This blog to travel Europe by train was first published 18 February 2018 and updated June 2020. You have decided to go to Europe and of course you want to make the most of your time while there. As you there are a number of ways to travel Europe you need to weigh all the options up. Well travelling Europe by train and watching the countryside unfold as you travel between countries could just be the magical time you are seeking. Instead of wasting your time waiting in ques at airports or sitting in cramped bus conditions, consider seeing Europe by train. Here are 5 good reasons why you should consider travelling Europe by train.
No Long Check-In and Security Lines
Check-in procedures for train travel in Europe are minimal compared to check-in procedures for air travel. With European trains you simply show up a few minutes before the train leaves and purchase a ticket (if you didn’t have one). Then validate your ticket and hop on the train. During the European summer months it is highly recommended to make a seat or sleeper reservation. This is because on most high speed, overnight, scenic and international European trains seats and sleepers fill up fast. I would highly recommend that no matter what time of year you are travelling on trains in Europe to ensure you have a seat or sleeper booked. You don’t want to miss out on catching the train which in turn could interfere with your best laid European travel train itinerary.
You also don’t have luggage check in procedures on European trains and be separated from your bags till the end of the journey. This is because you take your luggage on the train with you and leave it in the luggage sections. So not having extremely heavy bags to carry around is essential as you will be responsible for your luggage.
Arrive in the Centre of Town at Beautiful and Historical European Train Stations
Unlike most airports, European train stations are located in the middle or close to the middle of town this is because historically, the train station was a central hub or a city or town. With European train stations being in the centre of town any worries of how you will get in to town and how much it might cost you will be alleviated. Because you will already be there. And you will find many of the European train station buildings grandiose, but that is part of their charm. Also, the train station being a hub will have links to all the other public transport available. And be close to many of the amazing sights that you are wanting to see.
A Vast Rail Network that is reliable, on schedule and fast
Europe’s rail network is extremely vast. It can take you to major cities, to the smallest towns and along some fantastic journeys with amazing views of the countryside. You can pretty much visit all the European countries by train.
There are high speed services that are fast, efficient and very comfortable. With some famous options you could take such as the Orient Express, Oslo to Bergen in Norway, Koblen to Mainz through the Rhine Valley, The Glacier Express through Switzerland or the Eurostar from London to Paris to name a few.
European trains leave regularly, sometimes on an hourly basis which only increases your options to travel around Europe by train. Trains mostly run on schedule which is a great thing to ensure you keep moving on your travels and keeping to any schedules you have set yourself. They are rarely impacted by weather (rain, snow, fog, etc.) like other forms of transport can be. However, train strikes are a regular occurrence on the European train network and usually happen a few times each year. I’m advised you will usually know about them a few days in advance. When travelling though you can become remote to what is happening in the world and not be aware of any train strikes.
No Luggage Limits/Fees on European Trains
You are not limited with the amount of luggage you can take on a European train trip. There are no weight limits or extra fees for extra pieces of luggage or overweight luggage. As long as you can lift everything on to the train you should be right. However, I would leave the kitchen sink behind! It is advisable to travel as light as you can. It makes your life travelling through Europe by train a lot easier.
Loads of comforts and extras on European Trains
Train travel offers many comforts and extras and European trains are no exception. Trains have big windows for you to spend your time staring out of. You sit back, relax and watch the countryside of each European country unfold. Reaching speeds of around 150km per hour you will definitely see a lot.
Seats on European trains are quite spacious too. This can depend on what class ticket you decide to purchase though. You are also free to move around the train whenever you feel like it. This will ensure a little exercise while travelling to loosen those muscles that can become stiff from sitting for far too long.
Trains usually have seats that face each other and have a table between them. This is great if you are travelling in a group as the area can become your own little social retreat.
You can often purchase food on a train. There might be a tea trolley brought around or some trains have meal carriages. To save money you might want to take your own food and drink on board the train to enjoy while watching the scenery unfold.
Long distance European trains often have sleeping compartments with bunk beds. If you are taking an overnight trip you could consider this option. You will need to pay extra for the convenience. Many travellers through Europe use this option during overnight train travel to save on paying for accommodation. And when they get off the train in the morning they keep on travelling.
Planning your trip and purchasing a ticket
Once you have decided that train travel is the way you want to see Europe you should start to plan your European train trip. Make a list of the cities/countries you want to visit. Then plan the route you want to take to visit these places. Don’t forget to include time in each city so you can explore as much as you can, in the time you have available. Once you know this you can then decide on the appropriate ticket. Read my post 1 month in Europe – the perfect Central European Itinerary for first timers. The post will help you plan your European train travel adventure. Most of all, enjoy your time travelling around Europe.