The Complete Guide On How To Use Your Eurail Pass In 2019 And Get The Most Out Of It

The Complete Guide On How To Use Your Eurail Pass In 2019 And Get The Most Out Of It

Updated: August 2019

You’ve decided to travel Europe by rail, but you’re still not quite sure if a Eurail pass is for you, and if it is, how to use it?

Having traveled all over Europe with two Eurail Global Passes in a span of 3.5 months, I feel pretty comfortable in my knowledge of how the system works. This comprehensive post intends to go from the basics of acquiring your pass to getting the most for your money.

It is not only based on hard guide facts, but also from my experiences and mistakes. This way, you can get on the road, or should I say, the tracks, feeling comfortable that you’re going to have a smooth ride and experience.  So…

Traveling Europe with Eurail


The pre-trip planning…


What are Eurail passes for?

Eurail passes a made to ease your train travel experience through Europe for a specific time period (up to three months) and a specific number of countries (up to 31 covered countries).

It is also designed to give you a lot of flexibility on the road and to lower the cost of your transportation.

Eurail Passes Map
Countries Covered by Eurail.

Eurail passes are created by a European train carrier-owned consortium called Eurail, which sells European train passes to non-European citizens through various sellers.  If you’re a European citizen, you will need an Interail Pass instead.  

Eurail and Interail are separate and different passes, but they strive to achieve the same goal, and they are used pretty much the same way.

Should you buy a Eurail Pass?

There are different types of Eurail passes with different prices, duration, and coverage. The type of pass you choose will depend on how much, and where, you intend to travel.

If you plan to take just 2 or 3 trains in one or a few countries, then it’s probable that a Eurail pass is not for you, as the individual train tickets might cost less than a pass that might go partially unused. 

But on the other hand, if you know you will be jumping here and there and taking trains regularly, then a pass might be the best option for you.

I recommend thinking of a preliminary itinerary and going to a site like RailEurope (which I’ve used to do this) and compare the total price of all point to point tickets versus the pass.

For example, on my first “rail trip” to Europe in 2010, I visited five countries (which is a considerably big trip), but when I made my comparison, it proved to be cheaper buying my tickets point by point. But, on my much bigger 3.5 months European trip, the passes made a lot more sense.

Also, on two different trips I made to Spain and Italy in 2018, both country-specific passes were cheaper for the number of trains and travel days I planned on using, rather than go with point by point tickets.

How to Buy your Eurail Pass?

You must buy your Eurail Pass online while at your home country (non-European country), with enough time prior to your trip to receive the pass by mail. Passes are only mailed to the purchaser’s address (or address of choice within the country).

If you are on the road (like I was at the time of acquiring my pass), your pass will be mailed to any address in your home country, and then your friend/family must send it to you. Passes are not available electronically (i.e., PDF).

The pass can be bought from six months to a week ahead of your trip. I recommend purchasing it at least a month ahead and always consider the shipping time to your address.

After you purchase a rail pass, you have six months to validate it at a train station in Europe (we’ll cover validation soon).

Most Eurail passes must be purchased in the U.S. (or respective non-European country) and are not sold in Europe.

But, there are some exceptions: Passes like the Global Pass are sold at some of Europe’s major railway stations, but their price tag is much higher than in the US. Some countries also offer their own local pass at their major stations, but again, at a higher price.

Traveling Europe with Eurail

Things to note: You can save a lot of money on your passes if you’re 27 years old or younger, or if you’re a party of two or more. Of course, second class passes are cheaper than first class, and I highly recommend getting a second class instead of first. Why?

  • If you’re a backpacker like me, then traveling cheaply is more important than “luxury.”
  • In 99% of the European trains, the only difference between second and first is simply, upholstery. Maybe a slight difference in open seating arrangement is that first class has three seats per row vs. second class that has four slightly narrower seats per row in the same space.
  • When reserving a berth on a sleeper train, most probably you will select second-class reservation since the reservation fare is much cheaper (I’ll cover this soon).
  • And, a few trains don’t even have a first class section, so you will have to seat on second class anyway.

Which Eurail Pass to buy?

There are three main things you have to decide before buying your pass: countries to visit, duration of the trip, and estimated “train travel days.”

There are two passes:

  • Single Country Pass: Best if you’re interested in traveling in one country or area.
  • Global Pass: If you’re interested in going up to 31 countries.

After you know which pass you want, then select the duration and the number of “Train Travel Days.”

Train Travel Days are the number of days in which you will actually take the train during the span of your whole trip. For example, if you take five trains on five different days, then you might choose five Train Travel Days. 

But, if you take the same five trains but two of those trains are taken on the same day, then what you need is four Train Travel Days. Train Travel Days options vary depending on the pass you choose.

For the Global Pass, for example, you can get either a continuous pass that allows unlimited travel for 15 consecutive days, 22 days, 1 month, 2 months, or 3 months — or a flexipass for either 3, 5, or 7 travel days within a one-month window, or 10 or 15 travel days within a two-month window.

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry, this search tool helps you pick the best pass for you based on your travel plans. 


Let’s start traveling!!!


How to validate your Eurail Pass?

Before you take your first train, you MUST validate your pass at a train station in a country where Eurail is valid.  A railway official will fill in the start and end date of your pass as well as your passport number.

Also, they will stamp your pass to validate the date on which train travel begins. 

Activation is required within six months of the issuing date.  To validate, you must provide proof of ID (passport) and the pass.

Learn from my mistake:  I validated my pass in Athens, where I started my trip, but I failed to notice that they didn’t stamp my pass. It wasn’t until I was on the sleeper train from Bucharest to Budapest that the train conductor saw the lack of a stamp, so I had to pay the full fare for that train and validate the pass (again) in Budapest. (validation is free)

Traveling Europe with Eurail
My Eurail Pass. Almost entirely filled…

Understanding how train travel days work…

A day on a pass is usually one 24-hour period, commencing at midnight. Once you hop on a train during a calendar day, it counts as a travel day in your pass.  But, during that calendar day, you can take as many trains as you like, and it still counts as one travel day.

But, have in mind that there’s the 7 p.m. rule

What is the 7 pm rule?

If you have a flexipass (e.g. Global Pass – choose 15 days within two months), then knowing about the 7 pm rule can save you a few travel days! Simply, you can save travel days when you travel by night.

UPDATE: The 7 pm rule is no longer in effect. From now on, when traveling overnight, it is possible to only use one travel day. This is when you board the train before midnight and do not have to change trains anymore after midnight. In that case, you only indicate the day of departure as a travel day.

This is opposite to the now-defunct 7 pm rule which allowed you to use one travel day when you traveled on a direct night train that departed after 7 pm (19:00) and arrived after 4 am (04:00). But, the date that counted as the travel day was the arrival date. So, forget about that if you read that somewhere else.

If you need to change trains after midnight, you need to indicate that day as a travel day as well.

On ferries (yes! The pass is also valid on many ferries!) the 7 pm rule also applies the same overnight conditions explained above apply. If the ferry is free (included in the pass), then you mark the departure date as your travel day.

If the ferry is discounted, then there is no need to put a date on the calendar. Just show your pass and get the discount.


Now, plan your trip as you go!


Traveling Europe with Eurail
The Eurail documents you’ll receive by mail.

 

Understanding train schedules and selecting the best trains…

UPDATE: Eurail no longer provides printed timetable booklets with its passes, instead, they now have a web-based timetable and a convenient app that works offline too. With the app, you can also make e-ticket reservations, find train stations near you, and visualize your trip on its map. It’s quite convenient and I recommend it now. 

Selecting trains is quite easy with the tools Eurail gives you as well as with the information found throughout all train stations. Along with your pass, you’ll receive a map of all the main train routes in all Europe, a Eurail Pass Timetable, and a Eurail Guide.

Of great use on the road are the map and the timetable, especially the timetable.

UPDATE: Should you still want to use a printed timetable, Eurail recommends purchasing one. You can pick the most up to date one on this list, depending on when you’re reading this. They work similarly to what I’ll explain below, but if you decide to use the app, it’ll be much easier for you to search for trains.

The timetable is a book with all the main routes, including most, if not all trains from destination “A” to destination “B.” 

Here (as shown in the image below) you will see the type of train it is, the schedule and duration, if a reservation is required (with the “R”), if it is a sleeper (with a bed icon), if you have to change trains and where (with the city name in the middle column), and which days of the week are they available (with the numbers from 1 to 7).

Traveling Europe with Eurail
Sample of a timetable taken from the Eurail Timetable Book

This was my train bible, and it helped me plan on the go.  I found out that the timetable guide is 99% accurate on its times, and those that weren’t accurate were just by 5 minutes before or after the stated time.

If you don’t have the timetable book with you (or the app), then you can visit a train station of interest and know the schedule of all trains arriving (white schedule) and departing (yellow schedule) from that station.

Wait, do I also need to make reservations?

Some trains do require a reservation (mostly sleepers/overnight, high-speed, long-distance, and cross-country/international trains). The reservation guarantees that you will have a seat for the whole duration of the ride, but they can cost a fee from €0 to €30+. 

I found out that the average reservation for day trains is from €3 – €10, and for sleepers is €15 – €20.

The sleeper train reservations will give you the opportunity to reserve a bed or a couchette in a single berth, double berth, 4-couchette berth, or 6-couchette berth, depending on the class you have and the amount of money you are willing to spend on a reservation. 

