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Ultimate Guide to European Train Travel With a Eurail Pass

Ultimate guide to european train travel with a eurail pass​​​

The Eurail Pass is your ticket to hassle-free train travel across Europe. Introduced in 1959 to encourage exploration, it lets you hop on and off most trains in 33 countries for a set period, from 4 days to 3 months.

This flexible pass is perfect for non-European residents who want to experience Europe's charm, from bustling cities to scenic countryside, all at their own pace.

Keep this guide handy if you are planning a trip to Europe anytime soon for a hassle-free travelling experience with a Eurail Pass.

What is a Eurail Pass?

Imagine a single pass that unlocks train travel in Europe! That is the magic of a Eurail Pass. It is a pre-paid travel ticket valid for a specific number of travel days within a chosen time frame, like a week or a month.

Unlike regular point-to-point train tickets, a Eurail Pass grants you the freedom to get on and off trains in participating European countries—33 at the moment—as you please within your chosen validity period.

This flexibility is ideal for backpackers and travellers who enjoy creating their itinerary on the go. While Eurail Passes are primarily for train travel, some ferry connections are also included. Eurail Passes are not valid for buses or aeroplanes.

Anyone who is not a resident of Europe can purchase a Eurail Pass. So, if you are dreaming of a European adventure, this pass can be your key to exploring the continent by train.

How Do Eurail Passes Work?

Think of your Eurail Pass as your all-access train (and sometimes ferry) ticket for Europe. This pass is the best way to travel around Europe for those who wish to explore the country at its best.

Here is how to use it effectively:

  • Choose Your Pass: Eurail offers various options. Pick a pass based on your travel style and duration. Global Passes cover 33 countries, while regional passes focus on specific areas.  You can choose between continuous travel for a set period (e.g., 15 days) or flexible travel days spread across a longer validity (e.g., 1 month).

  • Activate and Validate: Before your trip, activate your pass online or through the Eurail app. Then, upon boarding your first train each travel day, validate your pass by filling in the date and time in the designated fields.

  • Reservations: While most trains allow spontaneous boarding with your Eurail Pass, some high-speed or popular routes require reservations. These come with an additional fee, so plan ahead and book reservations when needed (usually online or at train stations).

  • Board and Enjoy: With your activated and validated pass, simply show it to train conductors during ticket inspections. Eurail travel days are valid from midnight to midnight, so maximise your journeys! Remember, Eurail Passes are primarily for trains, and ferry inclusions depend on the specific pass.

  • Keep it Handy: Eurail Passes are like your golden ticket, so keep them safe throughout your trip. In case of loss or theft, immediately contact Eurail for assistance.

What is the 7 PM Rule?

The 7 pm rule for Eurail Passes is actually a thing of the past. Eurail abolished the 7 pm rule in 2019.

Here is a breakdown for the ones who might be new to Eurail Passes:

Old 7 pm Rule (abolished in 2019):

  • This only applies to overnight trains departing after 7:00 p.m. (19:00) and arriving after 4:00 a.m. (04:00).

  • If you met these conditions, you only used one travel day on your Eurail Pass, even though you travelled at night.

  • This helped save travel days, especially for long journeys.

​Current System (more flexible):​

  • You can use any overnight train departing before midnight (23:59) as long as you do not change trains during the night.

  • This counts as just one travel day on your Eurail Pass, regardless of the departure time.

  • This offers even more flexibility for covering long distances with a single travel day, saving money on accommodation and maximising sightseeing time.

Do You Need Reservations with a Eurail Pass?

Your Eurail Pass grants train freedom, but some routes require reservations.

Here is the deal:

  • Most trains: No reservations are needed. You can simply hop on and explore! This is perfect for spontaneous travellers.

  • High-speed & Night trains: Reservations are mandatory for these popular routes. Book online or at stations to secure your seat. Also, you must note that an extra fee applies.

