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The Ultimate Guide to European Train Travel With a Eurail Pass

Here’s how every type of traveler—not just backpackers—can benefit from this all-in-one train ticket..

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A train on high, narrow mountain bridge

Eurail Passes can be used on scenic trains, too, like this one in Switzerland.

Photo by Shutterstock

If you’re planning a multi-city tour of the continent this summer and will rely on trains to get around, you may want to consider purchasing a Eurail Pass. Haven’t thought about buying a Eurail Pass since your backpacking days? You’re not alone. The last time I traveled with one was in 2007 as a college student. After forking over about $500 (from my part-time job as a barista) for the multi-use train ticket, I rode at least a dozen trains from Amsterdam to Paris and on to Madrid over the course of a month that summer. I saved not only money but also time waiting to buy tickets because I could walk on to most trains and have the conductor punch my pass on board.

For beginners to European train travel, the Eurail Pass is a single document that allows non-European citizens to travel by train multiple times across a network of 33 European countries. The travel must occur over a specified period of time, and the pass forgos the need to buy individual point-to-point tickets. The Eurail Pass, which is celebrating its 64th anniversary this year, can be used for riding local trains, high-speed trains, and even night trains. In addition to the flexibility and time-saving benefits it affords, traveling with one can also save you money, depending on your travel plans.

Here’s everything you need to know about Eurail Passes before you buy one.

How do Eurail Passes work?

You can choose from either a One Country Pass , which covers train travel in a single country, or a Eurail Global Pass , which offers unlimited train travel across 33 countries in Europe, using their national railroads. Within each pass type, there are even more options. There are ones for children (ages 4 to 11), youth (12 to 27), adults (28+), and seniors (60+). They come in first- and second-class options across all age categories.

The passes also cover different trip lengths for both One Country and Global Passes. The flexible, four-days-in-one-month pass is for you if you’re going on a shorter getaway and won’t be taking trains regularly. The pass with three months of unlimited travel is best used for fast-paced trips where you plan to cover a lot of ground over an extended time.

The validities for flexible passes include:

  • Four travel days within one month
  • Five travel days within one month
  • Seven travel days within one month
  • 10 travel days within two months
  • 15 travel days within two months

There are also passes available for unlimited travel days during set periods of time. Those continuous train passes include durations of:

  • Two travel months
  • Three travel months

The pass is sold by the number of travel days you are planning on using it. Each travel day covers as many trains you’d like to take between the 24-hour time window from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on the same calendar day. Keep in mind, there are exceptions to be made if you’re taking a night train. For example, if you book a train that leaves on Monday night and arrives on Tuesday morning, you will only need to use one travel day (the day of your departure) to cover that trip. However, if you choose to board another train on Tuesday, you’ll have to use another travel day on your pass.

To find the ideal pass for your particular trip, Eurail built an online tool that lets you fill in your travel plans, including which countries you plan to visit, how many days you intend to travel by train, and the length of your entire trip. At the end of the short survey, it recommends the pass that suits your needs best.

A TGV high-speed train at Gare du Nord in Paris

A TGV high-speed train at Gare du Nord in Paris

Photo by Hans Engbers / Shutterstock

Where can you buy a Eurail Pass?

You can buy any type of Eurail Pass online from , but several other sites sell them, too. RailPass and Rail Europe are both authorized vendors that sell Eurail Passes for around the same price as with slight variations to insurance and service fees.

Some offer free shipping and others offer special discounts and promo codes on tickets, so it’s best to check all your options before purchasing your pass to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

You can also purchase Eurail Passes at train stations in Europe, but that’s more expensive than ordering them online in advance.

How much does a Eurail Pass cost?

In 2023, the cost of a Eurail Global Pass purchased directly through Eurail starts at $276 for second-class fares and $351 for first-class seats for the four-days-in-one-month pass for adults. A 15-day unlimited pass for adults currently ranges from $498 to $631.

The most expensive pass is the three-month unlimited pass, which starts at $1,013 and goes up to $1,286 when bought directly through Eurail.

Considering that a two-month unlimited pass costs between $822 to $1,043, you’re only paying a few hundred more for an entire extra month of unlimited train travel.

One Country Passes are slightly more affordable and vary by each country. For example, adult passes for Italy bought directly from Eurail range from $142 to $270 for second class and $181 to $342 for first class.

Eurail also groups certain regions so you can get multiple countries for the price of one with its Benelux Pass (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) and Scandinavia Pass (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden). Note that Eurail does not offer One Country Passes for certain countries that are included in the Global Pass, such as Switzerland, Montenegro, and Bosnia.

Traveler using Rail Planner App on phone

In 2020, Eurail launched its first-ever mobile version of the Eurail Pass via its Rail Planner App.

Courtesy of Eurail

Are Eurail Passes worth it?

It depends. If you know you’ll have four travel days over a one-month period, a second-class pass would cost most adults $276—or $69 per day. If the train you need to take costs more than $69, or if you’ll be taking multiple trains in one day that add up to more than that, it’s worth buying that pass. If you only need a less costly regional train to get between cities like Amsterdam and Brussels, however, then it’s probably not worth it.

For those who would argue that buying $50 RyanAir or EasyJet flights to jump from city to city is faster and cheaper, keep in mind that once you add on arriving early to the airport for security and all the bag fees you’d pay to check a bag, you might end up breaking even. Plus, train travel is more sustainable and more scenic.

Do you need reservations with a Eurail Pass?

In some instances, yes. For trains in popular countries like France, Spain, and Italy—especially in the summer—you will need to make an advance seat reservation at an additional cost (generally from around 3 to 10 euros), even if the fare is included with your Eurail Pass. In addition to those popular destinations, all night trains and most international high-speed trains throughout Europe require a supplemental reservation fee.

Some scenic trains, like the Bernina Express in Switzerland, also require one. To find out if you need to make a reservation, search for your desired route on the Eurail Timetable , and the results will show whether or not one is necessary.

Reservation fees vary between different countries and train services and must be paid directly to the railway carriers; payment can be made at the train station, online through the websites of the national railway companies, by phone, or through Eurail’s Rail Planner app. Eurail recommends making train reservations two months in advance during the summer and ahead of holidays to guarantee yourself a seat.

Alternatively, you can opt to ride on regional trains, which don’t require seat reservations. Even though they are slower, if you have the time to stop along the way, you’re likely to discover a few appealing villages you never would have happened upon by taking the high-speed route. To find trains that don’t require reservations, check the “no seat reservations required” box when searching on the Eurail Timetable page.

What European countries does the Eurail Pass cover?

There are currently 33 countries in Europe with rail carriers that accept Eurail Passes. Great Britain’s train operators nearly pulled out of the agreement in August 2019 . After negotiations with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the U.K. train industry, travelers will continue to be able to use their Eurail passes within Great Britain.

Here’s the full list of the 33 countries currently serviced by Eurail: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey. Download the train route map .

Eurail covers train routes in 33 countries.

Eurail covers train routes in 33 countries.

How far in advance do you need to buy a Eurail Pass?

You can buy a Eurail Pass up to 11 months in advance of your trip, as long as it is activated at a European train station within that 11-month period. You can also preactivate your pass for a specific date when you check out at to avoid waiting in line at the train station to do so.

In 2020, Eurail launched its first-ever mobile version of the Eurail Pass via its Rail Planner App . Now instead of waiting for the physical document to be delivered in the mail—or constantly worrying about losing it during your trip—you can download the app and load your mobile pass onto it as soon as your order confirmation email lands in your inbox.

 The scenic Flam Railway in Norway passing through green mountains

Enjoy views like this from the Flam Railway in Norway.

Are Eurail Passes just for college students?

You may have been under the impression that only budget backpackers in their 20s can benefit from Eurail Passes, but the passes are actually available to all age groups. And while previously those 27 and under were the only age group eligible for discounts, in 2019, Eurail also introduced a 10 percent discount for people over the age of 60 , too.

Eurail passes are also great for families. While kids age 3 or younger don’t need a pass to travel, children ages 4 to 11 are eligible for a free Child Pass. Up to two children are allowed to travel for free with one adult. Find out more about family discounts here .

What are other benefits to having a Eurail Pass?

All Eurail Pass–holders are eligible for discounts on select museum tickets and boat tours throughout the entire 33-country network. But one of the major perks of having an unlimited train ticket that includes night trains is the hotel savings. By sleeping on a train, you’ll get from point A to point B and save money on hotels at the same time.

Eurail Passes aren’t only for use on trains either—they can be used on ferries and public transportation in some countries, too. See the full list of participating train, ferry, and public transport companies that accept Eurail Passes on board. In fact, the Greek Islands Pass now offers ferry service to 55 islands, making it a viable option for island-hopping.

T his article originally appeared online in 2019; it was updated most recently on March 29, 2023, to include current information.

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The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass [Tickets, Reservations, Routes & More]

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The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass [Tickets, Reservations, Routes & More]

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Thinking of exploring Europe?

The Eurail pass allows you to travel between over 40,000 destinations, across 31 different countries, all on just 1 single ticket. It is a flexible and affordable way to take in the varying sights, climates, and cultures of Europe at your own pace.

Why Travel Europe by Train?

There are several benefits to traveling Europe by train over other forms of transport.

There are several high-speed rail networks that crisscross the continent, making it incredibly easy to navigate from place to place virtually anywhere in Europe. They link with almost every major town and city and are a super fast and reliable means of getting around, while also giving you the chance to take in the stunning scenery and mix with the locals.

Unlike sweaty subways or jam-packed bus rides, a long-distance train journey also gives you the opportunity to relax and unwind along the way. Eat, drink, and even sleep your way from 1 destination to another.

Trains travel all across Europe quickly and easily, and there are no 2-hour check-in times, no hanging around for hours on end in strange airports, and major stations tend to be close to other amenities like city centers . This all helps to cut down your travel time and reduce your travel costs.

You never have to worry about traffic as most cities suffer from constant traffic jams, a lack of parking spaces, and extortionate parking rates . This is especially true in Europe’s overcrowded city centers, and even the more extensive motorway networks can suffer from a heavy build of traffic that can severely delay your journey.

If you are hiring a car, you should also know that not all rental companies will allow you to drive from 1 country to another, meaning you will need to rejig your plans every time you cross a border.

The final reason why trains are the best way to travel in Europe is — let’s face it — buses are basic. Long-distance bus travel is considered the poor relation of the railways . They can be cramped and uncomfortable, you are at the mercy of traffic conditions, and you can’t eat, drink or wander around on a bus like you can on the train. A bus also has a higher environmental impact than a nice modern train does.

The Eurail pass allows you to visit thousands of destinations across Europe using a single ticket. You can travel on a network of high-speed trains that effortlessly cross borders and can deliver you directly to some of the most famous destinations in the world.

Anyone who lives outside of Europe is eligible for a Eurail pass — for example, residents of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or Africa. You must purchase your pass before you get there, and if you are already resident in Europe you’ll need an Interrail Pass instead.

The Different Types of Eurail Passes

The Eurail is not a one-size-fits-all solution for the modern traveler. In fact, there are 2 different Eurail passes you can buy to best suit your own individual travel plans:

This is the ultimate rail pass that gives you the freedom to explore a wealth of European destinations across 31 countries for as long as you want to.

You can choose to travel for as little as 3 days in 1 month to a whole 3 months’ worth of travel, taking in some of the most iconic sights and cities in the world as you go. The duration of your pass starts when you validate it at your first station.

Hot Tip: There are discounts available for travelers aged 28 and younger and those who are 60 or older.

If you are planning on visiting just 1 country, this ticket offers an affordable and flexible way to travel at your leisure. You can choose from 3 days travel in 1 month, right up to 8 days travel in 1 month, giving you plenty of time to really explore the towns and cities on your itinerary.

Not just young people and students chose to explore Europe by rail — there are tickets available to suit all ages.

Adult tickets are for those over 18 at the time of travel.

Senior tickets are for those who are over 60 years old from the first day that the pass is valid. Seniors save 10% on the price of an adult ticket.

Youth tickets are for anyone aged under 28 on the first day that the pass is valid and you could save as much as 35% on the full adult fare price.

Children’s tickets are for travelers under the age of 12. Children aged between 4 and 11 years get a free Eurail pass when traveling with an adult, but may still need to pay for any reservation fees where necessary.

Infant tickets are free for little people under 4 years old.

Things to be aware of:

  • It is important to note that with both passes, you may still need to reserve and pay for your seats on many of the high-speed services and night trains.
  • You can choose from a 1st class pass or 2nd class pass depending on your own preference, but prices will vary.
  • You will need to activate your Eurail pass within 11 months of the issue date.
  • Travel beyond trains as your ticket will also be valid for transit with ferry companies in some countries. See the terms and conditions of the Eurail pass for further details.
  • Different countries have different age limits for free child travel — check before you leave.

The easiest way to purchase your Eurail ticket is directly from their website. There are options available to suit the age of the passenger and how many people are traveling, as well as options for the type of pass you wish to buy and the duration of travel.

You can find everything you need at to see a range of tickets including both types of Eurail passes. Rail Europe also offers country-specific websites across a range of territories. Remember to also look out for any delivery costs, too.

Eurail Pass versus Point-to-Point Tickets

While Eurail passes do offer exceptional value for money, they are not the only way to travel around Europe by train, and in some cases may not be the cheapest.

There are no hard or fast rules on this, and every journey will be different, but there are some scenarios where simply booking a ticket to get from A to B may be the best way forward. For example, if you are only using the train for a couple of straightforward, short-distance train rides, point-to-point tickets may be cheaper.

The same can be said with some longer journeys where you may need to pay reservation fees before boarding. You may also find that you are able to source cheaper fares on expensive rail networks by booking in advance or traveling out of season.

The key to knowing exactly when to buy point-to-point is knowing how set in stone your travel plans are. If you need to be at a particular destination on a set date, and you know about it well enough in advance, it may be cheaper and more practical to simply book direct with the rail network or agent in advance.

Bottom Line: To put it in perspective, a 3-day Global Pass can cost you as much as $82 per day, with an additional reservation fee. The chances are that you will absolutely be able to find a single point-to-point ticket for a lower price if you book far enough in advance and know exactly where you are going.

The truth is, there are lots of instances where an all-in-one ticket option will offer you much more flexibility and better savings in the long run.

If you are planning on visiting lots of different European destinations, and you want to be able to travel as, and when you fancy, the Eurail pass offers unprecedented ease of use and value for money . It is also a much better way to commute if you are unable to buy flexible fares in advance, as purchasing tickets on the day of travel can be an extortionate amount of money.

The Eurail pass also works on your time frame, though you can’t just swan around when you feel like it. It is much more helpful when it comes to considerations that you can’t control . Canceled services, bad weather, or other disruptions could lose you the use of a point-to-point ticket, but your Eurail pass will still be valid when you need it.

There are also better discounts available for certain Eurail passengers that you wouldn’t find with normal point-to-point tickets.

For example, Youth Eurail tickets are designed to entice student travelers and those on a budget, often making them even cheaper than the very best advance fare booking. Children under the age of 11 also travel free on Eurail passes, so if you are adventuring as a family, that could definitely sway you.

Bottom Line: Of course, you can choose to use your Eurail for certain parts of your journey and point-to-point tickets at other times. While the pass on paper may not always be the cheapest option, it does afford you the flexibility that rigid point-to-point tickets simply cannot compete with. Your journey, your decision.

So, we know by now that Eurail passes offer a ton of flexibility to avid adventurers and can save you money on your train fares, but how exactly does this golden ticket to travel actually work?

First off, it is important to remember that you do not need to set specific dates to use your Eurail pass, but you must validate your pass within 11 months from the purchase date . You can easily validate it at any station before you jump on board.

Once you are up and running, the key to good Eurailing is marking off how many travel days you have left by simply ticking the boxes. Each pass will have empty boxes to represent the number of days of unlimited travel you have paid for; simply enter your travel dates as and when you complete them . You can take as many trains as you want from midnight to midnight on your chosen travel days.

Your pass also comes in a cover that has a handy travel diary printed onto it. You use this to record the date, departure station, and destination of each journey you take.

Hot Tip: These details are important, and if you fail to fill them in the conductor could issue a fine, so never forget to complete your travel diary on each journey.


Some high-speed or overnight sleeper trains will require you to make a reservation before you travel. There may even be additional fees involved, so always do your research before you head on out to take the train.

Different countries and rail networks have different requirements, but as a rough guide to reservations, consider the following.

Some countries require reservations before you travel. In France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal you must make a reservation and pay an additional fee for inter-city journeys which can range from between €10-25 ($11-28) depending on the route and service.

Certain lines including the popular Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam route on the Thalys service, as well as the Paris-Turin-Milan TGVs and Paris-Barcelona TGVs only offer a limited number of pass holder seats which can sell out during busy times of the year.

Other countries, like Ireland , The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, and most of the central and eastern European countries do not require you to reserve your seat to travel, but you can still do so if you want to.

There are no limits to the number of pass holder seats available and a journey on Germany’s famous ICE or Austria’s railjet trains is definitely worth a go if you really appreciate high-speed railways.

Hot Tip: There are some exceptions to the rules, however, and Thalys high-speed trains between Brussels and Amsterdam and between Brussels and Cologne have compulsory reservations and additional fees for rail pass holders. The Glacier Express and The Bernina Express also require reservations for a small fee.

Overnight Sleeper Trains

Traveling through the night is an excellent way to save money on hotel or hostels, and buys you back more daytime sightseeing hours. You will always need to make a reservation for a sleeper or couchette, across all countries and all services.

Most operators will charge around €35 (~$39) for a couchette in a shared compartment, and you could be looking at as much as €95 (~$105) for a more private 2-bed sleeper. These rates may be slightly cheaper across some of the Eastern European countries, but you will still need to pay to sleep.

Hot Tip: Some of the most popular routes like the Paris-Milan/Venice Thello sleeper train, for example, do not accept Eurail passes so you will need to buy a stand-alone ticket or explore other ways to complete this leg of your journey.

There are various ways to make reservations, depending on where you are going and your own personal preference.

At the Station

If you want to practice the local lingo, you can speak to a member of staff at most major rail station ticket offices to reserve your seat. This can usually be done in advance or on the day of departure, in some cases right up until the time the train leaves the station. Some countries also offer self-service ticket machines for less human-based interaction.

On the Internet

If you would rather make your pass holder reservations online, there are plenty of websites available to help you do so. There is no “one-site-fits-all” solution, though, and you will need to Google which operators cover your journey and ensure that they will actually cover pass holder reservations and not just regular ticket options.

Not sure where to start looking? The Eurail reservations page lists major trains services in each country and will tell you how to book online if you can.

Using The Railplanner App

This timetable app covers the whole of Europe and works offline so you can check your train times while on the move. You can make pass holder reservations for Eurostar, Thalys, and Trenitalia high-speed trains and have your tickets delivered straight to your phone.

Sleepers and Couchettes on Overnight Trains

If you are planning on traveling overnight, is that a 1-day ticket or 2? This is an important question, especially if you have limited travel days left. Overnight travel is a great way to get from 1 destination to another without wasting any of your all-important exploration time.

You will no doubt be delighted to know then, that as of 2019, you only need to use 1 day on a Flexi pass to travel on an overnight service. The rule is simple: if you board a train before midnight, but do not change trains after midnight, you are technically on the same day service . This means no matter what time you arrive on day 2, you only need to make a note of your departure date in your travel pass diary.

Sleepers, Couchettes, and Cozy Overnights

There is a real sense of romance and nostalgia about taking a night train through Europe. As you whiz through silent towns and peaceful countryside, the motion of the train will gently rock you to sleep, to wake up refreshed and ready to explore your next destination.

There are different ways to hit the hay on the train, all available at differing prices.

If you like your privacy, you can book a 2, 3, or even 4-berth cabin that offers bunk-style accommodation and usually has its own sink and carpeted floor and comes with freshly laundered linens and super comfortable mattresses. If you want to upgrade even further, some operators offer deluxe compartments with private showers and toilets, towels, toiletries, and other luxury touches.

If you are traveling on your own, you can still share a birth with strangers, usually grouped by gender. Sleepers also offer decent-sized luggage racks with enough room to accommodate the number of guests sharing, as well as lockable doors and even room service.

Power sockets are also often available, and you will have stewards on board who will check your passes and tickets, and that will come to convert the seating area in your compartment into beds at a pre-determined time.

Bottom Line: Sleepers come with a premium price tag, but if you can stretch to it, a night in a sleeper is a wonderful way to travel. A single sleeper could cost you as much as €115 (~$127) on some lines, but a 3 person sleeper can be booked for a more affordable €50 (~$55).

If you don’t mind sharing, these dorm-style rooms are compact but affordable. By day they offer ordinary seating, and at night they are converted to padded ledges with a folded sheet pillow and blanket for you and your fellow travelers to bed down with.

Couchette compartments are usually mixed-sex, but you can ask for a ladies-only compartment if you would feel more comfortable. Couchettes have luggage space both below the beds and in the overhead compartments, and there are usually attendants on hand to keep watch over your compartment as you sleep.

Bottom Line: Prices vary depending on the route and number of people sharing a couchette, but you may find you only pay a small premium for a 4-person couchette vs. a 6-person alternative, giving you more space to spread out for a just a few euros more.

Sample Eurail Itineraries

The possibilities are endless when it comes to planning the route for your next European adventure, but to get you started, here are 4 of the very best:

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Prague, Czechia
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Zagreb, Croatia
  • Lake Bled, Bled, Radovljica, Slovenia

If you want to take in the stunning architecture of some of the oldest cities in the world and learn more about the rich history and culture that made them the most sought after tourist spots in Europe, this is the perfect itinerary for you.

Starting in the “Venice of the North,” in Amsterdam, you can take in the canals, cafes and crazy nightlife of this vibrant city before heading off to Berlin to experience the modern city with a dark past.

The next stop on your journey would be the beautiful city of Prague with its stunning gothic architecture before taking in the famous opera and quaint market squares in Vienna and the classical music of Budapest.

Finally, your journey will take you to the ancient, Adriatic jewel of Zagreb, before ending this leg of your journey at the breathtaking Lake Bled.

  • Faro, Portugal
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • San Sebastian, Spain
  • Milan, Italy
  • Rome, Italy
  • Naples, Italy
  • Athens, Greece

This 8-stop trip is perfect for sun worshippers looking to surf, swim, and soak up the sun at some of the best coastal resorts Europe has to offer.

Starting off in Faro, you can explore the beautiful beaches of the Algarve and the cobbled streets and Moorish architecture of the ancient city. From here you can take a short 4-hour train journey to spend time in the coastal capital of Lisbon, with its Atlantic beaches, ornate architecture, and rich colonialist history.

Cross the border into Spain and take in the coastal resort of San Sabastian, with its picturesque beaches and tranquil waters, before hitting the high life in Monaco. This micro-state on the French border offers beautiful beaches, upscale living, and some of the best nightclubs in the world.

Carry on living the dream in the fashion capital of Milan where you’ll eat, drink and dress like an Italian before chilling out on the beaches on Lake Como. From fashion to the Forum and the Colosseum as you explore the ancient history of Rome , before taking in the Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii on the way to Naples in the South.

Your final stop on this tour is Athens, where you can explore more ancient history including the Acropolis and the Parthenon, before enjoying the beaches of Attica on the Athenian Riviera.

  • Madrid, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Lyon, France
  • Paris, France
  • Bruges, Belgium
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

Starting in the Portuguese coastal capital of Lisbon, you can explore the famous São Jorge Castle, the photogenic pastel-colored buildings, and the amazing suspension bridges that connect the city to the municipality of Almada.

From here you can head to Madrid to take in the fabulous tapas bars, beautiful Baroque architecture, and repositories of modern European art and museums .

Continue to the beachside city of Barcelona with its famous Gothic alleyways, pedestrian walkways, modernist artwork, and electric nightlife, before crossing the border into France. Lyon is famous for its great food, great wine, and Roman-era architecture.

From mid-France head north to the cosmopolitan hub that is Paris. See the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs-Elysées and a host of other iconic sights and landmarks in this global center for art, food, fashion, and culture.

After living the high-life in Paris, pop on over to beautiful Bruges to find a more genteel way of life that is nestled away in the canals, cobbled streets, and medieval buildings of the city. Enjoy some of the best chocolate in the world before heading on over to Amsterdam to explore the city’s historic waterways and artistic heritage, then finishing off your adventure at some of the best cafes, bars, and nightclubs in the world.

  • Kraków, Poland
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Belgrade, Serbia
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia

If you want to make your travel money stretch as far as possible, Eastern Europe offers some of the most affordable cities, packed full of ancient history and fascinating culture.

Starting off in Kraków, you can explore the famous medieval architecture and the Jewish quarter, while enjoying hearty Polish fare and awesome beer. From here you can take a 12-hour train journey to Bratislava to discover an 18th-century old town that is famous for its lively bars and cafes.

From Slovakia, you can cross into Hungary and to the capital city of Budapest with its 13th-century churches, world-famous Opera Hall, and the ancient baths. From Budapest it is on to Bucharest — similar-sounding cities but both with a very different story to tell. The Romanian city is packed full of communist-era heritage and as well as some beautiful 15th-century architecture. It is also known for its thriving nightlife scene.

If you need a break after the nightclubs of Bucharest, the Balkan city of Sofia has a 2,000-year-old history with deep roots in its Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Soviet occupation, and offer easy access to some of the best Black Sea beaches. From Sofia head on to Serbia to discover Belgrade, a fort city that has been of great importance to the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Serbian, and Austrian empires.

Finally, take the train to Sarajevo to explore this thriving city that offers great food, craft beer, and lots of nightlife. Finish off this tour with a stop in Dubrovnik with its distinctive old town, before relaxing on the beautiful Adriatic coastline and islands beyond.

The 10 Best Scenic Train Routes in Europe

There is a multitude of different routes and train lines you can take to capture the real essence of Europe, but when it comes to the scenery, some journeys are just hands down much better than others. Here are 10 of the very best.

With picture-perfect mountains views, pristine vineyards, tranquil lakes, and pretty little villages, there is nowhere more beautifully recognizable than Switzerland for a real taste of Europe. The Golden Pass starts in Lucerne and ends in Montreux, and you can take a regular train or choose the Golden Pass Classic or Golden Pass Panoramic train services.

The Golden Pass is not serviced by a direct train. You will need to switch trains in Interlaken and Zweisimmen, where you can breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the magical era of the mountain railway.

Both Golden Pass services are covered by the Eurail pass, and you will need to make a reservation to ride.

This is a short but incredibly dramatic ride is so gorgeous that it has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status. As the trains speeds across stone bridges, through long dark tunnels, and over dramatic-looking viaducts you will take in mile upon mile of spectacular mountain landscapes.

Considered to be one of the greatest feats of civil engineering and railway building ever known, The Semmering Line is part of the Südbahn railway that runs between Vienna and Graz before continuing on to Trieste.

Eurail pass holders do not need to make reservations on this line and there are no additional fees.

Running from St. Pölten through to the pilgrimage destination of Mariazell, Austria’s longest narrow-gauge railway passes through 21 tunnels and crosses 19 viaducts, taking in breathtaking scenery along the way.

The first-class panoramic carriages are available on a seasonal basis and offer panoramic windows and onboard catering service — a must-see if you are visiting the region.

You can use your Eurail passes to travel on the Mariazell Railway and you only need to make a reservation if you wish to upgrade to the first-class carriages.

Take the train from Belgrade to Bar to witness some of the most spectacular scenery Europe has to offer. Traveling over 435 bridges and through 254 tunnels, this route is also a feat of engineering and a testament to the golden age of the railway.

As you head down towards the Adriatic, you can remain on the train or take a break for an overnight stop in the capital city of Podgorica with its historic old town and captivating modern architecture.

This route is covered by the Eurail pass, but you will need to make a reservation before you travel.

If you are heading north, the Rauma Line that runs from Åndalsnes to Dombås, taking in 78 miles (114 km) of world-class Scandinavian scenery is a must-do. Running through the Romsdalen Valley, the train quietly passes by some of the most spectacular mountain formations in Norway as well as the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, the Trollveggen wall.

From the train, you can also see the Kylling Bridge and take in the natural wilderness of the Reinheimen National Park.

The Rauma Line is fully included in your Eurail pass, and you do not need to make a reservation to ride.

This gentle railway route takes a scenic meander along the Rhine for 115 miles (185 km) starting in Cologne and traveling via Bonn, Koblenz, and Bingen to end in the town of Mainz. Running through the heart of the German wine country, you can enjoy mile upon mile of riverside vineyards, castles, and picturesque villages from the comfort of your carriage.

A Eurail Pass that is valid for Germany can also be used for travel on the Rhine Valley lines. Reservations are not necessary. Your Eurail Pass also offers a discount on boats operated by Köln-Düsseldorfer Rheinschiffahrt AG (KD Rhine line). Keep this in mind when traveling to and from the Rhine Valley railway.

Combine the best of both worlds with this train and boat journey across the Swiss Alps. The 5-hour trip offers a diverse range of scenery and the famous Gotthard line is a testament to some of the most impressive pieces of railway engineering, loops, bridges, and tunnels in the world.

Travel from Lucerne in central Switzerland to Lugano in the south, watching the scenery change from snow-capped mountains to palm trees and lakeside beaches.

A journey on the Gotthard Panorama Express is not included in your Eurail pass, and you will need to pay a surcharge to travel on this train. You will, however, get a 50% discount on the fare for your boat trip across Lake Lucerne.

Travel up as far as the Arctic Circle on this amazing railway route that takes you through magnificent forests and past towering peaks. Running from Kristinehamn in central Sweden to the depths of Swedish Lapland at Gällivare, this slow ride across the Land of the Midnight Sun takes in snow-capped peaks, tranquil lakes, herds of reindeer, and perpetual daylight in one of Europe’s most original, untouched landscapes.

Unlike some of the other scenic routes, the Inlandsbanan train is a simple, local affair that stops for breaks along the away to allow passengers to experience traditional Swedish food and meet the locals.

The Inlandsbanan is fully included in your Eurail pass, but you should book your seats in advance to avoid disappointment.

Running between Locarno, Switzerland and Domodossola, Italy, the Centovalli line takes you through the ‘Hundred Valleys,” affording first-class views of some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Europe.

The train ride is only 2 hours long, making it easily accessible for all, and during its 32 mile (52 km) duration it climbs the slopes to Trontano at about 1640 feet (500 meters), and further up to Santa Maria Maggiore before slowly descending past the beautiful scenery of the Valle Vigezzo and on to Locarno on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

A journey on The Centovalli Railway is fully included in your Eurail pass.

As perhaps one of the most famous railway lines in the world, the Glacier Express runs some 186 miles (300 km) across the Swiss Alps, taking in the stunning scenery between Zermatt and St. Moritz.

This railway line offers a relaxing service with the 8-hour journey being taken on the world’s slowest express train. It offers a comfortable way to see 3 cantons of Valais, Uri, and Graubünden, as well as breathtaking views of the Matterhorn and The Rhine Gorge, the “Grand Canyon” of Switzerland.

This panoramic journey through the heartland of Switzerland is a truly memorable way to see this part of Europe.

The Glacier Express is fully included in your Eurail Pass, but you should reserve your seats in advance to avoid disappointment.

Eurail and Europe Travel Tips

Traveling around Europe by train is easy to do, but there are some tricks that can make your adventure even more successful.

U.S. passport holders will need an ETIAS. ETIAS stands for the European Travel Information and Authorization System and you will be required to complete an online form and receive authorization prior to travel. The fee will be €7 which is just under $8.

Make your plans, but be prepared to be flexible when necessary. There are literally millions of amazing places to visit across the continent, and you will never find the time to see them all.

So, put a rough plan in place by all means. Jot down the places you really want to see how you intend to get there, and how long you want to stay, then go right ahead and go with the flow . Your Eurail pass will give the flexibility to jump on most trains as and when you want to, meaning that poor weather in 1 city or a delay in another won’t derail your plans completely.

Europe is, for the most part, an affordable place to visit due to the sheer number of cheap transport options and budget-friendly accommodations. That said, big cities and major tourist areas will be just as pricey as anywhere in the U.S. or the rest of the world. Knowing how to make your money go further is vital for a successful trip.

Backpackers, youth hostels, Airbnb, and basic budget B&Bs can be found all over the place, so skip the brochures and find an affordable place to stay.

Another great way to make sure you always spend your money wisely is to educate yourself on the exchange rates . While the currency of many European countries is the euro, there are still those outside of the eurozone that use their own currency. These are:

  • Bulgaria: Bulgarian lev (BGN)
  • Croatia: Croatian kuna (HRK)
  • Czech Republic: Czech koruna (CZK)
  • Denmark: Danish kroner (DKK)
  • Hungary: Hungarian forint (HUF)
  • Macedonia: Macedonian denar (MKD)
  • Norway: Norwegian krone (NOK)
  • Poland: Polish zloty (PLN)
  • Romania: Romania leu (RON)
  • Serbia: Serbian dinar (RSD)
  • Sweden: Swedish krona (SEK)
  • Switzerland: Swiss franc (CHF)
  • Turkey: Turkish lira (TRL)
  • United Kingdom: The Great Britain pound (GBP)

Hot Tip: In general, Eastern European countries offer the very best value for money, while Scandinavian countries can be some of the most expensive places to visit if you don’t dig deep for money-saving opportunities.

Europeans love a good festival, and with so many countries to choose from you are never far from a fun-filled celebration. Whether you choose to run with the bulls or throw squishy tomatoes in Spain, watch yacht races in Croatia or drink beer at Oktoberfest, there are always plenty of unusual occasions to join in with.

Do your research before you depart, as many of these festivals attract visitors from all over the world, meaning you should book tickets and accommodation well in advance.

Knowing what’s going on at your chosen destination works well in reverse, too. If you are looking for a quiet, romantic break, for example, you would be better to avoid some of the bigger, rowdier festivals as they may not be quite what you are looking for.

Whatever kind of accommodation you are looking for, you can be sure to find it in Europe. From cabins in the woods to tents in a field, 5-star hotels to youth hostels, luxury house rentals to flat-shares in the city — Europe has no shortage of excellent accommodation to suit every budget.

You can use hotel booking sites , websites for backpackers and budget-wary travelers, travel agents, internet forums, and even social media sites like Facebook to find accommodation all over Europe.

There are always ways to save money on your stay, even if you can’t bag accommodation as cheaply as you would like to. For example, European cities can be very expensive, and sometimes staying a few miles outside of the center can save you valuable euros.

Hot Tip: Your Eurail pass can also save you money on overnight stays. If you are traveling a long distance, why not book a couchette on the sleeper train — a cheap, fun, and excellent experience on your European adventure.

One of the very best reasons to travel the world is to get to know, understand, and appreciate other customs and cultures different from your own . In Europe, it is the norm to greet each other with a single kiss on the cheek in some countries, and a kiss on both cheeks in others.

Some countries operate on different timescales to others, often dependent on the climate and location. In Spain and Italy, for example, it is not unusual for shops and businesses to close during the heat of the afternoon, only to open again later into the evening. In France, it is normal to enjoy your evening meal quite late into the evening, and these family affairs often include children joining the adults to eat, too.

Bottom Line: While it is fun and interesting to see how customs and cultures change from 1 country to another, be sure that you know when shops are open, if you are expected to tip, or even local holidays, so as not to impact your travel plans in any way.

There are 24 different official languages spoken across Europe, with even more regional variations thrown into the mix still. You would have to be super clever to be conversationally fluent in all of them, but you could still get to know some of the key phrases for the individual countries you intend to visit before you leave.

Knowing how to say “please,” “thank you,” “how much,” and “can I have” are all incredibly helpful anywhere in the world. Not only will you gradually start to learn the local lingo as you listen to replies, but you will also be showing respect for your host nation by trying to speak to them in their own language.

Bottom Line: Whether you read a book, download an app or even go to night school, there are plenty of ways to learn any European language available to you before you set off, or even while you are traveling.

Europe is mostly a very safe place to visit, but as with everywhere in the world, some neighborhoods in large towns or cities can be risky for tourists after dark. Here are a few basic tips to remember:

  • Keep your wits about you and watch out for pickpockets in big cities.
  • Keep belongings close by at all times.
  • Don’t flaunt cash or expensive equipment.
  • Be aware of the good old distraction technique when exploring on your own.

There is no reason to feel unsafe, even if you are traveling alone — just use your street smarts and read up on no-go areas or general safety tips for each destination you are planning to visit.

Traveling in Europe is an exciting adventure. With so much to see and do, places to visit, and people to meet, a Eurail pass will allow you to move quickly and easily from 1 city or country to another, in the most stress-free and enjoyable way possible.

Take in the sights, meet new people, and make time to make new memories that will last you a lifetime.

Eurail Pass Alternatives

If the Eurail doesn’t feel right for you, or if indeed you aren’t planning on traveling extensively through Europe but rather staying in 1 single country, there are lots of other travel passes that can also save you money and offer you more flexibility than regular point-to-point tickets. Here are a few that are worth knowing about:

Switzerland is a great country to explore by train, and unlike some other European countries, there are virtually no extra supplements or reservation fees to worry about. You can hop-on and hop-off as often as you like, and take in some of the most beautiful mountain scenery right outside your window.

