What’s it Like to Travel Around Europe With Busabout?

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I spent the whole month of August 2013 traveling around Western Europe with a company called Busabout. I'd traveled with Busabout previously, too (albeit on a guided trip that time), and the company is definitely one that I would travel with again. But, since Busabout is largely unknown outside of Australia, I figured I should probably give you a detailed run-down of what my month with this company was like.

Here we go!

(Note: Info and pricing is kept as up to date as possible! The last update was made in May 2017.)

A guide to traveling around Europe with Busabout

Who or what is Busabout?

Busabout is a UK-based travel company that caters towards younger travelers, mostly in Europe. The company, with its “freestyle travel” motto, offers guided trips throughout Europe (and also now in places like Asia, Turkey, and Morocco), and also operates a hop-on, hop-off bus network across Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. Busabout's hop-on, hop-off network is probably the most popular, though its Sail Croatia, festival, and Greek Islands trips also draw lots of young travelers each summer.

How does it work?

The hop-on, hop-off part of Busabout is essentially a means of transportation. It is NOT a guided tour of Europe; you decide where you want to go and when, and then you just use Busabout to get from Point A to Point B. There ARE guides on each bus, but they are only responsible for answering questions, getting you to the drop-off hostels, and coordinating any sightseeing/rest stops that might be on a certain bus leg. You won't necessarily have the same guide on every bus you take.

The hop-on, hop-off network itself is pretty straightforward. It runs from May through October, with buses leaving every other day. You either buy an unlimited pass or a timed pass (available for anywhere between 2 and 5 weeks), which will allow you to travel on Busabout between 46 different cities in Europe.

Check out passes here.

The routes Busabout covers can be roughly divided up into “loops,” many of which go just one way. This means you do have to plan out your route ahead of time. However, since you only have to be booked on a bus 24 hours before departure, you can change your mind (and your plans) at any time. You can plan your route using the Busabout website once you've bought your pass, and you are also able to make changes to your itinerary through a guide on each bus.

Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an included sightseeing stop.

Where can you go?

Busabout won't take you EVERYwhere in Europe. But its routes cover most of the main cities, as well as a few smaller ones that you probably wouldn't otherwise consider or even know about.

Busabout's routes can be seen here:

Major cities you can visit include Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Nice, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Munich, Krakow, Budapest, Venice, Florence, and Rome.

There are tons of smaller cities to visit, too – and I highly recommend stopping at some of these optional spots!

All of the routes connect to one another, and most connect to some of Busabout's other tours, as well (for example, Ancona on the South Loop is a popular jumping-off point for Busabout's sailing trips, though not necessarily a place you'd want to stay for a few days).

Bruges, Belgium

(Also check out the handy Busabout timetable.)

How flexible is it?

I get asked about the flexibility of these bus passes all the time. And it IS something worth mentioning. Busabout will not give you as much flexibility as, say, a rail pass in Europe simply because Busabout's stops are limited. However, there's far more flexibility in buying a pass on Busabout's hop-on, hop-off network than booking a guided tour of Europe.

At each compulsory stop on Busabout's routes, you must stay at least one night. And at each optional stop, you must stay at least 2 nights. However, you can stay ANY odd-number of nights at each compulsory stop, and ANY even-number of nights at each optional stop. I, for example, stayed anywhere from 1-5 nights in cities along the routes.

How long you want to spend in each destination is completely up to you.

Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
I stayed in Florence for 5 nights, for example.

In theory, changing your itinerary is very easy and can be done at any time, too, meaning that if you fall in love with a place you can choose to stay longer. In practice, though, this can sometimes be tough, as buses tend to fill up quickly during the busy summer months — meaning if you give up your booked seat, you may have to try a few different times to get a seat on another bus. If you have to be in one destination on a certain date (for example, if you're connecting to a tour or attending a festival), you may not want to change up your itinerary too often, just in case.

The same goes for the “you only have to book your seat 24 hours in advance” rule. In theory it's great and offers up a bit of flexibility. But, in reality, waiting until the last minute to book a seat can sometimes mean you won't get one. Most people I traveled with on Busabout had their itineraries fully planned before they traveled.

East Side Gallery in Berlin

Where will you stay?

The good news is that you can stay wherever you like! Since the hop-on, hop-off network really only covers transport, you are free to lay your head wherever your heart desires each night.

