There’s a certain romance about train travel. From every Brief Encounter-style station farewell to the evocative views that rush by your window – travel by train in Europe is wonderful. And it’s easy. So easy in fact rail ticketing agency, Voyages-sncf, is going to great pains to show us just how difficult it could be – more about that and a prize giveaway later.
But for now let’s explore why travel by train in Europe is giving flying a run for its money, and our top tips for making the most of your journey.
Why travel by train in Europe?
It’s no secret that air travel has become increasingly difficult. Security checks and restrictions, plus the challenges of low-cost airline rules have taken some of the joy out of the journey. As a result, train travel has become a favourite for us.
During our recent visit to Germany we took an eight-hour train journey on three trains from the north-eastern city of Leipzig to the southern town of Constance. Rolling through beautiful countryside provided lovely views, and the fact we were with two friends made the journey race by as fast as DeutscheBahn’s Intercity-Express trains.
We were struck by the efficiency of the network, the space to move, and relaxed atmosphere onboard – quite the contrast to many flights.
Eurostar too has transformed travel by train in Europe – connecting the UK to continental Europe in 30 minutes and central London to the heart of Paris in just over two hours.
Travel by train in Europe is also cost-effective when stacked against flying. Prices are usually comparable, especially when factoring in travel to city centres from remote airports. Meanwhile train travel results in ten times fewer carbon emissions than flying the same distance.
Tips to get you on the rails
We’ve consulted with Voyages-sncf for top tips on how to book and travel by train in Europe:
- Secure the best fares by booking early.
- When booking French trains, look out for Prem fares. These low-cost fares are limited availability and go on sale 90 days in advance. The sooner you can book, the more chance you have of securing Prem fares.
- Build enough time into your connections. Voyages-sncf recommends an hour to change stations, and half an hour for platform changes. But allow an additional 30 minutes for Eurostar check-in.
- Train travel isn’t just for students. While InterRailing was traditionally regarded as the preserve of students, there are now passes for seniors too.
- To travel in style purchase an InterRail first class pass.
- Purchase an InterRail pass according to the number of times you plan to travel rather than the duration of your trip. The more services you use, the more cost-effective the pass becomes.
- One country passes start from £49 and global passes from £233. Passes don’t only provide rail savings, but discounts on hotels, museums and other forms of transport.
- Download the InterRail Rail Planner App to keep your journey on track – it even has live timetables without the need for 3G.
Voyages-sncf giveaway and easy way to travel by train
Voyages-sncf, formerly known as Rail Europe, is Europe’s leading rail ticket agency. And to reveal just how easy travel by train in Europe is, Voyages-sncf has created this fun video. I particularly like the guy at 0.42 and 0.50 seconds. As for the tiger… I think I’ll take #TheEasyWay!
You can also enter Voyages-sncf’s competition to win one of 12 pairs of train tickets from London to Avignon, Barcelona, Geneva or Milan.
This guide is brought to you as part of a campaign created and managed by iambassador and Voyages-sncf. As always all opinions are my own.