Getting Around Europe: Flixbus Review
When searching for a method to travel over land in Europe, we were presented with a number of options between traveling by rail and traveling by bus. Bus travel in Europe is the most economical, and while the price of flying has decreased significantly, it’s much less of a hassle to travel by bus, which usually travels between city center to city center, compared to flying (getting to an airport outside of the city, going through security, boarding, landing, and trying to get back into a city center).
I chose the Germany-based Flixbus for our first ride from Amsterdam to Berlin, and we’ve been using them ever since whenever possible. Online reviews of Flixbus were mixed, but not unlike reviews of Eurolines or other regional bus providers. As the first leg of our travels take us in and out of Germany, it made sense to go with Flixbus.
- The Flixbus website is very user friendly. If you’re searching for a Eurolines bus, you’ll often be redirected to the Euroline site belonging to the country of origin. It makes search and comparison much more difficult, especially since each site is often in that country’s home language. In comparison, Flixbus’s site can be easily toggled to English, displays route maps so you can see the routes operated from any origin, and purchasing tickets is a breeze.
- Depending on the route, the bus may be single or double decked. From Amsterdam to Berlin, we had a double-decker bus, and we were able to snag seats in the first row on the second level. There was ample leg room to place our bags, and with a sleeping bag, I was able to stretch out enough for a good night’s sleep.
- Each ticket includes 3 pieces of luggage, including 1 cabin bag. I’ve never used it, but the luggage hold seems to be pretty large.
- Most, but not all, seat rows come equipped with power plugs. I’m actually writing this now on a bus from Munich to Lausanne — the plug has come in handy.
- Most, but not all, buses are also equipped with WiFi. The usability of the Wifi depends on the country that the bus is traveling in. Within Germany and Austria, the wifi works really well. The speed is around 14 MBPS, but there is a data-cap because it is shared evenly among all passengers; I got locked out about an hour in after streaming an episode of The Office. Oops.
- They run on time. I love that German punctuality. Sometimes, if everyone has boarded, the driver might even leave early!
- Their mobile app is also very user friendly; you can search for tickets, purchase tickets, save tickets purchased online to the app, and board the bus with the app (via QR code).
- Buses come with bathrooms. Some bathrooms are cleaner than others, but most are a step up from airplane bathrooms.
- Most of the buses are really clean. I think this depends on the driver and how he takes care of his bus.
- The bus stations are located in easily accessible locations. When leaving Amsterdam, the Flixbus station left from Amsterdam Sloterdijk, a short ride from Centraal via train, while the Eurolines stop seemed much further away with a bit more walking involved. Elsewhere, the bus stop is located in each city’s central bus station.
- Prices are reasonable. The rides between 4–5 hours (Berlin > Prague, Prague > Bamberg, Bamberg > Munich) have all been in the 20–22 EUR pp range, although Bamberg > Munich was less than 10 EUR pp. I have not cost-compared each ride against other bus operators like Eurolines (simply because Flixbus is such a pleasant way to ride).
On our ride from Munich to Lausanne, Switzerland, we chatted briefly with the driver and came to understand that some of these buses, whether they are branded Flixbus or not (the one leaving Prague was not colored bright green), are run by independent contractors. Some of them wear Flixbus gear; others don’t. All have smartphones that enable mobile check-in. Flixbus’s rapid expansion now makes a lot more sense; they’re the platform that connects passengers to local bus companies.
That being said, Flixbus isn’t EVERYWHERE yet (the best connections are in and out of Germany). So if you’re traveling through and around Germany, definitely check out Flixbus’s route map to see if there is a route for you. Just recently, they launched an Interflix bus pass — 99 EUR for 5 rides — a great deal if the average of your 5 rides were greater than 20 EUR per trip.