Chinatown Buses in Europe? They Exist!

so there’s more than just the train?

for the most part i never think about using a bus to travel between cities in Europe since the train is the most salient (and often the quicker/nicer) option. of course, when the train doesn’t work out for some reason or other, say, for instance, my day trip to Mostar from Sarajevo, i’ll do it.

sidebar i’m writing this post mainly as a reminder to myself that there ARE indeed options!

but what about options in the countries where there is high speed rail or a lot of low cost carriers, like Germany? are there options besides Eurolines (a consortium of bus companies) and the such?


i just discovered today, thanks to twitter friend @FRAAviation, that Megabus-style intercity buses have been available there for a couple years now, and they’re a great option for cheap travel!

there are several options, including the aforementioned Megabus, Dein Bus, and Mein Fernbus, with the latter having quite the route network and all of them having some international routes.

how does it stack up?

@FRAAviation mentioned a trip he took lately (for context, we were talking about taking advantage of cheap rail tickets):

correction @FRAAviation clarified that his trip was from Frankfurt to Europa Park; the trip to Freiburg can cost as low as €8, but takes almost 4 hours. still, a great price!

if we map it out, we see it’s about 2.5 hours or so depending on traffic…


…and with a price of €11, that’s about the same as Megabus or BoltBus trip from Philly to Manhattan which is an even shorter distance. not bad! (as an aside, my work trips to Philly will go down to almost 0, which means my trips to NYC will go down to 0 — *sad panda*.)

here’s a sample train schedule, along with prices, for a random date about two weeks in the future:


yeah going by bus is a smidge longer than the train, but it’s significantly cheaper, and there’s free wifi? this could definitely be an option for future travel. also, @FRAAviation mentioned that since the service is so new, the buses are, too! winning!

as a somewhat-railfan, though, i’ll have to think long and hard about it. there’s something about this view that you just can’t beat:

Out the Back of the Train

a bit of history

(if you’re interested)

i was wondering why these buses weren’t around when i lived there in the 2000s, and as it turns out [in German] it was because they were illegal!

there was a law passed in 1934 which prohibited new forms of transport where old ones already existed, unless there was a significant improvement in services. that meant wherever the train went, the buses were sure not to follow. the founders of DeinBus thought they found a loophole, whereby a rented bus could travel wherever it wanted, and they organized their first trip in 2009 whereby passengers from Frankfurt to Cologne paid €12.50 to hire a bus to take them there.

of course, Deutsche Bahn (the German rail company) sued, but ultimately the government changed the law in 2012 and in 2013, long-distance bus services began. yay! the ultimate winner: passengers like you and me who now not only have another option to get from point A to point B, but also benefit from lower prices due to competition. huzzah!

by the way, doing this post brought back memories of perhaps one of the worst Eurotechno songs evar, “Omnibus” by Lautsprecher…*groan*

zuuuuu langsam!

2 Comments on "Chinatown Buses in Europe? They Exist!"

  1. What do you think is the cheapest way to get to the Alps? I would love to go hiking and camping in that region. Since car rentals are probably expensive, I wonder if there are affordable ways to get there and get around.

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