How to Travel Europe by Train in Two Awesome Weeks

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Breathtaking panoramic scenes of rural beauty combined with historic cities are examples of what makes Europe such a popular destination for travelers. We love exploring Europe not only because of these reasons but also because everything is so closely packed together. Low-cost airlines or adventurous road trips are great options to get around but in our opinion, the best way is to travel Europe by train. What better way to do this than by using an awesome Eurail Pass.

If you have followed our travels over the last few years, you will know that we are huge proponents of the Eurail Pass. We have been fortunate to previously explore Europe by train using the Eurail Select Pass to explore Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Our latest adventures saw us get a little more ambitious and courtesy of winning two Eurail Global Passes at TBEX Europe 2015, we were able to plot an itinerary a little more extensive than before.

travel europe by train

We want to share our hectic yet amazing journey through Europe where we spent two weeks exploring some of the most beautiful destinations in the world (at least in our opinion).

Eurail Global Pass

With access to 28 countries around Europe, the Eurail Global Pass is the most extensive of all passes available. If you have flexibility and time, this is definitely the right pass for you. Be sure to check Eurail’s website at the time of booking for the latest prices and options available.

travel europe by train

These prices are for adults though options are available for youths (Under 25). Second class tickets are also available for purchase but we strongly recommend ‘First Class’ as you have the luxury and freedom of selecting any available seats in either class. We will share more of our experiences later on ‘First Class luxury’!

Pass Duration 1st Class
5 Days Within 1 Month $528
7 Days Within 1 Month $643
10 Days Within 2 Months $793
15 Days Within 2 Months $1039
15 Days Continuous $673
22 Days Continuous $868
1 Month Continuous $1065
2 Months Continuous $1501
3 Months Continuous $1851

**Prices updated as of March 12, 2016 (subject to change)

I personally think the best value is in those passes with 10 or 15 days. If you have no time constraints, then the one-month continuous pass is an amazing option because you have way more flexibility and time to spend in each country. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to spend so much time so check out our itinerary below using the 15 days within 2 months pass (First Class).

If you need more convincing that the Eurail Global Pass or any of the available passes is right for you, check out our overall review of why exploring Europe by train is the only option you should be considering.

Intense and Amazing European Itinerary

As we headed across the pond prior to Christmas 2015, we had every intention of seeing as much of Europe as possible using our Eurail Passes.

Proposed Itinerary

Our flight was booked into Stockholm, Sweden so that was definitely going to be our starting point prior to Christmas. We planned on spending at least 24 hours in Stockholm to explore the city and then head on the train to Copenhagen. Flights from Stockholm back to England were expensive but we found a couple of cheaper options out of Copenhagen.

berlin alexanderplatz

After spending Christmas with my family, we had flights booked back to Berlin and from there the adventure would start.

Actual Itinerary

To give you a better idea of the dates and time spent in each location here is exact itinerary by date along with the European cities we discovered along the way.

Date Location
December 20 Stockholm
December 21 Stockholm
December 22 Copenhagen and Manchester
December 22 – 27 United Kingdom
December 27 Manchester, Hannover, and Berlin
December 28 Berlin and Dresden
December 29 Dresden and Prague
December 30 Prague and Vienna
December 31 Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest
January 1 Budapest
January 2 Innsbruck and Zurich
January 3 Lucerne and Interlaken
January 4 Strasbourg and Luxembourg City
January 5 Luxembourg City and Brussels
January 6 Brussels and Amsterdam
January 7 Amsterdam

Armed with our handy Eurail app on our iPad and an old-fashioned map, we were ready to go!

eurail scheduling app

Our planned route was pretty accurate though we did have to make a few changes en route, particularly from Budapest to Zagreb which we had to cancel given the trains no longer cross the border due to the migrant crisis in this part of Europe. We only found this out two hours into our train journey, so we had to hop off the train at the next available spot and head back to Budapest.

The town of Simontornya in the heart of Hungary was where we stopped for almost two hours in a train station that reminded me out of a scene of Hostel or other Eastern European based movie. We finally arrived back in Budapest and despite losing two nights accommodation in Zagreb and Ljubljana, we decided to change our itinerary and head to Zurich and spend some more time in the Swiss Alps.

swiss alps

We want to give you a brief step by step guide on our route and some information on things to do, where to stay etc. in each of the locations we experienced.

Stockholm

Our first visit to Sweden was the perfect way to start our amazing trip around Europe. From strolling around the historic Gamla Stan (Old Town) neighborhood to the modern design of SkyView, we had a great time exploring Stockholm.

gamla stan stockholm

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Gamla Stan
  • Vasa Museum
  • The Royal Palace
  • Stockholm City Hall
  • SkyView Observatory

Check out our review of spending 24 hours in Stockholm that provides more details on several of these attractions along with some other useful hints and tips about the city.

