Rail Europe Vacations
Five European Cities To See By Train
Have you dreamed of exploring Europe via the romantic iron rails but only have a limited time to do so? What should you see and how do you go about planning your romantic rendezvous? If you have only a week and half or so and want to get a good glimpse into the heart of an adventure through the Old World, please read on!
First, you’ll want to purchase a Eurail Pass which you can do from the website RailEurope.com. Rail passes are worth their cost if you take lots of long distance and overnight trips - which is what we’ll do on this journey. If you are over 26-years of age, you must buy a first-class pass - namely, a “15-day, EuroRail Global Pass.” This costs $773 and allows you to travel for 15 consecutive days throughout Europe . You are going to be on a whirlwind European Tour and this is the pass to have in order to do it. This particular Eurail Pass covers the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. Since, we have a limited amount of time, we will take a sample journey to a handful of these countries - namely, Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
Let’s start our adventure in the beautiful Portuguese city of Lisbon, also known as Lisboa. The Olissippo Castelo, a 4-star hotel for just under $150 per night is the perfect place to spend your first two nights in Europe. Elegant rooms with marble bathrooms; expansive views of Lisbon; delicious breakfasts - you’ll feel both pampered and at home here. You’ll spend two nights here exploring all that Lisbon has to offer. Don’t miss out on a night of song at the Clube de Fado, a wander through the Alfama neighborhood, and a ride on the Elevador de Gloria. The dining here is world-class as well. For an unforgettable meal, take a seat at Pharmacia, the little restaurant housed in Lisbon’s Apothecary Museum. The outdoor terrace is also the perfect place for happy-hour cocktails.
From Lisbon, you’ll take the overnight train to Madrid. In Madrid, you’ll check into the 4-star hotel, Meninas. This classy hotel is just under $100 per night, and will be your home for two nights in this lively Spanish capital. Madrid is truly one of the artistic capitals of the world. Be sure to visit at least one of the following museums - the Museo del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid is also a culinary center. Treat yourself to dinner at Sergi Arola Gastro, one of the world-class chef Ferran Adria’s masterpiece restaurants. Truffled poultry mousse, anyone?
From Madrid, there’s the overnight train to Paris. In Paris you’ll check into the Hotel Crayon by Elegancia for two nights. This centrally-located 3-star hotel, just steps from the Louvre is priced at a reasonable $129 per night. You’ll feel as if you’ve just stepped into your very own Parisian artist’s studio with its artfully quirky decor and vintage telephones. On your Parisian itinerary, be sure to see Le Tour Eiffel, Le Moulin Rouge, Jardin du Luxembourg, Les Tuileries, Notre Dame, Versaille (this would take up the better part of a day), and the Louvre. However, you’re only here for a few days. Meandering along the streets while intermittently stopping in cafes to eat and drink is really the best way to get a feel for the city. Paris is the perfect city in which to walk and walk and walk in the style of the flaneur (or flaneuse).
From Paris, take the overnight train to Amsterdam. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, check into the Hotel Vondel Amsterdam, a 4-star hotel centrally-located just a hop, skip and a jump away from the famous Rijksmuseum. Another reasonably priced gem, this hotel will only set you back a little over $100 per night. Since you’re just next door to Vondelpark and Leidseplain, the Rijksmuseum, and the P.C. Hoofdstaat shopping center, put all of these sights on your Amsterdam travel tour. Add in the Anne Frank Museum, lunch at one of the city’s infamous pancake houses, a trip to the Heineken Brewery for their Heineken experience tour, the Van Gogh museum, and dinner at the gourmet De Kas restaurant. Here you’ll be delighted by its setting in a beautiful glass greenhouse.
Next, we go from Amsterdam to Berlin by rail. This is our last stop. The art, history and nightlife here is some of Europe’s best. While this is not the most gorgeous city in Europe it is by far one of the most captivating. It’s also cheaper than other European capitals so you’ll get more bang for your buck here. Check into the Arte Luise Kunsthotel, where for only $54 a night you stay in your very own art gallery of a hotel room. Located in the Mitte-Alexanderplatz area, you’ll be just a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate, the Friedrichstasse train station and the Reichstag Building. Be sure to take in the local nightlife at the Berghain Panorama Bar and dinner at the charming Cafe Jacques.
That concludes our whirlwind trip through Europe. May this inspire you to create your own railway adventure or delight in this exact itinerary.
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A great way to see Europe
I took a rail trip from Belgium to Venice Italy and really enjoyed the views. Not only are the natural landscapes fantastic but many of the the small rustic villages have train stops. It's a great way to see Europeans going about their day to day lives.