Taking the Train in Europe

two women wait with their baggage at a European train station

Train travel is a slow, romantic sort of travel that’s making a big comeback. It’s also one of the most efficient ways to travel through Europe! If you’re planning on travelling between neighbouring countries or inside a single European country, then train travel is the way to go. Taking the train in Europe, however, is much different than taking it in North America.

Here’s some tips to help make your train travel run as smoothly as possible:

Make Sure You Have the Right Station

Unlike many North American cities that often only have one main train station, large European cities sometimes have several. Double check when booking to be sure you’ve chosen the right one.

And the Right Track

Just when you thought it couldn’t get more confusing, you also have to remember to check the track your train leaves from. European train stations are very large and there are different ways to get to different tracks. Look for large screens like you do when checking for your gate at an airport, be sure to match your train number on your ticket to that on the screen.

Stamp Your Ticket

Many trains offer an “open” ticket for the day and need to be stamped to be validated. There are often machines that you can stick your ticket into stamp it, or sometimes a person will stamp it. When in doubt if you need to stamp or not, ask! There could be a fine if you are caught without one.

Sit in Your Car

While you may not always be assigned a seat, you will likely be assigned a car as different cars have different class tickets.

Trains Arrive on Time

Unlike North America, trains in Europe arrive *gasp* on time! If your ticket says 11:00 that means it leaves at exactly 11:00, no exceptions. If you have an open ticket for the day without a specific time, just jump on the next one.

Ask for Help

There are usually many people in marked uniforms there to help, don’t be afraid to ask if you have any questions! However, be warry of people not in uniform who offer to help buy your ticket or with your luggage as this is a common scam.

Sit by the Window

The best part about taking the train in Europe is the extra sight-seeing you can do! Grab a window seat for the best views and enjoy.

Try the Food

Not all trains offer food, but the ones that do have surprisingly good offerings! Wine and cheese? Yes, please!

Watch Your Bags

This is a good habit to get into anywhere. While it’s unlikely, leaving your bags out of eyesight could result in you losing them or something inside them. Use the overhead bins above your seat, or choose a seat close to the front baggage storage.

Book in Advanced

With the popularity of European train travel, international travel and popular train routes now require reservations in advanced. Check your train’s website for more details.

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