Take trains not planes

There’s so much more to rail travel than simply minimising your impact on the environment. It represents time for you to unwind, get a sense of a country, read that book you’ve always wanted to or enjoy a glass of wine in the restaurant car while gazing out at an endless horizon. So as the slow travel movement gathers pace, here are our top 7 reasons you should consider the train and not a plane.

1. Sit back and relax

Forget the cramped seating and stuffy air of an airplane cabin. Take a stroll to your onboard bistro or restaurant car and grab a bite to eat. Sit back with a cold beer and take a moment to enjoy the scenery passing you by. It’s bound to be quite unlike anything you see from 35,000 ft.

2. Reduce your carbon footprint

If you want to minimise your impact on the environment, the train is the way to go. Emitting less than half of the CO2 a plane pumps out – with short-haul routes the biggest culprits here – and using less energy per mile than a car, trains are the optimal solution for greener, more sustainable travel.

Generating green energy: wind turbines along the route Berlin - Dresden

3. Save time

Flying is quicker on longer routes, but for many European destinations you may actually save time by taking the train. Contrast the ease of boarding your train a few seconds before departure with the hours it takes getting to and from airports, the hassle at security and the endless waiting around in terminals.

4. Get a feel for the country

Trains in Europe whisk you past impressive landscapes and historic landmarks. Check out our Routes page to see what you can discover on your next trip. European railway stations are also spectacles in their own right – think of the monument to modernity at Liège–Guillemins, the iconic Gare de Strasbourg and the grand Antwerp Central.

5. Find the best fares

Rail travel is seriously affordable and comes free of all the extra costs that airlines tag on to your flight. Most train companies also offer saver fares if you book in advance. For instance, you can travel from any station in the Netherlands to Berlin for as little as €39.00! You can also get 25% off all international fares to and from Germany with Deutsche Bahn’s BahnCard 25.

6. Take unlimited luggage

Unlike airlines, most rail companies don’t restrict the amount of luggage you can take or impose fines on overweight bags. They also allow you to take as many liquids as you’d like. This added flexibility means you can come prepared for any eventuality and even shop until you drop!

7. Arrive in style in the heart of a city

There is no better way to arrive somewhere than by train. Railway stations in the heart of a city offer direct access to public transport and are often walking distance to hotels and major sights. Forget the expensive transfers to and from the airport and start and end your journey in style.

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Bart Giepmans
Bart practically grew up on a train and has been discovering Europe by rail since his childhood. Stints at the Dutch and German Railways and at Interrail have turned him into an ardent ambassador for train travel. Bart has a passion for history and Alpine trails and is commuting regularly between Utrecht and Berlin.

Translated by: William Simpson. Photos by: Bart Giepmans.