Top Tips for Your European Rail Holiday

5 May 2020

Top Tips for Your European Rail Holiday

Travelling by train is a wonderful way to get around Europe, offering flexibility, the ability to enjoy scenery from the comfort of your seat, and journey from city centre to city centre.  The experience differs from country to country, but there are some tips for travelling around by train which ring true wherever you may be in the continent.  Here are TMR’s top tips for travelling around Europe by train…

Take a picnic on board

Unlike airlines, there are no restrictions on taking your own food and drink on board, even alcoholic drinks.  Visiting a lovely delicatessen in Rome, packing some tasty salami, cheese, bread and a drop of Chianti to open up on the train, what could be better?!

Above: Picnic on the train!

Check the position of your carriage

If you are not boarding the train at the station where the service begins, it is likely that you will need to position yourself on the platform at the point where your carriage is expected to align.  To achieve this, look out for train plans on the platform, which show which “sector” of the platform to stand in and thus be in the correct spot when the train pulls in.

Above: French station platform showing a carriage-plan for an incoming train

Check the end-destination of your train, and train number

You will not always be travelling to the end-destination of your train, so when you are looking out for your particular service on the departure board, it is helpful to know where the train finishes.  For example, if you are standing at Milan Centrale station, and you’re travelling to Florence that day, it is likely that the train will be terminating at Naples or Salerno, so this is useful to know before you start!

Above: Gothenburg station departure board

Familiarise yourself with city names in their local language

In Europe, all cities are denoted in their local language, regardless of where you are.  For example, Cologne will always show as Köln, Florence as Firenze and Venice as Venezia.  If you are in Germany looking at a train to Venice, it will still show in Italian as Venezia even though the German word for Venice is Venedig.  

Above: St Moritz station showing as the destination on platform 4 at Zermatt (Glacier Express)

Visit the restaurant car

In most countries, trains are equipped with a proper sit-down restaurant car where you can adjourn for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Meals are usually reasonably priced, and of a good standard with hot and cold drinks available, and there is full waiter-service.  A great way to relax and pass the time, as well as arriving in your destination with a full tummy!  If you are seated in a First Class carriage, some trains such as German ICE trains and Austrian RailJets, offer a complimentary at-seat service from the restaurant if you prefer not to make the walk to the buffet car, but do bear in mind this can be somewhat inconsiderate to other travellers due to the smell and often the food can be cold by the time the waiters have walked down the train with your plate!

Above: Simon’s breakfast on his journey from Krakow to Prague!