Tips, Pros and Cons on How to Travel by Train in Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles
A train can be one of the most cost effective ways to see Europe. Europe, The British Isles and Scandinavia are connected by efficient railways that make it feasible to see as much as possible on your vacation. When planning to travel by train in Europe, take into consideration that traveling for seven or more hours can be hard on the body and mind, especially if the travel was made during your regular sleeping hours. You may want to plan to stay an extra day at your destination to re-coup from the travel itself so you can enjoy your time in that area. Trains make a lot of stops and this can make your trip sluggish and tiresome.
The great thing about traveling by trains in Europe is that usually there are between three and ten departures every day for a destination. This makes for a flexible schedule because you have options of how and where to spend your time. Train passes are offered through companies like RailEurope.com; They offer different options based upon where you’d like to go, how long you’ll be in Europe and how many times you will be taking a train adventure. For example, if you fly into France and decide to also visit Italy and Switzerland, they offer a pass that is good for two months. Within those two months, you get to use your train pass anywhere from 4 days up to 8 days depending on how much you want to spend. Travel is valid anywhere within the three countries you selected. You can choose to only travel within one country and purchase a pass for that specific country. If you are under 26 years old, you are considered “youth” and you receive a discount that can be up to about $200.00 per train pass. A train pass can be a lot cheaper than buying individual tickets, unless you only plan on visiting one or two locations after you fly in. Another plus to purchasing a train pass is the fact that every major airport has a train station and it’s very convenient to hop off the plane and board the train to your hostel or hotel. A bonus about train passes is that some are good for water busses or charter boats, or sometimes they give you a great discount on other forms of transportation.
An important note about RailEurope.com is that they are a discount train fare website, just like plane tickets on hotwire.com or priceline.com. These fares are only available online so don’t try to purchase them in person at the airport or train station, you will pay more.
The only down side to travel by train in Europe is that sometimes it can be much longer than driving because of the many stops and it’s obviously longer than flying. It also may be harder to travel with large groups because in second class (cheaper fare) you don’t have assigned seating and if the train is crowded, you may not be in the same train car. If you communicate, it shouldn’t be difficult to meet up after de-boarding.
Some of the views from your train window may be the best scenery you will ever see in Europe without taking an expensive tour.