Having said that, Busabout DOES recommend specific hostels in each city — namely the hostels that the buses pick up from and drop off at. If you're going to stay in hostels anyway, it's convenient to just book the recommended drop-off hostel at each stop. This way you don't have to worry about navigating to somewhere different at night or early in the morning (this is especially worth noting, since many of the buses leave at 8 a.m. — not ideal if you book accommodation an hour away!).

I ended up booking the recommended hostel at most of my stops, so long as they had beds/rooms available. I was a little apprehensive about this at first, but I'm happy to report that Busabout works with some kick-ass hostels all across Europe.

Not one place we stayed was dirty, dingy, or shady. Yes, some were nicer than others, and some were located slightly out of town, but on the whole I was really pleased with all of the Busabout-recommended hostels that I stayed at. Busabout works with big hostel chains like Wombats, St. Christopher's, and PLUS Hostels all across Europe — all great places to stay — and you can book these hostels directly through the Busabout website as you're setting up your itinerary.

PLUS Camping Venice
Some hostels even have pools, like this one in Venice!

What can you do?

Like I said before, Busabout is not a guided tour around Europe. However, the company provides each traveler with a handy Busabout guide at the start of the trip that includes Busabout-recommended activities and tours at each stop. Guides on the buses will give you a run-down of each activity and help you book right there on the bus if you want. They also usually can give you recommendations on things to see and places to eat in each city.

I, for example, booked the best walking tour I've ever been on in Berlin, took a day trip out into the Tuscan countryside from Florence, went rafting in Cesky Krumlov, and took a “Sound of Music” tour in Salzburg — all on Busabout's recommendations. You can also add on other Busabout trips and tours at any time. Quite a few people I was traveling with decided to go on the Italian Adventure from Rome, and people were booking Oktoberfest festival packages left and right.

Of course, you can always do your own thing, too! Since you are free to spend as long as you like in each destination, you can have your own adventures, at your own pace.

In Venice, I took a day trip out to some of the nearby islands on my own.

Who will you travel with?

After my Busabout trip, I got a lot of questions about who travels on these bus loops around Europe. The general demographic is young solo travelers. I did run into a lot of couples and best friends traveling together, too, but I'd say the majority were solo travelers between the ages of 18 and 30 (and 30 was at the “old” end of the spectrum).

Most Busabout travelers right now are Australian, simply because that's where Busabout is most aggressively marketed — and also because Aussies seem to love to travel around Europe! I was often the only American on the buses I was taking, but that didn't bother me much at all. Busabout DOES market to a younger demographic, but it puts no age limit on its passes.

So who is Busabout ideal for? I think it's ideal for the solo traveler who wants to meet people and be social while traveling around Europe, but who wants more flexibility than what a guided tour would offer. It's incredibly easy to meet new people on the Busabout buses, and even easier to strike up new friendships and make plans with other travelers since you are headed to the same places.

Cesky Krumlov Rafting
Busabout friends!

How much will it cost?

Busabout offers lots of deals on its bus passes each year, so prices can fluctuate greatly. In general, though, Unlimited Passes start at around $1400 USD, while Timed Passes start around $440 (for 2 weeks).

Accommodation is obviously not covered in those prices — you can expect to pay anywhere from $15-$50 per night at hostels, depending on which country and city you're in (though $20-$30 per night will cover you in most places). Also factor in money for meals, extra activities, and any gifts/souvenirs you might want to bring home.

Get your Busabout pass here!

Prague Old Town Square


And now that I've hopefully covered all the big questions about traveling with Busabout, here's a look at what I think Busabout does well on its hop-on, hop-off network, along with what I think it could improve upon:

What Busabout does well

Guides — Each bus has a Busabout guide aboard, despite the fact that there's really no tour element to the hop-on, hop-off network. Guides can help you change/check your itinerary, book seats or other tours, and generally just answer questions about Busabout. They also usually give you an overview of the places you're traveling to/through, which is a nice touch — you won't get that if you're taking the train or a public bus.

Entertainment on buses — Busabout's big blue buses are equipped with entertainment systems. Since bus rides can be long, the guides will usually put on a movie, or perhaps some TV episodes or a comedy show. I appreciated that the movies were sometimes linked to whatever destination we were headed to — for example, from Paris to Bruges we watched “In Bruges,” and on the way to Rome we watched “Galdiator.”

Roman Colosseum

Frequent stops for food/toilets — These bus rides can sometimes be VERY. LONG. I'm talking upwards of 8 hours, especially if you're skipping an optional stop between two major cities. You never go more than 2 or 3 hours without a stop to use the toilet, grab some food, and stretch your legs, however, which I really appreciated.