Hotel Recommendation

Scandic Grand Central Hotel
Address – Kungsgatan 70, 111 20 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone – +46 8 512 520 00

swedish breakfast

Check out our review of the Scandic Grand Central Hotel which is situated in a perfect location to explore many of the above-recommended attractions.

Berlin

Flying into Germany after spending Christmas with my family in England saw us arrive in Hannover and then take the two-hour train journey to Berlin. We spent the night and the majority of the next day in the German capital, exploring many of the leading attractions including the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie.

brandenburg gate

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Berlin Wall
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • Berlin Cathedral

Experiencing Berlin in a day is optimistic, slightly crazy but a whole bunch of fun! You can check out what we did in the German capital before boarding an early evening train to the city of Dresden, which was one of the cities devastated by bombings in World War II.

berlin wall

Hotel Recommendation

Ramada Berlin Alexanderplatz
Address – Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 32, 10178 Berlin, Germany
Phone – +49 30 30104110

The Ramada Berlin Alexanderplatz hotel is a perfect location especially if you are visiting Germany at Christmas. Directly across from Christmas markets and Hofbräu Alexanderplatz, there is plenty to see in this part of Berlin before heading on the M or S-Bahn to explore all the above attractions plus much more.

hofbrau berlin

Prague

A short two-hour train journey from Dresden saw us visit the beautiful city of Prague. This was our first time in the Czech Republic and we immediately fell in love with the beauty here. Gorgeous architecture, cheap but delicious cuisine and a city that just inspires you to walk around and explore.

charles bridge in prague

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Charles Bridge
  • Old Town Square
  • Prague Astronomical Clock
  • Prague Castle
  • Wenceslas Square

24 hours in Prague may seem ambitious but once you arrive in the Czech capital you will understand how you can explore quite a lot of the city in such a short amount of time. If history and mouthwatering Trdelnik intrigues you, Prague is the city to visit!

trdelnik in prague

This was one of our favorite spots on our European adventure, so we are excited to return here in the near future to explore more and of course, take advantage of the food here.

Hotel Recommendation

Jurys Inn Prague
Address – Sokolovská 204/11, 186 00 Praha 8, Czech Republic
Phone – +420 226 222 600

This hotel is in a perfect location directly across from the Florenc subway station which offers easy access to the main railway station in Prague. It is also a short 10-minute walk from the ‘old town’ where you can experience many of the above attractions.

Vienna

The Austrian capital of Vienna was next on our list and a journey of just over 4 hours from Prague offered us plenty of time to admire the gorgeous Czech and Austrian scenery, while also providing time to reflect on the experiences we had to date.

st stephens cathedral

Traveling by train is comfortable and offers better opportunities to catch up on editing pictures, writing blog posts etc. Travel bloggers out there will understand.

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Hofburg Palace
  • Mozart’s House
  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral
  • Belvedere Palace 
  • Peterskirche

hofburg palace

If you only have a short time to spend in Austria, then perhaps our 24 hours in Vienna guide will be the perfect companion for you. We enjoyed our time in the Austrian capital and even in a short timeframe, we were able to explore a plethora of gorgeous landmarks iconic to this part of Europe.

Hotel Recommendation

Hotel Imlauer Wien
Address – Rotensterngasse 10, 1020 Wien, Austria
Phone – +43 1 211400

Bratislava

The beautiful Slovakian capital was next on our list of must-see cities around Europe. I am not going to lie, leaving Vienna on the short train journey to Bratislava was a little nerve wracking given that we had no idea what to expect.

bratislava train station

A few hours later and we quickly found out that this is one city you just have to explore with an open mind and don’t let the train station cloud your judgment!

travel europe by train

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Michael’s Gate
  • The Blue Church
  • Devin Castle
  • Bratislava Castle
  • Grassalkovich Palace

If you are visiting Slovakia for the first time, we strongly encourage you to take the free Bratislava walking tour that is available. Our tour guide Andrea was incredible and we can highly recommend this to anyone in the region. Learn about the history and culture of Bratislava plus understand why the portrayed stereotype in movies such as Eurotrip are far from the truth.

blue church in bratislava

Hotel Recommendation

Marrol’s Boutique Hotel Bratislava
Address – Tobrucká 6953/4, 811 02 Bratislava 1 staré mesto, Slovakia
Phone – +421 2/577 846 00

