Best Way to Travel Europe
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria
Europe, with its vast history and picturesque cities and towns, is a popular destination for many people: 12.5 million Americans visited the continent in 2016. Indeed, from Stone Henge to the Mona Lisa, to the Acropolis, history comes alive there in a way that few North Americans can comprehend since our nations are still relatively young.
Whether you're a youth out on a backpacking adventure or a family of four that wants to give their kids the trip of a lifetime, we're sure that you'll find our guide to the best transportation and accommodations for traveling through Europe helpful.
- 1 Getting Around in Europe
- 2 Finding a Place to Stay While in Europe
- 3 Comments
Getting Around in Europe
The great thing about traveling from country to country in Europe is that it is a bit like going from state to state or province to province here in North America. It's smaller surface area also decreases the amount of time you have to spend traveling.
Within Europe, you have a choice between traveling by train, riding on a bus, renting a car, of flying on a budget airline. Which one you choose depends on how much time you have, your budget, and your personal preference.
Ride on the Train
Traveling around Europe by rail can be a magical experience, especially for North Americans whose experience with trains is quite limited. The rail system in Europe is extremely well developed, and you can get almost anywhere on the continent you want to go this way.
Best for: Anyone who has enough time to spare for a leisurely trip.
Pros: Train travel is one of the least restrictive forms of public transportation, train stations are conveniently located in the center of towns, and trains provide roomier and more comfortable seating than buses or aircraft. Also, you get to view the most beautiful scenery on the continent during your journey.
Cons: Train travel is slower over longer distances, and the tickets can be costly.
How to Book Seats on a Train
You can book online at the following websites:
Busing is an economical way to get around Europe; in fact, riding the bus about the cheapest transportation, you can get. However, buses are very slow and quite uncomfortable for long trips. It's best to use buses in conjunction with another form of transportation, such as a train. Most bus schedules revolve around when the next train arrives and are there to ferry people from the train station to other points of interest, such as hilly cities, that trains cannot get to.
Best for: Train travelers as adjutant transport to areas not accessible by train, or people on a tight budget, such as young people traveling through Europe on a shoestring budget.
Pros: The price of a bus ticket is very low.
Cons: Buses are very slow, noisy, and uncomfortable for long-distance travel, and sorting through bus schedules can get confusing, as there is no central source for this information.
How to Book a Bus Ticket
The following companies run long-distance buses in Europe, and you can book online at their websites:
Rent a Car
If you really want to get off the beaten path, there is nothing like renting a personal automobile that you can use to tool around the countryside in. However, car rentals can get expensive, especially when you consider all of the extra fees that you have to pay.
Best for: People who want the convenience and the flexibility a personal car affords and those who want to explore the European countryside and visit the tiny towns and vistas not accessible by train or bus.
Pros: Convenience, flexibility, and the ability to go places other forms of transport cannot reach.
Cons: Renting a car can get expensive and younger drivers have to pay more still. Also, people under the age of 21 won't be able to rent a car at all.
How to Rent a Car
You can either book through the major car rental companies' websites directly or book through a centralized car rental booking website such as AutoEurope.com. AutoEurope.com searches the rental car companies for the cheapest rate. You can also use general travel websites such as Expedia.com as well.
Fly on a Budget Airline
Air travel is the fastest way to get from point A to point B, there's no question about that, so if time is critical for you, then you'll want to travel by plane. Budget airlines have been popping up in Europe since the market was deregulated and many times, you can book a one-way ticket for as low as $20 a person. Of course, these airlines don't include much in your fare beyond a seat on the plane, and if you have a lot of luggage, you'll pay additional fees for the extra weight.
Best for: People who are traveling through Europe for a limited time or a tight schedule.
Pros: Air travel is the fastest form of transportation.
Cons: Budget airlines charge extra for just about everything, airport security is a hassle, and the flight can be uncomfortably cramped, although not as much as riding on a bus for hours.
How to Book a Flight
The two major budget airlines in Europe are Ryanair and EasyJet so you can go to their websites to book directly from them. Alternatively, you can use any of the major travel booking websites:
Finding a Place to Stay While in Europe
Whether you are just looking for a bed to sleep in during your European travels or you prefer more comprehensive accommodations complete with room service and a bell hop, there are accommodations to suit your budget and lifestyle available for you.
Hotels are available in every major European city and most of the smaller towns, as well. Hotels offer the safest and most convenient lodging for most travelers, and range in price from cheap to ridiculously expensive, depending on the type of hotel and the number of amenities offered. Most are located conveniently near transportation centers and have staff members who are knowledgeable about the area and are ready to help you make the most of your trip.
Best for: Families, novice travelers, and anyone who wants more privacy than a hostel or other shared accommodation can offer.
Pros: Hotels offer trouble-free accommodations and are conveniently located near the most popular tourist locations and transportation hubs.
Cons: Hotels are more expensive than hostels, rooms during peak travel season may be limited, and are make it difficult to make the most of the off-the-beaten-path traveling experiences.
How to Book a Hotel
Start with a guidebook where you can read about the various hotels available at your destination, then from there, you can either book directly from the hotel's website or go to one of the numerous hotel booking websites online. However, if you want to save money, it's better to book directly with the hotel of your choice because the booking websites charge the hotel a fee per booking, which drives up the cost.
Hostels offer the most affordable accommodations for travelers on a budget. Unlike hotels or similar accommodations, you are only renting the bed you sleep in instead of an entire room. For this reason, rooms in a hostel often have bunk beds to make the most of the limited space. Each room may house between four to 12 people. Bathroom facilities may be shared per room, or there may be one communal bathroom with private shower stalls for all of the guests to use.
Best for: Young people between the ages of 18-30 (some hostels don't accept guests over the age of 35) who are want to find the cheapest accommodations in Europe. Hostels are especially handy for single travelers who want to make friends while traveling.
Pros: As stated above, hostels are the cheapest accommodations available if you're on a tight budget. The social atmosphere can't be beaten since you can't help but get to know your bunkmates in such intimate conditions.
Cons: Privacy is almost non-existent in hostels since almost every aspect of your stay is shared with the other guests. Also, if you're not keen on socializing with strangers, then give hostels a miss.
How to Find and Book Hostels
The Internet has made finding and booking your stay at a European hostel an easy affair. The two largest hostel-booking websites are:
AirBnB is a marketplace for people with extra space to rent rooms, apartments, or even entire homes to travelers for short vacations stays. All booking is handled online through the Airbnb website where you can contact the hosts, get information about the accommodations, and see the ratings from other travelers on each unit for rent.
Best for: Seasoned travelers who already know how to get around in the location to which they are traveling and groups traveling together.
Pros: Since everything this done online, booking your stay is hassle-free. The shared rooms offer an alternative to hostels if you prefer to avoid them, although even the shared spaces can be more expensive than hostels.
Cons: Booking through Airbnb can be pricey, and if you're not already familiar with the destination, some locations may be more difficult to find and get to from the airport, bus station, or train depot.
How to Book with Airbnb
Booking your stay with an Airbnb host is as simple as going on its website,(Airbnb.com) finding a room you want to rent, and clicking the book button. Airbnb also has mobile apps for Android and iOS.
If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.
Categories : Travel & leisure
Recent edits by: Kathy McGraw