Cultural Xplorer

Exploring Europe by Train with Rail Europe

The spring of 2015 marked my fourth time back on the continent of Europe.

My first trip three trips to Europe occurred between the spring of 2013 and the summer of 2014. During those times, I visited Finland, IcelandSpain, England, FranceBelgium, the NetherlandsCzech Republic, Germany, Austria, Greece and Italy.

My most recent trip to Europe was largely unplanned as it was a stopover en route to Japan. The first of my three flights from New York to Tokyo was scheduled to land in the city of Milan, Italy on a Friday morning and my second leg, from Prague to Amsterdam, was scheduled to depart two days later. I knew that I did not have much time to travel in Europe within that time frame and I had no desire to stay in either city of Milan or Prague, which I had visited the previous year. Ultimately, I had to decide what I was going to do between Milan and Prague and how I was going to get between the two cities.

Looking at a map, I wanted to see what place I could visit that was in between the cities of Milan and Prague. I toyed with a few ideas ranging from visiting Lake Cuomo in Italy, to visiting the tiny country-state of Liechtenstein, to visiting Switzerland. As a destination that had been on my list to visit for a while, I chose to visit Switzerland.

Armed with my camera, my GoPro, my phone, and my two small bags, I hit the ground running once I stepped off of the plane in Milan and made my way towards the Milano Centrale train station.

Milano Centrale Station

Once I arrived to the Milan Centrale station, I used my rail pass that was secured with Rail Europe to make a reservation on a train bound for Zurich, Switzerland, and then I set off to spend two hours exploring the station while waiting for my train to depart.

Although I am not a huge fan of the city of Milan itself, I really do love their train station, which was modeled after Union Station in Washington, D.C. Milano Centrale is large, spacious, and has a number of wonderful shops and restaurants in which you can easily spend hours exploring.

Since I was back in Italy, I felt it was only right to do the following three things: have a slice of pizza, enjoy some delicious Italian wine , and then eating a small cup of gelato. Luckily, Milano Centrale offers commuters the opportunity to do all three, and that is what dreams are truly made of.

When in Italy: Wine + Pizza…

… and of course gelato!

Once I finished devouring my strawberry and pistachio gelato, I set off to board my train and make my way to the city of Zurich, Switzerland!

All aboard!

I have to say, that I really enjoyed traveling in the first-class section on my way from Milan to Zurich, it was a much different and very enjoyable compared to my first intra-Europe train experience, when I traveled 14.5 hours from Amsterdam to Prague.

One thing that I particularly liked about the first class section was how much space that I had and another thing I loved was that I had a table to work on. The only downside of traveling in first class was there really wasn’t any interaction between riders. When I took the second-class car the year prior, I was almost forced to interact with people around me because of how extremely close we were to each other.

I could not help but to be amazed at the views from the train as I stared out of the window while we passed through small towns in Italy followed by the Swiss Alps.

The beauty of some of the villages and the mountains was truly beyond belief. Although I was taking numerous photographs and videos of the journey, I can honestly say that not a single image can capture the beauty of seeing the countryside, mountains, rivers, and lakes; they must be seen in person to be understood.

Once I arrived to Zurich, I spent a day and a half exploring the city with various travelers that I had met during my time in the city.

The day and a half in Zurich flew by quickly, and before I knew it, I was back on the road headed towards Prague. The journey from Zurich to Prague was much longer and much more involved as it was comprised of two trains and a bus.

After departing Zurich before the crack of dawn, I finally made it to Prague10 hours later. During that leg of the trip, I took a lot less photographs and a lot more video.

Leg 1 of the Journey: Switzerland to Germany

Breakfast is served: 10 euros; very reasonable for eggs, salmon, bread, and coffee

After traveling ten hours by rail and bus, I made it to my final destination with Rail Europe: Prague. You can watch my entire journey below!

Interested to see more pictures from my journey? Check out my Instagram hashtags #CXTokyoBound and #RailEuropeXplorer, follow me (@culturalxplorer) for more exclusive pictures, and make sure to follow Rail Europe (@raileurope) on Instagram too!

Are you thinking about planning train travel for your next Euro-Trip but you are not sure where to start? Head to the simple-to-use Rail Europe website, which will give you all the information you need for visiting Europe by rail. They make travel in Europe easy by combining the maps, schedules and fares for over 50 different train companies across Europe and creating one stop to plan and book your European rail travel!


FTC Disclosure: Rail Europe hosted my rail and bus trips from Milan to Prague, however as always, all opinions are my own.

Have you ever ridden by rail before in Europe or have you used Rail Europe before? I would love to hear your story! Share below!