You can choose between a Swiss Travel Pass that offers continuous free travel, or a Swiss Travel Pass Flex that offers a fixed number of days travel in any 1 month period. Passes start from €220 (~$243), with discounts available for travelers between 16 and 26 years of age. Children under 16 travel free with a paying adult.

You can use the Swiss Travel Pass on a variety of trains, buses, and boats throughout the country.

The Paris Visite Card offers unlimited travel on the Paris Metro, tramway, bus, RER, and SNCF Transilien networks. You can use the pass between zones 1-3 which covers all of central Paris and 84% of all Paris attractions are included free in the Paris Pass.

If you want to travel further out to zone 4 and 5 (to visit the Palace of Versailles for example or travel to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport) there are small supplements you will need to pay.

Your Eurail card will cover you for wider use of the SNCF network, but if you are planning on spending time in Paris, these passes start from as little as €12 (~$13) depending on the zones covered and the number of days you intend to use it for.

Covering The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, this pass offers you the freedom to take multiple train journeys on a daily basis and offers discounted rates for travelers under 28 years of age and over 60. You can also choose between a first or second class pass for the duration of your stay. Full price adult passes start from €179 (~$198) for a 3 day travel period over 1 month using a Benelux Saver Pass.

Discover the beaches of the Algarve and the medieval cities of Lisbon and Faro using this handy travel pass, designed to offer reduced fare train travel throughout the country. This pass offers you unlimited travel for 3 or 7 days in a month, and prices start from just €73 (~$81) for an adult 3-day ticket.

You can use your pass on Alfa Pendular, Intercidades, Regional/InterRegional, and Urban trains including the Lisbon Urban Line’s very own Viva Viagem service.

The German railway network is one of the most efficient and advanced in the world, and the German Travel Pass gives you access to lots of different services without having to pay supplements or reservation fees.

There are lots of different options available, including discounts for younger and older travelers, and you can choose from flexible or consecutive travel days depending on your preference.

With typical German efficiency, your pass will offer you unlimited travel throughout Germany, even on the high-speed ICE trains, and you can even travel on selected routes outside of Germany, too.

Renfe offers its very own Spain Pass that includes a discounted set number of journeys on 1 ticket. It does not, however, offer unlimited travel. You can pay for between 4 and 12 journeys in any 1 month period, and there are no hidden reservation fees to worry about. The pass is valid on all AVE Long Distance and Medium Distance trains, but you will need to reserve your seat before your travel.

While this pass does offer unlimited first class travel on the national rail networks of Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, The Serbian Entity of Bosnia Herzegovina, and Turkey, rail travel in the Balkans is already pretty cheap, to begin with.

If you aren’t planning on taking a ton of train trips during your visit, it would probably be cheaper just to book each journey direct. If you do want to go ahead and purchase a pass, you can also travel on certain Attica group ferries, but you will need to reserve your seat in advance.

Prices start from as little as €91 (~$101) for a 3-day pass within a 2 month period.

Travelers to the U.K. can hop on and off trains without reservations or extra fees, either with or without a dedicated rail pass. The public transport system in the U.K. is incredibly easy to use, and while inter-city train tickets can be expensive if purchased on the day of, there are lots of deals to be had if you book in advance.

The BritRail Pass offers travel throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. If you are planning on staying exclusively in London for a longer period of time, you can purchase a visitor travel card for discounted travel across zones 1-6 of the London Underground.

This pass covers Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. It is even valid on all direct trains through Germany between Kufstein and Salzburg if the passenger does not change or leave the train. This pass has some neat little discounts attached to it, too, including money off Danube River trips and lots of deals on entrance tickets to well-known tourist attractions.

You won’t have to pay any supplements, but reserving your seats in advance is recommended for long-distance journeys. Prices start from €190 (~$210) for 5 days travel in 1 month.

Heading out to explore Europe has been a right of passage for generations of students, backpackers, and budget travelers since the 1950s. The extensive rail networks that crisscross the continent make it super easy to move around freely, taking in some of the most iconic cities, breathtaking scenery, and historical points of interest in the world.

If you are considering heading over to Europe in the near future, a Eurail pass offers you maximum flexibility for an affordable price, meaning you can make plans, change plans, and go ahead and enjoy Europe by rail as much as you want to.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are 2 types of Eurail passes: a 1 Country Pass or the Eurail Global Pass that allows travel in 31 countries. You can choose to travel for as little as 3 days in 1 month to a whole 3 months worth of travel.

Eurail passes are worth purchasing if you want the flexibility of changing your destination and days of travel. If you have fixed dates and destinations, and can book in advance, this may well be cheaper. It is also worth noting that Eurail passes have discounts for those under the age of 28 or over 60.

You can use a Eurail pass on Eurostar provided you book in advance and pay a seat reservation fee. You must also have either a Eurail Global Pass or a Eurail pass that is valid in the destination you are traveling to on Eurostar (i.e. France, Belgium or The Netherlands).

There are 31 countries that are included with an Eurail Global Pass. You can view a full list of countries here .

For a Eurail Global Pass, a standard second class adult pass for 3 days in 1 month is $247 (€224) rising to $1023 (€926) for a full 3 months of travel.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.


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10 tips for travelling on a Eurail Pass: Best Train Trip Travel Tips!

This past summer I spent 2 months travelling around Europe with a Eurail pass , where I took a total of 12 trains through 8 cities and 7 different countries. Over the course of the trip I rode a mix of high-speed trains and regional trains, I sat in crowded trains and empty trains, and I even missed a few tight connections.

10 tips for travelling on a Eurail Pass: Best Train Trip Travel Tips!

Travelling by train proved to be a really fun way to see Europe, however, I also picked up a few tips and tricks after having a couple of train mishaps along the way. For anyone thinking of seeing Europe with a Eurail pass, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The Rail Planner app is your best friend

What I loved about this app is that it downloads all the train schedules on to your phone so that you can access them offline. It’s perfect for planning your travels on the go and making alternate plans to catch a later train if you missed a tight connection. Also, the app allows you to filter your rail options based on: direct connections only, trains without a compulsory reservation, and trains with a bicycle carriage. Super handy!

Don’t forget to validate your Eurail pass

Your Eurail pass needs to be validated at a train station before you can start using it, and you want to give yourself plenty of time to do so. Don’t try validating your pass on a Sunday morning in small-town Germany when they run on restricted schedules…your train may leave before the office even opens!

Take extra care filling out your pass

It’s also really important that you fill out your pass every time you start a leg of your journey. Because the Eurail pass gives you a specific number of travel days within a certain time frame, if one of the train officials catches you with an incomplete pass, they’ll think you’re trying to squeeze some free travel days. Same goes if you make a mistake filling out your pass; if you try to change your mistake, this will look like tampering. You must fill out your pass in ink, and you want to be really careful since any errors could result in a lost travel day.

Be aware that some trains require reservations

Yes, even with your Eurail pass, some of the high speed trains and overnight trains require that you make a reservation ahead of time. You can check this on the Rail Planner app when you plot your route – trains requiring a reservation will be market with an ‘R’. Additional reservation fees and surcharges apply to these trains on top of the cost of your pass.

Consider taking the regional trains to save money

If you don’t want to pay additional fees to travel on certain high speed trains, and if you have time to spare, you can always opt for the regional trains that travel at a slower speed and make more frequent stops along the way. It may take you twice or thrice as long to reach your destination , but it’s a good opportunity to enjoy the scenery or read a book.

When I was travelling from Luxembourg to Paris , I had the option of taking the regional trains which would get me to Paris in 6 hours, or taking a direct high speed train that would have me there in 2 hours. Since the later required paying an additional fee, I opted to take the slower train and catch up on some work instead.

Know when to bite the bullet and pay out of pocket

Travelling on the regional trains may save you money , but if you need to cover a lengthy distance and you don’t want to spend 2 days stuck on a train, you’ll have to pay out of pocket to upgrade to the faster trains.

As an example, I needed to get from Paris to Madrid in a day. When I filtered the routes avoiding trains requiring a reservation, I found that the journey would take anywhere between 44-55 hours – I couldn’t do that. However, if I was willing to upgrade to trains requiring a reservation, I could cut my travel time down to 10 hours. Sometimes it’s worth paying out of pocket.

Need reservations? Make them well in advance

Train travel is a popular way to see Europe, and during the summer months certain routes can fill up. You don’t want to show up at the station a few hours before catching an overnight train from say Prague to Amsterdam, only to discover that there are no seats available. If you’re planning to travel on a route that requires a reservation, book it as soon as you have concrete travel plans.

Sometimes it’s worth missing a tight connection

If there’s one thing that stressed me out about train travel , it was the tight connections. I travelled on routes that gave me as little as 12 minutes to haul all my luggage off one train, check the timetable for my next connection, run halfway across the station to find the next platform, weave my way through a mass of people, and then haul my luggage onto the next train. That’s enough to make you break out into a mild panic!

That’s why I decided that sometimes it’s best to just miss that tight connection and catch the one leaving after that. If it’s a popular route, the next train may leave within the hour or sooner, which gives you plenty of time to grab a snack, go to the washroom, and find your way without feeling rushed.

Choose your pass carefully

I had a Global Pass that gave me 15 days of travel within a 2 month window, and it also gave me the freedom to travel through 28 countries. However, looking back, I hardly made use of all those available travel days! Before you get a pass, think about where you want to go, and then decide if you really need the Global Pass or if a One Country Pass or a Select Pass (that covers 2-4 neighbouring countries) would be more efficient and wallet-friendly.

Lastly, bring snacks on board!

I don’t know about you, but I like to snack all day long (it’s what keeps ‘hanger’ at bay). However, what I found was that not all trains sell food onboard. This is especially true of regional trains, so if you have a long travel day ahead of you, it’s best you bring a few snacks on board.

Tips for train travel in Europe with a Eurail Pass

Have you ever travelled on a Eurail pass? Do you have any train travel tips you’d like to share?

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This is super helpful guide- Thanks Audrey!! I’m looking forward to heading back to Europe soon, so this will be a great resource!

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‘Great tips Audrey!

I am a huge fan of travelling by train in Europe but I haven’t used the Eurail pass yet due to what you said in “choose your pass carefully” tip and because I tend to travel to one country at a time or in some cases, I’m travelling with our son which means it makes better financial sense to book with the train company directly because his fare is either completely and utterly free (Deutsche Bahn until the ages of 15!) or ridiculously reduced (Hungarian, Czech & Polish trains).

Always make a seat reservation during peak or evening travel as you don’t want to find yourself standing for hours at a time!

Charge all your necessary electrical stuff before you get on the train as many compartments don’t have plugholes.

Opt for compartments if you’re travelling inter-country as you can get to know your companions, you can actually see your luggage overhead, and there’s more space to stretch out!

Opt for seats with tables if you need to work.

If your train is delayed or late, ask the conductor for a confirmation / complaint sheet which yo can fill in and thus claim your fare back!

Enjoy the ride. 🙂

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Thanks for the tip on claiming fare back for delayed trains. I didn’t realize that was possible.

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This is really great information! I’ve only traveled on regional trains in France and the cost was included in my Paris City Pass. If only Latvia were connected to the European rail system! Oh the places I would go.

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Ah this brought back memories of my Eurail pass trip through Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Partly reservations and also some of the flexible ones. I love how you don’t have to arrive over 90mkn like before a flight check in. My one train went onto a ferry – very cool! And another train was stopped due to a bomb scare in a station en route on the 10year anniversary of 9-11, but I had some awesome people in my carriage so we made up for the inconvenience. Train stations are also better located in city centers than airports so sometimes a 5 hour train is less ‘travel time’ than a 2hr flight!

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The first Train Interior looks amazing, can you remember what Train it was?

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Couldn’t agree more, especially with booking the ticket/pass in advance. I can’t stress this one enough… The biggest advantage with booking in advance IMO is the price. I saved almost 50% of the ticket price by booking a few months in advance… It’s a common pitfall to treat ground transportation differently than flights… the truth of the matter is you can save an impressive amount of money by booking train (and bus) tickets in advance.

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A Guide to the Eurail Pass: What to Know About Train Travel in Europe

By Blane Bachelor

Berlin Cathedral with a bridge over Spree river in Autumn panoramic toned image

In the not-so-distant past, if you were a 20-something traveling around Europe , there’s a good chance your journey relied on a hefty backpack and a Eurail pass .

The pass, which has been around for 60 years, enables rail travel in 33 European countries and remains a popular choice among backpackers and beyond. The offering has evolved significantly since launching in 1959, expanding from 13 initial countries and, as of 2020, going digital, eliminating the need for pesky paper tickets. Other recent upgrades include a simplified pricing structure and more discounts for youth and senior fares.

On the flip side, critics say Eurail passes have lost some of their luster because of increasing restrictions and additional fees in recent years, as well as competition from budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet. Even so, it’s hard to beat the convenience and flexibility of a single-purchase rail pass—and arguably the most iconic way to journey throughout Europe, from Finland to Portugal to Turkey.

“It’s a classic way to get around Europe—it’s phenomenal,” says Mike Fuller, owner of , a U.S.-based site that sells Italian train tickets and is expected to soon offer Eurail passes. “There is a renaissance in rail travel among North Americans going to Europe.”

Considering a pass for your next European adventure? Here’s what to know before getting on board.

How do Eurail passes work?

First off: Eurail itself is not an operator. It’s a specific type of rail pass that enables international passengers to travel on national and regional rail carriers operating throughout Europe (its counterpart, Interrail , is available for European citizens and residents). Under a newer, more simplified pricing system, passengers can now choose between a Global Pass and a One-Country Pass .

With the Global Pass, options are based on train travel days within a certain amount of time, starting at four days within a one-month window for $216 (the most popular choice, starting at $473, offers 10 travel days within two months). On each travel day, pass holders can ride as many trains as they want from midnight to midnight. Be aware there are booking fees associated with each ride—more on that below.  

A One-Country pass, meanwhile, offers travel within one country or a particular region (like Benelux, covering Belgium, the Netherlands , and Luxembourg, or Scandinavia ). Options range from three to eight travel days within one month, with prices starting at $150 for Italy, one of the most popular destinations.

Eurail’s mobile pass and rail planner app have further simplified planning and logistics. The mobile pass is delivered straight to your inbox after purchase—no more waiting on a paper ticket in the mail or filling out a “travel diary” en route. Instead, passengers upload the mobile pass into the route planner app while connected to Wi-Fi and organize their trips from there. Once on board, inspectors validate the pass by scanning the barcode in the app.

Those digital enhancements have been increasingly popular, especially for U.S.-based travelers, according to Yi Ding, Eurail's business and growth manager. Ding says the features have added an extra layer of flexibility and convenience for passengers, many of whom now plan trips a few weeks in advance instead of months—one of several pandemic-fueled shifts in buying patterns. “We’re happy to really see that more than 90 percent of American travelers actually use the mobile pass instead of a paper pass to travel around Europe,” Ding says. 

How do you score the best deal?

Calculating the savings from a pass—and whether it’s worth it to buy one in the first place—can be a complex task involving a breakdown of your itinerary, estimated days of travel, comparing prices with point-to-point tickets, and other factors.

If you have an idea of how many cities and countries you want to visit over a certain number of days, you can price your options both ways—via a rail pass and then point-to-point tickets. Check out Eurail’s handy trip planning feature , which provides suggestions for the best type of pass for your itinerary. You can then see how those fares stack up against the cost of point-to-point tickets via individual countries’ rail operators or comparison sites like .

Also consider how much flexibility you need: Do you want the option, for example, to tack on a side trip based on a recommendation you picked up en route, or a more firm itinerary based on a transfer to a nonrefundable flight deal you scored? Generally speaking, “if your travel plans are firm and dates are fixed, you don't necessarily need a pass,” says Mark Smith, founder of The Man in Seat 61 , a website specializing in rail travel. “But if you want the freedom of waking up in the morning, and saying, ‘We’re in Berlin , should we go to Amsterdam or Warsaw?’, you don’t get that freedom with advance purchase tickets.”

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For some travelers, Smith suggests a “mix-and-match” approach. “Instead of buying, for example, a 10-days-in-2-months pass to cover eight or nine planned journeys, it can be cheaper to buy a 7-days-in-2-months pass plus a normal ticket for a day when you're only doing a short local hop such as Florence to Pisa, or a cheap advance-purchase ticket for a journey at the start of your trip that you know you plan to make,” he explains.

Finally, keep in mind that the convenience of a pass can offer significant non-monetary value, especially for longer journeys across one (or more) different countries. Buying point-to-point tickets often means navigating unfamiliar booking systems in various languages (and on websites that may have trouble with U.S. credit cards). And because different carriers have different booking platforms, that can mean multiple tickets for a single trip. If you’re not up for those extra steps, a pass is a good fit.

What about hidden costs?

Reservation fees , which are not included in the cost of the Eurail pass, can take some travelers by surprise. Even with the DIY option of self-service through the mobile app, you’ll pay a booking fee of €2 Euros per traveler per trip, plus a domestic train reservation fee , which varies per country and train type (night and high-speed trains, not surprisingly, are more expensive and almost universally require advance booking).

According to Eurail’s website, reservations average €10 for high-speed trains and €15 for international, but for the most popular routes in Western Europe, fees on certain routes—Paris to Basel, for example, can go as high as €68 (approximately $79).

Smith has a simple rule of thumb for getting a sense of pricier routes. “Draw a line right down the middle of Europe,” he notes. “To the left of that line, countries like France, Italy, and Spain are pass-unfriendly. To the right of that line, Switzerland, Benelux, Denmark , Germany, Austria and points east are pass-friendly. You generally don’t incur extra costs, and in most cases there are no reservations required.”

What about extra pass perks and discounts?

Among Eurail’s most well-known deals is its youth pass , which, as of 2019, is now available for travelers up to 28 years old. Seniors 60 and older, meanwhile, receive a 10 percent discount , while two kids up to 11 years old travel for free under an adult ticket.

Don’t forget about other discounts, either, from ferries to local trains to hotels—all of which can add up to significant savings. (In fact, the Greek Islands Pass was updated in 2019 to include ferry service to 53 islands—up from 28—making it an excellent choice for that island-hopping adventure on many a travel bucket list). Some discounts require advance reservations, while others are only available to be booked in person. Be sure to check the fine print for deals in the particular country you’ll be visiting.

Finally, if you see a great deal—like the 20 percent discount on passes that Eurail offered at the end of 2020—don’t be afraid to grab it and plan your trip later, as passes are now valid for 11 months after purchase.


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June 17, 2020 By Nicki

Complete Guide to Traveling with a Eurail Pass

A Eurail Pass is a pass valid for train travel throughout 33 countries in Europe. Trains are one of the best ways to travel around Europe as they are so easy to navigate and allow you to travel without having to rent a car or fly everywhere! We spent 3 full months traveling around Europe using our Eurail pass. Here is our complete guide to traveling with a Eurail Pass including picking the right one, how much it costs and what it actually covers!

