I need some help with train travel.
We are headed to Europe in January, and as we want to be traveling for 9 months, we've become very cost conscious.
After reading a bunch of stuff from "The Man in Seat 61" it seems cheap travel can be had in Europe if you're willing to book well in advance on no change tickets.
I was thinking that's great, we just need to plan everything we do a few months in advance (in western Europe and the U.K.).
We are traveling Jan 30-March 14 in the following countries
Northern France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, (Possibly Norway and Sweden), Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, (Possibly Vienna), Germany, --> Fly back to Dublin in time for St. Patty's Day.
That gives us 43 days to travel to these destinations.
If we plan our route well in advance and start booking tickets, we can save money on both point-to-point tickets and Eurail passes by quite a bit, however we are obviously giving up any flexibility in our travels.
The cities we kinda have planned right now would be as follows:
Paris (4 days), Brussels (3 days), Brugge (2 days), Ghent (day), Amsterdam (3 days), Cologne (2 days), Hamburg (2 days), Copenhagen (2 days), Berlin (4 days), Warsaw (2 days), Lviv (3 days), Krakow (3 days - with Auschwitz), Cesky Krumlov (2 days), Prague (3 days), Dresden (2 days), Nuremburg (2 days), Frankfurt (3 days - Leave to Dublin)
Now because of Schengen we have to travel Europe in the winter, and definitely want to do the "hot spots" in the summer. So we are hoping these cities above are still decent in the winter to go visit.
We are from Edmonton, Canada, so we are used to cold winters. The cities I'm scared of being overly cold an unenjoyable would be in Poland and Ukraine.
So if anyone can help with the following questions based on the information above that would be great.
1. Do you think pre-booking could be a good way to go with the train to save money, or is this long a trip with inflexible dates a little risky (especially in the winter)?
2. Are any of these places going to be unbearable/unenjoyable between Jan 30-March 14 due to the weather? And I don't mean hovering around 0Celcius, I mean -15C etc.
3. Do you have any recommendations for places to see in this time frame if this route is a little sketchy.....Remember places like Spain/Portugal/southern France/Italy are being done in the summer so we can hit the beaches etc.
Much of northern Europe can be very cold in January, and Scandinavia will be very cold.
-15.C can be a good day in January in places like Germany and eastern Europe with temperatures 10.C and more below that at night.
Not just that but you can find yourself trudging through snow, stuck in a train in snow, unable to leave where you are because of snow, etc.
Why not do Spain, Portugal, etc in winter? The northern destinations have beaches too and they are not so overcrowded and overpriced with much of the accommodation and transport filled up like the southern ones will be that time of year.
I spent mid September 2011 to mid August 2012 on the south coast of Spain and there were many winter days when you could have been sun bathing with the other people on the beach, though the water was too cold for swimming (and the nights were cold but not freezing).
Trains are not that busy in winter in northern Europe so little need to pre book. Always ask if there is a cheaper fare available as sometimes they will not tell you unless you ask.
Europe has a number of cheap airlines like Ryanair, Easyjet, etc if you do not have a lot of luggage. Book as early as possible, book online and make sure you print off your boarding passes.
from january to march in europe has winter period. get Winter Jacket and boots. then you can cover from the cold. in france you can travel by metro or train. it is cheap .france has three airports cdg airport and beauvais airport . beauvais airport is located located about 55 miles north of the paris(France capital).Beauvais Airport Beauvais Airport is the budget travelers. beauvais airport is home to many low cost budget airlines: Ryanair, Wizzair, Sterling, BlueAir and Norwegian Air Shuttle.
if you need to visit paris you can take mettro or airport shuttle bus to visit paris.
1) No, it seems to work. Not sure it saves you that much over a rail pass, and personally that's a lot of cities in a row, I'd be tempted to schedule some chill out time but maybe you've got that in there with spa days or something.
2) I think you'll be okay on the winter front. You're from Edmonton so you know what a continental winter is about - those places you're going are either the same as that and are geared up for cold and weather, or they're coastal so they will be milder.
3) Not got many recommendations on your route but:
Copenhagen - is Tivoli Gardens' winter opening finished when you arrive? :-( Christiania is an interesting district to walk through, hippy community gone wild.
Krakow - see the salt mines.
If you pass Kutna Hora the ossuary is worth a look.
Prague - find their answer to the Eiffel Tower (Petrin) and Peklo is a hell styled restaurant in a vaulted cellar beneath a monastery.
Seems a shame when you're so close to be missing Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna but I guess you can only do so much!
In Poland it may be -20 or +5 in February, so it is really hard to predict. Sometimes it may also be a lot of snow. Trains may be delayed but you will be able to travel anyway, because countries like Poland or Germany should be prepared for winter. It would be better to start on the East and finish in PL/UKR in March, when the weather is better.
As the rest I also recommend chcecking flights (Wizzair which operates also in UKR, Ryanair or Easyjet) or busses, ex. polskibus.pl which operates from Berlin to Warsaw (Warsaw Krakow and Warsaw Prague) and is really cheap, chcepar than trains.
Also, remember to add additional time for traveling to Lviv because sometimes it can teke a lot of time to cross the border- it is the UE external border so you have to be prepared for chcecking your passport etc. There is no need to stop on the border between DE-PL-CZ etc.
Have a great time!
Travelling in Germany by train is generally pretty expensive but there is no need to book your tickets such a long time in advance. The so called saving fares are usually available up to 4 days before you want to travel.
There are "Europe-Special" prices if you want to travell from Germany to another by train. I would recommend you to book these tickets a long time in advance, as the prices will raise rapidily.
The winter in Germany can be really cold and uncomfortable. In the last 2 years we sometimes had -20 °C in January / February. But these temperatures won't last that long.. So there is no need to be afraid And who knows how it's going to be next year..
At the moment I can't think of other places you definitely have to visit. But I don't know if Nuremberg is that much worth seeing...
Enjoy your time in Germany