Train travel is arguably one of the best ways to cover long distances and see the country you are travelling through whilst you are at it. These are my top five reasons why I absolutely love travelling by train in and around Europe:
1) Trains are cheap
There is no arguing that trains are good value for money. There are no hidden fees and you can take as much luggage on them as you can carry. If you’ve filled your bag with bricks that’s fine, nobody will weigh it, nobody will even bat an eyelid. In an age when low cost airlines are even starting to charge for carry on having no luggage restrictions is a blessing.
In parts of Eastern Europe I’ve been on international 6hr+ train journeys and paid less than £10 for the privilege. Western Europe is more expensive but still often good value for money compared to flights, especially when you take into account actually getting to the city center from the airport.
2) Trains are comfortable
The seats offer more legroom, especially if you get a compartment, and you have the luxury of not having to remain in your seat for the entire journey. If you fancy a walk around you can just get up and have a wander to the next carriage. If the windows open I love being able to hang out the window for a while (sometimes you can even hang out of the doors).
There is no turbulence to make the ride bumpy and nauseating, no traffic to make you late and angry and you often get to pick your own seat. It’s bliss!
3) From city center to city center
Unlike Airports which are always positioned away from the center Trains often bring you from one city center right into the center of another. Often allowing you to just walk to your accomodation from there cutting out expensive taxis and transfers.
My favourite way of doing this is aboard a night train. There is nothing quite like going to sleep in one city and waking up in another several hundred miles away. It’s also some of the the only times I’ve been up early enough to fully appreciated a city early in the morning. The sun is up,the tourists are still in bed (and so are most of the locals) and you’ve got the place to yourself.
4) The scenery is incredible
Railways cut through parts of countries away from roads and main civilisation, parts you would never get to see otherwise. Also as somebody else is kindly doing the driving you are free to stare longingly out the windows for your entire journey. There is something nostalgically simple about sitting in a train and just watching the world zip by you.
Especially in mountainous areas train routes are littered with both tunnels and bridges. I love being on a train cutting along the edges of hills and skirting across the top of turbulent rivers, all whilst you are sat comfily in your seat with a beer in your hand.
5) No endless waiting in lines at check-in/security
Buy your ticket, climb aboard and relax. There is no endless line for security, nobody scrutinising every part of your luggage. You sometimes don’t even need to buy a ticket before you jump aboard.