Top 10 Onboard Dining Experiences in Continental Europe

8 June 2020

Top 10 Onboard Dining Experiences in Continental Europe

Enjoying a meal on board a train around Europe is one of the pleasures of travelling by rail.  Outside of luxury trains such as the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, which of course has sumptuous on-board dining, many trains around Europe have excellent catering facilities and are a wonderful way to pass the time while taking in the scenery as you move from one city to the next.

 

Czech Trains (Czech Republic)

Trains run by the Czech national operator, Ceske Drahy, is famed for its superb restaurant cars on EuroCity trains such as those linking Prague with Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw and Berlin.  

Food is prepared fresh on order and served to you either in the restaurant car with proper metal cutlery and china crockery.  There is even draught beer on most trains!  Catering on these Czech trains is widely considered by prolific travellers such as the Twitter feed @DiningCar to be among the best going.

 

RailJet Trains (Austria)

Austria’s flagship “RailJet” trains are ultra-modern and run between most main cities such as Vienna, Salzburg, Graz and Innsbruck, as well as cross-border services to neighbouring countries such as Germany, Hungary, Italy and the Czech Republic.

There is an on-board restaurant on each train where anyone in any class of travel can purchase food and drink to either take back to their seat or sit in the restaurant car where there is waiter-service.  In First and Business classes, staff take your food order and it will be served at your seat if you wish.

You can even log onto the RailJet’s free Wi-Fi and open the ÖBB portal (railnet.oebb.at) where there is an option to order food and drink which will then be delivered to your seat under Travel info & Service (First and Business Class passengers only).  Passengers can order from the menu online, put in your carriage & seat number, and lo and behold, the steward arrives with your order at your seat, for which you pay on-location.  

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU 

 

Glacier Express (Switzerland)

Depending on where you embark and disembark the train, you are likely to have anywhere between 4 and 8 hours on board the spectacular Glacier Express route, the “World’s Slowest Express Train”.  Lunch is served to passengers in Standard and First Classes alike, and payable locally for everyone on board (with the exception of one Excellence Class carriage where food is included).  

Meals are freshly prepared on board and you pay on board after you’ve eaten, restaurant-style.  It is possible to book a meal in advance, but we don’t tend to recommend that option as you have a restricted choice of a set-menu and you never know what you might fancy on the day!

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU 

 

ICE Trains (Germany)

Germany’s ICE trains run throughout the country, and make incursions into neighbouring countries such as Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.  Many of our holidays entail connecting in Brussels from a Eurostar onto an ICE train for onward travel into Germany.

ICE trains have a restaurant car, some larger than others serving a range of hot and cold food and drinks, sometimes including draught beer.  If you are in First Class, you can order food and drink to be served to your seat, or passengers in either class of travel can break up their journey with a visit to the restaurant car, where you have tablecloths, china and glassware with metal cutlery.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU

 

AVE Trains (Spain)

AVE Trains run throughout Spain connecting important cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Malaga.  They run on high-speed lines which are often dramatic through the mountainous and arid terrain of Spain’s interior.

There is a cafe-bistro that serves snacks, hot dishes, coffee. soft drinks, beer & wine and is available to passengers in both Turista (Standard) and Preferente (First) Class.

If you are in Preferente (First) Class and your journey is between Monday and Friday or Sunday, an airline-style hot tray meal is served at your seat, appropriate to the time of day.  This also includes wine if it is at lunch or dinner.

 

Frecciarossa Trains (Italy)

Trenitalia, the national rail operator of Italy, runs is flagship Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) trains which at very high-speed run down the spine of Italy connecting Turin, Milan, Florence, Rome and Naples.  

Some Frecciarossa trains convey a restaurant car with waiter-service, open to passengers in any class of travel, with a 3-course set menu in the region of €30. Other Frecciarossas simply have a cafe-bar offering tea, coffee, wine, beer, snacks and hot dishes.  If you are travelling in Business (First) Class you can order meals at your seat payable locally, or in Executive (“Super-First” Class) you receive a complimentary cold tray meal to your seat with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Eurostar

Eurostar is the only international train linking London and two Kent stations, Ebbsfleet and Ashford, with Continental Europe.  You can take the train to Lille, Paris or Brussels.  All passengers have access to the bar-bistro, of which there are two on each train, serving snacks, sandwiches and hot & cold beverages.

If you are in what Eurostar call Standard Premier (effectively First Class), you have a complimentary light cold meal served on a tray at your seat, along with wine and beer if you choose.  Whilst it is by no means a gourmet meal, it does “fill a gap” and is a lovely way to start or end your European holiday by rail.

One footnote to add is that there is a further class of travel called Business Premier, which is very similar seating to Standard Premier, but with a full hot meal served at your seat, lounge access and ticket flexibility.  However, this is typically around £150 per person per direction more than Standard Premier, which tends to be adequate for the First Class expectations of most holidaymakers.

 

Alfa Pendular Trains (Portugal)

Alfa Pendular are the high-speed tilting trains that run across Portugal, connecting the capital Lisbon with important cities such as Coimbra and Porto to the north, and Faro and the Algarve to the south.

There is a bar-bistro on board where you can perch on a stool and sample the delights of the cafeteria, or you can take your meal back to your seat.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU

 

TGV Trains (France)

France has long been proud of its excellent high-speed rail network and super-fast trains known as Trains a Grande Vitesse (TGV).  They link major cities such as Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux, as well as regular incursions into Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.

As far as catering options are concerned on board TGVs, the vast majority of TGVs have a bar-bistro serving hot & cold drinks, sandwiches, as well as a few hot dishes such as quiche or lasagne, small bottles of wine & spirits.  There’s a standing area where you can perch to eat or you can take your food and drink back to your seat.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU

 

Thalys Trains

Thalys trains link Paris with Amsterdam and Cologne, via Brussels.  They are high-speed modern trains that have three classes of travel: Standard, Comfort & Premium.  Comfort and Premium are essentially the same seat pitches and layout, but Premium includes a complimentary light meal served at your seat appropriate to the time of day.

Passengers in any class of travel are welcome to visit the cafe-bar and purchase smaller items to either perch in the standing area there, or take back to their seats.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU