Europe By Train - Proposal Of A Route In The Heart Of Europe

Europe By Train - Proposal Of A Route In The Heart Of Europe
By Dani Alonso

To look at the differences between European countries, the best way to get organized it to group them according to their geographical position or cultural background. In this way we can find Southern Europe, Scandinavia, UK & Ireland, Eastern Europe, Benelux & France and Central Europe. To set if one country is included here and there can be tricky sometimes, and to define the area I am going to speak about I would like to call them as German speaking countries, which will be Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

From my point of view, exploring this area is one of the things you must do if you plan to travel to Europe, and I strongly recommend to organize a route by train taking one of the discounted tickets on this zone, as the sightseeing from the comfort of your window can be an experience by itself, specially if you try some of the scenic routes that Switzerland offers. They are not cheap I must say, but you will never forget it.

As a proposal for a trip, first of all I would like to say something for the non-European traveler. Reaching Europe from your home country can offer lots of possibilities, specially if you can land in many countries. Lufthansa, Swiss Air and Austrian Airlines cover pretty much all the possibilities. In any case, from my personal experience, flying to Frankfurt almost always will give you a price advantage due to the low taxes and at same time it works as the headquarters for most of the low cost carriers that can bring you to any part in Europe for very reduced fares.

If you come from any part in Europe I also recommend to fly to Frankfurt and then take the train from there. We start in Germany, but the route will leave the country soon. The idea is to travel south going through Baden-Baden. That could be a first stop, with a relaxing visit to the thermal pools. Going further south you will reach Freiburg, which is a town placed next to the heart of the Schwarzwald, a deep forest where you can find many activities, from walking trails to adventure, including some extraordinary natural spots such as waterfalls.

If you keep going south you will enter swiss territory. Bern is the first city that comes to you, but if you have time you could also get to know Geneva to the west. The capital is beautiful but probably is not the most famous city in the chocolate's country. If you take a train heading south again you wil reach the city of Interlaken. As the name suggest, it is placed between two big lakes. It is not a big city, but nature begins to get wild there. From there, I would take a ride to Grindelwald and enjoy 100% the pure air at more than 2000 meters, surrounded by green hills and lakes. If we had to find a place for paradise in Switzerland, probably this little town would take the first prize.

Going back to Interlaken you can now point to Luzern, make a quick visit to the old town and keep going east until you reach Zurich, which makes the contrast with its modern architecture, compared to the already mentioned cities.

After your visit to Zurich, I would take a train entering the Austrian lands. The main attractive in Austria is going to be the landscape with high mountain ranges and green fields together with the magic of the old cities. My proposal is to take a night train from Zurich to Vienna, spend at least 2 days in the capital, and then go back visiting Salzburg and Innsbruck. If you have the time, take a round trip to Linz.

The time for Germany has come again, and then the route will take you to Munich. It's not only the beer which has made this city famous, but of course you are more than welcome to take some! From Munich, and before heading north, I suggest to go for a round trip to Füssen. It's a very small town but they have some of the most enchanted-looking castles you can ever imagine. After this short visit, take a nocturnal train from Munich to Berlin and spend at least 2-3 days in the capital. Berlin has a really dramatic story in the development of Europe and buildings are there to remind it. Try to make the visit to Berlin as cultural as possible and you will get the maximum out of it. In case you have some extra time, I encourage a 1-day visit to the near town called Postdam. The gardens are absolutely amazing.

Finally, I would say it really depends on your time left or the trips left on your rail ticket, but visits to Hamburg and specially to the cathedral in Köln can be a very good end of the story. Go back to Frankfurt by train again and take your flight to your home country.

In case you want to discover some extra things you can always take the train that runs to Denmark using a large ferry to cross the sea, or say hello to the little but intense Benelux region or the East of France. It all depends on you, but here you have the basics for a very complete route in this paradise of history and nature, together on a trip that can last for about 15-20 days. Enjoy!

Dani Alonso

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