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Travel Europe By Train

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Traveling by train in Europe is the best way to get around and visit every place on your list! They’re convenient, you can skip the long lines at the airport and you don’t have to worry about any crazy flight delays!

Whether you are planning on visiting Switzerland, London or Amsterdam on your European vacation, these tips will help you get there quickly and inexpensively.

five children standing on the Eurostar train platform in London, waiting to board their train. Behind them is a high speed train that is headed to Paris.

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Traveling By Train In Europe

A few month ago we decided to take our 5 children to Europe.  (Crazy, right?!)  My husband and I had been there before so we wanted to take our kids to all of our favorite places.  The problem was, we would only be there for 8 days and we wanted to go from London to Rome and stop in several cities along the way.

After many days of careful planning we were able to figure out a way to start in London and visit Paris, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome.  You can read all of the details of our Europe Trip Here and What We Packed Here to see how we did it.  It was no easy feat and the only way we were able to do it was because of Europe’s incredible train network!

Inside St. Pancras station in London with a Eurostar bullet train on each side of the platform with a trail of people riding the moving walkway in between the trains. These trains are the best way to travel throughout Europe.

How To Buy Train Tickets For Europe

Best Places To Buy Tickets – I booked the majority of our train tickets using the site Rail Europe (This is an affiliate link but they did not sponsor this.  Just a great company that I used and loved).  While you might be able to save a few dollars using the train company’s site in each country, this site aggregates tickets for most train lines so it’s all in one place.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about translating the other sites and hoping you read everything correctly.

The only exception was when I purchased our tickets for the night train.  We had to book that one directly through the Thello site.  Don’t worry, they have an English version of their site and it’s really easy to use.

Best Way To Pay For Train Tickets – I always like to get rewarded when I buy things, so I used my favorite travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred to buy all of our train tickets for Europe.  Not only do you get double points for all travel related purchases but this card won’t charge you a foreign transaction fee and you also get travel insurance that covers your train trips.

If you don’t have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, now is the time to get it.  Right now you can earn a 60,000 point bonus, which is worth $750 towards travel when redeemed with Chase Ultimate Rewards, if you spend $4,000 or more in the first three months the account is open.

If you own  business, the Chase Ink Business Preferred is another great card with very similar benefits.  This card is currently offering an 80,000 point bonus, which is worth $1,000 towards travel when redeemed with Chase Ultimate Rewards, if you spend $5,000 or more in the first three months the account is open.  Why not use these points to pay for your flights to Europe?

Benefits Of Train Travel

While there are many great reasons why you should take a train; here are my top 6 reasons why you should only travel by train once you’re in Europe.

Location

The stations are conveniently located in all of the major city centers and close to the sites you want to see. We were in London for exactly 24 hours and as you can imagine, we were running around the city trying to see all of the major sites before we had to leave.  Of course, we ran into a couple of unexpected detours during the day and had to make a mad dash to the station to catch the Eurostar to Paris.

Fortunately, St. Pancras station was in the heart of London and only about a 5 minute tube ride from our hotel.  We made it to the station with plenty of time to spare.  If we had to take the tube back to Heathrow, there’s no way we would have been able to see everything we wanted to in London.

an attractive woman with her 5 kids standing outside of the departure gate at a train station in London
St. Pancras Station – Leaving London, heading to Paris!

Speed Through Security

When you travel by train in Europe, the security lines at the train stations aren’t nearly as cumbersome as they are at the airport. There were only a couple of people in line ahead of us and all 7 of us made it through security AND customs in less than 15 minutes.  I don’t think there’s an airport in the world that can top that!

a clock hanging from St Pancras Station in London, England

Decreased Delays

If your train is delayed, you won’t have to wait nearly as long as if you were at the airport. On our various trips to Europe we have traveled by train pretty much everywhere and haven’t experienced any significant delays.  The longest delay we ever had was when the train had to take a different route, which added an hour to the trip, because of track maintenance.

The only other delay was our train from London to Paris had a mechanical problem and they had to bring in an entirely different train.  I’m sure you’re thinking we were stranded in the station for several hours.  Wrong!  Eurostar was amazing and they had us on our way to Paris only 40 minutes after we were scheduled to leave.  (Are you taking notes airline industry?)

a teenager and his younger brother riding a train in Europe
On board the Eurostar on our way to Paris!

Cheap Train Tickets

You’ll usually pay less for a train ticket than you would for flying. If you book your tickets once you know when you’ll be in Europe you’ll save a lot of money on popular routes rather than waiting until you get there to buy them.  Booked in advance, a ticket from London to Paris is only about $65.  You can’t beat that price!

The same goes for taking an overnight train.  We booked the Thello overnight train from Paris to Venice for UNDER $300 for our entire family.  Not only did that cover the cost to get there but also our “hotel” for the night.  Plus you don’t have to pay for transportation to and from the airport because the train stations are located in the heart of each city.  You really can’t beat that value.

a handsome man with his five children inside a Thello sleeper car getting ready for their trip on the European night train from Paris to Venice
The overnight train from Paris to Venice.

Relaxing Ride

Traveling by train in Europe is a lot more comfortable than flying in a plane. The seats are always larger and softer than anything you would find on a plane.  On the Eurostar ride to Paris our kids were exhausted.  We had just flown in from the U.S. and then sprinted all day through London.  We were all able to relax and sleep comfortably in our chairs during the trip.  That is something I can definitely say did not happen on our flight over, or on any flight, for that matter.

Experience is Everything

The experience of traveling by train in Europe alone is well worth the trip! One of the things my children talk about most about our trip to Europe was all of the different trains we took.  They just love telling everyone how fast the bullet trains were or about the long tunnel they took under the water (English Channel) or how much fun they had sleeping on the overnight train.  Not to mention the beautiful scenery you’ll see as you fly through the countryside.  It truly is a memorable experience you can’t get anywhere else!

a collage of various aspects of traveling by train in Europe

This post is in partnership with Eurostar, but all words and opinions expressed here are 100% our own. 

Somewhat Simple has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Somewhat Simple and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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