European Train Travel Guide

ItaliaRail.com is the exclusive online provider of Italian train tickets and rail passes outside Italy, and are experts in European train travel. We have been in the hospitality business helping customers plan their train travel for 20 years. We know what information you need and will guide you to make your experience a pleasurable one. Take some time to browse through some of our tips and advice on train travel in Italy and in Europe. We promise, it will be worth it!

Frequently Asked Questions:

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Should I purchase a rail pass or city to city tickets?

ItaliaRail.com offers both city to city train tickets and rail passes, providing excellent options for travelers looking to explore Italian countryside.

Rail passes are an excellent value if you want flexibility, if you plan to travel extensively throughout one or several countries, or if you plan to cover long distances during your travels. Passes provide access to most rail routes and allow you hassle-free travel since you won’t have to wait in lines at the train station to get tickets. Italiarail.com also offers our exclusive RRP (Rail Refund Plan) product that covers the cost of passes due to theft or loss. In some cases, you will still have to make reservations or pay supplements, but many routes allow for unlimited pass use without requiring any extra fees.

City-to-city tickets are good for short distance travel, such as travel from one point to another within a country (like Rome and Florence) or if you only plan to visit one or two places (like Genoa and Milan). The drawbacks come in the form of ticket lines, local currencies, languages and potentially higher prices. Purchasing individual train tickets is an ideal option for those wanting limited travel and who already know their exact destination prior to departure. There are a number of different options for individual train tickets depending on the destination or type of train of your choosing. Use our exclusive City to City search technology to find the best option for your needs and itinerary!

What type of pass should I purchase?

With thousands of different pass & ticket combinations from which to chose, purchasing a ticket or pass could be a confusing. Italiarail.com uses state of technology directly connecting to the Italian rail reservations systems:

  1. Which and how many countries do you plan to visit?

    Are you planning to travel in a single country? Are you going to two countries? Are you looking to explore three to five countries? Do you want to experience more than five countries? Knowing the number of countries you want to visit will help you determine which pass is your best option.

  2. How many days of train travel do you need?

    A travel date is a calendar day. Regardless of the number of trains you take in a calendar day, you will need to know the number of days you are travelling by train in order to purchase the correct number of travel days.

  3. How many days do you need the pass?

    All passes are valid for different lengths of time. The number of days you need the pass is the equivalent of how long your entire trip will be, not how many days you will be on the train. So if you’re going to Germany for a month, but you only plan on using the train for 3 days at the beginning of your trip and 2 days at the end of your trip, you will need the pass to be valid for 30 days.

  4. How many people are traveling, and what are their ages?

    Most passes offer both adult and saver passes, as well as youth passes. Generally, the adult and saver passes are in 1st class, while the youth pass is generally a 2nd class pass. The adult pass is for a single adult traveling. The saver pass is available at a discounted per person rate based on 2-5 people travelling together at all times. Some passes also offer discounted rates for seniors and children.

What does it mean to validate a pass or ticket?

All rail passes must be validated twice. The first stamp is printed automatically by our office and will appear on the top right hand corner of the pass. The pass must begin use within 6 months of this validation. On the first day of travel, all people listed on the pass must go to the ticket office of the train station and have an official validate the pass. The station official should put a second stamp on the pass under the first one. Please note that the pass must be validated at the station—a conductor on a train cannot validate the pass. If you do not validate the pass, or if you tamper with the pass in any way, the conductor has the right to confiscate it, at which time, the unused part of the pass is non-refundable. If you are not able to start using the pass within 6 months of its printed date, you will need to return this pass and we will reissue a new pass.

Only tickets reservations that have been printed by our fulfillment team and mailed to you or ones that require you to print prior to boarding a train will need to be validated prior to boarding the train. All printed tickets (coupons) must be validated prior to use in Europe. If you are traveling on an E-ticket and your reservation has been marked “Print at Train Station” you need to print this coupon and then validate the ticket. Find the platform for your train. Every platform has a self service ticketing and the yellow validation machines. Go first to the self service ticketing machine, enter your PNR confirmation to print your ticket. Then proceed to the validation machine, insert the ticket in the slot provided, and the ticket will be validated with a date stamp. Don’t forget to remove the ticket from the machine, or you will have to purchase a new ticket on the train! Should your ticket not be validated, you can be fined up to 200 Euros when traveling throughout Europe.

If you have an E-ticket or Electronic ticket with a "ticketless" confirmation you can simply board the train, without printing or validating.

Do I need a reservation?

A rail pass does not guarantee a seat on a train. While it is possible to secure reservations on trip, pass holder seats are limited, making it difficult to secure a seat on a specific train without making your reservations prior to departure. To make a seat only reservation go to our ticket search box, choose your cities and select "seat reservation only" to make a reservation. There are additional charges for seat reservations, sleepers, couchettes, and travel on certain high-speed trains.

