February 23, 2018

Tips to Riding the Rails in Europe!

There are many methods of traveling around Europe. You could decide to drive, fly or take the bus but one of the most sought after modes of transportation in Europe are trains.

Riding the train in Europe is often seen as a romantic way to travel. I鈥檓 sure we鈥檝e all dreamt about seeing church spires peak out from the fog or the Alps from the comfort of our train seat, and yes it is beautiful and can be romantic but only once you鈥檝e found your seat and are able to relax 馃檪

From Glacier Express Switzerland

Here are some tips to help make riding the trains in
Europe easier and more relaxing!

I won鈥檛 get into a debate on whether it鈥檚 better to use point-to-point tickets or rail passes because I think it depends on the cost. Just remember, no matter what type of ticket you have it doesn鈥檛 mean you have an actual seat reserved unless you pay extra for a seat reservation.

Europe Train Belin Germany Station

First tip, Use websites for information on trains. My favorite site for researching European trains is the Deutsche Bahn website. This website offers all kinds of information including countries other than Germany. You can check the schedule, get connecting train information including arrival gate and departing gate, buy tickets and seat reservations. It鈥檚 important to remember to use the local name for cities, i.e. Wien=Vienna and M眉nchen=Munich. Also keep in mind Europe uses the 24hour clock (1400 is 2 pm) and dates are day/month (11/03 is March 11).

Rail Ticket Vienna Austria to Budapest Hungary

From the reservation above you can see my train was leaving from the Wien West station and going to Budapest Keleti.

Which leads me to another tip – it is very important that you arrive at the correct station. Most large European cities have many rail stations.

From the reservation, you can also see the ticket was for 2nd Class (klasse) and departs August 31 at 12:49 pm. The train number is 49, car (wagen) is 22 and my seat is number 86.

Seating Chart at train station Salzburg Austria

Next tip, arrive at the station early! Some of the main stations in large cities are huge. The main station in Berlin even has multiple floors. Arriving early will allow you time to check the boards to confirm your train is on time and find the right platform. Once you鈥檙e at the platform use the seating chart (example above) to see where you should stand. Using the information from your reservation, this guide will show you where to stand making it easier to get on the right train car. If you don鈥檛 have seat reservations, confirm where the right class train is and stand at the appropriate spot.

Berlin Train Station Germany

PACK LIGHT! No matter what, you鈥檒l be toting your bags. Usually there are stairs getting under tracks to your platform then more stairs getting up to the platform and even a few steps climbing aboard the train. Of course, once on the train you鈥檒l be hefting your bag up to the baggage rack above your seat! Today a lot of stations have elevators (but not all) but many times I find it鈥檚 easier just to grab my bag and use the stairs than wait for the elevator to arrive.

Using the train for travel is a great experience and one I recommend everyone have! The best tip I could give you is to ask questions if you鈥檙e unsure about anything which is another reason arriving early may actually be the best tip anyone could give you!


What’s your #1 tip for making riding trains easier?

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  1. Helen says:

    I have been pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to do the following. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Here is what we would like to do. Take a train from London to Paris, Paris to Chur to ride the Bernina Express to Tirano. This part of our trip will be all train but from here on are open to other transportation from here. From Tirano we need to get to Rome. Please help me from visiting Europe as a bald person!

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  7. Ann says:

    In Germany, kids under 5 travel free with an adult. Which contradicts the rail pass for Germany which charges for kids between 4 and 11.

    Anyway, for trains that reservations are possible, check to see if a “Kinderabteilraum” is available. These rooms have two fold-up seats to allow space for the stroller and four regular seats. It’s also expected that kids will be in this room, so people are slightly more tolerant.

    Other trains may have seats that fold up as well, especially at the end of the cabin, so check to see if that’s the case.

    Also, even though kids under 5 are free, they can still get a seat reservation on trains that allow reservations. So, if you are traveling with a baby go ahead and reserve a seat for the baby to give yourself more room.
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  8. jill says:

    I found that traveling by train is one of the best ways to travel around Europe. My #1 tip for train rides is to book a sleeper as early as possible. For me, when going on a long train journey I HAVE to have a sleeper 馃檪
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    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Its always good to plan ahead when you need something special like a sleeper. I remember my first overnight train. I was in my 20’s so we just slept in our seats. Now I just can’t do it!


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