Web Watch: See Europe by train


What it offers:Online booking and schedule info for European trains

What we like:With a plethora of booking options across 35 different European rail operators, the site is nicely designed to help travelers find the right pass or ticket. Search returns are well organized, with sorting available for fastest and cheapest rail options and handy explainers on how various service classes differ. Itineraries can be constructed leg by leg, then added to a shopping cart for one-step checkout. For extended trips, the site asks in which countries you plan to travel and for how long, then suggests a variety of rail passes, which may be cheaper than booking each leg separately. You can also make reservations for specific trains using a rail pass.

What needs work:This is no fault of Rail Europe, but most European trains won't allow reservations more than 60 days in advance.


What it offers:New York City visitor information and trip planning

What we like:The crisp design of New York's new official tourism site is more in line with hip city guide sites like AOL or CitySearch than the typical promotional site, with easy access to event listings and an interesting slate of articles. The site also offers all the Web bells and whistles, such as reader comments, custom Google maps, a share button to post material on social networking sites and a send-to-phone feature — available in nine foreign languages. The "just ask the locals" section features advice from notable New Yorkers such as restaurant recommendations from Mario Batali and music picks from Wynton Marsalis. In conjunction with the site launch, the city has also opened a new Manhattan visitor center (810 Seventh Ave.) with interactive kiosks that generate customized itineraries.

What needs work:While nycgo integrates content from trusted sources such as TimeOut New York, other recommendations may come directly from venues, so it's wise to cross-reference material with a guidebook or local entertainment site. Travelocity is a partner, but hotel booking is poorly integrated. Site was occasionally sluggish.