Europe’s Rail Renaissance Makes a Tour More Tempting

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There’s never been a better time to discover Europe by rail. The continued development of high-speed rail networks there makes taking the train an easy choice.

From the Mediterranean sun in the south to the cold arctic winds in the north, Europe must be explored to be appreciated. But before booking flights from country to country, there are a few things to consider.

Why You Shouldn’t Fly

In a world where digital nomads are increasingly common, people want to travel as much as possible but also reduce their carbon footprints. Finding alternatives to flying is the answer.

The European Environmental Agency reports, “Train travel remains overall the most environmentally friendly mode of motorised passenger transport in Europe.”

Train travel, however, has a reputation for being slow and wasting valuable vacation time. Not wanting to spend a big part of your vacation traveling is reasonable, but the time difference between rail and flights is less significant when traveling in Europe.

For example, a flight from Paris to Amsterdam is 1 hour 20 minutes, while the train takes 3 hours 20 minutes. But taking into account the added time for checking in, security, and boarding when flying, the total duration is about the same.

There are other reasons to consider riding the rails.

Aside from the recent strikes at European airports, which have seen passengers forced to find alternatives, short-haul flights may soon be a thing of the past in Europe.

The European Commission recently approved France’s plans to ban short-haul flights under two and a half hours to lower CO2 emissions and encourage rail use.

Other countries may follow suit in three years if the scheme is successful. Greenpeace found that a third of the busiest short-haul flights in Europe have train alternatives and are pressuring governments to enforce more bans.

Railroad Development is Non-Stop in Europe

France Announces a New Generation TGV

The TGV M is a redeveloped French high-speed rail train set to hit the track in 2024. The trains are made from 97% recyclable components and are more spacious than the previous generation accommodating 100 more people yet consuming less energy.

Spain’s Rail Network is World Class

The journey from Madrid to Barcelona is over 600 km, approximately the same as from San Francisco to Los Angeles. With Spain’s high-speed rail link, however, you can arrive in 2 hours and 30 minutes. For comparison, the train between San Francisco and L.A., which is just over 600 km, takes over 13 hours.

Portugal’s Halving Travel Times

In its attempt to become carbon neutral by 2045, Portugal recently announced its plans to link ten cities with high-speed rail. When complete, travel times will be considerably shorter and may help convince more people there to use public transport more frequently. The two-hour, 50-minute journey from Lisbon to Porto, for example, will be halved after the completion of the new project.

Prague to Zurich via Germany Sleeper Service

Czech Railways are reopening a night service from Prague to Zurich in December 2022. The train, which runs between 6 pm and 9 am, arrives via Frankfurt. You can’t beat arriving at your destination refreshed and ready to explore.

See Europe By Rail

This example itinerary shows you how achievable a once-in-a-lifetime trip around Europe can be by train.

We start in London. Even after visiting Leister Square, Convent Garden, and Hyde park, you can still create unforgettable travel memories in London. Don’t miss a selfie on the London Eye with Big Ben in the background! When it’s time to leave, take a short train ride to the city of light – Paris.

London – Paris: 2 hours 16 minutes

The Eurostar will take you directly from London to Paris. First, of course, there are the expected pictures of the Eiffel tower. Then when you’re bored of bistro hopping and the views of the Seinne, hop back on the train and head to Amsterdam.

Paris – Amsterdam: 1 hour 20 minutes

How long do you need to stay in Amsterdam? If you want to see everything this city offers, it might take a lifetime. The Anne Frank house and the Van Gogh gallery are must-sees, after which you can spend a day or two exploring the side streets and alleyways of the Jordaan area. Then catch a train to Frankfurt.

Amsterdam – Frankfurt: 4 hours 21 minutes

Frankfurters, like great champagne, is a protected name in Germany, meaning only those produced in the Frankfurt region are named Frankfurters. So eating one in Frankfurt should be on your list of goals for 2023 if you’ve always loved a hotdog.

Frankfurt – Zurich: 4 hours 10 minutes

Zurich is home to over 50 museums, a mile-long street of high-end boutiques, and 51 restaurants featured in this year’s Michelin guide. Anyone looking for culture and luxury will find it here in Zurich but be prepared to pay for it! Zurich was the 6th most expensive city to live in in 2022.

Zurich – Milan: 3 hours 12 minutes

Stepping off the train in Milan will hit you with an atmosphere of art, beauty, fashion, and food. Milan is a passionate place, and if there’s one thing they take more seriously than their food, it’s football. So take a break from the historic architecture like the Renaissance style Santa Maria Delle Grazie church and watch A.C Milan at San Siro Stadium.