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Getting Around Eastern Europe

train-platformOur tailor-made Central & Eastern Europe vacation packages are designed to allow you to make the most of your time and enjoy your vacation without worrying about the little details. One of the trickiest parts of planning a multi-city vacation is organising the transport between the cities, which is where we come in – as well as arranging your accommodation, city tours and day trips, we can also take care of all the connections between them, whether it’s by plane, train or automobile.

Let’s take a look at your options…

Rent a car

The freedom of the open road sounds appealing but let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of renting a car for your European vacation:

Pros:

  • Flexibility
  • Leave when you like and stop along the way
  • Can be more economical if travelling in a group larger than 2 or 3.
  • Reach places and cover routes not offered by public transport

Cons:

  • Driving in unfamiliar countries
  • Hidden costs of highway tolls and possible speeding & parking fines
  • Pricey if travelling in a pair
  • Cost or hassle of parking
  • One-way rentals can be very expensive
  • Potential for incurring repair costs for any damage while you have the car
  • Zero-tolerance blood alcohol limits in many countries

For more advice on renting a car see this article.

Train

It’s easy to get caught up in romantic notions of zipping across Europe by train. Most of the countries in the Central European region have thorough train networks whereas in the southern part of Eastern Europe, Croatia’s rail network is much less developed.

Pros:

  • City-center to city-center
  • Relatively inexpensive, particularly if traveling alone or as a couple
  • Many long distance trains have buffet cars where you can enjoy a beer and a simple meal

Cons:

  • Rigid timetables
  • Some routes have infrequent connections
  • Door-to-door usually slower than driving (but quicker than bus)
  • Loading and unloading luggage
  • Missed connections can mean a long wait
  • Potential need to factor in the cost of a transfer to and from the station at each end

Bus

Long distance inter-city coach services in Europe are another option for moving between cities. There are numerous privately owned international bus companies plying routes in the region, competing with train services on comfort level by providing on-board wifi and tv screens.

Pros:

  • Usually the cheapest option
  • Many long distance buses have more facilities than trains

Cons:

  • As with trains you’re at the mercy of the timetable
  • Conditions usually more cramped than on the train
  • Journey times can be quite long, with mandated rest stops for the driver
  • Additional luggage charges usually apply for stowed luggage, which can’t be prepaid with your ticket, so you need to have change with you
  • Bus stations in some cities are not located in the city center so usually require a transfer yo/from your accommodation

Private Transfer

A private transfer by car or minivan, depending on your group size, affords you all of the benefits of car rental with none of the negatives.

Pros:

  • Leave when you like
  • Stop where and when you like
  • No need to worry about parking
  • All inclusive price: no one-way rental fee to consider and nothing extra to pay for gas or parking
  • No need to worry about insurance
  • Can be more economical
  • Many transfer drivers are very knowledgable and chatty, if you want to know more about their country and neighbouring countries too
  • Allows for connections where there are none offered by public transport

Cons:

  • Usually more expensive than most other options (there are exceptions and sometimes a private transfer can cost less than train, depending on group size and route)

Plane

The various flag-carriers and budget airlines mean that Europe has a fairly dense network of air routes. Whilst for some people the last thing they want to do a couple of days after a transatlantic flight is get on another airplane for a short hop, others may prefer to be wheels up every few days. Journey times can be significantly less, but factor in the time to get to the airport, checking in, waiting to board, de-planing, waiting for your baggage and getting into the city center at your destination. Most short hop flights in Europe are around an hour, but all the waiting around usually means a door-to-door time of a minimum of four and a half hours

Pros:

  • Short journey times (compared to land travel of more than 5 hours)

Cons:

  • Some flag carriers have absurd one-way prices
  • Having to go through airport security – while not to the TSA’s deplorable level of annoyance, this is still a less than enjoyable experience
  • Monopoly pricing exists on some routes (we’re looking at you Czech Airlines!)
  • Added fees with budget airlines can really mount up
  • Fluctuating demand based pricing can make planning difficult
  • Also means an airport transfer needed at each end, which needs to be factored into the cost

How do you roll?

What’s your preferred mode of transport for inter-city travel in Central & Eastern Europe? Let us know in the comments.

Planning a trip to Central and Eastern Europe? We’d love to put together a Central and Eastern Europe travel package just for you. Get in touch to find out more!

Jay

A native of New York, Jay has lived, studied and worked in Europe for more than six years traveling extensively throughout the region. His broad experiences range from budget to first class allowing him to understand and appreciate travel needs of clients.


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3 Responses to Getting Around Eastern Europe

  1. In Romania, the train is the most popular. In some parts of the country, the ride offers spectacular views of the mountains, villlages and you even can peek at the country life around the tracks:)

  2. I am from Malaysia and I need a comprehensive tour through major cities/countries of Eastern Europe. i am looking for a guided group tour on a coach perhaps. Time of travel – last week of July to the third week in August 2013. Starting point could be in Europe or London. Preferably a comfortable tour not over the top but adequately comfortable. Thank you.

    • Hi Vicky, we don’t organise group tours, we put together custom tours, for individuals, couples, families and small groups. If you’re interested in solo travel then we can definitely help you. You can use our Trip Builder tool to assemble the Eastern Europe vacation of your dreams.

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