Trains in Europe

I’ll be honest….we don’t have much experience with  train travel in Europe.  We have taken a train from the cruise port into Rome as well as from the airport in Amsterdam into the city and then a local one for a day trip from Rome to Sienna and from Florence to Luca.  We have wanted to expand our train travel experience – the kids seem to do it all the train and if they could, why couldn’t we?

With our upcoming trip we will be taking a bus between two locations as well as several trains including an overnight train. We need to be in Prague and I just couldn’t find a flight on the date that I wanted however, there was a flight to nearby Nuremberg and that is what we are going to do.  We fly overnight on KLM and will be able to spend the day in Amsterdam.  A short train ride into the city and we’ll enjoy strolling around, sitting at some of the outdoor cafes and I hope being able to visit the Rijk Museum since it was closed the last time we were in Amsterdam.   Later that day we’ll take a commuter hopper flight to Nuremberg.

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We have booked a hotel room at a Holiday Inn Express that is near the train station.  After doing a little touring during the morning and afternoon we’ll get on a bus to Prague.  Bus travel wasn’t something that I had thought of until it was suggested to me by members on Trip Advisor.  Apparently the bus has a direct route to Prague while the train is longer since there is a change of trains with a layover at one of the stops. So, we are doing the train.  We purchased our tickets online from a Czech site to save money.  It was suggested that we do that since the Germans tend to have transportation strikes and we didn’t want to risk it.

train 1

Our cruise on the Danube finishes in Budapest and after we spend some extra time there we’ll head to Venice.  This is where our real dilemma happened.  Do we take the night train from Vienna to Venice or do we take the ten hour train ride during the day and see all the beautiful scenery?  After going back and forth we decided that we wanted the extra time in Venice as we had only scheduled two nights there.

 

train 2

After we leave Venice, we’ll be on the final leg of our trip but still more train rides to come.  We’ll take the train from Venice to Milan with perhaps a stop in Verona to see the famed, but fake, Juliette balcony in Verona.  Once in Milan we’ll be taking regional trains to go up to Lake Como and Lake Maggiore and, if I can talk Blogger Hubby into it, the World’s Fair in Milan this year.

We are fairly new to train travel and we could not have done all this without the help and guidance of Mark who is known as The Man in Seat 61   All he asks for all his help is a donation, if you can, to UNICEF’S Syrian Appeal.  He knows train travel all over the world and is willing to share his knowledge and expertise.  Not only did I read his blog but I also emailed him more than a few times.  He told me how far out I should purchase the tickets from, which sites and about how much it would be.

What has been your experience use the train around the world?

 

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6 thoughts on “Trains in Europe

  1. We traveled by train exclusively when we were in Italy last summer and only made advance reservations for a couple of the trips. I was concerned about being able to figure out the ticket machines, but information from the Man in Seat 61 was very helpful. People on TripAdvisor cautioned about making sure to validate train tickets before getting on the train, so we knew to look for those machines. The trains were very efficient and close to local transportation in the cities we visited. The only drawback to train travel is carting your own luggage. Not many of the smaller stations have escalators or elevators, so it was difficult carrying our bags up and down all of the steps. Also, getting on and off the train with luggage can be a challenge.

  2. We’ve taken trains in Europe for several point to point trips. Back before the internet, we used RailEurope via our travel agent to buy them. We did Rome to Florence to Venice to Milan way back in 1993. In 2006 we started in Ljubljana and trained to Zagreb, then flew to Split and then bused to Dubrovnik – a real mix.
    Now we mostly use trains for day trips from the city we are based in, since we tend to find a home base and travel out from there (did that a lot in Amsterdam last spring). Did take the Thalys from Brussels to Amsterdam which was very nice.
    I found out about the Man In Seat 61 a couple of years ago and used his site to research train travel – need to get on it now for upcoming trip in Portugal in June. I am really late to planning my connections here but luckily it’s only 2 train rides.
    You are covering a lot of ground – my husband, unfortunately, would rebel at such a trip. He does not really have the “travel gene” so I have to take that into consideration when planning.
    We’ve been to most of the places you are going, but on a series of trips. The more we travel (we’re probably around your age or a bit older – we are 65), the more we like to be based in one or 2 places and spend the time exploring and doing some day trips from there.
    Enjoy and happy travels!!

    1. The Man in Seat 61 is just so helpful – he deserves all the accolades that many travelers have given him. Believe it or not, we are only staying a few places and then traveling. Because of flights, we had to fly into Nuremberg and then travel to Prague where we’ll be for 4 nights. then the river cruise and we’ll get up in Budapest. From there it’s Venice for 2 nights and then Milan. Milan will be our “base” as we take day trains to the Lake District. Part of our philosophy is that we have spent the time/points/money to get to Europe or where ever we are going and we want to see as much as we can not knowing if we’ll come back to that area since there is so much to see and explore around the world. BTW, you are a little older than me (I’m 62) but my husband is older than you (he’s 71).

      1. Hi Jane,
        I saw a couple of articles in the NY TImes travel section on Milan and remembered you said you would be traveling there. Since you are not from the NY area, I wanted to pass along the link. One story is about American food (barbecue, etc) in Milan – just in case you need a taste of home at that point in your trip. One highlight in Milan is the roof of the Duomo. Just so cool to go up to the top, seeing the gargoyles along the way. Here’s a link. Hope it works. (I’m a subscriber, so the links do work for me). If not, let me know, and I’ll see if I can get the articles to you.

        http://www.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/italy/milan/overview.html

        1. Thank you so much for thinking of me and sending me the links. Yes, we will be there next month at the conclusion of our trip. I have such great and loyal readers and I appreciate you all. Thank you again.

  3. We have taken overnight trains in Thailand, India and China and all were good experiences although the India train was not as clean as we would have liked and the stations are overwhelming particularly if you need to deal with porters. European trains are fast and efficient and the bullet train in Japan is a real experience! It is amazing how you get on and off! Train travel gives you a chance to see more of the countryside and see how many of the locals get from place to place.

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