A month traveling around Europe. We choose spring as the perfect time to travel with Eurail Pass, to try one of the most traditional ways to explore Europe. After 17 train trips, we figured out some truths and understood why some people love traveling with Eurail Pass, and why others not that much. So we decided to put some information together to help you decided if it is worth or not to travel with Eurail Pass.
What is the Eurail Pass?
It’s a train pass for non-European citizens, that you can purchase online and use to travel across Europe for a few days or for up to 3 months. Usually, you can choose between consecutive traveling days or a number of traveling days that you can use within a period like 1 or 3 months for example.
There are many options for Eurail Passes and we are going to talk about them later. First I want to point out that we traveled with a Eurail Global Pass 1st class. It means that we could take as many trains as we wanted in the whole of Europe [28 countries included], during a period of 30 days.
The first class wasn’t an essential thing for us, but as we are over 26 years [don’t tell this to anyone else, ok!] we can only get Eurail Pass 1st class. However, at the end of the trip, I was glad about this compulsory issue, it made the journey much more comfortable.
This was our first experience traveling with long-distance trains and Eurail Passes. After 17 train trips, we decide to put some questions on the table to help you understand the good and the bad of traveling with Eurail Pass.
7 Truths about traveling with Eurail Pass
– 1st » Traveling with Eurail Pass is easy
Yes, it is! Definitely one of the easiest ways of traveling around Europe!
The idea of only one ticket, many connections, and an overwhelming option of timetables is what I call an easy way of traveling.
We took 17 trains, we crossed 7 countries, an endless amount of cities, villages… and believe it or not, we had no problem. When we started our journey I wasn’t convinced by the label “easy way of traveling”, but turned out to be an extremely smooth experience.
Why? First of all, you don’t need to do the check-in, you can arrive at the station just 20 – 30 minutes in advance, you don’t need to pass by X-ray, passport control, either drop your luggage at the baggage drop [unless you are traveling from France to the UK]. You just arrive, find your train, your seat and relax.
Before the first trip, you will need to validate the pass at the train station ticket window, after that you don’t need to worry about anything else. The crew from the train will approach you during the journey just to check the pass and passport, no further questions, nothing. Even to cross countries’ borders was easy, only in Spain and Switzerland, the immigration officer questioned about our travels plans.
Another easy aspect is that most of the train stations are located in the city center and are well-connected with public transportation, which makes it super easy to get in and out of the places.
– 2nd » Traveling with Eurail Pass is flexible
Yes, especially if you have an open plan and will travel for a long period!
For us, the Eurail Pass was perfect. We knew beforehand the cities and countries we wanted to visit, and the average of days we would spend there. So we didn’t need to book anything in advance, we just search for the best route and the timetable to organize our departure and arrival. Also, if you miss a train [what happened with us after a long night partying in Paris] we just waited for the next one, no changing of bookings, no changing tickets, nothing.
One important fact about flexibility: local and regional trains run almost every hour, so it’s easy to catch the next one and keep moving. However, the high-speed trains and border connections are not so often. To make our travel planning easy, we downloaded the Eurail App on my mobile so we could search for connections, timetables, and types of trains with a simple click. The app works offline, which is great!
I would say that travel with Eurail Pass is far more flexible than travel by bus and flights. It takes more time as you are going to spend few hours traveling and looking at stunning landscapes, but it is hassle-free. After one month of traveling by train in Europe, it was difficult to go back to the low-cost airlines’ restrictions.
– 3rd » You can create your own itinerary with Eurail Pass
If you are going to travel just in one or 2 countries, it is easy, you can use the route planner on the Eurail website and you will find the timetables and best options for you. Although if you are going to travel long distances and reach many different countries, things get a little bit more complicated and tricky.
The Eurail Pass covers all Europe, from Portugal to Turkey, going up to Sweden and even Ireland is on the map, but not all the train services are included free on the passes. This is why many people say it is not worth traveling with Eurail Pass, because sometimes you may need to make reservations and even pay some extra fees. About the fees we are going to talk about in the next topic, first I want to focus on choosing the itinerary.
We traveled for over a month without doing any reservations and without paying any extra fees. How? We choose to travel only with local and regional trains. On the Eurail App, there is a function to search only those types of trains, excluding the ones that need a reservation. So you only need to show up at the station and get the train. Of course, the trips are longer and sometimes you will need to do several connections between points A and B, but this is the adventure of traveling.
We started our trip in Milan and our first destination was Paris. But before arriving in the French capital we passed by Bellinzona [IT], Basel [CH], Mulhouse [FR], Belfort [FR], and then Paris. A journey of 12 hours with amazing views from the north of Italy, Swiss Alps, French countryside. A few stops for coffee, snacks, and some running between platforms to catch the next train. If we did the same trip with a TGV high-speed and direct train it would take 7 hours, a faster option, but with some extra costs.
Choosing the route between Milan and Paris was easy. Most of the regional trains were empty, comfy and the French train stations have good WiFi. Perfect for bloggers! 🙂
When we moved from Paris to Amsterdam [and lost the first train because of my hangover] we choose local and regional trains again. Nine hours trip, 3 stops between cities, and another great journey [as Rob told me because I slept the whole trip]. Here is a good example of flexibility, because we missed the first train that was in our travel plan we had to do different connections, all then sorted out with the Eurail app.
Summing up, the itinerary is easy to organize, there are plenty of options if you don’t mind the long hours on the train and some waiting time at the stations. Although, if you prefer a straightforward trip at high speed, you might have to deal with online reservations, previous booking, and some additional fees.
Traveling to Denamark, Finland, Norway or Sweeden? Click here and read our guide to travel in Scandinavia with Eurail Pass!
