Top Tips for Traveling Europe by Train
Europe is one of the most culturally dense continents in the world. One minute you’re scaling up Mount Tibidabo and the next you’re weaving your way through the Venetian canals. It is therefore important to make sure your travels are as comfortable and efficient as possible. If you would like to explore Europe by rail my top recommendations below will help…
1. Buy an Interrail Pass
The best way to travel Europe would be by train. It’s quick and simple, and you get to visually experience a bit more of the countries you’re visiting. The Interrail pass is perfect for this. The global Interrail pass allows you to travel 30 countries in Europe for up to one month of travel. Global pass prices start at €200. If you’d like to explore more of just one particular country, Interrail also offer a one country pass for various durations of travel.
The pass itself is a one off payment that allows you to hop on and off virtually any train in Europe. However, travelling between countries, long haul and overnight trains also usually requires a reservation. Reservations vary from about €2 - €20 depending on the country and length of train journey. These can be bought either in advance (online) or at the ticket office of any train station on the day. Although this isn’t always necessary, it will save you a bit of stress knowing you have a seat. Unlike the countryside, any city will have plenty of transportations options. So don’t worry, there’ll always be a way to get to where you need to go. View a guide to interrailing.
2. Make Use of City Transport Cards
If you’re visiting a city for a few days, the best option will be to by a transport card. Most cities will offer them for 24, 48, 72 hours etc, and this will allow you to jump on and off any public transportation (bus, metro, tram) for the duration of your stay. This is perfect for long days of exploring and sight seeing. In some countries this may even be free. For example in Geneva, most hotels offer a free transport card for all travellers.
3. Be Flexible
The great thing about European train travel is its flexibility. So don’t limit yourself and although it’s good to have a plan, don’t over-plan your trip. You will undoubtedly fall in love with some places and want to stay there for a few more days, while others will be a one-day-stop kind of city.
4. Make the Most of Your Time on the Train
Long journeys might seem tedious, but be sure to make the most of those hours. For example, a lot of trains will have Wi-Fi, so do some research on your next destination and create an itinerary to make the most of your time there. Also be sure to bring some form of entertainment with you – headphones and a kindle/book are an essential!
You’ve probably heard this before, but the less you take, the easier your travels will be. Minimalism is key! As a general guide, take enough clothes and supplies to last you about a week. There’s no need to take a months worth of clothes with you, as you’ll be able to wash them as you go. Also before you leave make sure there’s space in your bag for souvenirs to take home.
6. Cash Cards
You won’t be able to take enough cash for the entire journey. This is where cash cards come in. I recommend using the Revolut card, as there are no hidden fees or limits. First, download the Revolut app and order a card. You can then load pound sterling, euros or dollars from your current account straight onto the card. The best thing is that it will automatically convert the loaded currency to the local currency at great exchange rates. For example if you’re in Hungary and you’ve loaded pound sterling on to the card, when you make a transaction it will automatically convert it to Hungarian Forint. It’s completely free to use in both making transactions and withdrawals, and you can top it up as you go through the app.
By Emilia Maynard