You want to go where? Yeah, that’s gonna cost you.

Many of our research hours have been devoted to figuring out how in the world to get from place to place without breaking the bank. We found a surprising lack of internet resources (in English, anyway) that explained transportation options clearly. Hopefully this information can save you the same trouble! We’ve included links to national rail/bus organizations where relevant.

General European Travel Options

  • Budget airways are a great way to save money and time — if you get good deals, they can be significantly cheaper than any other form of travel (some flights as low as .01 euro cent! not including taxes and “fees” of course). Be careful though: they will nickel and dime you at every turn. There are check-in fees, checked-baggage fees, and stringent weight limits on both checked and carry-on luggage items (and ridiculous fines per kilo if you go over). READ THE FINE PRINT.
    Also note: budget airlines offer very limited connections and often use airports outside of town. Trips to and from can add up.
    Our favorites:
    EasyJet – tells you which budget airline flies where
  • Eurolines – This bus company often offers the cheapest way to get from country to country. Discount for students and youth (under 26).
  • Rail Europe – I find this website annoying and often inaccurate (much prefer using the country-specific rail site), but sometimes it’s necessary for those long distance trips.
  • Car rental: If you want an automatic, be sure to specify and be prepared to pay twice the price (also, make your reservation in advance, as the few automatics offered get snatched up quickly). Continental Europe drives on the right side of the road, but that doesn’t mean it’s not absolutely insane.

To Eurrail or not to Eurrail?

Tough question. We did NOT purchase Eurrail passes, and have been very glad for it. We figured that in order to make the Eurrail pass worth it, we’d have to spend more than $50 on each train ticket. We’d have to do that within the time and geography limits set by the particular pass we purchased (ten journeys within three months, for example). As we are spending prolonged periods in each area, and want flexibility in our schedule, such limitations cramped our style. Moreover, it’s rare that we spend more than $50 on a fare, particularly on domestic trains. If you’re staying in one country for a while, there are cheaper transportation options than the Eurrail pass. The Eurrail seems to only be worth it if you’re coming to Europe for a shorter trip in which you will be crossing country borders often. Check out the prices offered on the national rail sites for each country you’re visiting to see if the Eurrail makes financial sense for you.

How to Travel Around…


How to travel around the Greek Islands: Although we’d all love our own yacht, most of us must make do with the web-like network of ferry connections that unites all Greek Islands. The good news is that the ferry network is comprehensive and largely affordable. The bad news is that it’s not entirely reliable, as any ferry is liable to be canceled without warning if the weather starts to look bad. But unlike most things in Greece, you can find all the information you need regarding the ferries on the internet! Simply visit to find all the seasonal information on connections that you need. No need to book ahead either – we never did, and never ran into a problem (although in the high season, it may not be a bad idea).

How to get to Pireaus port from Athens: Piraeus is the port where you catch ferries from the mainland to the islands. Take the green metro line to the Piraeus stop. The port is directly in front of you when you leave the station!

How to get from Athens to Patras (or vice versa): Many international ferries leave Greece from the port of Patras (also Igoumenitsa, but you’ll have fewer options there). From central Athens, take the metro to the Larisa Station stop (the local train station). You will be taking the suburban train from Athens to Patras. You have two ticket options: the regular trains run about 5-8 euros, will take half an hour longer and may require a train transfer. You’ll also be cramped, with absolutely no leg room. The nicer train (called something like “intercity” trains) costs about 18 euros, you have the option to upgrade to first class and will take you direct to Patras. There is also a bus (a bus station is near the train station, but on the other side of the road), which is apparently the fastest way to get to Patras from Athens, but more expensive. To get to the port in Patras from the train station, simply turn left on exiting the train and walk until you see the entrance to the port (can’t miss it)!

How to get from Greece to Italy (or vice versa): Here’s what we did. Take the train from Athens to Patras (see above). Take a ferry from Patras to the Italian port of your choice (information at Most ferries dock in Italy at Brindisi, Bari, or Venice. We recommend Endeavor Lines. We’ve taken Anek and Blue Star ferries during our island hopping stint, and Endeavor Lines is by far the cheapest (we got a dorm-style cabin for 50 euros a person, the same costing hundreds of euros per person on any other line). Endeavor also has the nicest staff we’ve encountered.

