July 17, 2016 – Sunday

Our trip has ended and it’s funny because we are still dreaming (literally speaking) of Europe (Greece, Italy, France and London). So much so that I am re-blogging a Pinterest article about Italy

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MAKE TIME TO SEE THE WORLD 

LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO BE LIVED IN ONE PLACE

Have you always wanted to do a tour of Europe but not quite sure where to start? Feeling overwhelmed by choices about where to stop, how long to stay and how much will it cost? Then this post is for you! And if you haven’t already worked it out, I like BIG action packed multi-destination trips – and this one is no different.

Join me as I tour 10 major European cities by train on a budget of £50/$70USD/$90AUD per person per day.

EUROPE BY RAIL IN 25 DAYS: COSTS & ITINERARY

First off, lets cover the cost of the rail travel. We used a rail pass that allowed 10 days of travel in 22 and if you don’t want the hassle of booking each train individually then you’ll want to pick yourself up one of these. But be warned – there are two websites which sell these Rail Passes and where you live will have a huge impact on the price you pay!

INTERRAIL OR EURAIL?

Interrail is by far the cheaper option – but is only available to European residents. A 10 day in 1 month travel pass will cost €374 (£295GBP/$420USD/$555AUD) (all prices correct @ March 2016 & not including discounts)

Alternatively, a EU Rail pass for the 10 days in 2 months (the nearest equivalent to the Interrail pass) would set you back €741 (£580GBP/$825USD/$1105AUD). I’m sure you can see the difference for yourselves! I personally think this is extortionate – and I’ll offer an alternative below, but first lets look at what the difference is between the two tickets (apart from the price).

So, what is different?  Well, not much really. The stand out for me is that an Interrail pass ‘only’ allows you to travel in 2nd class carriages – whereas the EU Rail Global pass is for 1st & 2nd class travel. (with no option for 2nd class only). Now, if you were travelling through Asia by train, 1st class (or even 2nd class!) would be a blessing – but in Europe? The rail network is more than adequate – in fact, it’s pretty good! Plus the fact that as countries in Europe are relatively small (in the grand scheme of things), any train journey you take is not likely to last for more than a few hours. Do you really need to spend all that extra money to sit in a ‘nicer’ seat?

I wouldn’t. But that’s just me. I’m happy to buy a pass and pay a premium where it offers good value and I’m feeling too time poor to check the prices for each journey individually – but I would be pricing this one very carefully and doing a full comparison before jumping in. It’s amazing how spending an extra 30 minutes to check each journey individually could end up saving you a couple of hundred dollars.

ALTERNATIVE TO EU RAIL EUROPE RAIL

  1. BOOK EVERYTHING SEPARATELY EUROPE RAIL

There are lots of sites to do this. Just type ‘book train journeys in Europe’ into Google and there are hundreds of options. One of the better ones in RailEurope – as this provides a selections of trains on any given day and it is easy for you to spot the cheapest time to travel. Obviously this kind of extra ‘work’ won’t sit well with some people who just don’t want the hassle of making 10 separate bookings – but I like to make sure my money goes as far as it can – and if I had to book separately to save a few hundred dollars, I would.

THE TEST EUROPE RAIL

Running my suggested route through this website and adding up the cost of each ticket proved my point, and showed that the cost of my tickets would be only €530(£415GBP/$595USD/$784AUD) – and this was without the early booking discounts that you can get for purchasing tickets a couple of months in advance. (Check the site for current offers). If you’re planning to explore Europe by rail – being a planner and booking your tickets in advance will save you money.

***TRAVEL HACK***

If you have a VPN service – and a friend in the UK (or other European Country), set your country re-route to the UK and you can buy the Interrail pass at the cheaper rate and get it delivered to your friend for pick up! #sneeky #travelhack #winning

I was able to book this way when I wrote this – but it is entirely up to you if you want to try it!

