Rail Passes are the no-hassle way to explore Europe by train 

By Rail Europe

Combine the romance and timelessness of trains with the discovery of Europe’s most coveted destinations for an unforgettable vacation. It’s easier than ever to take advantage of the continent’s vast rail networks, which boast frequent and reliable service, for a smooth no-stress multi-destination getaway. Just a few hours separate London from Paris, Paris from Amsterdam, and Geneva from Zurich. So, seeing all of your dream destinations is not only doable, it’s easy! 

Before you embark on your multi-country adventure, do as the insiders do: invest in a Eurail Global Pass. Simply choose the number of days you’ll be taking the train, activate your Pass, and you’re off! This golden ticket gives you unlimited access to over 40 transporters in 33 European countries, including the UK. While some high-speed trains do require seat reservations, most local trains are hop-on hop-off. So, it really is the ultimate freedom to explore Europe at your own pace.  

Use your newfound freedom to create the experience you’re craving—a romantic couple’s adventure, an action-packed solo trip, or some quality time with the kids. The Eurail Global Pass comes with great perks like discounts on hotels, ferries, and more, and up to two kids ages four to eleven travel free per adult! Trains may just be the most flexible and convenient form of travel: no long security lines, freedom to get up and walk around once in motion, and even family and baby changing areas on select trains. Onboard snacks and catering are also available, whether you’d like to grab a quick snack or enjoy a gourmet meal. 

With your Pass and luggage in hand, Europe awaits—enjoy the beach ambiance in the south of France, head to the Top of Europe in the Swiss Alps or navigate the canals on a city trip to Amsterdam. If you’re not sure where to start, Eurostar’s newly expanded network (now including Thalys) is a great jumping off point. Their direct high-speed trains make it a breeze. Try a base route from London to Paris to Amsterdam (or reverse it!) and then customize to your heart’s content. For instance, add smaller day trips to nearby towns like Antwerp and Versailles.  

But train travel doesn’t have to limit you to the big cities and suburbs—it also caters to those interested in exploring the countryside and stumbling upon Europe’s hidden gems. There’s a local train from Paris that stops in the middle of the Fontainebleau Forest (literally!), and there’s one from Prague that drops you off at the Hungarian Riveria. A ride on a Swiss panoramic train will get you up close to the country’s stunning natural landscapes and legendary mountain peaks. So, it’s easy to get off the beaten path. No need to ask for directions or parking! 

Photo Courtesy of Rail Europe**

And perhaps most importantly, train travel allows you to take a page out of the European playbook—on the continent, rail travel is a way of life. Rub elbows with locals, get a taste of the day-to-day, and immerse yourself in new cultures. In addition to immersion, it’s also travel you can feel good about. You’ll decrease your carbon footprint (when compared to air travel), and your trip will contribute to a more sustainable future. For a multi-journey, green European adventure, there’s no better option. 

*: Adobe Stock

**: Eurostar

About Rail Europe

Rail Europe is a global travel tech company and the reference brand for European train booking.​ We have been the trusted partner of the travel industry and train operators for 90 years. Our rail experts provide technology service solutions to over 15,000 travel professionals in 70 countries. International travellers can book their European train travel directly on our state-of-the-art booking website and app. We sell around 2.5 million European train tickets a year. ​Our catalogue of products features more than 100 brands such as SNCF, SBB, Eurostar, Thalys, Trenitalia, Italo, DB, Renfe, ÖBB, SNCB, NS, OUIGO Spain and National Rail, and rail passes including the Swiss Travel Pass and Eurail Passes. Rail Europe has collaborators worldwide and is headquartered in Paris.  

Ten Great Gardens of Europe

By Audley Travel

Monet spent decades painting views of this pond in his garden in Giverny, France 

From formal palace grounds with meticulously trimmed box hedges and Renaissance statuary to dreamy bucolic landscapes dotted with drifts of hollyhocks and roses, Europe is home to a wild variety of gardens. Here, we’ve compiled a list of ten excellent options you can add to a European trip, ranging from well-known to well off the garden path.

1. Giverny, France: water lilies in Monet’s garden

Impressionist superstar Claude Monet spent the last four decades of his life painting and gardening in Giverny, and his gardens are now maintained as they were during his life. A stroll through here is like a walk through his paintings — sun-dappled and dreamy. Arrive when the garden gates open at 9am, half an hour before the museum itself opens, to beat the crowds.

