Europe: Should I rent a car or take the train?

Europe: Should I rent a car or take the train?

So you’re heading to Europe and have no idea how to get around? Transportation in a new country can be scary, especially knowing if you should rent a car or take the train. So which is better?

Taking a car or renting a train is a very personal decision. There are pros and cons of each, but we’d like to help you figure out which is better for you.

Pros & Cons

 ProsCons
Renting a Car- You have control over going where you want, when you want
- You will need a driver's license (research the rules of the country you are going to in advance)
- You have to find parking anywhere you go
- You have to learn the laws of driving in the country you are driving in
Taking the Train- You don't have to worry about parking
- You don't have to learn any of the rules of the road
- You don't need a driver's license
- A lot of the bullet trains can be faster than driving
- You don't have complete control over where you go or what you do
- The cheaper trains can be a lot slow than driving

One of the most important factors when it comes to renting a car or taking the train is how much freedom you want. Taking the train can limit your schedule, as well as if you want to explore the countryside in whatever country you are in. There are many other things to think about. For instance, if you are backpacking through Europe, you may have different requirements than if you are only there for a few days.

Recommended: Interrailing on a Budget: How to Save Money Traveling Europe

However, it is not always easy to drive in European countries, and if you want to remove any needless stress, that loss of control is probably very worth it to you.

Once you make your decision, you should start to research how to rent a car, or to purchase your train tickets.

Here are some of our favorite options:

How to rent a car in Europe

AutoEurope

We would suggest AutoEurope, a U.S.-based company that we have used many times. They will find you the best rates from different companies.

They offer support if you have issues while out of the country. Using AutoEurope takes the fear out of renting a car in a foreign country.

Here is an article we recommend on tips for renting a car abroad

You will still be renting through an individual company (Avis, Budget, etc.), but you have the support of AutoEurope. Because many of the companies they work with are also based in the U.S., you will have their support if something goes wrong on your trip as well.

Rent Your Car Here

Sixt

Sixt is in hundreds of cities in Europe, and offers great service throughout the continent. They are a trusted brand and have hundreds of locations to pick up and drop off your car, no matter where you are headed.

I have used Sixt numerous times, and they are courteous and professional and will offer you all the help you need on your trip.

Book now and save 10% off your Europe rental
Rent Your Car Here

 

How to take a train

If you are used to transportation in the United States, the transportation system in Europe will astound you. There are trains throughout the continent, for all different price ranges. You will book through a larger company (like those listed below) or through an individual company, like ItaliaRail.

Either way, you will receive great service and can navigate their websites with ease.

Here are some options:

EURail

EURail is one of the largest train companies that travels to numerous destinations in Europe. You can also purchase a pass or tickets for individual trips. They also have group rates, trip planning, and (the best part) they have constant sales going on.

Book Your Train Tickets

RailEurope

RailEurope is another trusted train company in Europe, especially if you are traveling to numerous countries. You can buy a Rail Pass, which, for a flat fee, will get you throughout the continent. Or you can purchase on a trip-by-trip basis.

Book Your Train Tickets

Others trains

There are also plenty of train lines throughout different countries.

For instance, ItaliaRail in Italy has both bullet trains and local trains to get you from location to location.

Deciding whether you should rent a car or take the train will be different for everyone, so research the different companies and find which one is better for you.

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