Europe starts on Eurostar at St Pancras...Breakfast in London, dinner in Barcelona...

There's no need to fly from the UK to anywhere in Europe.  It's surprisingly easy, quick and comfortable to travel overland by train from London to just about anywhere:  Spain, Italy, Greece, Prague, Helsinki, Moscow...  The difficult bit is finding out how to do it and where to buy tickets.  That's where Seat 61 comes in!

This website will tell you the best routes, train times & approximate fares from London to major destinations all over Europe.  It explains what the trains are like, and the best way to buy tickets.

Even if your journey doesn't start in the UK, this site will give you the basic tools to plan and book journeys all over Europe at the best prices.

Left:  Eurostar links the UK not just with Paris, but with destinations all over Europe.


  If your journey starts in the UK...   

If your journey starts elsewhere...   

 

Train times, fares & tickets for journeys all over Europe...

If your journey starts or ends in the UK, select your destination country in the upper drop-down box on the right, or pick a country from the menu on the left, to see the recommended routes, train times, fares & how to buy tickets from London to your specific European destination.

If your journey starts in another European country, select the city where your journey starts in the lower drop-down box on the right - if it isn't listed, select one nearest to it in the same country.  On the next page, select your destination city to see recommended routes, train times, fares & how to buy the cheapest tickets for that journey, direct from the train operators.

Return to this page for information & advice about luggage, crossing Paris by metro, taking your bike, and so on.


Planning your trip...

How to check European train times

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

Wheelchairs & special needs

How to check European train fares   

 

Changing trains in Brussels

Recommended guidebooks

Maps of the European rail network

 

How early to arrive at the station?

Hotels & accommodation

Eurostar schedules, fares & information

 

How long to allow for connections?

Holidays & tours by train

Ferry alternatives to Eurostar

 

First class lounges at stations

 

Car hire when you get there

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

 

Real-time service updates

Travel insurance, credit cards, SIMs

Couchettes & sleeping-cars

 

What to do when things go wrong...

Buying your tickets...

How to buy European train tickets online

  Buying UK tickets to connect with Eurostar  

Railpasses & Eurail passes

How to buy European train tickets by phone

 

Senior fares for over-60s

 

Buying & using an InterRail pass

Must I book in advance?  Can I buy at the station?

 

Youth fares for under-26s

 

Rail staff priv travel in Europe

How far in advance do bookings open?

 

Child fares & travel with kids

 

Train seat numbering plans

Taking luggage, bikes, dogs & cars

Luggage on trains    Left luggage at stations    Taking your bike    Taking your dog or pet    Taking your car by train (Motorail)

Information about specific trains...

Eurostar from London to Paris & Brussels

 

Thalys trains Paris to Brussels & Amsterdam

 

Trenitalia's Frecciarossa

Overnight trains in France

 

City Night Line sleeper trains

 

Trenitalia's Frecciargento

TGV trains in France

 

Amsterdam to Prague by City Night Line

 

Trenitalia's Frecciabianca

TGV Lyria trains from Paris to Switzerland

 

Amsterdam to Warsaw by EuroNight train

 

NTV's Italo trains

TGV trains from Paris to Turin & Milan

 

Amsterdam or Cologne to Vienna by EuroNight train

 

German ICE trains

TGV trains from Paris to Barcelona

 

Thello sleeper trains from Paris to Italy

 

Austrian RailJet trains

Spanish AVE, Alvia, Altaria trains

 

Switzerland's Glacier Express

 

Munich to Prague by train

Berlin-Warszawa Express trains

  Switzerland's Bernina Express   Swedish SJ2000 trains

 

How to check European train times

You can find schedules for virtually any European train journey at www.bahn.de...

 

Click for an online
European train timetable...
The German Railways online timetable

 

Video tutorial - using bahn.de

 

Station arrivals & departures:  Click here & enter a station...

 

Thomas Cook European Timetable - Click to buy online

What's inside?

The European Rail Timetable...   What does it contain?

Each country's own printed timetables...


How to check European train fares

No single website sells tickets at the cheapest prices for all routes in all countries...

To check fares & buy train tickets for journeys wholly within one country...

To check fares & buy train tickets for international journeys...

Online...

By phone...


Where to find maps of European rail routes

Free online rail maps...

Printed rail maps...
 

 
 

Click to buy in the UK for £14.50 + postage worldwide

Click to buy in the Netherlands with postage worldwide

A Travellers' Railway Map of Europe:  Click here to buy

The Rail Atlas of Europe...

The Thomas Cook Rail Map of Europe...

 


Real-time information for European trains

Are the trains running on time?  Are there any delays, incidents or disruptions?


Travelling by Eurostar

London to Paris or Brussels:  See the Eurostar page...

A Eurostar at St Pancras International...

A Eurostar at St Pancras...

 

Eurostar first class

Eurostar 1st class...

 

Eurostar second class

Eurostar 2nd class...


Changing trains & stations in Paris...

By metro or taxi between stations in Paris:  See the Paris metro page


Changing trains in Brussels...

 

Visiting Central Brussels:  If you've time to spare between trains, it's a 25 minute stroll from Brussels Midi station to the famous Grand Place (Grote Markt) in the city centre.  Or hop on a train from Brussels Midi to Brussels Central, a transfer is free with a Eurostar ticket.  For somewhere to eat, try the 'Aux Armes de Bruxelles' restaurant (www.armebrux.be)...

  The escalators down to the couloir sud...

When changing trains in Brussels:  Arriving by Eurostar with an onward train to Cologne or Amsterdam, don't trail after the crowds shuffling slowly to the station exit!  Nip down the escalators marked 'Connections' level with car 11.  This descends to the 'Couloir Sud' subway between all platforms, a handy short cut to all other platforms...

  Changing trains at Brussels Midi...