THE ROUTE EUROPE BY RAIL

KML-LogoFullscreen-LogoQR-code-logoGeoJSON-LogoGeoRSS-Logo

Europe

200 km

100 mi

MapsMarker.com (Leaflet/icons/QR) — Map: Tiles Courtesy of MapQuest  – © OpenStreetMap contributors (edit)

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STOP 1: AMSTERDAM

48 Hours Amsterdam

How Long to Stay: 3 days
What Not to Miss: Walking Round the Red Light District (Free); Ann Frank Haus (€8.50); House of Bols Cocktail Museum (€15 – best 15 Euros you will spend on a museum!); Sex Museum (€4); Go to the top of Nemo Building for the view over Amsterdam (Free); Casa Rosso (€35); Visit the IAmsterdam letters behind Reijsmuseum (Free); 1 hour Cruise of the Canals (€8)

WANT TO READ ALL ABOUT IT? CHECK OUT MY POSTS ON 48 HOURS IN AMSTERDAM: THE HIGHLIGHTS ANDAMSTERDAMS BEST MUSEUMS FOR SEX, DRUGS, BEER & COCKTAILS!

Europe By Rail

Cruise the Canals

Time to Next Stop: 6 hours 20 minutes

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STOP 2: BERLIN

Europe By Rail

Brandenburg Tor

How Long to Stay: 3 days
What Not to Miss: Berlin Wall (Free); Reichstag (Admission is free but registration is required to secure entry); Brandenburg Tor (Free); Alexanderplatz & World Time Clock (Free);Holocaust Memorial (Free); Museumsinsel (Free to walk around or  €12 to enter site); Checkpoint Charlie (Free)

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ITINERARY FROM MY POST 48 HOURS IN BERLIN: THE HIGHLIGHTS

Europe By Rail

Museumsinsel (Museum Island)

Time to Next Stop: 4 hours 30 minutes

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STOP 3: PRAGUE

Europe By Rail

Charles Bridge

How Long to Stay: 2.5 days
What Not to Miss: Lennon Wall (Free); Prague Castle – including changing of the guard, gardens and cathedral (Free); Astronomical Clock (Free); Tyn Church (Free); Charles Bridge (Free); Communist Museum (€7)

NEED MORE INFORMATION? READ MY POST: 48 HOURS IN PRAGUE: THE HIGHLIGHTS

Europe By Rail

Astronomical Clock

Time to Next Stop: 9 hours (via overnight train)

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STOP 4: KRAKOW

Europe History

How Long to Stay: 2.5 days
What Not to Miss: Rynek Glowny – Market Square (Free); St Mary’s Basilica (Free); Wawel Church/Cathedral/Castle (Free); Wieliczka Salt Mine (€20); Auschwitz & Auschwitz-Birkenau(€30)

WANT THE FULL ITINERARY? READ MY POST 48 HOURS IN KRAKOW: THE HIGHLIGHTS

Europe By Rail

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Time to Next Stop: 10 hours (via overnight train)

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STOP 5: BUDAPEST

Europe By Rail

Hungarian Parliament

How Long to Stay: 2.5 days
What Not to Miss: Chain Bridge (Free); Parliament (Free); Fisherman’s Bastion (Free); Castle Hill/Buda Castle (Free – there is a funicular(€3.50) if you don’t want to walk up!);Széchenyi Thermal Baths (€15); Hosok Square (Free); Shoes on the Danube Bank Monument (Free); Gellert Hill & Freedom Monument (Free); St Stephen’s Basilica (Free)

NEED MORE INFO? READ THE FULL POST48 HOURS IN BUDAPEST: THE HIGHLIGHTS

Europe By Rail

Széchenyi Thermal Bath

Time to Next Stop: 2 hours 25 minutes

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STOP 6: VIENNA

Europe By Rail

Rathaus

How Long to Stay: 2.5 days
What Not to Miss: Stephansdom & St Stephens Cathedral (Free); Take the No1/2 tram (or follow the tram tracks) around Ringstrasse and take in the glorious buildings of the Rathaus, Parliament, Burgtheater & Postparkasse (Free); Take a day trip out to the Wachau Valley for a bike & wine tour – so much fun! (€65 inc bikes, lunch & wine).
Time to Next Stop: 7 hours 20 minutes