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A Eurail Pass can be used on both long distance trains going from one country to another as well as local trains within a city or region. The fact that you can use it to travel to 33 countries makes it so convenient!

eurail travel tips

  • It allows you to travel by train without needing to book every single train individually. Your Eurail Pass acts as your train ticket so you simply show the conductor your pass and you’re good to go! It allows you to travel around Europe on whatever schedule you want.

Eurail Passes are exclusively for visitors that do not live within the EU . If you are a European resident and want to travel on trains you can purchase an Interrail Pass which is very similar.

Which Eurail Pass Do I Want?

For all Eurail Passes a travel day is a 24 hour period . During that period you can take as many trains as you like. After that 24 hour period is over the next train you take will count as the start of your next travel day. So if you know you are going to take trains on a lot of different days you will want a pass that gives you more travel days.

eurail travel tips

There are a few different Eurail Pass options and the best one for you largely depends on 2 factors:

  • The amount of time you are traveling for
  • The number of countries you are going to be visiting

If you’re only looking to visit 1 country then you can get a One Country Eurail Pass . It allows you to take trains throughout one country for 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8 travel days within a 1 month period. So if you’re looking to travel around Italy for example you can get a pass valid just for Italy to take trains to Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence or wherever else you want to visit!

If you want to visit more than one country you can also get a One Month Eurail Pass which gives you 4, 5 or 7 travel days (remember a travel day included unlimited trains for that 24 hour period) throughout one month. There is also a 2 Month Eurail Pass which gives you 10 or 15 travel days throughout two months if you want to travel for a little longer.

eurail travel tips

The last option is the Eurail Global Pass which gives you a set period of time where you can take unlimited number of trains. The difference between the global pass and the one or two month pass is that the global pass has no limit to number of travel days . You can also get a global pass for 15 days, 22 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months.

We purchased the Eurail Global Pass for 3 months . That meant we could take an unlimited number of trains for 3 months. We could take a train every single day for those 3 months or we could take a train every 2 weeks because there was no limit to the number of trains or travel days with the pass. It meant we could change our plans really easily!

Read More: 6 Tips for Taking Trains in Europe

How Much Does a Eurail Pass Cost?

One country passes or passes for only a couple of travel days are significantly less expensive than the passes for longer periods of time. If you are under 27 you can purchase a youth ticket which is discounted!

eurail travel tips

Our Eurail Global Passes cost $807 USD each . We purchased youth tickets (because we were under 27 at the time) which saved us a lot of money. All together it cost $1,617 USD for both of our Eurail Passes.

Throughout our 3 months in Europe we took a total of 100 trains visiting 15 different countries. So for us we saved so much money by buying a Eurail Pass and not paying for each train individually.

  • Had we paid for each train ride for our 3 months in Europe we would have traveled around much differently. Having the Eurail Pass meant we knew we could get to wherever we wanted on whatever type of schedule we wanted! We didn’t need to count travel days or count the number of trains we had already taken. We had so much flexibility and really took advantage of it!

Read More: 4 Day Guide to Visiting the Italian Riviera

Is There Anything a Eurail Pass Does Not Cover?

There are specific lists of train lines that the Eurail Pass covers in each country. It’s really helpful to know this ahead of time so you know when you’re planning your trip. Check out the list of Eurail Railways in Each Country to know what train companies are covered as well as in which country public transportation is covered.

  • In our 100 train rides the only time our Eurail Pass did not cover a train was one train ride from Interlaken to Grindelwald in Switzerland. Besides that one ride we never had a train route that was not covered!

Read More: Guide to 15 Beaches in the Algarve, Portugal

How Much are Reservation Fees?

In more popular countries such as Spain, France and Italy the train companies require reservations. Even though the Eurail Pass is your ticket you still need a reservation alongside your pass to ride the train. This is a fee from the train company , not Eurail, which is why it is not included in your Eurail Pass.

eurail travel tips

In general the routes that require reservation fees are some high-speed trains or faster routes while the slower trains or longer routes do not. If you do not want to pay reservation fees you can almost always take a different route for free . It may take longer to get to your destination but if you’re traveling on a budget it can save you money!

Reservation fees depend on the country and the train journey. We paid anywhere from 5-15 Euros each ($5-17 USD). It’s important to note though that not all 33 countries require reservations . There are many that do not!

We made almost all of our seat reservations at the train station either the day of or a few days before. You can make some of them online but not in every single country so make sure to look it up ahead of time. At the train station you simply go to the ticket counter, show your pass and say where and on what day you want to go. You pay the fee and are given a receipt that proves you paid the reservation fee. It is to be shown to the conductor along with your Eurail Pass when you are on the train.

eurail travel tips

Here are all the reservation fees we paid for during our 3 months in Europe. We paid for the most in Portugal and Spain. A lot of that is because we didn’t figure out how to choose a free route until we got to Italy. Our biggest piece of advice is to download the Rail Planner App to help you plan out your routes and also save yourself money!

Travel Truth : You need to be in the country you want to travel from to make your reservation at the train station. For example, if you are in Barcelona, Spain and want to travel from Barcelona to Nice, France you can buy the seat reservation for the train to Nice, France. If you want to continue on and go from Nice, France to Milan, Italy you can’t make that reservation until you are in France. It’s that way because it is a fee from the train company and the train operator is not the same between countries.

Read More: 10 Reasons You Should Visit Sifnos and Milos in Greece

How to Use Your Eurail Pass

When we first got to Europe we had no idea how using our Eurail pass would work. We knew it was our ticket but we weren’t sure what exactly that meant. Here is exactly how we used it in every country we visited!

The Eurail Pass acts as your ticket so you need to present it to the conductor on each train that you take. The top section of the pass has your name, passport number and length of time the pass is valid for. Then there is a section to write down each train that you take. When you get on each train you need to write down the date, the time of the train, your starting location and your destination. When the conductor comes around they will expect for the details to be already written down in your pass.

  • If you run out of lines there is an extra page in the Eurail pamphlet that is mailed with your pass to you. As well you can print a whole page of extra lines from the Eurail website if necessary. We ended up having to print 2 pages of extra lines out!

Sometimes the conductors will stamp your pass and other times they will just quickly glance at it. But it’s important that you have the train written down when they come around. If not you can get fined and have to pay the regular ticket price for that train.

  • You want to have a pen handy with your pass for this part. We kept both our passes and a pen in a ziplock bag in my purse so it was always easy to take them out!
  • The back of your Eurail Pass has a QR code on it. There are a few countries such as the Netherlands that have electronic gates to scan your ticket to both enter and exit the train stations. You will need to use this QR code to scan at the exit gates at the train station. If you’re stuck (like we were a few times) there is sometimes an attendant working or there is always a call button to help. Simply say you have a Eurail Pass and they will tell you the procedure for getting through!

Read More: 7 Day Spain Itinerary- Visiting Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona

How to Use the Rail Planner App

The Rail Planner App is an absolute must if you’re getting a Eurail Pass! It’s a completely free app that gives you the timetables of all trains throughout Europe. That means you don’t have to look online at each train company’s website to see what train times there are. You can also filter it to only show you trains within the Eurail Pass network so you know they are covered in your pass. As well you can filter it to show you only trains that do not require a reservation if you don’t want to pay the reservation fees.

So before a travel day I would put in our starting location and our destination into the app. It will then give you all the possible times for trains for that route. It tells you how long the train is as well as the number of transfers in the journey. For example, 2x means you need to transfer trains 2 times or take a total of 3 different trains.

eurail travel tips

For each train route it will give you the number of the train so you can find it at the train station as well as each stop the train will make and at what time it should be at each stop. This helps so much throughout the ride because you can check where you are along the route with the stops listed on the app. This is really helpful when all the announcements are in a language you don’t speak!

  • Trains that have a reservation fee will say additional reservation needed in orange. As well some will say additional reservation recommended in blue if it’s a popular train that sometimes fills up.

Read More: 7 Day Switzerland Itinerary

How to Buy a Eurail Pass

You can buy a Eurail Pass online on the website. However, it is physically mailed to you as it is an actual piece of paper. So it’s important that you order it with plenty of time for it to be mailed to you .

eurail travel tips

It took about a week from when we ordered our passes online to them getting to us on the east coast of the US. You need to activate or validate the pass in order to start using it. You can choose to activate it when you purchase the pass if you are immediately starting your trip or you can validate it at a train station in Europe when you’re ready to start using it. We just walked into the train station in Lisbon, Portugal and asked someone to help us activate it. They will write the date that the pass is active for directly on your pass that way the various conductors know if your pass is valid or not.

Interested in More Posts About Europe? Read Here!

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Eurail Pass Guide: The Complete Guide To A Fuss-Free Europe Trip

eurail travel tips

eurail travel tips

Here’s everything you need to know before embarking on that Eurail adventure around Europe.

*Get 15% off your Eurail Pass when you pre-book it before 1 Aug 2022

Travelling by train is one of our favourite ways to get around a country — 10 days from Tokyo to Osaka , 8 days from Taipei to Kaohsiung or even just 7 days from Seoul to Busan . But travelling across various countries is perhaps a whole new ball game.

eurail travel tips

And I won’t lie: Eurail Passes can be confusing. Some trains require reservations (which cost extra), some don’t. You can even get fined while travelling with a valid Eurail Pass!

After planning for our own Europe trips with the Global Eurail Pass , the Britrail Pass as well as the France Eurail Pass , here’s our guide to pre-trip planning, on-the-ground essentials and everything else in between.

Is The Eurail Pass Worth It?

Neuschwanstein castle - Baravia - Germany - Photogenic locations in Europe

A Eurail Pass is probably the most expensive item on your Europe trip, so naturally you’d want to maximise it to the fullest value. Depending on the number of days you’ll be travelling on trains, your Eurail Pass could cost anywhere between ~S$406 for a 5-day (1-month flexi) pass and ~S$533 for 15 days (2-month flexi).

For us, we bought a 7-day global flexi pass (Youth; ~S$362) for our 2 week trip in Europe (visiting 6 countries over 14 days) and managed to save a total of S$383.60.  (check out our Europe Budget Itinerary for details of the trip).

If planned properly while utilising the right pass, these rail passes will enable you to see more of Europe without worrying too much about spending a bomb.

Eurail pass - eurail pass guide

1) Selecting the Right Eurail Pass

The Eurail Pass comes with many price points depending on class, countries covered, and timeframe.

The  Global Pass  gives you access to 28 countries in Europe, with validity options ranging from 5 days to 3 months.

Class: Each pass is available in 1st and 2nd class options. While 1st class carriages have more leg room and amenities, 2nd class seats are actually pretty comfortable too.

Countries: Planning to cover more than one country? If not, a One Country Pass might be more cost-efficient. This includes options for the BritRail Pass, France Eurail Pass, German Rail Pass and more.

Looking for trip inspiration? Check out our itineraries utilising the various Eurail Passes: 7 days in 1 month Global Flexi Eurail Pass: 14-day Europe Itinerary under S$1.8k 3 days BritRail Flexi Pass:  10-day UK Itinerary under S$1.4k 5 days France Eurail Pass:  10-day France Itinerary under S$1.5k

Flexi or Continuous?  A continuous travel pass is comparatively cheaper than the flexi pass for the validity but the flexi allows you to spend more time in a single city.

For example, a 15-day consecutive pass will cost around S$760 for an adult ticket in the second class but a 15-day flexi pass (valid for 2 months) will cost around S$1460 — that’s double the price!

Pro-tip: Maximising your flexi pass

Don’t waste a day of your Eurail flexi pass on a short train ride. It could work out to be cheaper if you buy a single ticket instead.

To see if it is worth using your pass, take the cost of the pass divided by the number of travel days, i.e. if the pass costs $700 and the number of travel days is 10, the average cost per day will be $70. If the only train ride you’re taking for the day costs $42, you’re essentially paying $70 for that train ride instead of $42. Instead, just get single tickets for the day and save the flexi pass travel days with more expensive train rides.

2) Are you eligible for discounts?

Mont saint michel - France - Photogenic locations in Europe

– 60 years old and above: Get 10% off with the Senior Pass – 27 years old and below: Get 25% off with the Youth Pass – Have children below the age of 11: Up to 2 kids travel with you for free with the   Family Pass.  No passes are required for kids 3 years old and below.

Sometimes there are additional special offers. BritRail had a Royal Wedding Offer in 2018, which gives you a free extra travel day on the BritRail Pass purchased.

3) Purchase a Eurail Pass before your trip (Singapore)

Chain Bridge - Budapest - Hungary - Photogenic locations in Europe

Eurail Passes can be bought when you arrive in Europe but are more expensive, and the ticket offices are often really crowded. If you’d like to make reservations on popular overnight trains, you also need to have your pass available in advance as these bookings take 7–10 days to arrive by mail.

The best way to get ready for your trip is to order your pass online from local vendors like  Klook . Make sure to add the Youth pass to cart if you’re 27 years old and under for 25% off. Not only are they the cheapest in the market, they now come in mobile passes so no waiting time is needed.

4) Making Train Reservations

Gondolas - Venice - eurail pass guide

Not all trains require reservations but it’s highly recommended for long-haul journeys. Some trains are entirely free to ride with the Eurail Pass, while others will require a top-up even with the Eurail Pass (see points 5 and 6). Here are 2 ways you can go about booking your trains:

Train Tickets can be purchased using the Rail Planner App .

If you’re getting your passes through Klook, you can reserve your seats through Klook to avoid extra booking fees! Be sure to check ‘I already have a rail pass’ in order to get discounts on certain train routes.

For example, the Paris to London train ticket might cost ~S$186 but if you select ‘I already have a rail pass’, that same train reservation will cost ~S$47.

Reservations will be mailed to your doorstep so and take about 7–10 days. Be sure to book it at least 10 days before departure — seats can be reserved up to 90 days in advance.

2) At the train station:  If there isn’t enough time to reserve online, fret not because reservations can be made in Europe too. Head to any train ticket office at least 1 hour before the train is scheduled to depart, and you will receive your reservation tickets right away. Your best bet is to have the first few days of train schedules planned out so you can reserve them altogether at the first ticket office you visit in Europe.

5) Free Trains Under The Eurail Pass

regional train interior - eurail pass guide

Regional Trains

This is the most basic way of exploring Europe by train. Regional trains might not be fast or luxurious but are still a comfortable way to get around.

The Eurail Pass covers most regional trains and no reservations are required, so you can take these trains for free.

In addition, they provide you with the flexibility of being able to simply hop onto the next train if you miss yours.

It’s possible to get around with just regional trains, but it will take a longer time. We took a high speed train from Budapest to Ljubljana which took about 8 hours and €4.50 (~S$7.05) per person, but taking a regional train for free would’ve taken us up to 20 hours over 4 transfers.

Scenic Trains

Enjoy the views of mountain ranges and endless greenery in the comforts of your seat on a scenic train. Most scenic trains do not require a reservation except for a few such as the Bernina Express  — runs from Switzerland to Italy and has a special panoramic cabin that will require reservations.

6) Trains that Require a Top-up / Reservation Fee

sleeper train interior - eurail pass guide

Night Trains (a.k.a Sleeper Trains)

Night trains are a great way to save time and money on accommodation. From reclining seats to cabins with private toilets, the top-up fee for these trains can vary quite a bit.

Reservation is required for all-night trains and the fees differ depending on how luxurious your option is. Reclining seats cost about €3 (S$4.78) and beds can go up to €140 (S$223.19) even with a Eurail pass.

Note that it’s common practice for the train conductor to keep your passes until the next morning so that they do not have to wake you up for border control checks.

High Speed Trains

High speed trains  cover long distances in a much shorter period of time, compared to regional trains but can cost up to €155 (~S$247.71) just for the reservation fee.

When You Arrive in Europe

*Update (as of 6 July 2022): A Mobile Pass is now available instead of a physical ticket. The entire process of planning your trip to boarding the train can be done on the Rail Planner app .

For ticket inspection using the Mobile Pass, go to My Pass on the Rail Planner app and tap “Show ticket”.

1) Validate Your Pass

Validating Eurail pass - Eurail pass guide_

The Eurail Pass has to be stamped by a railway official in order for it to be valid. Upon arrival in Europe, head to any ticket office — usually found in larger train stations — and they will validate the pass for you.

2) Record Your Journey(s)

There are 2 parts to the Eurail Pass: the Travel Calendar and Travel Diary.

Travel Calendar (for flexi pass only)

For every day that you use your Eurail Pass, you have to write down the date in the travel calendar. Fill up the date on the top row, followed by the month on the bottom (e.g. if you’re travelling on 28 April, the box on top will be “28”, and the one below will be “04”).

Filled in travel Calendar - eurail pass guide

Travel Diary

Details of each trip need to be recorded in the travel diary section. This applies to both flexi and continuous passes.

Filled up eurail Pass travel diary - Eurail pass guide_

The train conductor will come around to check your pass and put a dated stamp on the “control area” of the travel diary and calendar. You will be fined €50 (~S$79.77) and your Eurail Pass will no longer be valid if the travel calendar and diary are not filled in.

If you board a train (or more than one train) that departs after 7PM and has a final stop that’s after 4AM, only the day of arrival needs to be written in the travel calendar, even if you leave the train before 4AM.

For example, if you’re boarding the 11:04PM train from Prague on 23 April that will arrive at 7AM, 24 April in Vienna, you only need to write 24 April in your Travel Calendar.

The 7PM rule only applies after the activation of your pass. This means that if your pass is activated on 19 April, you cannot use the 7PM rule on the evening of 18 April.

3) Board The Right Train

Train stations can be confusing but you’ll be able to locate the right platform to board as long as you know the following: last station the train is headed to, departure time, and platform number.

Train information - Eurail pass guide_

Google Maps:

If you do not have an internet connection, you can make use of the  Rail Planner Mobile Application  which is available offline with information on all the train departure timings.

Train station in Rome - eurail pass guide

Platform:  You can get the platform number at the station itself, usually near the platforms. Look out for a big LED screen with yellow text for information on your departure time, train number and destination which will correspond with the platform number.

Train to Fussen- eurail pass guide

Departing Time:  Once you’re at the right platform, check the screens on the platform itself to make sure the departing time is correct.

There may be more than one train departing from the same platform, but to a different destination. Especially if you arrive early, make sure to double check before boarding.

Cart number on train door - Eurail pass guide_

Cart/Wagon and Seat Number:  If you have a reservation, you will be given a cart/wagon number together with a seat number. Look out for the number printed on the doors of the train. Getting into the right cart will help you locate your seat easily.

Seat numbers are usually located above the seats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do i store my luggage.

There are usually spaces near the doors of the train for you to store your luggages. However, the space is limited and based on a first-come-first-served basis.

