There’s something enduringly romantic about exploring Europe by train and anticipating your next destination while watching the landscape shift outside your window. In addition to its timeless charm, train travel is a quick and convenient way to see Europe’s top sites for sightseeing. The following itinerary is only a small sample of the diverse cities and attractions you’ll have a chance to discover when traveling through mainland Europe by train.
With its 17th-century city center, iconic canals, and liberal culture, Amsterdam is easily one of Europe’s most alluring cities. No visit to this picturesque city would be complete without a boat tour of its delightful canals. See the works of Dutch Masters at the Rijksmuseum or shop for the country’s national flower, the tulip, at the floating Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). Many travelers also associate Amsterdam with the poignant Anne Frank House and its “secret annex,” where Anne hid for more than two years during World War II and wrote her famous diary.
From Amsterdam, a six-hour train journey will bring you to the hip city of Berlin. Berlin intrigues travelers with its enthralling juxtaposition of haunting memorials with multicultural restaurants, eclectic shopping, and a vibrant arts scene. Gaze at the emblematic Brandenburg Gate and view the colorful murals decorating the remains of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery. Climb 285 stairs to reach the top of the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park for wonderful views over the city. For those looking for their daily dose of cultural exhibitions, tour the five exceptional museums found on Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site set on the Spree River.
Prague, the Czech Republic
Continue to Prague, which can be reached by train from Berlin in a little less than five hours. Prague’s riverside and beautifully preserved historic architecture give it an enchanting atmosphere. Soak up the bustling energy and admire the 17th- and 18th-century statues that adorn Charles Bridge, which connects the city’s Old Town and New Town. Dine on potato dumplings and local beer at one of the city’s excellent Czech restaurants. Head to Castle Hill to see St. Vitus Cathedral, which features an exquisite rose window and stained glass works by artist Alfons Mucha.
Hop on the train again for the 6 1/2-hour journey from Prague to Salzburg, perhaps best known as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salzburg represents the Austria of most travelers’ imaginations, with its ornate architecture and clifftop fortress backed by mountains. See striking views of the city from Festung Hohensalzburg (Salzburg Castle) and explore its museums and torture chambers. Wander around the city’s UNESCO World Heritage–designated Old Town, and learn about historic life in the surrounding countryside at the Salzburg Open-Air Museum. Visit during the summer to catch the Salzburg Festival, which features exceptional music concerts at various venues throughout the city.
Use these examples as a starting point for planning your own European adventure. With a Eurail pass, you can typically book your train before you’re ready to leave a city. When you do, you’ll have the flexibility to spend some extra time sampling street food in Berlin or discovering the architectural marvels of Prague.
As a German native, Julia has been living in London, New York, and covered a lot of ground in Europe itself. Currently, she is based in sunny San Diego, California. She greatly enjoys writing about her personal travel experiences and discovering new coffee spots while living an active life along the way. She has always had a thing for English-speaking countries; however, the European melting pot has got her hooked, and itchy feet are the order of the day. The Redhead Story is where she writes about life as she goes.