The Ultimate Eurail Winter Itinerary
Many travelers head to Europe in search of warmth and sunshine. But, all too often, this comes with elevated prices and a plethora of other sweaty brochure-fanning tourists. Winter, on the other hand, can bring with it an entirely new atmosphere – and landscape. Popular winter resorts aside, you’ll get fewer crowds and more competitive prices. If you’re looking to travel Europe by rail in the colder months, here is one ultimate Eurail winter itinerary.
Your Eurail winter itinerary
- Berlin, Germany
- Munich, Germany
- Lucerne, Switzerland
- Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
- Geneva, Switzerland
- Barcelona, Spain
- Paris, France
1. Berlin, Germany
Kick off your Eurail winter itinerary with a visit to Berlin, Europe’s “city of the moment” – for the last 10 years. Although Berlin may be at her best in spring or autumn, there’s a chilly charm to the German capital in winter, and it’s a good starting point for a long journey south.
Insider tip: Time it around the end of the year, and you’re in for a treat with quaint Christmas markets and possibly one of the best New Year’s Eve parties of your life.
How to get there by train: Berlin is a major rail hub in Central Europe. There are regular trains from throughout Germany and several international cities. It’s also a prominent air hub, making it a good starting point if you’re arriving by air.
2. Munich, Germany
Munich is another fantastic German city to experience in winter. Although the beer gardens may have moved indoors, the lively atmosphere and hearty dishes will keep you warm and entertained late into the night. As in Berlin, there are also several markets and other festive functions in the month leading up to Christmas.
Insider tip: If you’re looking for an authentic beer hall experience, head to the Augustiner-Keller. It’s open year-round and the restaurant is particularly cosy in the colder months.
How to get there by train: There are direct trains from Berlin to Munich , which take just over 6 hours. They run approximately every hour on the half hour.
3. Lucerne, Switzerland
Ease into Switzerland gently in one of her most popular cities, Lucerne. This beautiful lakeside city has a whole new charm in the winter months. If chocolate is your winter go-to comfort food, then this is the place to stock up.
Insider tip: Don’t miss the famous Chapel Bridge – it’s a beautiful covered footbridge that runs across the Reuss River.
How to get there by train: Lucerne is an easy train ride away from Munich, with several daily trains running between them. The most convenient option departs Munich at 12:33pm. It takes 5 hours and 16 minutes, and requires a single change in Zurich.
4. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
There are few places on the continent as beautiful as Lauterbrunnen, come snow or sunshine. This idyllic winter wonderland is one of the most beautiful spots in the Alps, whether you’re looking to take to the skiing slopes in the nearby Jungfrau region, paraglide off a nearby peak, coast to the top of a mountain in a cosy cable car, or simply sip hot chocolate overlooking an idyllic winter location.
Insider tip: You can journey to the highest railway station in Europe from Lauterbrunnen – the Jungfraujoch. Your Eurail Pass gets you a discount on this once-in-a-lifetime train journey.
How to get there by train: Take the stunning Golden Pass scenic train from Lucerne to Interlaken, free with your Eurail Pass. Then connect onto the small private train for the last few miles up into the Lauterbrunnen valley – present your Eurail Pass for a discount.
5. Geneva, Switzerland
The Golden Pass line continues through unbelievable Swiss scenery all the way to Lake Geneva. It would be a shame to miss out on this famous train ride. Lake Geneva may be another playground for the rich and famous, but it’s worth a visit if only for a night.
Insider tip: The quaint and quirky town of Vevey is easily reached by train from the end of the Golden Pass line. It offers one or two budget accommodation options worth considering.
How to get there by train: The Golden Pass line continues south west towards Geneva, with a single change in Zweisimmen. Time it correctly and you may be able to board the Golden Pass Classic Train – essentially your grandmother’s classy living room on wheels.
6. Barcelona, Spain
You could easily spend the rest of your time playing around in either the French or Swiss Alps. But if the snow and ice has started taking its toll, hop aboard the TGV from Geneva to Barcelona. This hedonistic coastal city still gets a hit or two of winter. You may be able to shake off your winter coat and enjoy a little sunshine. And even if the weather doesn’t play ball, you’ll be able to warm up with competitively priced beer and tapas after the extravagance of Switzerland.
Insider tip: Save Barcelona’s indoor attractions such as Sagrada Familia and popular museums for the colder days, and take advantage of the beaches and Las Ramblas on the warmer ones.
How to get there by train: There is usually a high-speed TGV train leaving Geneva for Barcelona shortly after noon. It requires a single change in Valence, and you’ll arrive at approximately 8:30pm.
7. Paris, France
If time allows, you can still make tracks for one of the continent’s most iconic cities – Paris. There are direct high-speed trains between the Barcelona and Paris, and although the City of Lights is beautiful at any time of the year, there’s a special atmosphere in the air when she’s just received a light dusting of snow.
Insider tip: This is a popular route that requires an advance seat reservation with your Eurail Pass. Seats sell out quickly, so book in advance!
How to get there by train: Take the Renfe-SNCF high-speed train, which will get you to Paris in 6 hours and 15 minutes.
Choosing just a handful of cities for the ultimate Eurail winter itinerary is nearly impossible. But if you’re looking for a combination of snow, peaks, festive spirit, and a little bit of Spanish coastline to warm your heart, then this is one to consider. With a Eurail Global Pass, you’ll not only experience all of this, but also some of the continent’s most dramatic rail routes.
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