If you’re not interested in sleeping comfortable, you can reserve a seat for much less.

Traveling Europe with Eurail
One of the many sleeper styles.

Sometimes, a single route can offer trains with reservation and without, so it can be possible to avoid the reservation fees if you do a bit of research with the timetable book.

If the train you’re interested in taking does not require a reservation, you can just hop in and pick any seat in your class.  Just make sure to write the journey’s information on your pass.

How to make reservations?

Reservations are very easy to make.  My best recommendation is to go to the train station (many of them have a dedicated pass holder window) and say; “I have a Eurail Pass and I want a reservation for the train from “A” to “B” on X day (even possible for the same day) and at X hour.”

They will just tell you how much the reservation costs, and voila! You’re in!

As long as all train travel is done in the same country, you can make all reservations in a single station. 

For example, I can make reservations for trains from Florence to Rome, Rome to Naples, and Milan to Bologna, all from Milan Central Station… only because all the trains are running in Italy.

Learn from my mistakes: There is a limited reservation availability for pass holders, so even if there’s space on the train, a ticket agent can tell you there’s no space for you with your pass. This is rare unless you’re traveling during high season or a very popular route. 

In these cases, I recommend making the reservation at least the day before. If there’s no space for pass holders and you have to get on that train, then you will have to pay the full fare.

Traveling Europe with Eurail

Travel report and keeping track of travel days

Your Eurail pass consists of a ticket and a pass cover. Each time before boarding a train, bus or boat, it is important that you record your trip in the “travel report” on the pass cover (in blue or black ink) and write the date of travel on your pass too.

If you travel without having entered the trip in the travel report and pass, you risk a fine and payment of a full fare ticket.

Well, a few times the train conductor got to my seat to verify my ticket before I documented my journey, and the worst case scenario was a few frowns from them while they made sure I wrote the information accurately (there were times I didn’t have a pen available!).

What if I need Assistance in Europe?

There are dedicated Eurail Aid Offices in some of the major train stations to assist pass holders making reservations. They are generally located at the international ticket windows, and they can also help exchange incorrectly validated or issued passes.


Tips for getting the most for your money


A few extra random tips to use on the road:

  • When using the timetable guide, remember that the city names are written in their native language.  For example, when looking for Copenhagen, you must look for København; or Wien for Vienna. Use the map to find the native language name for each city.
  • Always carry water with you on long distance or sleeper trains.
  • Use common sense with your backpack.  Don’t leave it unattended inside the train and on overnight trains, you could lock it to something for peace of mind.  Having said that, I never locked my backpack on any sleeper train, and luckily nothing happened, but I’ve heard horror stories from other travelers.
  • If you have to make a reservation, do allow at least an hour before the train departs. Some larger stations can get really crowded, and the reservation line could take quite a while.
  • Sometimes train doors close 2 to 3 minutes before departure, so don’t expect to come running and enter the train at the very last minute.  Or at least, avoid that situation.
  • When crossing borders, keep your passport accessible, as it will be requested by immigration (that is if the border is not between Schengen countries).

Tips to get the most out of your pass:

  • You don’t need a month-long pass just because your trip is a month long.  With careful planning, you can select a pass that has a shorter duration than your trip but still covers you to travel everywhere you want to. You can do this by starting or ending in a city where you’d like to spend a longer time, or that is not covered by the pass. Selecting a pass for a shorter period will save a significant amount of money.
  • Pay for short, cheap train rides out of pocket.  If you know you’re likely to use all your day in the end, then pay for a few of the cheap local trains to save a travel day for the expensive train rides.  I did this in Italy by paying 5 Euro on a regional train but then used my last travel day on a 50 Euro train.
  • Flexible travel days are better for longer or interrupted trips.  If you’re a student that can only travel during weekends, then you can do more with a two months – 15 days of travel pass, vs. a continuous days pass.  Same applies to a two months long trip where you won’t be traveling every single consecutive day.
  • You can save with a flexipass instead of a continuous pass since it covers fewer days in a longer time span.  If you know you won’t be traveling by train every consecutive day, there’s no point in getting a consecutive days pass, but instead, use the flexi days pass days wisely.

Wait, are there even more discounts and benefits?!

The pass comes with extra discounts and benefits in all the countries where it is valid. These range from discounts in local and international transportation, to free admission to museums, and others. 

But, have in mind if you use a free benefit on a certain day, you will have to fill in a travel day on your pass.  All the current deals are shown in the Eurail Pass Guide that comes with your pass.

Eurail Travel
My route through all Europe with the Eurail Global Pass.

Websites for all countries included in the Eurail Passes


Hopefully, this guide has covered the most important aspects of acquiring and using your Eurail Pass.  

If there’s any additional information you’d like to know or would like to share, please share it in the comments below.

Have you traveled with a Eurail Pass before? How was your experience?

The Complete Guide On How To Use Your Eurail Pass And Get The Most Out Of It

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167 thoughts on “The Complete Guide On How To Use Your Eurail Pass In 2019 And Get The Most Out Of It”

  1. This is such a great, comprehensive guide, Norbert! I’ve never been in Europe long enough to take advantage of a rail pass, but I know they can definitely be perfect if the conditions of your trip are right.

    1. Thanks, Amanda! Exactly, that’s the key to take advantage of a Eurail Pass. Establishing your trip’s conditions and comparing them to the benefits of the pass.

  2. Brilliant article, still trying to get my head around traveling around Europe by train but your article has made it so much easier to understand, keep up the great work!!

  3. Such a thorough guide! I’m sure that, for people going to Europe for the first time, it’ll help ease the overwhelming task it can sometimes be to start researching a new destination. Now I want to go to Europe 🙂

  4. We are traveling to Europe (May 2015) and this article answered all my questions about booking the Eurail, EXCEPT for 1! My bf and I are flying into Belgium from the U.S., hence we will be departing from the train station in Belgium to our first country (Germany). My question is, will they count Belgium as one of our countries? Also, when I return to Belgium at the end of our trip from Spain, how many travel days are needed to get back up to Belgium? we wouldnt be stopping in any more countries on the way back…?

    [email protected]
    THANK YOU

    1. Hey Jessica! Exciting trip ahead! So, to answer your questions. Belgium does count as your first country, Germany as your second, and so on. On your return to Belgium from Spain, it will depend on which train you take and at what time it departs. I’ll paste the information directly from Eurail’s site.

      What is a travel day?
      A travel day lasts 24 hours from midnight to midnight. On each travel day you have access to the train networks where your Eurail pass is valid.
      7 p.m. rule
      When traveling on a direct night train that departs after 7 p.m. (19:00) and arrives at its final stop after 4 a.m. (04:00), you only need to enter the arrival date in the travel calendar, even if you leave the train before 4 a.m. This way you get 5 hours of travel for free. This is known as the 7 p.m. rule.

      So, check your train options and see how they fit into this rule. If you have any doubts, let me know which are your options to see where could they fit.

      Hope this helps answer your questions! Feel free to let me know if you have any doubts.

  5. Great explanation of the Eurail system! I know this information will be helpful. My husband and I are traveling to Europe this summer and we just received our Eurail passes today. I have one concern. The pass doesn’t list our first names. Just our last name, and first initials (my name has “Ms” next to it and his “Mr”). When ordering, Eurail said to specifically put our names as they are on our passports. And I did. I would very much appreciate any help on this. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary – Congrats on your upcoming Eurail trip!

      On the names, I don’t think you’ll have any problem. Not sure which countries you’ll be traveling, but if they are all within the European Union, chances are you’re not going to be asked for your passport (not often, at least). And, if/when they ask it, they don’t necessarily compare ticket/passport names to match exactly.

      If you’re crossing outside the EU (like going to Poland), they might ask for both at the border, but I personally don’t think it’ll be a problem since it has your last name (and you probably have a proof of purchase). Should you not feel comfortable with this, I would recommend calling your Eurail ticket seller (or Eurail) to confirm this won’t be a problem.

      Cheers!

  6. Thanks for all the information, it has been a great help. I dont know if this question has been asked or not yet; however, i was wondering if i use my pass to get free travel on lets say the german S-Bahn (spelling?) that comes as a free beneift to my bass will i be charged one of the 10 days over 2 months for my pass or is it simply an extra benefit of the pass.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Evan –

      Sorry for the late reply. Yes, if you use it on the S-Bahn on a day you didn’t travel on any otehr train, it will count as a travel day. In that case, I would recommend buying an S-Bahn ticket.

  7. Brilliant and a very useful article. I had a query: Do they match your name on the eurail pass with that on the passport everytime you board a train? My passport does not have my surname, so I have not applicable written on my eurail pass. Will that be a problem?

    1. Hi Karan – Thanks! Well, I think you should match your name to how it appears on your passport. They usually check it after you board and the train has left, so it is unlikely they will not allow you in. I had times when they didn’t even bother to look at my passport, especially if I was traveling within Schengen. I don’t think it will be a problem, but try to keep the info as close to the passport as possible.

  8. Thanks for providing such useful information. We are planning a trip in October end. We are 4 youths (under 26) and 1 adult. We wish to buy the global pass 15 days. But which ones should we buy? We can’t buy a second class pass for the adult and if all other 4 people buy 1st class it becomes way too expensive. Please suggest. We can’t travel in separate classes too. How does this 1st class/second class really work??

    1. Hi Yasmin –

      First class is simply a bit more comfortable. If you have a first class ticket, you have the option of traveling first or second class too.

