Going to Europe this summer? Of course you are. But grab a Eurail pass, because trains are in, and planes are out.
That’s right, trains are emerging as the preferred mode of transport for Australians visiting Europe in 2018. But it’s no surprise, really.
With wait times at airports increasing – a 2017 study by Airlines For Europe revealed travellers can now spend up to four hours queueing in certain European terminals as security checks and understaffed airlines slow the departure process – travellers are abandoning the skies to ride the rails.
And International Rail director Jonathan Hume said early indications show inquiries and bookings for 2018 are stronger than the past two years, with customers suggesting they are eager to return to Europe.
“We are finding there’s a trend towards smaller bookings with fewer sectors and it’s likely due to well-travelled customers returning to favourite countries to see them in depth rather than longer itineraries stretching across multiple destinations,’’ he said.
“We’re also noticing travellers keen to book trains well ahead of time to guarantee they can move on preferred dates and at convenient times while also ensuring they benefit from the advance-purchase fares which are generally cheaper the further ahead you make reservations,’’ the rail expert continued.
Roaming around the Continent by train also lets you move from one city centre to the next, avoiding the need to pay for costly airport transfers that are sooo far away from the city centre, and savour the view from big windows and spacious seats whilst gliding between destinations. Sounds pretty good, right?
An iconic Eurail Pass is also perfect for flexibility and excellent value for money, with a Eurail Global Flexi Pass covering all 28 countries priced from $84 a day.
“They are particularly good value for families or groups of friends and Saver Passes, for two to five adults travelling together, are discounted 15 per cent while children under 12 travel free of charge,’’ Hume said.
“Those with set travel times can take advantage of the advance rail purchase fares available from most rail companies and, for example, Italy’s Trenitalia offers super-cheap fares from Venice to Milan from just $29 per person in second class with similar prices from Germany’s DB Bahn and OEBB in Austria.’’
While the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Norway’s lofty Oslo to Bergin service, and the Koblenz to Mainz through the Rhine Valley are three famous routes, they are definitely not the only train routes worth a ride.
“The Swiss Scenic trains are a must and the Glacier Express winds its way through the Swiss Alps with incredible scenery along the way,’’ Hume said.
“The Italian high-speed services are also wonderful because they are fast, efficient, remarkably comfortable and in first class food and drinks are served to your seat as you whisk through the landscape at over 300km/hour,’’ he added.
Better get booking those Eurail passes and train tickets – they won’t last long.