Traveling by train is one of the nicest ways to explore the planet and especially in Europe it’s one of the easiest means of transportation. There are, of course, exceptions like in Eastern Europe but overall you can pretty much go anywhere by train in Europe. Train travel in Europe is easy, fun and cheap with the Euro rail Passes!
There are different passes you can choose from the but the three best ones are:
Global Pass: You can use this one in 30 European countries so you’re bound to travel in one country. You can choose a pass for 5, 7 or 10 travel days within a certain time or 1 month, 15 or 22 days in a row.
One Country Pass: If you have a specific European country you would like to visit then this option might be better. All the countries are divided into 5 groups, the cheaper countries have cheaper passes and a pass for countries like Germany or France are more expensive. Passes are available for 3, 4, 6 or 8 travel days within a month.
What to pay attention to with the Euro rail?
- If you’re a citizen of one the European countries participating then you can’t use the pass in your country. You can, however, get 50% discount on tickets to and from the border.
- In some countries you need to make reservations for the IC trains. This is different in every country. For example in Germany it’s not mandatory but highly recommended. In Scandinavia, France, Italy and Spain making a seat reservation is mandatory. Usually a seat reservation will cost between €4 and €10 depending on the country. Seat reservations for the Thalys (From Amsterdam to Paris) will cost you €37!
- Reservations for a bed (2, 4 or 6 bed couchettes) are always mandatory. Sometimes you’re able to make a reservation on the train with the trainconductor but to ensure you will get the lowest price possible reserve your bed through the internet or at the station a few days beforehand. I usually take the 6-bed couchette because it’s the cheapest (normally about €20) but sometimes when the difference between the 6- and 4-bed couchette are not too big I’ll take a bed in the 4-bed couchette for extra comfort. It can get very crowded when the 6-bed couchette is totally full and everyone has packed the biggest suitcase they could find (this happens unfortunately, especially in the summertime).
- Travel Tip: If you have time and you don’t want to spend extra money on reserving seats on trains it’s better to take local or regional trains. These trains are slower than the IC trains but at least you don’t have to pay for a seat reservation.
- Traveling in southeast Europe? It might be best not to buy a rail pass. The trains in this area are relatively cheap and in most cases bus travel is the easiest way to get around. Train networks in this part Europe are not as extensive as in Western Europe.