We suggest using the overhead compartment to store your belongings, unless you are sitting near the doors where you can keep an eye on your bags. The overhead compartments can fit a 9x14x22-inch luggage (carry-on size) easily. We also managed to fit our 60L backpacks in the overhead compartments.

Is food allowed on the train?

Food is allowed on trains and some even come with an onboard restaurant. On some occasions, there will be train staff with pushcarts selling snacks and coffee. However, this isn’t always the case so it’s best to buy your own food from the shops at the train stations or vending machines; not every train sells food onboard.

For sleeper trains, breakfast is included in the reservation fee.

How can I change my reservation?

You cannot make changes to your reservations online. You will have to cancel your existing reservation and make a new reservation.

Are cancellations 100% refundable?

Not all cancellations are refundable. There are certain train routes that are 100% refundable but there are also some that will incur a 15 – 20% penalty when cancelled. Handling fees will also not be refunded. It will be stated if the route booked is refundable during the booking process so take note of that. The refund will be credited back to the card you used to pay for the reservation.

Alternatively, you can also get your cancellations done at a train station office in Europe itself.

How punctual are the trains?

Departure times are very punctual so arrive early to avoid missing your trains. Any delays will be reflected on the station’s electronic boards.

If you’re on the train, prepare and pack up in advance because there won’t be a lot of time to disembark.

Arrivals can vary by a few minutes.

Do you need your passport when crossing borders?

Yes you do, so keep your passport accessible. There will be border control officers getting on board the train to check your identification.

Other than trains, what other benefits can you get from the Eurail Pass?

Eurail Passes offer discounted rates for European ferry routes and boats.

We hope you found this Eurail Pass guide useful! For itineraries by rail, check out our articles below:

7 days in 1 month Global Flexi Eurail Pass: 16-day Europe Itinerary under S$1,900 3 days BritRail Flexi Pass:  10-day UK Itinerary under S$1,400 5 days France Eurail Pass:  10-day France Itinerary under S$1,800

Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions regarding the Eurail Pass! That way, we can keep this guide constantly updated. 🙂

This post was brought to you by Klook .

Follow us on  Facebook , Instagram , and YouTube  for more travel inspirations!

  A post shared by The Travel Intern (@thetravelintern) on Apr 30, 2018 at 1:51am PDT


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For the Eurail pass (we are going to Italy), I am aware the trains all require reservations. On theEurail reservations sites, for each segment of the trip, the reservation fee is 10E per pax. However there is also a 15E booking fee. My question is – given we are traveling in the low season (early Dec), if I may the seat reservations at the station itself 2 days before the journey, will the machines at the station ALSO charge a booking fee? So reserve online now or at the station if I wish to save 3 x 15E?

Hi Fawzi, I’m sorry I’m unable to advise on seat reservations during low season as we did not travel to Italy during that period. Will you only be travelling around Italy? If yes, you will not need to get a Eurail pass as it may not be as cost-saving. You can check for local trains’ fares within Italy, it might be cheaper than getting the Eurail pass. Hope this helps! 🙂

Hi, Im planning a trip now for May 2020. But I do not have the specific dates yet, and there’s an Eurail pass sale now that ends in 30th December. Am I able to purchase the pass now and activate it anytime in May? Or do I have to commit to specific dates in May when purchasing the pass? Thanks!

Hi, Eurail passes must be activated within 11 months from the date of issue, so you can purchase it now for your trip in May 2020. Hope this helps! 🙂

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20 Tips for Eurorailing Around Europe for first time backpackers

April 29, 2017 by Karen Turner 34 Comments

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As an American who did my first Eurotrip after graduating college AND now a European resident, I’ve learned a lot lessons about train travel in Europe.

These are tips for traveling around Europe by train for first-timers considering buying the Eurail pass, which is available to non-European citizens.

eurail travel tips

Non-European citizens living in Europe can also buy the Eurail pass, but you cannot use it in your country of residence.  (Interrail is only for EU Citizens, so interrailing does differ in some ways.  However many of these tips for European train travel might still be useful!)

Is Eurorail Worth it? / Should you buy a Eurail Pass?

Doing a Eurotrip by train is NOT the cheapest way to get around nor is it the fastest, however it is beautiful and easy.  Eurorail passes are worth it IF you plan on taking a lot of high speed trains and you want to have more flexibility in your schedule.

If you want to visit European cities (especially capitals), rather than smaller cities, national parks, or islands, the Eurail is worth it.

The Eurail pass is most valuable for the high speed international trains that go longer distances between countries (e.g. Milan to Barcelona), however these routes can be more quickly covered by planes.

However, if your goal is to travel as cheaply as possible, the eurail global pass is not the way to go it. It’s often cheaper just to purchase a slower regional ticket (often 1/3 the price!) once you arrive in the country or taking a long bus trip on a local bus carrier (depending on country) or Flixbus .

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

You might need a visa depending on your nationality.

Europe has many countries although not ALL are part of the Schengen Zone. If you’re American or Canadian, you don’t need a visa  for the Schengen Zone , but depending on your nationality, you might need to apply for a visa ahead.  Contact an embassy of a country that you’ll be visiting.

If you’re wondering which countries are in the Schengen Zone… the Schengen Zone is comprised of 26 countries that have no borders within them.

These countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

NOT Schengen countries with their own laws regulating immigration : United Kingdom, Romania, Ireland, Serbia , Kosovo , Turkey (Not EU as well!), Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania , Croatia, Bulgaria,  and Cyprus.

Americans: You have 90 days IN the Schengen zone every 6 months as a tourist (no working!). Choose your countries wisely.

If it’s  not  one of the Schengen countries, you are subject to immigration laws from that country. If you’re hopping in and out of the Schengen zone, your clock is NOT reset, but it is paused. It is 90 days PER six months.

It depends on your country of origin, but Americans are allowed to travel the following countries as tourists for a maximum of this time: 6 months in the UK as a tourist, 1 year in Bosnia, 3 months in Romania… This is in addition to the 90 days in the Schengen zone, which means that you can travel in Europe longer than 3 months!

So if you wanted to spend 1 month in the UK after spending 2 months in Schengen, you can go back to Schengen for an additional 30 days to finish your time. If you’re unsure where you stand, there’s a number of Schengen calculators online. 

Book your flight out of Schengen ahead.

Unless you’re unsure where your travels will take you, your flight will probably NOT get cheaper if you wait until the week before to book or you’re simply heading to the UK (or another non-Schengen country nearby).

If you’re not careful, you’ll end up in the middle of the Schengen zone with your 90 days up scrambling to get to the nearest non-Schengen country. Some countries (non-Schengen) may want to see proof of onward travel, so a plane ticket home is typically the best way to save on costs.

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

Do n’t buy the global pass by default; Figure out how many countries you want to visit ahead.

The global Eurail pass is expensive and if you’re planning on visiting less than 4 countries that are close to each other, you’re better off getting a Eurail select pass (which allows you to select which countries you visit.

Even cheaper: possibly getting budget flights and taking the train only  within each country  rather than between them.  I did 10 countries during my trip, which made it worthwhile.

A lot of people feel pressured to visit more than 4 countries. There’s nothing wrong with spending 3 months in Italy visiting small towns/vineyards, strolling around around medieval cities, and seeing epic landscapes (the Dolomites!).

Many European countries have so  much to offer beyond their capitals if you’re willing to explore off the beaten path places, and for introverts, the backpacker route can be quite stressful as you’re constantly moving between places with little time/little privacy to relax if you’re going with friends or staying at hostels.

The cost is NOT just the pass. You also need to factor in seat reservations & public transit.

Just because you paid for the global Eurorail pass, you need to reserve your seat on the train. This is  not  free.  This can be done ahead (best for popular routes in summer) or at the train station about 1-2 days prior to your departure.   (You can check the cost of train journeys on seat61 .)

For popular routes (e.g. overnight trains between destinations) in summer, you’ll want to book as far ahead as possible.  The other trains will be easier–but make sure you make your long routes!

Public transit in most cities is  not  included with your pass, so you still need to pay for public transit once you arrive to Paris or Amsterdam.

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

Don’t lose your Eurorail ticket & Remember to activate your Eurail pass once you get to Europe!

You have no idea how many people I’ve seen crying in a hostel over Eurail passes gone wrong.

Do n’t overdo your itinerary.  24 hours in Paris is NOT enough.

Give yourself proper time to see what you want to see. Being on a schedule is exhausting when you’ll miss seeing what you want to see–unless everything goes to plane. Then, you can’t stop for those magical moment that make travel special. Also, if you meet someone really awesome,  your schedule will make it hard to reschedule your trip.

Only 24 hours in Paris? If this is the only way and it’s a must, why not? However, some cities need TIME. Paris needs around 5 days and sometimes it’s worth skipping a city if you’ll be rushing your way through it unable to enjoy it properly.  

Click for my complete European itinerary for two months in Europe

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

Pick two: Cost, flexibility, and time.

Things that are fast, great, and cheap don’t exist when it comes to budget travel AND eurorailing.   That cheap 6am train direct to your next city?

Imagine booking it to the train station after staying out until 4am. Trust me, you’ll wish you picked the 9am train. You’ll be dead by the time you get there.

Also that 15 hour train ride that would be a 1 hour plane ride? Just take the budget flight.  By the 2nd transfer with 10 minutes to find the next track, you’ll be  over  that scenic train ride and want to be there already.

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

Don’t overpack

You’ll be surprised how little you’ll actually wear.  (You don’t need that dress just in case you get invited to a royal brunch.)

One of the best ways to pack is to think of your clothes as a capsule collection and ask yourself: does X going with everything else? Can I make 3 outfits from it? If not, you’re going to find that you won’t use it.

It is is  still  a good idea to have one item of clothing (whether it is a dress or a shirt) that dresses up your entire outfit.

Similarly, you’ll want 2 pairs of shoes: a normal casual pair of shoes (sandals/chic flats) and a pair of sneakers for those long walking days/hiking.  I often try to leave 30% of my bag empty, so I can bring home souvenirs!  Click for my carry-on packing tips!

Don’t bring a rolling suitcase. 

Rolling your suitcase on cobblestones is a recipe for disaster and your suitcase’s wheels will die. Replacing them is sometimes impossible/expensive, so you’re going to end up spending more than you intended on a new suitcase. After spending almost a month “backpacking” around small Italian villages with a rolling suitcase, I swore them off.

As someone who has visited 18 countries (including most of Europe) in the past 2 years, I only use backpacks (Quechua 50L) and/or cabin-only bags. (Bags that aren’t typical backpackers bags, e.g. day-bags or smart-looking backpacks, are great for blending in.) RIP little weekend carry-on bag. My latest European travel bag has been the Tortuga Setout Backpack .

Despite an awful experience missing a flight and being forced to take two budget flights (where you’re charged for a normal carry-on luggage bag).  This means that you won’t need to pay baggage fees on budget airlines and there will always be space for your bag at the hostel.

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

Eastern Europe is not as train friendly as you would expect.

Eastern Europe is decent for trains, but often buses are cheaper and run more often. Many countries in the Balkans are  not  part of Schengen, so if you’re running out of days in Schengen, save money and live it up on a budget by taking a bus to Serbia. I took a bus in Serbia and I must say that the buses were better!

I tried for the longest time to travel from Hungary to Slovenia via Croatia…and back. This would have been over 12 hours in transit each way with going through 3 different countries en route from Croatia (including Dubrovnik) to Budapest…. I realized I’d have more time  and  it would be as just as cheap to take a Ryanair flight to Italy and back.

If you want to visit smaller (and/or off the beaten path) cities or national parks, trains are not always the best way of getting around and you should plan for spending more money on other forms of transit.

I thought I’d be taken with capitals, but as soon as I got to Italy & Portugal, I ended up spending my time in small towns that were not fully accessible by trains.

Only with a lot of planning, 1 train, many regional buses, and sheer determination, it was possible to get to some of the towns in Italy that I visited that many people only visit by car.

Buses were simply easier, cheaper, faster, and better for getting around Portugal.  Similarly, a lot of national parks tend to be more accessible by regional bus.

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

14. Don’t bother buying a bunk on an overnight train

You will NOT sleep well on an overnight train, so if you think you’re saving on having a hostel, splurging for a bed will  not  make a difference. Just save the money and get a chair since you won’t sleep anyways.

Reserve your seat ahead for non-regional trains! Plan your route ahead; there’s no fault in flying

Part of Eurorailing is reserving your seat on the train IF you plan on taking non-regional trains (like you probably will).  This is especially important for overnight trains.

The cool thing about a Eurorail pass is that it’s flexible, but the downside is that if you impromptly decide to go to Berlin from Italy or miss your train, you’ll need to make a new reservation and reserve seats.

This might mean that you need to wait another two days for a long distance train (although spending two more days in Italy is not so bad!).  Alternatively, you can usually take a few regional trains to save on reservation costs, but this will take longer and require more transfers.

The cost of an overnight train is often twice as much as a flight going the same length. There is something magical about seeing the mountains around dawn (when you can’t sleep), but it’s usually worth seeing if there’s a budget flight going the same route, so you can arrive the same evening.

A good excel with a rough itinerary is a good start. I ended up taking a plane from Porto to Paris after I realized how long and indirect the train would be. Instead, I paid 30 euros for a 1.5 hour flight on Ryanair.

Do n’t cut it too close & always check the station the day BEFORE.

Don’t cut it too close. You NEVER know when your train is on the furthest track on the other side of the train station and you’ll be running for the train.  There might not be security, but in a large train station like Berlin, you might need to sprint across 20 tracks to get to yours.

Always check the station before you go .  I had just seen the words  Budapest , so I went to the main station.  It turned out that the train was from  another  train station across Budapest.

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

Stay close to the train station (sometimes). Read about the area ahead.

If you’re staying at hostels or hotels along the way, sometimes it’s really nice being close to the train station (e.g. Amsterdam ) since it makes public transit easier.

Other times, the train station area is legitimately a bad area–and you’ll not want to go outside at night as a result of not feeling safe.

Carefully read the reviews of the hostels/hotels and think about public transit, so you’re not forced to take cabs/expensive trains around.

Do n’t be afraid to talk to people, especially locals on the train

As a New Yorker, I tend to be skeptical of people, especially strangers. When you’re on the train, you’re going to be sitting across from strangers who often live in the exact place you’re visiting. There’s nothing wrong with using some awkwardness to ask where they’re headed.

Sometimes, you’ll end up with a killer local tip or even a FREE dinner.  I was lucky enough to sit next to an Italian grandmother who was happy to tell me in Italian about her daughter as well as the story of her life (luckily very interesting!) after inquiring about my visit to Rome. After a long train ride, she invited me to her favorite restaurant in Rome: an authentic Pakistani meal where she refused to let me pay.

There’s nothing wrong with slower regional trains.

I avoided them like the plague on my first backpacking trip.  You can simply book most regional European trains directly at the station a few days ahead without any issues (barring a major holiday).  It’s often cheaper (although sometimes slower) to take regional trains, but you might discover some beautiful train routes.

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

Don’t be afraid to skip cities/attractions that you don’t want to go to & do the things  YOU  want to do.

A lot of people on their first trip around Europe by train feel obligated to check off a certain number of countries and/or see certain attractions.

The reality is that every attraction is not everyone’s cup of tea (cough: Heineken experience), however never be afraid to seek out the kind of experiences you want.  I’m a huge literature geek, so when I visited Venice, I  had  to visit the beautiful Acqua Alta bookstore.

Everyone has their own thing that they love to do on vacation whether it’s seeing beer manufactured, national parks, foodie experiences, or simply getting to the beach. Just do you and don’t let others’ expectations dictate what your Eurorail trip is like!

What’s your experience with Eurorail? Any questions about Eurail that you’d like to see answered?

  • Your perfect Eurail itinerary
  • How to pack with a carry-on
  • Packing list for one month (or more) in Europe

Tips for eurorailing around Europe and whether you should buy a Eurail tips. Travel Advice for train travel within Europe for first time backpackers.

About Karen Turner

New Yorker–born and raised. Currently living in the Hague, the Netherlands after stints in Paris and Amsterdam. Lover of travel, adventure, nature, city, dresses, and cats.

Reader Interactions

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April 30, 2017 at 12:09 am

It’s funny. Eurail is like the thing people talk about doing in Europe and I always assumed it was a cheap way to travel. However, after bussing it through Cuba, I have mixed feelings about long-distance public transport. It’s a great way to see a large expanse of geography, but it can be a hassle.

April 30, 2017 at 12:16 am

I’ve been to Europe a few times but never purchased a eurorail pass. Great tips!

April 30, 2017 at 12:28 am

This is such a cool post! I would live to see Europe by rail. Pinning for later. Thanks!

April 30, 2017 at 12:39 am

I travelled around Europe for almost 2 months using Eurail. It definitely isn’t the most cost effective way to travel but it was right for what my friend and I were doing as neither of us had seen much of Europe and were mainly interested in seeing large cities. It was only slightly cheaper than it would have been if we had booked individual train tickets to each of our destinations. I definitely agree with you re: no rolling suitcases. Neither of us had one and it saved us loads of trouble! Some train stations are definitely very confusing as well! When I go back to Europe to travel I’ll probably forego the Eurail pass as I have lots of smaller cities and regions on my mind 🙂

April 30, 2017 at 12:47 am

Thanks Alex! I was also only interested in capitals back then, but I’ve definitely learned to appreciate smaller cities since then! I realized mid-trip how much money I could save by not having the Eurail pass based on how many long-distance train rides I did…. yeah, a good lesson to be learned.  

April 30, 2017 at 12:44 am

I love this! I will be Eurailing around Europe in June so these tips are fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing.

April 30, 2017 at 1:10 am

Great list! Very honest and detailed. And I couldn’t agree more with the not overdoing your itinerary! Europe has a lot to offer and you just can’t see it all in a couple of weeks!

April 30, 2017 at 2:56 am

I’ve always wanted to eurorail! Thank you for all these tips! They will be so useful if I finally plan that backpacking trip!

April 30, 2017 at 3:55 am

Karen this an incredible post! I have never been to Europe ! Hoping to go in 2018… thus will be so helpful! I had no idea about the zone you are speaking of ha…. untraveled outside us and Canada..

April 30, 2017 at 2:40 pm

This is so thorough and informative. Been planning a Europe trip for years and this will be very helpful. Will bookmark for reference. Thank you.

April 30, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Great tips! Thank you for your honesty – a lot of blogs recommend a Eurorail pass just because it’s easiest and what everyone is used to. I’ve traveled with one before and it’s fantastic – but someone else bought the pass for me! When we went back most recently we traveled by bus because it’s SO much cheaper. But we missed the train experience!

April 30, 2017 at 4:18 pm

I am so impressed with this guide! I had many questions that you answered so well. You also brought up so many issues that are so wise to consider for train travel. The Balkans are tough to get around! Definitely saving this post!

