Train travel is a wonderful way to get around in Europe – efficient, on-time, and relatively inexpensive. You can buy point-to-point tickets, or if you are planning to travel several segments by train, you should compare the numerous European rail pass options.
Types of European Rail Passes
A Eurail Global pass is valid for the entire Eurail network of 28 participating countries. You purchase a specific number of consecutive days. It comes in 15- and 21-day, and 1-, 2-, and 3-month durations. If you don’t travel during the valid period, you lose the day. Youth (travelers aged 12 – 25) and Savers (2-5 people traveling together) qualify for discounted versions of this continuous pass. A Global Flexi pass is also valid for travel throughout the entire network but is a flexible pass that gives you travel for a selected number of days within a certain time period, such as, 10 or 15 days within a 2-month period. Youth and Saver discounts are also available for Flexi passes.
So you don’t really expect to visit 32 countries over two months? Not to worry – there’s a pass for you. The Eurail Select pass is valid for travel in a chosen number of adjacent countries (1 – 4), for a selected number of days (4 – 15) within a two month period. The Select pass also has Youth and Saver discounts, plus rates for children 4 – 11. Youth Flexi is only available in second class, but all others are for first class.
Only want to travel in one country? All 28 participating countries have a pass that is valid for travel in just their country. When you buy any Eurail pass, you are also eligible for discounts on ferries, cruises, museums, hotels, local attractions, and private trains. Covington Vacation Advisors can help you decide which pass or ticket option is most economical for your unique travel plans.
General Rules for European Rail
Beyond choosing your best ticket option, there are a few finer points you should know:
- Passes are only available to residents of the US, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America and can be purchased up to 6 months in advance of travel. Point-to-point tickets can be purchased by anyone, but are typically only available within two months of travel.
- A pass or a point-to-point ticket is only your train passage and does not guarantee you space on a specific train. The seat reservation costs extra, usually ranging from $7 to $11 per segment. Reservations protect you from being disappointed by a sold-out train and most of the high-speed trains require them.
- Sleeping accommodations are available on overnight trains. Economy is a reclining seat. In Freedom Class, up to 6 people share a couchette. Comfort Class is a little more spacious with two or three berths in a compartment. Premier class is the best with private accommodations for one or two with a toilet, shower, and food and drink included. Additional costs above the rail ticket apply for all sleepers.
- You must have your pass validated at a train station before use and in Italy, you must validate individual tickets.
- While unused (and unvalidated) passes and tickets can usually be refunded (with restrictions), unused seat reservations are lost.
- You do need to be able to handle your own luggage on and off the trains. Typically you store your bags overhead, in a baggage area at the end of the car, or in your compartment. It is good sense to keep your bags within eyesight.
Now you know all the ins and outs of European rail passes, so contact Covington for fares and schedules and start planning a memorable trip.
* Post updated 12/19/2018.