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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 Apparently that information is out of date, however the conductor let me off with a warning.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.
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.
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.
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.
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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