[Note: Check Eurail's timetable or app to see which trains require reservations. This allows you to factor reservation costs into your budget and book seats in advance for peace of mind, especially during peak seasons.]

How to Reserve Seats with a Eurail Pass?

The Eurail seat reservation is straightforward and offers various options to suit your preferences. The Rail Planner app or the Eurail website serves as handy tools, displaying the available methods for booking seat reservations for each train journey. Simply locate your desired journey and click on 'how and when to book'.

For the most economical option, consider booking through the local train operator or ÖBB, the Austrian railway company. ÖBB is particularly advantageous as it allows reservation bookings for many European train journeys, even beyond Austria, without any additional fees.

Alternatively, you can make reservations through the DB app (Germany's national railway company), Eurail's Rail Planner app, physical ticket offices at train stations, or by contacting train companies via phone.

While most train operators offer online reservation options, there are instances where you may need to visit a physical ticket office or call the train company's call centre to process the booking.

Also, remember:

  • Seat reservations are typically available for booking approximately three months in advance, with some exceptions for specific routes.

  • It is advisable to book further in advance to secure your seats for trips during peak seasons, weekends or on popular routes like the Eurostar or Switzerland panoramic trains.

  • Whether you are planning ahead or making last-minute arrangements, Eurail Pass holders can easily reserve seats and enjoy a seamless train travel experience across Europe.

Where Can I Buy a Eurail Pass?

Eurail Passes are readily available from authorised vendors, ensuring a smooth start to your European adventure. Here are your options:

Official Channels: The official Eurail website allows you to browse pass options, compare prices, and purchase your pass directly.

Authorised Retailers:

Train companies: Many national European train companies like Deutsche Bahn (Germany) or SNCF (France) are Eurail partners and sell Eurail Passes online or at train stations.

Travel agents:

Reputable travel agents can also assist with Eurail Pass purchases, offering guidance and potentially bundling your pass with other travel services.

Mobile vs Paper Passes:

Eurail offers both mobile and paper passes. The mobile pass, accessible through the Eurail app, is convenient and eco-friendly. However, some travellers prefer the traditional paper pass for easy access during ticket inspections. Choose the format that best suits your travel style!

Can I Buy My Eurail Pass in Advance, and Should I?

Yes, you can, and often should, buy your Eurail Pass in advance!

Here is why:

  • Convenience: Purchase online or from authorised vendors and skip queues at train stations upon arrival.

  • Peace of Mind: Secure your pass and avoid potential last-minute availability issues.

Eurail Passes can be purchased up to 11 months before your first travel day. Remember to activate your pass online or through the app before your first journey. If purchasing a paper pass, consider delivery options.

While most Eurail Passes benefit from advance purchase, some specific regional passes might be available for purchase at stations, although potentially at a higher price.

Types of Eurail Passes

Eurail Passes come in three main types, catering to different travel styles:

  • Eurail Global Pass: The ultimate freedom! This pass unlocks train travel across all 33 European countries included in the Eurail network. It is ideal for adventurous backpackers or those who want to hit multiple destinations on their European adventure.

    Choose a pass with a set number of travel days within a validity period (like 2 weeks or 1 month) to suit your itinerary.

  • Eurail One Country Pass: Dive deeper into a single European nation. This pass is perfect for travellers who want to explore the rich tapestry of a particular country, like the charming villages of Italy or the majestic landscapes of Switzerland.

    One Country Passes offer various travel day options within a set validity period, allowing you to explore at your own pace.

  • Eurail Greek Islands Pass: Experience the magic of Greece! This unique pass combines train travel with ferry journeys, letting you island-hop across the Aegean Sea and explore popular destinations like Mykonos and Santorini.

    While not technically a "Eurail" Pass, it is offered by Eurail and functions similarly, with specific travel days within a validity period.

Choosing Your Type:

Consider your travel style, trip duration, and budget when picking your Eurail Pass.  The Global Pass offers ultimate flexibility, while One Country Passes can be more cost-effective for in-depth exploration of a single nation. The Greek Islands Pass caters to a specific island-hopping adventure in Greece.

