Traveling by Eurail can be tricky. With hundreds of railroads and railway stations within 22 countries it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily, many of us at UsingMiles.com are frequent travelers ourselves and have done some of the legwork for you. This guide should give you a head start on planning a fantastic, customized European vacation!
What’s the Eurail?
The Eurail is a train pass that allows you to travel between 22 European countries within any two-month period. The Eurail was introduced about fifty years ago to encourage non-Europeans to use the railways instead of airlines, which were brand new competitors in 1959! Now we’re not saying that the railways are necessarily better, often times airfare within Europe is highly affordable through Ryan Air and more convenient, especially if you’re using your frequent flyer miles. However, there is an undeniable appeal to the Eurail option. Traveling by trains really gives you an intimate connection to a country and there is always a community of like-minded journeyers along for the ride! Also, if you’re planning on seeing several countries, the Eurail is arguably the best deal as passes are flexible and prepaid (for the most part).
Types of Passes
There are essentially four ways to travel with Eurail: The One Country Pass, the Regional Pass, the Select Pass and the Global Pass. If you already know what European countries you’re yearning to check out, then choosing a pass is the easy part. If you don’t know where you want to go, choosing a pass is the fun part!
One Country Pass: Often the best way to travel is by spending the bulk of your time in one country. With this option you can really explore a place of interest, bask in the local atmosphere and practice a foreign language. The One Country Pass is also cheaper than other options with prices ranging for $54 (Slovenia)- $268 (Ireland). Check out this helpful page to see what traveling to your favorite country would cost .
Regional Pass: Sometimes seeing only one country just isn’t satisfying enough, especially if you won’t be able to travel again for awhile. With a Regional Pass you can travel between two neighboring countries for a broader European travel experience. Some popular passes include: France-Italy Pass, France-Spain Pass and the Benelux-Germany Pass. “Benelux” is actually three countries in one, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium. Check out the full list of Regional Passes .
Select Pass: The Select Pass is one of the most popular passes, allowing you to visit 3, 4 or 5 bordering countries. You just select the country you want to start in and can then travel back and forth between your selected destinations, or visit one at a time and end your journey in the last country to catch a flight home. Keep in mind that the price of the select pass (and indeed all the passes) is determined by the type of pass you need, “youth” or “adult” and by the class you want to travel in. Furthermore a “day” of travel is defined as any 24-hour period that you begin to use your Eurail pass. So if you start using your pass at 6 PM and arrive at your hostel at 8 PM, you’ve already spent a “day”. It might be a good idea to plan your train travel ahead of time to get the best use of your travel days. You can also get an “unlimited pass,” which allows you to go where you want, when you want to go, without worry.
Popular 3 country travel options for “Youth Pass” holders, between 12 to 25 years old, in 2nd class
– $346 for 5 days of travel
– $381 for 6 days of travel
-$451 for 8 days of travel
Popular 3 Country Travel options for “Adult Pass” holders (26+ years of age).
– $531 for 5 days of travel
– $586 for 6 days of travel
-$693 for 8 days of travel
Fist Class Travel within 3 Countries
– $451 for 5 days of travel
– $499 for 6 days of travel
-$589 for 8 days of travel
Global Pass: If you want to visit several European countries and not worry about limiting your travel options, then the Global Pass is for you! With the Global Pass you are free to explore twenty-two countries, in either first or second class, for up to 3 months. Get the scoop on the Global Pass here.
Where Exactly can I go?
Perhaps the coolest thing about the Eurail pass is the sheer number of options you have for travel within Europe. Though you cannot currently use your Eurail Pass in some countries (Great Britain for instance), you can use it in the majority of them and plan your travel for non-Eurail supported countries separately. You can also get great deals on boat rides between countries. Say you wanted to travel between France and Ireland, well there’s a 15-hour ferry trip that can accommodate you. Check out this map, which shows estimated travel times.
For the full sized map which included ferry rides and more specific railway information, you will want to see this!.
Things to Keep in Mind
Besides the previously mentioned stuff about the various types of passes and countries excluded from Eurail, you should also be aware of reservation costs, the differences between train types/classes and the train schedule itself. Planning ahead is probably a good idea if you’re on a budget because last minute train reservations can eat of your savings quickly. Overnight trains and high-speed trains are typically the only ones that will charge you a reservation fee as these fill up quickly and provide accommodation for sleeping on-board. One-way to save some cash is by paying these reservation fees to secure a spot to sleep so that you don’t have to pay for a hotel/hostel.
This blog should help get you started but you will definitely want to do some planning and keep up to date on current policies and regulations of the Eurail. Check out Eurail.com for more information and UsingMiles.com to use your frequent flyer miles to get you to Europe!
Comment if you’re planning a trip to Europe soon and are planning to use Eurail. We’d love to hear from you because one of our teammates is planning a trip this winter!