Train Travel in Europe on a Budget

Rico Resources » Train Travel in Europe on a Budget

Traveling by train is a great way to take in all of the scenic routes that Europe has to offer. Not only can it be more comfortable and convenient, but it is also environmentally friendly when compared to flying.  Some become discouraged from traveling by train because of how expensive tickets can be when compared to flights; however, here we will go over some tips and suggestions for traveling Europe by train on a budget.

Tips for Traveling by Train on a Budget

Book in Advance

Like most travel plans, the earlier you can book a train, the better of the deals you will get. If you are traveling through France, you can book up to nine months in advance. For all other European travels, booking opens ninety days out.

Don’t Try to See It All

When you have limited time, you want to make sure that you are seeing all that a city has to offer. If you try to see too many countries in one go, not only will you be spending a lot of money on transportation, but you will also be experiencing more of the interior of a train rather than the country itself.

Don’t Be Afraid ofLong Layovers

Many people dread a long layover in an airport, but a long layover for a train is quite different. Many times, train stations are right downtown, which means you layover can start in the heart of a city. Long layovers, or even overnight layovers, could mean exploring another country or another city that may not have been on your radar.

For example, if you are traveling on Deutsche Bahn and going from Berlin to Prague, you can stop off in Dresden, or if you are traveling between Berlin to Budapest, then stop off in Prague. Trains with long layovers are usually cheaper than fast routes, and offer more countries for you to explore.

Take it Slow with the Scenic Routes

The most expensive trains are usually the fastest. If you are okay taking your time and seeing the scenic routes, then you can save some money.Although the time difference may double, longer train rides usually pass some of the most beautiful mountains, fields, and waterways, which makes for some amazing photos and memories.

For example, when traveling from Zurich, Switzerland to Milan, Italy, take the high-speed train, which will get you there in about four hours, take the slower route through Alpine city of Chur and the old Italian city ofTirano. It will take double the time, but will offer amazing mountain scenery and is often times a lot cheaper.

Travel to Smaller Cities

Instead of travelling to popular European cities, opt for the smaller towns that may be less crowded but with the same history and amenities. For example, skiers can go for the less popular St. Anton in Austria or Zermatt in Switzerland. Those wanting a similar town to Naples, can check out the cliffside village of Cinque Terre in Italy.

Get a Rail Pass

If you can be flexible with your travel dates and times, a rail pass could be the best budget friendly purchase. European residents can purchase an InterRail pass, and those visiting from outside the European Union can get a Eurail pass. Purchasing a Global Pass can cover train rides all over Europe, or if you are staying in one country, each country offers their own pass for a discounted price. The highest discount is offered to those 28 and younger, or there is a small discount for those over 60. Watch out with these passes though, because you can still be charged extra for booking high-speed trains or sleeper trains.

Bring Your Own Food

It is no secret that many budget friendly airlines and trains charge their customers for everything. One way to save money and stick to a budget while on a train is to bring your own food. Most trains have a food car or vending machines, but they are highly overpriced. Bringing your own meal can save a lot of money for other adventures off the train.

Check Different Websites

It is always smart to shop around when traveling on a budget. When traveling from one country to another, check out the national train website in each country to see which is cheaper. For example, when traveling between Germany and Czech Republic, check the prices at both Czech Railway and Deutsche Bahn. Many times Czech Railway can be a third cheaper than Deutsche Bahn, even though they are offering the same tickets.

Take Overnight Trains

Traveling at night is a great way to save money, especially since you are not paying for a nightly accommodation. Night travel is also nice because it saves you time. Instead of wasting a whole day traveling, you can get from one country to the next while catching up on your sleep. Nightjet train service offers a great deal from Paris to Vienna at only sixty euros. This price just includes a seat, but for another 20 euros, you can have a bed in a couchette. This is a great deal, since eighty euros is what many would pay for just one night in a Paris or Vienna hotel. Another budget-friendly night train offered by Nightjet is from Munch to Zagreb at just thirty euros for a seat or seventy-five euros for a sleeper bed.


Budget Friendly Companies to Look Out For


Ouigo is a budget railway that started off in France and is now in other countries like Spain. Ouigo trains are high-speed but offer no-frills. The trains only offer one class, no catering, and strict baggage limits. But did we mention that its cheap? In France, customers can book out as far as nine months in advance and can snag tickets from Paris to Bordeaux for ten euros, and from Paris to Nice for less than twenty euros.

Deutsche Bahn

Deutche Bahn is Germanys national trainline.  The website only allows you to book trains in Germany, but it does offer train schedules from all over Europe, which makes it a great website to start with. If you would like to book the trains in other countries, you will have to use that country’s website.

Deutsche Bahn offers a few great budget-friendly deals. Länder tickets, or Regional Day tickets, offers unlimited train travel across any of Germany’s states. This ticket can be as little as twenty-two euros. Each ticket allows you to travel with up to four passengers. It is only valid for local and regional trains, which means no fast trains. The ticket is valid Monday through Friday from 9am until 3pm the next day. This is a great deal if you are traveling with a group or family and wanting to take a day trip from a major city.


Flix Train is a low-cost fast train that offers rides throughout Germany and Sweden. While visiting Sweden, visitors can go from Stockholm to Gotenburg for less than fifteen euros. While in Germany, Flixtrainoffers a great budget friendly deal for those wanting to travel between Berlin and Frankfurt. For less than four hours, passengers can go between the two cities, and it will only cost them about ten euros. This company also offers five euro deals between Hamburg and Berlin and ten euro deals for trains from Berlin to Stuttgart.


Regiojet is a Czech Republic agency that offers some of the best deals in Europe. There newest train service connects Prague to Vienna and Budapest, and tickets start at just nine euros from Vienna to Budapest and sixteen euros from Budapest and Prague. Regiojet has trains that go from Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria.




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