European buses are more complicated than European trains: Europe's a big place, and each country has its own bus system.* Enter Busabout
, a hop on hop off European bus service that's a terrific multi-country European bus resource: Busabout is like a European bus tour, but you can direct your own itinerary.
A flexible "hop-on, hop-off" private European bus network, Busabout's service is meant for backpackers and young people and covers 41 cool cities in 11 western and central European countries via 15 different European bus passes. "Extra" Greek island tours and Morocco camping can also be had from Busabout.
How Busabout Works
The buses have travel loops, and you can stay on the bus for the duration of your trip (the bus stops in a city each night), or choose to jump off the bus at one of their drop-off spots, cruise around for a couple of days, and jump back on the next bus coming through at one of Busabout's pick-up locations, which are usually at or near Busabout's recommended accommodations.
Busabout will hook you up with hand picked accommodations if you like -- budget hotels, hostels or campgrounds. Campgrounds provide cabins and linens.
Busabout Things to Consider
You'll buy a Busabout travel pass ranging from two weeks to six months, which can be done on the website and can be rearranged on the bus. You can follow the bus's itinerary or be utterly flexible (by hopping and off) with the security of knowing you have transportation, no matter what. Very reassuring!
A sample price for a "Flexitrip" pass is $509USD -- prices can go on up to over $1000, depending on how far you want to go and how often you want to jump on and off. Keep an eye on the Busabout specials -- terrific early bird sales pop up each spring, for instance.
Busabout Things to Remember
The bus doesn't wait for you when it stops to let folks off - it's on a mission. If you choose to hop off when the bus stops at a predetermined destination, remember the bus only stops long enough for folks to jump on or off, so don't count on taking an hour of sightseeing and then reboarding.
If you stay on the bus, you'll arrive at the night's destination and get back on the bus in the morning (around 8:00 a.m.) and head for the next destination (hopefully having done some cruising around in the city the night before). The bus does stop every few hours for bathroom breaks and eats, aside from its designated drop-off spots.
*This is not a point-to-point service - you've bought a pass for a tour. If you just need a bus ticket, try Eurolines.
The Busabout season runs from May through October and buses operate in large clockwise loops around the network, with departures every two days.
Busabout Bus Amenities
Each bus has a guide as well as a driver. From the website: "The guide will give you loads of practical information about each city, assist with onward travel and accommodation reservations or just answer any of those questions that your guide book wasn't able to."
Each bus guide has a handheld computer to change reservations for you on the spot if you want to book a seat on a different bus or arrange for Busabout's extras, like a Busabout trip to Greece.
If you have the dinero, these European bus trips are a great way to see Europe and special spots periodically offered (like Morocco and Greece). If you choose to stay with the bus for your trip, you're taken care of as far as accommodations and transportation go. If you want to do a little independent exploring, you'll never be stranded, provided you don't stray too far from your pick up spot. Have a great trip!
"Travelling is like flirting with life. It's like saying, 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.'"
--Lisa St. Aubin de Teran