The Top 8 European Destinations by Train

The Eurostar is one of the fastest trains in Europe, and it’s a great alternative to other forms of transportation. Not only does it link Great Britain to the Continent, but it has connections to a vast train network that accommodates most travelers. Probably the best part is that your vacation can be tailored to fit exactly what you want to see, and you can take as long as or as little you want to visit various cities. Most trains have sleeping and dining cars that help you arrive well rested at your destinations. And it’s surprisingly affordable. Here are eight European destinations we recommend, just in case you’re having trouble deciding.

1. London is easily the best place to start your European train vacation. It has one of the largest airports in the world, and it’s the hub of the Eurostar. London is perfect for the novice traveler because there’s so much to see and do, and it’s very tourist friendly. Some of the most popular attractions are Big Ben, Regent Park, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, Borough Market, the Tower Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament. If you’re short on time, take a paid walking or bus tour, so that you learn about London’s history from a professional guide. A romantic dinner cruise down the River Thames is the perfect way to end the day.

2. Paris, the city of love, I mean lights (yes, I had to go there), is merely two hours from London Waterloo station. The best part is that most of the trip is spent in a tunnel under the English Channel. Enjoy bangers and mash for breakfast in London, then order a classic steak and fries déjeuner at a cute Parisian café near the iconic Eiffel Tower or in the prestigious Latin Quater. Paris is a traveler’s rêve, or dream, with unforgettable memories begging to be made. There’s so much to see, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, famous for being the most beautiful avenue in the world, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, Notre Dame, the Catacombs, Musée d’Orsey, and Musée du Louvre (don’t forget to see the Mona Lisa). These are just a few things to keep you busy. If you have extra time to spare, fit in a bus tour of Paris or a cruise down the River Seine, followed by some of the best shopping experiences in the world in the Opéra District. Moulin Rouge is always an option if you want to enjoy a spectacle and have a good laugh. You can always visit the city with a local and discover the hidden places in the City of Light.

The City of Light’s emblem: la tour Eiffel

3. Brussels is in the heart of Europe. Here’s a fun fact about the London to Brussels train route: The train ticket is good for any station in Belgium. So, if you don’t want to see Brussels, you can simply continue on to Ghent, Brugge, Damme, or anywhere else without paying extra. Brussels, often thought of as medieval, is a surprisingly unappreciated city, with many 17th century buildings such as The Grand Palace, or Town Hall (Hôtel  de Ville), or the Atomium, Brussels’ iconic symbol built for World Fair it hosted in 1958. If you need a change of pace, an afternoon at the daily flower markets or lunch at the seafood eateries around  Ste. Catherine might be just what you need. Brussels has a great metro network, and a one-day pass is not only affordable, but it also allows unlimited journeys.

Brussels’ Grand Place

4. Amsterdam has more to offer than its famous “brown cafés.” The city is full of colorful homes, miles of canals, and beautiful bridges. Amsterdam is easily Europe’s most picturesque capital, begging even the most novice photographer to take pictures. Sites travelers shouldn’t miss include the famous Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the world’s only floating flower market. The best part is that Amsterdam is bike friendly, with self-serve rental stations all over the city. Even the most novice bike rider can join the thousands of locals on the labyrinthine streets. If cycling isn’t for you, Amsterdam is also a very walker-friendly city. Consider staying on a houseboat as a unique alternative to a hotel.

A picturesque canal in Amsterdam

5. The surrealistic city of Barcelona is absolutely breathtaking, and it explains why Salvador Dali spent so much time there. This is the perfect destination to sip sangria on Las Ramblas, where there are plenty of sidewalk cafés and flamboyant street performers. It’s a local tradition to “float,” or walk, from tapas bar to tapas bar for a unique feast, as each one offers a variety of specialties to sample. Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia provides the calm after savoring so many delicious tapas, and a stroll through Park Güell will renew your spirit with its grand beauty. Barcelona is also easy to maneuver on its metro system, but be sure to watch your wallet; it’s a haunting round for pickpockets.

Gaudì’s stunning Sagrada Familia

6. Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals, offering endless opportunities for the savvy shopper. Leather goods abound in the Brera District, and the Via Monte Napoleone is known for its high-end boutiques that cater to those with some extra cash to spend, or the “minimalist” window shopper. Milan is also a traveler-friendly city, offering history and gorgeous architecture. Don’t forget to visit the Duomo di Milano; you’ll be mesmerized by its architectural majesty.

Milan’s impressive cathedral

7. Prague, the city of fairy tales and a bohemian paradise for those hungry for culture, should be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit. Granted, your trip would be complete if your only stop was at Pražský hrad (Prague Castle), but to fulfill your adventure you must indulge in some hearty Czech cuisine in a traditional tavern. If time is on your side, do take in the sites and sounds of the Old Town Square and wonder at the city’s famous astronomical clock on the southern wall of the Old Town Hall.

A view towards Prague’s Staré Město

8. Berlin, a city that is both old and new, boasts a rich history. The East Side Gallery, a long stretch of the Berlin Wall in the eastern part of the capital, is a sobering reminder of a grim reality of its post-war political past. The graffiti that covers the Wall brings mixed emotions, but it also has become symbolic of the social change that has happened since the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Berlin is also known for its fashion, café and club culture, and architecture that spans the 20th century. It’s tourist friendly, with a good urban train network that makes it easy to get around. Must-see sites include the Weltzeituhr (World Clock) at Alexanderplatz, the Reichstag, Museum Island, Kaiser Wilhelm Gedenkniskirche, as well as the historic Zur Letzten Instanz, where Napoleon and Beethoven are known to have dinned. For history on the Berlin Wall, make time to visit the Gendenkstätte Berliner Mauer.

The German parliament building, the Reichstag

As with any vacation, it’s always recommended to get some help from a travel agent. They can help you plan your whole trip, from airlines to hotel, even set up day tours to make your trip go as smoothly as possible, allowing you to see as much as you can.

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1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Europe is one of the best places to travel by train. I can only add to your list Switzerland – you can travel by train through the Alpes and it is really awesome and you can see some majestic sights.

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