I’ve never been a beach guy. The typical Spring Break narrative of heading to the beach never appealed to me. While in university I always headed to Europe for two weeks and always had a blast. Recently I teamed up with Rail Europe to promote train travel through Europe. During that project, I was reminded how much fun train travel can be. So, I put together this Spring Break in Europe by Train Itinerary. This train itinerary is based on the assumption you have two weeks. If you have more time I would recommend adding Amsterdam to the front of this itinerary. Less time, remove Paris.
Believe the Hype in Romantic Paris France
Paris’s central location in Western Europe makes it an excellent place to start. Not to mention it’s one of the world’s most beautiful cities. March and April are perfect times to explore as the crowds will be low and the weather starting to turn pleasant. You might even be able to get a few sunny days for those epic Instashots.
Where to Stay: For the backpackers, I recommend the dorms at St.Christopher’s Inn Gare du Nord. For the moderate budget, I recommend Mercure Paris Pigalle Sacre Coeur. For the Luxury traveler, I recommend Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel.
What To Do: Check out the Marche Aux Puces De Clignancourt. The world’s oldest flea market and where us Americans get the name, Flea Market. Even if you are looking to buy anything, it’s a great look into Parisian history and culture. Both past and present.
TRAIN TIME: While there are several day train options (8:30 hours), I recommend the night train option. In 2014, the regular Paris-Berlin night train route was killed. RIDICULOUS. But we now have the excellent Paris-Moscow Express train which runs once a week on Friday nights. Taking this route will save you a night of accommodation in Paris and give you more time to explore Berlin as you’ll arrive around 7 am.
Get A Thorough History Lesson in Diverse Berlin Germany
Quickly becoming one of Europe’s top travel destinations, Berlin is the bridge between western and central Europe. And with that position, Berlin has carved out a niche which features everything from world-class nightlife to eclectic fashion boutiques. Truly one of Europe’s few cities’ that has something for absolutely every traveler.
Where to Stay: For the backpackers, I recommend Wombats City Hostel Berlin. For the moderate budget, I recommend Mercure Hotel MOA Berlin. For the Luxury traveler, I recommend The Mandala Hotel.
What To Do: Berlin is all about history. From Museum Island which is home to 5 brilliant museums to the Berlin Wall and Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. History buffs will be more than satiated while the casual observer will surely be entertained.
TRAIN TIME: There are several direct trains from Berlin-Prague daily. It takes 4:17 hours. I recommend taking this during the day as the scenery is quite nice.
Experience the Kitsch and Charm of Prague
Prague is a unique city in a very new country. While the Czech Republic has only existed as an independent nation since 1993, Prague has long been a regionally important city. Formerly the residence of several Holy Roman Emperors including Charles IV and playing an important role in the Austro-Hungarian empire. With such a deep history, it’s easy to see why Prague is one of Europe most well preserved and beautiful cities.
Where to Stay: For the backpackers, I recommend Czech Inn. For the moderate budget, I recommend Art Hotel Prague. For Luxury travelers, I recommend Hotel Three Storks.
What To Do: Walk from the Old Town Centre to Prague Castle. While this might be tough for some, as the hill leading to Prague castle can get a bit steep, it’s an excellent way to see the architecture, history, and shops that Prague has to offer.
TRAIN TIME: There’s a night train that leaves Prague for Budapest at 23:58 daily. You’ll arrive at 8:37. Meaning you just go to sleep and wake up in Budapest. But BE CAREFUL. Buy the right ticket because there are two trains that leave at the same time. One is direct and the other has a change. I recommend you reserve this as soon as you arrive in Prague as it’s usually full by the day before depending on the season.
Soak by Day and Suds by Night in Budapest Hungary
While many are starting to figure it out, Budapest was long Europe’s best-kept secret. A perfect balance of Western Europe’s convenience and Central Europe’s culture and architectural preservation. And it still stands today as an interesting city. Budapest is distinctly two cities. Buda and Pest. Both have very different characteristics while maintaining a central Hungarian identity. One which highlights long life, great food, and an eclectic nightlife.
Where to Stay: For Backpackers, I recommend Maverick City Lodge. For the moderate budget, I recommend The Aquincum Hotel Budapest. For the Luxury traveler, I recommend Aria Budapest.
What To Do: Explore Budapest’s Thermal Bathes by day and Ruin Bars by night. Szechenyi bath is the best thermal bath while you can’t go wrong with Fogas Ház or Szimpla Kert. If the weather is nice, head over to Akvarium Klub and sit outside near the pool with some store-bought drinks.
TRAIN TIME: Several trains serve the Budapest-Vienna route. Taking about 2:20 hours. So pretty much take whatever train. I recommend the morning so you can see the beautiful Austria scenery.
Marvel at the Architectural Masterpieces of Vienna Austria
Austrians take their architecture and history seriously. Made evident by the throngs of palaces, churches, and beautiful squares that dot Vienna. A small and easily walkable city, Vienna’s primary appeal is its architectural beauty and shopping. Sooooo much shopping. If you want a place to slow down and relax a bit, Vienna is a good choice. It’s definitely a people watching city.
Where to Stay: For the Backpacker, I recommend MEININGER Vienna Downtown Franz. For the moderate budget, I recommend Fleming’s Hotel Wien-Westbahnhof. For the Luxury traveler, I recommend Le Meridien Wien.
What to Do: Hang out at MuseumsQuartier Wien. It’s a truly progressive scene which celebrates creativity and art through a millennial lens. Wonderfully creative space. It’s a beautiful contrast with the traditional baroque architecture of Vienna.
TRAIN TIME: The Vienna-Venice Express Night Train leaves Vienna at 21:27 daily. Arriving at one of Europe’s coolest trains station arrivals at 08:24. I won’t ruin it for you but stepping out of this trains station is magical.
Masquerade around the Canals of Venice Italy
Venice is simply stunning. And one of the few mass tourism destinations I think lives up to the hype. While limited in its offerings, what it does offer is excellent. Venice isn’t a city you want to spend more than a couple of days. If you love Italian beauty and history, you’re going to love your time spent here. Although your wallet might be a bit lighter.
Where to Stay: For Backpackers, I recommend Generator Venice. For the moderate budget, I recommend Hotel Centauro. For the Luxury traveler, I recommend San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice (Closed for the low season prior to March 20th of each year) or The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice.
What To Do: Walk the winding canals. Many will say take the boats. While an ok experience, you will have much more fun exploring the canals and back streets of Venice by foot.
TRAIN TIME: I recommend taking one of the morning trains directly from Venice to Rome. It takes around 3:30.
Explore the Living Museum, Rome Italy
Rome is simply ridiculous. It’s a living museum. Everywhere you look there’s a piece of ancient history. From the Coliseum to Vatican City, Rome is a history buffs dream. While the food scene in Rome is largely inflated simply because it’s Italy, the food on offer is pretty good as well. You’ll definitely find restaurants specializing in cuisine from all over Italy. True to the Roman way of doing things.
Where to Stay: For Backpackers, I recommend The Yellow Hostel. For moderate budgets, I recommend B&B Urbi et Orbi Roma. For Luxury travelers, I recommend Lord Byron Hotel.
What To Do: WALK WALK WALK. The best thing to do in Rome is to walk it. I put together this video of me walking Rome for a day. Hitting most of the major sites. While you don’t need to do it all in one day, organizing your own walking tour is great fun. If you want a more official tour, check out the brilliant Context Travels. I took a private tour of the Vatican Collection with them. Worth every penny.
BUY THE EURAIL GLOBAL PASS (5 Days In 1 Month). This is the perfect pass for a consolidated trip like this.