Your Public Transportation Guide In Major European Cities

As Egyptians we are not entirely used to the concept of public transportation. Sure, the subway serves a huge sector of the population but its network is limited and its use is usually a torture. Unlike London with its 12 lines, in Cairo there are currently two lines, it is the fastest and cheapest, especially compared to London’s 30 EGP ticket, way to travel in Cairo (cost 1 LE).


But when we travel to major European cities, renting a car and taking cabs are almost always out of the equation due to their ridiculously high costs. Public transportation in major European cities always has extensive networks, complimentary choices and, a fixed schedule. However, the choices might be overwhelming; some options would give their users a better exposure to the city, some would save more time, or others that are just cheaper. Here is a list of recommendations based on personal experience.


Preferred Mode of Transportation: Walking

Barcelona’s city center is actually pretty small and well connected. Accordingly, the subway and buses might not always be necessary as a mode of transportation.

You will never get tired walking around Barcelona, because wherever you go you will be surrounded by intricate architecture, and sunny marinas.

One moment you will think that you are lost, but you wouldn’t care because the city has something to offer at every corner, plus if you keep walking you will probably end up somewhere recognizable. (Photo courtesy: Paulina)


Other Modes of Transportation

Subway: Clean, air conditioned and there is a train every five minutes or less, moreover, it is super easy to use and goes to all the major attractions.
Bus: Also clean and efficient but not as easy to use as the subway.

If you need assistance, check their user friendly website 

Rates: 2.15 Euros/ride to be bought in the subway station or on the bus. However A T10 (10 tickets booklet) costs only 9.95 Euros and will save you the trouble of buying individual tickets for each journey as well as saving you money. A normal single journey ticket costs you 2.15  so with a T10 you save  11.55 Euros for 10 journeys. T-10 tickets are bought from machines in every station. The bus and subway ticket are interchangeable. (Photo courtesy: Mariya Prokopyuk)


How to get from the Airport to the City Center?

Bus: Bus 46 operates during the day between the hours of  05:00  to  00:15  at night from both airport terminals. The bus takes a little longer time compared to the Aerobus (Which is more expensive) to get to the city center because it makes more stops, however the big advantage of using this bus is you can use the T10 transport ticket on this journey unlike for the Aerobus.

Aerobus: Leaves every five minutes from the airport. The tickets cost 5.9 Euros and can be bought from the staff at the bus stops (cash only) or the ticket vending machines (payment by credit cards VISA and MASTERCARD) or from the driver.

Taxi: You can catch a taxi from the airport directly. the taxi price varies between 30 to 60 Euros. You can pre-book your taxi using any of the suggested providers:

  • Barcelona Airport Taxis offer a taxi (up to 4 people) for 55Euros (up to 4 people) and a minibus (up to 7 people) for 70 Euros.
  • You can just stop a cab when you get out of the terminal, there is a plethora. (Photo courtesy: Diab)



The central station of Barcelona is called Barcelona Sants. The station is in the Sants-Montjuïc district of Barcelona, a little way to the west of the city center, and is easily accessible from anywhere in the city through the L3 and L5 metro lines.

The quickest and easiest way to buy Spanish train tickets is to buy online with cheap advance-purchase fares & print-at-home tickets. Loco2 sells tickets for the same price RENFE -the official railways website- but it is much easier and user friendly for English speakers. However if you are planning to go to the suburbs or Montserrat, you can book the ticket instantly from the station in Plaça d’Espanya.

Bonus Tip: Check out our selection of 17 Great Things To Do In Barcelona.

Spain_Barcelona_city - blog


Preferred Mode of Transportation

The red double deckers are icons of London so riding them in itself is an experience. Due to their large panoramic windows, they give you a chance to see the city while commuting. Moreover, they are very frequent; you almost never wait for them. You also don’t have to worry about traffic jams because the busses have their own lanes. Seriously, as an Egyptian, trying to decipher all the writings they have on their streets is a challenge, but who cares, we are not driving. (Photo courtesy: Duncan Harris)


Oyster Card

You should buy an Oyster Card, which is a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport –buses and underground. You basically put credit on the card and use it instead of cash for a lower price per ticket or for unlimited times for a limited period of time of your choice such as a week, a month, or even a year.

You can buy the Oyster Card from big subway stations or Heathrow Airport. Check the nearest Oyster Selling Station near you on this link.The card costs 5 GBP to purchase, which will be returned to you when you return the card with the payment receipt. In case you did not return it, it can be used anytime later when you or a friend are visiting London.

