While Europe doesn’t have the caliber of high-speed trains that Asia is known for, the continent certainly has better train travel than the U.S. Train routes in Europe are often affordable and easy, especially when traveling within the Schengen zone. Train travel has plenty of advantages over flying: You’ll arrive right in the city center, the fares are often more affordable, and you won’t have to deal with security lines.
Here are 10 train routes in Europe that will get you to your destination quicker than flying—some may even surprise you.
All data is taken from Omio, which analyzed bus, train, and flight times from its database. Note that flight duration includes the time required to be at the airport beforehand, taking into consideration the time to get through airport security.
Save yourself over three hours by taking the Eurostar between London and Paris. Plus, you’ll arrive right downtown as opposed to airports that are far from the city.
Duration by Train: Two hours and 16 minutes
Duration by Plane: Five hours and 40 minutes
These two famous Italian cities are about 300 miles apart, and you can travel this train route in Europe much faster than flying. A one-way journey on ItaliaRail takes just two and a half hours as opposed to the five hours it takes to fly.
Duration by Train: Two hours and 50 minutes
Duration by Plane: Five hours
Travel between the coast and Spain’s capital in about an hour and 40 minutes with Spain’s high-speed train, AVE—it’s almost twice as fast as flying.
Duration by Train: One hour and 42 minutes
Duration by Plane: Three hours and 10 minutes
If you’re headed to London for a European vacation, why not add on the lesser-visited (but equally as cool) Manchester? In just over two hours on Virgin Trains you can hit up Manchester’s music, shopping, and sports scenes. Or save money by flying into Manchester from the U.S. and then taking the train directly to London’s city center—more than 10 major U.S. cities (on both the East and West Coasts) have direct flights into Manchester.
Duration by Train: Two hours and 11 minutes
Duration by Plane: Three hours and 35 minutes
Save over an hour between Bologna and Rome by taking the train instead of flying. There are multiple train companies that do this route quickly, so compare prices and times between Italotreno and Trentitalia’s high-speed train, Frecciargento.
Duration by Train: Two hours
Duration by Plane: Three hours and 15 minutes
You can now take the Eurostar between London and Amsterdam, and it’s almost an hour faster than the time it takes to fly. The train stops in Brussels, where you switch to a Thalys train that goes straight to Amsterdam’s city center.
Duration by Train: Three hours and 41 minutes
Duration by Plane: Four hours and 30 minutes
Surprisingly it takes just about the same amount of time to travel between Munich and Vienna on a train as a plane. The rail journey is just slightly faster with Deutsche Bahn’s high-speed sprinter train.
Duration by Train: Four hours and 10 minutes
Duration by Plane: Four hours and 15 minutes
The high-speed rail between these famous Spanish cities was created by Renfe about 10 years ago, and it’s the quickest way to travel between the two cities. Use the hour-plus that you save to explore sights like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid.
Duration by Train: Two hours and 30 minutes
Duration by Plane: Three hours and 45 minutes
Save yourself the hassle (and a little time) by taking the train between Milan and Zurich instead of the train. The 135-mile journey can be completed in just over three hours by train on Trentitalia.
Duration by Train: Three hours and 23 minutes
Duration by Plane: Three hours and 46 minutes
Save some time for baguettes and coffee by taking the train between Amsterdam and Paris instead of flying. The route on Thalys takes just under four hours and will get you right to the city center.
Duration by Train: Three hours and 48 minutes
Duration by Plane: Four hours
More from SmarterTravel:
- The Best Destination for a Scenic Train Trip
- 6 Incredible Train Journeys That Won’t Break Your Travel Budget
- The World’s Most Incredible Luxury Train Trips