Travel & Leisure

Touring Europe By Bus

If you’re looking for a headache-free way to travel, a bus tour might be right for you


By Katrina Caruso


While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, organized bus tours can provide a worry-free, action-oriented way to visit a country—or a few countries. Bus tours can be an especially good idea in Europe, where another country is often only an overnight drive away.

The positives are many. For one thing, someone else plans the itinerary, carefully plotting out the highlights and the pit stops for you, and yet there’s normally enough wiggle room in those plans for you to decide where you want to eat (unless you choose a tour that takes care of the meals, too) and what you want to see in addition to the organized outings to attractions such as the Colosseum in Rome or the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona. And if any problems arise, they’re someone’s else’s headache.

Another upside is that you don’t have to worry about driving or navigating. Sure, you can also take intercity trains, but you’ll have to deal with train schedules, and that means a lot more planning.

One downside is that you may be find yourself with too many options to consider, so it’s can be a good idea to book with a travel agency.

Things to ask yourself:
– Where do you want to go—that is, which country or countries do you want to explore?

– What do you want included (meals, excursions, hotel stays, travel, flights…)?

– How long do you want to be gone, and how long do you want to spend in each city?

– How many people do you want to travel with, and who’s in your travel party?

– What types of activities do you want to do?

Things to know:
– Don’t ignore tours that stop in places you’ve never heard of: you might fall in love with a small town in Portugal’s Algarve region!

– The price may rise as the group gets smaller. Read reviews online and weigh your options and plan your budget carefully.

– For warmer countries such as Croatia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, the ideal time to visit is during the off seasons of spring and fall: April–May, and September–October (winter in Europe can be cold and damp).

– Packing light is recommended so that you don’t exhaust yourself lugging around heavy, cumbersome suitcases.

Things to pack:
– Eye masks and earplugs or headphones for sleeping on the bus.

– An extra pair of socks and a blanket in case the air conditioning gets to be too much.

– Hand sanitizer (all those shared spaces and surfaces can get germy).

– Adapters: Europe doesn’t use the same kind of plugs as North America, and they can be expensive.

Photo: iStock/SolStock.