Vacation without flights: Train travel in Europe has a rich history that many generations of passengers know about. These days, more and more people are turning to the continent’s extensive railways. These routes can be surprisingly fast – just 3.5 hours from London to Amsterdam – and there are luxury sleeping compartments on the long-distance trains to recommend.
So today – we’ve selected seven fantastic cities in Europe that you don’t need to fly to, from cultural hubs in the north to sun-drenched destinations in the south.
Vacation without flights: Seven amazing cities in Europe, for traveling by train
For mountain landscapes: Bern
The beautiful capital of Switzerland is located on the banks of the crystal clear river Aare and surrounded by the majestic beauty of the snow-capped Alps. In addition, there is 6 km of closed shopping malls with independent bars, cafes, and craft shops. For the best view of the medieval Altstadt (Old Town), climb the 344 steps to the top of Bern Cathedral, the country’s tallest church tower at 101 meters.
Direct trains run to Bern from Paris and Frankfurt in 4.5 hours. From Brussels and London, the journey takes 7.5 hours with one change.
For gourmets: Florence
It’s impossible to pick just one gourmet destination in Europe, but the charming Italian city of Florence is a very special choice. The menu often features Tuscan treats such as schiacciata and flavorful Florentine steak. Try tagliatelle made from local truffles and porcini mushrooms, or try wild boar pappardelle pasta and then perhaps the best ice cream in the whole country.
Night trains arrive in Florence from Munich in 10 hours, making the city an ideal place to relax on sleeper trains. From Geneva, travel time is less than 6.5 hours.
City of Culture: Amsterdam
The cultural center of Amsterdam with the international train station in the city center is ideal for Getty Images via Canva.
Thanks to such famous artists as Van Gogh and Rembrandt, Amsterdam has become a city of iconic art. Here are Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum and equally attractive contemporary pieces at the Stedelijk. It is easy to understand why the capital of the Netherlands is considered one of the cultural centers of Europe. Explore further and you’ll discover so much more, from open-air sculptures to tiny independent galleries.
You can take a direct train from Frankfurt to Amsterdam in four hours, from London in just over 3.5 hours and from Paris in three.
City of sun-drenched sights: Seville
Slightly out of the way, Seville in southern Spain is a lively destination that generously rewards visitors willing to drive the extra miles. It is a city steeped in history, with architectural landmarks ranging from the world’s largest Gothic cathedral to the exquisite Alcazar Royal Palace. The sultry, sun-drenched setting of winding streets, heavenly tapas, and flamenco dancing will surely leave their mark on you.
Seville is 2.5 hours by direct train from Madrid. The trip from Paris or Lisbon takes 12 to 13 hours.
City of intriguing architecture: Cologne
German Cologne is a fascinating combination of ancient Roman walls and medieval churches. The twin spires of Cologne Cathedral are an iconic part of the skyline, and the view of the attractive city from the South Tower is well worth the 533 steps to climb. This structure also houses the world’s largest free-swinging bell, weighing 24 tons.
You can get to Cologne from London in 4.5 hours with a change in Brussels. From Paris, the direct journey takes three hours, making it ideal for your train holiday in Europe.
City of Lush Vineyards: Bordeaux
Bordeaux, the wine capital of France, delights visitors with its neat and beautiful vineyards. Here you can tour some of the hundreds of aristocratic wine estates or castles to learn more about the winemaking process and taste the end product. In the city itself, the state-of-the-art Cite du Vin Museum is an impressive venue dedicated to wine and its legacy to a younger generation.
Bordeaux is a two-hour train ride from Paris. You can get there from London or Amsterdam in about 5.5 hours with one change, or 4.5 hours from Brussels.
Imperial Majesty: Vienna, Austria
The capital of Austria is known as a world music city thanks to the heritage of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss. Visit the world-famous Musikverein, where the Vienna Philharmonic plays, or explore the interactive exhibits at the innovative Haus der Musik. Also, discover the imperial legacy left by the Habsburgs at the Hofburg Palace, which dates back to the 13th century and is one of the largest palace complexes in the world.
You can get to Vienna from Paris in 10 hours with one change, or from Brussels in 11. The direct journey from Frankfurt takes only 6.5 hours.
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