Review: EUROPE BY RAIL – The Definitive Guide

We spent a week travelling round the Czech Republic recently–some of it by train. We actually messed up one of our journeys and I kicked myself for not having this book with us to refer to. I’d left it at home to make space for my snow boots. Ironically, we hardly saw a flake of the stuff, but could have made good use of the book!

P1030823There would have been room for it, too: the book itself is a standard travel paperback size, with a good looking glossy cover, maps inside back and front covers–right where you need them, and pages of handy indexes at the start and finish, too, built around a core of 50 mouthwatering rail journeys.

Around 100,000 copies of this Europe by Rail have been sold over the past 20 years or so, and its most recent versions are the work of two true rail enthusiasts, Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, who promise, and deliver, a more narrative style of writing, and a focus on the journey, rather than the destination–but there are plenty of tasty morsels about those destinations too, though in terms of sights to check out; and recommended places to stay.

You can use this book for inspiration, or, once inspired, to actually plan and book your European train travel. Its 50 journeys are usefully grouped into 11 different regions, such as ‘Low Countries and the Rhine’, ‘Alpine adventures’, or ‘Scandinavian forays’, and each group is colour coded on the maps.  There are additional, pink information boxes throughout the book : its ‘Sidetracks’, offer additional splashes of colour about a route, its history, or its stopping off points. Pause at these, to pick up tips on the layout of berths on overnight trains from Lviv to Kiev for example; or how best to explore Liechtenstein–then use the letter keys to locate areas mentioned, on the main maps.

Booking and ticket tips are plentiful, along with an enticing ‘Europe in Colour’ picture section, practical advice about sorting out your itinerary, plus invaluable reference and gazetteer sections at the back. The website accompanies the book.

If you love train travel as much as we do, this book is more than just a guide for your bookshelf. Snuggle down with it on the sofa, or pull it out of your bag on a crowded commute home–then promise yourself you’ll use it to discover just how magical train travel can be.

Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide is written by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries. It is published by hidden europe publications, and costs £15.99. The book’s  dedicated website is 







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