Europa Städtereise mit dem Zug

24+ ideas for Europe city trips by train in 2024

European city trips by train are in vogue. I first published this list of ideas at the beginning of 2020 and have been steadily expanding it ever since. For the new travel year, you will find an updated and expanded overview of exciting city break destinations from A for Antwerp to Z for Zagreb and many tips for sustainable train travel in this article.

City trips in Europe – the news about the timetable change

Below is a brief overview of the most exciting innovations in 2023/2024 – from a Swiss perspective:

  • Extended travel times are to be expected on the Zurich – Milan route due to roadworks and the partial closure of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. In addition, there are fewer direct trains.
  • Additional night train connection to Prague via Dresden and Leipzig
  • A daily Nightjet service from Zurich to Amsterdam
  • Increased frequency on the Zurich – Stuttgart and Zurich – Munich routes
  • More direct train connections to North Rhine-Westphalia from Basel
  • Expansion of the number of seats available on the connecting train routes Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna and Graz

City trips in Europe – this is how it works sustainably

Since I have dealt intensively with the topic of train travel in the course of my decision to avoid flights in Europe as far as possible and have learned a lot and have also received numerous questions from you on this topic, I would like to give you ideas for city trips in Europe that you can take by train with this blog post. The focus is deliberately on city trips, because I have found great potential here to support more sustainable and conscious travel decisions as well as to promote city break destinations away from the (often crowded) hotspots such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Lisbon.

For each destination, you will find a short description of the highlights as well as a compilation of the following data:

  • The arrival time by train according to current timetables
  • The time of arrival by plane (if there is a direct flight from Zurich). The flight time is added with + 2.5 hours to approximate the “effective” travel time.
  • The ticket costs (outward without discounts) according to the information in the SBB ticket shop (saver ticket offers are included)
  • The CO₂ emissions generated by the trip at average capacity utilisation and with an average electricity mix of the respective countries (data source

All travel suggestions were based on Friday, March 22, 2024 – a classic time for a city trip in Europe outside of holiday or holiday periods.

With this compilation, I would like to show on the one hand that numerous European city break destinations can be easily and inexpensively reached by train. Especially when you book savings offers early. On the other hand, this juxtaposition makes it clear that travel decisions are not a “black and white” discussion, but rather a complex topic.

According to the Federal Office for the Environment, the CO₂ emissions of the Swiss population per capita are 5.8 tonnes – although this value only reflects the greenhouse gases emitted within the national border. If imported goods are taken into account, per capita emissions rise to around 12 tonnes (source: FOEN). Around a third of CO₂ emissions are caused by our mobility – and this includes travel. With more conscious travel choices, we can reduce our ecological footprint – and thus make a significant contribution to a more sustainable lifestyle.

While a flight to one of the destinations listed below emits an average of around 100 kg of CO₂, rail travel shows a clearly heterogeneous picture. This is due to the fact that not all countries produce electricity in the same “climate-friendly” way. And even climate-friendly production is not environmentally friendly per se (keyword nuclear power). Nevertheless, the CO₂ emissions generated by a train journey are mostly more than 90% lower than those generated by air travel.

If I now take the average of 5.8 tonnes that we Swiss emit per capita – 4.5% of this average annual value falls on a city trip to Bordeaux (round trip, 260 kg CO2). If, on the other hand, I take the train (round trip, 16 kg CO₂), this is only 0.3% rounded. I think these numbers should make us all question our travel behavior and actively engage with the issue!

The city trips are structured as follows:

At the end of the post you will also find a compilation of my tips and links on the subject of train travel in Europe.

Europe City breaks with less than 6 hours travel time

1. Freiburg

Freiburg im Breisgau offers everything I could wish for for a successful city trip; An exciting city history, casual coffees and excellent restaurants (not only for fans of Baden cuisine), a city centre within walking distance and lots of greenery all around. Our top 10 tips and sights for a short trip to Freiburg im Breisgau can be found in this blog post.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 1:55 (direct) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 36  
CO2 emissions (kg) 1.6 91.2
Freiburg im Breisgau

2. Stuttgart

Stuttgart is also one of the closest city break destinations and can be reached in less than three hours by train. It is all the more astonishing that it took me so long to pay my first “real” visit to the state capital of Baden-Württemberg. So that it doesn’t take so long for you, I have brought back 11 good reasons for a trip to Stuttgart from this long weekend. Guaranteed to awaken the desire to explore!

