Train travel may be slower than flying, but you see so much more when you’re moving at ground level.
One of our favorite trips was by train from Budapest to Amsterdam. It’s about an 8 hour journey if you do it straight through, but taking it slow and stopping for a few days here and there is much more interesting. With our trusty Eurail pass, we hit these six amazing walkable cities within 2 months – that gave us plenty of time to take it slow and explore at our leisure.
The capital of Hungary and its largest city is actually two cities in one, Buda and Pest. Budapest is still not so overly crowded with tourists that you can’t enjoy it. If you’re a food enthusiast like we are, the Great Market Hall should be your first destination, followed by a wine tasting with Taste Hungary and a soak in the baths. Having been nearly completely destroyed three times by war, the city is laden with reminders of its history.
Another mecca for food, culture and history buffs. The tram is a great way to circle the city and stake out things you want to investigate further on foot. Walk along the Ringstrasse and discover Vienna’s beautiful architecture. Frequent some legendary coffee houses where they expect you to slow down, have a piece of cake, and enjoy the ritual which they do so well.
A city of contrasts with its avant-guard skyscrapers, well maintained old buildings and beer hall filled neighbourhoods. After visiting the downtown core, make sure to drop by Sachsenhausen, Bockenheim and Nordend for a view of everyday Frankfurt.
This city, with its huge duomo, is a bar hopper’s heaven. Known for the fresh tasting Kolsh beer served in Stanges, this is a party town where everyone is invited. Like most cities, don’t miss out on exploring the outer neighbourhoods and small businesses, such as Brauhaus Schreckenskammer at Ursulagartenstraße 11-15 to observe a slice of Cologne life.
This Belgian city is quaint and has an array of interesting markets. Sample local specialties such as cuberdons (candy with a soft centre) and waterzooi (a traditional soup made with fish or chicken) or head to Gruut brewery for some local brews. Discover its flower, book and small animal markets, too.
The last stop on our trip, Amsterdam, gets better with every visit. Young or older, on a budget or not, it has something for everyone — and one thing not many realize is that you can do Amsterdam on a budget. Whether your thing is hanging out at a cafe for coffee or pot or visiting its red light district and numerous museums, you will definitely not get bored easily. Hit up the Anne Frank House and learn about this amazing teenager or the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums to see some classics. Walk along its canals, day or night, or take a canal boat tour for a different perspective. Even if you have less than a full day at their popular airport, there are things to do in Amsterdam on a layover.
Train travel can be enjoyable and much more interesting than flying from point A to point B. Next time you travel within Europe, relax, and enjoy the company and the ride. Take it slow – take the train.