When we’re traveling around a lot of different places, prices can soon add up. I love to travel, but damn it’s taken up a lot of my spending over the years. So, when a cost-effective travel solution like Flixbus crops up, it seems like a no-brainer answer to my spendy adventuring ways.
That being said, with a lot of cheap and cheerful travel options, the reality can be very different from the advertising. There’s no doubt that Flixbus offers a much-needed service across the vast majority of Europe, but is Flixbus actually good? Let’s dive into my honest Flixbus review and find out more.
A Little Bit About Flixbus
Okay, before we get into the pros, cons, and details about Flixbus and my actual experience using the service, let’s just explain what Flixbus is and what they offer.
Fundamentally, these giant green buses roam all around Europe connecting different cities, towns, and airports. They offer a super low price service with some tickets as low as 2.99EUR.
These kinds of services are great if you don’t want to hire a car and are going somewhere that flights or trains don’t go, or if you want to save some money along the way and aren’t too fussed about time.
You can book baggage to go in the hold of the bus and booking is quick and easy thanks to their user-friendly website and handy app. As I said, on the surface, it seems like the perfect budget way to get around Europe.
My Experience with Flixbus
So, the last time that I was on a Flixbus was when I was traveling from Nice Airport to Marseille in the south of France. At the time, I was heading out to the other airport to fly home and the train times just weren’t lining up with what I needed.
I’d looked at Flixbus before for a whole host of trips that didn’t happen and have used similar services like BlaBlaBus, Greyhound, Tracopa, and National Express so I felt pretty comfortable jumping on a bus in another country.
The Flixbus stop for this trip was pretty easy to find as it was in the bus depot at Nice Airport which was super well signposted. My friend and I got off at Marseille train station to travel out to the other airport and that was really well indicated too.
As we only had hand luggage on this occasion, we didn’t use the hold section, but we did see the mass queue and rush to put things in and take things out at the other end.
I’m booking with Flixbus again at the moment for a trip to Italy where the trains aren’t as cost-effective and the routes that are run by Flixbus all line up with my flights, chosen airport, and itinerary. So, I’m going through this entire experience again, and sharing the process and my opinions with all you lovely readers!
Okay, so let’s move on to the actual Flixbus website and how to book your next trip with this big green coach company.
Finding a Route
So probably my favorite thing about Flixbus is their interactive route map. I’m unashamed to say that I absolutely love it. It’s opened up so many trips and itineraries for me and shown me places I can visit that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of or considered.
You can put in your starting point and the map will show every location that you can go to from this destination. So, when I see a cheap flight to somewhere that I’m not super bothered about but is in a decent area, I can put it in that airport and see where else I can go.
Fly into Bergamo for 20EUR and immediately jump on an hour and a half Flixbus to Lugano in Switzerland for 15 more EUR. Easy.
It also makes it pretty simple to see what day trips are in the area and where you might be able to get to if direct routes are going to your actual destination. Definitely beats scrolling through twenty different timetables or trial and erroring search queries!
This is definitely a plus point in Flixbus’s favor.
Whether you’re booking through the website or on the app, it’s really easy to find a bus that works for you and check out. Literally, just search, pick your bus with its set times and prices and you’ll be automatically directed through to the checkout.
Add your details, choose your seat reservation, add any extra baggage, and enter your payment information, and you’re done – easy!
Everyone gets one piece of hand luggage and one piece of hold luggage as standard, included in your ticket price, so unless you’ve got a ton of stuff or sports gear, you probably won’t need to add anything else on.
You’ll get an email confirmation with your e-tickets included so you can either open them up in the app when you board or download them and print them off to show to the driver. Regarding travel transportation, it’s probably one of the most accessible and seamless booking processes I’ve ever gone through.
They’re not super pushy about upselling better seats or extra features, unlike other low-cost operators like Ryanair.
If you are traveling with skis, surfboards, climbing pads, bikes, or any other sporting equipment, you need to book this in advance and there are limited spaces for sporting equipment. Obviously, it takes up a ton of room and if everyone on the bus brings their free luggage, space is going to come at a premium!
You can always add extra baggage and additional extras after you’ve booked by logging in on the website or on the app and going to the ‘Your Booking’ section. Here, you can make any changes to your route, cancel your ticket, or get extra information about your booking.
It’s always good to check back here on the day you’re due to travel, just in case there’s any new information about pick-up times or locations.
Arriving for Your Bus
Like with any booked transport, you should arrive with plenty of time before your departure. Your ticket will have a boarding time and a departure time, much like a flight ticket. This is to ensure the driver can get all the bags on board and check everyone’s tickets before boarding without falling too far behind.
You also want to give yourself plenty of time because sometimes it can be a bit tricky to find the Flixbus stops. They’re not normally alongside the local buses and sometimes just stop on the side of the road.