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 2:58 (direct) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 32  
CO2 emissions (kg) 6.9 79.2
Uhlbach Stadtteil Stuttgart

3. Innsbruck

No other city bridges the gap between urban flair and mountain hut romance as elegantly as the provincial capital of Tyrol. In Innsbruck, you can easily explore historical sights on a city walk one day and put your nerves to the test on the via ferrata on the Nordkette at over 2,000 m above sea level the following day. And after a day of museum-hopping, where else can you go on a sunset hike to an alpine pasture high above the city and enjoy a toque-quality dinner there? If you want to explore even more of the diverse alpine landscape around Innsbruck, you can go on the Innsbruck Trek. This leads you in six stages over the most beautiful hiking trails in the region.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 3:34 (direct) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 34 (incl. seat reservation)  
CO2 emissions (kg) 3.2 130.9
Städtereiseziel Innsbruck

4. Colmar

Colmar is just a two-hour train ride from Zurich and is the perfect city break destination for a weekend of pleasure. With its cobbled streets and cute half-timbered houses, the small Alsatian town offers postcard motifs in every nook and cranny. Here you can not only stroll comfortably through the alleys, but you can also marvel at important works of art in the Unterlinden Museum, among other things. Together with the new building designed by Herzog & de Meuron, this is also an architectural highlight of the city. To really feel the laid-back flair of Colmar, I recommend avoiding December (Christmas market) and the holiday weekends in early summer. For more recommendations on what to do locally, check out this blog post: 7 tips for a weekend in Colmar.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 2:02 (1x change) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 48  
CO2 emissions (kg) 0.6 82.2
Städtereiseziel Colmar

5. Dijon

A similarly great combination of moments of enjoyment and cultural inputs is offered by the capital of the historic eastern French region of Burgundy. Dijon is one of my absolute favorites for a short trip over the weekend. You don’t have to prepare much for your trip – on site, the “Parcours de la Chouette” with owl symbols guides you unerringly through the alleys of the old town to the sights. Don’t miss the great view from the “Tour Philippe Le Bon”. For this, it is advisable to reserve your ticket in advance. If you also want to enjoy dinner in one of the city’s gourmet restaurants, I also recommend that you arrange a table in advance. By the way, Dijon is also a great starting point for a long weekend in the wine-growing region of the Côte-d’Or.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 2:24 (direct) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 62  
CO2 emissions (kg) 1.6 113
Städtereiseziel Dijon

6. Munich

Munich inspired me so much during our visit in spring 2019 that we paid a visit to the Bavarian capital again in 2020. I am particularly fond of the various districts with their very own stories and personalities, as well as the numerous activities that deal with the topic of deceleration and sustainability. For example, the lively Glockbach district can be explored on a guided slow down walk. And with the North-South and East-West Passage, two “long-distance hiking trails” lead right through the city of Munich, including many tips on which sights can be hiked.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 3:31 (direct) 3:25
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 33 from 136
CO2 emissions (kg) 13.2 127.2
Städtereiseziel München

7. Heilbronn

As the venue for the Federal Horticultural Show BUGA, Heilbronn has placed itself on the radar of city break destinations in 2019. Somewhat surprising for a city that, after Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Freiburg im Breisgau, Heidelberg and Ulm, only appears in the “insignificant” seventh place of the largest cities in Baden-Württemberg. We were all the more astonished by the enthusiasm with which Heilbronn tackles the topic of “urban renewal” and is considered a pioneer of sustainable urban development. Even after the end of the Federal Horticultural Show, the showcase quarter on the Neckarbogen continues to grow and is worth a detour for all those interested in architecture. Another highlight is the “Experimenta” world of knowledge and experience, which opened in 2019. You can easily spend a full day here (especially with children)! If the whole thing is too top-heavy for you, you can compensate. take a hike through the vineyards close to the city to the local mountain “Wartberg”.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 3:49 (1x change) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 29  
CO2 emissions (kg) 9.8 81.8
Städtereiseziel Heilbronn