2. Loire Valley, France: French formalities at Château de Villandry

The formal and geometric gardens of Château de Villandry seem to be the polar opposite of Monet’s bed, but they still somehow share the same joyful exuberance. A guided tour can help uncover the Renaissance symbolism woven into the shapes and structures of the sprawling gardens. Be sure to leave time for the monastic-influenced kitchen garden, a work of art in its own right.

3. Blarney, Ireland: the poison garden of Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle, just outside Cork, is known primarily for its eponymous stone. But I suggest bypassing that and spending your time browsing the gardens, especially the Gothic delights of the Poison Garden. Skull-and-crossbones signs warn you to beware of the plants, which include rue, mandrake, and wolfsbane, among other fatal flora, many of which are grown in black iron cages.

Border of an English-style cottage garden

4. Yorkshire, England: Studley Royal Water Gardens at Fountains Abbey

One of the only surviving examples of a Georgian green garden, the Studley Royal Water Gardens is a tranquil landscape of ornamental lakes, meandering canals, and scenic waterfalls. Together, they provide a progression of scenic vistas that lead you through the largest monastic ruins in England.

The Generalife is an independent palace located east the Alhambra (pictured) that forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site

5. Granada, Spain: Moorish grandeur at the Palacio de Generalife

Located at the summer palace of the Nasrid rulers in Andalusia, the Generalife gardens showcase the Moorish genius for manipulating water, shade, and breeze to stay cool. Jetting fountains, gently flowing pools, and long trickling channels provide a constant soundtrack of watery burbling as you wander among the tumult of vines and blossoms.  

The gardens around Quinta da Regaleira, in Sintra, Portugal, are unabashedly Gothic with an occult twist

6. Sintra, Portugal: occult influences at Quinta da Regaleira

Wildly eccentric, the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira are loaded with a jumble of occult-inspired symbols and frankly Gothic features. Narrow footpaths twist between limestone caves and secret tunnels lead to grottoes illuminated by fairy lights. Don’t miss the pair of dry wells reached via a mossy, nine-tiered spiral stair — occult initiations are thought to have been held here.

7. Lisse, Netherlands: so many tulips in Keukenhof

Billed as the largest flower garden in the world, Keukenhof is a delight for anyone who loves the crayon-bright colors and sweet perfumes of spring flowering bulbs. More than seven million tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and lilies blossom for eight weeks each spring in vast rivers of lipstick red, deep purple, imperial yellow, and brilliant white.

8. Florence, Italy: Medici opulence in the Boboli Gardens

Tucked behind the Palazzo Pitti, the opulent Boboli Gardens are arguably the finest Renaissance gardens in the world. The sprawling grounds are studded with geometric box hedges, soaring cypresses, and statuary from the period, as well as shell-and-gem-studded grottoes and a pond with enormous goldfish.

La Mortella Gardens in Ischia, Italy are enthusiastically casual, blending local and exotic species

9. Ischia, Italy: a tropical oasis in La Mortella Gardens

La Mortella Gardens are enthusiastically informal. Common myrtle (the garden’s namesake) is given as much pride of place as rare specimens like Amazonian lilies, and they’re all tied together with narrow paths shaded by cycads and tree ferns. From the upper gardens, you’ll have sweeping views of the island.

10. Stockholm, Sweden: Drottningholm Palace gardens in Stockholm

Formal, elaborate, and spacious, both Drottningholm Palace and its gardens were inspired by Versailles. You can see the influence in the graceful proportions and the flanking rows of soaring lime trees. Elaborate box hedges form complicated knots around arching bridges, ornamental pools and notable topiaries.

At Audley Travel, we offer trips that have been created just for you. We understand that what motivates you to travel is deeply personal and have spent more than 20 years creating meaningful travel experiences that start with getting to know you and how you want to see the world.

Our specialists have traveled widely in their destinations and one of them will be your dedicated expert, from your first phone call until you return home. When they’re planning a trip, they won’t just ask you how you want to explore, they’ll ask you how you want to feel. And, by understanding the meaning behind why you want to travel, they can create experiences with the power to change your perspective — experiences that will stay with you long after you return home