[Note: Eurail Select passes (2, 3 & 4 countries) and Saver passes are no longer available.]

How Much Does a Eurail Pass Cost?

Eurail Global Pass

Travelling with the Eurail Global Pass comes with choices based on how long you plan to journey and your class preference – first or second.

First class offers extra comfort like adjustable seats, more space, individual charging outlets, and onboard service. The second class provides standard seats with shared amenities, and you will need to visit the dining car for snacks.

Eurail pass costs for seniors are mentioned below:

Travel Plan

First Class

Second Class

4 travel days in 1 month



5 travel days in 1 month



7 travel days in 1 month



10 travel days in 2 months



15 travel days in 2 months



15 continuous days



22 continuous days



1 month continuous



2 months continuous



3 months continuous



If you are under 27, you are eligible for the Eurail Global Pass for Youths, which saves you 20% on fares, regardless of whether you are a student or not.

[Note: The costing can change anytime. Hence, refer to the Eurail official website for the latest prices before embarking on your journey.]

Eurail One Country Pass

One Country Passes offer a budget-friendly way to explore a single European nation in depth. The more travel days included in your pass, the higher the cost. Choose a pass with travel days that align with your itinerary to optimise your budget.

Also, the selection of the country matters. Western Europe is more expensive. Countries like Switzerland, France, and Germany tend to have higher base prices due to denser railway networks and potentially faster train speeds.

For example, a pass for Portugal starts at around $100 USD, often second-class, with a limited number of travel days. Portugal offers a relatively affordable rail network, making it a budget-friendly One Country Pass option.

On the other hand, for Sweden, starting prices might be closer to $184, depending on travel days and class. Sweden boasts a sophisticated and extensive railway system, often with scenic journeys, which can be reflected in the cost of the pass.

Greek Island Passes

To ensure a smooth journey, seat reservations are necessary for boarding, and do not worry; they are complimentary!

There are two types of these passes:

  1. 4-Day Pas​​s within 1 month:

    Enjoy exploring the stunning G​reek islands for four days within a month.

    Price: USD $83

  2. 6-Day Pass within 1 month (the most popular choice):

    Extend your island-hopping adventure with six days of exploration within a month.

    Price: USD $190

Is Eurail Pass Worth it?

Are you wondering if the Eurail Pass is worth it? Here is what you need to know:

  • If the total cost of the pass plus seat reservations is less than what you would spend on individual train tickets, then the Eurail Pass is a good choice.

  • If you have already planned your trip, check out Rail Europe for point-to-point prices. Compare those with the cost of the Eurail Pass plus seat reservations (you can find these using the Eurail seat reservation tool).

  • If you have a rough plan but no set dates yet, try searching for journeys with dates about 2-3 weeks ahead. This gives you an idea of what tickets might cost closer to your travel time.

Basically, if you are feeling spontaneous, the Eurail Pass gives you flexibility. While booking train tickets in Europe early can be cheap, prices go up as seats fill. With a Eurail Pass, you avoid these last-minute price hikes, giving you the freedom to explore without worrying about rising ticket prices.

Situations When a Eurail Pass is Beneficial

Situations Where Eurail Pass Might Not Be Worth It

You are not sure of your plans and want the flexibility to book a few days in advance.

You already know your routes and travel dates, and booking point-to-point is cheaper.

Planning to visit five or more cities or countries in one trip.

Only taking a few train trips.

Want to experience bucket list train journeys like the Glacier Express.

All your trips are short journeys between major hubs.

Taking the Eurostar and missed out on cheap advance tickets.

Travelling through Eastern Europe and the Balkans where trains are cheap or buses are better.

Travelling between not-so-major cities with multiple stops.

Spending a lot of time in Spain and France where seat reservation costs are high.