Other Modes of Transportation

The Tube (a.k.a. Underground): The first time using the underground is honestly a terrifying experience, but once you get a feel, you become a pro and at one point you will know which line goes where and which station has which monument near by. The trains are frequent and very well connected. (Photo courtesy: Rudi Riet)

Rates: The weekly rate for an adult for unlimited rides in public transit is 32.10 GBP. Which translates into 4.5 GBP per day compared to the daily ticket of 6.40 GBP and the one ride ticket of 2.3 GBP.

Bonus tips

  • Remember to “touch out” on your way out of a transportation mode because they have strict rules and fines. Touch out is basically putting your card against the machine on the bus or on your way out of the subway station to document that you stopped using the service.
  • You can always cut down your transportation costs by subscribing to using buses, without using the tube

How to get from the Airport to the City Center?

The Tube : When you first arrive in London with all your suitcases and luggage, it is not recommended to take the underground, but it is doable. The reason why is that some stations don’t have escalators and the tube is usually crowded to the extent that you and your bags might not fit at the same time. So depending on your priorities, your number of bags, and budget; you can consider or discard this option. If you choose to travel with the tube to central London, know that it is the Piccadilly line that connects Central London to Heathrow and that a ticket costs 5.7 GBP.

The Heathrow Express: is the fastest way to travel into Central London. Trains from Heathrow leave every 15 minutes and the journey to London Paddington takes about 15-20 minutes. Trains to London leave Heathrow Airport from approximately 5am until 11.55pm. Adult tickets cost 21.5 GBP and can be bought online or in the station.

Taxi: A metered trip in a black cab to/from Central London generally costs from £45 to £70 and takes approximately one hour. However, with traffic jams and rush hours, both the time and the cost of the journey can get much higher. (Photo courtesy: Curtis Cronn)



London has a plethora of train stations, wherever you are going make sure you have the right station and know how to get there. It is advisable to book your train tickets online on their official railways website, as it is much cheaper and you get to compare journey durations and prices. The main stations are:

Euston:  To Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. Overnight sleeper trains to Scottish destinations (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William) also depart from Euston

Paddington:   To Oxford, Swindon, Bath, Bristol and the South West of England.  This is where Heathrow Express stops.

St Pancras: The High Speed Station. Eurostar international services to Paris (Gare du Nord) and Brussels.  High Speed services to Kent as well.

Kings Cross: To Peterborough, York, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Aberdeen.

Victoria: To Gatwick Airport –main airport for Low Cost carriers-, righton, East Grinstead, Littlehampton, Hastings, Bognor Regis, Portsmouth Harbour, Southampton Central, Dover Priory.

Bonus Tip: Check out our complete guide to London.



Preferred Mode of Transportation: Trams

Lisbon is a hilly city. If you plan to walk there, you have to be in good shape. Lisbon is a European city with a Mediterranean climate, nothing beats Alexandria’s humidity though, don’t worry. Its hilly landscape, mighty ocean, diverse yet harmonized architecture make it a gem of the Atlantic. It is a very laid back city with so much history. Trams are a part of Lisbon’s history and riding them will take you on a trip back in time.
Tram 28 is one of its vintage trams that take you around the city’s monuments, history, culture and ocean views. Taking this tram is like taking a much cooler and cheaper hop on hop off bus that doesn’t get stuck in traffic jams.

Discovering Lisbon by tram is one of the highlights of your visit to Portugal’s capital, and tram 28 stops at all major touristic attractions. Beware of pickpockets as they always target this tram though. (Photo courtesy: mgkm photography)


Other Modes of Transportation

The Subway and buses: meet the European capital expectations in terms of cleanliness, punctuality and network extensiveness. They have an interactive website for their public transit as well which comes handy when planning a trip.

Taxis: are also relatively cheap in Lisbon, particularly if you are a group and will split the fare. A 7 minutes ride can be a reasonable 5 euros ride.

Rates: A single Lisbon tram ticket costs 2.85 Euros and is purchased from either the driver or the on board ticket machine. It is better to purchase the ticket from the driver as the machines only accept coins. A more reasonable option for a the journey is the use of the Viva Viagem ticket which is purchased from metro stations, and is usable on the subway and buses as well, this makes a single journey a much more practical €1.40 for a single ride .

The Viva Viagem Card: it costs 0.50€, one day pass for 6 Euros and one ticket on the Viva Viagem card costs 1.4 Euros. Ticket offices for Viva Viagem found in almost every station so don’t worry about finding them. (Photo courtesy: Eric Victor Gitter)


How to get from the Airport to the City Center?

