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 by train from London to almost anywhere:  Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Prague, Helsinki, 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 explains the best routes, train times & fares from London to major destinations all over Europe, and between major European cities.

It explains the best way to buy tickets for your specific journeys, whether you live in the UK, mainland Europe, the USA, Australia, wherever.


  If your journey starts in the UK...   

If your journey starts elsewhere...   

 

Train times & tickets

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

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.

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?

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, mobile data, VPN

How to buy tickets

How to buy European train tickets online

  UK train travel to connect with Eurostar  

Interrail passes - for us in Europe

How to buy European train tickets by phone

 

Senior fares for over-60s

 

Eurail passes - for overseas visitors

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 maps

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

London to Paris & Brussels by Eurostar

London to Paris by train & ferry

London to Amsterdam by Eurostar

London to Amsterdam by train & ferry

London to Lyon, Avignon, Marseille by Eurostar

London to French Alps by Eurostar Ski Train

French TGV trains

French Ouigo lo-cost TGVs

French overnight trains

Paris to Nice by TGV

Paris to Brussels & Amsterdam by Eurostar

Paris to Switzerland TGV-Lyria

Paris to Turin & Milan by TGV

Paris to Venice by train

Paris to Florence by train

Paris to Rome by train

Paris to Naples by train

Paris to Moscow Express

Paris to San Sebastian by TGV

Paris to Barcelona by TGV

Paris to Barcelona by sleeper train

Lyon to Geneva by TER

Nice to Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome by train

Brussels to Berlin/Prague by European Sleeper

Bruges to Amsterdam by train

Amsterdam to Bruges by train

Amsterdam to Berlin by InterCity train

 

 

 

 

 

Zurich to Austria on the Arlberg Railway

Zurich to Munich by EuroCity train

Zurich to Prague by sleeper

Zurich to Budapest by sleeper

Switzerland to Italy by EuroCity train

Trenitalia's Frecciarossa trains

Trenitalia's Frecciargento trains

Italo high-speed trains

Trains to Catania, Palermo & Sicily

Rome to Athens by train & ferry

Venice to Lake Bled by train

Venice & Trieste to Ljubljana by train

Renfe's AVE trains

Renfe's Alvia trains

Barcelona to Madrid by AVE, Avlo, Ouigo

Barcelona to French cities by AVE-S100

Madrid to Lisbon by train

Vigo to Porto by Celta train

Lisbon to Porto by train

Lisbon to Faro & the Algarve by train

German IC trains

German ICE trains

Hamburg to Copenhagen by train

Hamburg to Stockholm by sleeper

Berlin to Prague by EuroCity train

Berlin to Warszawa/Krakow by EuroCity

Berlin to Bratislava & Budapest by sleeper

 

Munich to Innsbruck by train

Munich to Salzburg by train

Munich to Prague by train

Munich to Venice by EuroCity train

Munich to Budapest by sleeper

Austrian railjet trains

Austrian nightjet sleeper trains

Vienna to Budapest by train

Vienna to Bratislava by train

Vienna to Prague by train

Vienna to Salzburg by train

Vienna to Venice by train

Salzburg to Prague by train

Prague - Bratislava - Budapest by train

Prague to Krakow by train

Budapest to Belgrade by train

Zagreb to Sarajevo by train

Sarajevo to Mostar by train

Belgrade to Sofia by train

Belgrade to Montenegro

Warsaw to Vilnius by train

Vilnius to Riga by train

Riga to Tallinn by train

Swedish X2000 trains

Öresund trains Copenhagen-Malmö

Helsinki to St Petersburg & Moscow

If the route you want isn't listed, select the starting city in the drop-down box above.

Station guides

Alicante

Amsterdam Centraal

Barcelona Sants

Basel SBB

Belgrade station

Berlin Hbf

Bologna Centrale

Bratislava Hlavna

Brussels Midi/Zuid

Bucharest Nord

Budapest Deli

Budapest Keleti

Budapest Nyugati

Cologne Hbf

Copenhagen H

Florence SMN

Frankfurt (Main)

Geneva

Hamburg Hbf & Altona

Helsinki

Innsbruck Hbf

 

Krakow Glowny

Lausanne

Lille Europe

Lisbon Santa Apolonia

Lisbon Oriente

Ljubljana

London St Pancras

Luxembourg

Lyon Part Dieu

Madrid Atocha

Madrid Chamartin

Malmö Central

Marseille St Charles

Milan Centrale

Milan Porta Garibaldi

Munich Hbf

Naples Centrale

Osnabrück

Paris Gare du Nord

Paris Gare de Lyon

 

Paris Gare de l'Est

Paris Gare Montparnasse

Paris Gare d'Austerlitz

Paris St Lazare

Paris Gare de Bercy

Porto

Prague Hlavni

Rome Termini

Salzburg Hbf

Seville Santa Justa

Sofia Central Station

Stockholm Central

Turin P. Susa & P. Nuova

Venice Santa Lucia

Verona Porta Nuova

Vienna Hbf

Vigo Guixar & Urzaiz

Warsaw Centralna

Zagreb

Zurich HB


How to check train times

 

