Planning a Eurotrip can be stressful. You have to map out your routes, book your flight or train tickets in advance (to save some money), do lots of research for the least touristy places to go to in any city, and try not to get mugged. You’re travelling alone, remember? But don’t worry, let me take some of the weight off your shoulders with this handy transport guide around 10 European cities. Take it from someone who’s been there and done that.
Buy a Belgian Rail Pass, or Go Pass if you’re under 26 (Youths under 26 pay less for train tickets in Europe) It comes with 10 journeys that you have to fill in manually before you set off on each journey. If you plan to travel from one Belgian city to another, eg. Ghent – Antwerp, Antwerp – Brussels, Brussels – Bruges, this will save you a lot of money. I suggest you try to use up every journey and see as much of Belgium as you can.
In Brussels, most people take the metro without paying, while in Ghent, the tram is basically free. Well, not really, but most people get on the trams without paying, and the drivers don’t give a shit.
Pro-tip: Train inspectors may come on board to check your ticket. Sometimes, not at all, especially if it’s a 30-minute ride. To save on a journey, try not filling in the ticket, or write it down when you see the inspector coming. But if you get caught, there’s a fine of €12.50 (Yup, speaking from personal experience.).
If you’re coming from Belgium, take the Thalys train and alight at Amsterdam Centraal. Warning: Train tickets are pretty pricey. If you really want to save some cash, the Eurolines coach (€30 or less) takes you from Antwerp to Amsterdam in two hours. It’ll drop you off at Amsterdam Duivendrecht, which, to a traveller, is in the middle of nowhere. But don’t panic. Look around. The train station is only a few steps away. Get your coins out, buy a ticket from the ticket machine, and hop on the train to Centraal (three stops away). If you’re flying in, do the same. Get on the train from Amsterdam Schipol to Amsterdam Centraal. It’s only about €5 for a one-way ticket.
Step out, take a big whiff of the weed in the air, and start walking towards your hostel/Airbnb.
Pro-tip: Here are a few sites you can book your train tickets from – Rail Europe, B-Europe, Eurostar
You’re now in the so-called city of romance! Some people fly in to Charles de Gaulle, some take the Thalys/Eurostar, and others take the Eurolines coach. It’s pretty straightforward. Take the metro to get around the city – a return journey costs more than €3, so yes, public transport is expensive. Walk everywhere, as much as you can. Climb up to Sacre Coeur in Montmarte from the bottom; it takes about 40 minutes, and if you’re there in spring or autumn, you won’t even feel the strain at all.
Pro-tip: Don’t take the taxi. Because it’ll cost you an arm.
A Ryanair flight here costs less than €50. Get a ticket for the express bus to the city centre. And then walk, or take the metro everywhere. This city is fairly to navigate, and the metro is very convenient.
Just like any city in Western and Central Europe, you can get here by coach, train, or plane. I took an overnight coach (12 hours) from Ghent. Not only does this save you a night at the hostel, you’ll also arrive around 7am in the morning, early enough to start another leg of your journey with a full day ahead.
Again, I took the Eurolines here from Berlin, and took the tram right to my hostel. The tram, as well as the metro, takes you wherever you want to go.
Getting here was a bit of a nightmare; I took the overnight train from Prague. (It was cheap, only about€30). I was in a cabin with six other passengers, four of whom were rowdy British and Scottish tourists who yakked nonstop through the night. I also almost got pickpocketed by a man who pretended to help me put my luggage on the overhead rack (I stupidly left my handbag unzipped), but I caught the thief’s hand hovering around my handbag, and he uttered an “Ah!” in shock and ran off without stealing a thing.
Pro-tip: Keep your valuables in secret pockets.
From Krakow (pronounced Krakov), I took a Eurolines to Budapest. It was only a four-hour ride, and you’ll make a little pit stop in Slovakia for a pee break. What little I saw of Slovakia was beautiful. Also, you’ll get off the coach somewhere near the metro. Pretty convenient.
There are only two ways to get here: Train or plane (or car if you live in one of the nearby towns). I got here on a plane from Berlin, then took a public bus from the airport to my hostel/campsite. I got lost for a bit, but a very friendly elderly local pointed me in the right direction.
I took a train from Venice to Florence. Fortunately, my hostel was within walking distance. Florence is a walking city; the only time I took a bus was when I wanted to go to Piazzale Michelangelo, which was up on a hill.
Pro-tip: One single bus ticket entitles you to a return trip, as long as you make your second trip within an hour of the first. Pretty cool system they have there.
After my little jaunt in Italy, I flew to London from Milan, via a shuttle bus from Florence.This time, on budget airline, Easyjet. I landed in Gatwick and took the Victoria Express to London Bridge, where I took a bus to my hostel in Shoreditch. It was all incredibly easy and smooth.
I flew Ukraine International Airlines (UIA). It was a cheap flight from London, and it wasn’t that bad. Unfortunately, my luggage didn’t arrive with me in Istanbul (not sure if it’s an incident that only happens with UIA), and I had to make another trip back to the airport to retrieve it. Special thanks to the kind receptionist dude at Metropolis Hostel for not charging me for the towels and soap, and one of my hostel roommates for lending me her clothes to wear.
That extra trip to the airport wasn’t cheap (nothing on the European side of Istanbul is cheap), and while I wasn’t starving there, I couldn’t enjoy some of the tourist spots with my hostel roommates as I had to make sure I had enough cash to last me through my trip. Hope you’ll have better luck than I had.