FlixBus Offers An Extremely Cheap Way To Travel Across Europe, But Is It Worth It?

One of the best parts about traveling around Europe is how easy it is to get from city to city and country to country. Of course major hubs are well-connected to other big cities, but even smaller locales in Europe are accessible by buses, trains, and planes. Among these modes of transportation are plenty of affordable service companies that make staying on budget while traveling a breeze. One popular option is FlixBus.

FlixBus operates throughout most of Europe, running buses from one country to another at budget-friendly prices: Prague to Berlin for less than $40 or Ljubljana to Verona for less than $50 are just a couple examples. The buses have restrooms, Wi-Fi, outlets for charging electronics, and undercarriages for luggage as well. All the while, you are minimizing your carbon footprint by not taking a plane. However, not everyone believes that saving some money is worth the longer bus trip or traffic unreliability. Yet FlixBus still sees quite a few satisfied customers. As with any mode of transportation, things like pick-up and drop-off delays must be taken into account. Overall, there are pros and cons to using the service.

As with any ground transportation, traffic can delay your bus

As with other budget transportation companies, some FlixBus customers reported delays. This might not be an issue if you have some flexibility in your itinerary, but it could cause major shake ups in your plans if you have a tour or another mode of transportation booked soon after your FlixBus is supposed to come to its destination. FlixBus is also not immune to the usual city traffic, as Reddit user tonemillion explained. "Being Canadian, it's no worse than buses here, in the U.S. or Australia. The horror stories seem to be exceptions rather than the rule," the user added.

The horror stories might be more common than the above Redditor thinks, however. Overall, Flixbus has a low rating of 2 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Some reviews echoed the frustrations of delays or even cancellations. What's more alarming are reviewers claiming that the buses were unsanitary and without helpful customer service on board or over the phone. More than one reviewer claims to have been left stranded at the bus stop.

Be mindful of your luggage with Flixbus

A major plus to FlixBus is that each FlixBus passenger gets to bring one piece of luggage for free. That said, there's one possible hang up that could happen: If you put your luggage in the undercarriage, someone getting off at a different location could (intentionally or not) swipe your bag with you still sitting obliviously in your seat. Perhaps you should look into luggage locks or alarms to deter potential thieves, but this goes for using any form of public transportation.

Travel blogger Dayna Brockbank from Happily Ever Travels finds FlixBus to be safe and fairly reliable, but points out a problem with the FlixBus arrival and departure stops. "They're not always in formal bus stations and can sometimes be at an odd pull-in spot without much signage. It can make it really tricky to find the right spot to wait for the bus," she explained. You will not be flying totally blind, however. "The major stops in cities and at transport hubs are normally easier to find, and the address should be on your booking confirmation."

Give yourself enough time to find the bus departure location

I actually have personal experience with FlixBus, and the first time I used it was seamless. The bus took me from Prague all the way to Verona safely and dropped me off conveniently near Verona's train station. Another time, I used FlixBus to travel from Prague to Český Krumlov and back. The bus was on time in both locations; however, I was unsure which side of the street to stand on to wait for the return bus in Český Krumlov. There appeared to be bus stops on both sides of the street, further complicated by the fact that more than one multi-city bus company had buses coming and going from the street. Despite this confusion, I found the correct bus and made it back to Prague when I was estimated to do so. I would use FlixBus again, but I'd advise travelers to give themselves enough time to discern the correct pick up point.

If these mixed feelings are swaying you away from FlixBus, one TripAdvisor reviewer suggested National Express as an alternative for transportation around the United Kingdom and Ireland. Another reviewer pointed to RegioJet. This company covers most of Europe, but the majority of its routes are around the continent's central countries.