8. Lyon

Another Eldorado for architecture fans can be found at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers in southeastern France. Here, the metropolis of Lyon awaits you with an exciting mix of historic old town, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a futuristic-looking new district around the Musée des Confluences. Many exciting details of Lyon require a close look – in the old town district “Vieux Lyon”, for example, the “traboules” lead to hidden courtyards and simple parking garages are transformed into works of art. One of the annual highlights is the “Fêtes des Lumières”, which takes place at the beginning of December. However, the ingenious Plan Lumière can be admired from the platform of the basilica during the “blue hour”. Either way, it’s worth planning a full 3 days for a trip to Lyon.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 4:22 (1x change) 3:35
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 98 from 200
CO2 emissions (kg) 1.4 121.1
Städtereiseziel Lyon

9. Luxembourg

Historic fortifications, deep gorges and state-of-the-art high-rise buildings characterise the cityscape of Luxembourg. To my surprise, the capital of the small state of the same name, which borders Belgium, France and Germany, can hardly be found on any of the common “top city break destinations in Europe” lists. Luxembourg offers a concentrated load of history and renowned cultural institutions in a compact area. You can find an overview of what you can do locally in my detailed travel guide to Luxembourg. Since the beginning of 2020, public transport (train, bus, tram) has been free of charge in Luxembourg. Just hop in, drive off and discover!

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 4:41 (2x changes) 3:30
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 73 from 156
CO2 emissions (kg) 2.9 111.3
Städtereiseziel Luxembourg

10. Bologna

The colourful student city is often overshadowed by Florence when it comes to popular travel destinations. “Luckily,” I’m inclined to say. Because this way we don’t have to share the picturesque alleys of Bologna with the masses of tourists that Florence sometimes has to contend with. One of the most outstanding architectural features of Bologna and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site are the “Porticos”. The arcades extend over a length of 38 kilometres and are extremely practical as both rain and sun protection. The longest arcade in the world leads 4 kilometres in a row from Porta Saragozza to the Santuario della Madonna di San Luca. If your stomach growls after this walk, you will certainly find your happiness in the Osteria Bottega with a portion of freshly prepared tagliatelle.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 4:51 (1x change) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 88  
CO2 emissions (kg) 60.9 112.5

The new direct connections take 6:02 h slightly longer than the connection with 1x change in Milan.

Städtereiseziel Bologna

11. Turin

In addition to Bologna, one of my city trip favorites in Italy is the capital of the Piedmont – Turin region. In terms of cuisine, Piedmont can easily keep up with Emilia-Romanga in my opinion. This is reflected in the number of excellent Michelin-starred restaurants and equally sophisticated cooking osterias. You can find more tips on what you can do besides fine dining in my blog post about Turin. In any case, it’s worth taking a closer look at Turin’s landmark – the Mole Antonelliana.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 4:55 (2x changes) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 40  
CO2 emissions (kg) 57.7 107.5
Städtereiseziel Turin

12. Verona (Italy)

The direct train connections from Zurich to Milan are well-known and popular. However, the fact that there is also a daily direct connection from Zurich to Venice seems to me to be far less familiar. In addition to its final destination in the lagoon city, this train stops at several other exciting Italian city break destinations – including Brescia, Verona and Padua. All three places are worth a visit. As the former setting of Romeo and Juliet and today’s venue for the Arena Opera Festival in the atmospheric atmosphere of the well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, Verona is in pole position for a weekend trip full of sweet “dolcefarniente” with its cultural programme. With its compact size, Verona does not require much preparation – but I would still like to give you a tip at this point: Shortly before sunset, the walk to the castle terrace of Castel San Pietro is worth it – up here is the perfect place to enjoy the magical evening atmosphere above the rooftops of Verona.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 4:55 (direct) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 44  
CO2 emissions (kg) 58.3 111.7
Städtereiseziel Verona

13. Regensburg

Once an important political centre of the Roman Empire and an important trading centre on the banks of the Danube, Regensburg is now considered the best-preserved medieval city in Germany. Since 2006, the old town centre with its landmark “Stone Bridge” and the cathedral church has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to the mostly car-free city centre, Regensburg is best explored by taking a leisurely stroll. There is a lot to discover – including the small city mouse, which brings good luck to those who touch it, and the colourful plaques that depict thematically grouped floor plans and encourage puzzles. In my opinion, what contributes to the charm of Regensburg is the combination of patina and youthfulness – this may be due to the many students who enliven the historic walls or to the enjoyment of the people of Regensburg.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 5:42 (1x change) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 50  
CO2 emissions (kg) 22.4 130.4
Städtereiseziel Regensberg

