Train Travel in Europe

Train travel in Europe

If you are planning a trip anywhere in Europe, you should consider taking a train. Trains in Europe are fast, economical, clean, relaxing, efficient, and fun allowing you to see the countryside while getting from one location to another. So Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or on your first adventure to Europe, trains are a great way to get around.

Train travel in Europe is very easy if you know just a few important things:

  • Plan your vacation and determine whether you need individual tickets or one of the various flex-passes available for Italy train travel.
  • Before you board your train, validate your ticket. Invalidated tickets can lead to stiff penalties. Validation is fast and easy. Your ticket will be stamped with the time and date, presto, your ticket is validated, board your train and relax.
  • Travel off peak where possible and when possible reserve your seat.
  • As with anywhere in Europe, watch your wallet and baggage. Be conscious of your surroundings. Use money belts for your passports, credit cards, and cash reserves. To make travel easier, travel with one bag and a carry on.

Most stations are located in the centre of town with lodgings close by. You can safely leave your bags in baggage lockers and baggage checks at the station and wander until you are ready to go to your hotel.

France

Travelling France by train is one of the most modern, extensive, high-speed rail networks in the world. The well-known TGV networks will take you across the country in a just a few hours.

Paris

Train Travel in EuropeThe city maintains a well-connected railway system which links not only the different parts of the city but also to the rest of Europe. Interestingly there isn’t any central station in Paris. In fact, there are seven different railway stations which are not at all linked to each other.

  • Gare du Nord– This station serves many trains to and from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, and other countries from northern Europe. The station also serves the passengers who arrive from the Charles de Gaulle Airport and connect them to the rest of France.
  • Gare d’Austerlitz– This station connects Paris to the other cities of France, especially the southwestern and central cities including Limoges, Toulouse, Orleans, along with Portugal and Spain as well.
  • Gare de I’Est– The station serves several trains from and to Saarbrucken, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Kaiserslautern, Munich, and Stuttgart in Germany.
  • Gare de Lyon– This station serves TGV and regular trains from and to Eastern as well as Southern regions of France including Marseille, French Alps, Lyon, and Dijon. It also serves some cities of Italy and Switzerland, including Geneva, Neuchatel, Bern, Basel, Zurich, and Interlaken.
  • Gare Saint-Lazare– From here you can board on to trains en route to and from Haute–Normandie, and Basee–Normandie.
  • Gare de Bercy– It mainly serves the overnight trains to Italy and some regular trains to and from Auvergne.
  • Gare Montparnasse– Normally this station serves regular and TGV trains to the south-west and western regions of France including Nantes, Bordeaux, Rennes, and Toulouse.

Don’t purchase your ticket at the train station kiosks. Most of them accept only European credit cards that have a chip which U.S. issued cards don’t have. Purchase your France rail pass before you start travelling or purchase point to point tickets at the train station office. Check with a travel agent or trains website for details on the many great options. France rail passes are offered for 3-9 days of travel. If you plan to travel only 1 or 2 days, you have to buy point-to-point tickets. Also, if you have a short trip in mind, it may be more commercial to buy a point-to-point ticket for that trip.

France pass travellers, be aware that the high speed TGV trains and night trains always require early reservations. Reserve your train early to ensure your place, particularly at peak travel times. You can also make reservations in advance from your travel agent or directly on Rail Europe’s reservation page.

Most French trains of any distance have a relaxed dining car, with drinks and snacks, and some even offer kids meals in a cute plastic zip container. Expediency can be costly though. Take a tip from the locals and pick up a fresh fruits and beverage of choice before you head to the station, and enjoy your picnic on board.

Be alert, many train stations have pickpockets. Carry cash, credit cards and passports in a money belt.

Note the platform your train will be leaving from and arrive early. You may need to travel up and down to reach your platform, so again, travel light. Bring only what you can comfortably carry yourself. Most platforms have an automatic or manual board noting the composition of the trains, i.e. first class and second class cars. Position yourself accordingly on the platform while you wait for the incoming train. Stations stops can be short, and they don’t wait for you, so be ready to board. Be alert as to when it’s time to get off.

