Indian expedition company Adventures Overland is set to launch what is billed as the "world’s longest bus journey” – across the entire European continent – in August.
Crossing a full 22 countries and five different time zones, the trip will give passengers a ringside seat to some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery. But if you want to participate, you’ll need deep pockets – and plenty of free time.
In the era of box-ticking, bucket-list experiences, this splashy new road-trip adventure stands out. Rather than simply taking passengers from A to B, the Adventures Overland team has programmed a full 56 days to complete its journey.
If that sounds like a lot...it is. Taking in myriad countries and cultures, the bus will depart Istanbul on August 7 and gradually make its way to London. Crucially, there will be a guide on hand to explain the views and take care of all the cross-border paperwork.
The trip attempts to cram some of Europe’s best sights into 56 days without completely overwhelming passengers, giving them about two days in each city to explore. The journey will include stopovers in the Balkan cities of Sofia, Zagreb and Ljubljana before reaching Central Europe, where passengers can explore the beautifully preserved medieval architecture of Prague and Warsaw.
Heading north, passengers will get to see the glory of the Norwegian fjords up close by ferry and travel to Nordkapp, the northernmost point in Europe accessible by road. There’ll be time to unwind with Belgian beers in Brussels and to explore the museums and cafes of Paris and Amsterdam before arriving in London in October.
How much does it cost?
The adventure doesn’t come cheap. The cost includes a daily breakfast, along with 30 lunches and dinners, as well as all hotel stays (on a twin-sharing basis). All in it works out to $24,300 per person, putting it firmly in the realm of luxury travel.
Twenty-nine hotels have been booked for the 30-passenger group, Adventures Overland co-founder Sanjay Madan told Lonely Planet, giving passengers about two nights in each hotel on the 56-day trip. Nobody will be sleeping on the bus.
More practical details
Sanjay and his Adventures Overland co-founder Tushar Agarwal have already taken road trippers to more than 70 countries worldwide since starting their expedition company back in 2012. Every single route on their multi-destination expeditions is vetted, including this one – yet despite all the planning, Sanjary insists it won’t be an overly regimented trip, with free time for passengers a key component in setting out the itinerary.
“One free rest day will be given to every traveler to explore that place,” he explained. “It is not a nonstop journey. Everyone will get the opportunity to experience the local food, culture and activities of [each destination].”
Paperwork and documentation for cross-border travel in Europe will be handled by Adventures Overland, including visas and permits; an English-speaking guide will be traveling with passengers at all times.
What about the bus?
The bus is described as a “luxury bus designed for comfortable long-distance travel.” Though “luxury” might be a stretch, the seats are wide and well-padded, with armrests and plenty of legroom. There are AUX and USB ports and little fold-down tables and cup holders on each seat. There’s plenty of storage room, too, with each passenger permitted to bring two “full-size suitcases” with them for the two-month trip.
While those on board will enjoy great views along the way, they admittedly won’t always be glorious, and chances are a lot of time will be spent staring out rain-splattered windows at drab European motorways. But if you’re content with being escorted across Europe, handing over all responsibilities to the crew, and simply settling back and enjoying the ride, this could be an epic slow-travel adventure – provided you have the budget for it.
If not, there are plenty of budget-friendly slow-travel adventures to be had in Europe, particularly by train as more sleeper routes are continuously being added to the region’s expanding rail network. You can take a drawn-out trip from Western to Eastern Europe with a new Nightjet route that runs from Germany to Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia and packs in the views. For a speedier adventure, that still's slow travel, you can catch a train from London to Stockholm in about 24 hours, or from London to Berlin in 16 hours.
Is this actually the world's longest bus journey?
According to Guinness World Records, the current holder of the world's longest bus route is the Peruvian company, Ormeño, whose route from Lima, Peru to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil measures 6,200 km. The Adventures Overland route is almost double that at 12,000 km.