Traveling in Europe by Train

Have you ever decided to do something while traveling and then wondered if that was a good decision?
Recently, I planned a trip for my family to travel around Europe by train. We planned on visiting four countries during our vacation. After considering the pros and cons of renting a car or traveling by train, train travel stood out as the best choice for us. I have traveled by train in Europe without my family in the past and really enjoyed it, but that was years ago. What if traveling with a family was more difficult? What if I didn’t remember how to do it or screwed up and got on the wrong train or off at the wrong destination and lead my family astray? These questions swirled around in my mind.
Because we were going to several different destinations, I decided to purchase Eurail passes for each of us. Eurail offers quite a few options for passes, so you can pick the best-fitting one based on how many countries you will visit and how many days you want to travel. We purchased the Eurail Select Pass, which worked perfectly with our itinerary because it would allow us to travel throughout 4 bordering countries of our choice. Next, I looked at all of the train departure times and made reservations on the trains that required a reservation. I also downloaded the Eurail “Rail Planner” app on my phone. This app gave me access to rail schedules, made it easy to locate train stations, displayed city maps, and much more. We were well prepared before we left for Europe.

Salzburg Train Station

Waiting at the train platform in Salzburg, Austria

Once we arrived in Europe, we walked to the train station that was located right at the airport. By looking at the train arrival/departure monitors, we could see which track our train would come in on, as well as the exact time it was scheduled to depart. All we had to do was head to the platform and wait for the train. Once we loaded our luggage on the train, we were able to relax and enjoy the ride. After a long night of sitting cooped up on an airplane, it felt so nice to be on the train; we could get up and walk around as much as we wanted or enjoy the comfortable train seats. And the views out the windows were a great way to acclimate ourselves to our current location.

Train Travel in Europe

Enjoying the big windows and roomy seats on the train after a cramped overnight flight.

My family embraced riding on the train. Our teenagers were excited to discover that the “the train was just like the trains used in the Harry Potter movies.” They loved that there was a food car on most of the trains as well, and that we were served a meal on the long train rides. Traveling in Europe by train with my family was just as good as it had been when I traveled alone. The extensive rail network in Europe made it simple to transfer from one destination to the next, and getting on and off the train was much easier than I remembered. There was no reason for me to be worried at all and I will definitely plan to travel by train in Europe again.
If the ease, comfort, and convenience of train travel appeals to you, let us know and we can help you arrange rail tickets and passes for your next vacation. Witte Travel & Tours is the only agency in West Michigan that has a direct link to Rail Europe’s reservation system, so we can process rail passes quickly while avoiding costly shipping fees.
What has been your experience with traveling by train? Share your stories with us onFacebook, or let us know what you think in the comments!

The Burgs

Today we managed to get up early. After having our last breakfast at the Hotel Dolomit, we left for the train station. The information that Tracy provided was great. We got to the station and found our train. We didn’t have reservations, so we had to surrender our seats, but that was okay as there were others we could sit in. We didn’t see the need for reservations for such short rides. The hour flew by and we got to the station for our change of trains. The whole thing could not have been move smooth.

Albrecht Durers House
Since 1871 the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus has been a museum
dedicated to Dürer’s life and work.

The first train stopped in Nurnberg. We choose to put out luggage in a locker. The cost was 5 euro. We then walked around Nurnberg. It was a very nice city. Tim really enjoyed it. We were both glad that we decided to make the side trip. The city walls and the medieval building were a treat. We managed to work our way around to the Albrect Drurer house. After about two hours of walking around town we went back to retrieve our luggage and find the train.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber from tower
One of the views from the top of the tower.

We arrived at Rothenburg ob der Tauber about 1pm. We walked from the train station to the old city. Our hotel, Das Gastehaus am weissen Turm, is in the old town. They let us check in at 2pm, which was very nice. This guesthouse is 800 years old. We are on the third floor, with no lift. I managed to fall on our walk to the hotel. The cobblestone streets, the luggage, and being tired all combined to me losing my balance. The only damage was a tear in my pants. No big deal. After checking in and unloading our stuff we went out exploring. This is a very cool place. The building are so cool. You are definitely not in Grand Rapids.

We walked all around the city today. I climbed to the top of the tower. The 241 stair climb was rewarded by great views of the city. Tim passed on the climb. The platform was very small at the top. Only five people were allowed out there at a time. I took lots of photos of this spot, but they just didn’t do justice to the great view.

Medieval Torture Museum diorama
There were many dioramas and pages to read. The materials were all presented in English as well.

We toured the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum that I had learned about in the Lunch and Learn DVD series at Witte. It was very cool. There was lots to see related to the middle ages other than torture. The emphasis is on the justice system and how it evolved in Medieval times. It is well worth a visit. (5 euro per person to get in)

We found the shop that held the German Christmas museum. We chose not to go into the museum part, but we did some shopping in the store. We skipped lunch entirely today, so by dinner time we were quite hungry. We stopped at a hotel/restaurant that had a menu that looked good. We have done fairly well on our spending on meals. We are opting for bratwurst, sauerkraut and potatoes and beer of course. No being sure, we are including a cash tip to the server of about 10%. They seem happy with that. It is necessary to check to make sure that a service charge hasn’t been added to your bill though.

After dinner it was almost dark. I had hopped to take the Night Watchman Tour at 20:00, but as we were walking back we heard him out doing the tour in German. We did not know if he would go again in English and we are both very tired. We called it a night about 8:15 (20:15 local time) and have another full day of train travel and sights to see.
Off to Leipzig tomorrow to catch up with J.S. Bach.
Happy Guy Fawks Day.