I sometimes get requests for Europe from potential clients who want to see "everything" or go "everywhere". After I groan a bit (sorry - but I am being honest) I then say, "Great! Sounds fabulous. How long do you have to travel?"
"We have a week, maybe ten days."
I then take a deep breath and start explaining how that it is not possible to "see everything" in 7-10 days. Europe is a small continent but not THAT small.
There is definitely a confusion about geography or what it is like to travel by train perhaps thanks to movies like "Euro-Trip" where they seem to be in a different country everyday (terrible movie - bothers me as their sets do not match what the actual places look like!) I have even seen requests for things like "I want to go to Paris and do a day-trip to Prague". Yes, that is 100% true. And I 100% don't recommend that.
I try to encourage my clients to slow down their plans so they can really experience the places they are in. I get that not everyone is interested in art or history but there is so much more you can soak in when you "stop to smell the roses". The food. The drinks. The views. The people. Why rush through your vacation?
So I thought I'd put together a list of train distances so you can get an idea of what is possible if you are short on time but want to see more than one country. But try not to think of it in that way - think about spending a week in one place (the horror!) to get to know it better. You could always do day-trips to see smaller towns or to get into the countryside if staying in a city. Or if you can travel for longer then hopefully this will help you organize your thoughts on where you should go.
Sample train times in Europe (the quickest routes):
- Between Edinburgh and London - @ 4 hours
- Between London and Paris - 2-2.5 hours (yes, it is quicker to go to Paris then to Edinburgh)
- Between Paris and Amsterdam - @3 hours
- Between Paris and Rome - Overnight train - takes 14+ hours (overnight trains are not as romantic as they make them seem in the movies! Flights are typically cheaper and a lot quicker. Speaking from experience!)
- Between Amsterdam and Berlin - 6.5 hours
- Between Berlin and Munich - @6 hours (going from the top to the bottom of Germany, which is a large country!)
- Between Munich and Venice - 6.5 hours
- Between Venice and Florence - @2 hours on high speed trains
- Between Florence and Rome - about 90 minutes on high speed trains
- Between Rome and Milan - @3 hours
- Between Milan and Nice - 5 hours
- Between Nice and Paris - @6 hours
- Between Paris and Zurich - @4.5 hours
- Between Paris and Barcelona - 6.5 hours (one of the newest high speed routes)
- Between Barcelona and Madrid - @3 hours
- Madrid to Lisbon - almost 10 hours (overnight train - best to fly!)
Hope this info helps you figure out how to spend your time in Europe for your next trip. I am just a phone call or email away if you want personalized assistance with your next vacation. Besides trains, I can help with all the logistics - places to stay, things to do, what to eat, where to drink, etc. Let me put my expertise to work for you!