When you book, you should be given the pickup location and some details about finding the stop, but I’d definitely give you some contingency time.
Even though the Nice airport’s Flixbus stop was just outside the airport itself, it took us a while to find which coach bay was the Flixbus one, rather than one of their competitors. In more rural areas or away from popular transport hubs, you might have to ask a local to double-check the location or scope it out ahead of time.
Make sure that you bring your ticket or download it ahead of time in case the WiFi or mobile data is a little sketchy. You’ll also need to bring your passport with you or some other form of international ID. Especially if you’re on a bus crossing borders, you might need to show your ID along the way.
Traveling with Hold Luggage
So, as part of your ticket, you get one piece of hand luggage and one piece of hold luggage. When you arrive for your bus, you’ll normally find two queues being formed: one near the door and one near the luggage hold.
If you’re putting bags in the hold, get them in first and then go and find your seat. Try and remember roughly where in the hold it is for when you get off the bus again as you don’t want to be rummaging around trying to find your stuff in a massive pile, especially if you’re not the final stop on the journey.
The one thing about traveling with hold luggage if your Flixbus isn’t a direct route to your destination is that there is the risk that someone might take your stuff at an earlier stop. This doesn’t happen a lot, but it can happen.
Some bus companies give you a bag tag with specific numbers that they check when you disembark to help prevent this but Flixbus hasn’t done this yet.
What to Expect Onboard
When you get onboard you’ll have your reserved seat. Like on a lot of trains, people don’t really seem to pay attention to the reservations. It used to be a full free for all, but now Flixbus has put in reserved seats, it’s a little more organized.
Make sure you know your seat number before you get on so you don’t hold people up when you get on board. There is overhead baggage space if you need it, but it’s normally a pretty good idea to keep your bag on your person, especially if there are a ton of stops along the way.
Settle into your seat, get comfortable, and try with all your might to connect to the onboard free WiFi. Honestly, it’s a bit of an ongoing joke with Flixbus that their WiFi is complimentary because realistically it rarely works. Make sure you have your shows or podcasts downloaded before you get on the bus just in case!
There are also USB charging points on a lot of the Flixbuses, so if you’re running low on juice after a flight or a day walking around using Google Maps, then you can charge back up as you drive to your next destination.
Boarding takes around 20 minutes normally and then you’re away. You won’t hear from the driver or anyone else until a stop comes up. Normally, if it’s a touristy major stop like a station the driver will shout it out, but keep your eyes peeled just in case.
You don’t need to request the stops, the driver knows from the bookings where people are getting on and off.
You’ll also find that there’s a toilet onboard. This is actually a pro and a con as a lot of long-haul budget buses don’t have facilities onboard, but if you end up with a seat near the toilets, you better hope that no one uses it. It’s super basic and you definitely don’t want to use it if you’re on a windy mountain road!
All in all, Flixbuses are comfortable without being flashy, something that’s definitely reflected in the price. So, with this contextual section on what to expect onboard, let’s move onto more of a deep dive into the pros and cons of traveling on Flixbus in my honest opinion.
Flixbus Pros and Cons
Like with any transportation method, whether it’s budget or luxury, no one option is all good or all bad. These are my Flixbus pros and cons from my own experience, and other people have their own views. Honestly, a lot of these are personal preferences and you need to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself before you book.
Okay, let’s start out with the good stuff, shall we? Here are all the things I love about Flixbus!
There’s no getting around the fact that Flixbus is normally ridiculously cheap. It’s probably the biggest selling point that the service has and it’s definitely the reason why I chose Flixbus in the first place.
Given how expensive everything is getting, the fact that Flixbus is still super cheap is amazing. You can literally get across the country for less than the price of your lunch. It’s ridiculous!
There are different prices for the same route depending on the time of day and how long the duration of the journey. This is normally done in line with peak times for the area. Like with a lot of budget travel, if you go super early in the day or late at night, it’s going to be a lot cheaper.
You used to be able to get an Interflix voucher which cost 99EUR and meant you could travel to five cities across Europe, similar to an interrailing pass, but this seems to have disappeared from the site at the moment. There’s no word on whether it will be back, but honestly, depending on which cities you’re traveling to, individual tickets might come at a much lower price than this pass.
A Good Amount of Routes
When you have a cheap bus service, the downside is normally that they don’t go where you want to go or they have super limited service. The amazing thing about Flixbus is that they have a ton of routes all over Europe.
It’s not just from city to city, they also offer rural routes out to hiking and adventure spots, ski resorts, and more. There’s also a load of train station and airport routes that help connect you to off-the-beaten-path locations.
You can put in your starting point and you can easily see every single destination you can directly go to. It’s awesome for finding places to visit that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, or even if you fancy a day trip from your hometown!
