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Rail tours of europe - suggestions?

#1
I've been discussing the possibilities of doing a rail tour of europe with my gf. Probably ten days to two weeks and we'd particularly like to see Switzerland.

Other destinations that occurred to us are Berlin and Vienna. I'd like to make some stops in rural France too.

This will probably be this time next year but we'd like to plan it well ahead.

Am open to suggestions......
 
#3
I've been discussing the possibilities of doing a rail tour of europe with my gf. Probably ten days to two weeks and we'd particularly like to see Switzerland.

Other destinations that occurred to us are Berlin and Vienna. I'd like to make some stops in rural France too.

This will probably be this time next year but we'd like to plan it well ahead.

Am open to suggestions......
Germany is pretty good on the trains Munich is a must, if it this time next year then the Octoberfest is on the card (Middle of September to the first weekend in October)
Check the trains out first because they have ICE and IC which are the fastest and have dining car (I travel first class on them, they are much better than the first class in the UK (You can order a beer in a proper glass at your seat), The RE are regional and although clean very basic and shouldnt be used if you are going over a certain distance. On a weekend you can buy a family ticket for up to five people for about 20 euro (that for the ticket, not per person) and travel allday,anywhere on the RE trains for that day.

Travels Through Germany
 
#4
The Rhine from Bonn to Koblenz (West Rhine Railway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Oslo to Bergen, especially the branch from Myrdal down to Flåm (On the World's top 25 train list - NSB)

Panoramic-Express – Montreux-Interlaken (Panoramic-Express)

The World's Top 25 (just to make you drool): World's Top 25 Trains: Luxury, First-Class, Steam

I remember Vienna-Ljubljana being quite dramatic too - lots of narrow gorges.

For maximum contrast, you could do Harwich-Hook of Holland-Basel and on into Switzerland from there.


Sorry if this is too much info ... I used to work for the railways and still love rail travel!
 
#5
Head to Paris first, it’s the easiest to get to with lots to see and do. Brussels is simple to get to from there, some great food and you can get to see the great European Parliament.

If you are a party type drop by Amsterdam, if not go to cologne, the Hyatt with its fine dining is not to be missed.

Berlin should not be missed. From there you can do Prague, I haven’t been for 10 years so don’t know if it is as good as it used to be. Vienna is great, but again I lived there almost ten years ago, although I suspect it hasn’t lost its lustre.

Switzerland is something that can be ignored, there’s not a lot there that can’t be seen elsewhere, you’d be better off checking out Northern Italy on your trip in my opinion.
 
#6
The nord express runs from Calais to Stockholm dining car and couchetes available, if memory serves me right stops at Brussels. Koln, Osnabruck, Bremen, Hamburg then on to Denmark.
 

wedge_cadman

War Hero
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#7
One suggestion, a friend of mine bought a euro ticket and rather than take a circular route, she flew no frills to Greece and travelled back via train. This meant she could spend more time at choice locations without feeling rushed and sticking to a schedule.
 
#8
If you want to do Europe by rail here you go NS Hispeed Online Boeken

Its much more enjoyable than by Ryanair or easyjet, they are so yesterday, and lets be honest waaaay much less trouble. It's not like they are even faster these days. A bunch of arrogant teenage arrseholes who think they actually count.

The UK may be shit when it comes to rail travel but the rest of Europe is pretty spot on. Flying is a waste of time and effort these days, Ryanair, faaack off, catch the train. Faster, cleaner, more polite and definitely more enjoyable. You can bin the crap at airports as well, what a relief.
 
#9
If you get the chance get the cog railway up to the Jungfraujoch in Wengen, Switzerland, sit on the right hand side of the train as it leaves the station to head up the hill for the best views.