April 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Back in the day whe I was exploring Europe a bit more than I do nowadays I never really ended up buying this pass. I love trains, but I think that budget airlines make more sense when you’re based in Europe already and you can choose to visit a place whenever a flight costs the cheapest. But the train pass, in my opinion, is great when you plan on moving around a lot within a certain frame time. So I guess that despite the fact that I never chose to use it, it’s great that it still exists, as that was what was moving people around Europe before cheap airlines became the most popular way to travel around Europe on a budget.

April 30, 2017 at 4:52 pm

That is the best tips I’ve read about Eurorail! I’m from Germany and took a lot of trips with the train,but you really have to know where and when you want to go. I’ve seen so many tourists that were jjust frustrated because they didn’t plan right. They should have had your tips. Amazing work.

April 30, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Funny thing is, I lived in Europe for two years and always told myself that I would do the Eurorail, but in the end, I never did! I suppose it was because I never saved up enough money to truly go through it, or find enough time to go through and really enjoy my stay in each country. I loved this guide of tips, because this is such a great thing that Europe has that makes traveling so easy!

April 30, 2017 at 5:27 pm

YESSSS to number 8 and 10! So many places (especially the cities) in Europe require a ton time tor really get to know and absorb the culture. With 24 hours I can’t even image you’d break the surface! And the amount of times I’ve convinced myself I need that extra sweater or pair of shoes and then never worn them is embarrassingly high!!!

I’ve actually been meaning to check out the options of the pass so this really helped. Thanks, hon! xx

April 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Whew- didn’t realize the Eurorail Pass came with so many rules! I lived overseas for a while and bought an Inter-rail Pass, which was 1 month of travel through Europe, Turkey & Morocco. Took lots of night trains to save on accommodation costs. It was a crazy month! Always bring some water & food, because you might not get any on those long train rides- nearly melted from dehydration on the Marrakesh run!

April 30, 2017 at 6:40 pm

This list is spot on! One of the most overlooked aspect to traveling by train is to NOT OVERPACK. Lordy I wish I would have listened to the experienced travelers more before embarking on my 3 month Europe trip.. with a 70L backpack full to the brim. Also love how you included Eastern Europe on here. One more thing to note us that the quality of trains vastly differ, there was stark difference from my overnight train in Bulgaria to the one from Copenhagen to Germany.

April 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm

That must be amazing to do a Eurotrip via the train. Great post full of useful tips! I agree, trains in the Eastern Europe are not the same as in the Western. I love trains in the west. Everuthing is well connected even with the high speed trains. Paris, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, London,…

April 30, 2017 at 8:06 pm

Its good to know that the Balkans are not part of Schengen. I knew that before but as a reminder that Schengen regions include Norway and Switzerland but are not EU member countries so it can get confusing what is and isn’t in Schengen. My favorite trains have been through Switzerland and Austria. Really gorgeous scenery! I prefer to fly if the trip is longer than 4 hours by train. Its much easier. For weekend trips, I do agree that taking a backpack with the basics is the best way. I am one of those people that does use a rolling luggage – but I find that its fairly easy and cheap to get a taxi or uber in some Southern European and Eastern European countries. What I would do is take the train or airport bus from the airport then take a short taxi ride to my hotel or airbnb.

April 30, 2017 at 8:13 pm

Such a helpful guide! I love travelling by train but always end up just purchasing tickets per leg rather than a pass. Great to hear about the options available though, especially for Eastern Europe 🙂

April 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm

Awesome post! Such great + useful tips

May 1, 2017 at 4:15 am

VERY HELPFUL! I needed that schengen calculator! I have come to the same conclusions during our European travels. We ended renting a car in France because we wanted to visit smaller cities not connected via train. Thanks!

May 1, 2017 at 9:34 am

A very informative and detailed guide. I wish I had one like this maaaany years ago :-). Beautiful selection of photos!

May 1, 2017 at 11:14 am

Great practical advice. We travelled through France using a Eurail pass last year. It was really handy, although we did get caught out as we booked seats as well and had to pay again to change them when in France. Oh well, lesson learnt on that one.

May 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm

These tips were so incredibly helpful! The last time I was in Europe I flew everywhere because I wasn’t there for very long. But in the future I would like to take a much longer trip and taking public transport and the high speed rails are things I definitely would like to give a go. Thank you!

May 1, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Great tips Karen! And I love your budget travel triangle ;-). I love train travel not only for the savings in carbon emissions vs flying and being more eco friendly, but for the experience. I still feel excited at the idea of getting on a train, and find that it’s so much easier to meet people and get chatting as a solo traveler. I disagree re getting a bunk though – personally i love being rocked to sleep by the motion of a train in the comfort of a bunk. I do feel sad that Deutsche Bahn has recently stopped running a lot of the sleeper services from Amsterdam (e.g. Amsterdam to Zurich, Munich etc) – I hope one day they’ll return but i’m not holding my breath.

May 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm

On my first trip to Europe, I had the impression that Eurorail was super cheap, maybe because I heard it talked about so much. I quickly learned that it is NOT cheap and actually flying via a budget airline like Ryanair is often cheaper and quicker (which is important to me because I’m always traveling on a time crunch). All great tips here!

May 1, 2017 at 8:49 pm

This is really handy! I love getting around by train but could never pack light enough for a long trip like this haha. You’ve hit the nail on the head with your point about not rushing – we usually do 5 days for every city holiday. Any less and you risk feeling like you didn’t really get to know it.

May 2, 2017 at 5:08 am

Great post with lots of good advice! It makes me want to pack everything and do more rail travel!

May 3, 2017 at 3:08 am

Great information – thanks for sharing!

May 6, 2017 at 5:59 pm

I’m considering doing an interrailing/eurrail trip at the end of the summer so this post comes at the perfect time for me! Pinned for later 🙂 Although the more I read your tips the more I think it may not be for me – I’ll be trying to budget travel in Eastern Europe! Maybe for my Western Europe trip in November tho!

December 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Omg thank goodness for this post because I definitely wouldn’t have thought about these things… definitely going to give it more thought before purchasing Eurail pass! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

[…] included, will note that the French train system isn’t necessarily budget (unless you have a Eurail pass).  However, if you might find a good deal if you check Oui, SNCF’s English-friendly SNCF […]

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Traveling with Eurail Pass » 7 Reasons why you should do it [or not]

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A couple traveling by train in Europe. They are happy because they are traveling with Eurail Pass.

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.

Eurail Pass printed version. You can choose to buy the printed pass or the Eurail Mobile 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.

Woman getting in a train in Italy, she is doing a backpack trip in Europe by train.

– 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.

Collage of photos from different train stations in Italy.

– 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! 🙂

Woman waiting in a train station in Europe.

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!

Couple traveling with Eurail Global Pass for 3 month.

– 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.

Woman inside a train filling up the Eurail Pass with her intended train itinerary.

– 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!

Collage of photos from European landscapes.

– 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.

Our itinerary with Eurail Global Pass was: Italy » Switzerland » France » Belgium » Netherlands » Germany » Switzerland » France » Spain .

Collage of photos from a couple traveling in Europe by train.

– 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!

A man and women traveling by train with Eurail Global Pass.

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!

Love this Eurail Pass Guide?! Pin it for later!!

7 Good Reasons why you should travel with Eurail Pass. How to discover if it´s the best option for travel by train in Europe, booking rules, how to choose the best itinerary and money saver tips!

PS 2: Our Global Passes were a courtesy from Eurail. However, doesn’t matter who paid the bill you always receive our true opinion.

eurail travel tips

155 thoughts on “Traveling with Eurail Pass » 7 Reasons why you should do it [or not]”

Im sorry if this was mentioned in a previous comment, but if you dont mind me asking.. So you stayed in each places, were the hotels expensive? Im wanting to do some solo traveling and I want to see everything, but I won’t have a lot of money to stay at nice places, I was just wondering your budget after the Eurail global pass, or a rough estimate. Thank you, Ashley 🙂

Hi Ashley!! I totally understand you, we also want to do as much as possible spending a small amount of money! 🙂 During our trip with Eurail Pass we tried to spend on accommodation an average of 25- 30 Euros per night for two people, what mans 12-15 Euros per person. We choose to stay at Airbnb places [sometimes sharing the house with the owner, sometimes in a private studio], also some hostels and simple guest houses. All our budget breakdown of 6 months and 1 year travelling around he world you can find here: » 6 Months: » 1 Year: The key for spend you travel budget wisely is to research and plan a lot! 😉 Hope this will help you! Thanks for stopping by! Nat 🙂

I’m planning on backpacking across Europe May 2017 and I’m trying to plan now and budget everything so I know just how much to save up. I was planning on getting the Eurail Pass but was curious as to if it works with city subways as well as the regional and inter country trains. If you know if the pass works or doesn’t work, I’d really appreciate it! Thanks!

The Eurail pass is not valid for urban transportation like subways or buses. In some cities you can take the national rail trains inside the city for small trips, and that would be cover by the Eurail pass. I know that in Germany you can use the Eurail Pass for S-bahn trains, but not sure if for all the routes. And every country has it own rule and exceptions. Here is the link of Eurail official page explaining all the extra benefits you can have in each European country. I would say, read it carefully and see if your travel destination has any good deal. [ ]

For metro or buses, buy the weekly pass, or a booklet with 10 / 20 journeys. They are cheaper than the single tickets.

If you didn´t buy your Eurail Pass yet, I would ask you to buy it through the link on our blog post, we´ll get a small commission and you don´t pay any extra [don´t worry, you gonna be redirected to Eurial official website]. 🙂

Safe journey! Nat

We just got back from Germany (lower Baveria) and had a 7 Day Rail pass for Germany only. If those who are traveling by DB need a good app, DB also has a good app which can help you to plan your trip (even if you make changes long the way). The wifi on the train will remember you each time you get on a train that has wifi and automatically link to it through iPhone.

The other thing that interesting is that we left out of Basel, Switzerland and it was one of the included stops which allowed us to leave without additional fees since it is so close to the border. Check DB for additional info though for yours. In addition, your Rail Pass will also offer discounts on city transportation, so take advantage of that!

Last thing I noted was you “must” get your Rail Pass stamped “before” you get on the train at the Information area inside the train station. Some fines are well over 80.00 Euros a person… Your information is good for those thinking about traveling by Rail!

Thanks for helping out those with a dream to travel by rail. You’re right, it is a fabulous experience coming from someone who grew up there!

Great Tips Mark!! Good to know that DB has all these facilities, we are planning to travel with Eurail next winter and we´ll be using mostly DB trains. Your comment arrived on the perfect timing. We are super excited to do this next trip, still planning our route, but I know it will be fantastic. Europe in winter time is gorgeous! Cheers, Nat

Hello! Informative article. We bought our Global Passes in April and got a pretty decent price for them (under $700/person). We are looking forward to traveling and seeing Europe by train. We love the idea of being flexible and not having to worry about checking in luggage. We did book one flight (from Prague-Venice) but it was dirt cheap and allowed us more time in Italy. Other than that we plan on taking the train everywhere. I did notice you mentioned Italy and it being difficult traveling by train. Do all the trains there require Reservations? Sure hope not.

Hello Edgar, I’m sure you gonna have a good time in Europe 🙂 In Italy you will need reservation for the high-speed trains(freccirossa, freacciaargento, frecciabianca) and for sleepers. We used only regional trains and worked perfectly. Cheers,

hey!! thanks a lot for the information! i will do it for a first time in august! i love to travel and discover new places and people! What do you think is best eurail or interrail pass! ? ?

Hi Maria, Glad you liked the post 😉 The only difference is that Interrail is for European citizens and Eurail is for non-European citizens. Cheers!

Hey I’m a srilankan planning a Europe trip from saudi. And so happy to hear from you really i got many ideas and vision from you. Well done both of you looking great

Hi Abrar! Thanks for stopping by! And we are super happy that our blog has helped you!! Sounds like a great trip all the way to Sri Lanka to Europe!!! Enjoy!!

Thank you for the information ? I am from the Philippines and I would like to travel Europe, (go to as many countries, or cities as much as possible) for the first time. I’m a novice when it comes to this kind of things, and I would like to confirm if I still need to book hotels? Or can I just spend nights on the train, traveling, to save money and time? I hope you could enlighten me on this, thank you in advance ?

Hi Zeesha, If it’s a short-term travel you could save money on accommodation sleeping some nights on the train or doing Couchsurfing. For a long-term travel, I would suggest trying House & Petsitting. We wrote an article about it: Cheers!

It’s very informative Nat&Rob.We are planning a trip to Europe but we have a fixed schedule. We want to cover Paris, Amsterdam, Switzerland (Zurich, Lucerne, Bern, Interlaken), Italy (Rome, Pisa, Florence, Venice). We are confused which Eurorail pass would suffice for us, or should we book individual train tickets. We don’t see a combination of the countries that we are planning to visit on the eurorail website. We don’t know if there are general (non-high speed direct) trains to swiss alps etc. What would be your suggestion here?

HI Neha!! What a great itinerary!! To choose the best pass it will depend on how many days traveling you are planning to have. You wrote 10 cities, so I assume it will be 10 days traveling (you can take as many trains as you want in a day, so connections in the same day count as 1 day of travel). You can choose between two passes:

– 4 Countries: (Benelux “Belgium & Netherlands” + France + Switzerland + Italy) , with this pass you get 11 travel days for 607 Euros. And you can travel between the 4 countries without a problem. If you have a fixed itinerary, I think this is a good option for you. – Global Pass: you can travel to all 28 European countries and you can choose between 11 or 15 days travelling in a period of 2 months; or 15 / 22 continuous travelling. But these options are more expensive than the Pass for 4 countries.

About the trains to the Swiss Alps, they have trains very frequently (high speed and normal ones), depending on the company you get you can use high speed with Eurail pass (with reservation). We crossed part of the Alps with normal trains, the only thing is that depending your destination you might have to change trains on the way. The Glacier Express route is partially covered by the Eurail Pass, part of it you’ll have to pay extra.

Hope I helped to sort out your doubts. If you need any more info let me know. Now I will ask you a favour: could you buy your Eurail Passes through our links? We get a little commission over the sales 😉

Thanks and have an awesome trip! Nat

Absolutely Nat!! Thanks for the elaborate reply. I have been doing some research and its exactly in line with what you are suggesting. We are thinking to take 10 days a month pass with 4 countries included. Although we are sticking to these countries & cities, we want to keep the travel timings flexible, so we don’t want to tie ourselves with strict reservations… once again, thanks a lot !! will revert back as and when I get into the details of my plan 🙂

You are welcome Neha!! Happy planning 🙂

Thanks Nat. Finally with the help of your inputs, I was able to decided on which eurorail tickets to take. We didn’t go for a pass though, because the plan we came up with, there we are using the train only to transit between the major cities. That way, eurorail pass was proving to be more costly than individual tickets. Of course, for that we had to forego the flexibility that comes with the pass.

Hi Neha, I’m sure it will be an amazing trip!! Enjoy it! If you are traveling during summer, remember to buy your individual train tickets in advance. Some lines get really busy during high season. Happy travels, Nat

For a similar trip i got a swiss pass (that was the country i spent most time in ) a two country pass (france and italy) and a cheap flight to amsterdam . This worked really well as i could get the trains to border of Switzerland, change trains with passes to france and italy from various stations. The flight to amsterdam was really cheap for a three day trip, return ticket. As a single traveller worked out really well and got to see so many of the great places without stress of driving and the flexability to walk around and meet fellow travellers without being squashed into a seat next to some one for hours, or as a tour group.

Such memories! I went backpacking throughout Europe in 1997 via our EuroRail Pass. What awesome memories! It was such a great trip!

Hi Caroline!! I can imagine how amazing it was!! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your memories!

Nat, your post is quite informative and helpful. I am on a 10 day trip arriving Paris and departing Rome. I will be staying in Paris for 2-3 days and taking train to Milan and will be in Italy for remainder of the days. Do I take 2 country pass? and does EURAIL pass allow us to take public transportation for free or we have to buy them separately?

For sure, the 2 countries pass is the best option for you, as it includes the trains between the two countries and cities. About the local public transportation, it’s not included on the Eurail Pass, you must buy the local metro / bus / train ticket. If you buy the Eurail Pass you get some benefits and discounts on boats, intercities buses and some services in the countries, here are the links to know more about the perks in Italy and France . Hope I manage to answer you doubts, cheers!

Dear Savi, I wil be traveling to Europe next June for 2 weeks with my adult children and some of my siblings. Can you please give us some advice about the Eurail pass that makes sense for us? We are flying by not Frankfurt, Germany and planning on taking the train to Lublijana, Slovenia and then to Venice and Milan, Italy. We might take a sidetracked to Croatia. What kind of pass should we get? Thanks for your advice. Laura

Hi Laura, how are you?

For this trip you have two options of Eurail Pass, the 4 Country Select Pass or the Global Pass , and to choose the best one you need to think about the duration o your trip (the number of days you will be using the train pass).

If your trip will be less than 8 days (I mean the total of days you will be spending travelling between places and using the pass) the best option is the 4 Country Select Pass , it’s also the cheapest option. However, if you plan to use the trains more than 8 days, than the Eurail Global Pass is the best bet, as it gives you freedom to move around as much as you want.

To book the 4 Country Select Pass you need to choose bordering countries, as you said, your itinerary is Germany, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia, so you need to add to this list Austria, the country you will use to cross from Germany to Slovenia and Italy. The good thing is the Slovenia and Croatia count as one destination, so you buy the 4 Country Pass but actually have access to 5 countries.

Hope I answered your question, if you have any more doubts let us know. And, when you decided to buy the Eurail Pass, please make your purchase through our links here on the post, you pay the same amount and we got a small commission for helping you plan your trip! Cheers and happy travels. Nat

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Hi Laura, just got back from Europe from a 3 week trip and I will say the Eurail Pass was the smartest thing I did. Fast, cheap and efficient!

Hi Rich! Good to know you had a great experience! Cheers, Nat

Great tips on the Eurail Global Pass. I didn’t know that’s how it worked. We’ve lived in Europe for 3 years, but never did an extended trip by rail (though we talked about it). We were always unsure if we would enjoy it more and found that we could book flights/car rentals for cheaper or at least close to the same cost. I also had not heard about the additional fees for the high speed trains, but only in certain countries. Those hidden fees, and how the different countries deal with them can definitely be confusing, that’s for sure!

Hi Drew! Europe by car or train, that’s a big doubt… I would love to do both! The adding fees are an annoying thing, but once you read the rules at the website and you choose the best pass for your itinerary it becomes easy to understand and avoid them 😉 Happy Travels to you guys! Nat

WOW! What a thorough and thoughtful post. You really provide insight as to the pros and cons of using Eurail. So, while it may not have been the most economical choice for your particular itinerary, sometimes it’s worth paying a little more for convenience and flexibility and (mostly) stress-free travel! And I would have to agree, going by train is the BEST way to see Europe!