Prefer to travel 1st class without paying a lot extra for each ticket.


the freedom to explore without worrying about rising ticket price

What Other Benefits Does a Eurail Pass Offer?

Your Eurail Pass unlocks more than just train journeys! Here are some bonus Eurail pass benefits to enhance your European adventure:

  • Discounts: Enjoy savings on ferry crossings, bike rentals, and even city passes in many destinations. Eurail partners with various travel companies to offer exclusive deals for pass holders.

  • Flexibility: Eurail Passes allow spontaneous travel changes. Unlike point-to-point tickets, you can hop on and off trains (with some reservation exceptions) within your validity period, giving you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

  • Peace of Mind: Pre-paid travel with a Eurail Pass eliminates the hassle of buying tickets for every journey, especially in different countries with potentially varying currencies.

  • Scenic Routes: Many European train journeys offer breathtaking views of mountains, valleys, and coastlines. Eurail lets you experience the beauty of Europe while travelling between destinations.

Also Read: Top 3 Reasons to Buy International Travel Insurance

How Can Our Travel Insurance for Schengen Visa Help with Train Travel in Europe?

When planning your European adventure, securing a Schengen Visa is essential for Indian travellers. As part of the visa application process, European authorities require proof of travel insurance Europe with medical coverage. This is where Reliance General Insurance's travel insurance for Schengen Visa steps in to ensure a smooth journey.

Reliance General Insurance offers two tailored plans under our Schengen travel insurance policy.

  • Our Basic Plan is designed to meet the mandatory minimum requirements, offering medical coverage of EUR 30,000. It is ideal for travellers seeking essential coverage to fulfil Schengen Visa obligations.

  • However, for those who desire comprehensive protection throughout their Schengen trip, our Standard plan provides higher coverage of EUR 50,000. This plan is perfect for individuals looking for peace of mind and extensive protection during their European adventures.

Our comprehensive travel insurance not only fulfils the visa requirements but also provides peace of mind throughout your train travels across Europe. With medical coverage included, you are protected against unexpected illnesses or accidents while exploring the continent's picturesque landscapes and vibrant cities.

Also, if you think you need to visit Europe more than once a year, our annual multi-trip insurance plans could be the right choice for you.

With Reliance General Insurance's Schengen travel insurance, you can embark on your European train journey confidently, knowing that you have the right level of coverage to safeguard against unforeseen medical emergencies and other travel-related mishaps.

Also Read: Making Insurance Buying Process Easier

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the difference between a Eurail and an Interrail Pass?

    Eurail and Interrail Passes are like twins for train travel in Europe but with a key distinction: residency. Eurail Passes are designed for non-European residents, allowing them to explore the continent by rail.

    Interrail Passes, on the other hand, are for European residents who want to embark on train adventures within their home continent.

  2. Does a Eurail Pass mean all trains are free?

    Think of a Eurail Pass as your key to unlocking most train journeys in Europe. It grants access to a vast network across 33 countries, offering incredible flexibility for exploring diverse destinations. However, there are a few exceptions:

    • ​​​

      High-speed rail in Europe and some popular night trains often require reservations, which come with an additional fee.

    • Eurail Passes are primarily for trains, with ferry inclusions depending on the specific pass you choose (e.g., Greek Islands Pass).

  3. Can two people use the same Eurail pass?

    While Eurail Passes open doors to train adventures, they are strictly for single travellers. Each pass is valid for one person only, so you will need individual passes if travelling with companions.

  4. What European countries does the Eurail Pass cover?

    Eurail Passes are your ticket to experiencing Europe's diverse landscapes and cultures by train. They cover travel in 33 European countries, including popular destinations like France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and many more.  For a comprehensive list and up-to-date details, visit the Eurail website.

  5. How do I activate my pass?

    To unlock the magic of your Eurail Pass, remember to activate it before your first travel day. This can be done conveniently online or through the Eurail app. Once activated, your pass is ready to take you on unforgettable train journeys across Europe!