14. Lille

The capital of the Hauts-de-France region in the north of France scores with a concentrated load of cultural attractions and an exciting mix of Flemish tradition and French lightness. The Belfry, located south of the enchanting old town district of Vieux-Lille, is not only the city’s most striking landmark, but also an indication of the historical connection with Flanders. With a height of 104 m, the bell tower towers over all the buildings in the city centre and thus offers a great panoramic view over Lille. On a city trip to Lille, it’s worth planning a day for the neighboring city of Roubaix. The architectural highlight can be found in the swimming pool, which was once built in the Art Deco style and now houses the Musée d’art et d’industrie.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 5:58 (2x changes) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 149  
CO2 emissions (kg) 5.0 97.6
Städtereiseziel Lille

City breaks in Europe with more than 6 hours travel time

15. Linz

For decades, Linz was considered THE workers’ and industrial city in Austria. The first initiatives aimed at changing the company’s image were launched in the 1970s. With its nomination as Capital of Culture 2009, Austria’s third-largest city has achieved the desired image change. Despite a diverse supporting program and exciting events, Linz is still considered an insider tip for a city trip. Two events deserve special attention – on the one hand, the art attraction “Höhenrausch”, which will take you on a tour “into paradise” on the rooftops of Linz’s old town from the end of May, and the festival for art, technology and society – Ars Electronica – which will take place in the first half of September. You can find more tips about Linz in this blog post: Linz, surprisingly different.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 6:35 (direct) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 94 (incl. seat reservation)  
CO2 emissions (kg) 7.7 125.5

To Linz there is both the Railjet connection during the day and the night train connection (route Zurich – Vienna). With the night train connection, however, you arrive in Linz very early in the morning (before 5 a.m.) and accordingly only have a “short” night. For the return journey, the travel times of the night train are more attractive (departure after 10 a.m. in the evening and arrival at 08:20 a.m. at Zurich main station).

Städtereiseziel Linz

16. Genoa

The capital of the Liguria region, located on the Mediterranean Sea, is not in the same league as Rome, Florence or Venice in terms of tourism. But that’s exactly what makes Genoa so charming. Those who come here will be surprised – with an extensive old town, magnificent palaces, beautiful city beaches and all kinds of delicious culinary specialties. In short, a detour to Genoa is worthwhile – even if in 2024 train journeys to Italy will remain restricted due to the partial closure of the Gotthard Base Tunnel and fewer direct connections will be offered.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 6:50 (no direct train in 2024) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 55  
CO2 emissions (kg) 8.9 122.6
Genua Städtereise

17. Venice

Venice – an absolute classic among city trips and thanks to a direct connection from Zurich main station to Venezia S. Lucia that runs 1x daily is also really easy to reach. A guide for a really perfect weekend in the lagoon city (including our favorite restaurants) can be found here: our Venice top tips.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 7:09 (direct) 3:40
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 93 from 82  
CO2 emissions (kg) 15.3 132.5
Venedig Abendstimmung

18. Leipzig

Similar to Linz, Leipzig also has a long tradition as a working-class and industrial city. Leipzig has been confronted with similar issues in recent years and has dealt just as intensively with the realignment and transformation process of its once intensively used industrial areas. The site of the former Leipzig cotton mill is now home to a colourful mix of galleries, start-ups, art supply shops, loft apartments, cinemas and fitness studios. A great way to pass the time can also be found in the extensive network of canals that surrounds Leipzig. On guided canoe tours, you can discover the city by paddling – I was amazed at how much “green” can be found in the middle of the city of Leipzig.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 7:11 (1x change) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 68  
CO2 emissions (kg) 19.2 142.8
Städtereiseziel Leipzig

To Leipzig there are both the ICE connections during the day and the night train connection (route Zurich – Prague). With the night train connection, however, you arrive in Leipzig very early in the morning (before 5 a.m.) and accordingly only have a “short” night. For the return journey, the travel times of the night train are more attractive (departure after 11 p.m. in the evening and arrival at 09:05 a.m. at Zurich main station).

