Over the last few years we have witnessed a significant spike in the popularity of train travel, particular across Europe. Passengers are currently logging over 400 billion kilometers annually on national railway networks across the EU. While it is true that traveling by train is not as inexpensive as some might think, there are some significant advantages that make rail travel worthwhile especially when compared to air travel.
Traveling by train is not just a more convenient alternative than air travel, but it can be significantly more enjoyable. It’s time to rediscover the comfort and adventure of travel by train. So get on board, grab a seat, savor the experience and indulge in the sights and sounds of world-class travel. As a wise man once said, “If God had meant for us to fly, he wouldn’t have given us the railways.”
Below are the ten most popular rail journeys in the EU – according to VATBox data – with all the information that you need to know:
#10. Copenhagen to Stockholm
Trains in Scandinavia are known for unrivaled comfort and customer service. Choose between modern seating in budget-conscious Economy Class, welcoming Second Class, and top-notch First Class. First Class includes free Internet access, in-seat power outlets, and a full 3-course meal available at your seat. Any way you travel, all three classes offer a great way to gaze at the stunning scenery of Scandinavia instead of staring at a monotonous road or the walls of an airport lounge. Some additional onboard services may include Cinema carriages, where travelers can view recently released movies aboard a night train. Train tickets range from €50, and the trip takes 5 hours and 33 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly with Norwegian Airlines for €100 and arrive in Stockholm 1 hour and 5 minutes after liftoff.
#9 Venice to Munich
The comfortable daytime Austrian EuroCity train from Venice to Munich is the best way to travel between the two cities while experiencing beautiful scenery along the way. The route passes through Italian valleys and small villages, snowy peaks, and the Alps, and then reaches Bavaria – one of the most beautiful areas in Germany. Driving along the River Isarco in the shadows of the Dolomites is particularly striking. There is also a direct overnight train from Munich to Venice, but you will miss the breathtaking scenery. The first train leaves Venice at 06:50 and the last train leaves at 22:05. There is an average of 39 trains a day between Venice and Munich. Train tickets cost approximately €100, and the trip takes 6 hours and 8 minutes. Alternatively, ou can fly with Lufthansa to Munich for €535, which will take 1 hour.
#8 Nice to Brussels
With the summer months approaching, it is not always easy to find tickets to and from Nice, but there is a direct TGV high-speed train leaving from this popular city to Brussels. This ride offers a relaxing way to cross through France and Belgium, with power sockets at all seats and a cafe-bar on board. There’s stunning scenery along the coast between Nice and Toulon, over the Rhone at Avignon with the Palais des Papes just visible in the distance to your right, and up the rural Rhone Valley. Train tickets are approximately €185, and the trip takes 7 hours and 43 minutes. The first train leaves Nice at 05:55, with the last train leaving the station at 20:00. There is an average of 10 trains a day between Nice and Brussels. Alternatively, you can fly with Brussels Airlines to Brussels for €240 in 1 hours and 40 minutes.
#7 Berlin to Prague
While waiting for your train to leave Berlin, the Deutsche Bahn provides 30 minutes of free WiFi service at Hauptbahnhof. Users must switch on their mobile device and then select the network “Telekom.” The train from Berlin to Prague runs every two hours and takes 4 hours and 23 minutes. Enjoying lunch or dinner as the train snakes through the beautiful Elbe river valley is a real treat! There are no table reservations required. There’s a separate counter if you want to take snacks or drinks back to your seat. The best scenery is on the left hand side going south from Berlin to Prague, right hand side going north from Prague to Berlin, as that’s the side the rivers Elbe and Vlatava are on. Train tickets are approximately €34, and the trip takes 4 hours and 23 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly with Czech Airlines to Prague within one hour for €200.
