Have you been tossing around the idea of travelling around Europe for a while? If so, do it by train. Train travel eliminates the hassles of airport security, lost baggage, and multi-hour journeys in those cramped, uncomfortable aircraft seats. Plus, high-speed trains in Europe will allow you to enjoy incredible scenery while shuttling you from London to Paris, Prague to Vienna in no time. Before you start planning, take a look at these must-see cities on the European train route:
London is a city that you don’t want to miss this year. Not only is the city hosting the Olympic (July 27 – August 12) and Paralympic (August 29 – September 9) games this summer, it’s also offering a selection of free outdoor events—festivals, concerts, and pop-up performances—that the city is calling “a summer like no other.” While you’re there, make sure to tour the garden at Buckingham Palace and check out its special 2012 Exhibition: Diamonds.
Let’s face it: there’s no wrong time to make a stop in the City of Lights: a visit to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, or the Louvre is always in season. But this year, plan your visit around Paris’ public events to make the most of your trip. Check out the Tour de France in July, head to the Rock de Seine music festival in August, or catch a glimpse of Paris’ nocturnal side during the city’s Sleepless Night on October 6, 2012.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Viennese artist Gustav Klimt (July 14), and the city of Vienna has planned a grand celebration in his honour. Art galleries throughout the city will be hosting exhibitions that showcase Klimt’s contribution to modernism throughout the year. You can even catch “Gustav Klimt – The Musical” on at Künstlerhaus from September 1 – October 7, 2012.
You won’t be disappointed with a visit to Berlin. History buffs will get the chance to see the Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial, and Checkpoint Charlie, while creative minds will relish in Berlin’s vibrant cultural scene. The Classic Open Air is in July, the Long Night at the Museums is in August, and the spectacular Festival of Lights takes place from October 10 – October 21 this year.
This year, Slovenia’s second largest city has the distinction of being one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture. Accordingly, the city has planned over 1,000 events throughout the year to showcase the region’s history and culture. Check out the Maribor festival in September, the Theatre Festival in October, or one of the culinary days to get a taste of the region’s renowned wine.
Europe’s other Capital of Culture this year is Guimarães, Portugal. Although not well-known by most travelers, the city has a young population and a growing arts community. The latest additions are the Centro Cultural Vila Flor, the Center for Art and Architecture affairs, and the new Platform for Arts and Creativity, which just opened this summer. The historical/cultural centre House of Memory is scheduled to open later this year. As the city is a little further removed, you’ll have to head to Oporto from most European destinations and then catch a CP train to Guimarães.