Europe Hotels Articles

August 9, 2010

Tips for traveling by train in Europe

Travelling by train in any European country is conceptually easy and it is the preferable way to see Europe. English is widely spoken in most tourist areas and if you go as far as learning simple salutations and thanks of local tongue it delights the local people and can lead to a much warmer welcome.

I ‘train-ed’ it all around Europe as a lone female, hopping on and off as I pleased. The price is reasonable and it gave me transport access to even some of the most remote little villages. Which might I add are worth the detour. Despite what some might say I received no threats, with no problems going ’solo’. Trains are safe and well kept: Had there been any problems, help was close by with constant surveillance by the ticket collectors/attendants.

One advice I strongly insist on is that is helps to pack a good dose of spontaneity as opposed to a tightly organised regime. Things are bound to change and being flexible makes change a delightful extra to your journey. That is not to say not go blindly wandering; wide reading before you even consider going anywhere is a great way to appreciate the destination once you arrive there.

I travelled everywhere by train, often by night to reduce accommodation costs. It was comfortable and it leaves free hands and minds to admire the scenery ‘en-route’ and relax.

I discovered the hard way that trains run very infrequently on the weekends in Eastern Europe. To avoid waiting outside in icy temperatures for 4am transfers potentially delayed (as I experienced on the border of Slovakia heading to Hungary). It is best to avoid travelling Saturdays and Sundays. That said these are also fantastic days to observe the heart of a local centre come to life.

The key to a successful and memorable trip is doing a little research. Getting your hands on timetables and route details and knowing what is available.

I recommend travelling by train as it opened up a social door. It is a fantastic place for casual conversations, a way to meet locals and fellow travellers, from whom you can always discover secrets and further travel ideas. You will find company in all shapes, sizes and surprises. I would not do it any other way.

There are various guide books with European tourist information. The best ones give you a variety of information, on cultural events, architecture and history. These are a good beginning but use every other opportunity to seek further below the surface once the train has boarded. Enjoy the ride.

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