Top 5 cities in Europe by rail

By Megan Singleton

The beauitful city of Lucerne, Switzerland. Photo / Supplied
The beauitful city of Lucerne, Switzerland. Photo / Supplied

I'm a big fan of whizzing around Europe by rail. Six cities in eight days I did once and it was a lot more efficient than flying. For a start you don't have to arrive at the station two hours before departure, there is no removal of liquids or mascara from your handbags and the journey itself is almost as fun as the destination.

Here are my picks for five great cities to see by rail.

Start in London for a quick shop on Oxford Street, a West End show and a pint in Covent Garden before heading down to St Pancras Station to take the Eurostar to Brussels. You'll hurtle through the English countryside then through the Channel Tunnel where other trains pass in a rattling blur. Just two and a half hours later you'll be hopping off and heading for your hotel in Belgium.

The home of more comic strips than you could fill a skip with. Wander the city and keep your eyes peeled for the 40 giant murals painted on buildings of Tin Tin, Asterix, Nero, Smurfs and more.

Indulge yourself with Belgian chocolates and sample the local beer, each one served in it's own shaped glass. Walk the cobblestoned streets, take a photo of the cheeky mannequin pis statue and find a mobile waffle van to top off your day.

Take the Thalys train one and quarter hours to Paris, past farmhouses and industrial towns into the heart of city. With WiFi onboard, show off by uploading your pics straight to Facebook at 300kph. Or go all out and travel first class to have a champagne breakfast, free WiFi and plenty of space to get out of your seat and wander around if you want to.

This is quite possibly the prettiest city in Europe! The capital of Alsace is to the east of Paris on the French/German border. It is surrounded by the River Ill and a photo op lies around every corner. Take the TGV to Strasbourg via Marseille in just over two hours to the seat of the European Parliament and its picturesque beauty.

Head south to Lucerne, Switzerland in under three hours for yet another photogenic city. Chapel Bridge is draped in hot red begonia and decorated with ancient paintings, and be sure to visit Lion Monument, a dying lion carved to commemorate the loss of Swiss Guard soldiers during a battle in Paris in 1792, and which author Mark Twain described as the "saddest, most moving piece of rock in the world".

All these tickets can be booked through Rail Europe from New Zealand


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