Budapest

We arrived in Budapest on New Year’s Eve and this is definitely a great way to bring in the New Year! Staying at the Hilton in the heart of the city, we enjoyed a relaxing evening before heading out on New Year’s Day and exploring the city. With locals recovering from the night before, we were able to stroll around Budapest and enjoy the beauty within this city.

chain bridge in budapest

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Chain Bridge
  • Shoes on the Danube Bank
  • Vajdahunyad Castle
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Hungarian Parliament

Check out our guide to exploring Budapest in one day if you want more information on some of our favorite attractions around the Hungarian capital.

hungarian parliament budapest

Hotel Recommendations

Hilton Budapest City
Address – Budapest, Váci út 1-3, 1062 Hungary
Phone – +36 1 288 5500

Eurostars Budapest Center
Address – Budapest, Kossuth Lajos u. 7-9, 1053 Hungary
Phone – +36 1 328 5200

We ended up staying two nights in Budapest after our mishap attempting to travel by train to Zagreb, only to find out that the border was closed. Both hotels are in a great location for accessing much of Budapest.

Zurich

Following the decision to return to Budapest, we decided to completely change our itinerary and head to Zurich early rather than visiting Zagreb, Ljubljana and Venice (we will have to save that for another trip). The train journey through Innsbruck and the Austrian Alps was gorgeous and although this was our longest trip, it was one of the most enjoyable given that we were able to eat lunch while appreciating the gorgeous scenery around us.

zurich at night

This was our second visit to Zurich and we have found that this city is a great hub for exploring other parts of Switzerland.

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Cruise on Lake Zurich
  • St Peter’s Church
  • Swiss National Museum
  • Üetliberg
  • Grossmünster

Our review on our top recommended things to do in Zurich will certainly highlight some of our favorite spots but just spending time in this part of Switzerland will make you want to return sooner rather than later.

Hotel Recommendation

Hilton Zurich Airport
Address – Hohenbühlstrasse 10, 8152 Opfikon-Glattbrugg, Switzerland
Phone – +41 44 828 50 50

Luxembourg City

One of the lesser known parts of Europe is the small nation of Luxembourg. Located in the shadows of both France and Germany, this nation is well worth visiting for many of the following reasons.

luxembourg city

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Casemates du Bock
  • Grand Ducal Palace
  • La Passerelle Viaduct
  • Monument of National Solidarity
  • Luxembourg American Cemetery

If you are looking for recommendations on what to do in Luxembourg City, be sure to check out our review that will hopefully inspire you to add this to your itinerary. We visited Luxembourg City en route from Strasbourg to Brussels and it is the perfect stop-off before heading into Belgium.

Hotel Recommendation

Best Western Hotel International
Address – 20-22 Place de la Gare, 1616 Luxembourg
Phone – +352 48 59 11

Brussels

As we headed into our final few days exploring Europe, we took time to visit the beautiful city of Brussels despite the mass security concerns surrounding this city following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

things to do in brussels

We have heard a lot of negative comments made about Brussels, not only regarding the security here, but also because it is portrayed as a very underwhelming city. We both personally disagree with these comments and had an enjoyable experience exploring the Belgian capital. Don’t forget to sample one (or more) of the delicious Belgian waffles…irresistable doesn’t begin to describe how good they are.

belgian waffle

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Manneken Pis
  • Grand Place
  • St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
  • Royal Palace
  • Belgian Center for Comic Strip Art

The best way to explore all of these attractions is to take a free Brussels walking tour.

travel europe by train

Hotel Recommendation

Hilton Brussels City
Address – Place Charles Rogier 20, 1210 Bruxelles, Belgium
Phone – +32 2 203 31 25

Amsterdam

Our European Eurail adventure culminated in what we believe to be the best possible city, Amsterdam. Two weeks after embarking on the second part of our journey from Berlin, we arrived in Amsterdam ready to explore the perfectly dubbed ‘Venice of the North’.

travel europe by train

The canals, bicycles and quirky architecture made us immediately fall in love with the city and that was before sampling a fine glass of Heineken!

heineken experience

5 Attractions Worth Visiting

  • Rijksmuseum
  • Anne Frank House
  • Red Light District
  • Begijnhof
  • Heineken Experience

An Amsterdam walking tour by Sandemans is a great way to learn about the history, culture and perhaps a little controversy. By the time you end the tour, you will be ready to head over to the local brewery and take the Heineken brewery tour.