General tips:

  • Try Aegean Air (considered a budget airline).
  • Bus travel is generally more expensive than regular train travel (see from Athens to Patras).
  • On the islands, you are relegated to bus travel. Check the local station for times and fares. Be prepared to feel nauseous upon disembarking. (PS: To really get down with the locals, renting a car is always best.)


Traveling around Italy by train: The Italian rail system is efficient and cheap. Nearly every town has a rail station and the national rail site is immensely helpful and accurate:

There are Eurostar trains (marked with an E* on their site), Intercity trains (IC) and Regionale trains (R). Regionale trains are BY FAR the cheapest. For instance, the same trip can be 35 euros on a Eurostar train versus 10 euros on a Regionale train (which are only minimally less nice). Make sure you check when the Regionale trains leave the station before you arrive. We once missed the only cheap train for the day and were forced into taking the expensive one.

And if a train doesn’t go there, a bus certainly does — even the smallest towns (population: 10) have bus service. A bus schedule can be picked up from the local station.

How to get from Italy to France: We suggest an overnight train. Saves you money on one night’s accommodation (even though it won’t be the best night’s sleep you ever had) and the rates are reasonable. Check out for schedules and fares (if the fares don’t appear, consult


How to get around France by train: The rail system here is a harder to figure out and more expensive than its Italian counterpart (although the TGV trains are very nice and speedy). Check out for schedules (although it regularly gives us errors). Best bet might be to obtain train/bus schedules from local stations upon arrival. Plus, French transportation workers are ALWAYS ON STRIKE, so even if you do happen to know when a train is scheduled to leave before arriving at the station, there’s an 85% chance it won’t be running.

General tips:

  • The great thing about the French rail system is that they often offer last-minute train ticket deals or specials on their website. Like the time we got a 78 euro ride for 27 euros. Click an “idTGV” reference for cheaper fares.
  • Ask for discounts for students and youth!
  • Buses in France tend to be cheaper than trains, so visit the local bus station for a schedule.
  • The Paris metro is expensive. Buy your tickets ten at a time from the customer service window to get a nice discount.


Spanish rail is expensive, but nice and quick. Buses are always cheaper and service more areas. We stick to bus service (obtain schedule from local office) whenever possible. Train schedules and fares can be found here.

How to get from Spain to Portugal: From Andalucia (Southern Spain) take the bus from Seville to Lisbon. It’s the only transportation option that services that route. You can take the route in reverse to get from Lisbon to Spain.

General Tips

  • Barcelona has a great metro. Buy the ten-ride pass to save money. It’s such a huge city, you’ll need it.


Train schedule and fares online at We didn’t really travel much around Portugal, but I can tell you that there are three different train stations in Lisbon, so be sure to verify your departure station.

How to get from Lisbon to Paris by train: If you can’t fly EasyJet, take the Sud-Express and then the TGV. Word to the wise: the Sud-Express has been called by some “the worst train in Europe,” and based on our experience, we can’t disagree. But it is the cheapest way to get from Lisbon to Paris, so you’ll have to play the cost-benefit analysis game.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “You want to go where? Yeah, that’s gonna cost you.”

  1. joshon 01 Jul 2008 at 10:25 pm

    wow i just found this blog through there is so much information it is crazy, you guys should make a book out of this or something! ive just been backpacking mexico and am trying to figure out europe… im stealing all your ideas!

  2. Paulon 15 Jul 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I just spent last semester studying abroad in Italy and traveling around Europe and I wanted to add a tip. I used both ryanair and easyjet and yeah they were cheaper airlines but I must mention that you get what you pay for. They were very unorganized, uncomfortable, and crowded flights where they try to sell you stuff the entire ride. A better alternative is to find a way to get discounts on major airlines. If you’re a student or faculty member, I’d recommend checking out this site that I’m posting to get cheaper airfare. That helps a lot with cutting expenses.

  3. Bum Bag :on 31 Oct 2010 at 3:38 am

    it is quite sad that most train stations these days are horrendously overloaded ”

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