Italy

Train travel in Italy is an efficient, safe and enjoyable way to travel Italy. It also proves to cost-effective. A large number of trains cover almost every small and major country.

If you are visiting Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice or some other large cities, it is better to travel by train, as finding a parking space for a personal vehicle could be a terrifying, particularly for those ones who are visiting these cities for the first time.

The train stations in most of the cities are located near city centres. Trains in Italy are not only economical, and also eco friendly.

Tickets are easily available at every railway station in Italy. One can buy them just a few minutes before the exit of a train. However, there are certain travel periods during which reservations in advance are suggested. The crowded season generally lasts from June to August.

In the last few years, several new trains connecting Italy’s most important cities have introduced. They are high-speed, stylish trains, and tourists can travel on them for a amazing experience. These national trains have many stops and usually have only second class seats. Inter-regional trains are more frequent during tourist season. Intercity and Intercity Plus are the best for longer distances, and provide comfort being also affordable. Domestic travellers mostly use them. There are fewer stops connecting to all major cities.

Italiarail trains are partnered with Trenitalia, Italy’s national railway to offer High-speed and high standards of comfort to regional train routes including: Eurostar, Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca InterCity & Eurocity, French TGV, German InterCity Express, Elipsos, Lyria and Eurail & Interrail Passes. Air conditioning, internet access and catering services are among the luxuries you can enjoy on such trains.

There are no less than a dozens of international trains which connect Italy with other European countries. They provide first-rate comfort and saves lot of time. There are special prices and discounts that can lower the price of tickets with significant amounts. Check timetables and buy tickets on Italiarail.com.

Rome

  • Leonardo Express
    The train station is right beside the Fiumicino airport, which offers frequent trains to the city’s main train station, Roma Termini. The Leonardo Express is the train that runs from the airport to centre of the city at a gap of every 30 minutes. The ticket costs 11 EUR. You must get your ticket stamped before you board the train. You can get them stamped in the yellow coloured validation machines. Do note that the ticket expires in 90 minutes after validation. The Leonardo Express takes around 35 minutes to cover the distance.
  • FMI Metropolitan Train
    The metropolitan train FM1 links the Fiumicino airport with areas like Roma Tiburtina, Fara Sabina, PoggioMirteto and Orte, i.e. the southern and eastern suburbs. Note that this train does not stop at Termini Station. Tickets cost 5.50 EUR + 1 EUR for a metro ticket.

Florence

The considerably fast modern trains connect Florence to the rest of Italy and the local trains from different cities of Italy as well as other parts of Europe arrive and depart in-from Florence at regular intervals. The main railway station of the city is Firenze Santa Maria Novella, and there are several smaller stations too including Firenze Rifredi and Firenze Campo Marte.
If you board the Inter-city train en route to Florence, you need to get down at Rifredi station to change the train and board another train en route to Firenze S.M.N.
If you are already enjoying your vacation in Europe and planning to visit Florence, then you can opt for the overnight trains which connect Florence with Paris and some German towns too. The sleeping arrangements are made available in the trains, and you can sleep all night comfortably just at the cost of EUR 100 per person.

Venice

  • Trains from Venice run through Venezia Santa Lucia to the Mestre train station on the west. From the station, water taxis and water buses can take you to your hotels or any other location. Also, there are several direct trains from international destinations to Venice including overnight trains from Paris, Munich, Vienna, and Moscow. Also, Venice has a well-connected domestic train network famous among them is the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Local agents can handle the reservations, and since Milano and Rome are just a few hours away, you can easily board on any one of the several night trains which run from the cities to southern Italy.