The Busabout Bible — When you board a Busabout bus for the first time, you should be given a couple of things, including a Lonely Planet guide book covering just the cities Busabout's routes cover, as well as a little handbook known as the “Busabout Bible.” This handbook is great. Not only does it include a copy of the all-important timetable and a list of all the drop-off hostels with addresses, but the handbook also has an entry for each Busabout stop where those recommended tours and activities are listed. Even if you don't plan to book any of them on the bus (though if you do you usually save a few bucks), leafing through the options in each city can at least give you an idea of what there is to see and do there.

Good drop-off hostels — I already touched on this earlier, but Busabout does a great job of choosing some top-notch hostels all over Europe. Simply having a hostel recommended in each city and knowing that it's likely to be a good (or at least a decent) one is such a nice touch — it took a lot of the stress out of booking accommodation for me!

PLUS Camping Roma

What Busabout could do better

Wi-fi on buses — Busabout advertises that its big blue buses have wi-fi. But then you get on and realize that the wi-fi is not free, and that it doesn't really work very well. Either get rid of the wi-fi, Busabout, or install wi-fi that works that you are willing to give your passengers access to for free. I've been on public buses in Europe (even in Bulgaria, of all places) that had free, fast wi-fi, so I know it's possible. Plus, if you give Busabouters free wi-fi, chances are they're going to be posting about you more on social media as they travel!

Be more honest about drop-off points — Busabout advertises service that drops you off “right outside” your accommodation. Well, this isn't actually true in all cases. In some cities (and especially at many of the optional stops) the roads are simply too narrow for large coaches to navigate. This means that you often actually have to walk with all your luggage for 10-15 minutes to get from the bus to the drop-off hostel, and vice versa. This isn't a huge deal, but most people don't expect it — and some don't pack for it at all! A little heads-up would be nice, that's all.

Amsterdam canal
In Amsterdam, for example, we had to walk a little ways in the rain.

Create an app — This really isn't a complaint, just a suggestion. Busabout currently doesn't have an app, and I think having one would be great for them. An app that could have the handbook and timetable included, where you could log on to check you itinerary and maybe even access guides to each city (put together by Busabout guides, perhaps?). Booking buses and hostels would be a nice touch, too, though I think even a strictly informational app would be something travelers would download. I can't tell you how many times I heard people asking for extra copies of the handbook because they'd lost theirs, or asking the guide to help them double-check that they had their next leg of travel booked correctly.

Be more up-front about the student discount restrictions — Busabout advertises student prices for all of its passes and tours. And, in the terms and conditions of those student fares, it DOES state that you need to hold an ISIC (international student ID card). This means your personal college ID isn't going to work to prove you qualify for the student discount — you have to apply for a special ID. The problem is that a lot of people don't read the fine print (or perhaps travel agents aren't passing along the fine print), and I witnessed quite a few Busabouters having to pay extra because they could not produce the right kind of student ID. Make it much clearer to people before they book the student fare, Busabout!

St. Peter's Basilica

So, would I recommend Busabout?

At the end of the day, yes. Definitely.

I can't say how Busabout compares to rail travel in Europe because I've never traveled with a rail pass. However, I would hazard a guess that you won't meet as many travelers on trains who are traveling the same way you are, going to the same place, and even staying in the same hostel. Plus, there's no stress related to figuring out train stations and timetables with Busabout, or gambling on whether you'll actually get a seat or not.

I had a really good time traveling with Busabout. I made some good friends and travel buddies, visited some cities I've always wanted to explore, and came home with some great memories. I would highly recommend them!

Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris
Paris, where I began my Busabout adventure.

What's my biggest tip?

I'll leave you with one piece of advice. And it has nothing to do with booking ahead or not getting so drunk that you miss your bus. My biggest bit of advice is this: Don't skip the optional stops.

If you look at the itineraries I listed earlier in this post, you'll notice that in between each major city, there's usually at least one optional stop. In most cases, these optional stops are ABSOLUTELY worth an extra couple of nights. I made stops in optional cities like Bruges, Cesky Krumlov, and Salzburg, and they were some of my absolute favorites cities I visited with Busabout. I really regretted not stopping in places like Grunau, the Wildschönau Valley, and the Cinque Terre.

Cesky Krumlov
I mean, look how adorable Cesky Krumlov is!

More reading

Lastly, here are a handful of posts that I wrote about some of the cities I visited thanks to Busabout:

Have YOU ever traveled with Busabout? Would you want to?



*Note: Busabout provided me with transport on all 3 of their Europe loops, but all opinions of my experience are entirely my own!