On many European trains reservations are not necessary; however in some countries (particularly France, Italy and Spain), a pass or a ticket does not guarantee a seat, so reservations are highly recommended. We also recommend reservations to guarantee accommodations on a particular train, date, and time. Reservations are also mandatory for high-speed service and overnight trains. In order to avoid being assessed a fine on board, we strongly recommend that you make a reservation in advance. Reservations can be made at a train station or through Italiarail.com up to 60 days prior to travel if you are sure of your travel itinerary. Please refer to the How To Make a Reservation section of our FAQs for further information.

When and how do I make a reservation?

We will make reservations for any customer who has purchased a rail pass or ticket from Italiarail.com. Reservations can be made up to 60 days prior to the actual travel date either online or through a Fax-In form.

You must be in possession of a valid rail pass or city-to-city ticket that covers the routing of the train they have reserved in order to make a reservation. It is helpful to research the train schedules before making a request.

Reservations are required on:

  • Sleeping accommodations on all overnight trains (not on day trains)
  • High-Speed Trains (e.g. Eurostar, TGV, TAV, Thalys)
  • Long Distance and Express Trains in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  • Long Distance and Express Trains during high season (Jul-Aug)

What is an e-ticket or electronic ticket?

An electronic or e-ticket is the newest reservation confirmation for booking reservations trains in Italy. This is exclusively available on trains that originated within Italy. Upon completing an e-tickets booking - you will receive only an email confirmation of your train journey in place of the printed and shipped tickets. This email will include the booking confirmation code referred to as a "PNR" and the booking change code. This confirmation PNR will also include specific train information - date, time, number of passengers, fare code and rules.

An e-ticket will either allow you to travel "ticketless" - boarding the train with only the PNR code - or will require you to "print a ticket upon departure" at the self service machine at the train station. In general high speed trains will be ticketless and the regional, overnight and cross-border trains will require you to print & validate your ticket before boarding your train for departure. Pay close attention to your email confirmations as the specific requirements of your train tickets are included.

NOTE: All train reservations originating outside of Italy will require a printed ticket - these will be sent to you and must be brought with you to board your train. Please pay close attention to what your itinerary includes prior to leaving for Italy.

When can I expect to receive my tickets or passes?

With our exclusive e-tickets, you will receive a minimum of 2 emails, more depending on the number of trains trips reserved. The first email is the order invoice confirmation showing the amounts paid, the second shows the e-ticket booking "PNR" confirmation. Both emails will be sent immediately upon completion of your booking.

For orders that we must print and ship to you; if your orders is completed by 4:00 pm EST it will be shipped out that day in the manner you select. Please be sure there is enough time for your order to reach you prior to departure. No orders are shipped on Saturdays, Sundays, or U.S. holidays. Italiarail is not responsible for weather related delays or situations beyond our control. For questions regarding delivery, include your Order ID number and name in an email to service@italiarail.com.

Review our Shipping Information page for more information!

What is the policy for refunds and exchanges?

Please see below for the refund and exchange policy for your pass or ticket.

  • Eurail passes are refundable at 85% of pass value if unused and returned within 1 year from issue date to the address listed below.
  • TCV tickets are 85% refundable when received at the address listed below 7 days prior to the train departure date.
  • Train Tickets: Many train tickets are non-refundable and non-changeable. Some train tickets are 75%-80% refundable if canceled within 72 post booking and notification is received by ItaliaRail. Or if printed tickets are returned at least 7 days of purchase date on order, such tickets must be returned to address listed below.
  • Pass Exchanges: Pass exchanges must be made via the address listed below. Once your request is received in our office, we will exchange the pass. If there is a rate increase, you will just pay the difference in price plus a $15.00USD exchange fee, and new shipping charges. If the exchange causes a rate decrease, you will be charged a 15% cancellation penalty on the old pass, the cost of the new pass plus a new shipping fee.
  • Ticket Exchanges: Requests to change electronic tickets must be made a minimum of 72 hours prior to departure or at the self-service machines within the train station. If there is a rate increase, you will just pay the difference in price plus a $20.00USD exchange fee. Most e-tickets only allow for a one-time change to your booking and it must be on the same train routes as originally booked and only for a trains departure after your scheduled departure. See fare rules for more information.
  • Reservations: If your invoice says International Ticket ® you must return the ticket to the address listed below, and it must be received in our office outside of 7 days prior to the train departure date to receive 80% refund. If your invoice says International Ticket (A), the reservations are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.
  • Shipping and handling fees are non-refundable.
  • RRP (Rail Refund Plan) is non-refundable and non-transferable.

All refund requests where noted above must be sent in a trackable manner to:

ItaliaRail Refunds
13-25 Main Street
Unit 4A
Franklin, MA
02038
USA

All pass exchange requests where noted above must be sent in a trackable manner to:

ItaliaRail Exchanges
13-25 Main Street
Unit 4A
Franklin, MA
02038
USA

What happens if there is a train strike?

Train strikes, like other transportation strikes, are out of our control. Although we will work on your behalf with the railway, there is no guarantee that you will be refunded in event of a strike. It can take up to six months for a final response from the railway.

What if my question is not answered here?

If your question is not answered here, please email service@italiarail.com.

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