When you several options when traveling by trains. There are rail passes or point to point tickets. Under some circumstances rail passes can be more convenient and economical but, then there are situations where buying point to point tickets are your best choice.
Non-European residents must purchase the Eurail Pass as the Inter Rail Pass is only for European citizens. If you decide on a rail pass, you must purchase them before you leave the US. They must be validated at a train station by a railway official within 6 months of their purchase. The rail pass gives to the option to choose extensive rail travel on national rail networks in multiple countries connected by train or ship. Even though you have a rail pass you may still need to pay for a reservation.
Rail passes are valid on all national run train networks within a participating country. A few private rail lines are also valid but, carefully confirm this before purchasing tickets. They are also not valid on city buses, trams or metros. Passes are void on international rails lines, like the weekly Russian Railways (RDZ) sleeper trains from Moscow, that passes through valid pass countries.
Eurail Pass is valid in the following countries.
Austria – Eurail passes give unlimited travel on all domestic local & mainline trains run by Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB. Also private lines Regiojet trains between Vienna & Prague and for 2nd class only on Westbahn trains between Salzburg & Vienna.
Greece – Eurail passes give unlimited travel on all domestic local & mainline trains run by Greek national railways OSE. Eurail passes give free travel on ferry lines to Italy. These include Blue Star & Superfast (Attica Group) Bari-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Patras, Ancona-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Patras and on Minoan Lines Venice-Igoumenitsa-Patras.
Ireland – Eurail passes give unlimited travel on all trains run by Iarnród Éireann – Irish Republic Railways Irish Rail. Discounts on Stena Line Ireland-UK ferries & Irish Ferries for Ireland-UK & Ireland-France ferries.
Italy -Eurail passes give unlimited travel on all domestic local & mainline trains run by Italian State Railways Trenitalia. Eurail passes give free travel on ferry lines to Greece. These include Blue Star & Superfast (Attica Group) Bari-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Patras, Ancona-Igoumenitsa-Corfu-Patras and on Minoan Lines Venice-Igoumenitsa-Patras.
Montenegro – Eurail passes give unlimited travel on all trains run by Railways of Montenegro ZCG
North Macedonia – Eurail passes give unlimited travel on Macedonian Railways MK
Switzerland – Eurail passes give unlimited travel on all domestic local & mainline trains run by Swiss Federal Railways SBB CFF FFS. Eurail also gives you free travel on these private lines AB Appenzeller Bahnen, ASM Aare Seeland Mobil, BLS Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon , CJ Chemins de fer du Jura, FART Ferrovie Autolinee Regionall Ticinesi, FB Forchbahn, LEB Lausanne – Echallens – Bercher, MBC Bière – Apples – Morges, MGB Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn, MOB Montreux Oberland Bernois, MVR Transports Montreux – Vevey – Riviera, NStCM Chemin de Fer Nyon – St-Cergue – Morez, RA RegionAlps Martigny – Orsières / Le Chàble, RBS Regionalverkehr Bern Solothurn, RhB Rhätische Bahn, SOB Sudostbahn, SOB-bt Bodensee Toggenburg Bahn, SSIF Societa Subalpina di Imprese Ferroviarie, THURBO Mittelthrugau Bahn, TMR Martigny – Châtelard, TPC Transports publics du Chablais, TPF Transports publics Fribourgeois, TRAVYS SA, TRN Transports régionaux Neuchâtelois, Voralpen Express, WB Waldenburgerbahn, WSB Wynental & Suhrentalbahn, ZB Centralbahn
United Kingdom – Eurail passes give unlimited travel on all National Rail trains. This includes Arriva Rail London, Avanti West Coast, c2c, Caledonian Sleeper, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country, East Midlands Railway, Eurostar, Gatwick Express, Govia Thameslink Railway, Grand Central, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Heathrow Express, Hull Trains, LNER, Merseyrail, Northern Trains, ScotRail, Southeastern, South Western Railway, Stanstead Express, TfL Rail, TransPennine Express, Transport For Wales Trains, West Midlands Trains.
Eurail does not cover the Albania, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Latvia or Estonia.
Infants – children under the age of 4 travel free and do not need a pass.
Children – under the age of 12 get a free Pass when traveling with an adult on a pass.
Youth – anyone under the age of 28.
Senior – anyone over 60.
Adult – Everyone else.
1st Class Seats – Wider & plusher seats with more leg room. Higher cost may be justified better comfort for long trips.
2nd Class Seats – Very adequate seating for shorter distances. Many suburban trains only have 2nd class seating.
Flexi Pass – Good value when staying in one particular location between rides. Month starts upon your first ride and validation.
Continuous Pass – Unlimited travel everyday for a continuous period of time. Freedom and flexibility if you travel everyday day or two.
Eurail Global Pass…
Valid for travel in any of the countries that accept it for train travel. You may travel from Spain to Poland and then to Hungary using the Global Pass without any restrictions. This is only worth the money of you plan to use the trains extensively. Prices are 1st Class / 2nd Class.
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Eurail One Country Pass…
If you plan to visit just one country, then compare the one country Eurail passes.
Belgium (Benelux Pass only)
Denmark (Scandinavian Pass optional)
Finland (Scandinavian Pass optional)
Luxembourg (Benelux Pass only)
Netherlands (Benelux Pass only)
Norway (Scandinavian Pass optional)
Some countries offer a non-eurail pass for travel within just their country. Some of these may a better better value with a little more coverage.
BritRail Pass – For for travel in Great Britain only – England, Scotland & Wales. Is not valid in Northern Ireland
German Rail Pass – for travel in Germany only
Paris Visite Card – Unlimited travel on Paris metro, buses and more.
Portuguese Rail Pass – for travel in Portugal only
Spain Rail Pass – for travel in Spain only
Where to buy Rail Passes & Tickets…
You’ll find all that the detailed information online when you shop for rail passes or tickets at the websites listed below. You may buy through a service provider or directly from the Railway. You can find links to all national rail lines below listed under National Rail Lines. The first group of sites book passes and tickets for multiple lines. If the web site can not find a ticket on the route you are looking for go directly to the railways web site and look for it there. Sometimes the rail lines do not post tickets for sale on aggregate web sites until just shortly before the departure date.
Booking Tickets Ahead…
- In most of Western Europe, booking opens 90 or 92 days ahead.
- In most of Eastern Europe, booking opens 60 days ahead.
- Eurostar bookings open 120 days ahead.
- Italian high-speed trains open 120 days ahead, unless there’s a timetable change coming up.
- In Spain, high-speed trains should open 90 days ahead, but other trains often only 60 days.
- In Russia & Ukraine, bookings open 45 days ahead.
Point to Point Tickets…
In almost all situations you can purchase tickets from a kiosk or ticket counter at a train station. If there isn’t one located at your train station you can sometimes buy them online at the companies web site or mobile app. In all cases you can purchase them on board if the train is not sold out. There are exceptions to trains that require a ticket to be validated prior to boarding, if they aren’t there is a penalty.
If you know where you are traveling to ahead of your departure date, go to the station and buy your ticket ahead of time. This will insure you have a ticket for the day and time you wan tot travel.
All large train stations have ticket counters with personnel to assist you and they inevitably can speak English. However, kiosk machines have instructions for English and are easy to use. Read the instructions carefully and note what type of credit cards they take. Some do not take ATM cards and some do not take American Express.