      You can all buy second class and the adult can buy first class. When making reservations, the adult can choose to reserve in second class instead of first. First class tickets give you that option. When no reservation is needed, you can all sit together too with no problem, as long as it is second class.

      Hope this helps!

  9. i am planning to visit Europe this coming december from Nigeria. Please kindly mail me a map showing all the train routes withing Europe. I intend to journey by train this way: Italy to Switzerland to France to Belgium to Holland to Germany to Austria back to Italy. Please mail info on cost too and the physical map to my address below:

    Engr. Osaro Ogbewe
    P.O.box 454, Benin City 300001,
    Edo State,
    NIGERIA.

    Thank you

  10. Norbert, on the Eurail Webpage says “Please note: If you make a reservation with us, you can only travel with the official reservation ticket sent to your shipping address – just make sure someone’s available to sign for your package when it arrives. It’s not possible to travel with your invoice or to pick up your reservations at the train station. Make train reservations well in advance to allow enough time for shipping.”
    Im travelling by myself with no hostel reservations, so I have no idea where will I be and where to ship the reservations.
    Do you think that going to the station a few hours earlier like you did is enough?

    Thanks!

  11. I have one more question: Whats the difference between buying the Eurail pass on the Eurail webpage rather than the Rail Europe webpage?
    Are there any advantages on any of them?
    Thanks!!

  12. Hi, we are traveling as a family, 5 of us, to 6 countires, so I know we need a global pass. We will be here for 1 month, staying in a few cities 3-4 days and visiting others for just 1 day. Questions: #1- should we buy a continuous tic or day tics? #2-should we buy 1st class or second class tics?

    1. Hi Scott –

      I believe you should buy the pass that allows you to travel non-continuous days, as in 10 or 15 days within two months or whatever the pass allows. That way, any day you don’t travel won’t be lost (as it would happen with the continuous days of travel pass). The class depends on your travel style and your family members. While first class might be slightly more comfortable, I don’t think it offers that much of a difference. (but that’s just my opinion) Also, have in mind that not all trains offer first class, so even with a first class pass, you might need to ride on second class (that’s mostly for regional trains that don’t require any reservation).

      If it were my choice, I’d travel 2nd class and use the money saved on different experiences wherever you’re visiting.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Norbert, thank you for the info! Another question, when in say Barcelona, does our Eurorail pass allow us to travel throughout the city on city transportation or not?

    1. You’re welcome. Most of the time, no, unless they are regional trains. For example, if the train is part of a subway/metro system, probably it will not be included, but if it is a railway system that connects to suburbs and other cities, it most probably will be included. The best way you can know is by looking at the train schedule included in the booklet you receive when you purchase your passes. There you’ll see every single route included in all Europe. I believe, though, that some cities do some kind of partnership where they offer the metro/subway tickets for free or a lower price to Global Pass users, but I’m not sure which ones do this or what are they currently offering. My suggestion would be to contact someone over at Eurail and ask them specifically about city transportation in X city, and if it is included in the pass.

  14. Great tips!! My husband and I will be going to Europe in the summer for 4 weeks.Our first time . Which route or how my countries do you recommend for us to see the major tourist spots in that amount of time using eurail? We were thinking about starting in Dublin – London -paris- parts of Spain and Portugal – south of france- Italy – Greece and Amsterdam. Would that be enough time? Thanks for all the pointers.
    Viviane

  15. This was a useful post and I think it is rather easy to see from the other comments as well that this post is well written and useful. I bookmarked this blog a while ago because of the useful content and I am never being disappointed. Keep up the good work.

  16. Francois Provencher

    Hi, I am an exchange student living in the Netherlands, and I believe I should be eligible for the cheaper Interrail pass since I have a Dutch Residence Permit valid for the rest of the year.
    The thing is, two of my friends are coming to Europe to backpack with me for a month using Eurail passes. My question is, do Eurail and Interrail offer the exact same trains, in other words will our passes be compatible? Thank you for your time!

  17. Leticia Elisea

    We will be traveling to Germany ideally on a overnight train during Oktoberfest. I’m nervous the one and only train we can take will be packed. How can I reserve it now? We’d like some beds and ideally not with 4 other strangers.

    Thanks,

  18. Hello! I have a question on the duration of the pass. For example, if I buy the one month option and activate it on July 18th, does it last until the end of July or will it go to August 18th? Thanks for the help! This article was very informative.

    1. Hi Kenny – The pass will last until a month (or 30 days, I believe) have passed after activation. In your sample, it would last until August 16th, since July has 31 days and the day of activation counts too (30 days total). Also, the duration might last only until you complete all your allowed travel days, so if you have 15 travel days within two months and use all 15 during the first month, you won’t be able to use the pass during the second month.

  19. We travelled on a EURAIL pass May 2016 and would NEVER repeat the experience. We were cheated of 50 EURO by an officious railway officer who noted we HAD filled in our travel diary (exactly as detailed on item 2 found on the cover of your tickets) but failed to be advised clearly or noticed small panels on the ticket itself…leading to a fine….On enquiry with other travellers we noted many had had the same experiences in using their tickets….and though you might try to do the right thing (the writer is retired as is his wife, and not prone to dishonesty)..that simply does not matter in dealing with their staff…NEVER USE THESE SERVICES…in our opinion there are so many ‘catches’ and rules and regulations.. many NEVER properly explained.. its simply not worth the risk. Rob Sintes NZ Tourist.

      1. With the greatest possible respect Nobert.. you are merely a stooge for Eurail. My comments are as previously.. Never use this service. Purchase your tickets directly from the railway companies.. just like the Italians do.
        You will save money and not get tied up with the conflict between Eurails seemingly endless rules and railway staff.. who seem to delight in finding holes in the complex ticketing system of Eurail… and fining passengers who have already paid Eurail….

        Rob NZ Tourist.

        1. Rob, I understand you don’t like the service, as you’ve expressed here a few times already, but let’s have a few things clear here. First of all, I’m no stooge for no one. Second, the pass is not for everyone. It will be cheaper for some people while it will be more expensive for others. It all depends on your trip, how long is it, and where you’re going.

          I’d advise to stop blindly shouting to “never use the service” and instead educate people about any potential “hidden rule” it may have, things they should know when using the pass, things to avoid, etc. I’m sure that anyone “fined” for riding a train with a pass could refute it if they were riding it according to the ticket, or maybe they forgot to make a reservation on that particular train (which is not the same thing as having an Eurail ticket in hand)? Do you have the full information to assess this claim you’re making about these fines?

          As I said, I did have my oops and in cases I had to pay (even with a ticket in hand), but those oops were my fault and I acknowledge it. I don’t throw blame and say I will never use this again.

          Here I give the information I know and my experience, but unlike you, I’m not telling everyone “buy the ticket now!” or “never buy the ticket!” I let people decide bases on this info and how it applied to their trip. So should you.

          1. My advice remains Nobert… .. Never use a Eurail pass….the supplying company dodged our honest complaint…..and though we had at all times acted honestly.. they were simply not interested….Purchase tickets as I have noted before… just like the Italians do…at the railway station.. from the railway company….

            Once bitten… twice shy….!!

          2. My advice still remains too. Each person should do their research to see if a pass is more convenient for them, or buying the tickets point by point (whether at the station or online) ends up being cheaper. Just because “the Italians do it” one way, or because you had a bad experience means the pass is not worth considering. To each, their own.

  20. Hi! Thank You for the tips!
    Lets see if you can clear my mind abouth my situation.
    I’m brazilian and german and I live in Brazil.
    The interrail pass is only delivered in european countries, so I would have to use the eurail pass. But i would have the same problem as you had when your pass wasn’t stamped In Greece.
    Do you have an opinion abouth it? Do i risk and buy the pass? Or should I buy the regular tickets?

    1. Tiago, Yes, the Eurail pass is what would work for you. You can buy it ahead of time and have it delivered or buy it there in Europe, but it would be more expensive there. Now that you know about the pass activation issue I had, you shouldn’t have any problem if you make sure you activate it before hand. I don’t see any risk in buying the pass as long as you make sure you calculate your trips and figure out that it will indeed be cheaper to use the pass instead of point by point tickets. If you won’t travel much, just a few tickets there will do fine. If you will take a lot of trains, then a pass might make more sense.

  21. Never use this service is my advice…just purchase your tickets like all the Italians do..at the railway station directly with the railway company. Eurail is a reseller…I would never trust them again. Rob Sintes

    1. Thank you, Rob! I do also think that the Idea is to somehow get the users to pay for more taxes, since it hás so many hidden rules and observations…

  22. Hi, nor bhai
    i m planning to explore the all schengen state, i have only 12 days to explore. Which eutrain pass buy, and where to start my journey, please advise me.
    Best Regards

  23. Norbert,

    Very informative indeed!

    Could you talk a little bit about inter country travel using Eurail. I understand that each country has different rail companies.

    Sanesh

    1. Hi Sanesh –

      As long as you have a pass that allows you to travel to more than one country and use the schedule book given with the pass to coordinate you trip, you should be good. If there’s any train transfer from one company to the other, it is just as simple as getting off one train and hopping on the other. You don’t have to do anything else because your pass is your ticket. Just follow the schedule as given and verify any transfer and its respective platform on the timetable at the station once you get there.

