When travelling between Australian cities, it almost always makes sense to fly. Vast distances separate most cities and high-speed rail is not an option.

In Europe, the equation is completely different. Fast trains connect almost all European cities. They provide an efficient, comfortable and affordable alternative to air travel. Ahead of a trip to Europe, one member recently asked for advice on getting around.

Been lurking the forums for years and finally making our first big trip! Just looking for some advice on whether we should take the train or plane?

We’re travelling as a group of 5 adults and a baby. The plan is to go from London to Cologne (Rhine river) to Berlin to Prague to Munich and finishing up in Zurich.

Our members almost unanimously recommend taking the train for shorter trips. When travelling up to around 500km, trains are not only cheaper than flying – they’re often quicker, too. Once you take into account the time spent travelling to the airport, checking in an hour before the flight, lining up for security, and so on – the train is usually faster overall. Trains also tend to arrive and depart from the centre of the city, so there’s no need to worry about getting to and from the airport.

One benefit with trains in Europe is that the stations tend to be in the middle of the major cities, while the airports tend to be many km from the city centre. So transfers can be much easier and time saved. The trains a generally much more comfortable than an economy seat on an aircraft (lots more leg room). And no concerns with parking, traffic rules, reading maps/GPS etc.

For longer trips within Europe, the decision is not quite as clear cut. If you’re travelling more than around 500km, flying is likely to be quicker. Thanks to the rise of low-cost carriers within Europe, flying can also be relatively inexpensive. The likes of easyJet, Ryanair, Eurowings, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Wizz Air routinely sell airfares for less than the cost of a taxi to the airport. And the easyJet service is not bad.

But travelling by train is still generally more comfortable and relaxed, and of course there’s the wonderful European scenery right out the window.

For at least one member, the convenience of high-speed train travel is impossible to beat.

My advice – train over plane any day. To be able to arrive at the train platform 10 minutes before you leave and jump on beats airport security and early check ins.

If you’re considering travelling by train around Europe (or anywhere else in the world), one member suggests checking out The Man in Seat Sixty-One. This website is a fantastic resource on everything to do with train travel, including Eurail Passes.

Share your experience HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]