Preparing for Our Great Adventure: Europe by Train with a Toddler

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Ever since my son was born in July 2013, I’ve kind of put all traveling on hold for an undefined period, but late last year I started to get itchy feet and that burning desire to travel the world that so many of us had came back to me and packed a real punch. I have friends who have traveled with a toddler or infant and wouldn’t do it again for anything in the world and I have read of many other cases in which traveling with a toddler was done without too much fuss. There are even a bunch of digital nomads that travel non stop with kids so I’ve decided to give it a try as well.

And right now we’re preparing for our great adventure: Europe by train. My wife, my 2 years-old and I. Six countries, nine cities, thirty days. By train. A true adventure that will start in May!

There will surely be a lot of articles on this blog about this adventure (the next one involves costs, so stay tuned!) but right now I’ll focus on what and when. So here’s our itinerary for our vacation in Europe by train and the amazing cities that we’re going to visit:

Budapest, Hungary

Photo by Costel Slincu
Photo by Costel Slincu

We’re starting our trip in Budapest, a city that has always been on my “to visit” list, but one I never got the chance to see. We’ll spend 3 nights in Budapest, and that should give us just enough time to visit the main attractions and scratch the surface on the life in Budapest. We’re planning to explore the streets, walk around Oktagon, visit the Budapest Castle and enjoy their parks. We’re trying to keep museums to a minimum this time to have it as entertaining as possible for our two years old. And from here we’re hopping in a train to…

Vienna, Austria

Photo by -Reji
Photo by -Reji

I fell in love with Vienna almost 10 years ago when I first visited it and I promised myself that I will keep coming back. I love the city and its streets, I love the Schonnbrun Palace and we’re going to add to that the Zoo and maybe a bit of Prater. We’re spending just 3 nights here and, just as in the case of the other cities on our list, that’s not enough. But we’ll be back. Until then, we’ll hop onto a train and start our trip to…

Munich, Germany

Photo by Werner Kunz
Photo by Werner Kunz

I have never been to Germany, but I always wanted to get there. We’re going to meet a friend who’s going to show us around, but I’m already drooling at the idea of exploring the Marienplaz area and the Nymphenburg. We’ll probably check out their Zoo as well because you can’t see too many exotic animals when you’re traveling with a two years-old. After three nights here, we’re hopping in a train and ride it to…

Verona, Italy

Photo by Vismar Ravagnani
Photo by Vismar Ravagnani

We’re not even planning to visit the hugely overrated and insanely crowded House of Juliet (from Romeo and Juliet), but instead we plan to simply take a stroll down the streets, enjoy the less touristic areas and head to the Piazza Bra and Piazzale Castel San Pietro. Because, yes, we’re more about staying outdoors and exploring rather than museum and restaurant hopping. But we’ll be hopping into our next train after three more nights and head to…

Trieste, Italy

Photo by Roberto Taddeo
Photo by Roberto Taddeo

Everybody told us that there’s nothing to see in Trieste, yet we decided to spend 4 nights there. It’s a city by the sea and it will already by towards the half of the month May when we get there so hopefully we’ll get some nice weather to walk down the promenade, enjoy the sea (looking at it, that is) and maybe even let the sun touch our skin while we laze on a bench near the sea. It’s these beautiful moments that we usually don’t enjoy as much as we should during our travel. And now we’ll start cheating a bit because we’ll jump in a bus to…

Pula, Croatia

Photo by Mick Baker
Photo by Mick Baker

The train would’ve taken forever and it seems that the bus system that they have in Croatia, thanks to the numerous and high quality highways makes traveling by car (or bus in our case) a lot faster. We’re staying in the city center, planning for a few trips to the nearby beach, the Amphiteater and the Fortress in Pula. We’ll spend four nights here before jumping in another bus and heading to…

Rijeka, Croatia

Photo by Mario Fajt
Photo by Mario Fajt

We’re continuing our stay in cities by the sea (yup, it’s pattern we’re really happy with) and hopefully the end of May will bring us the first days that we’ll be able to spend at the beach in Croatia. If not, we’ll still wander along the streets in the old city center and enjoy the delicious Croatian food. And after four more nights we’ll be in another bus to…

Zagreb, Croatia

Photo by Bokeh & Travel
Photo by Bokeh & Travel

Yup, we’ve decided to see as much Croatia as possible and even though we’ll only spend two nights in Zagreb, we’ll try to make them count and at least prepare a list of things to see on our next, longer-termed visit. And we’ll also stop cheating and head by train towards our last destination in our Train trip around Europe to…

Belgrade, Serbia

Photo by Luka Knezevic - Strika
Photo by Luka Knezevic – Strika

We’ve been to Serbia before and loved it, but never to Belgrade, so we decided to get a few extra nights to spend here as well and explore the city. We still have no plans regarding what we’ll visit or do, but we already know that the prices there are extremely low, so we have high hopes for family friendly fun.

So these would be the nine cities we’re going to visit during our first vacation around Europe (or better said a part of it), a real adventure that we like to call it since it will be our first major trip with our son who will be almost two years old. The chose these cities with distance and time spent in the train in mind – between 2 and 6:30 hours, so this did limit our options a little bit. But I am on the belief that all cities in this world are extremely enjoyable and we’ll surely do our best to get the most out of them.

What about you? Have you ever been around Europe by train? Would you do this or you’re the “get me there quickly” airplane kind of traveler?

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