#6 Luxembourg to Frankfurt
The fastest travel time between Luxembourg and Frankfurt is 3 hours and 41 minutes. There are an average of 47 trains a day from Luxembourg to Frankfurt (M) Flughafen Fernbf (Airport). The first train from Luxembourg to Frankfurt (M) Flughafen Fernbf (Airport) departs at 04:00, and the last train departs at 23:31. Unfortunately, there is no direct train service available between Luxembourg and Frankfurt Flughafen. You will require a minimum of one train transfer. Departure signs that display track and platform information for upcoming train departures are easy to find in Luxembourg. Train tickets range from €30 to €60 and up to €100 for a First Class ticket, and the trip takes 3 hours and 41 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly with Air France with one layover for €300.
#5 Amsterdam to Paris
The train is absolutely the best way to travel between Amsterdam and Paris. With large sections of high-speed rail track in place, this journey can be made in 3 hours and 17 minutes with the Thalys, a high-speed train which can operate at a speed of up to 300 km/hr. The first train leaving Amsterdam is at 06:18, the last at 20:18. There are an average of 24 trains a day between Amsterdam and Paris, leaving approximately every 35 minutes. You also have the convenience of departing and arriving from the heart of the city. The station is fully handicapped-accessible. Train tickets are approximately €135, and the trip takes 3 hours and 17 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly with Easyjet for €130, and the flight takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.
#4 Barcelona to Madrid
AVE (which stands for Alta Velocidad Española) at Barcelona Sants station has its own Customer Service desk, plus the ‘Sala Club’ VIP area for first class AVE travelers. Tickets for the AVE trains fall under the category of ‘Larga Distancia’ (long distance). They can be purchased via internet, telephone or at the station. It is possible to purchase them on the day of travel, however, there is a high chance that the trains will have sold out by this point, so it is better to buy them in advance if possible. If you travel First Class, you receive access to the Club Room lounge at the Barcelona train station (with drinks, TV, newspapers and internet access). The train station in Madrid has a 4000-square meter jungle in its interior, complete with over 500 species of animals and plants. Train tickets are approximately €100, and the trip takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly with Vueling for €80 and the flight takes 1 hour and 25 minutes.
#3 Paris to Barcelona
Gare du Nord station is the busiest station in Europe, with rail links to major cities such as Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, and London. The station is open every day (including public holidays) from 4.30am to 1am and there are plenty of facilities for travelers, including a Business Premier Lounge. The First Class carriage offers single deluxe reclining seats, each with a head- and footrest, a reading light and a work table with a power outlet. Train tickets range from €219 up to €253, and the trip takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly with Easyjet for €236, but there are only evening flights with arrival at 23:25.
#2. London to Paris
This route is the Eurostar’s premier service, with departures from London St. Pancras International station approximately every hour during the day. 30 minutes is all it takes to check in and board a Eurostar train, or just 10 minutes with a Business Premier ticket or Eurostar Carte Blanche. And your luggage never leaves your side: you can carry on two suitcases plus your hand luggage. St Pancras International has plenty of attractions to pass the time before your train leaves. These include stylish restaurants, cafes, shops, free WiFi, and even a public piano. Train tickets range from €219 up to €253, and the trip takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. You can fly with Easyjet for €236, but there are only evening flights with arrival at 23:25.
#1 Paris to London
With a speed of up to 322 kph, it is no wonder that this route is so popular in Europe. First class on the TGV Med offers large comfortable reclining seats and a bar-buffet car with a selection of food and beverages. The new TGV trains have two office areas with electrical outlets available in the vestibule areas of second class. They enable travelers to work in small groups in a more private space. Travelers can also prep for meetings and recharge their computers and cellphones. In addition, the TGV bar offers films on DVD, magazines, games for children, Paris Metro tickets, even USB sticks. Train tickets range from €148 to €200.
The range of services across all train companies is vast and varied – from free magazines and drinks to concierge services. When booking, simply click the “details” button below the Premier fare to see a detailed description of the deluxe services you can expect. Plus, you’ll often find that exclusive perks start before you even board the train, such as access to lounges and priority check-in. Enjoy your trip!