The Ultimate Europe Train Trip For Beginners
(Last Updated On: 05/12/2020)
Anyone here from outside Europe? Raise your hand if you’re as baffled by public transit as I am. Sure, New York has a subway, and Toronto runs the metro, but by and large, the world thrives on cars. So whenever we find ourselves making the hop across the pond for a fancy French baguette, things can get a little overwhelming. This is especially true for first-timers, who often have no idea exactly how to manage their Europe trip by train, let alone where they should travel.
Whether it’s the difference between the Eurostar and the TGV Train network (Train a Grande Vitesse) or trying to navigate seat reservations and advanced ticketing, it can all be a bit much. For those as lost as I am, we’ve gathered together the best itinerary to give you the Ultimate Europe Trip by Train for Beginners.
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Europe Train Trip For Beginners Stop 1: London
There are a number of reasons we’ve chosen London as the first stop on this journey, but overall it just makes the most sense. From North America flights to London are frequent and cheap, which means you’ll be saving some serious money over flying into Frankfurt or other European hubs.
London is a huge hub and you’ll have no trouble finding things to do. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, the city is rife with book and movie references. If you’re into theater, Soho is home to the biggest in Broadway entertainment, and you can often find tickets at a discount.
You can easily spend weeks here without exhausting activities, but at a minimum, we recommend four days. Once you’re ready to move on, it’s time to head to your next destination.
Train Stop 2: Paris
You can’t hit Europe without spending time in the world’s most romantic city. The City of Lights is a must-stop, whether it’s your first or your tenth visit, and luckily for travelers, the Eurostar train runs nearly every hour from London to Paris. The journey takes a little over 2 hours and the train tickets can be booked for cheap in advance.
We recommend spending at least four days here as well, but if your vacation time is limited you can squeeze it down to two.
Europe Train Trip For Beginners Stop 3: Barcelona
Although this next stop is quite a journey by train, you can take advantage of a sleeper car to get your snooze on before arriving in this coastal city. Take a turn around the Gothic Quarter and enjoy some chocolate-dipped churros before heading to Parc Guell.
One of the best parts of Barcelona is that Spain is very cheap compared to its northern neighbors, so you’ll get a lot for your money here. We recommend staying at least two days here to explore the city.
Stop 4: Nice Ville
Famous for its boardwalk and very near Cannes, Nice Ville is well worth a stop on your Europe train trip. While the city itself isn’t as large as France’s capital, its location is near several worthy day trips. First, head to Monaco and lose five dollars at the casino. Enjoy the fancy cars and follow the Formula 1 route on the world-famous race track. Next, take a train to Cannes – if you’re there during the festival keep an eye out for big celebrities!
We recommend at least four days here to make room for all those day trips.
Europe Train Trip For Beginners Stop 5: Rome
The Italian capital is a feast for the eyes. From the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain, there’s almost nowhere you won’t be blown away by the breathtaking architecture. If that wasn’t enough, the food is worth slavering over. Handmade pasta vies with fresh gelato and the buffalo mozzarella has come straight from the farm.
There’s honestly never too much time to spend in Rome, but if you must leave make it after a minimum of five days.
Stop 6: Venice
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Venice during your first trip. While I didn’t have the best experience (too many tourists), this city is a must-do. Between the gondolas and public boats, you’ll find your way across the canals to some of the most romantic sites in Europe.
We recommend spending at least two days in Venice before hopping the train to your next destination.
Europe Train Trip For Beginners Stop 7: Vienna
Here we’re leaving the most traveled route and heading a bit out of the way. It’s for good reason, though, as more centrally-located European countries should never be overlooked. These have the flavor and flair of the west with some striking differences. In Vienna, this means a raging coffee culture and rock-bottom prices. What more could you want?
We recommend at least two days in Vienna before moving on.
Stop 8: Prague
This thousand-year-old city is famous for its old city. When you visit, don’t forget to stop at the Astronomical Clock before heading to see the Infant Jesus. If you’re interested in history, the old Jewish Ghetto still bears the marks of forced inhabitation. While nowadays the area has been renovated extensively, you can still visit its six synagogues.
We recommend staying in Prague for at least three days to explore the city.
Europe Train Trip For Beginners Stop 9: Berlin
A testament to rebirth, Berlin today is the hub of hip German culture. Whether you’re trying to visit a hipster bar or an art museum disguised as a fine dining restaurant, Berlin is where you want to be. There are loads of things to do here, including a visit to the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Of course, there are all the traditional museums and galleries as well.
We recommend at least three days here to enjoy all Berlin has to offer.
Stop 10: Amsterdam
You’ve seen canals in Venice, but nothing can prepare you for the neat, orderly city of Amsterdam. The Dutch capital is home to boats and bikes rather than cars, and you can easily spend all your time here gawping at the architecture.
We recommend you to travel to Amsterdam for at least three days here as well, though you’d do better with four or five.
There you have it. From London to Amsterdam and everywhere in between, this is the best guide for European train trip beginners. In Amsterdam, you’re free to return to London by using Save A Train, or head home right from the Netherlands.
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