The German Railways online timetable

Click for an online
European train timetable

Click Stopover and set Duration of transfer

Phone apps

  DB Navigator app
 

Railplanner app

Station arrivals & departures

 

European Rail Timetable - Click to buy

The European Rail Timetable

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How to check fares & buy tickets

 

To check fares & buy tickets in one country

 

To check fares & buy tickets for international journeys

By phone

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Maps of the European rail network

Free online rail maps

  European Rail Map cover   European Rail Map
 

Buy at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or www.amazon.co.uk (UK).  See map extract.

On the back there's a more detailed map of the central Europe covering Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, northern Italy, Eastern France.

 

European train map, cover

  European train map
 

Click to buy in UK for £14.50 + postage worldwide

Click to buy in the Netherlands with postage worldwide

Rail Map Europe: Buy here

Travellers' Railway Map: Buy here

Rail Atlas of Europe by Ian Allan: Buy here

Rail Atlas of Europe by M Ball: Buy here

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Real-time train running information

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London to Paris or Brussels by Eurostar

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

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Changing trains in Paris

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Changing trains in Brussels

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The ferry alternatives

London to Paris by train & ferry

London to Amsterdam by train & ferry

UK to Spain by ferry

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.

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.

There are first class lounges at some major stations, usually with complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks or even beer and wine, plus WiFi and charging points.  Sometimes the lounge is for anyone with a first class ticket (which may or may not include first class Eurail or Interrail passes), in other cases the lounges are only for holders of the most expensive premium-fare first class tickets or who have that train operator's frequent traveller loyalty card. Here's a quick guide:

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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!

...in a sleeping-car

...in a couchette

...in a seat

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!

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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

Train composition posters

Is there passport control before boarding?

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How long to allow for connections?

It takes just minutes to change trains

If your onward train is a local one

If your onward train is all-reserved

If your onward train is a sleeper

If connecting out of a sleeper

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...

Here's what you should know

If you miss a connection

CIV ticket stamp   Eurostar's HOTNAT  CIV ticket stamp

An example...  I was travelling from London to Bordeaux on a Eurostar running 40 minutes late.  It looked like I would miss my connection in Paris, and naturally my onward ticket was train-specific & non-changeable!  An announcement was made that the train manager was in the bar car to help passengers with connections.  He stamped my ticket and told me to go to the ticket office at Paris Montparnasse to get myself rebooked on a later train.  In the event, I bought a metro ticket from the Eurostar cafe-bar to save time at the metro station (important tip!), I walked to the front of the train as we approached Paris, I had allowed a little more than the recommended minimum 60 minutes to cross Paris in any case, and I made my connection!

If you miss a Eurostar due to a delayed train

If you miss a connection in Brussels

Your rights:  CIV conditions of carriage

  1. But there's a major loophole

    Unfortunately, this CIV missed connection protection only applies within a single contract for carriage, in other words, within one ticket.

    If you have a through ticket from A to C changing at B, your connection at B is protected if there's a delay.

    But if you have a ticket from A to B and a separate ticket from B to C, your connection at B is not protected by the CIV as this is two separate contracts for carriage and CIV does not apply between contracts.  These days, many journeys have to be made using separate tickets.

    For example, there are no through tickets between London and Germany, so if you book a journey from London to Berlin, even as one transaction on one website, you'll get a London-Brussels Eurostar ticket and a separate Brussels-Berlin DB (German Railways) ticket.  This is two separate contracts for carriage and CIV does not protect you for a missed connection in Brussels, between the two tickets.

    The CIV were written when through tickets were the norm for almost all European journeys, these days many through journeys have to be made using multiple tickets.  Frankly, the CIV are no longer fit for purpose.  I have spoken at the EU Parliament in Brussels on the subject!

    But don't despair, in practice staff will usually help you out, even where CIV does not strictly apply, and there are two other inter-operator arrangements which may help you even if you have separate tickets:  Railteam/HOTNAT and Agreement for Journey Continuation.

Railteam & HOTNAT

Agreement on Journey Continuation (AJC)

A traveller's report

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Holidays & tours by train

RailbookersRailbookers logo, railbookers.co.uk

Byway logoByway, byway.travel

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Guidebooks

Amazon logoThere 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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Hotels in Europe

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: www.booking.com

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Backpacker hostels

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about the backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of dorm beds or ultra-cheap private rooms in backpacker hostels in most European cities at rock-bottom prices.

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Car hireCar Hire logo

Car hire comparison: www.carrentals.co.uk

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Travel insurance & other tips

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  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, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list.  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card!  Maya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Buy from Amazon.com.

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!


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