Bus travel is often the most convenient and least expensive way to travel around central Europe. Train tickets from Krakow to Warsaw Poland on the July 2019 day we needed to travel were priced around $40 per person for a 2.5 hour journey. Flixbus tickets from Krakow bus station were $11.99 per ticket for a 4 hour 25 minutes trip. Spending an extra $58 to cut our travel time by 2 hours did not seem like the better value to me.
One of the main reasons I prefer bus travel are many fond memories of bus trips in Europe. I also have memories of several train trips in Europe when I was miserable due to overcrowding, closed windows in a stuffy compartment and having to change seats in the middle of the trip when someone boarded the train with a reservation for the seat where I was sitting without a confirmed seat reservation.
Flixbus in Poland
Flixbus is the major bus line in Poland after their acquisition of Polskibus in 2018. I traveled in Poland on Polskibus a few times in the past. I have traveled on several different bus lines like RegioJet (CZ) and Ecolines (Latvia) when they provided more convenient point-to-point travel than trains in Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. I don’t mind bus travel for journeys under six hours. On many of the dozen or more bus trips I have taken in the past three years, especially for connections from one central European country to another, bus travel offered a faster travel time and generally a much lower travel price than train travel.
Price of Flixbus Tickets
In June and July 2019, Kelley and I made six bus trips on Flixbus over the course of three weeks.
1. Flixbus Prague UAN Florence to Liberec in the Czech Republic, $4.99 each per one way ticket. Travel time 1 hour 50 minutes.
2. Liberec to Prague East (Cerny Most) $4.99 per each one way ticket. Travel time 1 hour 5 minutes.
We learned on the outbound journey that getting out of downtown Prague from Prague’s main bus station Florence UAN to the freeway for a stop to pick up more passengers at Prague Cerny Most Metro station took 40 minutes. Cerny Most is the end point for Prague’s Metro B line.
On the trip back from Liberec to Prague I purchased a ticket to Cerny Most for the same $4.99 ticket price as Florence bus station. The biggest difficulty we had was trying to figure out where the bus stop was in Liberec. Even though we had arrived in Liberec by Flixbus 48 hours earlier, I could not recall where we had been dropped off on the street surrounding the bus station. Asking people standing around the station revealed a language barrier we had rarely encountered on our travels through the Czech Republic.
The Flixbus app simply stated Liberec bus station and did not pinpoint the actual bus stop location. We stayed in the center of the bus station watching the streets on both sides of the station until Kelley spotted the bus on the opposite side of the bus station from where I thought we were dropped off when we arrived in Liberec.
We exited the bus at Cerny Most, grabbed our luggage from underneath the bus and walked 20 meters to the Cerny Most Metro B line train station right next to the bus stop.
We were at the Holiday Inn Prague Congress Centre in 45 minutes with a change at Florence Metro Station to the C line metro. We needed 32 CZK 90-minute Metro tickets from Cerny Most to Vysehrad rather than 24 CZK 30-minute tickets if traveling from Florence Metro to Vysehrad. The extra 35 cents for a 90-minute Metro ticket resulted in a time savings worth the minimal extra expense.
3. Poland from Krakow to Warsaw West, $11.99 per ticket. Travel time 4 hours 25 minutes.
Kelley and I traveled by bus in July 2018 from Krakow bus station to Auschwitz, so I knew where we needed to go in Krakow. Basically walk through Galeria Krakowska mall to the train station at the lower level, then past all the train platforms to the end, then up the stairs, or elevator, and back to street level for the bus station.
Tourist Tip: Krakow bus station has luggage storage lockers at 12-16 PLN for 24 hours, payable by credit card.
The bus from Krakow to Warsaw was a fancy double decker bus with tables and bathroom downstairs and most of the seats upstairs. Seatbacks had USB ports.
Flixbus offered free wifi and streaming movies on Amazon Prime through the Flixbus mobile app. I watched three hours of The Man in the High Castle.
Warsaw West is an area I was not familiar with in the city. The bus pulled into a station and we got off the bus, grabbed our luggage and followed people through the parking lot and down the street about 200 meters.
Google Maps showed I needed to travel two stops to Warszawa Śródmieście. Feeling confident after traveling around Warsaw last March 2019, I purchased two tickets from the automated kiosk rather than wait in line for a ticket agent. Outside on the train tracks we waited for a delayed train. When the train arrived, we boarded and I proceeded to stamp our train tickets in the yellow box only to find the tickets in my hand were not the same size as the slot in the box. I gave it a couple of tries and unable to read the message coming up on the machine in Polish, I settled back against the wall of the carriage and watched for ticket inspectors on the crowded train. We exited the train at Warszawa Śródmieście and walked to the Westin Warsaw.
Friends of ours in Prague told us about being fined 150 EUR in Rome for having unstamped tickets on the Metro.
The tickets I bought at Warsaw West were good for the tram ride we took from Rondo ONZ to Warsaw Old Town for a dinner restaurant. But we ended up taking another free ride on the tram later that evening for the ride back to the Westin Warsaw when the tram ticket machine rejected my credit card after two minutes and then the machine took another two minutes to reset. I tried a second time with the same result, by which time we were at our Westin hotel stop and simply exited the tram, again without a ticket.
Twice during our ten days in Poland I bought the wrong kind of city transportation tickets in Krakow and Gdansk that we ended up not using, so in my mind that kind of equals out our two free rides in Warsaw.
4. Warsaw Młociny to Toruń, $8.99 per ticket. Travel time 3 hours 55 minutes.
A metro ride from Rondo ONZ Metro Line B with a transfer to Metro Line A to the end of the line at Warsaw Młociny in north Warsaw cost 4.40 PLN/$1.15 per ticket for a 30-minute ride.
Using public transportation in a foreign city is one of the challenges and joys I experience in places I travel. Finding the Flixbus stop at Warsaw Młociny was no problem. The dedicated platform was about 150 meters away from the Metro station entrance.
Inside the small bus station was Kelley’s best find – a free toilet in Poland.
The disappointing part of the bus trip was no USB ports in the seat back. Since my iPhone was also my camera I needed once we arrived in Torun, I was reluctant to spend too much time during the trip draining the battery. My main use of the phone was looking up Wikipedia articles on towns we drove through on the way to Torun.
Toruń, Poland is one of Poland’s oldest cities and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site town center.
One of the memorable sights from the bus was passing a farm with rows of crops being weeded by a group of blonde fieldworkers. That is something I have never seen in California. Monterey County is nearly 60% Hispanic/Latino and about 23% of the 450,000 population are not U.S. citizens. Black-haired immigrants are the dominant agricultural workforce around my homeland.
The bus basically followed the Vistula River on two-lane roads for about 130 miles with stops at several towns along the way.
I specifically chose to stay at Hotel 1231 in Torun due to its proximity at about eight minutes walk from the bus stop outside Torun rail station.
5. Torun to Sopot, Baltic Sea beach resort town near Gdansk, $8.99 per ticket. Travel time 2 hours 45 minutes.
Learning our bus was delayed arriving to Torun helped me learn some of the real power of the Flixbus mobile app. The bus was scheduled to arrive 30 minutes late. We were able to hang out in Hotel 1231 bar having a beer, while watching the actual location of our Flixbus as it approached Torun.
We waited until 20 minutes before Flixbus arrival before heading to the bus stop.
Another bus with no power outlets I could see. Turns out there were power outlets on both buses to and from Torun, if I had looked a bit harder.
The main pitfall of our travel on Flixbus was missing our stop in Sopot when the bus stopped at what looked like a regular city bus street stop. There was no stop announcement and since nobody exited the bus, I assumed there was a different bus stop closer to Sopot city center. I was wrong.
Inadvertently, we found ourselves on the way to Gdynia, the next stop in the TriCity area of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia. Fortunately Flixbus stopped at Gdynia train station and my mistake was not costly. We took the next train back to Sopot, about a ten minute ride at 3.80 PLN/$1.00 per ticket. Missing our Sopot bus stop wasted an hour in getting to Sopot Marriott Resort.
6. Gdansk to Warsaw Mlociny, $14.99 per ticket. Travel time 4 hours, 50 minutes.
The bus from Torun to Sopot stopped at Gdansk bus station near the railway station so we had some idea of where to go. We took Uber from Radisson Gdansk Suites to the bus station.
Finally, I saw a woman reaching between the seats to plug in her phone on the bus and I discovered where the power outlet is located. In retrospect, it seems logical to check under the seats for a power port like on an airplane, however, nearly every bus journey I have previously taken in Europe had seat back monitors with USB power ports.
Flixbus Travel Tips
Download the Flixbus app.
The app allows easy purchase of tickets, real time bus tracking and access to entertainment features. I had never watched movies on my phone before these bus trips in Poland. Turned out to not be as annoying as I always imagined it would be watching a film on a tiny screen.
The great thing about the app is all my past ticket purchases and receipts are stored in my file.
Overall cost for our trips was $55 per person for tickets + $6 per person ($1 service charge per ticket) + $3 per person assigned seat (I purchased assigned seats at $1.49 on two bus trips) = $64 per person for travel from Prague to Liberec round trip ($12) and travel from Krakow to Warsaw to Torun to Sopot to Warsaw ($52).
$52 per person for travel across Poland by Flixbus was a budgetary and environmental good deal.