  24. So, just to be clear. I have a 15 consecutive day Global pass. I should be able to hop on any train in any of the 28 countries at at any time for all 15 consecutive days (July 1 to July 15) and have no issues such as paying more $

    1. That is correct unless the train requires a reservation. Some trains offer free reservation, some cost just a few dollars while others, like some overnight trains where you reserve a berth, could cost $20+. But, as long as you’re taking regional trains and trains that don’t require reservations, you will be good to go without paying anything extra. Just make sure to validate your pass (as explained in the post) before you start traveling and to timestamp it every day you travel (at the station) before you hop on the train. Avoid fines!

      1. I had the same question as I plan in getting a 15 day continuous pass. It’ll probably cost me more overall but I want the freedom of being able to hop off the train at any point, explore for a bit and catch the next train…without extra fees! I’ll probably travel a few hours each day and cover a lot of ground. My hope is that I can hop back on a train without standing in lines or making reservations. Is it that easy? Besides the initial validation, you mentioned a timestamp at the depot before getting on a train. That’s the first I’ve heard of this, is it required for the continuous pass? Can you get stamped after you’re on the train? Also, I will be starting August 18th, is this a busy enough time of year that I should be making reservations anyway? I will be traveling the first week mostly around Italy (where I’ve heard you might need reservations even with a pass) then taking a cheap flight and spending the second week mostly around Spain, before heading back up to Frankfurt to fly home Sept 3rd. Thanks for all the info!

        1. Hi Rick –

          You need to validate your pass before you use it for the first time and then need to time-stamp each day you use it right at the train station. For example, if you plan of taking three trains today, you only need to find the time stamp machine (usually right at the platform in most stations) when hopping on the first train. Then for the second and third train you can just hop on (since you’re already stamped for the day). Having said that, this is only valid for trains that do not require a reservation. Usually these are the regional trains.

          If the train requires a reservation, you need to make such reservation before getting on the train. For example, in Italy, they have the regional TrenItalia trains (that do not require reservation) and the Freccia trains that are faster and more expensive, thus they require a reservation. What you’ll do is go to the ticket booth, pay the small fee for the reservation with your pass, and then hop on the train. Reservations are not based whether it’s high season or not. It’s just required for some trains.

          When your ticket is sold for a specific train and a specific date/time, the validation is often done on the train since its a reserved seat, but for regional trains with no reservation, if a train agent sees your pass without the date stamped, you’ll have to buy the ticket and maybe get fined.

          Check the schedule book you got with your pass to know if your trains of interest need a reservation or not.

  25. Hello! I have tried to read through all the comments and have not found my answer! Argh! Ok-I know this is likely a “daugh” question. If I use the Eurail-am I allowed to visit country for a few days and then jump back on a train to visit another county? It’s confusing to me because it seems like I only have ONE day to visit a country. Hope I am making sense. FYI-would really appreciate an email address to help me out with this! Lol

    1. Hi Ranaye –

      Certainly! There are two types of Eurail passes, one that gives you an X amount of consecutive travel days, and one with an X amount of travel days (not necessarily consecutive) within a period of time. In your case, you might want to have the latter. Your Eurail pass will give you a series of “days of travel.” Lets say you travel by train today. Today counts as a day of travel. Then you spend three days in your destination. Those days will NOT count as days of travel. Then you hop on a train to go to your second destination. That day counts as your second day of travel. You can stay for as short or as long as you wish in each country as long as it is within the timeframe stipulated in your Eurail pass.

      1. Hi Norbert, i’m also confused about the travel days – i tried to book for a sample in eurail page and selected the pass which covers 2-3 more countries and there’s an options of 5 days within 1 month i think. I’ll be travelling from Dubai to France (plane) then stay for 2 days in Paris – my train experience will start in France by the way – after that I’ll be using the eurail from france to italy (if I want to stay in Italy for 2 days – how many travel days is it? Only one right? Or do I need to hop the train everyday?) what would you recommend? I want to select France to Amsterdam, Ams to Italy, Italy to Spain, Spain back to France. Do you think this would be fine? Thank you! You’re review really helped a lot as I’m going to travel on July. Hope you’ll reply back. Thank you ?

        1. Hi Jamila –

          The days only count when you hop on a train. For example, today (day 1) you go from Spain to France. Then, you stay in France for a week. Next week, you take a train from France to Belgium, and that will be day 2 on your pass.

          Based on the countries you mentioned, you need a 5 countries (or global) pass. You will be going from France (country 1), passing through Belgium (country 2), and then reach The Netherlands (country 3). Then you’ll go back to France to reach Italy (country 4), and then go from Italy, via France, to Spain (country 5).

          It is doable, but you need to buy the appropriate pass that will cover all these countries and the number of travel days you’re intending to use.

          1. How do I record a round trip say from Prague to Turov and back to Prague in the same day?

          2. Hi Bob –

            You will simply put the train, time, direction (cities), and any other required info in the schedule/table provided with the Eurail pass. This you will do with every train you hop on the same day or any given day. Once the train conductor gets your ticket, they will validate the entry with their timestamp.

  26. Norbert, great site!

    Thank you for the information. We are planning a trip to Europe and will be using a Eurail Global pass. We intend to spend around two weeks. We plan on seeing a few major city’s with a few smaller stops along the way. My question is how hard is it to get off a train for a few hours then get back on to continue to another destination? For example if we are Traveling from France to Barcelona, and we want to get off at some point along the way to walk and eat then get a later train from that point onto Barcelona (all in the same day to keep it to one travel day) how difficult is that? It looks like we have to get reservations for the train from Paris. Would we again need to do the same from our midway stopping point? How hard is it to get a reservation on the same day of travel? We are spontaneous travelers and sometimes chose to do things spur of the moment. Thanks!

    1. Hey, Dru –

      It’s easy to hop off and on as long as you know the schedule. If you bought and received the Global Pass already, you may have received the booklet with all the train schedules. Just plan accordingly so you can get off, have enough time to sightsee around, and then catch the other train. I did this a few times.

      Regarding reservations, if you need a reservation for the train, and hop off, you will need to make an additional reservation for the next train you catch (if it is required). So, have that in mind, including the reservation cost. You can be as spontaneous as you want, but know that Global Pass reservations are limited, and sometimes they won’t have seats available at the last minute. This happened to me when I was going from the border between Spain and France towards Paris. When I arrived at the station, they didn’t have Global Pass reservations for any train that day. I could have waited for the reservation for the next day, but I decided to pay the full fare just to keep on going with my schedule.

      Having said that, I believe that was the only time I paid for the train ride for lack of reservation availability. I did most of my reservations the day before or the same day just before hopping on the train, and most were available last minute, including sleeper trains.

  27. Hi Norbert,

    My daughter and I will be traveling to Europe in late June/early July and plan to take Eurail making our way from Rome to Amsterdam. We’ll have two large luggages with us. I’m checking out the timeframes from city to city on the Eurail website. First, how difficult is it to change trains, especially if they have 5-8 minute transfer window? Second, if reservation is optional, do you still recommend making reservations? And do you know if the reservations provide specific seating or just guarantees seating? Any information will be helpful.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Mary –

      Regarding the transfers, it will vary greatly depending on the station and its size. I had transfers that were literally just exiting one train and the other was just a few steps at the other edge of the platform while I had others where I had to change platforms or even buildings since I transferred between two different systems. While I can’t say this with a guarantee, I believe the transfer times take into consideration the distance/difficulty to go from one train to the other. It’s probable your 5-8 minute transfer will be from platform 1 to platform 2 (for example).

      If the reservation is optional, you don’t need to make it, but whenever you reserve, you guarantee your spot on a seat. Otherwise, if the train is full and you don’t have a reservation, you might not be able to sit until an unreserved seat clears. Once I sat on an optional reservation train ride and throughout the ride I had to change seats a few times because I had no reservation, but the seat I was occupying was reserved by someone else at different points.

      Yes, reservations give you a specific seat in a specific train car.

      Hope this helps!

  28. Hello,

    Thanks for all the great information. It was a lot easier to understand than the other rial websites. My gf and I will be traveling to Paris on 3/28 and had a few questions.

    1. Do you think seeing france, spain, italy and greece in 14 days is feasible if we don’t try to see too many things in each country?

    2. We’re planning on getting the 15 day global continuous pass but have thought about possibly renting a car for flexibility reasons. The customer service for Euro Rail said we have to send them a list of cities and dates we will be traveling to so they can reserve certain trains. You said it was possible to just reserve them the day of most of the time?

    3. If you have any other suggestions or recommendations we’re all ears.

    Thanks again for all your help!

    1. Hi John –

      Thank you! Regarding your trip, I think it is very ambitious for just two weeks. While it is possible if you just focus on one or two cities per country (just one, or maximum two days in some of them), you’re going to spend a lot of time on trains, so have that in mind. If it were me, I’d probably strip Greece and do it on another trip. Some of the most beautiful parts of the country are on the island, and those take time to reach by ferry. You could visit other mainland areas like Meteora, but that still takes time. Again, I’d leave Greece for another trip if it was just me and just finish the trip in Rome (at most).

      You can reserve the same day for most trains or the day before. But, since you have such a tight schedule, I would recommend to plan your whole trip, know exactly which trains you’d have to take (use the schedule book or website), and book all the reservations beforehand. This recommendation is only based on the fact that you are lacking time as it is, so you’d want to avoid wasting time in one city only because you have to take a later train or another train the next day because Eurail Reservations were sold out for the train you intended to take (as it happened to me). Having said that, you’re going end of March, which is not high season, so it’s possible there’ll be enough reservations available. Still, I’d reserve beforehand or at least try to make most or all reservations possible at the first station in your first country.

