When you fly, the general rule of thumb is to get direct flights whenever you can. They’re easier to plan. You don’t have to worry about missing your connection. And, of course, direct flights take less time than having a stopover.
The same can be said of trains, for all the same reasons (although the “missing your connection” part tends to be less of an issue). That’s especially important in Europe, since they rely so much on train travel there – and probably will, even more so, in the upcoming years.
However if you’re not super familiar with the train systems in Europe, it can be a little frustrating to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B – and you can increase that frustration if you’re trying to figure out of you can get to Point B directly or will have to make a stop and switch trains a time or two.
As it turns out there’s now a handy tool that can help you see which cities in Europe have the most destinations reachable by direct train rides. It’s a website called Direkt Bahn. It lets you type in any station in Europe (you have to type a specific station. Typing “Paris” will give you the choice of 4 stations in Paris) and it tells you, not only all of the direct destinations you can get to from there but also the approximate amount of time it would take to reach each one.
Direkt Bahn uses info that’s publicly available from Deutsche Bahn, the German national rail provider. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show every single direct route in Europe, but most of them are included. The toolmakers admit that the further you get away from Germany, and/or the smaller the train company, the less thorough its data is. But still, it’s a good start.
Let’s say you’re a big fan of The Sound of Music, so you’ve gone to Salzburg, Austria to see all the places where they filmed the movie (this is a great guide for that. Just sayin’. Oh, and stay at this hotel, if you can. It’s amazeballs). But it only takes a few days to see most of the big sites and you want to continue on, by train, to another city. You’d rather do a direct train to save time. Here are all the cities you can reach directly from the main Salzburg train station (Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, or Salzburg Hbf for short):
As you can see above, the dots are color-coded to give you some idea of the time. Dark green is journeys that take less than an hour by train, red takes over eight hours, and light green, yellow and orange are somewhere in between.
Here’s another one, from London Waterloo Station.
Of course, the dots are so close together that you can’t see where any of the stations are. No worries though…the map lets you zoom in. Here’s a moderate zoom from Waterloo:
And even more:
Anyway, it’s a handy little tool to have, if you plan to make your way across Europe by train.
The author of the program is constantly updating the site and is willing to add more routes in, if he’s made aware of them.
Feature Photo (cropped): Andrew Bone / Wikimedia
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