Travel Europe by Train: Girlfriend Getaways on Railways

Want to travel Europe by train? Check out these 5 amazing luxury rail trips in Europe and have the perfect getaway with your girlfriends or loved one.

Are you and your girls in need of a getaway? Sick of the same weekend excursions or week-long vacations to the same beach resort? There are reasons books and movies are often set on trains – they offer a unique trip that can be as active or casual as you like, full of interesting people, gorgeous scenery and opportunities you might not get otherwise. And because so many train vacations are all-inclusive it’s far more affordable than you might think.

It’s time to book a rail excursion and experience the unrivaled joy of a vacation on the rails. Train travel eliminates the stress of the airport and becomes a vacation the minute you step onboard. The best part? You get to hand over all responsibility to someone else and just relax. Here are the 5 best luxury rail trips in Europe,  including the best options for rooming, and tips to maximize your experience. All aboard!

Paris to Madrid via Elipsos


If you’re looking for a quick getaway or to enhance your time in Paris or Madrid, check out the overnight Elipsos route from Paris to Madrid. The train is a hotel on wheels with two options for dining: Mediterranean cuisine in the restaurant or sandwiches and snacks in the café. The restaurant is open until 2 a.m. – perfect for a late, leisurely meal followed by a bottle or two of your favorite wine.

When planning, consider either First Class or Tourist Class for you and your girls. Both offer in-room sinks, shared bathrooms (each carriage has its own for its passengers), free magazines and newspapers and bottled water. The difference is in the setup of the rooms. First Class rooms have sleeping for one or two people and adjoining rooms can be turned into suites if requested when booking. Tourist class will remind you of university days – with two sets of bunk beds in each room.

London/Paris To Venice

Celebrating an engagement, wedding or milestone birthday? Consider luxurious trip by Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. From the minute you board the Pullman in London and are welcomed with a brunch that includes Bellinis, your cares will vanish as you settle in for three days of beautiful scenery, spectacular accommodations and relaxation. There is a transfer of trains in Paris on the first day. You can also join the trip in Paris if the location is more convenient or you wish to spend a little less. After leaving Paris, enjoy dinner in the dining car and then relax and enjoy the scenery.

Traveling by train is a slower-paced, social experience. You can enjoy cocktails made aboard the train while getting to know those around you. I always recommend packing a few travel versions of board games, decks of cards, books, wine and a travel journal. Unlike air travel, very few people will be plugged in. Instead, trains allow for moving around, conversation and spectacular views. Get to know the stories of your fellow travelers, reconnect with your friends, and take time to reflect on the landscape as it unfolds around you.

This trip passes through mountains, vineyards and quaint Italian towns – be sure to make time to do nothing but watch the scenery as it rolls by the windows.

Once in Venice, you can join a tour in the morning that will unlock some of the secrets of the canaled city or handle your own plans for the day. Venice has fantastic shopping, beautiful crafts and several places where you can watch glass being blown – a great experience for anyone. The price includes four days in Venice. If you wish to remain in Venice longer, you will need to make your own arrangements.

The Royal Scotsman


Sound your barbaric yawp and get ready to experience Scotland by rail. The Royal Scotsman offers multiple trips of varying lengths in beautifully appointed cars. The best part of this trip is that it includes activities like onboard whiskey tastings or excursions off the train for clay shooting, cruises to visit seals and a castle. Blend the beautiful scenery of train travel with the adventure of the Highlands by researching the various lengths of trips offered and get ready for an adventure with your more daring girlfriends.

Spaces are limited for this train, so plan and book way in advance. This train offers the utmost in luxury including opening windows, beautifully appointed beds, ceiling fans, room service and more. All rooms include constant hot water, private bathroom facilities and room to be comfortable.

Like all long distance trains, there is a great observation car with windows for viewing the beauty of the scenery. Enjoy cocktails while viewing the rolling majesty of Scotland and getting some great photo ops. The observation car on this train is particularly comfy with overstuffed chairs that create a living room feel with a view like no other.

The Royal Scotsman does not provide wifi, so take time to enjoy an unplugged vacation, do some journaling and take pictures to share once you arrive home.

Trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland

If your idea of the perfect getaway includes snow instead of the tropics, this is the train trip for you – just look at that itinerary! This fifteen day escorted tour on a first class train includes excursions to the deepest freshwater lake in the world and cultural experiences to whet any traveler’s appetite. Whether you try ice-fishing or dog-sledding you will be able to experience many activities few foreigners get to enjoy on this all inclusive train trip. Spanning two continents and more than three time zones, this is a long trip perfect for friends who love each other and traveling in new and different ways.

The majesty of the Trans-Siberian rail includes sun on snow, vodka, and many stops to get a real taste of this part of the world.