Outside the terminal buildings; one is able to obtain taxi services. These generally charge an average of €15 to the city center. Some of the taxis have built in meters. The trip should be around 15-20 minutes.

Subway: The Metro station at the airport on the red line quickly takes you to the center of the city, passing by Oriente Station for train connections to other parts of Portugal. The ticket price is 2.85 Euros

Aerobus: The best option if you have luggage and on a budget. A ticket may be purchased directly from the driver and costs just 3.5 euros. They run every 20 to 30 minutes. (Photo courtesy: Ken & Nyetta)

Lisbon's Historic Center and the Golden Gate Bridge


The Portuguese Railways website allows online booking of Lisbon-Porto and Lisbon-Algarve trains,. Reservation and online purchase are necessary. If you are planning visits to Sintra or other nearby cities, just go to the station and get your ticket, trains are frequent and really cheap.

The Stations
Oriente Station: This is the city’s main station. Located in the heart of Parque das Nações, it is a metro and bus terminal, and an obligatory stop for just about every train that passes by Lisbon

Rossio Station: The city’s most central station (located downtown right between Rossio and Restauradores squares) serves Lisbon’s suburbs and is the departure point for a daytrip to Sintra and most day trips near Lisbon such as Cascais.  (Photo courtesy: Christine Zenino)

Bonus Tip: Check out our 9 Reasons Why Portugal Should be Your Next European Destination



Preferred Mode of Transportation: #1 Subway

Paris’ subway is one of the favored transit systems in the world. Fast, cheap -even better if you buy carnets instead of single tickets-, reliable and almost always convenient with stations at every corner of Paris. Tickets are bought from every station,they cost 1.8 Euros for a single ride or a ten tickets booklet for 14.1 Euros, saving you almost 4 euros per 10 tickets.

RER: The Paris RER is a number of 5 express train lines connecting Paris city center to surrounding suburbs. They take you to the Airport, Euro Disney, Valle d’ Europe outlet mall, and the Versailles for merely 7 – 10 euros.  (Photo courtesy: rafa espada)


Preferred Mode of Transportation #2: Vélib

The Vélib is the cycling system in Paris, if you know the layout of Paris (or not), then bikes are a perfect way to discover the city. You can buy a day ticket for 1,70 €. Yes, it is that cheap!!!

Bonus tip: Don’t be fooled because after 30 minutes of use they start charging extra money per hour,. So, to get yourself out of paying the extra money and still use the bike the whole day for just 1.7 Euros do the following: go get a bike from any of their 1800 stations around Paris and note the time of checking the bike out, make sure you return the bike to any of the stations before 30 minutes have passed since your check out time-since the first 30 minutes of check out are free given that you paid the 1.7 euros, you don’t pay extra money every time you check a bike out-, you will have to wait 5 minutes to be able to check another bike out. If you keep doing so, you will end up just being charged the initial 1.7 Euros. (Photo courtesy: Greg)


Other Modes of Transportation

Buses: Clean, on time and frequent, metro tickets are useable on the bus and they can be purchased on board. If you buy the ticket on board, it will cost you 2 Euros, however, you can use the T-Ticket (subway) for the bus ride as well, saving yourself some money.

How to get from the Airport to the City Center?

RER B: Arrival Stations include  Gare du Nord, Châtelet les Halles, St Michel/Nôtre Dame, Luxembourg, Port Royal, Denfert-Rochereau, Cité Universitaire.

Tickets: You buy a 10 Euro ticket of 5 zones at the airport and head to the subway station at the airport. Make sure you do your research to know if it is better to stop in a certain station or at the Gare Du Nord then take the subway to your hotel.

Aerobus: One of the most popular buses to take from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the center of Paris. The bus leaves from all three terminals and runs from 06:00 to 23:00 every day. They run every 15-20 minutes.

Tickets: cost 9.25€ one-way and you buy them on the bus. They terminate in the Opera area.

Bus: A cheaper option is to travel by local bus numbers 350 or 351, which run through the suburbs of Paris and stop frequently. The fare costs 5.70€ one way and you can buy tickets on-board. The trip takes a little more than an hour. Not recommended unless you are on a really tight budget.

Taxi: There are taxis waiting at all terminals. A fare to Paris city center costs approximately 50.00 Euros, and can reach almost 70 Euros in rush hours or at night. The journey can take more than an hour at busy times. (Photo courtesy: Ed Yourdon)



On Eurostar you can book your 2 hours train to London. Same applies for trips to Brussels or Amsterdam. They leave from Gare du Nord Station. You can buy tickets for Local & Regional trains at the station, with fixed prices that don’t change and no reservation necessary or possible.  This includes RER (Paris suburban) and TER (Trains Exprès Regionaux) –Express Regional Trains.

