Europe’s Motorail: Traveling by Train and by Car Through Europe


Europe’s rail systems are so extensive and fast that many travelers choose to avoid the use of a car altogether during their trip to Europe. Doing so, however, keeps travelers from seeing many of the ‘off-the-beaten-path’ towns that give Europe its unique charm. Likewise, avoiding a car can often put you on the same path as other tourists who are hitting the same major cities. With a car, the chance to see less crowded and more authentic towns with less focus on tourists and tourism is a huge bonus. Luckily, the European Motorail trains combine the best of both worlds. You get the speed, economy and convenience of a train and the access to lesser-traveled roads when the time is right.

Reasons to Use Motorail:

  • Low-stress

Enjoy the low-stress components of both the train and having your own vehicle. Taking the train can be low-stress since instead of pressing on the gas and brakes and watching the road, you can stare dreamily out of the window as the city gives way to the countryside taking it all in. The train becomes more stressful when you have to plan all of your excursions around when it can or can’t take you somewhere or even limit yourself to places the train can go. In this case, having your car with you lessens this stress because you can choose your own itinerary. The Motorail really is the least stressful travel option in Europe.

  • Family Friendly

Especially for families with small children, having two sets of hands is always better than one. Taking the Motorail allows both parents to help control and play with the kids. Also, often the Motorail allows children to sleep through the night making the crankiness of the trip much less brutal.

  • Cargo in tow

Often taking public transportation can mean that you’re limited in terms of what you can buy and bring back with you. When you’re traveling to your favorite wine region, this can be a real disappointment! Taking your car with you on the train can mean that you can load up whatever goods you find making your trip not only a tour but also a fun shopping trip.

How do you use Motorail?

Car trains operate out of various countries. Here’s a short list of operators:

DB Autozug: Works out of Germany with service to France, Austria and Italy
OBB (Austrian Railways): Out of Austria with services to Germany and Italy
Trenitalia: Six routes in Italy
SNCF Auto-Train: Several routes in France
Optima Tours: Runs through the Balkans from Austria to Turkey

There are several other operators. To see a map of some of these operators and the locations they service, click here.

Finding European Motorail and car service trains can be a little tricky, but the payoff is well worth the extra time it takes to find this unique service. You’ll be able to go to sleep on the train in Germany and wake up in the French Riviera. For those of you with kids, you know what a luxury that can be. For those of you who usually like to take your own transportation, now you can find the benefits of both worlds.

Jill Sentry lives and writes in London. She writes for where you can find more information on car insurance, trips, and tips for saving money when you drive.

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