      Hope this helps!

  29. Hi Norbert,

    Excellent information and very useful! I am impressed!

    Have few questions:

    1) I am travelling to Europe in May for about 25 days. Is it a peak season for train travel or not so much ?

    2) If train is full, can you travel standing in train or it is not allowed ?

    3) Can you reserve your seat online or using any App or you have to get it done personally at station only ?

    4) Which train route you found most scenic during your train journey so far ?

    5) Can you buy food stuff in train ?

    Thank you in advance for your assistance!

    1. Hi, Sunit –

      1. May is pretty busy but it’s still not the busiest of high season. I’d recommend doing your reservations at least a day ahead when possible.
      2. You can travel standing only on regional trains that do not require a seat reservation.
      3. I’m not sure about the app/online reservation. One would hope for it to be possible, but it might vary depending on the country. Unfortunately I don’t know.
      4. I loved the Norwegian train sceneries heading north from Oslo to Trondheim. I think they are my favorite so far.
      5. Yes on some trains. Usually on long train rides where there’s a food car. Regional trains don’t tend to have food cars.

  30. Priscilla Tansley

    Dear Norbert, Thanks for all this great info!! Especially, about getting your passes stamped at the station. A friend told me about having to pay for a ticket, when they hadn’t realized that they needed to do it on their return once. Why do they have so many rules?!! I traveled on Eurail years and years ago and it was so much less complicated!! I was planning to buy a pass today, but had questions (I have found their website not to be the most user friendly!!) and I tried to get them answered by both email and facebook message (which said it could take a few hours). They never responded! Maybe you could help. I will be traveling at the end of May with my daughter, who is 19. We decided to go with the global pass, which will allow us more flexibility than the Select pass, however, it appears that she is able to get a second class pass, but I was not given that option. Plus, there is a saver pass discount for more than one traveler, when traveling always together, but I couldn’t see how to do that. Was hoping to pay for them today (before tomorrow’s snowstorm knocks out our power!) Thanks, Priscilla

    1. Hi, Priscilla – Sorry for the delayed response. I’m not sure why there’s no second class option for adults, but I believe it is second class automatically. I might be wrong, though, and it could be open for either class. This is something they’ve changed on their site and would need to corroborate. On the Saver Pass, you can only select that if both your tickets are adult tickets, which wouldn’t be your case since you’re getting one adult and one youth.

      If you have any other question, feel free to let me know.

      Cheers!

  31. First, thanks for all the information.

    Now to my question. My wife and I bought a 3 country, 6 day pass and later comes to find out what that 6 days really mean. So we should have gotten 3 or 4 days. After much looking and planning we have to change our original plan completely around. I know there’s a %15 penalty for cancelling your pass, but what if we change the pass for another country. Can the pass be changed? With or without penalty?

    1. Hi Joe –

      Sorry for the delay. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to your question. I would recommend contacting Eurail directly either by email or social media (Facebook or Twitter) since they will be able to give you an accurate answer based on their current terms of service.

  32. Hi there,
    Thanks so much for your info. I just have 1 question. Does the global Flexi pass cover the ferry from Italy to Barcelona? Did you do all your travel in one trip?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Telea –

      Sorry, I can’t confirm if it’s included or not as I didn’t take that ferry. I think it might be, or at least discounted. I would recommend contacting Eurail or the ferry company to ask them directly to be sure.

      I did my European trip in a span of three months, stopping on almost every country along the way.

  33. Thanks for all this great info, Norbert! I’ll be using it to plan my trip to Netherlands-Belgium-France in September. Greetings from Miami, Florida!

  34. Hello there, I want to take an overnight train from Venice to Wien Austria. If I book it directly to Wien the last train leaving is at 4:07pm arriving in Wien at 11:35pm thus not making it an overnight. If I book it to Budapest the connection is Wien and I can leave at 9:15pm at get to Wien at 8:40am. What rules do they have about booking for one city and getting off early in another? And will I get in trouble stamp wise? I’m not exactly cure how the stamp system works but if it says budapest and not wien and then I leave from wien to go to my next location…which actually would be budapest will I be charged?

    1. Hi Stella,

      There’s no penalty if you make a reservation with your pass for one city and hops off in another city, as long as that city is on the way to the booked city. Now, if that train required a seat reservation and you hopped off, you will have to make another reservation if you’d like to take the rest of the journey on another train on that route. If the train doesn’t require a reservation, you can hop off and on as you wish, wherever you wish. Just bear in mind of the 7pm rule (as explained above).

      If the rules are the still same, if you hop on an overnight train that departs after 7pm and arrives after 4am, only one day counts, and the day that counts is the arrival one.

      No trouble regarding the stamp on your pass’ schedule. You bought the pass to have the freedom of train travel, so you can get on and off as you wish without having to pay more money. Actually, the more trains you take on a day and the more stops you do, the more you’re taking advantage of the pass. Just know that the pass works based on how many travel days you used, not how many trains you took or to where in the country did you go.

  35. Hello Norbert,
    Thank you very much for such a great detailed article. I do have one question, however. If it was answered in comments or in the article, I do apologize.
    We are traveling to Paris in about one month. Our plan is to cover 3-4 countries in about 11 days of stay. We are thinking of visiting Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Bern.
    I were to get pass for 5 days in 2 months.
    Question: Does the flexible pass allow a person to travel in local trains for free? (i.e Staying in Paris, use the pass to travel to Versailles. Stay in Bern, and travel to Interlaken?
    What would be your suggestion in such circumstances?
    Thank you in advance for your time.
    Bhavesh

    1. Hi Bhavesh –

      I’m not sure if you’re referring to metro/subway or regional trains when you mention “local trains.” But either way, when you get on a regional train, which is considered a local train that does not require a reservation, that will count as a day used on your pass. Regional trains are cheap, so if you’re only going to hop on one regional train that day, I might recommend purchasing that ticket to save that day of travel for more expensive trains.

      Regarding Metro/subway, I know the pass might give you discounts on some cities, but I believe there is no free metro passes with the Eurail, unless they might have added that deal in recent months.

  36. Norbert,

    Thank you for advice and outline of Eurail. My wife and I have purchased a 3 country flex-pass and are planning our routes.

    I have a simple question: Can you reserve night trains online months beforehand and apply the Eurail pass? I want to book Sargans, Switzerland to Wien Hbf, Austria, but the website doesn’t allow me to apply Eurail pass discount and is asking full price.

    Is this something I have to do over the phone or once we are in the country? Thanks for any advice.

    Alex

    1. Hi Alex –

      I know some train companies don’t allow for reservations with more than 2 months in advanced. Additionally, it is possible they don’t have the ability to recognize Eurail passes online for such reservations, so if it’s not working for you on their site, I’d recommend to do it over the phone or once in the country. DO not buy the full price reservation as you will probably not get refunded the difference once you show the pass in person.

  37. Hi Norbert,

    Many thanks to your very detailed and easy-to-understand article. I’ve been digging through the Internet and even with Eurail customer service for answers for my wonders of the Eurail Global pass but just until rushing by chance into your site that I got what I’ve been looking for.

    I was about to buy the 1 month continuous Global pass and you did save me a really magnificent sum of money as I found out I only need a Flexi Select pass. Well, cannot help sending you big Thanks and Love from Hanoi, Vietnam.

    P/s: You are so tolerant to Rob in the previous comments. I myself feel really touched on that. Be yourself at all times that way, good-natured Norbert.

      1. Hi Norbert,

        You are already a great help and yes, I would definitely come back for many further questions ?

        Best Wishes to you. ???

  38. Hi,

    This post was extremely helpful. I am planning a trip through Europe for about six months. Is it safe to assume I should go ahead with the Global Pass?

    If so, how often will I have additional out of pocket expenses for travel even with the Global Pass?

    Thank you!

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jai –

      If your trip will go over 5 countries, I would recommend getting the global pass. As for out of pocket expenses, it depends on what type of trains you get. If you’re taking a lot of trains with required reservations, you will have to pay for the reservation itself, which can go from 3 euros to 80+. It all depends on the train. Of course, the sleeper trains are the most expensive ones, but usually, the reservation for a berth is around 15-30 euros. Sorry I can’t give you an exact amount, but it all depends on your trip.

      I recommend you check their schedule and do a mock up of your trip to see how many trains will require a reservation. Then if they are day trains (just a seat), plan for maybe 5-10 euros a seat and if they are sleeper plan for 20-30 per train.Some sleepers were much cheaper, like in Eastern Europe where I paid like 10 euros on some.

      1. Thank you so much! this was helpful! I was worried that if i spend the roughly $1,200 USD on the global pass – that i wouldnt get the full use of it.

        But sounds like if i am planning over 5 countries and am taking more than 10 trains that the global pass is still a cheaper/more flexible option.

  39. Hi Norbert,

    Does the global pass include buses in Switzerland and other countries?

    Cheers and Thank you!
    Kenneth

  40. Hi Norbert,

    Good Day! Hope all is well on you end. I have a question please. If i choose the 4 countries Eurail Pass. Then for each country i will stay 5 days each and i want to use my Eurail pass to visit some cities on the following days. Will the travel days be deducted on my pass?

    For example:
    Austria to Italy = 1 days pass.

