Search for more travel tips

Tips for Travelling with a Eurail Pass


Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Tips for Travelling with a Eurail Pass
Europe is a beautiful, vast and varied continent that’s worth exploring properly. Whether you’re a first-time backpacker or a veritable nomad, it’s a great place to visit. One of the most common ways that people travel around Europe is by train, using a Eurail Pass. Whether you’ve heard of it or not, you probably have a few questions about the thing, right? Let us be of assistance; here’s everything you need to know about European travel with a Eurail Pass.  

What is the Eurail Pass?
A Eurail Pass – formally known as a ‘Europass’ or ‘Eurorail Pass’ – is an all-in-one train ticket which allows passengers to travel flexibly between 40,000 destinations across 31 European countries (within a set time period). It was first launched in 1959, and continues to be one of the most popular travel products in the world.

Although some trains do ask you to make a reservation, most allow you to hop on and off just by showing your pass. You can also use your Eurail Pass to access discounted ferry routes (on selected shipping lines).

What’s the Difference Between a Eurail and an Interrail Pass?
Interrail passes are only available to European citizens and official residents; anyone living outside of Europe should buy a Eurail Pass, though non-Europeans who are legal residents of European countries can also travel with an Interrail Pass.

Which Countries Are Included in a Eurail Pass?
Currently, the Eurail Pass gives travellers access to 31 participating European countries. These are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.K.

And because you’re travelling by train, you’ll have easy access to iconic European cities like Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Rome (to name just a few!). Alongside that, you can visit lesser-known cities and villages in any of the above countries too.

Which Passes Are Available?                   
Firstly, you’ll need to decide whether you want to buy a flexible or a continuous pass. A flexi pass – the cheaper option for travellers on a budget – lets you choose a specific number of days on which you can travel. For example, you might have 5 travel days (which you can use whenever you like) within 1 month.

A travel day is a 24-hour period in which you can travel with your Eurail Pass; it lasts from 12.00am until 11.59pm on the same day. If you’re travelling by night train, you needn’t use more than one travel day – even if your journey takes you into the next calendar day.

A continuous pass, on the other hand, allows you to travel at any point during your trip (so long as it’s valid). You don’t need to be on the move every day, of course, but this option gives you the freedom to travel as and when you want to.

You also need to choose which region(s) you’d like your pass to cover:
  • The Eurail Global Pass gives you access to rail networks in all 31 countries. This is your best bet if you want to see more than one country and are intending to travel between these countries by train.
  • The Eurail One Country Pass gives you the chance to explore one European country in depth. The Eurail Benelux Pass allows passengers to explore Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg; the Eurail Scandinavia Pass covers Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland – both are offshoots of the One Country Pass.

Should I Buy a Eurail Pass?
If you’re planning to visit a handful of European countries, or planning to travel by train for the most part (in one or more countries), then it’s worth getting a Eurail Pass. Because you’ve already paid for your travel, it’ll be more convenient and could save you money in the long run.

However, if you’re only going to be taking the train a couple of times, it’ll work out cheaper to buy single fares. The best thing about a Eurail Pass is that it gives you more flexibility whilst you’re away, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for a true ‘travelling’ experience.

How to Use Your Eurail Pass
After buying your Eurail Pass, it’ll be delivered to you by mail. It’s a paper ticket, so you’ll need to keep it safe for the duration of your holiday. The reason Eurail Passes are still physical tickets is simple: it ensures you’ll get everywhere you want to go. A paper pass can be used in all 31 countries, across multiple train companies.

Once you’ve got your pass, you’ll need to activate it before your first train journey (and within 11 months of the issuing date). You can validate your ticket at any European train station or online, and however you activate it, the service is free.

To plan your trip, either before or during your holiday, you’ll need to use Eurail’s timetable and rail planner app (which works offline too!). With these, you can reserve seats on trains, find stations close by and get information on departures and arrivals (wherever you are). You’ll also be able to find out about certain benefits that Eurail holders can get, which includes discounts on everything from ferry journeys to museum tickets.

Every Eurail Pass consists of a ticket and a pass cover. You'll need to record your trip before boarding any train or ferry under the ‘Travel Diary’ section of the document. If you forget to do this each time, you risk being fined – and you’ll have to pay for a full price ticket on top of that.

Tips for Travelling Around Europe by Train
Now that you’ve got the finer details in order, here are a few top tips to help you get the most out of your journey:
  • Give yourself plenty of time between transfers. If you’re jumping from one train to another, it’s worth giving yourself at least an hour between your arrival and departure times – particularly if you’ve got to navigate your way around large and densely-packed stations in city centres.
  • Book your accommodation close to the station. One advantage of train travel is that you’ll be arriving in the middle of wherever it is you’re heading; make the most of it by booking accommodation nearby. If you’re staying with us whilst you’re in Europe, you’re guaranteed to be within close proximity to a station; more often than not, you’ll easily be able to walk to and from it.
  • Take some entertainment. Whilst many European train journeys are extremely scenic, you should come prepared with plenty of on-board entertainment. You’ll come into contact with a few lengthy tunnels during your trip, which will make reading difficult; bring along an e-reader instead, or just make sure you’ve got some podcasts and/or music to listen to whenever there’s no light in the carriage.
  • Beware of pickpockets. Generally speaking, travelling through Europe by rail is one of the safest ways to do it. Just watch out for pickpockets whenever you’re at major stations and, as always, keep your wits about you (it’s common sense really).
  • Pack light. The less you take, the less you’ll need to lug around from place to place. Most travellers prefer to take a rucksack with them, but whether you take wheels or carry everything on your back, don’t pack what you won’t need – you’ll end up regretting it.
Whether you’re travelling for months at a time or just a few weeks, life on the tracks is sociable and scenic. And for those with true wanderlust, Eurail Passes offer unprecedented levels of freedom to explore the continent.