We have been to Europe multiple times and have travelled extensively by train.
Traveling by train in Europe is the norm, rail travel is the preferred mode of travel by Europeans. Unlike the United States, Europe has a well-developed, efficient rail system with reasonable fares and service to most cities. There are various levels of cost depending upon how fast you want to get from point A to point B.
If point A and B are large popular cities, then chances are you can get there quickly. The smaller cities usually are served by local rail which is older and slower in most cases. Pre-booking can save you some money, but if your flight is delayed and you miss your train, there are no refunds.
For example, we were traveling to the Amalfi coast. We had booked a flight from Charlotte to Rome. However, when we got to the airport in Charlotte and boarded the plane, we never left the gate. There were technical issues with the plane, and we were asked to leave the plane. Our flight was cancelled. We were rebooked on a flight from Charlotte to Paris, then another flight from Paris to Rome. As a result, we arrived in Rome after the high-speed train we pre-booked had departed. They would not refund our fares. And to add insult to injury, we had to pay about double the original fare to take the next high-speed train from Rome to Naples.
Once in Naples we had to switch to a local train for our trip to our hotel in Sorrento. While the train from Rome to Naples was clean and plush, the local train from Naples to Sorrento was older and a bit grungy. Also, on that train there were many groups of musicians travelling from car to car playing music for donations. On the one hand, that can be enjoyable, but it can also be disconcerting depending upon how aggressive they are. Also, no matter the size or speed of the train, keep your eyes on your bags at all times, and be aware of pickpockets. They are out there, and they want your money or whatever you have of value.
I don’t mean to scare you, it’s just that you must remain alert at all times. Even young children are utilized by pickpockets as a diversion to gain access to your wallet or camera or iPhone.
We have travelled by train from Rome to Anzio, Rome to Naples, Naples to Sorrento, Zurich to Stuttgart, London to Hever, and every stop in between. And we love it. But we stay alert.
As I mentioned, booking in advance can save you a considerable amount of money, but make sure you have a high degree of confidence that you will be there on time for your train departure.
When traveling in Italy, we have booked online using Trenitalia. They are very reliable, have a great website in English, and they have great pricing. We have used them multiple times.
It pays to research your routes well before your departure to take advantage of specials that arise from time to time.
At some point we are going to plan an extended trip through Europe and plan to utilize train travel for most of our transportation needs.
Seniors can travel by train safely and economically in Europe, with a little pre-planning and research online.
Here are some links that may help you in your planning: