experience with Eurolines:

I travelled with Eurolines from Amsterdam to Brussels, took me about 4 hours to get there and I paid 20 EURO (20 EURO for the ticket, 3 EURO for service fees and taxes and 5 EURO for my insurance). I booked it last minute but if you do it in advance you can get a ticket even for 3 EURO. 

#3 Ryanair Flights 

I don’t like flying with Raynair if I can be honest.  This company has one of the cheapest flights available when flying within Europe but the way the customers are treated is unacceptable. They want to get every penny out of you, the staff are unpleasant and never smile. Moreover, there are so many extra payments hidden you don’t even realize when booking your tickets with them. However, my Taiwanese host in Prague found a great deal for me, a return ticket from Berlin to Rygge for $77 (the total price). At that time Ryanair had awesome deals on flight from/to Berlin, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Poland, Spain and Italy – all below $80 per person for a return ticket.

Plane and the sky
I am not keen on flying, but this flight was cheap, quick and pretty nice

#Arnold vans 

Arnold is a small but fast-growing company picking up people from their homes and taking them directly to the given address in Germany, Holland and Belgium. There are maximum of 8-10 people in the van, the drivers are amazingly friendly and the prices are pretty low. Check out their website for more info.

A van called Arnold and a guy standing next to it
Mietek – our driver, an awesome pal!

My experience with Arnold:

  • I paid 50 Euro ($66) for being picked up from my flat in Poland and safely taken to my host’s flat in Amsterdam.
  • I had a lot of fun with the drivers and other Polish people traveling to Rotterdam and other smaller Dutch cities.
  • It took us 8 hours to get to my destination.
  • There were 2 long stops on the way (could be more if we needed). 

Some transport tips: 

  •  In Amsterdam you can walk almost everywhere, there is no need to take any buses, trains or taxis unless you try to get to Amsterdam Amstel to catch your Eurolines transport.  The ticket costs 2,60 EURO and it takes about 25 minutes (a few stops from the central station).
  • If you want to get from Brussels to Bruges the return ticket costs 9.90 EURO and you can get it at the North station (takes 54 minutes to get there). The trains leave every 15 minutes, there are 2 trains per 1h every weekend.
Subway ticket in Amsterdam Amstel
Getting my subway to Amsterdam Amstel
  • It is much cheaper to book your flight from Berlin Schönefeld (easy to get to by U-Bahn – Berlin metro) to Oslo central airport, not the Rygge one as it takes up to 1 hour to get from Oslo Rygge to central bus station in Oslo city center and the tickets are dead expensive (240 Norwegian crowns with student discount for a ride = $43!, operated by Unibuss Ekspress).
  • Getting travel insurance is always recommended!
Polish trains and train station in Poland
Polish trains

What’s your favorite budget Europe transport? Share with me in comments.


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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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43 thoughts on “Transport in Europe on the Cheap”

  1. Hello, thanks for the travel tips. Because Poland ist on my list for travelling, Polskibus was a great advice. And you’re right about Ryanair :) .

  2. Great blog Agness! Just wondering how safe Polski buses are, the trip from Berlin is costing me Euro 7 compared to Euro 29 by Bahn? Any thoughts or comments, does cheap mean safety issues in this case.

    I have never traveled eastern europe so kinda skeptical

  3. Hello etrampers and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experiences.
    The airport in Wrocław Poland is beautiful, but so many flights are at difficult times, so there is a mass of wasted time and frustration also I love to experience the scenery as I am travelling so the Polskibus is brilliant and also sociable and far preferable to being a passenger in a car. It is so easy to work on the downstairs table, sleep or catch-up on your YouTube videos or sit on the front upstairs seat to admire the views, for the best choice of seat you need to catch a very early bus.
    The Polskibus routes have now been extended, however I wish that they would publish a map of all their routes. I found this website/blog whilst planning a Wrocław to Brussels trip to see my 96 year old uncle.
    I have just returned from a trip from Wrocław to Berlin (where I visited the Innotrans Exhibition, which was about all forms of public transport, which I am a huge fan of) recently Wrocław to Krakow and then to Warsaw. I felt some reluctance to leave the bus as it was so comfortable.
    At an exhibition in Hannover I met a Scottish Malaysian Ambassador who Ambassador said that he studied with Sir Brian Suter the creator of the Polskibus. Amazingly Sir Brian started work as a bus conductor and became hugely motivated by buses, his inspirational life story is well worth reading.
    The Polskibus seems to be a flagship company despite starting at the beginning of the recession, having WiFi and also lots of electrical sockets was a huge attraction.
    I agree with etrampers in that if you can organise flexible work and use todays amazing technology you can have an amazing lifestyle, especially when you stay at the very friendly hostels.

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