The main concourse at Brussels Midi station, a subway underneath the tracks...

  The Eurostar terminal at Brussels Midi

Entrance to the Eurostar Terminal at Brussels Midi, now marked 'Channel Terminal'...

Bruxelles Midi, Brussel Zuid, Brussels South?

Which platform at Brussels Midi?

How long to allow for connections in Brussels? 

Station facilities...

Free train transfer to Brussels Central or Brussels Luxemburg...

Walking to Brussels city centre...


Sponsored links...

 

Travelling by train + ferry

The ferry alternatives...

London to Paris by train & ferry...

London to Amsterdam by Dutch Flyer train & ferry...

The ferries to Spain...

Other useful ferry routes...


Should you go 1st or 2nd class?

  2nd class seats on top deck of a TGV Duplex

2nd class seats, arranged 2+2 across the car width.  This is a TGV Duplex.

  1st class seats on a TGV Duplex

1st class seats on the same TGV Duplex, arranged 2+1 across the car width.  Fewer seats per car, more leg & elbow room.  Tables for 2 as well as tables for 4.  That's it.

2nd class is perfectly adequate...

What extra do you get if you go 1st class? 

1st class can be an affordable treat...

On overnight trains, class is irrelevant...


First class lounges at stations

  The first class NS Hispeed lounge at Amsterdam centraal railway station.
 

A typical first class lounge.  This one is the NS International 1st class lounge at Amsterdam Centraal, available for anyone with a valid first class international ticket or railpass.  It offers complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine & beer...

In some countries, you'll find first class lounges at stations, usually with complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks or even beer and wine available.  WiFi and an internet PC may also be available.  Sometimes the lounge is for anyone with a first class ticket (including a first class railpass), but in some countries the lounges are only for holders of the most expensive business-orientated first class tickets or for holders of that particular train operator's special frequent traveller card.  Opening times vary, the lounges may or may not be of use when catching a late-night sleeper.  Here's a quick guide:

Eurostar first class lounges in London, Paris & Brussels...

Lounges open to all 1st class ticket holders...

Lounges only open to certain first class ticket holders...


Travelling overnight

 

A 2-berth German sleeper

 

The same German sleeper - daytime seats mode

 

2-berth sleeper:  A typical 2-berth sleeper, berths made up.

 

The same sleeper, converted to a sitting room for evening/morning use.

 

Couchette compartment on train NZ 243

 

CityNightLine couchette (4-bunk)

 

Couchettes, 6-berth, with the bunks folded out.

 

Couchettes, 4-berth:  Much more room per passenger!

Taking a sleeper train...

...in a sleeping-car

...in a couchette

...in a seat


How early to arrive at the station?

  Train composition display on station platform in Germany
 

Train formation display, showing where along the platform each car of a train will stop.  This saves you running up and down looking for your car.  You can be waiting in the right place when your train comes in!  Above is a printed German version.  Below is an electronic French railways version.

Composition des Trains

Do you need to check in for a train?

On international trains, is there passport control before boarding?

Eurostar is an exception, minimum 30 minute check-in, passport check before boarding...

Spanish high-speed trains...


How long to allow for connections between trains?

Train connections 101...

It usually takes just a minute or two to change trains...

If your onward connection is a local unreserved train...

If your onward connection is a long-distance reserved train...

If your onward connection is an overnight sleeper train, or part of an epic journey...

If you are connecting out of an overnight sleeper train...

Do you have a through ticket, or separate tickets?

Recommended connection times when changing stations in Paris...

Travel tips...

What happens if you miss a connection?


 


When things go wrong...

  Derailment!  This is in fact the train from Damascus to Amman!

Oops!

It's remarkable how well European train travel normally works... 

But things do occasionally go wrong, so here's what you should know...

What to do if you miss a connection...

Your rights:  The CIV conditions of carriage... 

The Railteam Promise...

Missed connections in Brussels...

Traveller's report...


Holidays & escorted tours by train

Let a tour company arrange your whole trip...

Railbookers, www.railbookers.com...

Rail Discoveries, www.raildiscoveries.com, 01904 730 727... Rail Discoveries

Great Rail Journeys, www.greatrail.com, 01904 527120...


Recommended guidebooks

Rail travel guides...

There are several good guidebooks specifically to help you travel by train to and around Europe, including my own book published in June 2008 and revised in April 2010.  Based on this site, it's a handbook for travel by train or ferry from the UK to almost anywhere in Europe, although admittedly a bit long in the tooth now, this site is more up to date.  Then there's Flight Free Europe, packed with ideas for short breaks & longer holidays in Europe by train rather than air.  Flight-free Europe even includes a picture of yours truly in a text box about seat61.com a few pages in, but don't let that put you off.  Finally, Europe by Rail combines city guides with train information for a tour of Europe.

   
         

General country guidebooks...

People sometimes think a guidebook is an unnecessary expense, but it's a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see and understand so much more if you have a decent guidebook.  For the independent traveller, I think the best ones out there are either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both guidebooks are excellent, and you won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk or buy in the USA at Amazon.com...

Rough Guide to Europe - click to buy online at AmazonLonely Planet Western Europe - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.ukLonely Planet Europe on a shoestring - click to buy online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hotels & accommodation in Europe

Find hotels anywhere in Europe...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Hotels near Paris Gare du Nord & other Paris stations...

Backpacker hostels...


Car hire

Take the train into Europe, then hire a car:  www.holidayautos.co.uk

Compare 50 different car hire companies:  www.carrentals.co.uk


Travel insurance & health card

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on mobile data and phone calls...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find a huge bill.  Consider buying a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone from www.Go-Sim.com, which can slash costs by up to 85%.  Go-Sim cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also allows cheap data access for laptops & PDAs.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not used between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.


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