Europe starts on Eurostar at St Pancras...

Breakfast in London, dinner in Barcelona...

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

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

It also explains the best routes, train times & fares for travel between the major cities of Europe, and how to buy the cheapest tickets, whether you live in the UK, Europe, the USA, Australia or wherever.

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 & tickets for Europe...

If your journey starts in the UK, select your destination in the upper drop-down box to see the best routes, train times, fares & how to buy tickets from London to your European destination.

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

Return to this page for general information & advice about European train travel.

  If your journey starts in the UK...   

If your journey starts elsewhere...   


Planning your trip...

How to check European train times

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

What to do if things go wrong...

How to check European train fares   

 

Changing trains in Brussels

Wheelchairs & special needs

How far ahead do train bookings open?

 

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Recommended guidebooks

Eurostar schedules, fares & information

 

How early to arrive at the station?

Hotels & accommodation

Ferry alternatives to Eurostar

 

How long to allow for connections?

 

Holidays & tours by train

Maps of the European rail network

 

First class lounges at stations

Car hire when you get there

Real-time service updates

 

Couchettes & sleeping-cars

Travel insurance, credit cards, SIMs

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

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)

About specific trains & routes...

Eurostar from London to Paris & Brussels

 

Thalys trains Paris to Brussels & Amsterdam

 

German ICE trains

Overnight trains in France

 

Trenitalia's Frecciarossa

 

German InterCity trains

TGV trains in France (or iDTGV)

 

Trenitalia's Frecciargento

 

Austrian RailJet trains

TGV-Lyria trains from Paris to Switzerland

 

Trenitalia's Frecciabianca

 

Austrian Nightjet sleeper trains

TGV trains from Paris to Turin & Milan

 

NTV's Italo trains

 

Vienna to Salzburg by train

TGV trains from Paris to Barcelona

 

Thello sleeper trains from Paris to Venice

 

Salzburg to Prague by train

TGV trains from Paris to San Sebastian

 

Switzerland's Glacier Express

 

Munich to Prague by train

Spanish AVE, Alvia, Altaria trains

 

Switzerland's Bernina Express

 

Swedish X2000 trains

Berlin-Warszawa Express trains

 

Prague to Vienna by Czech railjet

 

Allegro Helsinki-St Petersburg

Amsterdam to Berlin IC trains

 

Prague to Krakow by sleeper train

 

Paris to Moscow Express


 


How to check train times

 

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

Find schedules for almost any European train journey at www.bahn.de/en...

 
 

Apps for your smartphone...

 

Thomas Cook European Timetable - Click to buy online

What's inside?

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

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

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How to check European 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...

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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

Travellers' Railway Map of Europe:  Click to buy

European Rail Timetable Map of Europe:  Click to buy

Rail Atlas of Europe by Ian Allan:  Click to buy

Rail Atlas of Europe by M Ball:  Click to buy

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Real-time train running info

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

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Travelling by Eurostar

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

A Eurostar at St Pancras International...

 

Eurostar first class

 

Eurostar second class

A Eurostar at St Pancras...

 

Eurostar 1st class...

 

Eurostar 2nd class...

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Changing trains in Paris

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

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Changing trains in Brussels

For station & connections information, see the Brussels Midi page...

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Sponsored links...

 


Travelling by train + ferry

The ferry alternatives...

London to Paris by train & ferry...

London to Amsterdam by train & ferry...

Brittany Ferries to Spain...

Other useful ferry routes...

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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 more do you get in 1st class? 

1st class can be an affordable treat...

On sleeper trains, class is irrelevant...

  Seat reservation labels

Which seats are reserved and which free? 

On trains with optional reservation, there will either be a small electronic display or a slot for paper reservation labels above each seat.

The photo above is unusual, this Berlin-Prague train has both!

Should you make a seat reservation?

Forward-facing seats...

Which side of the train?

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First class lounges at stations

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

A typical first class lounge.  Above, the NS International 1st class lounge at Amsterdam Centraal, open to anyone with a valid 1st class international ticket or pass, with complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine & beer...

  The first class DB lounge at Munich Hbf
 

The DB Lounge at Munich Hbf, also available for anyone with a 1st class ticket, but not railpasses.  There are similar lounges at other major stations in Germany.

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 (which may or may not include those with first class railpasses), 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 loyalty 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...

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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

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How early to be at the station?

  Train departures screen in Vienna
 

It's easy to find your train.  Just look at the departure boards or TV screens showing time, train number, destination & platform.  If you can find your flight at an airport, you can find your train at a 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, with a minimum 30 minute check-in...

Spanish high-speed trains...

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How long for connections?

How long to allow for connections 101...

It usually takes just minutes 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?

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If 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...

If you miss a connection...

Your rights:  The CIV conditions of carriage... 

The Railteam Promise...

Missed connections in Brussels...

Traveller's report...

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Holidays & tours by train

Let a tour company arrange your trip...

Railbookers, www.railbookers.co.uk...

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

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

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Recommended guidebooks

Rail travel guides...

There are several good guidebooks specifically to help you travel by train to and around Europe.  My own book revised in 2010 is now too long in the tooth, but there are two newer books I'd recommend.  Flight Free Europe, packed with ideas for short breaks & longer holidays in Europe by train rather than air (it 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!). Europe by Rail combines city guides with train information for train-based tours 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 Amazon   Lonely Planet Western Europe - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.uk   Europe by Rail - click to buy online at Amazon   Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring - click to buy online

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Finding hotels 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 has been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel at a cheaper rate.

►► My recommended booking site:  www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a great feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

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

Backpacker hostels...

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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

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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, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        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 ww.nhs.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for 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.


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