Danube Express


I promise you won’t get bitten by Dracula, but you will get to check out his rumored birthplace on this exciting, four-day journey between Istanbul and Budapest. By booking either a twin room or a suite, you will have a private shower and toilet.

The trip includes four guided sightseeing tours to pique any Gothic fan’s interests. In addition, you’ll have free time to wander beautiful Kecskemet. If those aren’t enough, there is also a horse show included in your trip. Meals are included, along with beer, wine and soft drinks.

Rail Traveling Tips

Now that you have an idea of the amazing trips available if you decide to hit the rails, here are 10 tips for your adventure on the rails to make it as easy as possible.

#1 Planning for Rail Travel is Different

Two young women with baggage waiting for train at station

Because you will be crossing borders and spanning multiple countries in several cases, it is important to include logistics in your planning. Speak to your consulate or travel agency regarding necessary immunizations, visas, restrictions. Make sure your passport is up to date. Talk to your doctor about your travel plans and research cuisine if you have food allergies. Call the railway line ahead of time if you have serious food allergies – all are willing to work with travelers but appreciate the courtesy of a head’s up.

#2 Get to Know the Staff

As with any travel, a good morning, learning your steward’s name, and manners will get you far. You’ll be spending a great deal of time with the train staff and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that the nicer you are the more perks you’ll find yourself getting – like better seating at dinner and treats in your room.

#3 Learn the Basics of the Language

You don’t need to buy Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone, but picking up some simple phrases makes the experience richer. Being able to order a coffee in a shopkeeper’s own language is exciting for both you and him. Here is my hit list of phrases to learn – you can find lists online and then use Forvo for help with pronunciation.

  • Greetings: Hello, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good bye.
  • Niceties: Your country is beautiful, thank you, please
  • The Charmer: (Say this and you’re in!) I don’t speak (insert language); do you speak (insert language)?
  • Other: Toasting words, pronunciation of cities you’ll visit, simple conversation if you’re inclined.

#4 Document Everything

beautiful young woman on railway platform

If you’re used to staying at resorts without leaving much, train trips like this are very different. Make sure to carry a copy of your passport and necessary visa (and keep one on the train or in your hotel in case you lose one).

#5 Cash

It’s good to have cash but many places accept plastic these days. Still, a few Euro or other local currency will help with tipping or picking up small souvenirs for your jealous friends back home.

#6 Safety First

Whenever you travel, it is important to keep safety in mind. If you are out late and have been drinking, make sure you know how to get from point A to point B, use official taxis or public transportation and research the neighborhoods ahead of time to know where you should not be alone. Train stewards can also offer advice. Women travelers should watch their drinks at all times. While travel is not a dangerous activity, keeping your smarts about you is always a good idea.

#7 Chargers

Most travelers today carry rechargeable batteries in their cameras, have cell phones, ipods and other electronic devices. Make sure to bring appropriate chargers (I keep mine in a zip lock back in my carry-on), and bring the adaptors. While many devices use a USB to link to computers, most trains are not outfitted with USB ports. You can pick up a wall adaptor for USB chargers at almost any shop – do it before you leave.

#8 Stay in Touch

vintage collage of postcards

While the ideal is to be unplugged, it’s fun for everyone back home to get postcards. Pick up international postcard stamps (or order them online ahead of time) and drop notes in the post as you go. A simple note with a picture of someplace you’ve been is always appreciated by people back home. Also, make sure that someone at home has a copy of your itinerary and any information they would need in the event of an emergency.

#9 Hydrate and Stay Healthy

When doing any sort of traveling, it’s important to stay hydrated. Recycled air is drying and can do a number on your immune system so be sure to get in lots of fruits and veggies while you’re on the road. Water works wonders and should be your drink of choice in place of other options, especially during the day.

#10 No New Shoes

The best travel advice I can give is to stick with your trusty, comfortable, broken in kicks. Trying a new pair of shoes can be a nightmare on a new trip. You’re going to be on your feet most of the day and new shoes always have a way of letting you know just how new they are. It’s best to stick to what you know. This is the same for medications (don’t switch from your trusted headache or stomach soothers before or during a trip), skin and hair products and anything else that could cause a reaction.

Alright, you’re ready! You’ve got some ideas on how to travel Europe by train,  the places you can go, things you can do and what to do to get yourself there. All that’s left now is to gather your girls with a few bottles of wine and start researching when and where you want to explore by rail. Tell me in the comments which one has you ready to leave. Have a great trip!

About the author

Nancy K.

When I’m not busy writing my next travel article, you can find me showing America to exchange students, hiking, cycling or planning my next vacation. My favorite destination is anywhere I haven’t been yet! You can follow or, better yet, talk to me on Twitter and G+.

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