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WHAT IS THE CHEAPEST MODE OF TRANSPORTATION IN EUROPE?

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  • Post last modified:February 18, 2024
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Traveling around Europe can be expensive. Airline tickets, high-speed trains, overnight trains, and ferries eat into your limited (and precious) travel budget.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around Europe on a budget. There are tons of options for navigating Europe without breaking the bank with the sharing economy, new bus options, discounted train passes, and lots of budget airlines.
Here are the best ways to travel around Europe on a budget:

cheapest mode of transportation in Europe


Traveling Europe By Flixbus
Over the last few years, a new company has entered the market and changed the bus system in Europe. German-based FlixBus acquired Megabus Europe and has routes all around the continent. Prices start as low as 5 EUR, and their buses include Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, free baggage, and comfy seats. They’re comparable to Megabus in pretty much every respect (Megabus still runs in the UK).
FlixBus quickly became my favorite non-train way to get across Europe cheaply. It’s not fancy, but it’s the cheapest way to get around.
Traveling Europe By Busabout
Busabout is a hop-on/hop-off bus service. You can get on and off along one of their set routes. You can buy tickets that let you travel their whole network with many stops. They have short passes for trips of 5-12 days and passes that last 6 months.
When you consider the soft benefits of a guide, the day trips included in your pass, and the ease of meeting people, Busabout becomes price comparable to trains and flights (though still more expensive than a regular public bus). The only downside to Busabout is that if you want to visit a city, not on one of their routes, you have to make your way there at an added cost.
Traveling Europe By Budget Airline
One of the cheapest ways to travel long-distance in Europe is by budget airline. These airlines are hugely prolific on the continent, and competition has led to cheap fares. It’s not uncommon to find flights for as little as 10 EUR!
Just remember that budget airlines make most of their money through fees. They are very strict about baggage limits or and many will ding you if you forget to print your boarding pass. Don’t expect any complimentary drinks or meals either. But if you follow the rules and know what to expect, you can save a ton of money!
Some of the budget airlines to check for cheap flights in Europe are:

  • Ryanair
  • Wizz Air
  • Norwegian Air
  • Easyjet
  • Eurowings

Traveling Europe With A Eurail Pass
I love traveling by train: sitting in a big seat, relaxing with a book, and watching the stunning landscape. It’s more comfortable than a bus and much less stressful than air travel. And the European rail system is one of the best and most extensive in the world.
If you’re traveling by train, it’s hard to beat them on price and convenience for short city-to-city travel. For longer journeys (overnight, between countries, or rides requiring a high-speed line, like Paris to Bordeaux or Berlin to Munich), trains tend to be very expensive.
If you plan to travel around Europe and don’t want to fly, getting a rail pass is your best money-saving travel option. Your cost per trip will be a lot lower than if you were to buy these tickets separately.
Traveling Europe Using Blablacar
The rise of the sharing economy has allowed people to hitch a ride with locals going their way, and BlaBlaCar is the reigning king of this service. It’s hugely popular and widespread in Europe, and I’ve used this service many times. It lets you rideshare with people who have extra space in their car. You find a ride, they agree to take you, and off you go. You have to pay a small fee, which essentially covers the gas. You can find rides for as little as 5 EUR.
This is the BEST paid way to get around Europe because you get to meet a local, have a friendly conversation, save money, and get to where you’re going faster. It’s available in close to 20 countries in Europe. While BlaBlaCar may not always be cheaper than the bus (FlixBus can be super cheap!), it’s usually way faster and way more interesting!
Traveling Europe By Rental Car/Campervan
If you’re traveling around a single country or small region of Europe, renting a car or campervan might be worth the price — especially if you can split the costs with someone. Car rentals can be found for as little as 25 EUR per day, making it a very affordable way to explore. While gas can be expensive, the border-free Schengen Area makes multi-country trips a breeze.
Campervans are particularly popular in countries like Iceland, Scotland, and Norway since those destinations offer many hiking and camping opportunities. You can find campervans for as little as 60 EUR a day — super affordable when split with a travel partner! Use the app “park4night” to find free (and cheap) overnight parking all around Europe.
Note: Many countries in Europe require foreign drivers to have an International Driving Permit. You can get one in your home country before arriving for around 20 EUR. (It’s essentially just a copy of your license in other languages).
Hitchhiking
The best way to travel to Europe cheaply is to not pay for it at all! Hitching is quite common — and a lot safer than you think. I’ve met tons of travelers who have done it without incident. I traveled this way to Bulgaria and Iceland without any problems.
Remember that it’s essential to use your head when hitchhiking. Always trust your instinct and use common sense. Keep your valuables on you if you forget your bag in the car, and never hesitate to text a friend or family member with the license plate before you get in. Write your destination on a sign and look presentable. That will help you find a ride faster.