19. Bordeaux

We went on a city trip to Bordeaux in spring 2016 and the city made a lasting impression on me with its slick streets. Bordeaux shows its best side at the “Miroir d’eau”, where the cream-coloured sandstone buildings from the 18th century are reflected in the world’s largest reflection pool. However, there is no shortage of corners and edges – you can expect warehouses that have been converted into museums, alternative cultural centres and plenty of charming restaurants. In the meantime, an attraction has been added – the Cité du Vin, where everything revolves around the fine wines of the region.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 7:40 (1x change) 4:05
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 145 from 84
CO2 emissions (kg) 7.9 129.9
Städtereiseziel Bordeaux

20. Bremen

Bremen and Bremerhaven as a powerful alternative to Hamburg? Why not – the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen will quickly inspire you with its magnificent town hall and charming Schnoor district. Of course, a stop at the Town Musicians is also part of a city tour. If Bremen is not enough for a weekend, I recommend planning a day trip to Bremerhaven. In recent years, the “Havenwelten” has been completed there, which has some great attractions to offer, including the Climate House and the German Emigration Center.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 7:51 (1x change) 4.00
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 100 from 105
CO2 emissions (kg) 24.6 130.3

As an alternative to the ICE connection, there is a direct night train connection for the return journey from Bremen to Zurich HB (outward journey with night train conditional change).

Städtereiseziel Bremen

21. Antwerp

Two full blog posts are dedicated to Antwerp here on the blog with a concentrated load of tips on sights and activities. The Belgian port city has successfully positioned itself as a pleasure destination in recent years and also offers a lot of other sights off the beaten path. I love Antwerp with its abundance of exciting museums, numerous fair fashion shops and lots of great restaurants!

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 7:53 (1x change) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 98  
CO2 emissions (kg) 21.7 115.7
Städtereiseziel Antwerpen

22. Birmingham

Striking buildings and ambitious harbour districts can be found not only in Antwerp, but also in its Dutch counterpart – Rotterdam is the perfect city break destination for those who like modern architecture, design, art and photography. The new station building of Rotterdam Centraal station alone is an eye-catcher in itself. In addition, there are the iconic, yellow cube houses and the trendy market hall – in Rotterdam, many things are stirred with the large and “eye-catching” ladle. While an architectural tour of Rotterdam can easily take up a full day, it is important to make sure that there is a sufficiently large time window for visiting the top-class art museums – thanks to the central location and the shared museum park, the distances between the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Kunsthal are fortunately short.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 8:28 (2x changes) No direct flight  
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 104  
CO2 emissions (kg) 10.1 128.6

Alternatively, the new night train connection via Amsterdam might also be worthwhile here.

Städtereiseziel Rotterdam

23. Graz

In addition to Turin, Bilbao, Berlin and Helsinki, Graz can also call itself a UNESCO City of Design and proudly carries this title to the outside world. With its historic city centre, medieval alleys, nice cafés, creative shops and a lively cultural scene, Austria’s second largest city has some powerful arguments up its sleeve as to why it deserves a place on this list. In 2021, we spent a weekend in Graz and explored some of the top spots of Austria’s culinary capital. By the way, a visit to Graz is also worthwhile during the Advent season – the time of the Christmas markets is celebrated here.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 9:34 (direct) 3:45
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 148 from 143
CO2 emissions (kg) 10.1 111.1

There is a direct connection to Graz during the day as well as a direct night train connection.

24. Liverpool

The historic harbour complex with the harbour dock is one of the first ports of call for tourists and at the same time an example of how Liverpool has blossomed from a problem child to a cool metropolis. The old warehouse buildings were converted into museums and shops and supplemented with striking new buildings. There is also a lot of exciting things to discover in the centre of Liverpool – the colourful front doors in Georgian architectural style, the gigantic cathedral there and right next to it the largest Chinese gate outside China. If you wander through Liverpool’s alleys, you will be reminded of Beatles song lines from time to time – the street signs of “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” are correspondingly sought-after photo motifs. Liverpool won me over with its rugged charm, the history that can be experienced and the vastness of Crosby Beach – and I am convinced that you will like the city too.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 11:42 (2x changes) No direct flight
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 150  
CO2 emissions (kg) Unfortunately, there is no data on this on yet
Städtereiseziel Liverpool

