As a worldly traveler, I´m happy to share all the ins and outs of the Eurail Pass – which continues to transport people of all ages throughout Europe. A Eurail Pass can really be considered an all access pass to the entire train network in select countries…and the best part…you get to choose the countries you would like to include. In fact, you have many options:
- One Country Pass: Your Eurail Pass can be a simple one country pass, for let´s say Italy.
- Two Country Regional Pass: Or your Eurail Pass can be for two countries, like Austria and Germany.
- 3-5 Country Select Pass: The Select Pass allows you to choose three to five neighboring countries for you Eurail Pass.
- 22 Country Global Pass: The all-inclusive Global Pass, which allows for travel throughout 22 countries in Europe!
There really is a Eurail Pass to suit any European itinerary.
Once you´ve found the right Eurail Pass, you will be presented with a number of possible travel durations and validities. Depending on the Eurail Pass, there are often flexible or consecutive travel days offered. A good rule of thumb is:
- Consecutive Pass: If you plan on being on the move, and traveling on trains almost daily, then a consecutive validity would be ideal, such as a Eurail Pass good for travel throughout 15 days.
- Flexipass: Whereas, if you plan on lingering for a few days in each destination, then a flexible validity would be best, such as 5 travel days to be used within 1 month.
To complete your Eurail Pass selection, check if you are eligible for any discounts.
- Adult Saver Passes are great for groups of 2 to 5 people who plan on traveling together as each person saves 15% off the adult fare.
- Youth, between the ages of 12 and 25, get 35% savings off the adult fare in standard class.
- Children aged 4 to 11 get 50% off
- Children under the age of 4 travel for free.
- Seniors over the age of 60 get a 15% discount on a few, albeit limited number of Eurail passes.
View the complete range of Eurail passes at ACP Rail International.
When it comes to using a Eurail Pass, here are some helpful hints to getting on board and enjoying a smooth ride.
Validate your pass
Be sure to validate your Eurail Pass within 6 months of the issuing date. Once in Europe, take your Eurail Pass to a train station ticket window, and a railway official will stamp it and fill in the first and last day of validity and your passport number. When traveling with a Flexi Eurail Pass, enter each travel date on the calendar on your pass before you board a train on that day. Flexible travel days may be used consecutively or non-consecutively, as long as they are used within the given timeframe.
Validating overnight trains
Here´s a helpful hint when traveling on an overnight train, thereby avoiding having to use up two travel days: if you take a direct overnight train that departs after 7:00 pm and arrives after 4:00 am, then you enter only the date of arrival.
Make seat reservations
Eurail Pass holders can usually just hop on the train and be on their way. However, there are some exceptions, where select trains require the passenger to pay a seat reservation or supplement. When checking timetables it will indicate if a train is subject to a compulsory reservation. The additional cost is not included in the Eurail Pass and varies depending on the country, type of train and date of purchase/travel. Here are some helpful guidelines: most international long-distance trains require a reservation, as well as various domestic high-speed trains. Night trains always require a supplement for sleeping accommodation. Seat reservations are not usually necessary for local or regional trains. Please note that on some trains (such as French TGV and Thalys and trains), the number of seats for Eurail Pass holders are limited. Therefore, you should reserve these trains in advance, especially in high-season. It is also recommended that you make reservations during peak travel periods, and if you must reach your destination at a specific time.
One of the joys of traveling with a rail pass is to stay flexible so don´t let heavy luggage slow you down. Once on board, most trains have overhead compartments and luggage areas at the end of the car, where you can store your bags. For stop-overs, travelers will find the luggage lockers at most train stations, a useful place to keep luggage safe.
Enjoy the view
Train travel is so much more fun than flying for the simple fact that you get to look out the window and see the local landscapes and cities pass by. Some routes in Europe are especially scenic and can be considered an attraction in itself. Although there are countless journeys with stunning views, here are our top five:
- Norway´s Flåm Railway: an incredible journey from Myrdal, to Flåm station nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandfjord. Enjoy being surrounded by steep mountainsides, roaring waterfalls and deep valleys.
- Germany´s Black Forrest Line: view stunning scenery of the Black Forest, between the upper Rhine valley and the Lake of Constance, this link from Offenburg to Konstanz is one of the oldest mountain lines in the world.
- Switzerland´s Glacier Express: from Zermatt to St. Moritz enjoy panoramic windows with the best Alpine scenery, from the Mattertal Valley to the 6,704-foot-high Oberalp Pass and Rhine Gorge.
- Norway´s Rauma Line: starting from Oslo, the Rauma Line takes you through picturesque mountains, over bridges, through tunnels and past the tallest rock-face in Europe; the Trollveggen.
- Austria´s Semmering Line: a UNESCO World Heritage railway, it runs over 16 viaducts and through 15 tunnels between Gloggnitz and Semmering. It´s claim to fame – making areas of great natural beauty more accessible.
Imagine the view through your window!
About the Author: Angela Guezen is a travel professional who has explored the likes of Australia, Japan, and Europe. With a love for beautiful landscapes she has great appreciation for train travel and shares this passion with fellow travelers by writing for www.ACPRail.com and wwwBritRail.com.