    Day 1: Milan
    Day 2: Rome
    Day 3: Naples

    So will that be total deduction of 3 days pass? or since i am in the same country and will be travelling between cities it will not be deducted?

  41. Hi Norbert,

    I have a question concerning filling out the travel diary on the flexi global pass.

    Say for example I choose to pay out of pocket for a cheap regional train/bus. As I understand it that will not count as a travel day. But here’s my question: am I required to register that trip in the travel diary on the pass? If I don’t record it on the pass then it will look like there is a unrecorded break in my travel. Would this be a problem?

    Looking forward to the trip and I appreciate the information!

    Travis

    1. Hi Travis –

      Sorry for the late reply. You do not need to record any train trip you take without the pass. It doesn’t matter if you have a gap between cities as they don’t care which trains you take without the pass or if there are gaps in between. I had quite a few gaps in my log as I took a few trains without the pass that I preferred to pay rather than “waste” a travel day.

  42. Hi Norbert,
    Very informative discussion above. I have one question if you may please respond:
    If I take a select pass with four countries (Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France) for 5 travel days, can I take my last leg on 5th travel day from Paris to Barcelona? Thanks

    1. Hi Ammar –

      That’s a good question, but I don’t think it will be possible. Going to Barcelona counts as a 5th country, so when you get to the border between France and Spain and (probably) change trains, you might be able to still get in on that “Spanish” train (if it’s a regional/non-reservation train), but your ticket will not be valid there.

      In that case, I’d recommend to just buy the four countries pass and take the train from Paris to the Border with the pass. Then buy the Border to Barcelona ticket there. It will be cheaper.

  43. Pedro Lourenço

    Hi Nobert, excellent content, you’ve taught me a lot through out this guid. Thank you so much my friend.

    I still got some questions about Eurail.

    1- I m Brazilian and I m going to spend 1 year studying in Portugal, should I buy Interrail or the normal Eurail pass for my Portugal address ? ( Sorry, I got confused at this part haha)

    2- So, if I plan for example : going from Lisbon,Portugal passing all the countries till Budapest, Hungary, how could get return to Lisbon ? Is it better to buy a flight ticket back or make it by train again ?

    3- I plan for example make a global pass, to go from Portugal to France, Belgium (Spend for tomorrowland), Netherlands, Germany, Italy and ends in Hungary ( Or end at somewhere between ), is that possible for 3,2 weeks (considering I m like to spend 3 days at maximum in each) ? You as a experienced man, would advise me to plan something better ?

    Anyway, thank you so much. You already helped me a lot. Hope we can talk. Cheers!

  44. Hi Norbert, a question, when do a reservation for a my family of 4 , will I pay for each seat reserved or do a pay one fee for the group,

    Thanks

  45. Great article! One question I have is can I make online train reservations with an “unactivated Eurail pass” or does the Eurail pass need to already be activated? Thank you.

    1. That’s a good question and I’m afraid I’m not 100% of the answer. I did all my reservations in person at the station, but if everything is still done the same way as when I did my Eurail trip, the activation is literally a stamp on your pass saying you started traveling at such date. I’m guessing, that you might be able to make a reservation online as long as you make sure to activate your pass before you use such reservation.

  46. hey there,

    Great article, i just have a question

    If i leave from Florence after 7pm, arrive in Slovenia at 6am, spend the day in Slovenia, but depart from Slovenia to go to Budapest on the same day, although my train will depart from Slovenia within the 24 hour, it won’t reach Budapest within the 24 hours. Will that therefore count as 2 days of travelling if the arrival time of Budapest doesn’t fall within the 24hours ?

    Are there any tips so that we would be able to achieve that journey?

    1. Thanks, Libby! I think it might depend on the departure and arrival of the second train. So, assuming you’ll take the train from Slovenia before 7 pm (since you’re telling me that you’ll be taking it within 24 hours of your overnight train departure), if it arrives in Budapest before 4 am, it counts as just one day. If you take the train after 7 pm and it arrives after 4 am, then it counts as 2 days.

  47. Hey I found this very helpful and the comments help clarify many of my questions but I still have a few. First, does the train have to be without connections to count for the 7pm rule? I’m looking at a train that leaves after 7pm and arrives after 4am but it has connections along the way, (more than one train as I would be changing trains) so would that still be one travel day with the arrival day being the one I put down? And do I wait to write down the arrival date until the following day? or should I do it when I board the train at say 8pm but don’t plan to get off till after 4 am, should I just write my travel day as the following day…would I have an issue with the conductor if I’m on a train on a Thursday but don’t record it as a Thursday since my day of arrival would be Friday… I’m confused haha

    1. Don’t quote me on this as I’m not the one making the rules, but I believe that in that case, it won’t count as one day. If I’m correct, it has to be a direct train leaving after 7pm and arriving after 4am. So, in your case, it might count as two days.

      You should write every train ride, including connections, right before or after you board the train. You must make sure the ride is written in your pass before the train conductor comes by to check your ticket. If it is not written you will have to pay for the ride.

  48. pedro santis

    DEar SR. I am planning to go to europa this caming end of august I would like to know; Is better this time of the year? my trvel itinenari is Batcelona.paris.rome.geneva berlin norway What is the better pass i can buy? For example if I start in barcelona (Iwill arrive by airplane) spend 4 daus and then go to Paris where Iwill stay 4 days and so on in the different cities that I will visit. I am planning to travel during day not night so i will enjay the scenery. What are your recomendation. Help please Thanks

  49. Sitanshu Nigam

    Hi Nobert,

    You have explained it very well, a must read this post is.

    I have one query for you, i have purchased the passes from eurail.com now when i am booking reservations from eurail.com, do i require to book reservations for kids under 7 years of age ?

    Its listing all passengers that are on passes, with option to unselect any if required, so i was doubtful, that do i even require reservations for kids, as they will be sharing seats with us.

    1. Hi Sitanshu –

      As far as I know, children between 4 and 11 years old travel for free, but they need a free Eurail pass. Children under 4 years old do not need the pass.

      Since you already purchased the pass, you might need to call Eurail to see if they add the Free Child Pass to your current pass.

      Below is the text as is appears on the Eurail site:

      Children aged 4-11 on their first day of travel, also go for free! They need a free Eurail Child Pass, which you can find under the tab ‘Family’ in all pass tables.

      ORDERING A CHILD PASS

      To order a free child pass, it’s necessary to add at least one adult pass to the shopping cart. Go to the tab ‘Family’ in the pass table to select your adult passes and child passes. A maximum of two children can travel for free with one adult.

      If more than two children are traveling with one adult, a separate Youth Pass needs to be purchased for the additional children.

  50. Do they mean 8 days in a month or in 30 days? what if you are traveling one week in September and one week in October?

  51. Hi Nobert,

    You have explained it very well, and thanks for answering most of the comments.

    I have a 3 month continuous global pass. I want to use it for my commute to office using s-Bahn in Germany during weekdays and during weekends I want to travel outside Germany using this pass. Since there are only some 20-30 lines in the travel planner, I won’t be able to record my trip while using S-bahn for daily commute to office.

    Is that fine? if the ticket checker finds me in s-bahn having not recorded my trip in the travel planner, will he fine me?

    1. Please, don’t quote me on this as I’m not 100% sure of this, but I believe you can write the extra commute on an attached separate piece of paper. OR, can you write them small so two trips fit on one line? I’d recommend asking any clerk at the station about it, or maybe call Eurail to verify this.

  52. Hey Norbet,

    Thanks for this comprehensive guide to Eurorail passes. I had a couple of questions.

    1. I noticed a bus travel benefit within Germany:

    “As a Eurail Pass holder you can travel for FREE on IC Bus connections passing through Germany. With this, you can travel to cities in 10 countries, as long as your Eurail Pass is valid in all the countries you travel through. A €4.50 reservation is required.”

    Based on your comment:

    “…have in mind if you use a free benefit on a certain day, you will have to fill in a travel day on your pass”

    Does this mean if I were to take one of these buses it would have to be recorded as one of my travel days and that’s one gone?

    2. Another travel benefit within Germany:

    “A Eurail pass is also valid on the S-Bahn (suburban metro railways) networks that DB operates in major German cities. The S-Bahn can be recognized by its logo (a white S on a green background).”

    Can this benefit be used without burning a travel day? Or can I use this multiple days while I am in Munich to explore the city?

    1. Hi John –

      If nothing has changed recently, I believe for every day you use the free benefit, you will have to mark a travel day. I think this applies to both the bus and metro/S-Bahn. Actually, this is the current wording on their site:

      HOW TO MAKE USE OF EURAIL PASS BENEFITS
      Everything you need to know about how they work

      First of all, you need to have a Eurail Pass. Got yours? Nice! Then you can take advantage of Eurail Pass Benefits during the period that your Eurail Pass is valid. Your validity period runs from the “First day” until the “Last day” written on your Eurail Pass at the time it’s activated.

      If you have a Flexi Eurail Pass
      (with for example, 7 days of travel within a period of 1 month)
      You may only use free benefits on dates that you have added in the Travel Calendar on your Eurail Pass. If the benefit is a free overnight ferry, you can enter the date of departure or arrival in your Travel Calendar – either option will do!
      For every other benefit, you don’t need to specify a date in your Travel Calendar.

      If you have a Continuous Eurail Pass
      (with for example, travel on every day within a period of 15 days)
      You can take advantage of all our benefits on any date that your Eurail Pass is valid.

