9 good reasons to Eurail through Europe
I’ve taken buses, car trips, and been crammed onto low cost flights but my favourite way to experience Europe is by train. Trail travel isn’t just about getting from A to B; the journey is part of the experience and can make your Europe adventure even more rewarding. This summer my partner and I decided to try an alternative to uncomfortable cheap airlines and instead travelled from London to Sicily by train, taking our time and spending a month with a Eurail pass exploring Europe on the way down. Along the way we rediscovered our love for train travel and remembered why we think it’s the best way to travel.
1. Enjoy the ride
Train is by far the most comfortable method of transport, especially in Europe where most of the trains are modern and spacious. Compared to planes or buses you’ll have a larger, more comfortable seat, more leg room, and you can get up and move around whenever you want. As most of the tracks are smooth I avoid motion sickness as well. We had plenty of 6+ hour train journeys in Europe that went by in no time and we were often disappointed to get off —I’ve never felt that about a bus or flight.
2. See more
Flying you’ll see nothing, on buses you’ll spend most of your time on busy highways, but trains take you away from the roads and through some of Europe’s most stunning scenery. Highlights of my summer train trip included the alpine mountain scenery and picturesque villages of Austria, the turquoise Soča river in Slovenia, and the empty golden beaches of Italy’s Adriatic coast. The hours flew by as we gazed out of the window at the changing landscapes.
3. Be spontaneous
If you miss a train, no problem, just catch the next one. You aren’t locked in to a schedule so can be spontaneous and take up opportunities as they arise. Travelling with a Eurail pass is particularly liberating as you don’t even need to buy a ticket (although some trains require reservations), just hop on a train and head off on your next adventure.
4. The easy way to travel
Unlike airports which are miles out of town, most train trips start and end right in the centre of cities. Train stations are usually well connected to the city transport network so you can reach them by metro, bus, or in many small cities on foot. Budget accommodation tends to cluster around train stations and we usually picked hotels nearby so we could roll out of bed and onto a train in no time.
5. Avoid extra fees
Budget airlines may seem like a cheap way to travel around Europe but they all have hidden extra costs and you’ll pay a lot more to check-in your luggage. On trains you can take as much luggage as you like without paying any extra, and you don’t have to worry about your bags not turning up either.
6. Environmentally friendly
Unless you’re planning to walk or cycle around Europe train is the most environmentally friendly way to go as they release far less CO2 into the atmosphere than planes, buses and cars. Using Ecopassenger.org I calculated that travelling from London to Palermo by train rather than plane reduced our CO2 emissions by 67%.
7. Less stress
Flying is a stressful experience. You have to worry about what you are allowed to pack in your bags, arrive hours early, submit to searches and X-ray machines, and queue endlessly —checking in, at security, boarding, collecting luggage. Travelling by train you don’t have to worry about any of this, just turn up, hop on the train, settle into your seat and enjoy the ride. There isn’t a more relaxing way to explore the continent.
8. Be productive
On our train trip across Europe we were surprised by how productive we were on our long train journeys. Many trains are equipped with tables, power sockets and sometimes even WiFi, and the smooth ride and spacious seating make it easy to get work done. Whether you want to read, sketch, write your journal, or work on your laptop, train trips can be very productive and it helps time pass quickly on long trips.
9. Meet people
Trains are a naturally more sociable form of transport than planes and buses where you are stuck in your seats. On trains you can get up, walk around, visit the snack bar or dining carriage and chat with other travellers and locals. Whether you are making new friends or getting tips about your next destination from a local it all adds to the experience. I’m convinced that train travel is the ideal way to travel around Europe. There is just no other method that offers the same comfort, convenience, and relaxing and rewarding experience as taking to the rails.