You are so right Toccara, sometimes is worth to pay a little more to have some convenience, specially if you are doing a long trip. Nothing bits the comfort of a 1st class train that arrives in the heart to the city. Happy Travels, Nat

I love traveling by train! I consider the journey as part of the fun of the destination. With all the amenities of the Eurail, you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery. I had no idea that Eurail passes were so flexible. Thanks for the detailed info, this has undoubtedly saved me a lot of time and research for planning any trips to Europe in the future.

Thanks for the comment Heather! What I love about Eurail is the flexibility, so if you guys want to have freedom to explore Europe, sure this is the best way! All the best, Nat

I love travelling by trains whenever I’m in Europe. We also travelled on a Eurail pass for a few weeks in 2009, and were SO impressed by the freedom and flexibility it offered. The opportunity to see so many beautiful views outside of the window, makes it even more memorable too.

Hi Ali!! Travelling by train is soooo good! The journey itself is so pleasant and beautiful!! Cheers, Nat

If you’ve got the time then the train is a great option. I’ve only caught the Eurostar from London to Belgium. Otherwise I just couldn’t afford the additional time. It is much comfier than a plane though!

Hey Laura, Train take more time, that’s for sure, but they are so comfy!! What I love is that some of them we have free wifi, so I can work during the trip! 😉 Cheers, Nat

What a wonderful and detailed summary of taking the Europass for train travel around Europe. It sounds like the key to making this work is having a flexible schedule. We’ll be traveling in Europe next year and will certainly look into this further. Nice job with the pros/cons. Cheers!

Hi Rosemary!! If you are coming to Europe, have a good look at the types of Eurail Passes, depending on where you are going it can be the best option. Specially if you are travelling to countries where the transportation are a bit pricey as Scandinavia or Switzerland. Happy travels, Nat

I’ve never tried Eurail and although it seems a bit pricey, I love the flexibility. There are so many places in Europe like Scotland, Norway & Switzerland that I would love to see by train to really soak in the beautiful landscape.

As you said, Eurail is not the cheapest way of travelling. But if you are thinking to travel around Norway or Switzerland, I totally recommend it. Not only for the beautiful routes but actually as a money saving option. We just finish a trip around Scandinavia with Eurail Pass and even paying some extra fee for the night trains, it turned to be a cheaper than if we did it by plain or booking the train tickets by ourselves 😉 Happy Travels,

I never thought about traveling by train through Europe, but your article made me wish it. It seems pretty simple and flexible, and the best part is the big number of destinations that can be easily reached in this way.

Hi Bella! The options of cities and destinations are endless when you are travelling by train, espcially if you have a Global Pass where you can just jump on a train and head to a new place. We are in the middle of a 3 months Eurotrip and again using Eurail Pass, so convenient and easy! Cheers, Nat

Train travel is my least favorite mode of transportation. What I don’t like about it is that it’s so easy for anyone to get on, so if you’re traveling by yourself you have to take everything to the tiny little bathroom with you or to the bar car. That’s definitely a pain.

I did a Eurail pass mostly traveling in Italy and France and it isn’t easy to use. You have to have reservations in advance and you can only book online if they can send you the tickets to your permanent address. So that means making trips to the train stations to set up tickets, which there aren’t always spots for you on the trains. And those additional booking fees add up!

Hi Jennifer!! I get your point about safety but thank God nothing ever happened to us, and we do leave our luggage at our seats when going for a walk or to the train restaurant. I’m sad to hear that you didn’t have a good experience with Eurail. About the reservations, Italy and France are the most strict countries for Eurail, but if you don’t use the fast trains most of the time you don’t need a reservation (regional trains are included on the pass and most of time no need reservation 😉 ). What we usually do is to make a reservation (when needed) at the moment we arrive at the destination, so we don’t need to go back to the train station later on. Thanks for sharing your thought. Cheer, Nat

I looked at the website and it seems like there are many different types. My friend said that if its a planned trip, it’s not worth using it but if you plan to back pack then its best to have a eurail pass because trains can be so expensive.

Hi Karla, The Eurail Passes are useful for both types of trips, planned and expontaneous, the difference is the type of pass you should buy. We are back to Europe, we using the Eurail Pass for 3 months this time, and no doubt it’s the easiest and most flexible way to get around Europe. Tks for your comment.

Hi Natalie, Finally some helpful information on this Eurail Pass, I was thinking of using one last year but couldn’t really make up my mind as it was too confusing.

Now I can trade my touring bicycle for one of those passes 🙂

Cheers, Lara

Hello Lara, Tks for the kind words, we just finished another trip using the Eurail Pass, so convenient! Cheers,

Hi, I am Albert from the Philippines. I will be in Europe using a continuous 15 day global pass. Do I need to write in my travel diary all my trips like regional trains, S bahns, and other rides included free in the Pass? If I do, I may need 4-5 pages in my 15 days travel. Or just the Long distance travels? Will wait for your reply. Thank you.

Hi Albert, To save pages you can fill up the travel diary only when they come to check your ticket 😉 Cheers,

Hello! Very interesting article. Thanks for the information. I am traveling to Europe and I was wondering what brand/type of backpack that you have on your back in the picture!

Hi Alexis, Those are form Gelert, I think is a brand from the UK. We wrote an article listing other options of backpacks, you can check it here . Cheers,

Hi Natalie and Robson! I am new to your blog and I was so impressed with the content you put in here. There are so informative and helpful.

As for me, I believe eurail pass is the way to go for those who want to tour the great cities of Europe. It’s not just about transportation, the fact that train has been part of Europeans travel, and their way of life, when you’re there, it’s like experiencing how the Europeans spend a fraction of their day already. Not to mention, it’s a lot cheaper as compared to the others method of touring around.

Hi Adrian, Tks for stopping by. Yes, the convenience is the best feature for us. Cheers,

hi natalie i am from the Phils. and would like to know how many days i could have my pass upon ordering it from Phils. ,or would it be better and faster to adress it in Paris coz i also have some relatives leaving there tnx and God bless!

Hi Cris, Not sure about Phils but we got ours delivered to Thailand in about 10 days. Cheers,

You completely overlook the DOWN side of a pass. I bought a 2-month pass and tried to make reservations for city connections like London to Paris 3 months ahead of my departure. ALL of the Eurail pass seats were sold out! So actually what you are buying is a useless pass. It seems that Eurail blocks out a small number of Eurail pass seats and they are gone really fast – so you are SOL with no way to use your pass for travel. I can buy a 1st class seat on that route for $300 – which is almost half the price of my pass – so with 2 months of travel and the first major connection blocked by Eurail saving seats for 1st class fares the Eurail pass is useless. THEN you can only get a 85% refund on an unused pass. I WISH someone had told me this BEFORE I shelled out $700+ for a 2-month pass that is useless on the routes through 4 countries when I cannot reserve a seat on routes like London to Paris that REQUIRE a seat reservation. OH – and the seat reservation costs an ADDITIONAL $40 dollars.

Hi Margo, Sorry to hear that. When we used the pass we didn’t faced any issues with reservations. Cheers,

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Love shopping on your travels? Here’s how to do it more sustainably

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November 1, 2023

A new pair of jeans. A trendy scarf. A unique t-shirt or two. 

An afternoon of shopping in a new place can feel like opening up a treasure chest, offering a fascinating look into local culture and style. 

At the same time, plenty of travelers are wary of the negative effects of consumerism on the environment and communities around the world, from pesticide usage during the cotton production process to the presence of microplastics in textiles. 

The scale of fast fashion and clothing waste is well documented – according to the European Commission, more than 5 million tonnes of clothing and footwear are thrown away annually in the European Union, equalling about 12 kg per person. 

“The problem with fast fashion is that…you produce garments that are planned to be thrown away” in the matter of a few months or a season, said Roman Danko, the principal of Humana Zagreb , a cooperative that carries out reuse projects and sells donated clothes, textiles and household items. “It's a perfectly illogical system.” 

Fortunately, there are a few simple — and enjoyable — ways to shop more sustainably on your travels. Below, you'll find some tips.

eurail travel tips

Rachel Schnalzer

Senior Content Writer

Flea market

Opt for secondhand or locally-made clothing and souvenirs 

One way to deepen the experience of shopping on your travels? Seeking out businesses that stock locally-owned products and secondhand stores, such as Humana Zagreb’s retail location in the Dubrava area of Zagreb. 

Through purchasing clothing and gifts at thrift stores, you give a second life to items that could otherwise end up in a landfill. And by purchasing locally-made items, you can take home a piece of your destination, while supporting a business based directly in the place you are visiting. 

Another enriching way to shop while traveling? Danko notes that many European cities are home to weekly flea markets that both locals and visitors can use to pick up pre-owned clothes, books, records, and other mementos. 

Broken zipper? Find a repair shop

From worn-out shoe soles to damaged backpack zippers, traveling can be hard on our clothing and accessories. The next time one of your possessions gets damaged on a trip, consider searching for a repair shop instead of simply replacing the item. 

“Our family, we are trying to repair and fix everything we can,” Danko said. 

Seeking out a local cobbler, tailor, or repair expert on your travels can be a win-win scenario. This solution helps travelers reduce their footprint, while allowing them to support their destination’s local economy. 

In the future, clothing may be even simpler to fix. The European Union is working on  new design requirements  for textiles to make them last longer – and easier to recycle and repair.  

Donate clothing

Some travelers, especially those who enjoy shopping and have been on the go for a few weeks, have trouble fitting their clothing and new purchases into their luggage before returning home. 

If you’re considering leaving some clothing behind on your travels, take time to research whether there are clothing centers or donation bins you can use to give your items a second life. According to the European Commission, under 25% of post-consumer textile waste is gathered separately for recycling or reuse. The rest is often sent to a landfill or incinerated. 

Humana Zagreb has distributed containers called “t-boxes,” designed to collect clothing donations. 150 tonnes of clothing and textiles are collected by Humana Zagreb annually, cutting roughly 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

On the right, Humana Zagreb's retail space. On the left,  bags of donated clothing collected by Humana Zagreb. (Credit: Humana Zagreb)

On the right, Humana Zagreb's retail space. On the left,  bags of donated clothing collected by Humana Zagreb. (Credit: Humana Zagreb)

Share essentials with friends and fellow travelers

A bonus tip: if you’re traveling for a week or longer, you will likely need to stock up on shampoo, soap, and other essentials. 

Instead of picking up a travel-size shampoo bottle, the European Union’s youth portal recommends purchasing a large bottle to share with your travel companions. 

“If you travel in a group of friends, consider sharing one big bottle of shampoo, body lotion, shower gel, et cetera,” the portal explains. “Each of you can carry one item with them. One big bottle produces less plastic than carrying minis with you.”  

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Moscow   Travel Guide

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Why Go To Moscow

Moscow's opulence and high culture is a sight to be seen. Forget what you learned about Russia in grade school. This lavish capital of a formerly communist nation has fully embraced the luxuries, excesses and decadence of Western capitalism. Like many former Soviet countries, Mother Russia struggles to successfully confront issues of widespread poverty, alcoholism, failing healthcare, and environmental protection. But Moscow has burgeoned into one of the most expensive, exclusive and largest travel destinations in the world. It comes complete with world-class museums, magnificent palaces, $1,000-a-night hotels, "face-control" nightclubs and internationally-renowned restaurants. Don't think you can afford Moscow? Don't be afraid. You can still find affordable deals if you are vigilant. This metropolis has a big and bold character and grandiose setting that's definitely worth getting to know.

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Best of Moscow

Best hotels in moscow.

  • # 1 in Lotte Hotel Moscow - The Leading Hotels of the World
  • # 2 in Hotel Metropol Moscow
  • # 3 in The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow

Lotte Hotel Moscow - The Leading Hotels of the World

Best Things to Do in Moscow

  • # 1 in Red Square
  • # 2 in Tretyakov Gallery
  • # 3 in St. Basil's Cathedral

Moscow Travel Tips

Best months to visit.

The best time to visit Moscow is April and May, when the temperature creeps into the 50s and 60s, the sun begins to shine for significant portions of the day, and hotel rates have yet to skyrocket into peak ranges. Of course, the golden period is summer, when the city is warm and bustling. But if you want to (slightly) spare yourself from the perpetually expensive rates, try the shoulder seasons in the spring and early fall. Preferably spring, since fall experiences more rainfall and less sunlight. Winters are brutally cold, but this is when you'll get a true glimpse into the Moscow experience (A frost-bitten walk through Red Square seems to intensify the historical significance of this great capital city).

Weather in Moscow

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

A little Russian English is spoken only in major hotels and restaurants, and you'll find mostly Russian speakers in the less tourist-heavy areas. American visitors also struggle with the Cyrillic spellings and pronunciations. Practice some key Russian phrases on the long flight over.

A little tipping Unlike most other European cities, tipping (five to 10 percent) in restaurants is the custom.

A lot of vodka This Russian drink of choice (yes, they usually consume it straight) is found at any bar. But if you wish to taste it and learn about its origins, the Moscow Distillery Cristall is your best bet.

How to Save Money in Moscow

If it seems too good to be true It probably is. Take that proverb to heart in Moscow, and don't expect the Czarist medal you purchased off a street vendor to be worth anything more than a good memory.

If you're oblivious on the subway You'll probably leave several rubles lighter. Pickpockets prey on unsuspecting foreigners in crowded places, particularly metro cars. Beware!

If you're not scared of the dark You may be able to handle Moscow's long nights in fall, winter and spring, when hotels offer the lowest rates. December sees an average of 18 hours of sunlight … in total.

Culture & Customs

English is spoken in major hotels and restaurants, but you'll find mostly Russian speakers in the less tourist-heavy areas, such as at the market or in small inns. Some helpful Russian greetings include the informal hello (pronounced, pri-VET ); the formal hello ( Zdravst-vwee-tye ); the informal goodbye ( pah-KAH ); and the formal goodbye ( Dah svih-DA-nee-ye ). To thank someone, say " Spas-EE-ba ."

What to Eat

Traditional Russian fare focuses on hearty meat dishes and cold soup, a particularly Russian specialty. But don't arrive in Moscow thinking you'll experience only the old cuisine. Russia's new personality has been accompanied by a lavish taste for international cuisine, especially Asian food. Sushi and Asian fusion restaurants are among the most popular in the city, and other dining options include American and Italian cuisine. Eating out, like everything in Moscow, can be very expensive, but you can find cheaper restaurants in shopping centers and areas outside the city center. 

Stay alert for pickpockets when using public transport and when visiting the main tourist sites. Many an unsuspecting traveler has been relieved of some rubles on the Moscow Metro and near Red Square. Also, make sure to exercise extra caution when leaving bars and clubs at night.

There have been cases of corrupt police asking for random fines -- if this occurs, get the officer's number and name and ask to go to the police station with him or her.

Getting Around Moscow

The best way to get around Moscow is the metro. Faster and more efficient than the trolley buses and trams, this extensive system has stations that contain beautiful ornamentation, sculptures and mosaics. You could rent a car, but it's best to use public transportation to avoid the city's perpetually congested roads. Plus, street signs are all in Russian. In fact, English signs are nonexistent in the public transit system as well, so it's best to quickly get familiar with a map. Most travelers arrive through Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), but there are several other airports that serve the metro area. Several buses and a metro line shuttle airport travelers to and from downtown.

Entry & Exit Requirements

Acquiring a visa to travel in Russia is a bit more complicated and expensive than visiting other countries. Every foreign traveler entering Russia must have a Russian-based sponsor (like a hotel, tour company, university or relative). In addition to a valid U.S. passport, you must also obtain a travel visa from a Russian embassy or consulate prior to arriving in Russia. If you plan to stay in Russia for more than seven days, you have to register your visa and migration card (the white paper document given by the border police on first entry to Russia) with the Federal Migration Service. Visas can cost anywhere from $160 to $250 per person, depending on the length of your stay. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department website .

Red Square is one of the most famous squares in the world.

Explore More of Moscow

Tretyakov Gallery

Things To Do

Best hotels.

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Is It Safe in Moscow?

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Stanislav Solntsev / Getty Images

When you visit Moscow , Russia, you’re seeing one of the world’s largest, and most expensive, capital cities . While there is a history of violent crime against foreign journalists and aid personnel in Russia, a trip to Moscow is usually safe for mainstream travelers. Most tourists in Moscow only face potential issues with petty crime, though terrorism is also a concern. Visitors should stick to the principal tourist areas and abide by the local security advice.

Travel Advisories

  • The U.S. Department of State urges travelers to avoid travel to Russia because of COVID-19 and to "exercise increased caution due to terrorism, harassment, and the arbitrary enforcement of local laws."  
  • Anyone exploring more of Russia should avoid "The North Caucasus, including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus, due to terrorism, kidnapping,   and   risk of civil unrest." Also, travelers should stay away from "Crimea due to Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian territory   and   abuses by its occupying authorities."  
  • Canada states travelers should use a high degree of caution in Russia due to the threat of terrorism and crime.  

Is Moscow Dangerous?

The Moscow city center is typically safe. In general, the closer you are to the Kremlin , the better. Travelers mainly need to be aware of their surroundings and look out for petty crime. Be especially careful in tourist areas such as Arbat Street and crowded places like the Moscow Metro transit system. The suburbs are also generally fine, though it is advised to stay away from Maryino and Perovo districts.

Terrorism has occurred in the Moscow area, leading authorities to increase security measures. Be more careful at tourist and transportation hubs, places of worship, government buildings, schools, airports, crowds, open markets, and additional tourist sites.

Pickpockets and purse snatching happen often in Russia, perpetrated by groups of children and teenagers who distract tourists to get their wallets and credit cards. Beware of people asking you for help, who then trick you into their scheme. Don’t expect a backpack to be a safe bag bet; instead, invest in something that you can clutch close to your body or purchase a money belt . Always diversify, storing some money in a separate location so that if you are pickpocketed, you'll have cash elsewhere. Keep an eye out for thieves in public transportation, underground walkways, tourist spots, restaurants, hotel rooms and homes, restaurants, and markets.

Is Moscow Safe for Solo Travelers?

Large cities like Moscow in Russia are overall fairly safe if you are traveling alone, and the Moscow Metro public transit is a secure and easy way to get around. But it is still a good idea to follow basic precautions as in any destination. Avoid exploring alone at night, especially in bad areas. You may want to learn some basic Russian phrases or bring a dictionary, as many locals don't speak English. However, in case you need any help, there are tourist police that speak English. Also, exploring with other trusted travelers and locals or on professional tours is often a good way to feel safe.

Is Moscow Safe for Female Travelers?

