Where to travel in Europe by train

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The bullet train offers high speed rail with European flair
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Travel by train in Europe is convenient, scenic and cost effective

Much of Europe is easily traveled by train, without some of the expenses and disadvantages of renting a car (like scrambling for parking in major cities). Trains are also often cheaper and more comfortable than air travel, and provide scenic and relaxing journeys. One of the best ways to see the European countryside is by train. 

Here are a few strategies for getting the most out of train travel in Europe.

1) Cover mainland Europe

It’s simple and cheap to cover mainland Europe by train. Popular touring countries such as Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Portugal all have good to excellent rail systems. If you’re interested in traveling to the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, or some of the Mediterranean islands you may find that traveling by air or ferry is the more cost- and time-efficient method of transportation. Destinations like enchanting Norway offer spectacular train adventures, with views of fjords, countryside and the cosmopolitan city of Oslo.

It should be noted, however, that Britain is linked to mainland France by the Channel Tunnel (termed the ‘chunnel’), and many passengers enjoy the novelty of riding a train beneath the English Channel.

2) Organize your trip around major cities

Every major city will have train hub, and these are usually located near many of the tourist destinations and hotels. You’ll be free to stay as long as you want, as trains will typically depart on a daily basis, and for the spur-of-the-moment traveler there will be plenty of options for your next destination.

Traveling by train to such destinations as Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Rome, and many others will give you an excellent opportunity to see the countryside and smaller towns along the trip, while providing ‘anchor points’ for your journey.

3) Find scenic train routes

For those unwilling to invest in a rented car, train travel can provide truly beautiful views of the European countryside. Certain train lines are known for their scenic views. Many train lines through Switzerland offer stunning views of the Alps.

The Oslo-Bergen train in Norway gives a great view of the Norwegian countryside, from fjords to glaciers. The Venice Simplon Orient Express route stops is a new take on the traditional Orient Express and stops in eight major cities: London, Rome, Paris, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and Istanbul.

4) Enjoy the high-speed rail networks of Western Europe

Train travel in Europe remains cheap, and the rail technology improves by the year. Germany, France, Belgium, and Italy in particular offer extensive networks of luxurious high-speed ‘bullet trains’ that are priced competitively with flight tickets and can travel at speeds of up to 320 km/hr (about 200 mph). These train lines will cover almost all major cities, and a traveler will rarely need to wait longer than a few hours to make a connection.

Travelers planning a multi-stop train adventure should research routes, fare structure and regulations before departing, although train travel is particularly forgiving of loosely structured and "spur of the moment" adventures. Travel videos, brochures and the Internet offer excellent resources for planning a European adventure by train.

Europe Rail Timetables
Train Travel Times in Europe

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