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ITINERARY:48 HOURS IN VIENNA: TOP 10 THINGS TO DO

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STOP 7: VENICE

Europe By Rail

The Grand Canal

How Long to Stay: 3 days
What Not to Miss: Piazza San Marco, Basilica & Campanile (Free); Gondola on the Grand Canal (this varies dramatically in price but we did this for €1!!); The Arsenal (from outside Free); Rialto Bridge (Free); Ponte dei Sospiri – Bridge of Sighs (Free); Vaparetto (public ferry system for getting around) (from €8 single trip; if requiring multiple journeys (if your staying on Lido for example) a Tourist card offers better value €20 for 1 day/€30 for 2 days etc).

Europe By Rail

Piazza San Marco

Time to Next Stop: 2 hours

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STOP 8: FLORENCE

Europe By Rail

Duomo, Florence

How Long to Stay: 1.5 day
What Not to Miss: Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (Duomo) (€15 – which includes Campanile de Grotto (climb to the top for that iconic Florence view); Piazza Michaelangelo (Free); Plaza della Signoria (Plaza where they Academia Museum and the famous State of David is located) (€15 without tour); Ponte Vecchio (Free); Florence Segway Tour (€75)
Time to Next Stop: 1 hour

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STOP 9: PISA

Europe By Rail

Leaning Tower of Pisa

How Long to Stay: 0.5 day
What Not to Miss: Piazza del Miracoli (Free) including The Leaning Tower, Cathedral & Baptistry (tickets to go inside start at €49 – we were happy to view everything from outside!)
Time to Next Stop: 2 hours 30 minutes

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STOP 10: ROME (INC. VATICAN CITY)

Europe By Rail

Colosseum

How Long to Stay: 4 days
What Not to Miss: Colosseum (Free – we didn’t go inside); Pantheon (Free); Piaza di Spagna & Spanish Steps (Free); Trevi Fountain (Free); Circus Maximus (Free); Capitol Hill (Free); Piazza Venizia & Victor Emmaneul Monument (Free); Piazza Navona inc Fountania dei Quattro Fumi (Free); Vatican City inc – Piazza di San Petro (Free) St Peters Basilica & Dome (€5); Vatican Museum inc Sistine Chapel (€16)

Europe By Rail

Capitol Hill

Europe By Rail

Vatican City

So there you have it – 10 major European cities in 25 days! Talk about an adventure! But how would you feel if I added an extra stop? When we did this trip we took a train from Rome down to Bari on the Italian coast (4 hours – Stop 11) and caught an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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THE EUROPE BY RAIL ADD ON

Time to Next Stop: 10 hours (overnight Ferry) (€80 pp)

STOP 12: DUBROVNIK

Europe By Rail

The view from the Old Walls over Dubrovnik

How Long to Stay: 1-2 weeks.. or forever.. it’s just so beautiful..
What Not to Miss: The Old City (Free); Walking the Walls of the Old City (€16); Day Cruise to the Elapiti Islands (Lopud/Kolocep/Sipan) (€45 inc lunch); Day Trip to Montenegro – because why not add an extra country whilst you’re in the area?! (€50); Ferry to Lokrum Island (€6.50); Cable Car to the top of Mount Srd (€16) Sit on the (any) beach (Free).

Europe By Rail

Dubrovnik Old Walled City

And that’s it! My Europe by Rail 25 day+ Odyssey! And if you want to know more about each of the destinations listed – stay tuned as I’m currently putting together in dept guides on all of them!

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Carpe40Diem
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