Milan

  • As far as traveling by train is concerned, the Central Station or Milano Centrale is the city’s premium railway station. The fast trains and regular express trains serve almost all the Italian cities including Turin, Rome, Venice, Naples and Florence along with some European cities too including Geneva, Zurich, Barcelona, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, Paris, etc.
  • The area around the station is not much lively, and although there are a few budget hotels as well as international brand oriented hotels too, this area remains active during the day by the night hours are quite deserted.
  • The Central Station serves two metro lines MM2 and MM3. You will easily find taxis right in front of the entrance and exit of the station. There are also buses available to Malpensa, Linate and Orio airports on the east side.
    Few other important railway stations include:
  • Cardorna Railway Station, North Railways
    Served mostly by the Ferrovie Nord, is the railway station where the domestic train Malpensa Airport Express halts. This station is also the stopping point of the two metro lines MM1 as well as MM2. If you are planning to travel to Como Lago station then Cardorna is a must visit place.
  • Garibaldi Station
    This station basically acts as the terminus for most of the commuter trains and mainly serves the state railways. The station also serves the TGV trains running to and from Paris, run by SNCF. Besides this, the station acts as a stop for the metro line MM2 as well as a suburban commuter train named Passante.

If you’ll be using the train for three days or more out of your trip, consider buying the Italy Eurail Pass, which you can use as many times as you want for three days out of a given ninety days period. You can also add on travel days if you need more.

Train travel can mean both saving money and enjoying beautiful scenic landscapes on route. The journey might prove to be just as enjoyable as a visit to a beautiful Italian City.

Germany

German rail travel is known for being among the best in Europe, with modern amenities, and fast and frequent services.

With a German Rail Pass board any train in Germany and begin exploring its many vibrant cities, including Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich and beyond. This Pass provides visitors with the freedom to travel throughout Germany’s extensive rail network for a specified number of days: anywhere from 5 to 10 flexible travel days to be used within one month. Passes are accessible in first or second class for adult or twin fares, where twin fares are discounted for 2 adults travelling together. Youth between the ages of 16 and 25 are also eligible to receive a discounted fare, available in second class only. Plus children between the ages of 6 and 11 save up to 50% off the standard adult fare. With all these options, there truly is a pass to suit everyone’s program and budget!

As a German Rail Pass holder, passengers get access to travel aboard the entire DB Bahn (Deutsche Bahn) network, including the famous high speed ICE trains.

To begin using your pass, you simply need to have it validated within 6 months of purchase and before you board your first train. To do so, go to the ticket window at the rail station, present your pass along with your passport, and have the railroad official stamp your pass and enter the first and last day of the validity time. After that all you need to do is write in each date of travel before you board your first train on that day.

German Rail Pass holders can travel on all scheduled trains operated by DB Bahn throughout Germany, even including travel to Salzburg (Austria) and Basel (Switzerland). The only trains not included are those that can be referred to as ‘ride’ trains such as private steam trains, narrow-gauge railways and museum railways.

Depending on your itinerary, you will likely use a variety of trains, including long distance services, regional trains and InterCity (IC) and InterCity Express (ICE) trains. As regional trains connect smaller towns and accommodate local commuters, it’s suggested you avoid travelling during the early morning or late afternoon if possible.

It is advisable to make seat reservations, especially during holidays and peak periods. The ICE Sprinter trains, which require compulsory reservation and supplement for special on-board service. Overnight accommodation aboard a train, such as for a couchette on City Night Line trains, would also require a supplement.

Frankfurt

  • The main station (Hauptbahnhof):  This is one of the busiest train stations in Europe. Various intercity and high speed intercity trains connect the land to it neighbouring environs. A ticket office in Frankfurt allows visitors to purchase 5 days and 10 days travel cards. With this card, one can travel around Germany using the train services. As compared to individual train fares, these travel cards offer extensive savings. However, one cannot buy these travel cards at the regional train centres.
  • The Airport ((Flughafen Fernbahnhof): Connecting many German and European cities, the German Rail is connected by two main corridors, which are the regional train station and the square long-distance train station. The Frankfurt Airport Train Station is connected to Central Frankfurt area and the Hauptbahnhof and is reachable within 10 to 12 minutes by the S-Bahn commuter trains.  
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