General Information about European Buses
Bus travel in Europe can be very advantageous as an alternative to train travel and flying, as buses and coaches often offer lower prices, comfortable journeys and regular connections. Bus markets in many countries throughout Europe were traditionally nationalized in the 20th century as large scale transportation and infrastructure changed. Recently, several major countries have begun deregulating the bus market, allowing for private companies to offer competitive pricing and routes that have helped to make bus travel so easy and cost effective throughout the continent.
In the UK, this began in the early 2000s when MegaBus began low priced coach services in direct competition with the previously nationalized provider, National Express. Until 2013, the German market was closed to only the Deutsche Bahn, the country’s nationalized rail operator, which was the only company authorized to offer new regular domestic routes. Since January 2013, any company is allowed to enter the market on the condition that offered connections open at least 50 kilometers (30 miles) apart and do not compete with Deutsche Bahn. France is following suit, and the French bus market will likely follow a similar success model as Germany, with buses growing in popularity, particularly amongst students and young people.
Bus services vary across Europe according to provider and destination. Travellers can expect services ranging from transit buses to comfortable coaches, short distance connections to long haul services, and overnight journeys on select routes. Many bus operators provide scheduled bus times that are similar or at the same time each day, making planning last minute trips easy, as well as making pre-booking possible to ensure there is a space on the bus. Peak and off-peak times usually are not applied to bus services in the same way as trains; however, prices can vary according to the popularity of a particular service.
Everything you need to know about European Buses
FlixBus, Ouibus, PolskiBus and Student Agency are among Europe’s major long-haul bus companies, offering both domestic and international services. The largest, however, is Eurolines, which connects over 500 destinations all across Europe and Morocco, from Sicily right up to Helsinki. Eurolines partners with National Express in the UK to provide services within England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In local areas, regional and urban transit buses are also available and will vary according to local services. In many rural areas, these services may be essential when connecting to larger cities or towns.
|Alsa: ALSA or Automóviles Luarca, S.A. is the primary bus company in Spain. Most Alsa buses are equipped with WiFi, Air Conditioning, onboard restrooms, and power outlets at every seat. Since 2005, Alsa has functioned as a Spanish subsidiary of National Express.|
|Avanza: Avanza is a Spanish bus company primarily operating out of Madrid. Avanza buses travel between Madrid and other major cities in Spain including Valencia, Barcelona, Zaragoza, and Salamanca as well as Portugal's capital city, Lisbon.|
|Baltour: Baltour, a subsidiary of Eurolines, is the main bus company in Italy and the Adriatic zone. Baltour travels to over 500 destinations across 17 Italian regions and 23 European countries. Over 4 million passengers travel with Baltour every year.|
|Deinbus: Deinbus.de is a popular bus company primarily operating in western Germany. Deinbus offers connections to dozens of German cities using Cologne, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart as travel hubs. Deinbus also offers international routes to a number of European cities including Zurich, Milan, Turin, Barcelona, and Paris.|
|Ecolines: Ecolines is a popular bus company that operates primarly in Poland, BeNeLux, eastern Europe, the Baltic states, and Russia. Ecolines uses Berlin, Hamburg, and Warsaw as transport hubs. Ecolines destinations include Amsterdam, Kiev, Minsk, Odessa, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg.|
|Eurolines: Eurolines is a network of 29 cooperating bus companies from all over Europe founded in 1985 and headquartered in Brussels. Eurolines buses cover all of Europe traveling to 600 destinations. Eurolines is a major method of travel between neighboring European countries. Bus services vary depending on the specific country due to Eurolines decentralized business model.|
|FlixBus: FlixBus is the leading bus company in Germany and is now rapidly expanding its coverage across Europe. FlixBus also operates nationally in France, Italy, and the Netherlands as well as international routes to cities in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, and the Czech Republic.|
|National Express: National Express is the main bus company in the United Kingdom. National Express also offers buses in Spain, Portugal, and Germany as well as long-distance buses which travel throughout Europe.|
|Ouibus: Ouibus is one of the largest bus companies in France, operating over 180 routes both throughout the country and internationally. Ouibus offers numerous routes from major French cities like Paris, Lyon, Lille, Nantes, and Bordeaux as well as traveling to Turin and Milan in Italy, Geneva in Switzerland, Barcelona in Spain, London in the UK, Brussels in Belgium, and Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.|
|Polskibus: Polskibus is Poland's main bus company, connecting 34 cities in Poland. Polskibus also serves numerous international destinations in surrounding countries including Berlin in Germany, Vienna in Austria, Bratislava in Slovakia, Zurich in Switzerland, and Brno and Prague in the Czech Republic.|
|RegioJet: RegioJet (the rebranded name of Student Agency) is the main bus company in the Czech Republic and Austria. RegioJet also offers international connections to other European destinations including London, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Paris, Budapest, Rome, Naples, Venice and Zurich.|
The bus and coach industry in Europe has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and now many providers run modern fleets with comfortable, reclining seats, WiFi and air-conditioning for low rates. Further facilities and services can vary according to the bus provider and country. Many long-distance coaches will also offer onboard toilets as well as comfort seating, which can be found on almost all providers. However, in some European countries, you are likely to also find different service classes, refreshments, power sockets at each seat and entertainment services on some coaches. Long-haul trips will often provide scheduled stops at a variety of services along the route. Most bus providers offer a luggage policy, and if bringing any extra luggage or sports equipment, such as a bike, it is best to check with the company before booking as many buses will not carry a bicycle on international services.
Many companies operate modern fleets with comfortable, reclining seats, wifi and air-conditioning. Compare the services available.
Further facilities and services may vary according to the transport company and country of operation. For more detailed information about providers, please refer to our comprehensive list of luggage restrictions.