European rail tours

Perhaps the quintessential form of travel in Europe, getting around by train is convenient, easy and sublimely romantic. Mainland Europe has a generally excellent, and generally inexpensive rail network. In theory you can start and finish a European train tour almost anywhere, but most trips get underway in London, from where you take the Eurostar over to either Paris or Amsterdam or maybe continue further to somewhere such as Venice. Every platform you alight onto promises new adventures and memories to be made – European rail travel is a magical experience.
Group travel

Group travel

Rail tours in Europe are typically small group tours, ensuring you always have plenty of good company while exploring the contrasting culture, architecture and nightlife between famous cities – the cave-like beer halls of Berlin, cafe culture in Vienna, the prestigious galleries and museums of Florence and Paris. Structured routes are accompanied by a tour leader and usually feature a handful of inclusions, such as organised pub crawls or metro tickets. This way you are sure of always making your connection, and easily getting to your accommodation at every stop. A tour leader is not a guide, but they will usually be able to share some fascinating information about each destination, and may sometimes conduct informal walking tours to help you get your bearings on arrival.
The trains used are usually direct, and the itinerary may make use of sleeper trains to save time. Some travel days involve far shorter transfers, such as those between Rome, Florence and Venice. In cities, you will usually be sleeping in centrally located hostels or small hotels. Tour leaders travel on ahead to confirm accommodation arrangements.

Our top Europe tour Vacation

Central Europe rail tour, 14 days

Central Europe rail tour, 14 days

An exciting trip around the continent's fairytale cities

From £1259 to £1589 15 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 29 Mar, 4 May, 8 Jun, 13 Jul, 10 Aug, 17 Aug, 26 Oct
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Is a rail trip right for me?

Is a rail trip right for me?

This kind of trip is predominantly suited to younger travelers, typically aged between 18 and 29, and is ideal for solo travelers and groups of friends. Rail travel also lends itself well to tailor made tours of course, given that itineraries are easily customised. But there is the option to join a small group trip with a minimum age of 16 that is more suited to families, such as in Central Europe, where the itinerary will focus on culture, nature and regional curiosities, and accommodation is typically in locally run hotels instead of hostels.
A European rail tour tends to last between one and four weeks depending on the number of cities visited and the amount of time you spend in each. Traveling at a rapid pace with stays of one to three nights in each location, you can expect to be living out of a suitcase throughout, so pack light. Longer tours, moving slower, give you more time to explore and get a real flavour of each city. Some European rail vacations can be themed, for instance there is an ‘Iron Curtain’ route taking you from Berlin to Prague and Vienna. But generally you are free to construct your own itinerary based on your personal preferences such as art and culture, cuisine, or nightlife.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: zkbld] [Train - Italy: Goultard] [Beerhall: James Cridland] [Old rolling stock - Budapest: Anne and David] [Train window: Ana Martin] [Berlin U-Bahn: Nicolas Vigier]
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