If you are looking to explore multiple countries in Europe in one trip, there’s no better way to discover the continent than by train. When you first start to research rail travel in Europe, it can be a little overwhelming with so much information and different routes available to you. These are some of our top tips for rail travel in Europe to help you plan a hassle-free and enjoyable trip.
Where you travel in Europe is completely up to you and your preferences. You’ll want to create a realistic itinerary for the amount of time you have for your trip and allow for a few days in each city, so you aren’t rushing around for a couple of weeks. Popular destinations to start your trip include London, Paris, Barcelona, and Rome, all of which have international airports and direct flights from across the world and the US. You can either create a round trip itinerary or save travel time by flying into one city and out of another at the end of your trip. Eastern Europe offers endless possibilities for budget travelers and can be a cheaper option than popular destinations such as France and Italy.
Types of Rail Tickets Available
When it comes to buying rail tickets to travel anywhere in Europe, you’ll generally want to pre-book your tickets. This is essential on routes which travel between different countries, such as the Eurostar between London and Paris. If you can, book your travel a few weeks ahead of time. This will offer you the chance to get variable price fares, which become more expensive as you get closer to your departure date, similar to airfare. However, the disadvantage of these tickets is the lack of flexibility they offer if you need to cancel or amend your trip. Fixed-priced fares are commonly used on regional trains or slower journeys, and the price will be set regardless of when you travel.
Where to buy your Tickets
When it comes to buying your tickets, your options are generally to purchase from national rail services or with a search engine site. Third-party sites allow you to book a trip through multiple countries, which can save a lot of hassle when booking. Top sites to consider looking at for booking your tickets in advance include Trainline, which sells tickets throughout mainland Europe, and Rail Europe, whose site is incredibly easy to use and is the official distributor of tickets in Europe. You can then receive your tickets electronically, print them at home, or pick them up at the station. You may want to check if you are eligible for any discounts before purchasing your tickets or if the country you are traveling to offers any promotions, especially when traveling as a larger group.
To make things even simpler, you can consider opting for a Eurail pass for your trip. These are a popular option with backpackers and those on extended trips who would like a little more flexibility with their travels. A few different passes are available to choose from, including a Single-Country Pass, Global Pass, or Select Pass, where you select several countries to visit. However, make sure you check if you need to make a reservation for your journey still, as in some countries these are required to travel.
The Travel Experience
Upon arriving at the station and collecting your tickets, you’ll want to ensure you validate your ticket to avoid a potential fine unless you are using electronic tickets. If you have an assigned seat, find this once you arrive at your train. For anyone traveling with large pieces of luggage, these can be stored in each train car, but smaller bags should fit overhead in the racks. When traveling through Europe by train, try to minimize your luggage, which will make traveling by train so much more pleasant! On this type of vacation, your trip is as much about the journey itself as the destination, and you can admire the beautiful scenery when you’re on the go. One of the best things about traveling by train is the ease of getting between destinations, which is much more relaxed than the airport experience! Once you arrive in the next city, you’ll simply head off the train and onto your hotel, ready to explore.
Traveling across Europe by train is a wonderful experience, and allows you to witness more of the local life and see more of the country than you would travel by plane. By planning your route in advance and booking your tickets as soon as possible, you’ll set yourself up for a fantastic trip hopping between some of Europe’s top destinations.