Traveling by train in Europe is an experience itself. It’s relaxing, you can see beautiful parts of the countries you travel through and it can also be a great way to meet people.
While it’s mostly an ideal way to get from place to place, there can be some minor hiccups with the system. Below is a basic guide to train travel in Europe and tips for avoiding pricey mistakes or confusion.
For those who are new to my blog you can easily find everything I’ve written about cities in Europe by using the search tag in sidebar. I hope everything that I’ve posted can inspire you to travel and help you plan your next big trip! Feel free to ask any questions as well.
Throughout Europe, domestic trains (traveling entirely within a single country) don’t require a reservation, so it can be easy to wake up and decide you want to hit a new city. Just arrive at the station before the train leaves, purchase a ticket and climb aboard!
Having said that, especially during tourist season, trains can fill-up and last minute tickets can be expensive.
Depending on the country you are departing in, make sure you check for availability online. One of the best resources for checking train schedules is Rail Europe.
Check train times online and book international train travel in advance if possible.
While flying is almost always faster, there are pains that come with it. Long security lines, cramped seating, baggage fees and an inability to socialise are all annoyances that are avoided with train travel.
European trains are known for their punctuality – on time over 90% of the time. You can bring what you can carry (and more if you really want to), there are no pesky liquids restrictions, you have room to move around, there are sleeper carriages for long journeys and you can be social with your neighbours and you can travel with your pet – always on leash and muzzled only when hop on/off to the train-.
Airports are pretty easy to navigate. Upon check-in, you know exactly what gate to go to and there are numerous signs to guide you there. Trains, however, can be a little more confusing. There are so many trains going through Europe with multiple trains passing on the same track minutes apart.
Make sure you know exactly what track your train is arriving on and the train number as a train to Madrid may arrive 10 minutes before your train to Paris and, before you know it, you’re in Spain. If you’re ever unsure, there is typically always someone at an information desk around that can help.
And don’t be shy! Locals are often very friendly and willing to help out as well.
The weather is often a major contributor to why flights are often delayed or even canceled. This is another very annoying and almost too frequent inconvenience with flying. Trains usually are free of these hassles and get you to your destination on time regardless of the weather.
However, European railways are known for their strikes. Be sure to pay attention to the news and ask around if there is word of a strike on the verge of taking place. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it if there is. In case it does happen, buses are usually available.
Now that you have your train ticket, what are you supposed to do with it?
Many train tickets need to be validated (stamped with time/date) before boarding the train since they’re open tickets for train travel between two destinations and not for a specific train or time.
There are machines at the station, usually located on the train track. You just stick your ticket in and the machine stamps it. You could receive a fine if that train conductor sees that you neglected to do so and they will think you are trying to ride for free. Try to avoid the “I’m a silly tourist and didn’t know that rule” moment even though they will likely let it slide if you do forget.
Also, most trains have assigned cars for 1st and 2nd class so make sure you know what car you are assigned. It’s not fun being booted out of your seat after you’re all settled in or worse, asleep!
Overall train travel in Europe is fun and easy! Be sure to do a bit of pre-planning and enjoy the ride!
I know that getting the best airfare and hotel prices prior to your trip can be a time consuming process as there are so many booking sites out there so in today’s post I have put together the ones I use most frequently and I have been able to get great travel deals.
CheapFlightNow provides the cheapest flight options available in the marketplace and searches millions of cheap airfares to get travellers the best options for searches worldwide. In addition the CheapFlightsNow site provides the ability to see the fare quotes in all the major currencies. Moreover, CheapFlightNow provides a full suite of travel services with discounted hotels in all the major cities as well as Car Rentals with special offers from all the major providers.
Whether you are looking for cheap flights, want to rent a car or book a hotel, you can do it all together on Travelation.com. With more low-cost airline tickets, you get what you are looking for. To assist you more and save time, Travelation.com have great customer support. Their expert travel agents are available 24/7 to help you get the best deal for your preferred travel date and time.
Last but not least – it’s actually my favourite one – is Ticketseller.gr..it’s not only a travel search site but also a unique place where visitors can be inspired and book through the thousands of choices at the best prices on the market. You can search for airfares and hotels from more than one search engine on the same time and thus getting the best possible price for your trip. You can also search and book for ferries to the Mediterranean so you can plan your own island hopping holidays or even better you can rent a sailing boat with skipper even if you are on a budget as prices start from €19 per night per person!