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Which Routes Would You Book in Advance?

Hello!

My husband and I will be backpacking Europe this June/July and need to start booking our train tickets. In your opinion, should we book them all in advance? Just some of them? Any advice you can give I appreciate!

Here is our overall route:
Rome --> Florence
Florence --> Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore)
Cinque Terre --> Venice
Venice --> Bolzano
Bolzano --> Munich
Munich --> Paris
Paris --> Amsterdam
Amsterdam --> Dublin (We've already booked this flight)

Thanks again!

Posted by
16883 posts

The first trains that I would book in advance, and quite possibly the only two, would be the longest, most expensive rides from Munich to Paris and Paris to Amsterdam; they're for sale now. Bolzano-Munich is another one that's a bit longer and less frequent than your Italian trains. You can see a full-fare overview of your plan on Rick’s Train Travel Time & cost Map. Any of your other routes also offer advance-purchase discounts if you're ready to lock in dates and times, except for Florence-Riomaggiore by unreserved, regional trains. RailEurope and CapitaineTrain are two agents who handle all of these countries and should have similar advance-discount rates, passed on from each national railway.

Posted by
3665 posts

If you have solid dates book them all but the cinque terre ones. You can use the national rail sites if you want. My experience is that the Austrian trains (to Bolzano and then to Munich) should not be booked on trenitalia, the German bahn.com is best for both legs.

Posted by
12040 posts

Most connections between Munich and Paris are almost 8 hours or more. That's longer than the 6 hour breaking point where most travelers would prefer to fly.

Book the Paris to Amsterdam ticket directly from Thalys, which operates the high speed trains along the Paris-Brussels-Antwerp-Amsterdam corridor.

Posted by
18313 posts

"That's longer than the 6 hour breaking point where most travelers would prefer to fly."

The rule of thumb is if it takes more than 6 hours by train, it's faster to fly. That doesn't mean most travelers would prefer to fly. There are a lot of other consideration - like cost. In this case, if you book in advance, you can get a Saver Fare of 49€/P for a 6h21 ICE/TGV connection with a 45 min change in Stuttgart. The cheapest non-stop flight I can find on Expedia for over 2 months in advance is $272/P, and you are looking at over 5 hours for the trip, downtown to downtown. I think I would prefer the train for that difference. The least expensive flight is for $109 (twice the cost of the train), and over 6 hours gate to gate, not counting all the other time (to the airport, check in, security, waiting, boarding, deplaning, finding ground transportation, getting into Paris). And flying today is much more of a hassle than the train.

Posted by
12898 posts

Hi,

Munich Hbf to Paris Est was doable as a direct CNL night train route. Since that has been abolished, I would suggest booking first the day route when you decide to lock yourself in on a specific date.

Posted by
3770 posts

Look at Transavia France for flights between Munich and Paris Orly. Flight time is around 1 1/2 hrs. Did quick check mid June. 45-50 E.