Okay, I cannot overstate how surprised I was that Flixbus tickets included a free piece of hold luggage. Having traveled on low-cost airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet where you have to pay more than the actual ticket to add luggage, I assumed I’d have to pay for a ton of additional extras.
When you’re traveling around Europe on a budget or for a prolonged amount of time, like when you’re interrailing over the summer, you want to be able to bring enough stuff to be comfortable. The fact that Flixbus includes baggage as standard is such a great policy and super refreshing given how other low-cost travel operators charge so much to add them on.
Another huge pro about Flixbus’s service is the flexibility and cancellation policy. You can actually cancel your bus ticket up to 15 minutes before you’re due to depart and get your money back. This service used to be completely free, but it’s now anywhere between one and five euros, depending on how close to departure you are.
Again, compared to the other low-cost operators, the fact that you can cancel and get your money back so last minute is awesome. When you’re traveling around Europe, your plans can change all the time. Maybe you’re in a place where you want to spend more time and need to push back your plans, or maybe you want to jump on a later bus, or not go to a place altogether.
Flixbus gives you the flexibility to change your schedule and have the European trip that best fits your interests and schedule, which is super cool and a massive plus point!
Honestly, I’ve always felt pretty safe on a Flixbus. Some people feel a bit weird getting a bus around a foreign country, or getting on a bus that’s not always in a bus station, but it’s always felt secure for me, personally. Everyone tends to keep to themselves when they’re onboard. The last time I was on, pretty much everyone had headphones on, so you can kind of just be in your own little world.
Yes, some of the stops can feel a little sketchy, but Flixbus is a secure company with a pretty great reputation and a lot of repeat customers who love it! If it wasn’t safe, that simply wouldn’t be the case.
They do have policies about unwelcome conduct on board and have zero tolerance for abuse of other passengers or of their drivers, so keep this in mind when you next travel with them.
Some Basic Facilities
You’d be amazed at the number of long-haul coaches and buses that don’t have a toilet onboard. It’s a little insane actually. Normally you just have to suck it up until your driver decides to pull over at a rest stop and that’s about it. It’s definitely not comfortable.
All Flixbuses have toilets on board with washing facilities to keep you comfortable while you’re on the road. They’re not exactly the height of luxury, but it certainly beats having to hold it in until the next available road-stop restroom!
A word to the wise though, avoid sitting anywhere near it if you can – it’s not the freshest-smelling thing in the world. You can thank me later…
There are also plenty of charging points on Flixbuses which make it easy to stay connected and feel secure while you’re traveling. Honestly, there’s nothing worse than running down your battery listening to podcasts on a six-hour bus journey and not being able to run Google Maps to get to your next hostel!
On some longer trips, you can even buy snacks and drinks on board from your driver. It’s not a lot and they tend to be a little pricey, but if you don’t have time to raid the local grocery store before you board the bus, it’s a good option in a pinch.
It’s worth noting that this service isn’t available on all Flixbus routes, so it’s always best to bring your own drinks and snacks just in case!
Realistically, flying around Europe on low-cost flights is awful for the environment, and the travel industry in general needs to get better when it comes to sustainability. By taking buses and coaches instead of flying we end up cutting our personal carbon footprint while still getting to explore the world.
It’s also a lot better than hiring a car as you’re sharing the vehicle with a whole host of other people, rather than just two or three others. Flixbus is a cheap and largely sustainable option – a combination that’s pretty rare in the travel sphere.
Flixbus also works to offset the carbon emissions from its journeys and helps to support eco-friendly power projects across Europe. You can travel safely in the knowledge that your carbon footprint is as small as possible and that’s pretty awesome!
So, we’ve had all the good stuff, now let’s turn our attention to the less-than-ideal things about booking your next trip with Flixbus.
Okay, so let’s take a second to talk about the absolute joke that is Flixbus’s WiFi service. Even though it’s advertised as being included for free on every, single bus, the chances that it’ll be fully functional are few and far between. Basically, the Flixbus WiFi hardly ever works and you absolutely should not rely on it working!
Even if you can log into the WiFi and manage to get connected to a signal, it normally doesn’t last for long. It dips in and out as you travel so you can’t really stream anything reliably. Like any public, free WiFi, it’s always best to assume that it’s not going to work and then you can be pleasantly surprised if it does.
To entertain yourself while you’re on the Flixbus, I’d definitely recommend downloading shows, films, podcasts, and playlists way ahead of boarding the bus itself. Alternatively, avoid tech altogether and go old school with an actual, physical book!
So, when you book your Flixbus, you’ll be given a boarding time and a departure time. You need to make sure you’re there in time for the first boarding time. However, Flixbuses do have a reputation for being delayed or late.
