An Epic Journey Across Northern Europe by Bus
Having already discussed how a traveller would bus from Britain to Bulgaria, what other ways are there to cross Europe by bus?
As a big fan of Estonia, I’ve decided to plot a new journey across the northern half of the continent. I’ll aim to take as efficient a route as possible, while hitting up cities which I’ve yet to visit.
I’ve figured out a good route that I’ll likely take within the next through weeks. As with all travel plans, though, this is a rough outline.
My plans will almost certainly change and, if I’m being honest, I want them to. Being flexible and spontenaeous is the part of travel that fills me with the most excitement!
Here’s my 9 step guide to crossing Europe by bus, from England to Estonia, using cities I (mostly) haven’t visited.
Europe by Bus begins on a Train
1) London to Brussels on the Eurostar
In my trip from Britain to Bulgaria, I strictly stuck solely to buses. This time, however, I’m gonna cheat. The Eurostar is one of the travel industries greatest triumphs and I haven’t been on one for years.
Once I’ve made it from my home to London, I’m going to hop on this underwater train straight to Brussels. I’ve been to most of the other Eurostar destinations – Paris, Lille, Amsterdam, Disneyland – so I thought I’d switch it up a bit and checkout Brussels.
I’m sure it’s a nice place. Even if Brussels Airlines STILL haven’t refunded my cancelled flight from five months ago.
Cost of journey: £52
Journey time: 2hr
2) Brussels to Cologne
Wow okay, that two hour train journey wasn’t cheap. I need to be able to justify taking this epic journey over just hopping on a plane, so I need to keep my costs down. Eco travel should be just as affordable and adventurous as taking to the skies.
Heading eastwards, I’m going to avoid cities like Hamburg and Berlin that I’ve already explored. Instead, I’ll head to cool Cologne; a place I’ve long wanted to visit, but never quite managed to.
Sticking with FlixBus will be the most convenient and cheapest option. This bus leaves at 3am, but that’s the kind of times you’ll have to work with to keep your costs down.
Cost of journey: £9
Journey time: 3hr30
3) Cologne to Dresden
I’ll head straight across Germany to another country I’ve long been interested in, but never visited.
Even though I’m attempting to avoid Berlin, it seems I will have to change there. For some reason, the direct bus from Cologne to Dresden both takes longer and costs more than changing in Berlin. So I’ll go for cheap and fast, thanks.
This was leaves at 06:45 and arrives mid-afternoon.
Cost of Journey: £15
Journey time: 8hr30
4) Dresden to Wrocław
In order to get from Germany to the Baltics, I’m going to have to cross Poland. This is a tricky one because I lived there for a while and have visited many cities.
One notable exception is Wrocław; a much raved about city that I never managed to reach. Luckily, this is a pretty easy trip from Dresden, leaving at 06:40.
Cost of journey: £9
Journey time: 3hr30
Europe by bus halfway point
5) Wrocław to Gdańsk
From here, the map suggests passing through Warsaw. But that’s a city I know too well. As nice as it would be to return, this epic journey is about new experiences. Which is why I’ll head straight north to Gdańsk; another highly recommended city.
It’s not the shortest journey, but it leaves at 3pm meaning I can at least sleep in a bit longer.
Cost of journey: £9
Journey time: 7hr30
6) Gdańsk to Kaunas
Finally, the Baltic states are in sight. I’ve been to Vilnius, so I’m tempted to look for a less obvious destination. I know someone who lives in Kaunas and it’s supposedly a thriving student town, so that’ll be my next destination.
This is where it gets annoying though. Being a less popular destination, there’s no easy route. Some days buses don’t go at all. On the days they do, the cheapest trip is £18 and 14 hours, changing in Warsaw.
I might have to wing it on arrival and find a different route. There were rumours of a rare bus heading directly to Kaunas in 9 hours for £33, but at time of writing I can’t find it. For now, let’s pencil in the 14 hour trip.
Cost of journey: £18
Journey time: 14hr
7) Kaunas to Riga
So we’re in Lithuania, with just one country to pass through before the promised Land. My impression from speaking to Lithuanians is that there is literally nothing to see in the whole country except for Riga. I doubt this.
Nevertheless, Riga is one of my favourite cities on Earth. It’s charming and cool; a guaranteed good time. For now, I’m going to add Riga to my itinerary. There’s a good chance, however, that I’ll meet someone along the way who informs me of a hidden Lithuanian gem, which I’ll end up visiting instead.
This is by far the cheapest journey so far, which makes me very happy. Though I will find myself arriving close to midnight.
Cost of journey: £4.50
Journey time: 5hr
8) Riga to Tartu
Finally, we’re crossing the border into Estonia. This Europe by bus trip has hopefully been full of learning, excitement and adventure. From here, I feel I can be a little more flexible. I’m basically where I need to be, so I’m free to go off the beaten track a little and explore.
I can ask my Estonian girlfriend if she knows a cool place to meet just over the border. We can then make our way to Tallinn by whichever route takes our fancy.
For the purposes of the plan though, I’ll just take the bus to Tartu; a university town in the south of Estonia. My girlfriend’s family is here, so there’s a decent chance of free accommodation at this point.
This is where FlixBus lets us down, so instead I’ll jump on the Lux Express. There’s one a day leaving at 18:45.
Cost of journey: £15
Journey time: 4hr
Europe by Bus: The Final Leg
9) Tartu to Tallinn
Sticking with Lux Express, it’s time to end this epic bus journey. There were tears, there was laughter, pain and elation, but all in all, I wouldn’t be the man I am today without crossing the continent by bus.
Tartu to Tallinn is a well beaten path. Leaving every half an hour, I can pretty flexible.
Cost of journey: £5
Journey time: 2hr30
Europe by Bus: Was it worth it?
So that’s a lot of buses. Was this really a better idea than taking a flight?
Total price: £136.50
Total time: 50hr30
Countries visited: 7
An unforgettable journey: Priceless.
That’s £19.50 per country, which I’d say is quite a bargain.
The absolute cheapest flights from the UK to Tallinn are £14, so I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking that deal.
But you’d miss out on all those chances for adventure.