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When Germany relaxed its laws preventing competition with train lines last year, numerous long-distance bus companies sprung up to fill in a gap which has perplexed budget travelers in the country for years. Traditional transportation companies are creating new routes, but even the post office and a national supermarket chain are getting into the bus business. Traveling the excellent autobahn system and offering modern amenities such as wireless Internet, these bus lines carry travelers across the country for a fraction of the price of an equivalent train ticket. Here is a round-up of options to consider.
Due to Berlin’s unique status as an enclave of the West, long-distance bus service from the city had been grandfathered into the aforementioned law, making bus travel to or from Berlin on Berlin Linien Bus the only available such option in the country. With ties to Deutsche Bahn and a well-established network, BLB is sure to survive, despite plummeting market share. It regularly offers restricted €9 fares on its routes to Hamburg or Dresden. Every few months, BLB offers a Berlin Groupon deal at the same low price, valid on virtually any bus on any day.
Having ended their relationship with German booker Gullivers, the transcontinental Eurolines bus service now sells tickets for international destinations from Paris to Riga directly. While this is definitely the place to look if you’re ultimately traveling outside of Germany, don’t overlook their extensive domestic offerings as well, especially if you’re traveling in the western part of the country. While new competitors have focused solely on building inner-German networks, you can expect growth and therefore more competitive pricing in the international bus market—especially in areas bordering France, Denmark, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic—in the coming years.
With a network spanning the entire country, Munich-based FlixBus is the most popular new competitor. Sale prices from Berlin start at €5 for Rostock, Leipzig and Dresden, and €15 for Braunschweig, Osnabrück, Münster, Würzburg, Amberg, Nuremberg or Munich. Also note the international lines connecting airports in Bremen, Memmingen and Munich to the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic.
With main north-south arteries running from Berlin to Munich or Frankfurt and beyond, MeinFernBus offers lots of unique travel options across the country at a low price. Berlin to Dresden or Rostock starts at €6, to Leipzig €8, to Hamburg €14 or to Munich €16. International connections are currently available to Zurich, Innsbruck and Luxembourg.
These yellow buses are best for plying the well-worn western corridor between Dortmund and Frankfurt. New routes launching February 2014 will better connect the eastern and central regions of the country with the existing network. Tickets start at €8 between Berlin and Leipzig, €15 for Berlin-Hamburg. Purchase online or at any post office or Postbank counter in Germany.
With its limited network, consider City2City only if you’re traveling in the former West Germany.
This company offers routes in four distinct areas of Germany without connections between them (at present). It’s well worth a look, especially for regional travel in the southwest. They also offer international links to Prague and Maastricht.
The German discount grocery chain has partnered with bus company Univers to offer fixed-price bus tickets for the most popular connections around the country. Book online with the ALDI Reisen website.