We recently partnered with ACPRail.com on our #IndieRail trip through western Europe. Wondering how you can get the same passes? Let’s take a look.
What is Eurail?
Eurail passes are multi-country, multi-day train tickets available to many people who live outside of Europe. There are a few strange rules about who can buy them, so check out Eurorail, Eurail, and train travel in Europe for more details.
If you’re going to be flying a lot, or are just travelling in Europe for a short time or are going to few destinations, a Eurail pass isn’t going to do you much good. However, if you’re planning to travel for two weeks or more and you want to visit a lot of places, there’s a good chance they’ll save you money and time. And trains are a great way to travel in Europe.
What kind of train ticket do you need?
There are several elements that go into choosing your Eurail Pass, or that might make you decide to choose point-to-point tickets instead:
- How many days are you travelling?
- How many destinations will you visit per day?
- How many countries will you pass through?
- Are the trains cheap or expensive in those countries, and do they demand seat reservations?
- Are trains a good way to cover those distances?
- How far in advance are you planning, and how concrete are your travel plans?
If you’re concentrating your time in just a few adjoining countries, you’ll want a Select Pass, which is available for either 5, 6, 8 or 10 travel days within a 2-month period. It doesn’t matter what distances you cover on those travel days, but double-check what countries are considered ‘adjoining’, and which combinations also include ferry connections.
If you’re going to be ‘doing’ Europe, you’ll be looking at the Global Pass or Global Flexi Pass. The Eurail Global Pass is available for 15 or 21 days or one, two or three months, and the Global Flexi Pass is available in 10 or 15 days within two months. But what’s the difference?
The Global Pass gives you unlimited travel on consecutive days… If you buy that big three-month wonder (for around US$1,300 if you’re under 26), you can jump on almost any train in Europe whenever you like for a whole three months… That’s around $14.50 a day, if you were mad enough to travel constantly. On the other hand, the Flexi Pass gives you so many days of travel within a set period: we find 10 or 15 gives you a chance to explore your destinations properly.
Want to travel overnight on a Flexi Pass? That’s no problem: if you leave late on day one and your train arrives on day two, your pass is valid for all of day two… just double-check your usage guide and fill out the pass correctly!
Wondering how to use your Eurail Pass? We’ve got you covered. To check current prices, visit ACPRail — they stock the full Eurail range and will look after you well.
Do I need to buy seat reservations?
Some trains, especially the faster intercity and international trains require seat reservations to be made in advance, for a nominal fee. This holds true pretty much everywhere, except in Spain, where you need a reservation for almost every train.
Check your Eurail booklet for the most up-to-date information when you buy your passes, those trains will be marked with an R symbol.
You can often route your way around these by taking longer regional trains, and other times it’s just worth paying the extra couple of euros for the journey. Longer trips and overnight journeys can get pricey though, so if cost is the biggest deciding factor in getting your Eurail pass, do the research on reservations first.
For me, the biggest advantage of Eurail passes is the flexibility. If I was planning every journey six months in advance and scouring the booking websites for advance ticket sales, I could probably save a bit; but I want to be able to change my plans on the fly, and stay a few extra days in one place, or head out to somewhere I didn’t plan on going. Because of this, I’ll avoid reservations when I can; or show up just an hour or so early at the station when they’re compulsory (or pop into the station the day before if I’m nearby). I’ve never yet had to wait for another train because I couldn’t get a reservation.
Discounts and deals
We keep a close eye on train tickets and passes over on our tours and deals pages, so check in there to see if there’s any currently-running promotions.
Have you used Eurail passes, or are you thinking about it? Let us know in the comments. Got questions? Add them down there too.