Interested? Book your own Busabout trip!


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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65 Comments on “What’s it Like to Travel Around Europe With Busabout?

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  1. Hey Amanda Thanks for sharing your awesome travel experience. It was very useful as I never had an idea of Busabout.


    I mean it, seriously. I was not sure if Busabout was a good option for me. I’m about to embark on a 4 month journey around Europe and I’m still not sure how or where I’m going. I was torn between flights, trains or buses for my travel plans and although my usual attitude of ‘just wing it’ normally works, on this particular occasion, that method would cost me a lot more money.

    After reading your honest and helpful article I think I will proceed with booking my ‘stop pass’ of around 6 stops to see how I go.

    I’ll probably still ‘wing it’ but this will hopefully add some stress free assistance haha.

    Thank you again for posting 🙂

      Glad I could help! You’ll find lots of fellow Aussies on Busabout, too! 🙂

        Hey Amanda excellent blog, I read all the questions and answers but I still have some questions my self about how to get to the places you want to see from the Hostels. For example, Rome, how do you go from the Hostel to the colisseum. Is the hostel far outside the city? are there any tours, taxes, buses? same thing for other cities for example Paris, how do you go from the Hostel to the Eiffel tower?. Comments on other cities would also be highly appreciated, thanks in advance.

          Hey Frank! Sometimes there will be city tours you can book through the hostels if you’re interested. Or, if you want to explore on your own, the hostels can usually give you advice on how to get to the main sites. (In cities like Rome and Paris you’ll often have to use public transportation to get around!)

    Hey Amanda,

    I love your post!

    I was just wondering when you go between 2 major cities, do you stop in at the optional locations? And if so do you get to stay there for any amount of time or is it literally drop off whoever wants to get off and carry on?

    Thank you 🙂

      It depends on the city and the route. Sometimes (if I remember correctly) they have a separate bus for people going to one of the optional cities. Other times you will stop for quick drop-offs/pick-ups, while still other times you might get time to grab lunch or something. Not very long, though. So if you want to really see one of the optional cities, I would just book an overnight there!

    […] on walking tours. I book group tours and day trips from time to time. This summer, I’ve been traveling around Europe with Busabout, which means I see a lot of the same people over and over. Without fail, there is always SOMEone […]

    Hi Amada,
    I keep coming back to your review about BusAbout seeing as there aren’t too many well-informed ones out there.

    I’m planning a trek across Europe and am very interested in using the Flexipass, (Yes, I know you did loops but hear me out).

    A lot of the negative comments I’ve heard have to do with there only be one bus a day and busses filling up quickly.
    I want to have the freedom to get on and off when I want, so for example let’s say I spend a week in Rome, but I want to stay an extra two days. People have said that it is very difficult to get a seat if you end up changing your plans, especially in the summer (since you did say people did have their iteneraries already booked).
    Such a shame BusAbout only runs half the year…and I wish there were more busses instead of just one.

    Do you think my concern is accurate or do you think I’d still be able to get a seat. If this is the case do you think I should still stick with BusAbout or find another way to travel through Europe?

      Hey Anna! Good question! I guess it depends where you’ll be traveling, and when. In the summer, the buses DO fill up. Sometimes they have more than one bus based on demand, but often it’s just the one bus, yes. It’s not always impossible to change your plans at the last minute, but some people traveling with me did have trouble once or twice that I know of.

      Totally up to you whether you travel with Busabout or look into other options. Maybe a Eurail pass and trains? (Though I think it’s so much easier to meet people on Busabout buses!)

        I drew up a tentative schedule of my BusAbout route schedule and ended up taking it from end of May to end of September I think. (Ugh schedule worked out that I’d be in Italy for almost all of July and a bit in August, that’s unfortunate.)
        I know because the bus gets full it’s hard to be as flexible as I would like so that is a downside.
        I thought about the Eurail pass or bus services but it just made my brain hurt. Plus to validate Eurail pass for 6 months was a lot of $$$.
        I agree it is easier to meet likeminded people on BusAbout except I heard a good percentage if not 95-99% of them are Aussie or Kiwi.

    I really enjoyed ur post. Even though I’m from the UK and have of course been on the continent many times there is a so much I haven’t seen yet, I’m thinking of going on all loops next summer. I am a bit concerned I will be the odd one out if everyone is Australian ha ha!

      I think more and more non-Australians are discovering Busabout every year. I wouldn’t worry about it! It’s a really awesome way to travel around Europe!

