While travelling Europe is by train you can relax and watch the world goby instead of driving or spending too much time at airports - without seeing the real Europe as it's been for centuries.Nice
European trains are so fast and well-connected in the 21st century that a flexible Eurail pass can give travellers a wonderful, good value European holiday.
1. South of France - The Riviera to Biarritz
Nice is a great place to start your European adventure as you check out the famous beachfront Promenade des Anglais, including the landmark Negresco Hotel. Head south to Cannes for its glamorous French lifestyle which includes the famous film festival in May.
And a little further south, Marseille is the
perfect port to travel by train
from the west coast right
across to the east coast to the famous wine region
of Bordeaux, and glamorous
Biarritz on the Spanish border.
As you head east from Marseille, you'll see the fortified French
town of Carcassonne, with its pretty
waterways and boats. It's beautiful
provicial French countryside here, with bright yellow sunflowers reaching for the
sky, reminiscent of a Monet painting
Here you'll find pilgrims from around the world at the end of their
journey, many with crosses they've carried
for many miles. At the entry to the
church built on this religious site, you can see just a few of the
hundreds of thousands of crosses that have
been carried to Lourdes over the years.
The atmosphere here is uplifting to say
the least, and everyone is friendly. In
town, you'll find all manner of religious icons to remind you of a
Aboard your train again, it's three hours to the famous French wine region of Bordeaux on the west coast, passing through superb vineyards in comfort before you arrive in this big old French city with its landmark cathedral.
Only two hours south
is the famous French beach playground of
a great place to finish your trip across France. Make sure
you finish in style by staying at the
Hotel du Palais, the former palace of Emperor
The Hotel du Palais is the iconic standout in this Basque town on the Spanish border, and your accommodation is near Biarritz beaches.
2. Overnight Eurail adventure from Krakow to Lake Bled
How exciting...flying into the pretty cobbled Polish town of Krakow to take the overnight sleeper train through Austria and the Czech Republic to one of the world's most beautiful destinations at Lake Bled in Slovenia.
This the perfect overnight train trip for both scenery and scheduling.Eastern Europe is opening up to tourism and the countryside and little towns are still pristine, compared with the now-crowded western European tourist destinations.
Krakow has a historic square that still features horse drawn carriages and top hats. For something more modern, try the electric city tour carts, the only vehicles allowed in the pedestrian-friendly square. Everything is inexpensive here...city tours are only $40 an hour for an electric cart that takes up to 4, with 1 Polish zlotny equalling 3 dollars US.
You can also visit the Krakow Jewish ghetto and the infamous Auschwitz prison camp nearby. A great place to stay in Krakow at the start of your train trip is the stylish Hotel Stary on the edge of the cobbled main square, run by the friendly Danuta Barcik.
Your overnight sleeper train departs at the perfect time of 9.57pm from the main train station just outside the square. These are Polish trains that aren't part of the Eurail network, and tickets for the sleeper on to Budapest, Prague or Vienna aren't expensive.
Your sleeping room will have 2
or 3 bunks and it's memorable to pull out
into the Polish countryside with the wind in your hair as you look
out the window at night. Be careful you
don't use a spare pillow or blanket if the
other bed is spare because you may be charged, although it's not
There's something romantic and nurturing about being rocked gently to sleep as you efficiently move through the night to your next destination by train. When you wake in the morning, your InterCity train is pulling into Vienna train station around 6am.
This is one of
Europe's grand old train stations, and it's a quick
connection to your train heading east to the Austrian border.
Your new train is exactly that - sleek and spacious with big
leather seats that recline, full height
panoramic windows to take in the spectacular
scenery, power sockets for lap top computers, and even hair
dryers in the toilets which are much bigger
than the cramped comparisons on planes.
Your Eurail train travel finishes a the wondrous
Lake Bled as you pull
into Lesce-Bled station at 11.48am. Just
4 kilometres away is the beautiful lake with
aquamarine water similar to Lake Louise in Canada.
The other landmark here is the historic castle at the top of the
cliff, where you can enjoy what's possibly
the most beautiful view in the world
overlooking the lake below.
3. Northern Italian lakes to alpine Zermatt
There is no better place in Italy than
Como to start your exciting train
travel around the Italian Lakes. After you've explored the wonders
of Como including Villa d'Este, Bellagio
and Menaggio, head north and west by train
towards Lake Maggiore.
Lake Maggiore also supports wonderful little towns around its banks.
Make sure you stop at
Stresa with its pretty
cobbled streets and cute ferries to three
islands on the lake, including Isola Bella owned by
an old Italian family which allows
visitors to see its grand buildings and grounds.
Isola Bella is listed as one of the thousand places in the
world to see in your life.
As you venture onwards by train through this beautiful scenery,
you'll find the attractive lake town of
Lugano, Switzerland but so close to
Italy that it still feels Italian in atmosphere and
temperament. Lugano is even prettier than
nearby Locarno because of its location at the bottom of a
mountain on the lake.
In Zermatt, stay at the new Cervo Hotel, an alpine lodge with a fantastic restaurant serving fresh local produce. Cervo is the Italian name for deer, and here you'll meet the charismatic owner Daniel F. Lauber, who is as charming as he is talented.
fresh venison in the restaurant here is literally out of this world,
while the fish is also locally sourced and superb. You can
also relax by the roaring open fire as
local musicians entertain you. Daniel's partner and chef Seraina
Muller uses organic produce where
possible, and this really adds to making a stay
at Zermatt one of the
world's best holidays.
Zermatt, you can take the famous Glacier express from Switzerland's
west right across the Swiss alps to the ski resort of
Moritz on the other side of Switzerland
in the east. This is a spectacular European
alpine train travel through some of the world's best scenery, with huge panoramic
windows that even allow you to look up
through glass to see the mountain tops above you.
Zoom to BIG interactive European Train Travel Map by Google
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