Taking the train through Europe is an excellent way to get around, and having a rail pass makes doing that easy. There are some trips for which point-to-point tickets might be the better option, but for many trips a rail pass is the way to go.
Rail passes are the ideal choice for travelers who don't have a set itinerary and therefore want the ability to flexible with travel plans. They can be money savers for itineraries that cover lots of ground or long distances, especially through multiple countries or on the more expensive high-speed trains. Rail passes save travelers time when no reservations or supplements are required, since you can just hop on board the train with your pass and avoid the long lines at a station's ticket counters.
For some train trips, seat reservations or supplemental fees must be purchased even if you have a rail pass, so it's important to know in advance whether your trip requires either one. Failure to get the correct reservations or supplements can result in a fine.
An arrangement among 28 different national railways in Europe allows Eurail Pass holders to travel through 28 European countries with ease. You have several Eurail Pass options, depending on where and how long you plan to travel:
- Global Pass - As the name implies, a Global Pass covers all 28 Eurail nations.
- One-Country Pass - Again, as the name suggests, a One-Country Pass is limited to travel in one nation.
You can choose a Eurail Pass good for either first class or second class, and there are discounted passes available for travelers age 26 and under or groups of 2-5 people traveling on the same itinerary. Children age 11 and under travel with an adult passenger for free, but will have their own pass.
Not everyone can use a Eurail Pass, however. They are only intended for people who are not residents of Europe, the Russian Federation, or Turkey - residents of those places are eligible for an InterRail Pass instead.
Eurail Pass features include:
- Unlimited rail travel in one or more specific countries
- 3, 4, 5, 8 or 10 days within a 1- or 2-month period
- Children ages 11 and under travel for FREE (one child travels free with each paying adult)
- Some trains in France and Italy require advance reservations that are not included on a rail pass
- Youth Pass offers discounts on second class travel for passengers under 26 years of age
- Bonuses such as free or reduced transportation on private railroads, national or international ferry crossings and buses, as well as discounts on hotel, automobile rentals, museums and other attractions