Eurolines is an international organization that provides a transnational network of coach routes, connecting over 600 destinations across Europe and Morocco. Unlike much of the competition, Eurolines actually operates on a non-profit basis in accordance with Belgian law.
Eurolines does not provide services itself but rather offers a platform for 29 separate coach companies across Europe. These include some well known organizations, such as National Express in the UK and Ulsterbus in Northern Ireland.
This system allows for a highly convenient portal for travel all across Europe. Passengers can easily book journeys taking them from one country to another for a reasonable price. On the downside however, the decentralized approach also means that the standards of service can sometimes vary from one country to another. Some people also find that the decentralized approach can make customer support difficult, with customers being passed from one department to another, or from one locale to another.
The full list of countries covered include:
- Czech Republic
- Northern Ireland
To find a journey, you will simply head over to the website at Eurolines.co.uk. Here you will be greeted by a modern and mobile-friendly website that will invite you to input your departure country, where you are leaving from and where you want to go.
Tickets are available at impressive low prices. For instance, you can travel from London to Paris for £22 and London to Brussels for £18.
Enter your details and then click next and the options will load. You’ll then see a variety of selections which will include some before and after the date you entered.
Fares and Fees
Euroline sells special passes that provide unlimited travel across 48 European cities, for either 15 or 30 days at a time. These passes are called ‘Euroline Pass’ and while they don’t offer access to all the services, they nevertheless offer a good discounted rate for the right customer who intends to travel to the right destinations.
There is also a general ‘Eurolines Discount Card’ which can be purchased at London Victoria Coach Station, Colonnade Walk and Dover Ferry Port. This provides travellers with up to 25% off of all travel and will work for standard, flexible and peak travel. A six month card costs £23, while a six month card costs £43.
For those hoping to get the best experience, booking online is advised. The website states that the prices online are the same as those found elsewhere. However, there are exceptions to this rule – such as if you are able to find the ‘Funfares’ offered by National Express. These are only available for online customers.
Likewise, the best way to get a guaranteed seat is to book online and in advance, which can also help you to get cheaper prices.
Refunds and Conditions
If you book your tickets online, then you won’t be able to amend your tickets via email. All amendments require payment of some sort, though only part of this is an amendment fee – which costs £5. The rest of the payment will simply be to make up the difference. So if you were to book a journey that cost £30 and then amend it at a time when it cost £36, then you would have £11 to pay in total for the amendment fee plus the difference. Calls will cost 13p per minute in addition to the usual charges. This is why amendments must be made via phone in order to go through.
That said, this means that refunds are available and not only for the first part of the journey but rather the outward bound and return portions. This puts Euroline above some of the competition in terms of its… terms… and it means that you can book with a little more confidence than you otherwise might have been able to.
Eurolines does recommend that because FunFares can offer such savings, it will sometimes actually be more cost effective to simply buy a new ticket at that discounted price rather than make the amendment which might dramatically increase the cost.
Facilities and Experience
The coaches are all run by different lines but most of the participating organizations are trusted transport providers that you can rely on for a high quality service. For example, National Express is one of the oldest and most well-regarded coach services in the UK.
It is worth doing some research before you set off. However, it is advertised on the site that coaches come with WiFi, power points, toilets, leg room, reclining seats and air conditioning. Hopefully, that means you can enjoy a cool journey with your legs stretched out and chair leaning back. Hopefully, it means that you can get some sleep or do some work on what will be a very long journey.
Just note that these are not guarantees. If you absolutely need power for instance, then it is a good idea to take a battery pack of your own in order to top up on the move in case there isn’t one available. At the same time, even when WiFi is available, it’s important to note that it can vary in terms of quality: so you might want to make sure that you have good 3G or 4G – or download anything you need prior to leaving.
Luggage allowance is generally set to two medium sized suitcases, which must weigh no more than 30KG. You are also allowed to take on one small piece of hand luggage. Alternatively, you can take a single rucksack instead of two suitcases.
Before You Travel
It is a good idea to make sure that you weigh your luggage prior to travel. You should also check in with the facilities with the specific provider and journey you will be using. Things like the luggage allowance are ‘general guidelines’, so it’s important to be sure you are following the correct rules before you try to board the coach.
When you buy online, there are three ways your ticket can be issued:
Post will take up to seven days, collection can take place at the station. E-tickets must be printed physically before being brought to the coach. If you are unable to print the ticket, Eurolines advises that it is not possible to change the distribution method. Therefore, the best option is to ask a friend, to go to the local library or to use facilities at work. This is why it’s very important to ensure this is done before you set off on your journey.
It’s also important to make sure that you have a passport and a visa (if necessary) for entering the foreign country. This may sound obvious, but it is surprisingly easy to forget if you aren’t travelling on a plane! Just because you are going by coach does not mean you won’t pass through customs and you’ll need to show all travel documentation at this point. It’s also a very good idea to get travel insurance. Note that missed coaches will not be refunded by Eurolines.
UK passengers will be required to carry their own luggage through customs. It is important to be sure of the rules if you plan on bringing back any alcohol or any cigarettes.
Should You Use Eurolines?
As mentioned, the customer support can be a little variable depending on where you go and which of the providers you are travelling with. As there is just a single platform offering journeys with a wide selection of different companies, there is always the chance that things won’t go as smoothly as hoped.
What’s also true, is that the journey times can be very long and the longer the journey, the more variation there will be in terms of arrival times. While many journeys will arrive on time, you shouldn’t be surprised if traffic and issues at customs mean you end up arriving one, two or three hours late sometimes!
Make no mistake, a journey from London to Brussels is a long journey. This writer experienced one such journey with Eurolines and the whole thing took 8 hours. There was a brief break and a wait at customs, which allowed for leg stretching, smoking and more. However, considering that a flight with EasyJet wouldn’t have been much more expensive, and considering that it would have been much faster, it will ultimately come down to your personal preference and your ability to handle long journeys.
But if this is something you are willing to do for the sake of cost or convenience, then Eurolines is a respected and reliable platform. The good news is that because the company is technically not-for-profit, you won’t be paying over the odds for booking fees. If you’re planning on travelling to and around Europe on a cheap fare, on the road, then there are few better ways to do that than with Eurolines. Check out their website and start searching for journeys!