Hotel Recommendation

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam – NDSM Wharf
Address – NDSM-Plein 28, 1033 WB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone – +31 20 722 0666

Summary

To travel Europe by train is clearly an awesome way to explore a lot in a short amount of time. We visited 13 different countries, many of which we only spent 24 hours there, but it was enough to give a brief insight into what was on offer there.

travel europe by train

I can’t emphasize enough the convenience and benefits of purchasing a Eurail Pass and just heading out with an open-mind and experiencing the full potential of the European rail system. Other countries would do well to take note of this awesome system.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Great read! I am doing a 15 day trip in June.
    Where did you activate your pass?
    We’re there a lot of people in the train station that could help?
    How many places did you have to make reservations?
    Did anyone checking tickets on the plane question the Eurail pass? Is that literally all you need to show them?

    • Hi Mandy,

      Sounds like you are going to have an amazing trip in June! Where are you heading to or is it just going to be a spontaneous trip?

      Here are our responses to your questions:
      1. You can activate your pass in any main city train station. We have used two Eurail passes over the last few years and activated the first one in Rome’s central station and the last one we activated in Stockholm. It’s a simple process of just going in and activating the pass and they stamp it. If you have the Global Pass, you may not even need to activate it because it may already come stamped with the dates listed that it is valid, but I would double-check with Eurail depending on your pass type.
      2. We have always found people to assist at train stations across Europe, though I will say that everything is so easy to follow and the Eurail information is very thorough in explaining every last detail. The Eurail app is also a must-have that certainly facilitates getting around Europe.
      3. The only time we had to make reservations was in Italy 2 years ago from Rome to Milan and then from Stockholm to Copenhagen this last trip. Aside from that, everything else was pretty much open-seating but again the app is a great way to find routes that reservations are required ahead of time.
      4. We have never been questioned about our Eurail Passes. All of the officers/conductors onboard the train are clearly aware of the Eurail Pass and they generally check them but apart from that it’s not a problem at all.

      Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have and most importantly, enjoy your trip!!

    • It really was an epic trip Tanja but one that we wouldn’t change for anything! We had an amazing time in each location that we visited and it just gives us more inspiration to want to return in the near future to explore more.

  2. Honestly, I don’t get the Point to do such a trip.
    I enjoy traveling to get to know the places, not such to say that I’ve been there and saw two or three things to get them off my bucket list….
    For instance, Vienna is amazing and takes easily three days to see, you did it in two half days.

    Congrats for the number of countries visited in such a short period of time…. but please, don’t claim to be an expert in any of the cities because you missed the point of the trip, to see and enjoy.

    • The point of this trip was to see as much as possible while covering a large area to really maximize the use of our Eurail Pass! If you have followed our blog, you will realize that we love to make the most of short weekends or short breaks to cities around the world because not everyone is fortunate enough to spend a long period of time in a location. However, just because we have seen a myriad of locations in a short time doesn’t mean we don’t want to go back and explore more! In fact, the opposite is true. The benefit of traveling the way we did is that it enables us to catch a glimpse of what these cities/countries have to offer and we can look forward to a return trip in the future.

      We certainly do not claim to be experts in any destination around the world, instead we want to share our experiences! If you can’t relate then that is perfectly fine but I am sure there are some readers out there that may like to experience a similar route in the future.

    • Hopefully you will continue to be inspired to take what we believe to be the best form of transportation, especially in Europe! Certainly some continents don’t have the infrastructure in place to handle so much train travel but that definitely can’t be said about Europe. It’s by far the best way to get around. We would LOVE to experience the Trans-Mongolian route and will certainly reach out to you for some tips when we get around to planning that route. Thanks for your kind comments Laura!

  3. Found you all through #WanderfulWednesday & stalking your archives led me to this post. Love this! I was in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro & Venice earlier this year (definitely head back to see Zagreb, Ljubljana & Venice + add Dubrovnik in there if it’s ever an option & Bled) anyways. I’ve been researching how to maximize my time. I definitely love seeing little snippets of cities. Mostly using it as a guide to where I would love to spend more time once I’ve got it. So, your style of travel is perfect for me. And I loved seeing your itinerary.

    Do you all ever talk more about your budget? What did you all spend on a trip like this – if you’re comfortable with giving that info.

    • Jessie, we have no problems at all talking about budget but given that everyone has a different budget, we generally don’t publicize this in our posts. In terms of this trip, our biggest expenses were on accommodations through each city. We would generally spend around $70-100 per night on a hotel but obviously you could probably do this cheaper. Our Eurail train pass covered all of our transportation so we were then left with just daily expenses. Many of the tours we did around each city were free, either through guided tours or our own self-guided tours. We tried to eat as much local cuisine as possible so I would say we spent on average about $40-50 per day on food between the two of us. If you need any more specifics in cities around Europe in terms of costs/budget, just let me know 🙂

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