      To arrange using a benefit, you can contact the individual company in advance or show your Eurail Pass when you book. It’s usually possible to do this on the day itself. Some benefits (ferry journeys in particular) need booking in advance.

  53. Hi Norbert,
    My husband and I are planning a 3 months Europe trip next year. You have posted your 3 months Eurail route map in this post. Did you get the Global Flexi 15 days / 3 months pass? Can you share your itinerary? Which city or route you have chosen to use your ‘travel day’? You are so experience, I plan just follow your foot steps.

    1. Hi Kawan –

      For the three months, I actually used two global passes with 15 travel days, as each lasted two months. Basically, it started in Greece, went through Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. Then did Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina (this country wasn’t included, but I wanted to visit it). Then off to Austria, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal. Then backtracked to Spain, France, and went up to Belgium, The Netherlands, and Denmark. Took the ferry to Sweden, then by train to Norway, and backtracked to Denmark to head to Germany and Czech Republic. Then back to Germany, Switzerland, and ended my trip in Italy.

      I used my travel days to move between major cities, and decided to book regional train tickets (which are cheap) to visit smaller cities close to major cities. That is unless I decided to visit that regional city as a day trip on the way to another major city (traveling that same day). I usually stayed in major cities for 2 to 3 days maximum since I wanted to cover a lot of ground in just three months. Basically, with both passes giving me 15 days of travel each (30 days total) that averages as one travel day every 3 days. Of course, it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the idea.

      If you’re just using one pass with 15 days, count how many countries you want to visit and consider that alone will be a travel day each. Then, add a travel day for each additional city in each country you want to visit. Then, if you go over the travel days limit, consider how many regional trains can you purchase separate or how many can you visit using just one travel day (as a day trip) to reach your intended major city. Or, use the overnight “trick” to save a day.

      Hope this helps!

  54. Hi Norbert!

    Your guide is by far the most comprehensive one Ive read! But still I want to clarify something if you dont mind. If I buy a global pass with 5 travel days, the count of the travel days is not per country right? Because I am confused about the other comments above.

    Lets say I travelled from Amsterdam to Munich but I stopped at Luxembourg just to visit a church then hopped again and continued to Munich. So thats 3 countries in one day. That will still be considered as one travel day right? I would still have 4 travel days left?

  55. Hi Norbert,

    I am looking at taking a train from Algeciras to Barcelona over night with 2 stops. Will I have to get off the train during the layovers or can I stay on? I plan to purchase a sleeper cabin spot.

    1. Hi Carrie –

      If the same train goes from Algeciras to Barcelona (same train/route number), then you don’t have to get off at any of the stops. But, if the itinerary shows a train change (as in hopping on a different train with a different train/route number), then you will have to change trains there.

  56. Norbert, my wife and I are planning a trip for next summer. Starting in Hamburg, then going to (in order), Aarhus (up in Denmark), Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Strasbourg, Paris, Calais (to ferry to Dover). This is all over the course of 23 days. What is your gut feel about whether it would be more economical to buy some form of the Eurail pass versus simply buying tickets on the go? (by the way, your info here is far better than that found on the Eurail site itself)

    1. Hi Peter –

      Thanks and sorry for the late reply. I haven’t done the math myself, but I think a Global Pass will be more economical as all your train rides are long distance and international. Usually, these tend to be a bit expensive when bought independently.

      Having said that, I would recommend sitting down maybe for an hour or so to list down every train you’re planning on taking. If you know the dates for each ride, that’ll help even more, but if you don’t, it’s fine still. Search each ride on RailEurope and note down their cost. Tally them and see how it compares to a Global Pass.

      From my experience, it could go either way. I’ve had trips where the Global Pass has been cheaper, and just this past summer, I did two different trips in Europe. The one in Spain, it was cheaper to go with independent tickets, while the one in Italy, the Italy pass ended being slightly cheaper.

      Hope this helps!

  57. Norbert
    I just read your site and find very useful, though I still need your expert advise on my Itinerary, could you please suggest which pass suits the best? I am off to Europe for 5 weeks with my wife and 10YO daughter.
    Fly from Sydney to Edinburgh – 3 days
    London – 4 days
    Amsterdam – 3 days
    Paris – 5 days
    Switzerland/Lucerne – 4 days
    Bernina express to Tirano and lake Como – 1 day
    Venice – 2 days
    Vernazza/Cinque Terre – 2 days
    Florence – 3 days
    Amalfi coastline, Capri – 2 days
    Rome – 4 days

    I know London/Scotland not covered by Eurail, the Eurostar reservation cost is high, Italy trains are cheaper and Swiss rail are very expensive etc., I still find the Global pass with 10 trips are better option however need your view on this.

    many thanks
    Raj

    1. Hi Raj –

      You’re right, the global pass is your best option. While you’re only visiting 4 countries with Eurail, you’ll be passing through Belgium as you go from the Netherlands to France, so you need to count it.

      I’d probably fly from Edinburgh to London, and then to Amsterdam. I’ve flown these routes for less than $100 per flight. Hopefully, you’ll find these cheap flights too.

  58. Hi Norbet,
    We arrive in France in 3 days. I am travelling with a 3 country 8 day pass with my wife and 10 year old. What is the luggage allowance? We have arrived with standard airline allowances of 1 bag + 1 carry on piece.
    Also – can I reserve a fare before my pass is activated? I have tried to reserve online for a Paris – Genoa trip but it will not allow me to reserve on the main leg even though it is required. Can I assume I can do it once in Paris prior to the journey?

    1. You’re fine regarding luggage. It is much more relaxed than airlines. Regarding reservation, maybe it’s not allowing you because it is not activated yet? Not sure. But yes, you can reserve once in Paris.

  59. Hi Norbert!

    Great info about the validation of passes! I have a dilemma though. I’m from the Philippines and I just bought a 5 Travel Day Select Pass for me and my husband, to be delivered in our airbnb in London (it’s now allowed). I want to use the pass to get on Eurostar from London to Brussels. The passes were pre-activated when I bought in on the website.
    My questions are,
    1. Would I be able to book the Eurostar train to Brussels even if the passes aren’t validated yet (since London is outside the EU)?
    2. Does that count as 1 travel day?

    PS. kinda off topic but I would like to know if using the passes to go on a scenic train in Switzerland (i.e. the Glacier Express – free on Eurail) counts as 1 day.

    1. Hi Winnie – Sorry for the late reply.

      1. I think you might be able, as the validation is a physical stamp, unless things have changed.
      2. Yes, you can travel on the Eurostar high-speed train connecting London with France and Belgium if you have one of the following Eurail Passes: The Eurail Global Pass. Any Eurail Four Country Select Pass that is valid in the Benelux (for London-Brussels route) or France (for London-Paris route). It will count as a travel day since you’re using the pass on that one day.

      Regarding the Glacier Express, this is what I could find online:
      “A multi-country ‘Eurail’ pass that includes Switzerland does not cover the portion of the Glacier Express route between Disentis and Zermatt. If you intend on taking the Glacier Express and will be traveling with such a pass, you would also still have to purchase the ‘Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare’ ticket in addition to the pass, so that the ticket costs for the portion of the route between Disentis and Zermatt will be covered.” You can purchase this ticket on this page.

      Now, if you’re puchasing a full fare for the Glacier Express and don’t use your pass that day for any other train, then it doesn’t count as one day. But, if you got a discounted fare for that portion of the train and used the pass for any other portion of the Glacier Express or any other train, then yes, it’ll count as a travel day.

    1. Hi Sheila –

      Thanks for letting me know. It seems that Eurail no longer uses printed timetables and now are using their app (which works offline too) to find routes and make e-ticket reservations, among other things. You can get the app through this link. They also have a web based timetable (search) on their website, should you not have an iPhone or android.

      Should you still prefer a printed timetable, Eurail now recommends to buy them (since they no longer provide them printed). You can check them here.

      1. Sheila Lafontaine

        Thanks Norbert! Yes… I have the App on my phone but didn’t see the timetable. I’ll hunt it down!! Haha… I’m getting nervous! Five countries… 10 weeks… lots of planning! Eek!

        1. You’re welcome! That sounds like an amazing trip!! Lots of planning, indeed, but I’m sure it’ll be fun and totally worth it. Let me know if you need any additional info or have any question!

  60. HI NORBERT,

    Your blog is too good….Thanks for that.

    I have one question….Is the 7 PM rule valid now?

    I have a travel plan….where in I will be traveling from Amsterdam to Zurich via Hannover (Germany) on Night Jet train.The train leave Hannover at around 11.50 PM and arrives Zurich in the morning. My travel date is 21-Apr-2019.

    So which date should I consider on my Global pass?
    If it’s going to be date of arrival (22-Apr-2019) then it will be beneficial for me, Since I will be taking some more trains in Switzerland after I reach zurich.

    Awaiting your reply.

  61. Hello Norbert,

    Some friends and I are travelling to Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and/or Barcelona, and back to Madrid in 12 days this upcoming summer. I am still curious as to when we are travelling that day with a Eurail pass that I will not need to purchase anything (unless its a reservation train) that travel day? So I can basically find a train route and time hop on it and not have any problems? Thank you for your article! It really did help a lot.

    Thanks,
    Grant

    1. Hi Grant, that’s correct. If no reservation is needed, you can just walk in, grab a seat, and just wait for the train conductor to check your pass.

      Have in mind, though, that now some stations have gates before the platform that only open after scanning your ticket. In these cases, you should see an agent at the station so they provide you a “free” ticket with your pass.

