What’s the best way to travel in Europe?

Europe is a continent that is accessible and easy to explore by car, train or river cruise. Europe’s fast, interconnected rail systems and open borders within the Schengen area make train travel a breeze. Vacationers who prefer to drive throughout Europe also benefit from open borders and can stop in as many out-of-the-way small towns as they like. And river cruises can be a luxurious, relaxing way to tour some of Europe’s most iconic waterways, with stops in major cities.

Here are some tips, and pros and cons for exploring Europe by plane, train or river cruise.

Some tips:

  • Consider whether a multidestination rail pass would be best for your journey. If you’re planning on touring much of the continent, consider purchasing an Eurail pass or other multi-country pass. But be sure to do your research before purchasing tickets.

    Sometimes buying single tickets per trip is less expensive. Rail Europe, Nomadic Matt and Seat 61 have great planning resources for your next train trip.
  • Book a night train if you can. They’re inexpensive and have the money and time saving benefit of combining your travel and lodging. If you want to visit multiple countries, sleeping while you travel between cities is a great idea that leaves your daylight hours open to sightseeing.


  • You can choose your speed. Europe has plenty of high speed passenger rail routes for travellers who want to quickly get from one region to another. Some efficient high speed operators include ICE  in Germany and France’s TGV. If you want to join the slow travel trend and tour Europe by train, scenic routes like Portugal’s Douro Line or Norway’s Flam Railway are the way to go.
  • Train travel is mostly less hassle than flying. You don’t have to arrive to the station hours early to check in, or take your shoes off at security. You can bring food and drinks from home on board if you want or have a leisurely meal in the dining car.


  • Flying is frequently cheaper than train travel in Europe. For deals on high-speed trains, book in advance.
  • Train schedules can be slightly confusing. You may have to change trains during a single journey. Cities in Europe often have more than one train station, so you may arrive at one and depart from another. Download an app to keep track of train schedules.

Did you know you can protect your train trip with travel insurance? Trip cancellation benefits by Allianz Global Assistance may reimburse non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled or delayed for a covered reason, such as illness or dangerous weather.

Some tips:

  • Keep an eye out for major deals on flights with a number of apps and book well in advance.
  • Plan for strict luggage limits if you’re flying budget within Europe. You will have to pay to check a bag and some budget airlines will only allow you to bring one carry-on item. If you carry a purse, you may have to stash it in a backpack or other carry-on to board.


  • Flying is often the cheapest way to travel while visiting multiple countries in Europe. Numerous budget airlines make flying across Europe affordable.
  • Flying is faster than taking the train or driving, when strictly counting time in the air. Factors such as airport wait times can impact travel times. Be flexible with your travel dates and book well in advance to avoid long waits at the airport.


  • You may be flying into an airport that is far from your desired destination if you’re flying with a budget airline. You may not be able to get a budget flight directly into major cities such as London and Paris. Flying to a further-afield airport for a lower ticket price may not be worth it when you consider the cost and time of taking additional transit to get exactly where you want to go.
  • Flying can be a hassle. You often have to travel outside of cities to get to the airport up to two hours before your flight, which can really eat into your vacation time.

Before you book your next flight, you will want to consider purchasing travel insurance. Your Canadian government health insurance plan may not cover you during medical emergencies outside your home province. Medical facilities abroad will not accept your domestic health insurance plan. Travel insurance by Allianz Global Assistance with emergency medical benefits can help you fill coverage gaps.

Some tips:

  • Put thought into choosing off-ship excursions. River cruises stop at ports in the center of major cities. On shore, you will have the option of sightseeing solo or with a group tour. You can take a bus to famous landmarks away from the city and be dropped off at the next port to re-board the ship. There is plenty to do outside of taking in the river scenery.
  • Don’t book the least expensive cabin. They are often tight on square footage and have limited windows, which isn’t a great option for when you can’t take in the scenery from the deck because of poor weather.


  • River cruising is less hassle than both flying and travelling by train. You don’t have to worry about quickly changing trains mid-trip, checking bags at the airport or other stressors. You just get on the boat and sail away.
  • River cruises don’t include amenities you may not use, unlike ocean cruises. People who are more interested in sightseeing will appreciate not having to pay for extra frills such as an on-site gym or multiple bars. You will be too busy taking in the beauty of the Seine or Rhine!


  • People with limited mobility may have a hard time. Cabins can be small, which could make maneuvering with an electric wheelchair or similar device hard. The cruises also stop in the center of older European cities, where cobble stone streets could make wheelchair use difficult.
  • You probably won’t have the opportunity to dine alone. At dinner, your party most likely will be seated at tables with other passengers you may have only just met. The dinners are multiple courses, so count on making conversation for a while.

If you love meeting new people over dinner, it could be great. But if you need an evening to decompress and take in travel experiences after touring the city or sailing all day, it may be a nightmare. One frequent cruiser wrote that Viking was the only river line she has traveled on that provides a dining area where you can grab dinner alone.

Do you travel to Europe two or more times per year? Consider purchasing an annual comprehensive travel insurance plan option by Allianz Global Assistance. Save money and pay only one fee for year-round emergency medical protection.

Get a travel insurance quote today to find out how Allianz Global Assistance can make your next trip to Europe stress free.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.
Travel protected with Allianz Global Assistance
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