If you have been following us on Instagram and Facebook then you might already know that we did a mini Europe trip this summer with the help of Eurail Global Pass. So what is this Eurail pass? Worry not, in this post we have shared all the details about Eurail pass and how you can purchase it and use it. In this post, we have shared our insights, tips, things to factor in and learnings from our silly mistakes.
This time we decided against writing a humongous post, rather we thought of creating a Q&A style post which has all the information. These are the questions that we had about Eurail Pass and also some of them we received over DM on our various social media accounts.
What is a Eurail Pass?
Eurail Pass is a ticket that entitles you to travel on trains, buses, and boats free or at a reduced price in 28 countries in Europe. There are various participating companies which honor the Eurail pass. There are different types of passes that you can opt for. You also get a discount on attractions as well.
What are the different types of Eurail Passes?
Broadly speaking there are three different kinds of Eurail pass.
- Global Pass
As the name suggests, this pass is valid in 28 countries in Europe for all participating companies.
- Select Pass
In this type of pass, you have an option to choose from 2, 3 or 4 bordering countries. The list of combinations is available on the website.
- One Country Pass
If you plan on visiting just one country then this is the pass that you need to use.
All of the above-mentioned passes come with different durations like 3 days, 5 days etc. There is also an option to choose from flexi pass or continuous travel pass.
What are the cost and the shipping charges?
The cost of the Eurail passes varies based on the pass type and the duration of the pass. The prices of the passes can be found here.
This is a physical ticket which needs to be carried on your self while traveling. You cannot print this pass at home, it has to be delivered to your address. There are shipping charges associated with the delivery. You can choose between premium shipping and standard shipping. The delivery time & rates vary by the country the passes are being delivered to. You can use the shipping calculator here.
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Which are the countries covered by Eurail Pass?
The Eurail Pass can be used in 28 countries if it’s the Eurail Global Pass. The validity of the pass is dependent on the type of pass and the duration.
Who is eligible to purchase a Eurail Pass?
Eurail Pass can be purchased and used by Non-Europeans or Non-resident Europeans. If you are a European or a resident in Europe then you can choose the Interrail pass.
How to select and purchase the Eurail Pass?
First of all, you will need to create a Eurail account here. Click on the “I don’t have a Eurail account yet” link. Fill up the form that appears on the next page and you should be all set with your own Eurail account. Log in to Eurail website using this account and go to “Eurail Passes” section on the top of the page. Select the pass type from the drop-down menu, add the number of travelers and then add to the cart. Then add traveler details and shipping details and then finally make the payment. Voila, you are done.
What is the 7 PM rule?
Eurail pass comes with a nice benefit which allows you to save a day while traveling during the night. If your train departs after 7 PM and the arrival time at your final destination is after 4 AM the next day then you just need to enter 1 day for travel and not two days. For example, if your train is at 7:15 PM from Munich on 1st and you arrive at Hamburg at 9 AM on 2nd then you just need to mention 2nd as your travel date on the pass. You are actually saving a DAY here.
What are the Reservation Charges?
The reservation charges vary from one country to other and from one route to other. Sometimes it might be just 5 Euros and sometime it might be 50 Euros, so it depends a lot based on the month, route, distance and country. For some routes, the reservation charges are optional while for some its mandatory. You can find all the details in the Rail Planner App.
During peak season, in some of the countries the quota for Eurail seats gets sold out months ahead of time, so even if you hold a valid Eurail pass, you will not be able to book tickets.
There are no reservation charges for most of the regional trains and you can board multiple trains on a particular travel day.
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How to make the best use of Eurail Pass?
There are multiple things to consider if you want to make the best use of your Eurail Pass.
- Reserve your seats as early as possible if the travel requires a reservation. In some countries, there are only a number of seats which can be used with the Eurail pass and these are generally booked early during peak season.
- Choose destinations which require no reservation or minimal reservation charges.
- Try to travel on overnight trains, this will save your hotel expenses and you will also not lose a day during your vacation.
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Eurail Pass v/s Swiss Travel Pass. Which one is better?
If you plan to travel only in Switzerland and Liechtenstein then it is better to opt for the Swiss Travel Pass as not all trains in Switzerland are included in Eurail pass. However, if you plan to travel to other countries in Europe as well then it is better to opt for the Eurail pass. The trains to major destinations like Zurich, Interlaken etc. in Switzerland are covered by the Eurail pass.
