High-speed trains in Europe are a great way to get around, and a fantastic alternative to flying. Over the years, Europe has been witnessing a surge in high-speed rail services, as more rail operators across the continent continue to order some of the fastest trains in the world.
With high-speed trains in Europe, you can travel through the continent in style and cover vast distances quickly – all while enjoying modern amenities like WiFi and at-seat dining. So what are you waiting for? Have a peek below at the most important high-speed train routes in Europe with our quick and easy guide.
Travelling through Europe is easy thanks to an extensive network of high-speed trains that can reach up to 200 mph (321 km/h). Within just a few hours you can get from the soft green hills of the United Kingdom to the Mediterranean seaside – that's so much quicker than flying when you take into account the time spent checking in and waiting in the terminal! Some of the major high-speed trains in Europe include:
Europe features a wide network of high-speed trains which allow you to explore the diverse regions of the continent easily. Find popular routes on our interactive Europe train map, or delve in and take a look at some of the best high-speed trains in Europe below.
Altaria is the high-speed train operated by Renfe which connects the Spanish capital of Madrid to southern Spain in just a couple of hours. The main destinations served by Altaria include Algeciras, Granada, Cartagena and Murcia.
Two classes are available on Altaria trains – Clase Preferente (or First Class) and Clase Turista (or Second Class), and you can find out more about these on our dedicated page to Renfe.
Alvia high-speed trains cover large distances between Spain’s major cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia, reaching speeds of up to 250 km/h (155 mph).
You can find plenty of amenities on board these modern high-speed trains, from spacious reclining seats to audio and video outlets. Learn more about Alvia trains.
AVE trains are Spain’s answer to high-speed rail in Europe, travelling at speeds of up to 310 km/h (193 mph). Connecting from city to city is made easy, and these trains also stop off at plenty of quieter towns if you’re looking to get off the beaten track!
From 23rd June 2021, the new "low-cost AVE", also known as Avlo, began operations between Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona and Figueres, making high-speed travel more accessible for anyone travelling on a budget and willing to explore some of Spain's largest cities.
Onboard you can enjoy free WiFi access through the PlayRenfe platform, power sockets at each seat to charge phones and laptops, and vending machines with hot and cold drinks and snacks. Visit our Avlo page to find out more.
Check out some of Avlo's routes below.
Euromed high-speed trains travel along the Mediterranean coast from Barcelona to Alicante, stopping at Tarragona, Castellón and Valencia. You can expect excellent onboard services and a travel time of under 5 hours. The Euromed is a convenient and relaxed way to explore the east coast of Spain.
Connecting the UK to France, Belgium and the Netherlands via the Channel Tunnel, Eurostar trains (classes e300 and e320) can travel at speeds of up to 321 km/h (200 mph) along the routes from London to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels.
Travel underwater while enjoying all the comforts of a modern high-speed train. Learn more about Eurostar trains.
Not just a cool name, ICE (Intercity Express) trains are some of the best high-speed rail services available in Europe, and for a good reason. Travelling at speeds of up to 305 km/h (190 mph), ICE trains tend to ferry passengers from city to city across Germany, though some of their routes also involve cross-border travel. On board some of the newer models, you can expect to find quiet zones, family areas and seats for children, as well as comfortable ergonomic seating.
There are two classes available for customers, Standard and First Class – find out more by visiting our ICE trains page.
Travel with high-speed Le Frecce trains for a speedy connection to the heart of many Italian cities, including Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, and Naples. With three types of Le Frecce trains – Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Frecciabianca – not only can you reach the most popular cities in the country, but also the smaller towns across the countryside.
Learn more about Le Frecce trains.
Le Frecce routes
OUIGO is the low-cost high-speed train operated by SNCF and covers the main high-speed lines in France and Spain. Some of the most popular French destinations served by OUIGO include Nice, Marseille, Montpellier and Nantes, while in Spain OUIGO are currently operating between Madrid and Barcelona.
Reaching speeds of up to 230 km/h (142 mph), Railjet (RJ) high-speed trains operate between Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland.
You can find three classes on board Railjet trains – First Class, Business Class and Economy Class. Find out more on our ÖBB Railjet trains page.
Renfe-SNCF is an international high-speed train that connects Spain to France, which allows you to get from Madrid and Barcelona to Paris, Marseille, and Lyon in no time.
With TGV trains able to reach cracking top speeds of (320 km/h) 198 mph, SNCF’s high-speed service is certainly a worthy leader on this list. But they’re not just fast – they’re comfortable too! TGV trains feature double-decker carriages kitted out with all the facilities you’d expect of a modern train service, from power sockets to buffet cars. Some top destinations you can reach at speed include Lille, Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon, and Bordeaux.
There are two classes available to you (First and Second class), and you can find out more about these by visiting our dedicated TGV trains page.
A collaboration between SNCF and SBB (the main train operator in Switzerland), TGV Lyria trains offer quick connections from Paris, Dijon and Marseille to popular Swiss cities like Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich.
TGV Lyria routes
Thalys trains connect some of the biggest cities in Europe via high-speed rail, including Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Cologne. Enjoy comfortable and quick cross-border travel on these trains, perfect for if you’re on a country-hopping holiday.
Find out more about Thalys trains.
Javelin trains were first introduced by Southeastern in 2009 and connect central London to many destinations in Kent. These trains travel at speeds of up to 225 km/h (140 mph), they were originally used to ferry spectators to and from the Olympic Park during London 2012.
Learn more about Javelin trains.
There are different ways you can get cheap European high-speed train tickets without having to pay over the odds. Our top tips for saving money on high-speed train tickets are:
In general, train tickets in Europe are usually at their cheapest price when they first go on sale, normally around three to six months before the date of travel. Check out our dedicated page to cheap European train tickets for more details.
Train tickets tend to be more expensive during rush hour (mornings and early evenings Monday to Friday). If you can, be sure to look for tickets outside of these times to see if you can snap up a lower price.
There’s a wide range of train deals and discounts in Europe that can help you save money on your journey. Deals can vary based on the country and train company, but if you’re travelling with children, in a group, or fall into a certain age category, you can benefit from discounted ticket prices.
High-speed trains in Europe can reach speeds of up to 198 mph (320 km/h). Some of the fastest trains in Europe travelling at these speeds include AVE, TGV and Frecciarossa 1000.
Yes, you'll need to make a seat reservation on most high-speed trains in Europe. You'll be able to do so on our platform if you buy your tickets online with us.
Several countries have built and developed high-speed rail infrastructure to connect major cities. In Europe, these include: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
So, now you know all about what European high-speed trains have to offer. Whether you’re ready to book or want to find out more about train travel in Europe, we’re here to help.
Start a search for tickets in our Journey Planner at the top of the page or check out some of our guides to travelling with high-speed trains in Europe, where they can take you, and train travel around Europe in general.