European Train Travel: Discounted Summer fares

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Get ready for summer train travel, Cheapos! Photo by hiddeneurope
Get ready for summer train travel, Cheapos! Photo by hiddeneurope

It’s that time of year, Cheapos. The time when various European railway administrations launch a deluge of summer specials. So what’s making the top of the list this year? Read on for a list of rail companies that are slashing prices.


First up? Those deeply discounted offerings from the French Railways (SNCF) on their TGV services. Between now and August 23rd, first-class fares on many routes across France have been slashed to as little as €30 one way. Look for the TGV Prems Vente Flash fares on the dedicated SNCF website.


Thalys is also offering regular summer first class specials, again on sale until August 23rd, for services linking Paris with Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne. With August being a light month for business travel, there are often heaps of empty seats on TGV and Thalys first-class carriages, and so these summer deals give budget travelers the chance to trade up to a spot of unaccustomed luxury! For more info, visit Thalys’ web site.

Deutsche Bahn

Deutsche Bahn launches a new ticket this week that—for travelers in no great rush—looks like a superb deal. The Quer-durchs-Land Ticket (QdLT) is a weekday equivalent of the long standing Schönes-Wochenende Ticket (SWT), which allows unlimited travel in Germany on all but the fastest trains on either a Saturday or a Sunday. Now QdLT will offer a similar option from Monday through Friday. Stipulations include no travel before 9 AM, but for long hops on slower trains,  QdLT can be fantastic value. Okay, so you can’t use the slick express services, but the slower trains bring other benefits – a chance to enjoy the passing countryside at a less hectic pace.

Cologne to Heidelberg, for example, takes less than five hours by regional train on a route that includes the Rhine valley line from Bonn via Koblenz to Mainz, in our view hugely better than the route used by the fastest express trains. QdLT is utterly flexible. No need to state your destination, no need to pre-book. And the basic fare of €34 is good for solo travel, then add on €5 for each extra traveler up to a maximum of five in all (for €54).

Happy traveling, Cheapos.

About the author


About the authors: Nicky and Susanne manage a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine.

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