If you’re the kind of Cheapo who prefers a rollicking “hostel environment” to a quiet mom-and-pop hotel, you should consider a Busabout bus tour of Europe, if you’re traveling during the summer months.
What is it?
Busabout operates a “hop on hop off” bus line that shuttles young and indie travelers along “loops” of major European cities. You purchase a loop pass (for $639) and are bused about from one city to the next — usually about 12 cities per loop.
You can get off at any of these cities and stay as long as you like, and then hop on the next bus that passes through town. (A bus passes through all 30 cities every other day from May 4 through October 30.) You can book each of these stops in advance through their website to ensure that you’ll have a seat on the bus.
The “Western Loop” takes you along the following path: Paris – Bern - Nice - Avignon - Barcelona - Valencia - Madrid - San Sebastian - Bordeaux - Tours, and back to Paris.
The “Northern Loop” hits Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and Munich (among other cities).
The “Southern Loop” buses from Munich, through the Alps to Venice, Rome, Florence, Nice and more.
How much does it cost?
A Busabout single loop costs $639, and allows you to travel at your own pace from one city to the next. The more loops you buy, the cheaper the pass becomes. Two loops costs $1069, while three will set you back $1319. (We can’t quite imagine what state we’d be in after three loops, but maybe that’s just us.)
Another option is the “Flexipass” that allows riders to ride between destinations already covered by any loop. The pass costs $549 and each “hop” costs $59.
Who is it for?
Busabout really pushes the “backpacker angle” on their website, reaching out to young, student, and independent travelers looking to have a good time and meet like-minded travelers. This, of course, is not everyone. But the “big blue buses,” as they refer to them, are ideal for meeting others for exploring (and partying) in the next city on the loop.
Single travelers, the company notes on their site, are especially welcome, and “Many people start traveling on their own on Busabout and very soon have a group of friends to travel with.”
First-time travelers to Europe, in particular, may appreciate the loop structure, as being bused from one big city to the next without any choice over destination certainly “simplifies” the planning process!
Who is it not for?
Truly independent travelers who just want to get from point A to point B would not want to mess with Busabout, its fun philosophy, or its loopy schedules. If you simply want to get from one city to the next, you’d be better off taking a national bus line or booking a seat on the Eurolines bus service.
Eurolines, in fact, offers its own bus passes, providing unlimited trips over the course of a 15 or 30 day period.
Rates are generally cheaper than Busabout and vary depending on age and travel season. A 30-day unlimited adult pass during the summer costs €439 ($649 US) and doesn’t force you to follow a pre-determined loop.
But then again, on Eurolines, your chances for finding the right party are greatly diminished.