Eurail Passes

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I get a lot of emails and questions about train travel in Europe. First, train travel is relatively cheap, convenient and the quintessential way to travel around Europe. Trains are very comfortable and timely and since many countries and destinations are close together, you can save a lot of money by using a variety of train or Eurail passes.

There are so many passes to choose from, it really depends on what area of Europe you are planning on visiting. The overlord of all Eurail passes is the Eurail Global Pass which allows train travel in 18 European countries including all the big Western European countries (except the UK), Scandinavia and all the way out to Romania and Greece.

This pass can be used and bought in a variety of ways. You can buy a pass for unlimited travel for 15 or 21 days, or up to 3 months. Additionally, you can buy for 10 or 15 days of travel in a given 2 month time period. You can also buy different classes of service, ie first class, second, etc. There are also discounts for students and people under 26 but you must buy these passes in your home country before you travel abroad.

Eurail also offers many regional passes, including some regions that aren’t included in the main Eurail Global Pass. They offer passes that cover 3-4 countries or smaller regions and even areas such as the Balkans or Scandinavia. When I traveled through Scandinavia, I had the Scandinavian Pass and it saved me a lot of money and the trains there are so efficient. Night trains are also key because the train cars are very easy to sleep in and it saves you a night of hotel cost which can be high now with the Euro, even if you stay in hostels.

The important thing is to also remember that you want to maximize your travel days if you get a pass where you have like 15 days in 2 months which is one of the most popular passes and the one that I have bought 3 or 4 times. You get a 24 hour period to use as a day and should work to include overnight trains and train switches to your advantage so it doesn’t cost you two days on your pass. Also, you need to remember that a lot of time, especially in the summer, you need to make reservations for the train, even with the pass and especially to upgrade to a first class sleeping care and you’ll need to pay a supplement. This is annoying but unavoidable. It still ends up being much cheaper than paying for all the trips independently.

When deciding whether or not to get a pass, you must determine how many places you’ll be going and how much time you have. Also, judge distances and modes of transport. The thing about the train is they are almost always on time and very comfortable. They are also very social places to meet other travelers and a lot of times there is a busy bar car as well. With discount airlines nowadays being so abundant, it is worth checking them out to gauge the price versus time thing but remember you’ll be saving a night of hotel and probably get to meet a lot of people doing the same thing as you. Plus, it’s fun to ride the train and very relaxing. When I travel Europe via train it makes me feel like they did 50-70 years ago and it gives you a chance to reflect and plan ahead. Just keep that in mind and don’t be afraid of the train.

Comments

  1. The only way to travel around Europe. It’s a cultural thing in Europe and to truly get a real European experience you need to utilize the trains.

  2. Eurail pass is awesome, only way to do it

  3. I tried a bus pass because it was cheaper. That was a mistake. I agree that a Eurail pass is the most cost efficient way to travel Europe. It is also nice to travel on the train.

  4. Dear Friends.

    I live in Thailand. And going to Budapest,Hungary. Then i have to Go to Minsk, Belarus. Pls. can you guide me about Eurail passes that i can go by Train there. i will be back to Budapest about in 25th days. Thanking you.

    Best Rgards

    Michael

  5. Michael, If you are simply going from Budapest to Minsk then just take a train and there is no need to purchase a eurail pass, you will save money by just buying a regular ticket bc you won’t be using the train enough to make the pass worth it.

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