How I Got Around Europe on my Recent Trip, What that Says About Me & A few Tidbits of Knowledge for You

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europe train family
Arriving in Copenhagen station.

Getting Around Europe – Trains, Trains, Trains & a Bus!

My wonderful trip to Europe is coming to a close, but it has been a wonderful time. We saw the magnificence of Stockholm, took in the history of Copenhagen, got to know a little of Northern Germany and rode some coasters along the way. It was very special.

This is my 6th trip to Europe in as many years and thus I have seen a lot of the “bucket list sites”. For this trip I wanted to get a taste of Scandinavia, but I also wanted to visit some world class amusement parks and spend a couple of days in a number of cities. Thus instead of flying, we took the train nearly everywhere once we arrived in Stockholm.

From Stockholm, we took Blå Tåget or the Blue Train to Gothenburg. On their website it says up to two children up to 16 are free with a paying adult. Apparently that information is out of date, however the conductor let me off with a warning. The seats on this train were assigned, but the train wasn’t full so my son was able to easily grab a seat next to me even without a ticket.

europe train family
The Blue Train that runs between Stockholm and Gothenburg.

After enjoying Gothenburg it was time to head to Copenhagen. This ticket was purchased through the Swedish Railways and involved a one-way ticket from Gothenburg to Malmo and then another one-way from Malmo to Copenhagen. The trip from Sweden to Denmark is spectacular as you cross a seemingly never ending bridge.

There is a direct train from Gothenburg to Copenhagen, however it costs 700 SEK (~$83), whereas our ticket with the brief change in Malmo only cost 316 SEK (~$37). 10 minutes to save over 50% is definitely worth it in my opinion. While we didn’t explore ourselves, this split option also gives you the added benefit of seeing Malmo if you wish before continuing on.

Our next stop after Copenhagen was Hamburg. There is a faster direct train, however we sacrificed an hour to save 50% once again. Unfortunately taking the train meant going around the long way, but this 5 hour ride (49 Euro) would be our longest of the trip. Thankfully the beautiful Park Hyatt Hamburg was waiting for us once we arrived in Germany.

europe train family
The beautiful scene as you pass over the bridge from Malmo, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Finally, I made a last minute decision to go from Hamburg to Berlin. Unfortunately the 2 1/2 hour train cost 79 Euros, so I braved the bus after I was able to score a ticket for 11 Euros online. The bus took about an hour longer and wasn’t as comfortable, however it was decent enough. Of course, I had the Grand Hyatt Berlin to look forward to, so no complaints here.

All in, for all of the aformentioned travel, it cost less than $200 combined for my son and I. Still not cheap, but less than paying miles for flights and even less than if we purchased flights outright. The convenience of arriving at a train station in the middle of the city is something that cannot be understated either. Quite simply, taking a train is more comfortable and often more convenient than flying.

With the cities we visited and the distances we covered, it would have taken just as long to fly as it did to take the train. Instead of dealing with airport security and cramped quarters, we had spacious trains and beautiful scenery to keep us company. Oh and the free WiFi. Who could forget the free WiFi.

europe train family
We rode different kinds of trains as well. This is the more than 100 year old Rutschebanen at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

I do also want to make a point about fares and money. In many countries, children travel for free or at a reduced rate until the age of 16. In others like Germany, they travel for free until 14 and there are family tickets available. Despite not needing any trickery on this trip, I have never seen them ask for id to verify the age of a child. In other words, families can often travel for MUCH cheaper by rail than by air in Europe.

Conclusion

So what does this say about me? Well I guess it says I am cheap, frugal and love a good deal. I also LOOOOOOVE trains. Perhaps it even says I am someone who likes to travel a lot. No revelations there. For this trip our goals were met 100% and we were able to achieve them cheaply, conveniently and with the added benefit of beautiful landscapes and free internet. Plus, there is still something incredibly satisfying about traveling by train in Europe.


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17 COMMENTS

  1. @ Shawn,

    Thanks for sharing the trip report. It would also be helpful if you could also include which website did you use to plan and book for each train and bus journey.
    Since I’ve haven’t been there, it would really help a lot.
    I am interested in:
    1.) ” There is a direct train from Gothenburg to Copenhagen, however it costs 700 SEK (~$83), whereas our ticket with the brief change in Malmo only cost 316 SEK (~$37). 10 minutes to save over 50% is definitely worth it in my opinion.” and ” Our next stop after Copenhagen was Hamburg. There is a faster direct train, however we sacrificed an hour to save 50% once again. Unfortunately taking the train meant going around the long way, but this 5 hour ride (49 Euro) would be our longest of the trip. “===> which website did you use to see and book the cheaper option for these 2 train rides?

