London to Rome

Insight Vacations is aimed at travellers who want a bit of comfort in between stops, with good standard hotels included in the package. Their London to Rome journey stretches over eight days, with the most interesting bit sandwiched in the middle. After leaving Paris, the coach travels through the vineyards of Burgundy, crosses the Rhine at Basel and heads for Lake Lucerne. From there, it's on to Italy; through the Italian Lake District and south to Milan, then into the fertile plains of the Po Valley and across the Apennines towards Florence, from where the final road leads to Rome.

· From £700 including hotel accommodation (01475 741203,

London to Prague

Kumuka's seven-day London to Prague tour ploughs a course through central Europe twice a month throughout the summer. The Prague Express trip includes a single fare on Eurostar to Paris, where two days of sightseeing are helmed by the Kumuka crew. Onwards to the thrill-seeker-friendly Interlaken where those wanting to skydive, hang-glide and paraglide will have their fix. If you time your trip right, booking yourself on to the September 25 departure, the bus will roll into Munich during Oktoberfest before finishing in Prague.

· Prague Express trip from £435 including accommodation, tours, six breakfasts and three dinners,

Interbusing on Eurolines

If you want to visit Dubrovnik and the southern Dalmatian coast, the forests of north-east Estonia or the southern beaches of Turkey, don't bother with an InterRail pass. European train passes are a backpacker staple, yet there are huge swathes of the continent that only a bus can reach. Eurolines is Europe's biggest coach network, grouping together 32 coach companies and more than 500 destinations. Its 30-day passes - £205 for adults and £159 for those under 26 - are considerably cheaper than a rail pass and even include Morocco. If nothing else, Euroline's website is a travel planner's goldmine, collating bus timetables from across the continent.

· 01582 404511,

London to Sydney

The inaugural OzBus journey played out like a soap opera on wheels. Before it had reached halfway there were on-board feuds and love affairs, the bus was stripped of its logo in Turkey before it shuddered to a halt in Tehran where beer-starved tempers frayed. But after 84 tumultuous days, it somehow made it to Sydney. Now the second journey is underway, and one of the four other buses departing this year is already sold out. If you want as much of an experience on the bus as off it, this one is difficult to beat.

· £3,850 including accommodation and most meals (020 864 11443,

St Petersburg to Beijing

Dragoman Overland's journeys are the philosophical opposite of the OzBus's whizz-bang approach to overland adventure. The company was founded in the 1960s, and is run by an experienced troupe of guides whose expertise covers Africa, Asia, South and North America. Their most interesting projects are their most epic, including an 11-week journey from St Petersburg to Beijing via the Russian and Kazakh steppe, southern Siberia, Mongolia and the Gobi desert. As Dragoman's multi-terrain truck heads east, accommodation options progress from yurts to yurtas, and the trip takes in the nomadic settlements of reindeer herders and traditional hunters.

· From £236pw (01728 8611 33,

· Getting to St Petersburg: Eurostar to Brussels, overnight train to Berlin (, then Moskva Express to St Petersburg (

The Turkish Loop

Not many Brits know about the Fez Bus, but these tours are hugely popular with antipodean backpackers wanting to visit Gallipoli and beyond. Their 15-day Shoestring Turkey tour starts in Istanbul before heading west along the Sea of Marmara's coast, then south to the Mediterranean beaches and the treehouses of Olympos. The final leg swings inland through Cappadocia (with an optional extension into Turkey's wild eastern countryside) before making its way back to Istanbul.

· From £299 half-board (020 7099 92077,

· Getting to Istanbul: Eurostar to Brussels, Thalys train to Cologne (, CityNightLine sleeper Cologne-Vienna (, Avala train to Belgrade (, then Balkan Express to Istanbul (

Morocco cities and desert

Busabout offers a variety of tours around Europe and beyond, but its 15-day All Morocco trip is its most exotic option. The bus starts in Tangier before making its way to Fes via Chefchaouen in the Rif mountains. Then it's into the desert, setting up camp at the Meski oasis, trekking through the Sahara on camels and staying at a traditional Berber camp. Two more days are spent travelling in the Todra gorge before visiting Marrakech and Essaouira and returning to Tangier.

· From £399 plus local payment of €220 inc all accommodation and food (020 795 01661,

· Getting to Tangier: Eurostar to Paris, Trainhotel Paris-Madrid (, train Madrid-Algeciras (, ferry to Tangier (no advance booking necessary)

Hungary and Transylvania

Top Deck's Transylvanian Explorer trip covers the less-trodden south-east corner of Europe, setting off from Budapest and arriving in Bucharest nine days later. After allowing a day for guests to sample the night-time pursuits of the Hungarian capital, the bus heads towards the Baroque town of Eger, known for its castle and Bull's Blood wine. The Romanian leg begins in the university town of Cluj Napoca before moving on to the Unesco heritage city of Sighisoara. The journey ends in Bucharest, calling at Bran castle, former home of Dracula.

· £719 including tours, accommodation and half board (0845 2575212,

· Getting to Budapest: Eurostar to Brussels, Thalys train to Cologne (, CityNightLine sleeper Cologne-Vienna (, then Avala Train to Budapest (

Riga-Stockholm via Russia

The more geographically aware will notice a few peculiarities with this route. First of all, Russia isn't in between Riga and Stockholm. This is because Contiki's route goes a fair few miles east before finishing back across the Baltic in Sweden. The Russian stretch of the trip includes both Moscow and St Petersburg, but also takes in the less-visited cities of Velikiye Luki and Novgorod. The second problem is an aquatic one - very few coaches could perform a running jump from Helsinki to Stockholm. Luckily, an overnight cruise is included. Contiki's tours have something of a reputation for alcohol-fuelled tourism for the 18-30 crowd, but this one's scope makes it stand out from the rest.

· £1,004 including accommodation and most meals (020-8290 6422,

· Getting to Riga: Eurostar to Brussels, Thalys train to Cologne (, EuroNight sleeper to Warsaw (, Eurolines bus to Riga (

The Scandinavian Loop

Trafalgar Tours' 15-day journey begins in Copenhagen with arranged excursions and plenty of time to enjoy the evenings. The grand loop begins on day three, driving west to the Jutland peninsula via the island of Funen and Odense, Hans Christian Andersen's birthplace. After crossing the Skagerrak into Norway, the coastal highway north of Stavangar is one of the most spectacular drives in Europe, passing dozens of fjords and islands on its way to Bergen. From here the trip heads inland, rides the Flåm railway through mountains and waterfalls and crosses into Sweden for two nights in Stockholm before returning to Copenhagen. But don't choose this route if you're looking for rowdy times on the bus - Trafalgar's tours are generally aimed at the discerning older traveller.

· From £1,525 inc hotel accommodation, breakfast and seven three-course dinners (020-7828 8143,

· Getting to Copenhagen: Ferry Harwich-Esbjerg ( then train to Copenhagen (


Benji Lanyado

The GuardianTramp

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