Europe 2013 Planning mode: The Transportation

by Oz Chinita

Okay itinerary done.  Next question is how to get from one place to another.  There’s so much information in the internet of what website to go to and what route, that for the first few months I was just lost randomly checking websites but not plotting anything concrete.

What helped was finding this website seat61 where you can select what country you will be starting from and where your destination is to show what website to look at.

For those following a similar itinerary to mine, these are the 3 websites I looked at for timetables and fares, one for each country.

Paris/France – http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/
Switzerland – http://sbb.ch
Italy – http://trenitalia.com

For the inter country travel, (i.e. Paris to Switzerland, and Switzerland to Italy), you can choose either the home country or the target country websites to do the booking. I would do a check of both websites to see if I can get cheaper in one or the other.

With the websites on hand, next thing I need to think about is the route. Especially for Italy, I first determined the sequence of countries based on the location of each of the cities in the map.

So based on that, I tried to look for the times and fares from Paris -> Murren -> Lucerne -> Venice -> Florence -> Cinque Terre (daytrip from Florence) -> Siena (either as a daytrip or overnight) -> Rome.

Once I know the route, if there’s a lot of transfers in between, I then check the cost of the 1st leg as sometimes the cost ends up being cheaper (especially for the inter country transfers).  And if you’re able to book the inter country transfers 3 months in advance, there are some really good discounts available for booking ahead!

Here’s a table summarizing the costs and routes for my trip:

Country Travel Time Description How Price (EUR)
Paris (airport to hotel) 1h10m one way to airport http://parisbytrain.com/charles-de-gaulle-airport-cdg-to-paris-by-train/ Line => RER B (Blue)
Direction => Paris (Robinson, Antony, St-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse)
Arrival Stations => Gare du Nord, Châtelet les Halles, St Michel/Nôtre Dame, Luxembourg, Port Royal, Denfert-Rochereau, Cité Universitaire
Ticket => “Billet Ile-de-France” Aéroport CDG – Paris (Zone 5 -> Zone 1)
9.5
Paris (city) for 5 days http://parisbytrain.com/paris-metro-ticket-t-in-detail/ Ticket t is currently priced at 1,70€ for a single ticket (as of January 2013). A package of 10 tickets, a carnet [“car-nay”] costs 13,30€. 13.3
Paris (to Versailles http://parisbytrain.com/paris-to-chateau-versailles-by-train/ 8.2
Paris to Basel 3h30m Paris – Gare de Lyon to Basel 50 CHF
8:23 am – 11:26 am
sbb.ch  40.39
Basel to Murren village
(via Interlaken)
3 hours Basel to Interlaken OST (58 CHF),
OST to Lauterbrunnen (7.40 CHF)
Lauterbrunnen BLM to Murren BLM (10.80 CHF)
76.20 CHF
sbb.ch 61.47
Murren to Schilthorn daytrip 77 CHF return or 57.80 CHF for early morning tix http://www.schilthorn.ch/en/timetable-tariffs/ 62.37
Murren to Lucerne 3 hours Murren – Lauterbrunnen (10.80 CHF)
Lauterbrunnen – Interlaken OST (7.40 CHF)
Interlaken OST – Luzern (31 CHF)
49.20 CHF
sbb.ch 40.03
Lucerne (Mt. Rigi) whole day 1. Lucerne to Arth Goldau
2. Arth Goldau up to Mt Rigi
3. Mt Rigi to Weggis/Vitznau
4. boat to Lucerne
http://www.rigi.ch/en/accessing_resorts.cfm
sbb.ch
80.77
Venice 7h Lucerne – Milan (27 CHF promo) 7:47-11:50 am
Milan – Venice (9 eur promo) 12:35 -3:10 pm
sbb.ch
trenitalia.com
31
Florence 2h5m cheap tickets range from 19-29 EUR trenitalia.com 19
Cinque Terre (from Florence) 4 hours (return) from Florence go to La Spezia, then take train to farthest station (Monterrosso), then can walk down to Riomaggiore, then ride again to La Spezia -> Florence trenitalia.com 25
Cinque Terre (Daytrip) 30 min (farthest) take train to Monterrosso and just walk down http://www.cinqueterreonline.com/tips.htm#trains
http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/cinque-terre-card
10
Siena ~1h30m take the bus SITA bus
http://www.italylogue.com/featured-articles/getting-from-florence-to-siena.html
7
Rome ~1h30m from Siena SENA bus 23
Rome for 3 days unlimited bus & metro If on our own B.T.I. bus ticket 11
Total 442.03

Those parts of the trip in red are the legs of the trip I was able to reserve ahead of time in order to get a cheaper fare for the trip.

Other tips/info I discovered:

– For travel in Paris, there’s a lot of websites promoting the Paris pass.  DON’T do this first and check your plans.  I found that for my own plans, these are expensive and even the Lonely Planet guidebook recommended just getting a booklet of 10 tickets. (see above)

– Switzerland train travel is way more expensive, so I checked if the Swiss travel cards would help lower the cost.  This is actually valid for 1 month, but even with just the 5 days travel we plan to do the Swiss half fare http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html can actually reduce our travel costs by around 75 CHF.  So something you can consider if you’re doing train travel and going up the mountains.

– Italy trains have a super economy class which can run out fast.  Take advantage if you can make bookings ahead of time (like 2-3 months in advance).  When making the booking, I found that paying by credit card gives me an error. Choose the Paypal option instead and you’ll be able to process the booking okay.

– If you have time: some of the travel routes involve transfers in between.  You can take advantage and do stopovers of these places! Lucerne to Venice has a stopover in Milan, Florence to La Spezia (for Cinque Terre) has a transfer in Pisa.

– For Florence to Siena & Siena to Rome, there’s a train option, but it’s more convenient to take the bus (less walking involved).

Hope this helps all of you who are as overwhelmed as I first was when researching how to travel on your own to Europe 🙂

Other entries I posted on Europe:
Planning the Itinerary

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2 thoughts on “Europe 2013 Planning mode: The Transportation

  1. Pingback: Europe 2013 Planning mode: The Itinerary | Little Miss OZ Chinita and Blueclouds

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