February 21, 2018

Four Reasons to Use a European Rail Pass

I’d be willing to bet that every new traveler to Europe dreams of traveling by train.

Is that because the movies have made it seem so romantic?  Or are the very expensive gas prices the culprit?  Or do we just want to travel in a new fashion?

Sevilla Spain Train Station with High Speed Trains

Sevilla Spain Train Station with High Speed Trains by Martin Kers and Eurail

Well traveling by train might not be all that romantic ( face it, the rigors of just traveling aren’t romantic!) but it is a fun, easy and exciting way to travel while visiting the many European countries!

So you’ve made the decision to visit Europe and travel by train, now comes the decision whether to buy individual tickets or a rail pass.  Here are 4 reasons to travel using a rail pass.

1. Convenience

With a rail pass all you do is hop on any train.  Most trains do not require seat reservations; just sit in any open seat.  There are exceptions such as high speed trains (TGV), scenic trains (Glacier Express) or sleeper trains that do require a seat reservation or upgrade.

2. Fits any Itinerary

Rail passes can be purchased for a single country, multiple countries or even as a Global pass covering all 23 countries that participate in the Eurail program.  Once you’ve set an outline of your itinerary, calculate the number of days you‘ll be traveling by rail to determine the best pass for you!

Furka Railway Switzerland

Furka Railway Switzerland by Martin Kers and Eurail

3. Fits any budget

You can purchase 1st or 2nd class rail passes.  Keep in mind, 1st class pass holders can sit in 2nd class but this does not work the other way around! The individual rail passes are great but if you’re traveling as a group of 2-5 you may want to purchase the discounted saver passes.  With the saver pass you must always travel on trains together!

4. It’s just plain easy!

Just check the rail schedule and go!  It really is that easy.

Once you decide a rail pass is your best option, Eurail passes can be purchased at RailEurope or Eurail.

German Rail Station Platform Germany

German Rail station platform by Martin Kers and Eurail

When I am researching train options, including connections, I look at the Deutsche Bahn (German) website or OBB (Austria) website. They both have English options and are fantastic sites to help plan your European trip.

Remember, Eurail passes are only available to those living outside Europe and must be purchased prior to your departure.  EU residents have their own pass, InterRail passes!  If you’re an EU resident, Alma Books is offering a chance to win a 5-day InterRail Pass.  For details visit Alma Books.


What has been your experience traveling with a Rail Pass?

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  1. albert says:

    Great tips! thanks for reminder about European rail passes! I’ve had a great experience traveling on rail passes in Europe!
    albert recently posted..Most romantic restaurants in Singapore

  2. I will definitely use the rail pass when I make it to Europe. Budget and convenience are my priorities!
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..Lost luggage and frozen tents: lessons in perseverance from Alaska

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Rail passes are definitely convenient! When I’m planning a trip I also price out city to city tickets vs rail pass. If its close or less expensive, I always go with rail passes.

  3. I’ve had great experiences traveling on rail passes in Europe. I’ve purchased Eurail Select passes for 3 countries. I always found 1st class tickets to be worth the extra cost for added flexibility and comfort. I LOVE getting around Europe by train for the reasons you mentioned.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Capital Ideas for a Washington D.C. Visit

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I have traveled in both 1st and 2nd class too. Last summer it was 2nd class all the way and I have to say it was wonderful and comfy!

  4. Joanna says:

    It´s a wonderful reminder of European rail passes. I love this post! Thanks.

  5. Great tips, Debbie! Train travel in NA just isn’t the same as in Europe, probably for the reasons you mention. What does it for me is being able to get on a train and a few hours later arrive in another country with a different language/culture/custom. Gets me every time! The TGV is the one I yearn to travel on.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..More Art From Toronto’s Streets

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      You are so right! Traveling by train in the US just isn’t the same. I have taken Amtrak to San Luis Obispo and really enjoyed it but it took forever!

  6. I totally love your blog. It’s all about my dream destination, Europe. Envy the chance to visit these different places and, oh, would love to try these rail passes too. 🙂

  7. Leigh says:

    I love how easy it is to get around Europe by train – though the Italian train attendants need a good lesson in cheery customer service.

    Good advice.
    Happy 4th of July.
    Leigh recently posted..Kayaking Majestic Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      That reminds me of what I thought were rude and unhelpful French conductors! Of course, I thought the German conductors were so wonderful 🙂

  8. I love train travel when I’m visiting Europe! There is simply no other way to get from place to place that is both convenient and thrilling at the time! Great post and great tips Debbie!
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..ArtSmart Roundtable—The Art of European Travel Photography

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I too love using the trains when in Europe although I’ve had some wonderful experiences driving too! But I will only drive if I’m outside the city. Drove in Paris one time and will never do it again. I’m surprised I’m still married after that one 🙂

  9. I miss German rail in the summer, as most of my trips in recent years to German have been spring, fall, or winter. Then again, I get fewer crowds in these seasons, except during Christmas, when it’s just nuts on the “Bahnstrecken.”

    Thanks for your post and reminder about European rail passes, Debbie!
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted..Hong Kong skyline at night

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I have never been on a train during winter. I think seeing all the whiteness would be very beautiful! Good to hear from you Henry 🙂

      • There is indeed a restful, peaceful quality to the snow-covered landscape, as if the hills, towns, and farmlands are all waiting for the warmer spring to come around, so they can all come back to life. I believe that seeing the contrast between summer and winter is worthwhile. 🙂
        fotoeins | Henry recently posted..Hong Kong skyline at night


  1. […] won’t get into a debate on whether it’s better to use point-to-point tickets or rail passes because I think it depends on the cost. Just remember, no matter what type of ticket you have it […]

  2. […] I said in Four Reasons to Use a European Rail Pass, I think we all want to travel around Europe by train.  In the book “InterRail” by Alessandro […]

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