    I took Busabout years ago when I was traveling through Europe for three months. I highly recommend it if you are traveling on your own and not sure how you plan to get from one place to the next or not even sure exactly what you want to see while in Europe. It enabled me to be a bit spontaneous and change my mind on some of the places I wanted to go as long as it was within the countries they went to. I only wished they traveled to more countries.

      I agree that Busabout is great for all the reasons you mentioned! It’s perfect for solo travelers who don’t want to be traveling completely solo. 🙂

    Hey Amanda! I loved your post, it was really helpful. I’ve got some questions for you: Do traveling by bus takes really long? I mean, do you spend lots and lots of hours sitting on the bus while traveling from one city to another or does it is “fast”? Is it much more slower to travel by bus than by train? do you think I might be able to take a plane from Italy to Greece without having any trouble?
    Thank you very much for sharing what you know.

      Hey Lucia! Some of the bus journeys can be long, yes. Some are just a couple of hours, but others can last all day. It just depends how far apart the cities are. In some cases a train might be faster, but only if you get a high-speed train. And guaranteed a high-speed train would be more expensive!

      Yes, you should be able to fly from Italy to Greece with no problem. There are tons of budget airlines in Europe – just be sure to pay attention to their baggage restrictions, as most of them are really strict (especially when it comes to your carry-on cabin baggage).

    Hi Amanda lovely to read about your review of busabout.. I’ve booked 1/2 of the west loop in August from paris to barcelona, my first for solo travel and Europe.. I am a bit nervous now that I might be a bit past it being in my 50s… When I booked busabout they assured me they have ‘older’ travellers (one guy in his 70s that still travels with them) that use their buses but my daughters friends had gone and wondered why this older man of 40+ was on their trip. Should I just get on the bus and announce to everyone I’m not here to cramp your style and sit in the middle out of the way. Just feeling a little worried atm. What sold it for me though was the fact that you don’t need to worry about your luggage along the way and as you said the guides will advise of all the great places to see and thing to do etc. still looking forward to it though x

      Don’t sweat it, Deb! You certainly don’t need to feel like you need to apologize or make any sort of announcements. Strike up conversation with the people around you, and you’ll fit right in! 🙂 I personally would think that you’re awesome if I saw you on a Busabout bus!

    Hi Amanda,

    Great review for busabout. I hop on and off with them 14 years ago. We were the few Malaysian that gamble on their bus service. And it paid off greatly. They were great. That time they do not have such extensive routes and hostel choices. One thing never changes, there’s still many Australian on board. 🙂

    Your review bring back sweet memories for me. Thank you.

      Wow, yes, I’m sure a lot has changed in 14 years, but how funny that it was still a lot of Australians, even then!

    After having read your article on the busabout….as a parent, I feel hugely more at ease about my daughter who is 19 and travelling solo….We have been intouch with her and certainly sounds like she is having a wonderful time, seeing new places and meeting new places…The common links is you all have the similar outlook on your trip of a lifetime…. Enjoy and please pass my message onto your parents for their ease of mind….Thank you

      So happy to hear that, Elaine! I’m sure your daughter is having a great time.

    Hi Amanda,
    Thanks for the great review. My girlfriend and I are travelling with busabout on the GoRoman route in July so your advice is reassuring. I was wondering to what level we should book our accommodation. We don’t want to rough it necessarily but nor do we want to go all out. Private rooms in nice hostels would be okay. Is it okay to just check in or book On the go? Thanks again!

      Hey Dan! The great news is that a lot of hostels these days offer private rooms that usually are still a lot cheaper than hotel rooms, but often just as nice. July is definitely high season for traveling in Europe, though, so I WOULD suggest booking your accommodation ahead of time if possible. Especially if you want to get a private room in the drop-off hostels, you probably won’t be able to wait until the last minute to book.

        Thank you so much. It is remarkable that you take the time to reply so comprehensively. What a legend. I wish you good health and a long life so as you can continue your travels!

          Aww shucks, thanks Dan! I hope you have a great time with Busabout!


    I was wondering about the flexipass, I want to to do quite a few northern stops but also want to visit Venice, Rome and Barcelona, does the pass give you that kind of freedom?


      I’m not entirely sure, Alex, since I only did loop passes. But I *think* you could use a flexipass that way. It says right on Busabout’s Flexitrip page that you can start and stop anywhere, and that you can “rejoin at a different destination from the one you last hopped off the coach.” But that would mean finding your own transportation between some of the cities.

      To be sure, though, I would contact Busabout and double-check!

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