12 months of European treats

on
Glenfinnan viaduct, Scotland

Europe may be changing but there are many traditions that will always stay the same. Each month brings a new festival, tradition or celebration. You can reach all of these destinations with a Eurail Global Pass or with a One Country or Regional pass.  

January The sales 

The January ‘sales’ make shoppers light up during the days of shorter daylight hours. In EnglandLondon and Bicester Village are the top spots. Or take the direct train from London to Paris for ‘Les Soldes’ at chic shopping arcadias such as Galeries Lafayette or La Vallée Village. Serious fashionistas head to Milan of course for the ‘saldi’. Explore with France Pass or BritRail Pass.  

February Venice Carnival, Italy  

Venice, Italy

February in Venice is Carnival time. Dating back to the 11th century, the world famous Carnevale di Venezia takes place in the run up to the Christian festival of Lent between 8-25 February 2020. Rent a costume, pose on the streets, listen to free music events, eat, drink and be merry. Explore with Italy Pass.  

March Ski in the Alps 

Take your pick of top ski destinations in Europe during March. MoûtiersChamonixBourg-St-Maurice and Aime-la-Plagne are the top train stations for French ski stations, or ski with the Swiss at Zermatt, Klosters and St. Moritz, all sublime pistes. Explore with Swiss Travel Pass or France Pass.  

April The Netherlands  

April is the month for tulips in the Netherlands, the most famous displays being at Keukenhof, near Leiden. In every Dutch town the flower markets are a pure palette of prettiness. A top tip is to take a train from Amsterdam to Lelystad, as you pass many tulip farms along the way. Explore with a Eurail Benelux Pass

May Lisbon, Portugal 

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is European Green Capital for 2020, and this is a perfect month to explore Portugal’s fashionable city. The night train journey between Madrid and Lisbon is a great and green way to arrive. By day, Lisbon is also perfect for exploring by bike, following the Tagus River path between Parque das Nações and Santa Apolónia. Explore with a Portugal Pass. 

June Estonia 

The perfect month to visit Estonia, the smallest of the Baltic countries. With strong Nordic cultural influences, long summer days give plenty of time to discover not only the ancient capital of Tallinn but also its coast and many lakelands. Watch this space as bookings to Estonia, as well as the Estonia Pass, open in 2020 on our website. 

July  Sun and sunflowers in France 

As if France’s southern coasts aren’t alluring enough during the summer months, July is the month when there is an explosion of sunflowers everywhere. Particularly around the Nouvelle-Aquitaine hot spots of La RochelleBordeaux and Biarritz. If you are combining rural Provence with its coastal prettiness, the lavender lights up the hills in July too. Explore with a France Pass.  

August Edinburgh Festival and Military Tattoo 

Edinburgh, Scotland

As well as Edinburgh’s world-famous Fringe Festival, 2020 is the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an annual spectacle at Edinburgh Castle. Combine with a trip on the West Highland Line from Glasgow, a 5h coastal rail adventure, and one of the world’s finest rail journeys. Explore with a BritRail Pass.  

September International Oyster Festival, Galway 

Galway, on Ireland‘s western Atlantic coast, is European City of Culture in 2020. As well as many arts events throughout the year, the end of September is Galway’s International Oyster Festival. A world-renowned event, the pubs, seafood restaurants and famous Irish welcome are top grade. Explore with an Ireland Pass.   

October Café Budapest Festival 

Previously known as Budapest Autumn Festival, the Hungarian capital has been a creative hub in early October for the last 20 years. Combine fine arts, dance, jazz, theatre and literature events with an exploration of this historic city, keeping warm at its many outdoor thermal baths. Explore with Hungary Pass

November Christmas market season 

Christmas in Strasbourg, France

Europe starts to sparkle in November, with traditional Christmas markets lighting up the streets in many northern destinations, as well as the hearts of visitors. Favourites include Strasbourg in eastern France, Berlin and Nuremberg in Germany and Bolzano in northern Italy. Explore with France Pass or German Rail Pass.  

December Traditional Spain 

Traditional Christmas spots in Spain include Seville, the capital of Andalusia, which is aglow with plenty of Christmas lights, markets and crypts; Granada, celebrates with a pagan fire ritual known as Hogueras de Navidad on the winter solstice and the medieval town of Jaen also goes bonfire crazy on this day too. Explore with Spain Pass

Photography credits: Glenfinnan Viaduct iStock ©Matt6T6 (main image), Venice in the evening iStock ©Givaga, Edinburgh Dreamstime ©Shaiith, Crowds at Strasbourg Christmas Market iStock ©AMzPhoto 

For more inspiration, visit www.raileurope.com.

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