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7 winter escapes from the Netherlands by train

Ugh, wintertime. It makes everyone want to escape their current lives, whether by resolving to be a better person or by physically travelling away from their usual abodes. 🏃🏼‍♀️

Well, you can do both! Travel by train to minimise your impact on the planet and explore some gorgeous European cities. We have chosen seven winter escapes from the Netherlands by train that you can enjoy in 2022. 🚄

Travel to Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, and the Czech Republic: all in under a day.

READ MORE | 5 best German cities for a weekend escape from the Netherlands

Why is it better to travel by train?

Well, we all want to explore new places, but air travel has a massive impact on the climate because of the number of greenhouse gases emitted.

Especially within Europe, train travel is usually convenient, fast, and relaxing, so it’s time to ditch the planes and get on trains in 2022.

Plus, particularly in winter, there’s something very appealing about being cosy in a train, watching the world go by out the window, sipping a hot chocolate. ☕

Enjoy a relaxing cup of hot choco while you let the train do the journeying for you. Image: Depositphotos

READ MORE | Night trains to Venice, Prague, Milan, Verona (and more!) coming to the Netherlands

The most convenient ways to book inter-European trains is either through the NS’s international website, or through Rail Europe.

You could also purchase an Interrail pass if you’re planning on travelling for an extended period of time.

And, as a more flexible—but also more expensive option—you can also buy tickets as you go. The prices listed are based on you booking a month in advance, so they’ll be more expensive if you book for tomorrow, for example.

1. Gent

winter escapes by train from the netherlands
Gent is the perfect winter escape from the Netherlands. Image: Pixabay.

We recently visited the beautiful city of Gent, and we were blown away. One of our writers describes Gent as a more relaxed and accessible Bruges, with a stunning mix of old and new architecture dotting the city centre.

And honestly, with that travel time from Amsterdam, how could you not take the trip? Short trips like this one are pretty inexcusable to take by plane — in fact, flying would probably take you longer than taking the train where Gent is concerned. 😋

Time: 3 hours
💲Price one-way: €29-37

2. Strasbourg

winter escapes by train from the netherlands
The stunning old town of Strasbourg. Image: Pixabay.

Had enough of one international city of peace and justice? Well, leave The Hague, and head for Strasbourg!

Home of the European Parliament, you can get your fill of politics here no problem. But Strasbourg is also a really beautiful city: it has two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame (not the burnt Parisian one) and the Imperial, or German Quarter.

There are lots of beautiful parks to enjoy as well, even in this winter weather. And you can enjoy both Germany and France at the same time, as Strasbourg has been a historically contested city between the two countries, and the cultural blend remains evident to this day.

The train trip will take you through Paris, so although it is a short trip, it could be worth breaking up with a day of exploring the French capital. 🥐

But otherwise, it’s a very simple trip, which will get you to Strasbourg in less than half a day. The perfect option if you want to go somewhere just for the weekend.

Time: 6 hours
💲Price one-way: From €42.20

3. Luxembourg

winter escapes from the netherlands by train
Feel the wonder at the Fortress of Luxemburg. Image: Pixabay

If you want to get the essence of Western Europe, then you simply cannot miss Luxembourg. In the centre of everything, and multilingual (English, French, German and Luxembourgish are spoken there), it has a deep sense of culture and history.

The Fortress of Luxembourg is a must-visit: it was known as the Gibraltar of the North until it was rendered unfit for military use in 1867.

It has a great wine-and-dine scene, which is perfect for those winter months where you want to take the chill out of your bones with a delicious meal.

What does the train trip look like? It’s a wonderfully simple one, usually with just one change at Bruxelles-Midi. Start early, and you could be in Luxembourg by mid-afternoon, maybe even in time for a late lunch. Download a film onto your phone to watch, and the journey will be over before you know it.

Time: 6 hours
💲Price one-way: From €32.50

4. Zurich

winter escapes by train from the netherlands
Beautiful Zurich sunsets. Image: Pixabay

The association many of us have with Zurich is an expensive financial centre — which is true. But there’s a lot more to Zurich than that, which is why we’re recommending it as one of our top winter destinations by train.

First of all, in Switzerland, you simply cannot escape its beautiful nature. Zurich is a lakeside city with the beautiful River Limmat running through the Old City.

In summer, locals swim in both the river and the lake, but unless you’re a bit mad, you probably don’t want to be doing that in winter.

There are some gorgeous hiking trails up each of the small mountains that surround the city, so bundle up and get out there. And in winter, you can never go wrong with a museum, and Zurich is full of them.