However, almost all French long-distance trains including high-speed TGVs require compulsory reservation, and like airlines they offer cheap inflexible fares if you book well in advance, much more expensive flexible fares if you buy closer to departure date. Book early because the tickets get more and more expensive as you get closer to your travel dates. (Photo courtesy: Passainte Assem)

Bonus Tip: Check out our 10 Reasons to Visit Paris



Preferred Mode of Transportation: Bike… of course

Fact: There are more bikes that humans in Amsterdam. Really? Well I don’t think so but they do have an awful lot of bikes.

Everyone cycles in Amsterdam. Doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, male or female, young or old, a local or a tourist. The government has made it extremely expensive to own and run a car, accordingly bikes are the main mode of transportation. (Photo courtesy: Moyan Brenn)


Bike lanes are EVERYWHERE, they are painted brick red, and physically separated from pedestrian and car lanes. And for some reason it feels easier to cycle on those lanes.

They say that the Dutch are rude when they are on two wheels, and I don’t blame them, this is their mode of transportation and not a leisure activity,so if you care for your life, do yourself a favor and get out of the way when you hear the bell.

Bicycle rentals are readily available throughout the city. Central Station, Leidseplein and Dam Square are all major rental hubs. Day rates average is 8 Euros per day.

Mac Bike: For 8 Euros per day, you can get a basic bike for 24 hours. Locks are included of course.

Bike City: Convenient if you are staying in Jordan area. They have no advertising on the bikes which is great because you don’t stand out like a tourist

Hostel or Hotel: If you ask in your hotel or hostel they might be offering bike rentals for better rates. (Photo Courtesy: Albert De Bruijn)


Other Modes of Transportation

Trams: Amsterdam’s trams are decked out in blue and white and armed with a famous bell that rings out to attract the attention of any pedestrian or cyclist in the area. The tram is one of the quickest ways to get into and around the city center. Bikes are not allowed on the tram.

Metro : Amsterdam’s metro system diverges from Central Station to the city’s outlying districts. Its four routes are often the fastest way to reach districts like Bijlmer and Amstelveen. However, you’d barely use it since the city center is pretty small and a bike will get you to most places.

Rates: Both the subway and the tram tickets cost 2.9 Euros – it is not really good value if you are only travelling 1 or 2 stops on a tram but is reasonable for longer trips. Plus the way they work is that a ticket works for an hour once you check in on the tram.

OV Card: You can buy an OV card for 7.5 Euros, and then put credit on it. The trip then will cost half of what it regularly costs -1.4 Euros instead of 2.9 Euros-, which is an estimation as fares are calculated at rates based on distance traveled. OV cards are not be recommended, especially that in Amsterdam you will not rely on public transportation as much as you do in other cities. (Photo courtesy: Graham Lees)


How to get from the Airport to the City Center?

Train: A direct link railway line connects Schiphol International Airport with Amsterdam Central Station, and is the fastest and most convenient mean of transport to the city center. Trains run every 10 minutes.

Rates: A ticket to the Central Station will cost only 4.10 Euros for a single journey.

Amsterdam Airport Shuttles: depart every 10 minutes, with services to more than 100 hotels throughout the city. Tickets cost €17 for one-way or €27 for a return, and can be purchased inside the main arrival plaza.

Taxi:  A journey to the City Center (which is a short one) starts at 45 Euros.  (Photo courtesy: Michiel S.)



Trains to Brussels, Paris, Cologne: Amsterdam has convenient fast train connections with other European cities such as Brussels, Paris and Cologne and they all leave from the Central Station.

Train tickets to suburbs: can be purchased in the station with no reservation.

Bonus tip: Check our complete guide to Amsterdam

Bonus tips:

  • In the morning in the hotel or whenever you have wifi, search for the names of the stations that are near the places you are planning to visit to save yourself the hassle of figuring them out on your way to the attractions.
  • If you know a tentative plan of how your day will go, screenshot your route (using public transit) on Google maps, this gives you the shortest way to the destination, options of different transit methods and the exact route so you will not get lost. Unless of course, you prefer to get lost, we love that spirit too.
  • Don’t even think of using public transportation without a ticket. They check for tickets and the fines can reach up to 100 Euros per person. Save yourself money and of course the humiliation and buy tickets.


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Our Readers Comments

  1. What about Italy ? What is the best mean of transportation in rome, milan, florence and venice ?

  2. Don’t you have any transportation tips for Rome and Florence??


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