Tours You Don't Want to Miss
Imagine the thrill of stepping off the train onto the platform of a charming European town. The scent of freshly baked pastries wafts through the air, mingling with the sounds of laughter and lively conversations in unfamiliar languages. Each destination offers a unique tapestry of history, culture and cuisine, waiting to be unraveled. Whether you prefer solo travel or the camaraderie of a group, here's a handpicked list of the best European train tours that will leave you awe-inspired.
Group Europe Train Tours
Mediterranean Express: Rivieras & Railroads
This fully guided Europe train tour takes you from Rome to Barcelona. Stand with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, walk among the colorful houses of Cinque Terre, enjoy a free afternoon in Nice and walk around Monaco, the world’s second-smallest country. End your tour with a cooking class in Barcelona and a visit to the old Gothic Quarter. All these are in addition to the breathtaking views you will experience on board with your guide and group of up to 16.
Length: 7 days.
Cost: From $1,549.
European Escape with London
Running during the low season to bypass crowds and high prices, explore the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and Colosseum in Rome, Michelangelo’s famous David Statue in Florence, a private boat ride in Venice, stunning views of the Alps, vineyards and castles, a Seine cruise in Paris with views of Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower, plus more. This tour includes VIP access to bypass long lines and includes breakfast and some dinners.
Length: 10 days.
Bohemian Europe Group Tour
Experience European backpacking, staying between one and four nights in each city in hostels and traveling on public transport, all with an experienced guide. Expect to see the remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, indulge in a 5-course meal and a Medieval Tavern show in Prague, Prater Park in Vienna, the Szechenyi Baths in Budapest, a Bus and Walking Tour in Belgrade, a Total Siege Tour in Sarajevo, the Krka National Park in Split and so much more.
Length: 20 nights.
Cost: From around $1855.
Independent Europe Train Tours
Bergen Railroad and Norway in a Nutshell
This train tour is offered year-round providing a view for passengers of Norway’s mountains and lakes, reaching Finse station at 1,222m above sea level. Passengers can opt for a more extended version of this route, taking Norway in a Nutshell tour through UNESCO-protected fjord and mountain scenery, which includes the Flam Railway, considered the world’s most scenic rail journey, and a boat journey through Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord.
Length: 7–11 hours.
Cost: Around $175 per adult.
Running between April and October between Fort William, the largest town in the Highlands, and Mallaig, this tour starts near Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. You will pass by Arisaig, Loch Morar, River Morar and the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis. “Harry Potter” fans will recognize the 21-arched viaduct as they stop in the village of Glenfinnan. On a clear summer’s day, you will see the ‘Small Isles’ of Rum, Eigg, Much, Canna and the southern tip of Skye, as well as the silvery beaches seen in the movie, “Highlander.”
Length: 6 hours return trip.
Cost: From around $70.
Pros and Cons of Group and Independent European Train Tours
Pros of Group Tours
- Convenient as train tickets, accommodations and sightseeing activities are all taken care of.
- Led by experienced guides who can provide valuable insights, historical information and local tips.
- Travel Europe by train with travelers from different parts of the world.
Cons of Group Tours
- On a fixed schedule and itinerary, leaving little room for individual preferences or spontaneous detours.
- There is less control over your daily activities and decisions like the pace of the tour, choice of restaurants and free time options.
- Group tours can attract a large number of participants, which may result in crowded trains, tourist sites and accommodations.
Pros of Independently Booking Your Own Itinerary
- Have full control when choosing destinations, duration and prioritizing activities.
- Interact with locals and immerse in traditions and cuisine for an authentic cultural experience.
- Off-the-beaten-path exploration to discover hidden gems not included in group tours.
- Booking train tickets, accommodations and activities individually can be cheaper than group tour packages.
Cons of Independently Booking Your Train Itinerary
- Must be organized and requires thorough research and planning.
- Can be challenging if you're not familiar with the local language or customs.
- You're solely responsible for your own safety, security and well-being, including managing travel disruptions.
Best European Countries to Explore by Train
- Italy: From the iconic canals of Venice to the ancient ruins of Rome, Italy boasts a diverse range of landscapes and historical treasures.
- Switzerland: Known for its majestic mountains and pristine lakes, Switzerland offers breathtaking train rides, including the Glacier Express and Bernina Express.
- France: Explore the romantic allure of Paris, meander through the vineyards of Bordeaux or immerse yourself in the charming towns of Provence.
- Spain: From the cosmopolitan energy of Barcelona to the enchanting Moorish architecture of Andalusia, Spain is a country of vibrant contrasts.
- Germany: Experience the bustling streets of Berlin, the fairytale-like castles of Bavaria and the scenic beauty of the Rhine Valley.
Tips for Booking Train Tours of Europe
- Research and compare tour operators based on itineraries, customer reviews and prices.
- Book well in advance to secure preferred dates, accommodations and additional activities.
- From personal experience, the larger luggage compartments between carriages can fill up quickly, so board early or travel light to place your luggage in the overhead storage.
- Eurail or Interrail pass holders may enjoy discounted train tours.
- Check for amenities like dining cars, sleeper cars, onboard entertainment and Wi-Fi.
- Choose accommodations near train stations for easy access and convenience.
It’s Time to Start Planning
So, if you’re looking for a different type of adventure for your next trip, consider booking a train trip through Europe to explore the diverse beauty of the European continent. Europe awaits, with its magnificent castles, charming villages and breathtaking panoramas. Step aboard the train, and let it transport you to a world of enchantment and discovery.