Europe City breaks by night train from Zurich

According to the current timetable, the following night train connections are offered daily from Zurich:

  • Zurich – Basel – Berlin
  • Zurich – Basel – Hanover – Hamburg
  • Zurich – Basel – Hanover – Amsterdam
  • Zurich – Feldkirch – Linz – Vienna
  • Zurich – Feldkirch – Graz
  • Zurich – Prague (via Austria or via Leipzig/Dresden)
  • Zurich – Budapest
  • Zurich – Villach – Ljubljana – Zagreb

Two city break destinations that stand out here – besides Graz, which I have already listed above – are the Slovenian capital Ljubljana and the Croatian capital Zagreb. Two cities that are perfect to explore in two days due to their size.

25. Ljubljana

Hardly any other city feels as relaxed as the Slovenian capital. The old town centre around Ljubljana Castle is mostly car-free – here you can take a leisurely stroll, stop off at street pubs and chat with friends. If so much serenity seems a bit suspicious to you, you can compare your travel time with one of the numerous summer festivals – at the latest then it will be colorful in the alleys.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 11:22 (direct) 3:35
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 98 (sleeping) from 144
CO2 emissions (kg) 10.9 112.5
Städtereiseziel Ljubljana

26. Zagreb

You can make a note of a city trip to Zagreb for the next pre-Christmas season. The Advent season is celebrated here with atmospheric Christmas markets, fine food and events. You can find our latest tips in the Zagreb blog post.

  Train Flight
Arrival time (in hours) 14:03 (direct) 3:55
Ticketkosten (CHF) from 98 (sleeping) from 183
CO2 emissions (kg) 15.4 127.1
Städtereiseziel Zagreb

Here’s how to get to your city break destination by train

  • It is worthwhile to determine the key points of a city trip by train as early as possible and to book your train tickets accordingly quickly. With saver tickets, most rail operators offer inexpensive and attractive tickets – but they can also be sold out quickly, depending on the time of travel. It’s not worth waiting for train tickets!
  • If you’re unsure whether and how to reach your destination by public transport, use or Rome2Rio to evaluate the route options.
  • To check the different connection and price options of a route, I use the services of RailEurope and TrainLine. There it also shows you the individual route operators – so you get an overview of which railway company serves which route and from whom you have to buy which ticket.
  • The above apps require an internet connection. A free offline offer with a relatively good (and up-to-date) overview of train connections and timetables is offered by the Rail Planner app from Interrail. If you are travelling in the Czech Republic, you can also use the offline offer of the app Můj vlak of the Czech Railways (CD).
  • Depending on the connection (e.g. if you are travelling by train from Zurich via Paris and London to Liverpool), you will have to buy the tickets individually from the respective operator (SNCF, Eurostar, National Rail Network) – this carries the risk that you will not be refunded parts of the journey in the event of strikes or delays.
  • Local connections (S-Bahn, regional trains) are treacherous – sometimes line closures due to construction work or the like are not reported in the international systems, so that you are unintentionally stranded. I therefore recommend booking as direct, international connections as possible.
  • For international routes, it is worthwhile to compare the offers on the various operator websites. For example, it may be that for train journeys to Germany, the more attractive saver ticket options are available on the Deutsche Bahn website than on the SBB website.
  • An overview of the maximum speeds (as a guide for travel planning – travel times) can be found on OpenRailwayMap.
  • If you combine several cities with your city trip (e.g. the Paris – Barcelona – Valencia route back), then it may be worthwhile to buy a suitable Interrail pass. Interrail also offers attractive promotions on a regular basis.
  • Some of the city breaks featured in this list go via Paris (Antwerp, Lille, Liverpool) – why not combine the trip with a stopover in Paris? This year, we tested two hotels not far from the Paris Gare du Nord train station and found the 25hours Hotel Paris Terminus Nord in particular to be a worthwhile stopover (including a magnificent view of Montmartre). OKKO Hotels Paris Gare de l’Est is also a good choice.
Städtereiseziel Extratipp Paris

I hope that this year’s – new – form of the travel ideas list will provide you with inspiration for future trips. I would like to continue to grow this overview of exciting city break destinations. On my bucket list for 2024 is, among other things, a city trip to Dresden.


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