Why 2023 is the Year of Train Travel

| © Gaertner / Alamy Stock Photo

There’s no time like the start of a new year to start planning your next big adventure – here’s why this year, you should make it a rail trip.

From the romantic je ne sais quoi of sleeper trains, to the ever-expanding catalogue of possible connections and the obvious environmental benefits, here’s why we believe 2023 belongs to the train.

It’s environmentally friendly

Travelling by train has many benefits – it’s safe, speedy and (mostly) stress-free. It’s also highly sustainable, which we love here at Culture Trip. We want to see the world while being good to it, which is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, with 100% of all carbon emissions offset, and why we’re making ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future. It’s also why we’re launching our new collection of Rail Trips alongside our Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips.

It’s quick and convenient

Last year, the increased access to (and demand for) international travel saw airports in turmoil. Passengers were getting stuck in insanely long queues at check-in, security and customs, there were lost luggage problems on a massive scale, and a plague of last-minute flight changes or even cancellations ravaged holiday plans.

The truth is that trains offer a far more reliable and convenient option for getting away. No check-in, no long security queues, no wasted time arriving three hours before your scheduled departure. You’re whisked from city to city, or even country to country with minimum hassle – while you watch the world whizz by outside the window. True, if you’re travelling significant distances the journey time will be longer. But for the handful of hours you might save flying (assuming everything runs on time), you’ll arrive at your destination far more relaxed and unruffled.

It’s more affordable than you think

Trains in mainland Europe go toe-to-toe with budget airlines for affordability. Some European countries are even incentivising people to travel by rail – to the point of making rail travel free. Spain has introduced free short- and medium-distance train fares through Renfe, the national rail provider. This is open to all nationalities, including overseas visitors. In early 2023, Germany is set to launch a travel pass to include unlimited rail, tram and bus fares for €49 per month. This won’t cover inter-city express trains, but it will be open to all nationalities.

It’s an adventure in itself

As well as evoking a feeling of romance-laced nostalgia, travelling long distances by overnight train has always been one of the best budget travel hacks. You kill two birds with one stone: you get from Point A to Point B without paying for that extra night’s accommodation. European sleeper trains are only improving as demand increases – newer trains are modern and perfectly comfortable. ÖBB (Austrian Railways) has launched new Nightjet sleeper services throughout Europe, connecting major destinations like never before. The new overnight service between Hamburg and Stockholm offers countless opportunities for rail travel around Scandinavia. Then there’s the Brussels to Berlin sleeper service – meaning you can now travel from London to Berlin in 16 hours, with just one easy change in Brussels.

It offers more connections than ever before

Global rail infrastructure is constantly expanding, offering more and more options for seeing the world by train. A new service from Krakow and Warsaw will connect Poland with neighbouring Kaunas and Vilnius in Lithuania. It requires a quick cross-platform change to swap trains – like many former Soviet republics, Lithuania uses a different gauge on their train tracks. However, it’s a daily route and an extremely affordable option for international rail travel in 2023. And it’s not just Europe that’s launching new rail routes: in 2021 a new high-speed train service opened in Laos, running through the country from north to south, while Indonesia’s first high-speed railway is set to open in 2023, connecting Jakarta to Bandung.

It’s worthy of a bucket-list budget

After years of staying at home and limited opportunities for travel due to the pandemic, it’s time to go big. We’re fully embracing the bucket-list travel trend at Culture Trip. Now is the time to plan those epic adventures you’ve been dreaming of for the past few years, and make up for lost time. And why not finally splash out on that once-in-a-lifetime trip – by rail? Our new Rail Trips are itineraries focused on travelling by train as much as possible. Discover the epic scenery of the Scottish Highlands over seven days, visit two continents on our 12-day journey from Spain to Morocco, explore Northern Italy in nine days, and see the best of Central Europe in 10 days from Berlin to Budapest. Travellers to Asia should check out our 14-day Thailand and Laos trip, and our 13-day adventure around Japan. Alternately, board the El Chepe train on our five-day trip in Mexico.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign to book your next train trip, this is it – 2023 is the year of rail travel resurgence, and we’re ready for it.

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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.