You can track buses on the app to see if they’re running on time or not, and that’s something I’d definitely recommend doing before you leave for your stop.
The other thing to note about the lax timing of Flixbus is that you probably shouldn’t rely on them for a tight schedule. If you need to catch a flight or bus or make a short connection, there’s a pretty decent chance that you’re going to miss it.
Give yourself plenty of time and flexibility when it comes to Flixbus – it definitely runs on its own kind of time.
So, although I personally find Flixbuses to be pretty safe, there are a few security concerns. This is especially pertinent when it comes to the hold luggage if you’re not getting off at the first stop. There are no checks to see whose luggage is who’s so it is definitely possible to swipe someone’s bag while they’re still sitting in the coach.
There is a lost and found service online for Flixbus, but honestly, if you have something stolen, you’re not going to find it again. If you’re on a direct Flixbus or you’re getting off at the first stop on the journey, this is less of a concern, but you definitely need to keep an eye on your stuff if it’s on hold.
Okay, so the customer service from the Flixbus drivers leaves a lot to be desired. Chances are that many of them don’t speak English, which is fine, but something that you need to be aware of. If you have questions, find out what they are in the target language first so you can actually find out the answer.
Really, they just want to check your passport and your ticket and get to the next stop. That means that they can be a little blunt and impatient, which can come off as poor customer service. Be prepared for this and you won’t be surprised.
The other thing to be aware of is that the drivers won’t always say which stop you’re at, so you need to keep an eye on your Google Maps if you’re not familiar with the area or are getting off at a major stop. This isn’t great if you’re new to an area or a tourist and if the WiFi isn’t working either.
The Stops Themselves
So, I mentioned that the Flixbus stops can be a bit sketchy. 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.
Sometimes there isn’t even a bus shelter so you can stand around getting soaked or get cold waiting around. The major stops in cities and at transport hubs are normally easier to find, and the address should be on your booking confirmation.
If you’re unsure, scope out the stop in advance or ask your hostel or hotel for advice – they should know where the bus is likely to stop and when.
Is Flixbus Good Value for Money?
Yes in my opinion a lot of Flixbus journeys are good value for money. Obviously, the longer your trip or the more niche the route, the more expensive it’s going to get, so a lot of the value relies on that. If you’re going from one end of Italy to another, it’s probably going to be cheaper, quicker, and more comfortable to fly with a low-cost airline.
If you’re going with 4-5 hours and the trains are either expensive or don’t go where you want to go, then Flixbus offers pretty great value for money with tickets, including baggage, starting as low as 2.99EUR.
When your tickets cost as little as that, it’s difficult to complain about a lack of WiFi or timing issues. As with a lot of budget travel options, you get what you pay for, and if you’re not precious about amenities, time, and facilities, then Flixbus is great value for money.
Is Flixbus Worth the Time?
This is a big question because it largely depends on the route. If you’re traveling from one side of Europe to the other, no Flixbus isn’t worth the time because low-cost flights exist and are pretty prevalent.
That being said, if you’re traveling from Manchester to London in the UK where trains are notoriously expensive and unreliable, it might be worth the extra two-three hours the Flixbus takes to save you that amount of money.
One of the big things about Flixbus is that it takes you on routes that aren’t commonly serviced by local buses, trains, or flights. Especially around Northern Italy, a lot of the Flixbus routes would require expensive car hire which can be stressful with Italian mountain roads and would take the exact same journey time. In this instance, Flixbus is absolutely worth the time.
It also depends on the times of the Flixbus schedule and your itinerary. If you have to wait around an airport for an extra four hours before your Flixbus leaves and you’re only on a weekend trip, it’s not really worth the time.
This is definitely something you need to weigh up for yourself based on your itinerary, route choice, and whether you want to prioritize budget over time or vice versa.
Does Flixbus Have an App?
Yes, Flixbus does have an app. It’s really easy to use and you can show your tickets on the app, rather than having to go through the hassle of printing them off. The Flixbus app is available on both iOS and the Google Play Store, but remember that you’re going to need WiFi or mobile data for the app to work fully.
Get those tickets up when you have WiFi and either download them to your phone or keep the page open until you get to the driver.
So, is Flixbus Really Good?
So, all in all, I believe that Flixbus is actually pretty good. Yes, it’s not going to give you the height of luxury for return journeys that are under the price of a glass of wine, but it does offer a pretty decent budget service across a lot of Europe.
If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to interrailing, or just want a budget way of enjoying a day trip out of one of the major cities, then I’d recommend using Flixbus. Just make sure you plan your time wisely – journeys can be long, delayed, and at inconvenient times, so if your trip duration is low, I’d steer clear of using Flixbus for now.
I hope this honest review of Flixbus has helped guide you, let me know if you’ve used Flixbus before and what you think about it – I’d love to know!