What is the Eurail Planner App?
In short, this is the goto app, if you are traveling across Europe with Eurail. This is an absolute must-have app on your phone. You can use various features of the App like
- Check train timings
- Check train routes
- Plan your travel
- Check if reservation is mandatory
You can download the app from both Apple Store and Google Play Store, here is the link for the Rail Planner App. However, this is not the only app that you would need, if you are traveling within Germany then you would need the DB Navigator App, in France, you would need the SNCF App, these apps have more accurate and live train running information along with the platform information.
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Is it worth the money?
This is little tricky to answer. You will need to put your thinking hat on and plan well. We did France because we wanted to avoid the high car rental fees, toll charges, and parking charges during the peak season. We did our maths and decided to do France, Luxembourg, Germany, and Denmark. But you will need to come up with your own plan. List down the countries and cities that you would like to visit. Then prepare a rough itinerary and check the prices for single tickets. Remember, the prices of train tickets booked in advance are cheaper compared to on the spot booking.
Now check the train timings, connectivity, and duration on the Rail Planner app. Check if there any reservation charges associated with the tickets. This should give you a fair idea and the price point.
There are various offers on the Eurail webpage, you can check the Eurail Saver Pass to get a 15% discount on the pass if traveling in a group of 2 to 5 people.
First Class vs Second Class?
We did not find much of a difference except for a few trains especially the regional ones in France. But obviously first class has its own benefits and comfort. Some trains do offer free beverages, cookies, and chocolates especially TGV in Germany while for others you have to pay. You can also bring your own food and enjoy your meal if you don’t prefer buying.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Always carry your Eurail Pass and Passport while traveling.
- Fill up your travel details in the Eurail pass as soon as you board the train.
- Reserve seats early if a reservation is mandatory for the journey.
- Remember to validate your Eurail pass before you use it for the first time.
- Always ensure that you are in the station before the departure time, trains always leave on time.
- There might be multiple trains going to the same destination, so always crosscheck the Train number.
Good to know –
- Booking in advance is always a wise idea if you are planning to travel during peak season
- Do check timings well, sometimes the time difference between regional trains as well as other trains might not be that sufficient for you to change trains.
- Get discounts on Ferry and City Cards as well. Check all discounts HERE.
- The trains are always on time, if you are late by a minute also, you might miss the train.
- If the pass is not validated, you will have to pay a hefty fine. Make sure you validate it at the station before beginning the first journey. It can be validated at any of the major stations.
- Keep an eye of any major announcements like strikes or construction work in the Rail Planner App so that you can plan your journey well.
- You can make the best use of locker facilities at most of the major stations.
- Some stations are completely shut at night so make sure you are not stuck at the station at night. We found stations in Germany especially the major ones like Munich, Frankfurt operating and there were trains post-midnight as well. Don’t assume all European stations to be like that. Some are completely shut by 9 or 10 PM.
- Reservation is mandatory for high-speed trains. Plus there are only limited seats allocated to Eurail pass holder. Book/reserve your seats as soon as your plan is sorted.
- Most of the 5 – 7 minutes connection time to board another train worked for us.
- Avoid boarding the wrong train. If you are confused then check with the helpdesk, they are very helpful.
- Always carry a pen with you as you need to fill in the details in your Eurail pass as soon as you board the train.
- Reservation is mandatory in high-speed trains like TGV or Thalys in countries like France, Spain, Italy whereas it is optional in Germany.
- A tip to save money is to pick routes with optional or no reservation charges. We traveled from Paris to Copenhagen for 5 Euros per person.
- Paris – Strasbourg – 5 Euros
- Strasbourg – Offenburg – Free
- Offenburg – Frankfurt – Free
- Frankfurt – Hamburg – Free
- Hamburg – Copenhagen – Free
- Also, make sure that you check for alternate modes of transport for short distances. Our travel from Manosque to Marseille by train would have taken us more time than the bus journey as we had to change trains. The same journey by bus took us just over an hour to complete and this option didn’t show up on the Rail Planner App as the bus company is not a participating company with Eurail. For alternate and cheaper connections, check the website Rome2rio, it lists all major connections between two destinations.
If you have any other queries, feel free to drop us a comment below.
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We would like to thank Eurail for making this post possible.