– 4th » Eurail Pass extra fees and fares you have to be aware of
There are some fares and fees that are not included in the price of the Eurail Pass and you must have to consider them before buying the passes. All these fares are explained on the Eurail website and that’s why you have to read the contract carefully and ask for some extra help in case you are in doubt.
What are these fares and fees about?
They are reservation fees and high-speed train fares. If you want to travel on an overnight train or make a reservation to secure your first-class seat, you will need to pay for it. How much? It all depends on which country you are traveling to and the train company. Sometimes the extra cost of an overnight train might be cheaper than a night in a hotel, you will need to do the math if saving money is an important issue for you. [for us it is! ]
The high-speed train fare is not the same for all the countries either. In France and Italy [the most complicated countries for traveling with Eurail Pass on high-speed trains] you can only travel with TGV and Freccia with a previous booking, and that will cost you some Euros. For example, from Italy to France [by TGV] your extra fee will be from €48 – 80€ for 1st class or from €33 to €60 for 2nd class. Ouchh!!! You can check the list of Eurail extra fees here.
However, in countries like Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland you can travel with high-speed without reservation. The only problem is if the first class is fully booked you might have to grab a seat on the 2nd class car. The German trains and service are amazing, first-class with good WiFi, nice restaurants and even free candies!
We traveled from Amsterdam to Berlin on the exact day the German train workers went on a strike, even though we had no problem with our Eurail Pass. We just follow the instructions and the new timetable.
During our month traveling with Eurail Pass, we didn’t pay any extra fee or fare because we choose our itinerary based on local, regional trains. We save some bucks while spending a few more hours on the trains. A deal that was positive for us, but maybe not for everybody.
– 5th » So, is the Eurail Pass worth the money?
This is the trickiest question ever, and our answer is: Yes and No!
It is worth the money if you have time enough to search for the best connection, to enjoy the long-distance rides, and if the train journey itself is part of your travel experience.
Here we’ll be comparing the costs of 1 month Global Pass, so let’s go to the magic numbers!
Our figures and costs with Eurail Pass
Eurail Global Pass 30 days – € 917 [per person]
Fees & Fares booking or high-speed trains – € 0
If we bought single train trips
Trains tickets – € 715 [per person, average price using a high-speed train. Not considering overnight trains]
Fees & Fares booking or high-speed trains – € 0
If we did the same trip by flight
Flight tickets – € 390 [average internet price for low-cost airlines per person, luggage not included]
PS: We can’t calculate exactly the cost of a flight or a single train ticket because the price changes a lot. Sometimes you can get a great deal when booking in advance, or a last-minute purchase can save you a couple of bucks. You never know. We should also consider the expenses with transportation to/from the airports, plus the cost of the checked luggage. Here we did a simple calculation to help you think and decide if it is worth or not to invest and travel with Eurail Pass. If you want to get the real figures you might need to research deeper.
Bottom line, if you look only at the figures, it is not cheap to travel with Eurail Pass. But if you think wisely it makes sense to buy the Global Pass if you are going for a long trip around Europe with no fixed plan.
If you think of the costs of canceling and remarking a flight ticket or change dates and destinations at the last minute, then for sure you will spend much more than the price of the Eurail Pass. That’s why you have to think clearly about what type of experience you want to have on your Eurotrip!
– 6th » Traveling with Eurail Pass is a worthy experience
Oh yeah, baby!!
No doubt about it! There is no better way to see and experience Europe than traveling by train. Especially with Eurail Pass that gives you the flexibility to enjoy as much time as you want in each destination.
I would say that travel with Eurail Pass is not about saving money, it is about the experience. Is about feeling like a local while changing trains and eating local food at the stations. It’s about meeting people on the seat next to you and learn different cultures, maybe even change your next destination because of this.
The train trip was part of the whole travel experience. We were not focused on arriving in different places, but on the journey there. Travel with Eurail Pass worked perfectly, especially because we were prepared and we knew all the rules. We could never do the same trip with low-cost flights or last-minute trains. The Eurail Pass may be more expensive than other types of transportation but we think it’s a worthy experience.
– 7th » Different Eurail Passes for different travelers
Now that you already know all the information about how to travel with Eurail Pass, the next step is to go to the Eurail website to find a pass that suits your travel plan. You can choose by the number of countries you want to visit, duration of the trip, student pass, family package…
Their bestsellers are:
- Global Pass for 28 countries – you can buy for a short trip or up to 3 months, this last option is a pretty good deal. Check out the price and book your Eurail Global Pass here.
- 4 / 2 or 1 Country Pass – you can choose the countries and how many days you want to spend traveling. There are special passes or prices for bordering countries. You find all the options and book your Eurail Pass here.
All the passes have different prices with good reductions for students and families.
The delivery of the paper passes by post is free, or you can choose to buy the mobile passes that have more advantages like buy now and travel up to 11 months later.
Compare all the passes, read the rules, and buy the tickets directly from their website. I would also recommend you to follow them on Facebook for good deals and sales, there is always something going on there!
Hope our 7 reasons why you should [or not] travel with Eurail Pass have helped you to plan your next train trip in Europe. Go to our Destination Page and be inspired to where to go and what to do in Europe, then read our Accommodation Guide to discover the best places to stay and how to book the perfect hotel or hostel for you.
If you are a European citizen, our friends Ivana & Gianni from Nomad is Beautiful wrote a very useful guide on how to use Interrail.
And you, would you travel by train around Europe? Did you travel with Eurail Pass? Share your experiences!
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PS 2: Our Global Passes were a courtesy from Eurail. However, doesn’t matter who paid the bill you always receive our true opinion.