How to Use a Eurorail Pass
Train travel is a classic way to get around Europe. While budget airlines can be convenient for certain itineraries, a Eurail train pass is great if you want to travel frequently by train, or to visit several countries by rail. There are actually several types of Eurail passes, so you first need to choose the one that’s best for you. Order it before you depart for Europe. Carry the physical pass with you in Europe, and you can basically hop on almost any train within the time period covered by your pass.
Choosing the Right Pass
Get the Eurail Global Pass for maximum freedom.If you want to travel across several countries in Europe, and to travel by train frequently during your trip, choose the Global Pass. This option allows you to travel through 28 countries in Europe--most of the continent except Great Britain. You will choose a specific Global Pass based on the length of your travel dates.
- Global passes can be used for essentially unlimited travel for a period of 15 days, 22 days, or 1-3 months.
- The Global Pass is ideal if you have a long or complex itinerary with lots of train travel, or if you’re just willing to pay for maximum convenience.
- Prices start at 2.
Choose the Eurail Flexi-pass for shorter itineraries.The Flexipass is an alternative option for using the Global Pass. It also you allows to ride most types of trains within most countries of Europe. Instead covering a certain time frame of consecutive days, however, the Flexipass allows you to ride the rails for a certain number of days anytime within a certain window:
- Some Flexi-passes allow 10 or 15 days of travel within two months.
- Other Flexipasses allow 5 or 7 days within a single month.
Pick a Select Pass for travel between 2-3 specific countries.If you’re more interested in traveling in just a few countries, rather than lots of places in Europe, go with the Select Pass. This allows you to choose sets of 2, 3, or 4 adjacent countries. 3-4 country Select Passes are for 5, 6, 8, 10 days within 2 months. 2 country passes are available for the same date ranges, plus an additional option for 4 days in two months.
- Not all adjacent countries are available in 2-4 country groups. For the latest information on which groups are available, check the Eurail website or app.
- Certain groups or pairs of countries -- Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Croatia/Slovenia, and Serbia/Montenegro -- count as 1 country.
- Prices start at 5.
- You can pay extra for a point-to-point ticket that goes through a country not on your pass.
Buy a One Country pass.If you travel will focus primarily or solely on one country, this pass allows you 8 days within a single month, including multiple trains per day. Prices start at . One Country passes are available for most European nations as well as some groups of them, including:
- Scandinavia (which includes Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden)
Go with regional rail options for infrequent train travel.A Eurail pass will not always be the most affordable rail option. If you don’t plan on taking trains very often, you may be better off just buying single tickets from the national or regional rail lines of the countries you are visiting.
- Other types of passes are available other than Eurail. You can also investigate the Global pass, Euro East pass, or Scandinavia pass.
Getting Your Pass
Order your pass outside of Europe.You must order your Eurail pass before you get to Europe. You cannot buy one inside of Europe, or if you are a citizen or resident of a European country. Purchase your selected pass from Eurail.com or from the Eurail app.
- If you live in Turkey, the Russian Federation, Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia, you are not eligible to buy a Eurail Pass.
Purchase your pass well before you depart.To save money, buy your pass as soon as you know your travel dates. Eurail passes now use a variable pricing model. That means that you can often get the best deals by purchasing your pass far in advance of your travel dates. Passes will likely become more expensive the closer it gets to your trip.
Check European train websites for promotions.The Eurail website and the various national/regional rail companies in Europe (such as Deutsche Bahn and Trenitalia) will occasionally run deals on Eurail passes, such as 20% off. Once you begin to think about your travel itinerary, start checking these sites to potentially snag a great deal.
Activate your pass.You must activate your Eurail pass within 11 months of purchasing it. You can activate it from the Eurail website when you checkout if you know that your travel will fall within this 11-month window. Otherwise, you can activate your pass when you board any train in Europe.
Carry your pass with you.When you purchase you pass online, provide a shipping address to have a paper pass sent to you before you depart. Eurail passes are only available in paper form, not as e-tickets. Carry the pass wherever you travel in Europe, since you will need to present it to board the trains you want to ride.
- Paper passes are still used because they can be accepted by all regional and national trains without problem.
Making the Most of Your Pass
Hop on almost any type of train with your Eurail pass.You can take regional, inter-Europe, and even high speed trains with Eurail passes. Your pass covers the full cost to board most types of trains. Simply show your pass to the conductor. Depending on each rail line's policy, you will either do this before you board or on the train itself.
- For certain trains (such as high-speed ones), you may have to pay an extra fee to reserve your seat.
Use the Eurail app to plan your journey.Download the Eurail app for either iOS or Android to make rail travel even more convenient. You can use it to make reservations, find train stations, look up times, check maps, etc.
Get a Saver Pass if you are traveling in a group.If you are traveling with 2-5 people, choose the "Saver Pass" option when you check out. This will provide a discount of 15% per person. The names of everyone in your group will be printed on a single pass, however, so you must travel together.
Save on Eurail passes if you are young.Choose a second-class pass when you order for even greater savings if you are under age 28. Those above this age can only purchase first-class passes.
Grab bigger savings when traveling with kids.Children travel for free when accompanying an adult with a Eurail pass. If you're traveling with kids, this can mean that the cost of a Eurail pass is less than the cost of individual rail tickets for you and the children.
Learn what is not covered by your pass.While Global and Select Eurail passes give you a great deal of travel freedom, there are certain restrictions you need to keep in mind. No Eurail passes cover trains in Great Britain, for instance, or the hello Paris-Italy night train. There are other restrictions as well. For instance:
- You can take other overnight trains, but you will have to pay extra if you want accommodations on them.
- Certain private rail lines are not included in the Eurail network. Check the Eurail website or app for up-to-date information on which ones are included.
Video: First Timers Guide to the Eurail Pass
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