  62. Hi Norbert,
    First of all let me put it on record that yours is by far the best blog on Eurail passes. My congratulations to you. You have done a great service to the entire world of travellers.
    We are a family of 3 adults travelling to Europe in April 2019. I have a few questions:-
    1. If we book “seats only” on bahn.de website from Mannheim to Munich / Munich to Innsbruck by Eurocity and ICE trains
    and
    on oebb.at website from Innsbruck to Zurich by Eurocity train,
    – can we simply board those trains and occupy our seats since we have valid flexible days Eurail passes for those travel days.
    2. The transfer time at Zurich main station is 14 minutes for catching another train to Lucerne and it involves moving from platform numbers 6 to 9 with three large suitcases. Will it be possible or not?
    3. How do we book only “seat reservations” online for travel from Lucerne to Florence and from Florence to Rome. I can’t seem to find an option to do this on trenitalia.com. Reservation on Eurail.com is very expensive if we compare with the websites of the train agencies like bahn.de/oebb.at etc
    Please help.
    Thanks

    1. Thanks, Arvind!

      Regarding your questions:
      1. As long as it is not a reserved seat, yes, you can just walk in and sit wherever available (within your class – 1st or 2nd). Have in mind, though, that lately some major train station have put some automated gates to access the platforms that open with a valid ticket. In these cases, you should head to an agent so they produce a valid ticket with your passes. I haven’t used the bahn.de site in a while, but if they give you a ticket with your passes, then you should be fine.
      2. Tough to say, but I think you should be ok. Swiss trains tend to be on time, but delays could happen at any time. Trains usually close their doors about a minute or two before they leave, so let’s say you have only 12 minutes. I would recommend being ready and standing by the door the moment the train arrives so you can just walk out and change to platform 9. That shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes.
      3. Hmmm, you should be able to book them through trenitalia.com. Not sure if the site is glitchy at the moment? Here are some instructions on the Eurail site showing you how to make reservations via trenitalia and even via their app.

      Hope these help!

  63. This is a great guide! The most comprehensive so far. Still, could use some advice. Traveling as 2 adults and 2 kids, both 9, for 2 weeks. Traveling from London to Brussels, 2 days trips from Brussels to Paris and Bruge, Brussels to Amsterdam, and finally Amsterdam back to London. I feel like the Europass is the way to go. Thoughts? And could I make reservations now for a trip in late September?

    1. Hi Kelly, thanks! So, Eurail now only has two passes, with are the country-specific passes and the global passes. From the route you mentioned, you will need a global pass – probably a flexipass for either 5 or 7 travel days within a one-month window.

      Regarding reservations, you won’t be able to make them this far ahead as some train companies only allow bookings one or two months ahead. Still, you’re not going during the peak of their high season, so you should be fine reserving just a couple weeks ahead if you want to play it safe.

  64. Hi, I have a question regarding the eurail global pass. When I buy online (3 days within 1 month) it gives me an option to activate the pass. It needs a starting date though. Is the starting date just the start of the 1 month clock or its considered the first day of the use of the card and I will have 2 more days left?

    1. Amit, the activation date is the date where your month starts counting, but that doesn’t necessarily count as a travel day if you’re not taking any train. The travel day will count as soon as you board a train and punch/time stamp your pass.

  65. Richard G Wendorf

    I remember using a Eurail pass a LONG time ago. Seems like back then (1988) it could be used for the streetcars, buses, subways and ferries (basically anything but a taxi). I was just wondering if that is still the case or even if my memory of me doing that is correct?

    1. Hi Richard –

      Wow, that’s a long time ago! That’s still the case in some countries, where you can use it for ferries, metro, and some streetcars. Not sure if buses are included, but maybe some do. These all depend on the country.

  66. I didn’t get to read all the comments but how do I get tickets for my trains with the Eurail pass? Do I go to any kiosk and get them with my Eurail number? Do I have to go to a ticket window and get tickets? Thank you in advance for the help.

    1. Hi Jose –

      If you do not need a reservation for that specific train, you just validate the travel day on your pass at the stamp machine at the station, and go straight to the train (sit wherever you like). If you need a reservation, then you must go to a ticket kiosk at the station or purchase it online if available. Then, just head to the appropriate reserved seat.

      How do you know if you need a reservation or not? You find that out when checking the routes online on the Eurail website or their app.

  67. Norbert,

    I am currently 27 and looking to purchase my Eurail Pass in the next couple days. But, I will be 28 by the time I get to Europe. Can I still get a youth pass or will they see my Date of Birth on my passport and wind up charging me full price on all of my train rides?

    For the 7 PM rule, if I ride a train in the afternoon on Monday and then later that same day take a 7 PM train to a new city that arrives at 12am on Tuesday, does that count as 2 days travel? Does the answer change if the train arrives at 4 am Tuesday?

    1. Hi Mark –

      I believe you should purchase the adult pass as they check your passport and pass when activating the pass. I’m not sure if they will notice the age, but you never know and I’m not sure how they’ll respond if they notice you’re 28 at the time.

      On the 7 pm rule, if your train after 7 pm arrives after midnight but before 4 am of the next day, it still counts as 1 day, with that day being the day you boarded the train (Monday). BUT, if it arrives after 4 am, it will count for the arrival date (Tuesday), so in that case, you’ll be using two travel days (Monday for your afternoon train and Tuesday for the night train).

  68. Rebecca L. Dodge

    I am taking my grandson and his Dad to Europe for the Brandon’s high school graduation and 18th birthday. The original trip was to Germany, but he has also mentioned interest in Scotland, Ireland, and Italy. Could such a trip be done on Eurail Passes in two weeks time with very specific destinations and 3 – 4 days per country? After the trip my grandson will be going into the military. What tickets would I purchase, etc.? Any help and information would be deeply appreciated! Thank you very much.
    Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca – Apologies on the delayed reply. Well, it’s doable but it will be a quick pace trip. You can easily spend two weeks just in Germany and Italy (which seems to be the easiest option). It also depends on how many cities you wish to visit. You can spend two to three days per major city in each country.

      But, let’s say, hypothetically that you’ll visit all four countries. Know that the Eurail pass does not work for Ireland. It does work for Scotland, Germany, and Italy, so for that, I recommend a Global Pass with 5 or 7 days of travel within one month. At most, 10 days if you think you’ll be traveling between cities almost every day (which might be the case if you wish to visit all four countries).

      My recommendation… if it were me planning this trip. Focus on Germany and Italy. Go to Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Naples/Pompeii, and such. That will keep you busy those two weeks and more!

      If you want to add Scotland, then I’ll start south, maybe in Rome, head north to Berlin (stopping along some of those cities mentioned), and then take a train to Amsterdam, and from there take a few trains to Scotland. It’s a lot of train travel, though.

  69. hi Norbert..
    it is a great post and very nice of you answering (almost) all the comments.. i’m just gonna add one thing that in 2019 the 7pm rule is no longer valid.. but, pls double check, since they might change it since many people live the 7pm rule =) well i do..

    1. Hi Maureen – Thanks for letting me know. I’ve corroborated this with Eurail and indeed, you’re correct! The 7 pm rule is no longer in effect. Now, the travel day that counts on overnight trains is the departure date. I’ve updated the post to reflect this change.

  70. Hi Norbert,

    Great post. One thing I’m a little unsure about if you could explain is the country benefits. We want to go to Switzerland on the last leg of our journey.( global pass 7 day flex 1 month) we see bunch feee / reduced train rides offered in that country. My question is … if we used up all 7 days on pass . Can we still book the freebies train tour in Switzerland? I checked online and most of the scenic train allows us to put in a discount via euro rail or GA card but I don’t know if I just need to prove I brought a euro rail global pass or I need to still have unused date left on my ticket. Thanks.

    1. Hi Kevin –

      Thanks! Normally, if the transportation benefit is a discount, it does not count as a travel day, so you can use it at any time. If it is for free (like a free ferry), then it does count as a travel day. If the benefit is for tours and other stuff not transportation-related, then it does not count as a travel day either.

      Regarding showing proof you bought a Eurail Pass, it’s possible things might have changed recently since everything is being digitized now, so when purchasing your discounted ticket to whatever you’re interested in, see if they ask for a specific pass number or any identifying information about the pass. If they don’t, then make sure you’re carrying your pass with you when redeeming your discounted ticket at the attraction or transportation so they see it’s valid.

      Hope this helps!

  71. Hi Norbert,
    I’ve purchased the Eurail italy pass and Swiss travel pass. My 1st visit country is Switzerland, can I validate my Italy pass in Switzerland?

    1. Hi Alley, That’s a good question. I think you may be able to validate both passes in Switzerland. Should you not be able, ask them what is the best option to validate the Italian pass before crossing the border, or, quite probably (depending on the train you take), you will change trains right at the border when crossing from Switzerland to Italy, so you can head quickly to a clerk, validate, and hop on the next train.

      1. Morning Norbert,
        Thanks. Yes, noted that i need to change trains (St Moritz – Tirano – Milano – Venice). Afraid that time not permitted for the ticket pass validate. I did get advise from agent before make any arrangement and hope to they will help. Agent suggested me to get separate passes instead of Global Pass (8days Switzerland – 8days Swiss travel Pass Consecutive & 7days in Italy – 6days Eurail Italy Pass flexi) and now i felt like been….Anyhow, good to known about ur Globotreks!

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