Train Travel in Europe
Go by Train, by Car, or plane?

If you plan on spending most of your time in major cities and will be traveling between major cities, then going by train is the most sensible way to get around in Europe.

.Train stations are usually in the center of town so when you arrive you are where you want to be.

.If you go by plane, you'll need to take a bus, a taxi, or a train to get into town from the airport.

.If you go by car, you will need to negotiate congested streets in a strange place, the traffic will likely be horrendous, and parking (if it can be found) will be expensive.

However, if you plan on spending most of your time in rural areas—especially in ones which do not have great rail service, such as in rural Tuscany—then a car makes more sense than going by train.

In some places, it hardly ever makes sense to go by train. A good example is Ireland: the trains mostly go through a few hubs, such as Dublin, so you will spend lots of time backtracking if you expect to get around by train.

Pass or Pay as You Go?

For convenience, there is no question that a rail pass is the best way to go. You pay for the pass in advance—before you leave the US—activate it the day you want to start traveling by train, and use it for train trips until you've used up the pass. But it may not be the least expensive way to get around Europe by train.

Before getting your rail passes from Europe Traveler, ask the cost of point-to-point tickets instead. If the difference in cost is small, getting the passes is probably warranted.

Single Country Pass or Multi-country Pass?

If you are going to spend all your trip in one country, then a single country pass might be more economical. The most expensive passes are those, such as the classic Eurailpass, which give you the most flexibility. For example, you can get a Eurailpass that lets you enjoy unlimited consecutive-day 1st class travel in 17 European countries for 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months. There are other passes which let you travel in a combination of adjoining countries; these are less expensive than the 17-country Eurailpass.

Single country passes are available for traveling in:

Austria Italy
Bulgaria Netherlands
Czech Republic Norway
Finland Portugal
France Romania
Germany Spain
Greece Switzerland
Hungary Britain


How to Use Your Rail Pass

1. The first day of train travel, take your pass to the ticket counter at the train station and have it validated. The pass will be marked with the date written as Europeans do: day/month/year. For example, May 10, 2006, will be written 10/05/06 which should not be confused with October 5, 2006 (written 05/10/06).

2. On each subsequent day of train travel, mark the date on the pass yourself, before you board the train. Failure to show a properly marked pass could result in stiff fines when the train conductor checks your pass during your train trip. Don't forget this important step.

3. If you expect to travel more days than you have on your pass, save the pass for use on the longest legs of your trip. For example, if you have a 5-day Eurail Selectpass and your trip involves travel from Paris to Venice to Florence to Siena to Florence to Lucca to Florence to Rome (that's seven days of travel), don't use the pass for the short roundtrips between Florence and Siena and between Florence and Lucca. Those are relatively inexpensive trips, expecially compared to the long trip from Paris to Venice. You'd hate to run out of pass before you go on the longest parts of your train travel.


.A day is counted from midnight to midnight.

.A month pass is good for a calendar month (e.g., from midnight on September 15 to midnight on October 14).

.If you take an overnight train that departs after 7:00 p.m., you would enter the next day's date in the calendar box.

Seat Reservations
Just because you have a rail pass or train ticket does not mean that all your train travel costs are taken care of. If you take any of the express trains in Europe, you will have to reserve a seat on the particular train you want to take, and you will have to pay a reservation fee. The cost can add up if you aren't careful. But the savings in time from not taking milkrun trains can be considerable. Most travelers think the cost is worth the time saved.
Jumping the Language Barrier

In non-English-speaking countries it could be confusing getting help at the train station. In larger cities you'll likely find many people who can speak enough English to help you out. A tip is to look for a British flag sign over some of the ticket counters. That's an indication that the counter employee speaks English.

Planning Your Train Travel
To ensure that you get the most of your trip, plan your progress from country to country (or within one country) in a continuous loop to avoid time-wasting backtracking.
Base-Camp by Train
Choose a few main cities from which you can explore the surrounding areas. Remember that two hours on a train covers a lot of ground; if you base yourself in one area for an extended period of time, you can take advantage of the incredible train coverage and avoid frequent packing and unpacking.
How to Save Some Money
You can often save considerable money by booking your flight to an airport with a direct train connection to your first city of travel -- rather than to the first city itself. (A flight to Munich, for example, may cost less than one to Frankfurt, and time spent on a 3 1/2-hour train ride is worth the money saved on the airfare.) Upon arrival at the airport, you simply collect your bags and board a train right from the airport -- it couldn't be easier.
When you are ready to buy your rail pass or tickets:

Contact Carole by email with your train travel ideas and ask for a quote. There is a booking fee of $20 per person per ticket or pass for this service. For more complicated train trip planning, there is a $500 trip planning fee. For a complete list of fees and a credit card authorization form, see Consulting Services.

If you want to purchase your train tickets or passes without assistance, click on the Auto Europe icon below:

Click here to purchase your train tickets or passes without assistance


Click here for information on rail vacation package departure dates and pricing.


Travel Experience PO Box 99 - Clements, CA 95227-0099 - (800) 759-3238 - (209) 759-3733 - Email

Registered California Seller of Travel #2036932-40

© Travel Experience Consulting 1995 - 2008. All rights reserved.