The train journey is a neat eight hours, and usually includes two changes: one at Frankfurt, and one at Basel in Switzerland.

Eight hours is short enough that you shouldn’t need to split the journey, but if you do want to (maybe if you have small children), then Frankfurt is a great spot to do it in.

⏳Time: 8 hours
💲Price one-way: From €37.90

5. Vienna

winter escapes from the netherlands by train
Coffeehouse culture is a huge part of Viennese life. Image: Pixabay.

If you’re craving some high-quality architecture, Vienna is the place to go. If, for some reason, you really want a city to visit on a Sunday, Vienna is not the place to go.

Moving on from a very tragic past mistake, Vienna is the centre of Habsburg imperial history. You can’t come here and not gobble up the castles; Schonbrunn, with its cheerful yellow walls and tales of the private lives of Sisi and Franz Joseph or Hofburg, where new architectural styles were added on as each new ruler tried to show off.

And then there’s the coffeehouse culture: eat some delicious cake and sip some coffee as you watch the world go by. ☕

The train trip sometimes only has one stop, at Frankfurt, but others have multiple stops in Munich or Saltzburg, for example. Depending on whether you want to split the journey, either option could be a great idea.

Saltzburg is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains, and Munich, though expensive, is a lovely place to explore for a day.

Overnight trains from Amsterdam to Vienna are also running as of May of 2021, so Vienna is literally a sleep away! 😻

Time: 11 hours
💲Price one-way: From €30

6. Copenhagen

winter escapes by train from the netherlands
Copenhagen is full of colour. Image: Pixabay.

Ok, some honesty here. If there’s one trip I’d beg you to go on above all others, it’s this one.

Copenhagen is one of my favourite cities (outside the Netherlands, of course), and the train journey takes you through some beautiful countryside and cityscapes.

What can you do in Copenhagen? Well, given that I’m a bit obsessed with books, the first thing I’ll recommend to you is visiting the Royal Library.

Not just for the books, but for the architecture. There are two parts to this library: the 19th century redbrick side, and the more recent ‘Black Diamond’ extension, glimmering in the sunlight.

READ MORE | ‘Gezellig’ or ‘hygge’? Here are the real differences between the Netherlands and Denmark

Then there is the famous Christiania town, home of hippies and hash-dealers. Breathe in the socialism. Not the weed. The socialism. Thank you. 😂

So what does an eleven-hour train journey to Copenhagen look like? You’ll have either two or three changes- for sure one in Osnabruck, and one in Hamburg. Hamburg would be the perfect place to split the journey, as it’s about halfway through the journey, but the trip is totally doable in a day.

Just make sure you walk around during the changeovers, so you don’t get stiff and remain in peak condition to breathe in the socialism.

Time: 11 hours
💲Price one-way: From €38

7. Prague

train trips from the netherlands
Gorgeous Prague panorama. Image: Pixabay

Prague is well known for its cheap beer and attracts revellers from far and wide each year. But there is far more than that to Prague: first of all, the architecture is stunning.

The Old Town Hall was one of my favourite features. It is adorned with an astronomical clock on its gothic church tower, constructed in 1338. On the ground and second floors, you can find art exhibitions as well as the tourist office. We also loved Charles Bridge.

Built in 1390, it is a major tourist draw so don’t expect much peace and quiet here. It is lined with local artists and a fair few hawkers, but that’s all part of the experience. 🤷🏼‍♀️

The train journey to Prague from Amsterdam will take you an entire day, but you’ll pass through some beautiful areas. Passing around Cologne and Frankfurt, you’ll stop in Nuremberg (so if you want to break up the journey into two days, this would be the perfect place to stay).

A final interchange at Schwandorf and you’ll be over the Germany border into the Czech Republic. It sounds like a long journey, but bring a couple of good books or a friend, and it’ll fly by. ✨

Time: 12 hours
💲Price one-way: From €38

From luxury fortresses, beautiful architecture, and so much culture, there’s almost too much to choose from when it comes to winter destinations. And, with just how easy it is to hop on a train, you could fill up every weekend of the cold and dreary months with a luxury trip. ⛄

Will you be heading off to any European cities by train soon? Let us know your favourite destinations!

This article was originally published in January 2020 and updated in October 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Pexels
Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.

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  1. Terrific article. Very helpful. We plan to take the train to several of those cities when the Covid-19 epidemic has subsided. We’ve already been to all the cities you cited over the years. But we are anxious to go back with the train this time. I recommend visiting any of those cities.


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