I’m choosing to travel by train more and more often discovering that the connections become even more efficient and comfortable. During my last trip across Europe I visited 5 countries by train starting in Prague, Czech Republic and finishing in Paris, capital of France. I have been to Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and France during this journey. In the map below you can see the exact itinerary.
Itinerary: Prague -> Vienna -> Ljubljana -> Piran -> Venice -> Milan -> Paris
Tickets: Czech Republic and Slovenia have flat prices for tickets so no need to book in advance. Austria, Italy and France have dynamic ticket prices so it’s best to book in advance if you travel on a budget. All train tickets can be bought online on the national railways websites (all linked in this post).
There are many efficient ways to travel across Europe, the countries are well connected via dense network of domestic flights, buses or trains. The latter recently becomes more and more popular, personally, I also more often then before choose train as the most convenient way of travelling. In many European countries trains are fast, modern and affordable way of travelling. The train stations are often located in the centre of the city so you save time to get to and from the airport, you don’t need to worry about luggage limitations or reserve a lot of time ahead for check-in and security controls. Most of European trains are punctual, offer wi-fi services, and dining on board, so you can spend your journey efficiently being able to work, relax (watching your favourite movie, browse Internet, chatting with friends) have your meal and arrive to your destination on schedule.
What I like about travelling in Europe by train is fact that many routes are very scenic, you can admire beautiful coastal (for South of France or Slovenia) or mountain landscapes (for instance Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland), an option hardly possible if you travel by plane.
Let’s start the journey then!
- Prague, Czech Republic
I have started my journey in Prague, a beautiful capital of Czech Republic. Amazing architecture (from imperial times), heart-warming cuisine, many museums, castles and cultural events (concerts, operas, exhibitions) are making this city a perfect destination for every Culture Geek. See this and this post to learn about what to do in Prague and possible one day trips to explore a bit more of Czech Republic.
Czech Republic is a perfect country to visit for everyone who loves travelling by trains. This is mainly due to the fact that the ticket prices are flat and don’t change even if you buy your ticket on the day of your departure! The tickets are very affordable and the trains are clean and reliable. Connections to major Czech cities are frequent and you can conveniently check all schedules at the website of the national railways here. Highly recommended!
Prague is very well-connected with other European countries and you can get from here by train to many major European cities like Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest among many others. A perfect gate to other European destinations to prolong your trip!
- Vienna (Austria)
In this journey I took a direct train to Vienna for a long weekend here. The Austrian capital is another big cultural feast with many museums, imperial palaces, world famous state opera and historical old town. If you’re fascinated by the story of Habsburg family and Empress Sissi, want to see the masterpiece paintings of European old masters or just change here for some local trains to get to Austrian Alps, Vienna is a good place to start your Austrian explorations. If you want to know how to spend your city break in Vienna, check this post.
Vienna is a big European hub with many train connections, you can get from here to many cities in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia. Austrian trains are reliable, punctual and relatively fast. You can conveniently book your ticket through the national railway website. Travelling by train in Austria is particularly pleasant if you go to the mountains, the routes leading to regions close to Alps are very scenic.
- Ljubljana (Slovenia)
I took a direct train from Vienna to Ljubljana, quite long journey (few hours) but very scenic since it goes through Austrian and then Slovenian Alps.
Ljubljana is a small but charming capital with many attractions reachable within 15 minute walking distance. With very good train connections along the tiny country (and like in Czech Republic flat prices), Slovenian capital is a perfect base for your daily trips to the mountains, we have decided to visit this way famous Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge. Slovenia will enchant your with its stunning nature, the country is blessed both with Alps and Adriatic Sea and the landscapes change dramatically as your travel across the country. If you need some inspiration about your trip to Ljubljana and possible day trips to the mountains, check out this post.
I find the Slovenian railways very convenient with enough connections between major attractions to plan your trips comfortably. The biggest perks are flat prices so you can buy your ticket just before departure and daily and weekend tickets which allow you travel without limits around the country. You can check the schedules on the national railways website.
- Piran (Istria, Slovenia)
After few pleasant hikes in the mountains I decided to relax a bit on the Slovenian coast in Istria region. You can get there conveniently by train from Ljubljana to Koper, the route is very scenic with stunning views at the Adriatic Sea. Koper is a charming town on its own but if you want to see other towns you will need to use a local bus or rent a car.
I have stayed mostly in Piran, a beautiful small town with Venetian architecture. When staying in Piran you have a lot of options how to spend your time. You can relax and swim in the crystal clear water, walk between the cities along perfectly kept promenades, go on a hike between olive groves and nearby hills or visit small towns and villages with stunning Istrian architecture. All foodies will be in culinary heaven too, Italian and Slovenian cuisines intertwine here, and this particular mix results in delicious, simple but sophisticated food. The seafood lovers will especially appreciated it. If you want to learn more about Slovenia Istria, check this post.
From Koper you can easily get to nearby Trieste in Italy. FromTrieste you have many connections to many major cities in Italy. I didn’t stay in Trieste during this trip (although I recommend it if you have time) and just changed here to get to Venice instead. I don’t think I need to convince anyone to come to Venice. This famous UNESCO Heritage city stuns with its unique on a world scale architecture with its gorgeous canals and Venetian palaces built along them. The fascinating history of the Venetian Republic and impressive Gothic and Renaissance buildings bring you back to the past times when Venice was a powerful empire with flourishing art and culture. Venice and its heritage is a very important part of European identity and I can’t recommend you enough to visit this amazing place when you come to Italy.
Italian trains are very good way to move around the country. Many routes (between major cities and international connections) are served by high-speed trains. If you buy your tickets in advance you can get very good prices. Also regional trains are very pleasant, they are frequent, clean and reliable. The trains are punctual (for me it came as a surprise when I was starting travelling by trains in Italy). I travelled many times just by trains around Italy and managed to small towns and villages without much trouble. You can make your bookings on the Trenitalia website.
- Milan (Italy)
Short trip by train takes you to Milan, Italian capital of fashion, with a vast offer for everyone who loves art and culture. Designer boutiques, world famous La Scala, masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci and chic and stylish historical part of the city or maybe pleasant day by Lake Como– everyone will find enjoyable activity in Milan. If you want to know more about Milan’s highlights, check out this post.
Milan is very well connected with other major cities in Italy so you can prolong your trip and go to Rome, Turin, Florence, Bologna, Naples and many others.
Milan has a direct high-speed train to Paris and you can choose French train TGV or Italian bullet train Frecciarossa. Their is few departures to Paris every day so you can choose the most convenient hour. Both trains stop in other Italian and French cities so you can prolong your journey and get off for instance in Lyon, second largest French city.
For me Paris is my hometown, so I just came back from my (train) trip but I definitely recommend you to come here from Milan for at least 2 days. Paris is called many names: City of Lights, City of Love and is a stunning city often claimed as an European capital of culture. Paris enchants with its elegant architecture, world class museums (the largest museum in the world–Le Louvre), nearby famous palaces, countless exhibitions, concerts and artistic venues. Impressionist’s lovers, foodies, opera connoisseurs easily can get lost in their explorations. If you travel with children you can get to nearby Disneyland and find many attractions for younger explorers in the city centre.
- If you plan your trip to Paris, check here for a 1 day cultural itinerary in Paris
Paris is very well connected with many European cities (and countries). France has amazing railway system, to most major French cities you will get by high-speed train or use local trains for smaller towns. From Paris you can easily get to Bretagne, Southern France and Province region, French Alpes, Normandy among many other magnificent places. From Paris you can also catch a direct train to London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Zurich and many other European cities, so you can easily prolong your trip either further exploring France or go to another European country.