Often when it comes to planning a two-week trip I am instantly drawn too far off places in Asia or attempting to find the cheapest flights to the United States, but more recently I have been thinking of more closer to home and building an idea of a two-week tour of Europe by train. Usually, I reserve visiting Europe for a weekend city break, nothing more than two to three nights but more recently I have fallen for the idea of Europe in the Summer and with train travel so accessible throughout our continent, I cannot think why I have not done it sooner.
Don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusion that I can travel or complete Europe in two weeks, it will simply be skimming the surface, but in my plans, the surface includes some of the greatest cities our world has to offer and ones that differ very much in culture and in beauty. So here is what I have been planning on so far, my suggested itinerary for a two week Europe tour by train.
Travelling Europe by Train
In Europe, we are lucky to have Interrail, train travel that covers 40, 000 destinations in 30 different countries enabling you to create a European adventure that is perfect for you. Interrail provide a variety of different passes depending on your travel needs, but if you are planning on following this itinerary I recommend the ‘5 days within 15 days‘ pass –
“You can use this Interrail Pass on 5 days of your choice during a set period of 15 days. Travel on back-to-back, consecutive days, or spread them out during the fortnight. It’s up to you. On each day, ride on as many trains as you like between midnight and midnight.”
At present this particular pass is priced at £243 (over 27 years old) or £188 (27 years or younger) *prices correct as of June 2018*
The starting point of this two-week European trip also starts in Lisbon, Portugal, therefore, you will need to get there to start your journey. Depending on where you are travelling from flight prices will vary, but as always I recommend using Skyscanner to find the best deals, if you are lucky enough to live in Europe you will know it is often very easy to find budget flights within the continent.
Top Tip: Save money by travelling light, take only a cabin friendly sized case rather than hold luggage to save money.
Summer in Europe: My suggested two-week itinerary of Europe by train
Lisbon, Portugal (2 nights, 3 days)
Start your two-week adventure soaking up the sun in Portugal’s capital. The coloured buildings and charming old-fashioned trams make for a picture perfect three days while also taking time to soak up the Portuguese culture. Stay in the centrally located Ibis Lisboa Liberdade hotel and follow The Travel Hack’s itinerary for two days in the city.
Take the overnight train from Lisboa Estacion Oriente to Madrid Chamartin
Overnight trains between Lisbon and Madrid run daily departing at 11:34 p.m. and arriving in Madrid at 8:40 a.m. The service runs throughout the week, departing at the same time from Monday to Sunday.
Madrid, Spain (2 nights, 2 days)
Arrive early morning to start your day in Madrid by exploring the gorgeous art-deco architecture of the Gran Via. It is important to remember that your trip is still a holiday, so be sure to do as the Spanish and take an afternoon siesta, eat plenty of Tapas and drink all the red wine that your heart desires.
Train from Madrid Atocha to Barcelona Sants
The average train time is just under three hours.
Barcelona, Spain (1 night, 2 days)
I have visited Barcelona before and loved it, therefore I have added it in as it would be a shame to pass through and not experience the vibrant Catalan city in the summer. I managed to visit so many of the main tourist sites in Barcelona in one day on my last visit so allow your second day to be spent seeing some of the more unique things to see in Barcelona.
I recommend staying in the Hostal Natura for centrally located accommodation without the city price tag.
Train from Barcelona Sants to Paris Gare Du Nord
A frequent train service runs from Barcelona Sants to Gare Du Nord taking roughly six hours, so I would recommend catching an early morning train out of Barcelona.
Paris, France (2 night, 2 days)
Another place I have previously visited but as I mentioned at the start, this two-week European trip is covering many of the greats and therefore could not miss out the beautiful city. I enjoyed nothing more than just simply wandering while in Paris and taking in the views above the city that include the Eiffel Tower in the skyline. If like me you have visited Paris on numerous occasions already why not embrace your inner child but taking the train from Gare Du Nord to Marne-la-Vallée to visit Disneyland Paris.
Be sure to check out some of my favourite views in Paris
Train from Gare Du Nord to Bruxelles-Midi
Over twenty trains run daily between the two cities taking on average 1 hour and 25 minutes. With this being one of the shortest train journeys between cities, take advantage of this by having a lay-in before leaving Paris.
Brussels, Belguim (1 night, 2 days)
I do not know why I have never been to Brussels, I frequently see low-cost flights but have yet never made it to Belguim but I want to. I have heard there is not too much to do in the city, so, therefore, would not allocate too much time unless you planning quick trips to the neighbouring cities of Ghent and Bruges which are both easily accessible by train as well.
When visiting attractions across Europe, I always book in advance as it usually tends to be cheaper. Sometimes advance tickets will also include a queue jump. I recommend using Get Your Guide for the best deals:
Train from Bruxelles-Midi to Amsterdam Centraal
The train from Brussels to Amsterdam will take roughly two hours and will drop you right in the heart of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, Holland (2 Nights, 3 days)
Anyone who knows me will know about my love of Holland, this country welcomes you with open arms and then takes hold of you. I am actually planning on writing a post for a weeks itinerary around favourite Dutch cities, but for this trip, I suggest you just stick to Amsterdam. Amsterdam in the summer is stunning, wander down the canals and hire bikes to make the most of your time, like many of the cities in this two-week European trip, it gets busy in the summer, but do not let it put you off, it is a fantastic place to visit.
For a place to stay, I recommend investing in a little bit of luxury at this point by booking into The Hoxton.
Already visited Amsterdam? Hop on a train from Amsterdam to Utrecht and visit Holland’s hidden gem.
Train from Amsterdam Centraal to Berlin Hbf via Hanover Hbf
So your last leg is a bit of a long one at six hours but you do have to change trains in Hanover, so this could easily be added in as an additional city to break up the journey.
Berlin, Germany (2 Nights, 2 days)
If you are looking for a cool European city, Berlin is your friend. Far from the traditional German culture expressed openly in places such as Munich or Dresden, Berlin is very much the cool younger sibling. It took me a while to see why so many people love Berlin, but after a few days, I began to understand the attraction to its industrial and urban vibes which were majorly helped by their incredible food scene. Whether you want to spend the last few days of your two-week European train trip partying or relaxing, Berlin will find something for you.
As you can see this is very much a whirlwind itinerary through some of the greatest cities Europe has to offer but I just think it would be an incredible trip to take. While the trip is very compact with destinations, once you have arrived you can very much take them at your own pace, you could also choose to take the trip the other way around, Berlin to Lisbon, giving you the opportunity to add a couple of extra days at the beach on the end.
All times, stations and prices are correct at time of writing, however, please check with the train companies before travel.
Looking to travel more within your annual leave?