Traveling by bicycle is an incredible way to see the world, but sometimes it is just too slow! There might come a time when you need to get to where you want to go faster than what you can pedal. That is when a bus trip can come in handy. I took my bicycle on a bus in Europe a handful of times while bike packing. It meant that I could visit more European countries before my travel visa expired. In this post I will tell you all you need to know about taking your bicycle on a bus in Europe, because if I knew then what I know now I would have saved a lot of time and money.
Taking your bicycle on a bus in Europe
The truth is that not all bus companies in Europe will allow you to take your bicycle on their busses. The ones that do all have different rules. Some will ask you to disassemble and pack your bike in a certain way. You will also not be able to take your bicycle on every one of a certain bus companies busses. Some busses are bigger than others and will therefore have more space to carry bicycles. You will see when booking a bus ticket online, there will usually be an option to add a bicycle to your ticket. When you do so most of the available bus trip options will disappear. This can be very frustrating!
Most bus companies in Europe will charge you an additional fee to transport your bicycle. This fee will vary based on the bus company, but it is usually not much more than 10 euros.
What bus can I take my bicycle on in Europe?
If you search for bus travel with a bicycle in Europe then Flixbus will likely be the first thing that pops up! This is the bus company I used while I was bicycle touring in Europe. The Flixbus website says this about transporting bicycles:
“You can take your bicycle with you if it is of standard size, without add-ons and weighs a maximum of 25 kg.”
Many Flixbus busses have bike racks at the back of the bus that allow you to transport a fully assembled bicycle. If a Flixbus does not have a bike rack, your bike will be put in the luggage compartment of the bus. What I like about Flixbus is that you do not need to disassemble your bicycle to travel with them. This is good when you do not have a bike box or bag with you. However, the problem with transporting a fully assembled bicycle on a Flixbus is that not all Flixbus busses allow you to do so. You will see during the booking process that when you add a bicycle to your booking, most of the available bus trip options will no longer be available. This is because not all Flixbus busses have bike racks and not all have space in the luggage compartment for a fully assembled bicycle. If you disassemble your bicycle and pack it in a box or bag, you will be able to transport it on all Flixbus busses (as long as the maximum length, width and height of the box or bag does not exceed 240 cm). All you have to do in this case is to call Flixbus Customer Service to register your bicycle as special baggage. Your bicycle will then be transported in the luggage compartment of the bus.
The cost for transporting your bicycle on a Flixbus is 9 Euros at the time of writing this.
Bicycles are allowed on BlaBlaBus, but they must meet stringent requirements. The bicycle must be disassembled and packed in a bike box or bag. The sum of the three dimensions (height, width and depth) of the box or bag must not exceed 200cm and the weight must not exceed 23kg. Most bicycle boxes will not meet these size requirements, so you will have to be willing to construct your own small bike box. I guess you could also ask around at the local bike shops for boxes that were used for kids bikes, as they are bound to be smaller. The best alternative here would to be to use a bike bag. The average bicycle bag is much smaller than the average bicycle box.
The great thing about BlaBlaBus is that they do not charge extra for transporting a bicycle. It says on their website:
“You can place two pieces of luggage in the hold. Your bike can be one of them, under specific conditions”
The conditions referred to above are the size and weight requirements I have already mentioned.
Bicycles are allowed on Eurolines busses, but they also need to meet specific size and weight requirements. Fortunately, these requirements are not as restrictive as that of BlaBlaBus. To transport a bicycle on a Eurolines bus, the bicycle will have to be packed in a “cover”. I assume a “cover” means a bicycle bag or box. The bike bag or box can not exceed 230 cm long, 90 cm high and 60 cm wide and a weight of 20kg. Most bike boxes will not exceed these dimensions. I could not find information online about the cost associated with transporting a bicycle on Eurolines.
RegioJet allow bicycles on their bus trips, but you need to notify them in advance about your intention to take a bicycle on the bus. They can usually accommodate up to 2 bicycles per bus. The bike must be in a (textile) sack with maximum dimensions of 140 cm long, 80 cm high and 35 cm wide. The bike is transported as usual baggage at given price conditions for the specific line.
You can take a bicycle on an ALSA bus, but not on any of their international routes (except for Spain-Morocco routes). The good thing about transporting a bicycle on ALSA bus is that you do not need to disassemble or pack your bicycle. The bicycle must however be wrapped. ALSA sell bicycle covers for 12 euros that you can use to wrap your bike. The fee for transporting a bicycle with ALSA is 5 euros for short trips and 10 euros for longer journeys. I have no idea what qualifies as a “short” or “long” trip, but I am sure you will be able to find out during the booking process.
All of the above details are subject to change. If you are unsure about the bicycle policy of a particular bus company, call the customer service helpline before your trip to find out.
Before taking your bicycle on a bus in Europe:
Before you decide to take your bicycle on a bus in Europe, here are some helpful tips:
1. Pack your bicycle safely
If you are packing your bicycle in a bike box or bag, place bubble-wrap around the bike. This will go a long way towards keeping your bicycle safe during the trip. I would usually recommend removing the derailleur from the bike before packing it. This is because derailleurs are known to bend when placed incorrectly in a bike box or bag or if it receives a hard knock while attached to the bike. At the very least, place extra bubble-wrap around your derailleur if you are keeping it connected to the bicycle.
2. Arrive early with your bicycle
It is always a good idea to arrive 15-30 minutes early for your bus trip, if you are traveling with a bicycle. In my experience the bus driver or bus attendant will want to load your bicycle as soon as possible. If you arrive last minute with your bicycle, you are guaranteed to be met with some unfriendly faces. These are the people who will be taking care of your bicycle during the trip, so you want to keep them happy! It is also common courtesy not to keep them or the other passengers waiting.
3. Keep an eye on how your bicycle is loaded in the bus
Remember that nobody cares about your bike as much as you do. If your bike is being put on the bike rack at the back of the bus, make sure that it is securely connected and that it has zero chance of falling off during the trip. If your bike is in a bike box or bag, ask the bus driver if you can place it on top of the other passengers luggage and not to put anything on top of it. This is less important if you have a heavy steel bike, but if you have a lightweight carbon bicycle then you do not want other bags to be placed on top of yours.
4. Remove any accessories from your bicycle
While it is unlikely that someone will steal bicycle accessories off of your bike, it can fall off during the trip if your bicycle is attached to the bicycle rack at the back of the bus. That is how I lost a bicycle light during a trip from Paris to Berlin. Obviously this does not apply if your bicycle is being transported in the luggage compartment of the bus.
Bus travel is an extremely affordable way to travel with a bicycle. It is generally speaking much cheaper than traveling by train or by air, but it is not nearly as comfortable. In my opinion, a bus trip is perfect if you are on a tight budget or if you do not need to travel a long distance.