    2.) ” Unfortunately the 2 1/2 hour train cost 79 Euros, so I braved the bus after I was able to score a ticket for 11 Euros online.” ===> which website did you use to find this info and deal on the bus last minute ?

    I believe it would help people who never been to Europe or Scandinavia area , including me. Thanks so much again!

    • bump.
      Hi Shawn,
      Saw your reply to other people below in their comments but maybe you missed my comments. Really appreciate if you can please kindly help answer my questions. I am checking this page everyday in hoping to see your reply. Thank you!

    • Sorry for the delay. I fell a little behind while I was traveling and wanted to make sure to give you a proper response.

      1. I searched for space on the Swedish Railways website. (https://www.sj.se/?l=en) For some reason that site struggled with my credit card, so I couldn’t book there. This website http://www.snalltaget.se/en is a reliable agent that can book the tickets as well. They charge a relatively small commission, however it didn’t amount to much and the booking worked perfectly.

      2. I had been to the bus station and saw the different brands. Then I Googled bus Hamburg to Berlin. I found two of the brands had cheap tickets and then I purchased based on the time I needed and the prices. It seems like the prices are based on demand so sometimes the prices are as low as 7 or 8 Euro and sometimes they are higher. I ended up booking with Flixbus. Here are the two companies:

      https://www.berlinlinienbus.de/bus-berlin-hamburg?gclid=CjwKEAjwpPCuBRDris2Y7piU2QsSJAD1Qv7Br09SPU0YStIAvkTK5RIBB1FvUkmo521uXlNY85JxBxoCezPw_wcB

      https://www.flixbus.com/bus-routes/bus-berlin-hamburg

      Hope this helps and sorry again!

      • Hi Shawn!

        No worries! I truly understand that you’ve been traveling and been busy with your kids and blogging stuffs. So I appreciate the response and your kind intention of wanting to give a right response! that really means a lot to me, since I always look up to you while I am in process of planning my trip to Europe for the first time! I’ve bookmarked this page so I can look back into it whenever I want to remind myself how to book and strategy to get around Europe by train or bus.
        Really thanks a lot! you are the most kind and humble blogger that I know. That’s why I always encourage my families and friends to contribute back to you by using your link whenever we can!
        Again, great post and keep it up producing a great post like this, would also be great and useful if you include the details on how to book like you outlined for me above, for people who happen to have same plan or plan to go to Europe for the first time.

  2. That’s great that you are having such a great trip with your son.

    Hubby and I love trains, too. We fly to Milan on Air Canada (using United miles) in couple of weeks for the Expo. We wanted to fly home on AA miles. Solution: take a train to Venice.

    In October, we’re off to Japan to visit our daughter in Osaka. Shinkansen, Baby! Japanese Shinkansen (bullet trains) are the best. We have our JR passes ready to go.

    We are like little kids on trains though we are old enough to be grandparents.

  3. We recently did a family trip to Europe and had a terrible experience on the trains in Germany. It was 97 degrees with 97% humidity and while the trains were advertised as having air conditioning and wifi – they had neither. They train from Munich to Prague almost killed us!

  4. Sounds like fun! I have to admit that I didn’t even know you could take a train from Sweden to Denmark. Makes perfect sense looking at the map (as I just did). Very cool. How long roughly was the train on the bridge?

    • 5 mile bridge and 4 mile underwater tunnel. First stop in DK is Kastrup airport. I used to prefer high speed boats because you arrive in Nyhavn.

  5. How about rating Scandinavian dodge-’em cars and whatever kind of foreign fried dough they sell in the amusement parks there? Are candy apples even legal?

  6. Trains are the best way to go throughout Europe: comfortable, convenient, reasonably fast, and relaxing. It sounds like that why you chose them on this trip. I have taken European trains a lot over many years. It’s too bad the US transportation system doesn’t emphasize trains more — I would take them any time I could.

    Taking your son to Europe and taking the time to go to Tivoli was a great idea. I remember going to Tivoli 50+ years ago with my parents, enjoying the fun and adventure (and a break from regular sightseeing), yet with a foreign flavor.

    Although I have been a frequent (budget) international traveler over the years, the tips from your column and from others in the know about travel and credit card deals have enhanced the adventure of both planning and the actual travel. This year’s travel, using the tips I have now started to use, has meant greater levels of comfort in my travel than I have ever known before. As a tall man, I have found flying internationally now in business class as much as a pleasure as flying used to be many years ago. Thanks much for the tips, Shawn!

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