Catcalling and street harassment are infrequent in Moscow and the rest of Russia and females traveling alone don't usually have problems. There are plenty of police officers on the streets as well. Still, it serves to stick to Moscow's well-lit, public areas, avoid solo night walks, and use your instincts. Women frequenting bars may take receive some friendly attention. Females can wear whatever they want, but those entering Orthodox churches will be required to cover up. Though women in Russia are independent, domestic violence and other inequality issues take place regularly.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Russia is not known as a gay-friendly country. However, Moscow is one of the more welcoming cities with a blooming LGBTQ+ community and many friendly restaurants, bars, clubs, and other venues. Hate crimes in Russia have increased since the 2013 anti-gay propaganda law. Openly LGBTQ+ tourists in this conservative country may experience homophobic remarks, discrimination, or even violence, especially if traveling with a partner. Also, while women hold hands or hug publicly—whether romantically involved or not—men should avoid public displays of affection to prevent being insulted or other issues.

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

Moscow  and other big cities in Russia have sizable populations of various cultures, so discrimination against BIPOC travelers is rarer than in other parts of the country where it can become dangerous. Some people living in Russia who are Black, Asian, Jewish, and from other backgrounds have experienced racial discrimination and violence. Tourists won't usually experience overt racism but may be the recipients of some stares. If anyone should bother you, be polite and resist being taunted into physically defending yourself.

Safety Tips for Travelers

Travelers should consider the following general tips when visiting:

  • It's best not to drink the tap water. If you do, boil it before drinking, though showering is safe and the amount used to brush teeth is generally not harmful. Mineral water is widely drunk, especially at restaurants, and if you prefer not to have it carbonated ask for “ voda byez gaz” (water without gas).
  • If you need emergency assistance in case of fire, terrorism, medical issues, or more, dial 112 in Russia for bilingual operators.
  • Be judicious about taking photographs, especially of police or officials. This can potentially bring unwanted attention to yourself by members of law enforcement who won’t mind asking to see your passport. Also avoid snapping photos of official-looking buildings, such as embassies and government headquarters.
  • Carry your passport in as secure a manner as possible. If you get stopped for any reason by the police, they can fine or arrest you if you don't have the document with you. Also, keep photocopies of your passport, the page on which your travel visa appears, and any other documents that relate to your stay in Russia.
  • Use official taxis only and steer clear of illegal taxi companies, especially at night. Ask your hotel to call a reputable taxi company.

U.S. Department of State. " Russia Travel Advisory ." August 6, 2020.

Government of Canada. " Official Global Travel Advisories ." November 19, 2020.

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A History of Moscow in 13 Dishes

Featured city guides.


Travel Itinerary For One Week in Moscow: The Best of Moscow!

I just got back from one week in Moscow. And, as you might have already guessed, it was a mind-boggling experience. It was not my first trip to the Russian capital. But I hardly ever got enough time to explore this sprawling city. Visiting places for business rarely leaves enough time for sightseeing. I think that if you’ve got one week in Russia, you can also consider splitting your time between its largest cities (i.e. Saint Petersburg ) to get the most out of your trip. Seven days will let you see the majority of the main sights and go beyond just scratching the surface. In this post, I’m going to share with you my idea of the perfect travel itinerary for one week in Moscow.

Moscow is perhaps both the business and cultural hub of Russia. There is a lot more to see here than just the Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Centuries-old churches with onion-shaped domes dotted around the city are in stark contrast with newly completed impressive skyscrapers of Moscow City dominating the skyline. I spent a lot of time thinking about my Moscow itinerary before I left. And this city lived up to all of my expectations.

7-day Moscow itinerary

Travel Itinerary For One Week in Moscow

Day 1 – red square and the kremlin.

Metro Station: Okhotny Ryad on Red Line.

No trip to Moscow would be complete without seeing its main attraction. The Red Square is just a stone’s throw away from several metro stations. It is home to some of the most impressive architectural masterpieces in the city. The first thing you’ll probably notice after entering it and passing vendors selling weird fur hats is the fairytale-like looking Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It was built to commemorate one of the major victories of Ivan the Terrible. I once spent 20 minutes gazing at it, trying to find the perfect angle to snap it. It was easier said than done because of the hordes of locals and tourists.

As you continue strolling around Red Square, there’s no way you can miss Gum. It was widely known as the main department store during the Soviet Era. Now this large (yet historic) shopping mall is filled with expensive boutiques, pricey eateries, etc. During my trip to Moscow, I was on a tight budget. So I only took a retro-style stroll in Gum to get a rare glimpse of a place where Soviet leaders used to grocery shop and buy their stuff. In case you want some modern shopping experience, head to the Okhotny Ryad Shopping Center with stores like New Yorker, Zara, and Adidas.

things to do in Moscow in one week

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To continue this Moscow itinerary, next you may want to go inside the Kremlin walls. This is the center of Russian political power and the president’s official residence. If you’re planning to pay Kremlin a visit do your best to visit Ivan the Great Bell Tower as well. Go there as early as possible to avoid crowds and get an incredible bird’s-eye view. There are a couple of museums that are available during designated visiting hours. Make sure to book your ticket online and avoid lines.

Day 2 – Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Tretyakov Gallery, and the Arbat Street

Metro Station: Kropotkinskaya on Red Line

As soon as you start creating a Moscow itinerary for your second day, you’ll discover that there are plenty of metro stations that are much closer to certain sites. Depending on your route, take a closer look at the metro map to pick the closest.

The white marble walls of Christ the Saviour Cathedral are awe-inspiring. As you approach this tallest Orthodox Christian church, you may notice the bronze sculptures, magnificent arches, and cupolas that were created to commemorate Russia’s victory against Napoleon.

travel itinerary for one week in Moscow

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Unfortunately, the current Cathedral is a replica, since original was blown to bits in 1931 by the Soviet government. The new cathedral basically follows the original design, but they have added some new elements such as marble high reliefs.

Home to some precious collection of artworks, in Tretyakov Gallery you can find more than 150,000 of works spanning centuries of artistic endeavor. Originally a privately owned gallery, it now has become one of the largest museums in Russia. The Gallery is often considered essential to visit. But I have encountered a lot of locals who have never been there.

Famous for its souvenirs, musicians, and theaters, Arbat street is among the few in Moscow that were turned into pedestrian zones. Arbat street is usually very busy with tourists and locals alike. My local friend once called it the oldest street in Moscow dating back to 1493. It is a kilometer long walking street filled with fancy gift shops, small cozy restaurants, lots of cute cafes, and street artists. It is closed to any vehicular traffic, so you can easily stroll it with kids.

Day 3 – Moscow River Boat Ride, Poklonnaya Hill Victory Park, the Moscow City

Metro Station: Kievskaya and Park Pobedy on Dark Blue Line / Vystavochnaya on Light Blue Line

Voyaging along the Moscow River is definitely one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of the city and see the attractions from a bit different perspective. Depending on your Moscow itinerary, travel budget and the time of the year, there are various types of boats available. In the summer there is no shortage of boats, and you’ll be spoiled for choice.

exploring Moscow

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If you find yourself in Moscow during the winter months, I’d recommend going with Radisson boat cruise. These are often more expensive (yet comfy). They offer refreshments like tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and, of course, alcoholic drinks. Prices may vary but mostly depend on your food and drink selection. Find their main pier near the opulent Ukraine hotel . The hotel is one of the “Seven Sisters”, so if you’re into the charm of Stalinist architecture don’t miss a chance to stay there.

The area near Poklonnaya Hill has the closest relation to the country’s recent past. The memorial complex was completed in the mid-1990s to commemorate the Victory and WW2 casualties. Also known as the Great Patriotic War Museum, activities here include indoor attractions while the grounds around host an open-air museum with old tanks and other vehicles used on the battlefield.

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The hallmark of the memorial complex and the first thing you see as you exit metro is the statue of Nike mounted to its column. This is a very impressive Obelisk with a statue of Saint George slaying the dragon at its base.

Maybe not as impressive as Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower , the skyscrapers of the Moscow City (otherwise known as Moscow International Business Center) are so drastically different from dull Soviet architecture. With 239 meters and 60 floors, the Empire Tower is the seventh highest building in the business district.

The observation deck occupies 56 floor from where you have some panoramic views of the city. I loved the view in the direction of Moscow State University and Luzhniki stadium as well to the other side with residential quarters. The entrance fee is pricey, but if you’re want to get a bird’s eye view, the skyscraper is one of the best places for doing just that.

Day 4 – VDNKh, Worker and Collective Farm Woman Monument, The Ostankino TV Tower

Metro Station: VDNKh on Orange Line

VDNKh is one of my favorite attractions in Moscow. The weird abbreviation actually stands for Russian vystavka dostizheniy narodnogo khozyaystva (Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy). With more than 200 buildings and 30 pavilions on the grounds, VDNKh serves as an open-air museum. You can easily spend a full day here since the park occupies a very large area.

Moscow sights

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First, there are pavilions that used to showcase different cultures the USSR was made of. Additionally, there is a number of shopping pavilions, as well as Moskvarium (an Oceanarium) that features a variety of marine species. VDNKh is a popular venue for events and fairs. There is always something going on, so I’d recommend checking their website if you want to see some particular exhibition.

A stone’s throw away from VDNKh there is a very distinctive 25-meters high monument. Originally built in 1937 for the world fair in Paris, the hulking figures of men and women holding a hammer and a sickle represent the Soviet idea of united workers and farmers. It doesn’t take much time to see the monument, but visiting it gives some idea of the Soviet Union’s grandiose aspirations.

I have a thing for tall buildings. So to continue my travel itinerary for one week in Moscow I decided to climb the fourth highest TV tower in the world. This iconic 540m tower is a fixture of the skyline. You can see it virtually from everywhere in Moscow, and this is where you can get the best panoramic views (yep, even better than Empire skyscraper).

top things to do in Moscow

Parts of the floor are made of tempered glass, so it can be quite scary to exit the elevator. But trust me, as you start observing buildings and cars below, you won’t want to leave. There is only a limited number of tickets per day, so you may want to book online. Insider tip: the first tour is cheaper, you can save up to $10 if go there early.

Day 5 – A Tour To Moscow Manor Houses

Metro Station: Kolomenskoye, Tsaritsyno on Dark Green Line / Kuskovo on Purple Line

I love visiting the manor houses and palaces in Moscow. These opulent buildings were generally built to house Russian aristocratic families and monarchs. Houses tend to be rather grand affairs with impressive architecture. And, depending on the whims of the owners, some form of a landscaped garden.

During the early part of the 20th century though, many of Russia’s aristocratic families (including the family of the last emperor) ended up being killed or moving abroad . Their manor houses were nationalized. Some time later (after the fall of the USSR) these were open to the public. It means that today a great many of Moscow’s finest manor houses and palaces are open for touring.

one week Moscow itinerary

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There are 20 manor houses scattered throughout the city and more than 25 in the area around. But not all of them easily accessible and exploring them often takes a lot of time. I’d recommend focusing on three most popular estates in Moscow that are some 30-minute metro ride away from Kremlin.

Sandwiched between the Moscow River and the Andropov Avenue, Kolomenskoye is a UNESCO site that became a public park in the 1920’s. Once a former royal estate, now it is one of the most tranquil parks in the city with gorgeous views. The Ascension Church, The White Column, and the grounds are a truly grand place to visit.

You could easily spend a full day here, exploring a traditional Russian village (that is, in fact, a market), picnicking by the river, enjoying the Eastern Orthodox church architecture, hiking the grounds as well as and wandering the park and gardens with wildflower meadows, apple orchards, and birch and maple groves. The estate museum showcases Russian nature at its finest year-round.

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If my travel itinerary for one week in Moscow was a family tree, Tsaritsyno Park would probably be the crazy uncle that no-one talks about. It’s a large park in the south of the city of mind-boggling proportions, unbelievable in so many ways, and yet most travelers have never heard of it.

The palace was supposed to be a summer home for Empress Catherine the Great. But since the construction didn’t meet with her approval the palace was abandoned. Since the early 1990’s the palace, the pond, and the grounds have been undergoing renovations. The entire complex is now looking brighter and more elaborately decorated than at possibly any other time during its history. Like most parks in Moscow, you can visit Tsaritsyno free of charge, but there is a small fee if you want to visit the palace.

Moscow itinerary

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Last, but by no means least on my Moscow itinerary is Kuskovo Park . This is definitely an off-the-beaten-path place. While it is not easily accessible, you will be rewarded with a lack of crowds. This 18th-century summer country house of the Sheremetev family was one of the first summer country estates of the Russian nobility. And when you visit you’ll quickly realize why locals love this park.

Like many other estates, Kuskovo has just been renovated. So there are lovely French formal garden, a grotto, and the Dutch house to explore. Make sure to plan your itinerary well because the estate is some way from a metro station.

Day 6 – Explore the Golden Ring

Creating the Moscow itinerary may keep you busy for days with the seemingly endless amount of things to do. Visiting the so-called Golden Ring is like stepping back in time. Golden Ring is a “theme route” devised by promotion-minded journalist and writer Yuri Bychkov.

Having started in Moscow the route will take you through a number of historical cities. It now includes Suzdal, Vladimir, Kostroma, Yaroslavl and Sergiev Posad. All these awe-inspiring towns have their own smaller kremlins and feature dramatic churches with onion-shaped domes, tranquil residential areas, and other architectural landmarks.

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I only visited two out of eight cities included on the route. It is a no-brainer that Sergiev Posad is the nearest and the easiest city to see on a day trip from Moscow. That being said, you can explore its main attractions in just one day. Located some 70 km north-east of the Russian capital, this tiny and overlooked town is home to Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, UNESCO Site.

things to do in Moscow in seven days

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Sergiev Posad is often described as being at the heart of Russian spiritual life. So it is uncommon to see the crowds of Russian pilgrims showing a deep reverence for their religion. If you’re traveling independently and using public transport, you can reach Sergiev Posad by bus (departs from VDNKh) or by suburban commuter train from Yaroslavskaya Railway Station (Bahnhof). It takes about one and a half hours to reach the town.

Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a great place to get a glimpse of filling and warming Russian lunch, specifically at the “ Gostevaya Izba ” restaurant. Try the duck breast, hearty potato and vegetables, and the awesome Napoleon cake.

Day 7 – Gorky Park, Izmailovo Kremlin, Patriarch’s Ponds

Metro Station: Park Kultury or Oktyabrskaya on Circle Line / Partizanskaya on Dark Blue Line / Pushkinskaya on Dark Green Line

Gorky Park is in the heart of Moscow. It offers many different types of outdoor activities, such as dancing, cycling, skateboarding, walking, jogging, and anything else you can do in a park. Named after Maxim Gorky, this sprawling and lovely park is where locals go on a picnic, relax and enjoy free yoga classes. It’s a popular place to bike around, and there is a Muzeon Art Park not far from here. A dynamic location with a younger vibe. There is also a pier, so you can take a cruise along the river too.

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The Kremlin in Izmailovo is by no means like the one you can find near the Red Square. Originally built for decorative purposes, it now features the Vernissage flea market and a number of frequent fairs, exhibitions, and conferences. Every weekend, there’s a giant flea market in Izmailovo, where dozens of stalls sell Soviet propaganda crap, Russian nesting dolls, vinyl records, jewelry and just about any object you can imagine. Go early in the morning if you want to beat the crowds.

All the Bulgakov’s fans should pay a visit to Patriarch’s Ponds (yup, that is plural). With a lovely small city park and the only one (!) pond in the middle, the location is where the opening scene of Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita was set. The novel is centered around a visit by Devil to the atheistic Soviet Union is considered by many critics to be one of the best novels of the 20th century. I spent great two hours strolling the nearby streets and having lunch in the hipster cafe.

Conclusion and Recommendations

To conclude, Moscow is a safe city to visit. I have never had a problem with getting around and most locals are really friendly once they know you’re a foreigner. Moscow has undergone some serious reconstruction over the last few years. So you can expect some places to be completely different. I hope my one week Moscow itinerary was helpful! If you have less time, say 4 days or 5 days, I would cut out day 6 and day 7. You could save the Golden Ring for a separate trip entirely as there’s lots to see!

What are your thoughts on this one week Moscow itinerary? Are you excited about your first time in the city? Let me know in the comments below!


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eurail travel tips

Ann Snook-Moreau

Moscow looks so beautiful and historic! Thanks for including public transit information for those of us who don’t like to rent cars.

eurail travel tips


Yup, that is me 🙂 Rarely rent + stick to the metro = Full wallet!

eurail travel tips

Mariella Blago

Looks like you had loads of fun! Well done. Also great value post for travel lovers.

Thanks, Mariella!

eurail travel tips

I have always wanted to go to Russia, especially Moscow. These sights look absolutely beautiful to see and there is so much history there!

Agree! Moscow is a thousand-year-old city and there is definitely something for everyone.

eurail travel tips

Tara Pittman

Those are amazing buildings. Looks like a place that would be amazing to visit.

eurail travel tips

Adriana Lopez

Never been to Moscow or Russia but my family has. Many great spots and a lot of culture. Your itinerary sounds fantastic and covers a lot despite it is only a short period of time.

What was their favourite thing about Russia?

eurail travel tips

Gladys Parker

I know very little about Moscow or Russia for the\at matter. I do know I would have to see the Red Square and all of its exquisite architectural masterpieces. Also the CATHEDRAL OF CHRIST THE SAVIOUR. Thanks for shedding some light on visiting Moscow.

Thanks for swinging by! The Red Square is a great starting point, but there way too many places and things to discover aside from it!

eurail travel tips

Ruthy @ Percolate Kitchen

You are making me so jealous!! I’ve always wanted to see Russia.

eurail travel tips

Moscow is in my bucket list, I don’t know when I can visit there, your post is really useful. As a culture rich place we need to spend at least week.

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Looks like you had a great trip! Thanks for all the great info! I’ve never been in to Russia, but this post makes me wanna go now!

eurail travel tips

Wow this is amazing! Moscow is on my bucket list – such an amazing place to visit I can imagine! I can’t wait to go there one day!

eurail travel tips

The building on the second picture looks familiar. I keep seeing that on TV.

eurail travel tips

Reesa Lewandowski

What beautiful moments! I always wish I had the personality to travel more like this!

eurail travel tips

Perfect itinerary for spending a week in Moscow! So many places to visit and it looks like you had a wonderful time. I would love to climb that tower. The views I am sure must have been amazing!

I was lucky enough to see the skyline of Moscow from this TV Tower and it is definitely mind-blowing.

eurail travel tips

Chelsea Pearl

Moscow is definitely up there on my travel bucket list. So much history and iconic architecture!

Thumbs up! 🙂

eurail travel tips

Blair Villanueva

OMG I dream to visit Moscow someday! Hope the visa processing would be okay (and become more affordable) so I could pursue my dream trip!

Yup, visa processing is the major downside! Agree! Time and the money consuming process…

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