One of the best ways to explore Europe is by train. Railroad travel in places like France, Belgium and Holland are efficient and comfortable, allowing you to see more of the landscape than you would by air. To see some of the best of Western Europe in a single week, plan a journey from Paris to Amsterdam by train. Along the way, stop off in places like Brussels, Bruges and Delft, and then hop back onto the train to continue your unforgettable European getaway.
Begin your adventure in Paris, a destination known as the City of Light and the Capital of Fashion. Sprawling over the banks of the River Seine, Paris is home to a staggering number of historic landmarks, museums and art galleries. Art enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Louvre, where you can spot the Mona Lisa, or the Musée d’Orsay, which is packed with works by Monet and Van Gogh. You’ll also want to see the incredible Notre Dame Cathedral, the iconic Eiffel Tower and the impressive Arc de Triomphe, all three of which are now iconic landmarks of Paris. If you have time, you can also venture just outside the city to see the magnificent Château de Versailles, once home to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.
In less than two hours by train, you can depart from Paris and arrive in Brussels, Belgium. Brussels is known as a kind of melting pot where cultures mix and there are multiple official languages. While you’re in Brussels, you will definitely want to check out some of the most important landmarks in the city, which include the Manneken Pis bronze statue, the bold Atomium structure built in 1958 and the Basiliek van het Heilig Hart, which is one of the largest churches in Western Europe. You might also enjoy the incredible collection of art at the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, one of the shows and performances at the Bozar Center for Fine Arts or shopping for Belgian lace or chocolates at the many outdoor markets surrounding the central plaza, known as the Grand Place-Grote Markt.
Make your next rail stop Bruges, another Belgian city just an hour from Brussels that is truly picturesque. The architecture is wonderfully preserved, and many visitors find Bruges to be straight out of a fairy tale. You’ll love touring the Gothic chapel called the Basilica of the Holy Blood, joining a tour and tasting at the historic Brewery De Halve Maan, climbing up the Belfry in the center of the Grote Markt and admiring the works of local artists at the Groeninge Museum. Bruges is also a spectacular place to explore the canals by boat or take a walk around the medieval walls and gates that once protected the entire city.
It’s just another two hours by train to Delft, a Dutch city perhaps known best for its iconic white and blue ceramics. Delft also boasts a significant amount of historic, preserved architecture and stunning canals, making the city feel like a quieter, less touristy Amsterdam. While you’re in Delft, make time for a tour of Old Church, or Oude Kerk, which dates back to the 13th century. Then, check out its counterpart, the New Church, which is still more than 500 years old. You’ll also enjoy a tour of the Royal Delft Porcelain Factory, a stroll past the Molen de Roos Windmill and some shopping at the local bric à brac markets.
Round out the train journey in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam might be best known for its Red Light District, but the canal city is one of incredible history and breathtaking scenery. Enjoy a boat tour along the canals, explore the medieval architecture on foot in the Old Center, shop for tulips in the Bloemenmarket and look for some of the medieval wooden homes that still stand in the center of the city. For art and history, Amsterdam is a true mecca, so take time to visit the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
Day 1: Arrive in Paris, sleep in Paris
Day 2: Explore Paris, sleep in Paris
Day 3: Explore Paris, sleep in Paris
Day 4: By train to Brussels, sleep in Brussels
Day 5: Explore Brussels, sleep in Brussels
Day 6: By train to Bruges, sleep in Bruges
Day 7: By train to Delft, sleep in Delft
Day 8: By train to Amsterdam, sleep in Amsterdam
Day 9: Explore Amsterdam, sleep in Amsterdam
Day 10: Explore Amsterdam, sleep in Amsterdam
Day 11: Fly home