A few years ago now we got the overnight train from Vinkovci, Croatia (Eastern European train stations are very very depressing) and woke up next morning as the train was crossing the lagoon into Venice. Obviously you don't have to start from Croatia but arriving in Venice at dawn by train was a memorable experience.
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
#11
An interrail ticket, some backup money, a backpack, a YHA membership, and an imagination are all you need. Trust me.
I can back that up, apart from the YHA membership, but try to do it by sleeper train and wake up in a different country each day, I did it years ago (pre 1985), was great fun especially getting your passport stamped in all the old Iron Curtain countries and then trying to explain that to the recruiting officers :)
 

Travelgall

MIA
Kit Reviewer
#12
If you get the chance get the cog railway up to the Jungfraujoch in Wengen, Switzerland, sit on the right hand side of the train as it leaves the station to head up the hill for the best views.
Agreed. I did something similar. Caught the train from Zurich to Luzern and then the cog railway up to Engelberg, and then the cable car up to the top of the Titlis. I would like to claim I went there for the funny name but I actually had a wedding there. View is incredible.

Re Eastern Europe. I had a fantastic rail trip between Prague and Bratislava, really enjoyed the trip. Then caught th 1 hour train to Vienna. You can cover three countries in a very short period of travel time. Train stations weren't that great but the trains were fantastic. Even tiny Bratislava is worth seeing for a short period of time.
 

Travelgall

MIA
Kit Reviewer
#13
Oslo to Bergen, especially the branch from Myrdal down to Flåm (On the World's top 25 train list - NSB)

Panoramic-Express – Montreux-Interlaken (Panoramic-Express)
The first one doesn't sound like it's on Ex-Stab's route. I agree it is a fantastic journey over the Hardangervidda. Probably one of the best train journeys I've done. But out of his way. I'd get straight to Geneva via Paris and then on to Zurich, Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, Berlin and Home. If you're willing to fly from Berlin you could probably throw Budapest in too if you really cut down on your countryside time and concentrated on cities. If you want to do more countryside I'd sack the French countryside off as Switzerland and Austria is way prettier, then do Vienna, 1/2 day in Bratislava (it's nice in the old town but not very big) and Prague and then head home. That's managable in two weeks if you're clever with Sleeper services, any more and it will be a "Its Tuesday, It must be Belgium" type tour.
 
#14
Marseille to Milan is a nice train journey. Calling at Cannes, Antibes, Nice and Monaco.

All are touristy type places which are worth a visit in themselves, well maybe not so much Marseille, which is the French version of North Africa but at least you can say you have been there.

Milan station is also very impressive. Treat yourselves to a pizza and a bottle of hearty red wine on arrival.

You can probably get a first class ticket for about £70, it may seem expensive (ish) but it will be worth it.^_~

Oh and make sure you sit on the right hand side of the train for the coastal views. ^_~
 
#15
Try the seat 61 website!!,london to paris, then amsterdam, zurich,vienna ,berlin, rome, and venice 2 nights b&b in each city, 2500pounds for 2 people including return flight to london stantead
 
#16
Did something similar this summer. Interrail tickets are extremely reasonable, especially if you can limit yourself to five days travel over ten days. The Swiss, unlike the Italians, are also very good at being able to have their trains booked from other countries. Usually a major train station will do. I went round a lot of Europe, and can honestly say I envy you if you'll be criss-crossing the alps. Switzerland, Austria, Southern Germany and Northern Italy were by far the most beautiful and worthwhile places to see. The villages in Northern Italy on the train through to Austria have to be seen to be believed.
 
#17
Some excellent suggestions there folks, very much appreciated. We're already thinking of maybe planning to do a month so teh Northern and Eastern suggestions may well be of use.

I've looked up inter-rail and it seems that you don't have to be in your early twenties to get one now which means I'll be able to have use that as well as her. ;)
 
#18
Switzerland has trains all over it. Have a look on the CFF: Home - Horaire en ligne, Ticket Shop, Agence de voyages en ligne website for ideas. I seem to recall they have agreements with the Austrians and Germans so you may be able to get yourselves (more or less) all encompassing tickets
Beware though, as some of the more spectacular routes are privately owned and will cost you (e.g. the Jungfraujoch) beyond your CFF daily ticket - you also want to brush up your Japanese.
I particularly enjoyed the Lausanne to Brig part (still do, live there), then on the Sottoceneri through Domodossola to the Italian speaking part of CH (Ticino), which is lovely. The Bernese Oberland is beautiful (The MOB will take you there from Montreux), then you can try the Jungfraujoch (worth the expense and the Japs/Yanks) and anywhere else you can go to from Interlaken. The Valais is also beautiful - Zermatt and the Matterhorn spring to mind.
Have a look at the website and take your pick, but remember CH can be on the pricey side (if that's a worry of course).
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#19
I hope you're going to blog the trip Ex-Stab!

I would recommend CH, but as pointed out, some bits, are privately owned and a rip off, jungfraujoch for example, about £80 return for 2 people, 2.5hrs from Interlaaken to the top and then back, so its costs you most of a day and when I did it, I got engaged at the top, so it cost a bloody fortune, tens of thousands and counting...

Davos train is good and if you make the mistake to chose to visit Geneva (!) and are travelling from Zurich, there are two routes, the 'northern' route via Bern (fields and industrial towns) and the southern route (mountains and lakes). Take the southern route.

Don't forget that Lucerne, Lausanne and Luzern are all different places - its a Swiss joke, not the same place in German, French and Italian...

As advised above German ICE train timetables rock, the buffets cars are great. In the (majority) new carriages there are two pin power points in all seating areas, so plug in a laptop and watch a movie, they even sell headphones in the buffet car but you'll want a splitter. I used to sit in 2nd class and have people come and ask where 2nd class was because they thought they were in 1st. In the older (more rare) 80's style green and pink carriages 2nd class is less good but still better than the UK or TGV.

As a blanket warning for anywherein Europe, watch out for theiving gypsy scum. Of everywhere I've been in the world, the attempted bag snatch in Duivendrecht Intl train station, the attempted suitcase theft on the train to CDG and the pickpocketing on the train to Brussels were the only three times I had a problem. Thieving gypsy scum and/or muslim scum. They are less common on Intl trains but keep an eye out..

Southern ICE German trains are more crowded than northern Germany, demographics I suppose, so the €2.50 or so for a seat reservation made a lot of sense. Never needed to on the more northern services.

Swiss trains have lousy buffet cars. Like the TGV's. Take sandwiches or be prepared to pay a fortune for rubber rotten sandwiches.

The Belgians have an intl service called Thalys - very good, and if pre-booked, great value. Meals like the old days on airlines (e.g. food in courses with wine gratis).

Don't forget the often forgotten overnight services from City Night Line - Indexseite Schweiz (also .de and .at and a few others). Sleeper services spanning FR, BE, NL, NO, DK, DE, AT, CZ etc etc. A great way to save money by doing the journey and avoiding a hotel cost. The only problem is you tend to arrive so early as to be a bit too early for the tourist sites, but a great way to travel, bars and restaurants, parties in cabins, bring your own vodka and mixers... A bit backpacker haven but not too bad.

Also, don't forget you can intersperse (sp?) your train travel with a bit of hire car, so if the train don't go to Lake Como, you still can..
 
#20
Can I just hijack the OP: I plan on visiting the UK late next year and while there as a side trip, will take Mrs TaffJ to visit friends in Wengen. We plan on doing it by rail, UK-Paris-Geneva-Wengen then return to UK so there is no problem on that leg.

I also want to take her to visit Venice and Rome while we are in the Swiss area and was wondering if it is feasible to get to these two locations by train from somewhere in Switzerland like Geneva or another hub location.

I have tried a few train sites, but the place where I currently work has very slow interweb connections and usually times out before any useful info gets through.

Bjorn seems to be in the know with the Swiss bahn and I'm sure there are many others out there with good gen, so any suggestions peeps
 

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