There is no better way to take in the sights of Europe than travelling by train. The landscape changes every hour as you traverse through different countries, enough to keep you glued to the window glass for long stretches at a time. Further, it is one sure way of getting to know more about the culture and lifestyle of peoples of the country you pass through – a much better option at least than flying in and out.
However before you book tickets here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your Europe tour on rail.
Have a bag that you can easily pick up and take around with you. You can carry it up and down staircases and even store it in the overhead luggage rack instead of one end of the carriage in spaces reserved for heavy luggage. This will also enable you to keep an eye on it while you enjoy your trip. Further, compact wheel-less bags can be easily stored in coin operated lockers if you feel like taking a walk outside the station.
Know your trains
Europe has a large number of high speed trains crisscrossing the country with names that have no meaning to a tourist. Hence you should spend some time studying the network to be on top of the schedule when you start your journey. Here are a few examples that will illustrate the complexities of train names in Europe. There is the TGV and the Euro star, the SJ, RJ and AVE, not to mention the ICE (Intercity Express trains in Germany), the Euro med (in Spain), the Thalys (Belgium), the Super City (Czech Republic), the Rail jet (Austria) and Le Frecce (Italy). You have to know which pertains to you when you hop between countries.
Couchette or Sleeper
There is an advantage in travelling overnight as you save on paying for accommodation. Further, you reach your destination early in the day and can take in the sights of the place throughout the day. A “sleeper” has two or three proper beds, linen, toiletries, towels and a wash basin whereas a “couchette” has four to six bunk beds and common amenities at the end of the carriage. A day on a rail pass is counted from midnight to midnight on Europe’s train so an overnight journey can set you back by two days on your pass.
Buy a Eurorail pass
There are many rail passes available for Europe tours. If you are visiting one country you can choose from multiday German rail pass, France rail pass or similar ones available in different countries. However, the real benefits lie in a Eurorail pass. It is available for any budget (youth, economy, comfort) for multiple days of rail travel over extended periods of a month or two. Most importantly, it is valid in 28 countries in Europe.
Follow these simple tips and make the most of your travel in Europe.