With many European countries gradually re-opening, I am sure that some of us are eager for some travel adventures to a new place abroad. While we still need to consider many Covid-related aspects, today I wanted to talk about one of the cheapest and easiest transport options to get around European countries – budget bus companies and FlixBus in particular.
We have had the opportunity to use the services of this German bus company a few times over the years so I wanted to share with you our honest opinion of them – all the pros and cons that we experienced in different European countries. Known for its ridiculously low fares, its lime green coaches are a ubiquitous sight all over the continent, agitating budget-conscious travelers to try their services and book them for their next trip. Unsurprisingly, though, many of those travelers end up pondering over the all too common question “was it worth it?”
So today I wanted to help you answer that question by bringing you my very honest FlixBus review.
First and foremost, one of the biggest advantages of booking FlixBus instead of the train or plane, is the low price it generally offers for the majority of its routes. We have compared its prices to other transport options for many of our trips in Europe and in the majority of cases FlixBus offered the most affordable tickets. For example, we had to pay just 14 Euro for a one-way ticket from Budapest to Vienna when we visited them in 2018, and just 8 Euro for our Milan to Bologna ride in 2017. While it depends on your route, you can get tickets for as little as 5 euros one way (especially if you book them well in advance) so it is definitely worth checking them out.
Speaking of the booking process itself, it is very straightforward and easy. You can book both via their website and their app (even though we particularly haven’t used it so far) – all the steps of the booking process are available in multiple languages which makes it even easier for you to book, if your English is not the best. The multiple language options come because FlixBus has an extensive coverage all over Europe – there are numerous routes options to get from point A to point B depending on your budget, time constraints, and other preferences. This makes it a very convenient transport option because it won’t affect your itinerary as flights would normally do. As a result of the extensive coverage, smaller destinations that may not easily be served by train are much easier to reach by bus for a fraction of the price.
Maybe one of the biggest con of FlixBus’ services is the general lack of punctuality of its busses. Unless you are at the starting stop of your route, busses are rarely on time. So consider carefully your transport options especially if you need to be punctual (e.g. to catch a connection, important meeting, etc.) and be prepared for delays.
Even though we haven’t had any major problems with FlixBus, I must admit that their service is far from great. With FlixBus, you are very much on your own – signs are scarce and their pick up points aren’t always easy to find. Many of the stops are at really questionable places (e.g. one of Bratislava’s stops is under a bridge) and you can completely miss them if you haven’t done a proper online research beforehand. If there are no signs whatsoever, try to look around for the crowd of other confused-looking people with suitcases. Chances are, these are people looking for the FlixBus stop as well.
In addition, many of the drivers do not speak English or their English knowledge is very minimal. As a result they cannot help you around and are generally not that friendly. You will be responsible for loading and unloading your bags to and from the hold and this undoubtedly creates a chaotic atmosphere. Connected to that, you need to be really careful with your belongings, especially if you are leaving bags in the hold as security is not FlixBus’ strongest assets. The drivers don’t really monitor who picks up what bag, or even watch over the bags as they are loaded in. We have never had anything stolen but I must admit that the whole loading-unloading process is quite chaotic so just be aware.
And finally, FlixBus fleet is not standardized and one bus may have different amenities, levels, or even labelling than the last bus you took. Many of the busses are bright green with “FlixBus” written in large letters on the side, but not all. Some of them have good Wi-Fi signal, some don’t. Some drivers offer snacks and beverages, some don’t. None of these are guaranteed when you book your ticket so have this in mind and be prepared.
IS IT WORTH IT?
Overall, I must say that FlixBus is really fine if you need to get from point A to point B at the lowest fare possible. That said, as with all things, you get what you pay for. Don’t hop on a FlixBus expecting razor sharp punctuality, luxurious amenities or glowing customer service.
Have you ever travelled with FlixBus? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments.