Europe itinerary Q & A: Rail passes, flights, hotels, how long to stay and more

With 50 or so different countries, planning a trip to Europe (especially for the first time) can seem overwhelming. Many people head to London and/or Paris first just to get a feel for the place, but if you are going a long distance to get there it’s worth exploring more if you are able.

Having been fortunate enough to have explored most of Europe’s countries and highlights over the years, I continue to research and write about European travel on this site. I’ve been getting a wide variety of interesting questions on many of those articles, most notably on the article about Europe rail Passes and whom they are right for.

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Ask a question and I'll try to answer it

It turns out that I really enjoy answering questions about European itineraries and transportation, so I’m trying to make the process even easier. I’ve moved a few dozen questions from other articles to the bottom of this page, and many people have mentioned that reading other answers can be helpful in general.

Since the list is already pretty long it might be easier to search for text on the page by doing a Command-F (Mac) or Control-F (Windows) and typing in what you are searching for, like “Paris” or “Eurostar” or “Germany” and you’ll be taken directly to questions and answers on that topic.

And feel free to ask your own new question in the comments at the bottom of this page. I usually answer within 24 hours. I’ll move most of the questions and answers into the body of this article to make them easier for people to search.

Europe rail pass basics

I cover this topic extensively on the Eurail Pass article so please skim that for answers to most questions. But the short version is: Rail passes can be great for those going mainly between major cities that are 200 to 700 kilometers apart. For shorter journeys it’s almost always cheaper to buy individual tickets (even if you have a rail pass for the rest of your trip) and on longer journeys it’s often better to fly. But most major cities are within this range, so a rail pass is worth considering for many itineraries.

The other key point is that European rail tickets tend to be quite cheap if you buy them at least a month in advance, but they are very expensive if you buy them near the day of travel. With a Eurail Pass you often have to pay for a seat reservation on trains, but those (especially in 1st Class) are usually available on very short notice, and they mostly only cost around €5. Check how far in advance you need to buy Europe train tickets to get low fares.

Here are my best Eurail Pass tips and tricks to save money and get the most use out of a pass.

Classic first itinerary: London, France, and Italy

France, Italy, and England are the most common stops for first trips to Europe from elsewhere. An ideal itinerary is to fly into London and stay at least 3 or 4 days there before taking the Eurostar to Paris for at least 3 or 4 days. For those with two or more weeks it’s common to then head to the south of France and then into Italy before flying home.

>>>Germany itinerary suggestions
>>>France and Italy itinerary suggestions

Basic itinerary tips for Europe

New: 9 Best first-time itineraries to Europe for 1 to 3 weeks

Don’t try to move too fast

Compared to the US, Canada, or Australia, Europe is a compact place, but nearly everyone still tries to see too many places in too little time. Including travel days, you should allow for at least three days per destination, and hopefully more. In other words, if you will be in Europe for 21 days then don’t plan more than 7 destinations, and 5 or 6 is better.

Here are quick guidelines to help you decide how long to stay in each European city.

For major cities allow at least 3 nights

Even if you intend to move very quickly, you should allow a minimum of 3 (or hopefully 4) nights in the following cities:

  • London
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Berlin
  • Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Istanbul

For any other city allow at least 2 nights

Again, even on the fastest itineraries you’ll need at least 2 nights in order to see even the basics. And if your train ride is longer than 5 hours, or if you are flying, your travel day doesn’t even really count because from hotel in one city to hotel in the next, you’ll use at least 8 hours and you’ll be too tired to see much until the following morning anyway.

Europe itinerary, rail pass, flights, hotels, hostels questions and answers

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Me and my friends will be traveling in Europe for about 8 weeks starting in late March. We plan to be in

Italy ~ 2 weeks – Rome, Florence, and 1 other place – suggestions?
France ~ 2 weeks – Paris and maybe 2 other places – once again, suggestions?
Belgium ~ not sure how long, what would you recommend?
Amsterdam ~ 3 days
Germany ~ 2 weeks, suggestions?
Prague ~ 3 days

Since France is not participating in the Select Pass this year, that kind of ruins things. I’m thinking for Italy and France I will just buy some tickets in advance (Rome to Florence is only 19 Euros if I get it now – Paris to Brussels is also very cheap) and buy regional tickets when I get there. Or should I not buy train tickets in advance and just buy everything regional, since the advance tickets are all premier trains and seem like they’d be more expensive? Then I am thinking that a 3-country Select pass will take care of the rest. What do you think?

For Italy and France we will only go to 3 different cities within each max, because we want time to catch our breath and enjoy it. We have a free place to stay in Paris, so we’ll most likely be there at least a week. Do you think within the context of the trip 2 weeks apiece is enough for Italy and France?

Also, do you think we should add Cologne to the mix since it’s included in Benelux?

Thank you for all your help!
Cristobal

ANSWER

Cristobal,
That’s a lot of questions, but I’ll try my best…

For Italy, spend 1 or 2 nights in Venice as well. It’s insanely crowded during the day, but evenings and mornings are amazing there.

For France, you might think about Nice and the coastal cities in that area (Cannes, Monaco), since it will be quite cold inland. But in France there are dozens of great choices so you can’t go wrong.

You can do Belgium in only a few days. Brussels is expensive and the good stuff can be seen in a day. Bruges is definitely worth two days, and Antwerp is also worth a day or two.

In Germany, Munich and Berlin are the two must-see cities for first-time visitors, worth several days each. You might add a side trip to nearby Salzburg, Austria from Munich. You’ll love it. Rothenburg is very touristy but also lovely and worth a day. Skip Frankfurt. From Berlin you can quickly reach a few other interesting cities, but Berlin is huge and you won’t run out of things to do there.

For a trip like this where you have a lot of time and it’s all in the off-season, I’d just buy train tickets once you are there. For pretty much every stop you’ll be making, there are literally trains every 30 to 60 minutes during the day. If you want an express train you might go to the station the day before to buy your ticket, but even if you just show up you should get seats easily. The only thing to avoid is an early-morning express train between two business cities, like 8am from Paris to Lyon. Those are often crowded, but those leaving after 9am are usually half empty.

Bon voyage. -Roger
Reply

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
After reading all of the above (including comments) I’m a little confused. Some parts of my trip some people would call Eastern Europe, but other people (including Lonely Planet) would call it “Central” Europe. I’m 26 and travelling by myself for a month (first big overseas trip!).

I’m starting in Frankfurt (got cheap flights!) then going: Munich, Salzburg, Ljubljana, Split (8 day island hopper cruise), Zagreb, Budapest, Bratislava, maybe Vienna, Krakow, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Berlin, Frankfurt.. Not necessarily in that order. My question is, are the trains decent enough to get a Eurail pass, or should I go by bus?

Thank you in advance for your help
Caitlin

ANSWER

Caitlin,
Yes, Central Europe is probably a better name for much of that area, geographically. The east vs. west label has more to do with modern vs. trying to catch up.

For a trip like this I wouldn’t recommend a Eurail Pass. The stops are all close enough together that the individual tickets won’t be that much, and parts of it you might want to do by bus anyway. In Croatia the trains are still pretty slow, although they are cheap. For the rest of your stops the trains are very good. The possibility that might make sense is a Eurail Select Pass for 5 days within one month for Germany, which will cost around €200. On the other hand, Germany often has fare sales for weekends and on slow trains, so unless you are in a hurry, don’t bother with a pass.

This looks like a great trip and you should have no trouble getting train tickets on the day, or the day before if you prefer. And buses are also possible for most of all of these, which are cheaper but less comfortable and usually take a bit longer. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello Roger

It seems you are like the “man in the know”. I have looked through your answers above. I am planning to do a trip to Italy. Starting out from Venice or Verona then down to Florence, Rome and Naples. I plan to be away for about 3/4 weeks. Should I get a rail pass (I am a senior citizen) or should I just buy the tickets as I go. I know Venice quite well but this would be the first time heading further south. I will be travelling on my own. Thank you.
Rita

ANSWER

Rita,
Thank you for the kind words. There’s no need or good reason to get a rail pass for a trip like the one you are taking. The individual train tickets between those cities are cheap, and they leave every hour or even more frequently. Those cities are all literally 2 to 4 hours apart by train, so just go to the train station and the next one will probably leave within 30 minutes, and will cost you around €10 to €18 (US$13 to US$25) each. An Italiarail Pass might cost just a bit less, but it’s more hassle, so just wing it and you’ll do great.
-Roger

QUESTION

Hello:

Me and my husband are planning to travel Switzerland and Paris in late May 2013. I would greatly appreciate if you could answer my following questions:

1. We will stay at various places in Switzerland and would like to stay there for 3 days. Could you please list the most attractive and beautiful places that we must visit in Switzerland. These are the places I found online:
• The Grossmunster, Zurich
• Chillon Castle, Montreux
• Interlaken
• The Castles of Bellinzona
• Lugano
• matterhorn
• The Old City of Bern
• The Chapel Bridge, Lucerne
• Mt. Pilatus
• The Gates to the Walled City, Basel
• The Grossmunster, Zurich
• The Zytglogge, Bern
• st moritz
• Palace of Nations, Geneva
Please suggest which places should I must cover within my 3 days stay in Switzerland?

2. We have kept 1 day to visit Paris only. We are planning to by Eurail regional pass from France – Switzerland which is ‘France – Switzerland Pass Saver’ at 390 USD per person. Is it worth to buy these tickets? If I buy those tickets, can we travel in both in between France and Switzerland and also within France and Switzerland itself?

3. Could you please help me in which order should we travel these places (as I already told you we will stay 3 days in Switzerland and 1 day in Paris)?

-Thanks, Tanya

ANSWER

Tanya,
That looks like a good list of highlights in Switzerland, but I can’t really make my own recommendations since I don’t know the country very well and I know nothing about your tastes. The larger cities of Zurich and Basel are interesting, but most people seem to prefer the scenic highlights like Interlaken and Lucerne. You might read Lonely Planet’s top picks for the country, as they are quite reliable for most people.

Also, with 3 total days in the country, you’ll really want to pick one or perhaps two places to visit.

2. With a France-Switzerland Pass Saver you can travel anywhere in or between those two countries, although the fastest Paris trains might cost extra. For a total of 4 days the only way it would be worth buying a pass is if you were taking the train twice per day in Switzerland, for the busiest tour possible.

3. The order to visit should be easy for you to figure out once you decide on your exact destinations. There are fast, direct trains between all the major cities, leaving hourly or thereabouts, so just pick the shortest loop.
-Roger

QUESTION

Roger,
This is a wonderful column! I have a question that needs an honest answer. My partner and I are planning a 21 day European vacation.

We are starting off with four days in Barcelona and stopping in Rome(3 days), Amsterdam(3 days), Paris(3 days) and London(8 days). We are trying to figure out if we should fly between each city or take the train. The flights would serve as a cheaper travel alternative; The trains. although much more expensive, give us a lot more freedom for sightseeing and room to relax.

Which mode of transportation would be the best for us, in your honest opinion? I have heard countless horror stories about European cheapflights. Would love for you to give us some insight!
-Nellie

ANSWER

Nellie, when I first wrote this article I didn’t expect it would lead to so many specific questions like it has, but I do enjoy answering what I can, so I’m happy to do it.

As for your trip, I agree that trains are far more enjoyable than flights, especially in Europe with so much nice scenery along every railway. Also, when comparing the costs of both you have to add in the airport transportation on both ends to the plane ticket.

On the other hand, Barcelona and Rome are more than 12 hours apart by train, which only makes a little bit of sense if you do the Barcelona to Milan part on a night train. Still, I’d fly. Rome to Amsterdam are also at least as far apart, so I’d fly on that one too. But Amsterdam to Paris is only about 3 hours by high speed train, and Paris is under 3 hours to London by Eurostar, so I’d definitely take those trains.

The Eurostar works like airfares in that they are quite low well in advance and then the price keeps going up as it approaches, so I’d buy those ASAP. I actually just got a 20% coupon for the Eurostar.
20% Off Eurostar Tickets Now

By the way, the Eurostar seats are as small as airline seats, and there isn’t much scenery on either side, but it’s still way faster than flying. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Have a question I hope you could help me out with. Thinking about the Benelux Youth Pass (5 days within the month) and was curious if it would be worth it. By reading your article it seems that it may be, but wasn’t sure given the short distances we plan to cover.

Here are the 5 trips we are planning:

Brussels to Antwerp round trip (within 1 day)
Brussels to Ghent round trip (within 1 day)
Brussels to Luxembourg
Luxembourg to Brugge
Brugge to Amsterdam

Any advice? Thanks so much for your help and article!
Andrew

ANSWER

Andrew, you could go either way on this one, but if it were me I’d get the Benelux Youth Pass. It looks like you are going to use the hell out of it, and I mean that in a good way. Doing those round-trips in one day will make this really good value. Also, on those round-trip days it will be extra nice to just show up at the train station and just jump on the next train without having to spend 15 minutes in line for each direction.

Considering that the 5-day Youth Pass is relatively cheap, there isn’t much to lose, and it’s really fun to be able to just go anywhere in the region on those travel days. Have fun. -Roger

QUESTION

I am flying to Frankfurt in July (cheapest flight I find from San Francisco) and going to Gotland for two days and then to Istanbul (and on east to Van Lake area & Mt. Ararat) back to central Turkey and then to Greece (and Crete if time). I will have about 25 days. If any time left I plan on Zermatt in Switzerland on my way back to Frankfurt for return flight.

Would you recommend Eurail to secure a place on train and would I be saving money by just going independent. I know Turkey and Greece are cheap but not sure how much the Gotland and trips from and to Frankfurt would cost. I’d like to include Ireland but will wait for another time as I know that would be too much in too short a time. Definitely I want Gotland and East Turkey. Thanks.

Oh, and do you know if there are ferry boats between Turkey and Greece and if there is about how expensive they are. If train is too expensive for Frankfurt to Gotland and then to Istanbul, are buses much cheaper. Thanks again.

ANSWER

Tom, if you are referring to Gotland in Sweden, I’d fly there from Frankfurt. A train would take a long time and cost quite a bit, but not be a good use of a Eurail Pass. Your itinerary is very unusual with stops in far corners of Europe (or actually well into Asia in Central Turkey). Aside from flying to Sweden, I’d buy tickets once you get there. Buses are generally cheaper, and in Turkey they are pretty much your only choice.

There are many ferries between Turkey and Greece and they are generally quite cheap, though not as cheap as the ones that don’t cross borders. You can buy those on the spot as well, or maybe the day before so they can process your passport. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger: I have decided to edit Gotland from my trip (time & expense) and go straight from Frankfurt to Istanbul. I am going to have about thirty days only so was wondering if you knew about how long it might take by train to Istanbul from Frankfurt and about how long by bus.

And would it be expensive….or would it make better sense to fly from Frankfurt to Istanbul if it isn’t much more expensive. On my schedule I hope it wouldn’t be more than two days. Also on my way back do you know about how long it would take by train or bus from Thessaloniki, Greece to Franfurt from where I fly home. Again, I’m hoping not more than two days. Thanks very much.

ANSWER

Tom, saving Sweden for another trip seems wise. You’ll almost certainly be better off flying on all of your stops, which is advice I rarely give. Europe has loads of low cost airlines, so if you buy tickets well in advance they are usually cheaper than train journeys lasting 6 hours or more. Often they are way cheaper.

Also, for the last year or so, the train service in Greece has been pretty much shut down for budget reasons, and in Turkey it’s shut down for a few years for renovations. So the trains really only go as far south as Sofia, and between Belgrade and Sofia they are very slow and old fashioned anyway.

I normally travel by train or bus whenever I can because I’m rarely in a hurry and I love it. But in that part of the world, flying is best. The buses within Turkey are cheap, comfortable, and pretty fast, so once you get to Istanbul you’ll be able to get anywhere on them easily. Don’t miss Cappadocia if you are anywhere near it. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I need some advice about travel in Germany. My daughter and I are planning a 13 day trip starting and concluding in Paris. Currently, we have reservations in Paris for the first 4 nights ( May 29- June 2).

Initially, we had planned to take the train from Paris to Lucerne and stay there from June 2. – June 5 and then take the train from Lucerne to Stuttgart and stay there from June 5 – June 8. Finally, we would return to Paris for the last 2 nights ( June8-10).

I have begun to question whether a stay in Stuttgart is a good idea as it doesn’t seem nearly as attractive as Munich and the Black Forest , Heidelberg and Rothenburg. So, all that said (or written) do you have a suggested itinerary that would give us a good sampling of Munich, the Black Forest area(Freiburg),Rothenburg and Heidelberg?

Though we are anxious to see Lucerne, we may have to sacrifice a stay there ( or shorten it at least) in order to see these sights in Germany.

Additionally, do you think 6 days in Paris is too much time given our short timeframe? I would appreciate any guidance. I am trying to provide my 18 year old daughter with a wonderful and memorable trip to celebrate her graduation . Thanks!
Allison

ANSWER

Allison, I agree with you about Stuttgart not being an ideal stop for first-time visitors to Germany (unless they are big Mercedes or Porsche fans). Those other places you mention are better options, although Munich is quite large and a bit out of the way for such a quick visit. I’d opt for 2 nights in Heidelberg and 1 night in Rothenburg (which is a magical little place if you spend the night and do the Nightwatchman’s Tour).

As for Paris, I don’t think that 6 days is “too much time” but on the other hand, I think 4 or 5 nights is plenty for a first visit and you might get more benefit from spending that extra day or two somewhere else. Except for Stuttgart (and including Munich), all of these choices are really lovely so no matter how you divide the time you’ll have a great trip. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Thank you for all your help! I ,now, have a question about the appropriate rail pass to purchase. My daughter and I will be taking the train from Paris to Heidelberg, from Heidelberg to Rothenburg, Rothenburg to Munich and finally Munich to Paris. ( we may take a day trip to Freiberg and possibly to Salzburg out of Munich as well )

Do you advise that we purchase a France / Germany Rail Pass? Also, if we do so, do we still have to make reservations for each trip (or just show up at the station)? If so, can reservations be made in advance and online?
Allison

ANSWER

Allison, your best option for a rail pass would be buying two Second Class France-Germany passes, but it might not save much money because you aren’t covering long distances in either country, although the Paris to the German border train is fairly expensive on its own.

On the other hand, the only journeys you’d need reservations for are the ones in and out of France, so it’s quite convenient just being able to hop on the trains within Germany (and to Salzburg). When you do need to reserve a seat for a train it’s best to do it at the station, and you can almost always make it just before you depart. To be safe I usually reserve the day before, but on all of these routes there are hourly trains and as long as you don’t go before 9am or so (when many business people travel for the day) you can get on almost any train after a short wait in the ticket/reservations queue.-Roger

QUESTION

Hi roger! I hope you have the time to answer a few questions.

I’m planning to travel this july for around 3/4 weeks in europe and we are wanting to visit rome (3days), pisa (1day), venice(3 days), 3 days in salzburg or vienna (preferably vienna), Prague(2/3days) and 3 days in berlin.

First off, is this feasible and would it be a good route for a first timers european trip? We’re looking for around 21-25 days in total.

Also we have read elsewhere that point to point tickets would be better than a pass, is this your view as well?
Thanks!
Chris

ANSWER

Chris, That looks like a pretty good itinerary, at least if you are determined to move so quickly. One thing though, Venice is a stunning place, but it’s quite small and it’s insanely crowded (especially in July). I’d recommend no more than 2 nights there, and maybe only one. From 10am until 6pm it’s a zoo, but in the mornings and evenings you can see a lot in a hurry, so I’d book a central hotel on the main island and visit quickly.

Aside from that you are still moving pretty fast. The point to point tickets in Italy will be cheap, and the others still not too expensive, so a pass wouldn’t make sense. If you prefer to make all your hotel reservations in advance, then this itinerary should work out fine. But if you only make them as you go, you might decide to skip one or two cities and stay longer in others. -Roger

QUESTION

For train ticket options, I agree that a pass would not normally be beneficial but I qualify for the youth pass and the 10 days travel in 22 days seems like it could come into the picture as it costs £220. (This would mean £22 for each journey day). As the itinery is tight I would not be buying tickets early and would only get them the day before departure or at the station on the day, just incase the plan changes.

Do you think, from experience, that buying tickets on the day (2nd class) would work out better for such a route? Taking into consideration the price for a youth pass.
Chris

ANSWER

Chris, for that price and considering your route includes some pretty long jumps, I’d definitely get the Youth Pass. Chances are you’d have little trouble getting on trains on the spot, but during July the lines might be long to buy tickets and some trains might get full. So it’s quite a nice little luxury to just go to the train station and jump on the next train out without bothering with tickets. For €22 per ride you can’t go wrong. Buy it and bon voyage. -Roger
Reply

QUESTION

Hi Roger
My husband and I are planning a trip from Rome 3 days Cinque Terra
( how many days do you think) through Venice to Switzerland, 4 days then Austria, Prague and Berlin do you recommend a eurail pass or buying train tickets as we go. We plan to be away for 24 days in total.I find your column very helpful. Thanks
Stephanie

ANSWER

Stephanie, in your case you’d probably spend at least a bit less if you buy the tickets as you go, especially if you travel in Second Class. A Eurail Pass for those over 25 is First Class only, and if you can afford it you might find it’s well worth it.

You could just buy individual tickets until you were ready to leave Venice, and then validate a short Eurail Pass for the rest. Being able to just walk into the train station and jump on the next train is worth a lot on a fast-moving trip like yours. Otherwise you have to get there an hour early or go the day before in order to know which train you’ll have a seat on.

But whichever way you go, don’t use a Eurail Pass for those short stops within Italy because they are cheap and trains leave once or twice an hour at least. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Wow you’re awesome! I think I need some suggestions from you. Me and my friend have a plan to go for Euro Trip this summer (August).

We’re planning to be there for one month. First we will fly to London and spend a couple days there (maybe from 29-31th July), then we’ll start the Euro Trip from August 1st. And the itinerary that we’ve made is like this:

Amsterdam – Berlin (and maybe visit other cities as well in Germany like Frankfurt) – Prague – Warsaw (and also Krakow) – Budapest – Vienna – Milan (and will visit other cities as well as we have a friend that can bring us anywhere while in Italy) – Zurich – Paris – Barcelona (and Madrid as well) – Lisbon, then maybe come back to Madrid for our flight to get back home.

So I wanna ask about the Eurail. Do you think we should buy it? And if yes, which type do you prefer?

And second do you think it’s a good itinerary? We haven’t planned yet for how many days we’ll spend in each city, but we have total 1 month for them. What do you think, Roger? Your advice will be really helpful.
Thanks a lot
Farhan

ANSWER

Farhan,
The way I count it, you are planning on hitting at least 13 continental cities after leaving London, in 30 days. That’s too many. On one hand, I am an advocate for “fast travel” but even then you are trying to fit too much in.

One reasonable way to think about it is that each travel day is a day you won’t be doing any sightseeing. By the time you check out of a hotel, head to the train station, sit on the train for 3 to 6 hours, and get into your next hotel, the day is shot. So with this plan you only allow about 18 sightseeing days mixed with 13 travel days. On the other hand, the scenery between each city can be lovely, so it’s not like wasting a day at airports, but it’s still not a good mix.

Looking at your list, Amsterdam and Berlin are great, but skip Frankfurt. See Prague and skip Warsaw on the way to Krakow. Budapest is nice, as is Vienna, but Milan is Italy’s least interesting tourist city. Zurich is insanely expensive and not worthwhile. Paris deserves a week if you can spare it, but at least 3 days at a minimum. Save Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon for another trip. They are all great, but too far apart to appreciate in such a short time.

So if you are down to maybe 7 or 8 cities in a month, then I think a Eurail Pass could be ideal, especially in August which is very busy on European trains. Book a Eurostar train from London to Amsterdam ASAP (for the lowest price) and activate your Eurail Pass when you leave Amsterdam for Berlin.

QUESTION

Hey Roger,
Thank you very very much for the advice!

I read the fast travel article, it was quite interesting. That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about also. But if it’s too much, I think I’ll follow what you said. I’m ready to cut Frankfurt, Warsaw, and Zurich from the list. But I’m very eager to visit Barcelona or Madrid (I’m ready to cut Lisbon also if it’s too far). Do you think there’s a way to still put them on the list? And do you have an idea how many days to stay for each cities? Cause I still don’t have any idea.

PS: Not to mention that Eastern Europe is also amazing, especially Bucharest, Sofia, and Athens. But I know that I have to be rational for the trip haha.

Thanks for the advice on Eurail and Eurostar. So it should be the 15 days in 2 month? Or do you know which one the best for this trip?

Thank you again. I’m starting to believe this trip will be awesome and unforgettable since I read your articlse and asked for your advices.
Farhan

ANSWER

Farhan, It’s my pleasure to try to help. If you will have only 31 days on the Continent, I’d go with the 10 days out of 2 months Eurail Pass. As I said before, you really should shoot for fewer than 11 cities (10 trips between them), but at least with a First Class Eurail Pass you won’t waste time in ticket queues. Although be aware that on some of the high-speed trains you have to pay a bit (like €5 to €10) for a seat reservation even with a Eurail Pass.

On your list, if you insist on moving at a very fast pace, Amsterdam is quite compact and in 1.5 days you can see the highlights. Berlin is huge and spread out so allow 2 non-travel days there. Prague and Budapest are also fairly compact so they can be quicker stops. Allow at least 3 non-travel days in Paris. Barcelona is quite large and full of highlights so I’d allow at least 2 non-travel days there. Madrid is nice, as is Lisbon, but if I were you I’d save those or only visit them if you are somehow still motivated to move quickly near the end of your trip. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger!
You are great! I need a little help here. My girlfriend and I are planning a little trip through some parts of Europe this summers. We will start from Paris and will have around 10 days.We were thinking of doing Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Greece. Which Eurail pass do you recommend? Also, do you have any idea about the accommodation, details of it and the prices? How do you suggest we go about? Kindly give us any other suggestion you might have regarding the same.
Thanks
Jeff

ANSWER

Jeff, thanks. Ummmm…if I’m reading this correctly, you are going to be in Europe for 10 days and you are thinking about hitting 5 countries? Eurail Passes are really only for longer trips, so point-to-point is the way to go.
From your list I’m going to recommend with spending all 10 days in Paris and Rome, with 1 or 2 days in Venice.

Please have a look at this article I wrote about Europe’s great cities that supports it.

If you choose not to go to Italy then maybe Vienna and Salzburg instead of Rome and Venice. Greece is a bit of a mess right now, and Switzerland is insanely expensive.

As for prices and budgeting, please see my Europe Backpacker Index, which shows almost all of these cities ranked by average daily price.

If I’ve misunderstood your question or timeline, ask again and I’ll take another shot. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger!
Thanks for the reply. We have 10 days excluding Paris. So we were thinking of choosing between Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Greece. Also what do you mean when you say point-to-point? I had heard of the cruise between Italy and Greece

so we were thinking of doing that. Any suggestions are most welcome!
Thanks in advance

ANSWER

Jeff, okay, that makes more sense then. By point-to-point I mean buying train (or plane) tickets as you go from one place to the next rather than using a Eurail Pass. For plane tickets it’s better to buy them ASAP, but for train tickets you can get away with buying them on the day or the day before.
There are ferries between Italy and Greece, which resemble cruise ships, but getting to the right place will take too much time out of the 10 days.
Unless you are a history buff, Greece is ideal for 2 or 3 days in Athens and then a week out on one of the popular holiday islands. On a trip like yours I wouldn’t do it.

Switzerland has a few very expensive big cities but most tourists go to the scenic towns in the Alps, which are also expensive. I love Salzburg, Austria as an alternative, but I think Vienna is too out of the way for your schedule. It’s curious that you didn’t mention Germany. Munich is a wonderful city, not far from Salzburg.

But overall if this is your first trip to Europe (I’m guessing) you’ll get the most bang for your buck in Italy. One way would be to take a train from Paris to Nice (which is interesting and also good for quick side trips to Monaco and Cannes) and then a train to Rome or Venice or Florence. From there you could circle around to the other two and then back to Paris. Another way would be to fly from Paris to Rome and then do that circuit by train. If you book well in advance you can get airfares for less than train fares. Paris, Rome, Venice, and Florence is an amazing itinerary if you can pull it off, and adding Nice makes it even nicer. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi again Roger!
We decided on your advice and would be doing Paris, Nice-Cannes and then move on to Italy from there. I wanted your advice as to how do we do that. We want to do Rome, Venice and Florence for sure. In what order do you suggest we do them so as to minimize the travel. Also, would a regional France-Italy Eurail pass make sense here? Do give any other suggestions that might help us. Thanks in advance

ANSWER

Jeff, very cool. I’m sure you’ll love that group of cities. The France-Italy Eurail Pass might be ideal for that because you’ll be covering quite a bit of ground in a short time.

This is quite a common question and topic, and one I know a lot about, so I’ve decided to write a full article about an ideal France-Italy 2-week itinerary.
-Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Liked your column very much. I would sincerely appreciate some advice from you on Eurail passes.

I will be in Europe with my teenage daughter. Will be doing these (return) trips for sure:
Brussels-Den Haag-Brussels
Den Haag-Paris_Den Haag
Den Haag-Amsterdam-Den Haag
Maybe Den Haag-Luxenbourg-Den Haag

1. Does it make sense to take a Benelux France Eurail Pass for both of us?

2. I am told that international/faster trains need reservation, how do you do that? Is it an inconvenient/time-consuming process?

3. Can you buy eurail passes from Thomas Cook/other agents in your own country?
Thank you!
Krishna

ANSWER

Krishna,
Thank you.

1. With only one short trip into France on your 4 journeys, the Benelux-France pass isn’t a good deal. It’s quite expensive because France is huge and the longer trips within the country are pricey. You’d be much better off with just a Benelux Pass, and buying the Paris tickets separately. On the other hand, all those trips are pretty short and relatively cheap, especially in 2nd Class (if you are over 25 you have to buy a First Class Pass), so you might just buy tickets as you go. It’s all very easy (in English) in that part of Europe.

2. If you do buy a pass and want to ride on the express trains, it’s pretty easy to make the reservation. You just go into the main train station and get in line in the international tickets area (sometimes it’s a separate room and other times it’s just separate windows in the same room). When your number is called you just tell them that you want to reserve a seat for a specific train and that you have a pass, and they’ll charge you about €5 and print out a ticket for the specific seat. Then when you board you show them that ticket and also your pass, which the conductor will punch. Since you’d be reserving in First Class, there will almost always be a seat, but it might take 30 minutes in line to get it.

3. Only non-European residents can buy and use Eurail Passes, so if you are in the UK then you aren’t eligible. If you are outside of Europe then you can get the passes from travel agents, though they tend to be cheaper bought online. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger
How much are charges for reservation for eurail passes, say Paris-Rotterdam, ballpark?
Thanks again!
Reply

ANSWER

Krishna, As of a few years ago they were generally €5 tp €10 per seat/reservation, so it’ll be close to that. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger! I’m departing next week to Frankfurt and I’m still undecided if I should buy a Eurail Pass (10 days in 2 months) or buying the tickets on the internet. I’ll go to Germany, Netherlands, France,Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary and I’ll be in Europe 1 and half month (42 days).

I did my research and buying the tickets in ther internet would save me 25-30% off the price that I would pay if I buy a Eurail pass. I know that I would be tied to a schedule, but I feel the same way with the Eurail pass because most of the trips requires a reservation. It would be great just to hop in the train with nothing to worry and makes any changes, but I feel that the Eurail pass will not give me that feeling. I feel they’re kind of the same. In the other hand buying 10 train tickets in different websites can be tedious and may be risky. I really need your advice.
Rafael

ANSWER

Rafael, The last time I used a (1st Class) Eurail Pass a few years ago I think I only had to make one reservation out of 10 journeys. The normal city to city trains are already quite fast and it’s mostly the night trains and the TGVs in France (plus a few German trains) that require reservations.

Still, if you’ve calculated that you can save that much by buying point to point tickets, it means that you are mostly doing shorter journeys than the Eurail Pass is ideal for. For example, a train from Berlin to Copenhagen can cost maybe €150 each way, so with a few of those a Eurail Pass makes sense. But if your itinerary is mostly one major city to the next, and more in the south than the north, then go for individual tickets.

I’d buy the first one in advance, and maybe a few more on trips that the dates are locked in, but you are probably fine buying most of them once in Europe, and it’ll probably be cheaper as well. -Roger

QUESTION

I am planning to start my euro tour from Zurich in December for two weeks covering Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and return to Zurich before flying home. I rather stay in budget hotel but I want to travel only by trains without hassle. Please suggest whether I should take the rail pass ? Thanks.
Mahen

ANSWER

Mahan, you are going through a very expensive area for train fares so it could make sense to go with a Eurail Pass. If you are over 25 you have to buy a First Class Rail Pass, and that might be especially nice in later December because millions of Europeans use trains to go places for the holidays.

The Rail Pass also cuts down on hassle, although if you are willing to travel in Second Class (which is still pretty nice) it’ll probably be a bit cheaper than the First Class Rail Pass. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I will be traveling in Euro in June for 16 days. We arrive and leave from Munich. I don’t know if it is better to go from Munich to Vienna,Budapest, Cesky Krumlov, Prague, Regensburg Munich or go the opposite direction Munich to Regensburg, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Munich. Should I get a eruo rail pass? We will be 3 nights in Hungary & Czech?
Evelyn

ANSWER

Evelyn, for a trip like yours I wouldn’t recommend a rail pass. Most of your journeys will be quite short so the individual tickets will be relatively cheap. For trips within Germany you can sometimes even get deals for traveling in groups or on weekends, and those tickets can be very inexpensive. As for which order to go in, the logistics are the same in either direction so it’s just personal choice. Either way should be wonderful. -Roger
Reply

QUESTION

Hi Roger, can you tell me what’s easiest way from Brasov to Prague via Bratislava? Train/bus? Haven’t been able to pin down info online. One site said there was no direct train from Brasov to Prague. Thanks much, Alina

ANSWER

Alina, you could take either a train or a bus from Brasov to Prague, but in either case you’ll switch in Budapest along the way. The Romanian train system might not be fully integrated with the rest of Europe for purchasing one ticket all the way, but there are several daily trains from Brasov to Budapest and many more daily trains from Budapest to Prague (including some that might go through Bratislava).

When you are looking for the two train journeys it’s important to leave at least two hours or so (if not more) in between. The trains in that part of Europe are often an hour or more late. Also, be aware that there are two main international train stations in Budapest (connected by Metro) so if you are arriving at one and departing from the other you’ll need to add at least another 30 minutes to be sure you’ll make it. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger, I will be travelling in Europe in June for 2 months. I arrive and leave from Madrid.

I have been reading many articles in this web site and I still have a big doubt: I will travel in “high season” and I don’t know how calculate how much money I will spend in hostels, meals, transportation, etc. All the estimate prices are calculated for low season (i think), so i’m very confused about that. Please help me!

I want to visit countries that Eurail Pass admits: Spain, France, Italy, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland. So i’m 80% sure about to use this way to move in Europe.

The big question is: how much money I need to travel in june-july? (aprox).
Thank you very much! and excuse my english, but is not my native language haha.
Pia

ANSWER

Pia, the price ranges I use on this site for these cities are valid all year round. The only thing that is more expensive in high season is accommodation, and most hostels only charge a bit more in high season compared to low season.

So in Madrid for example a hostel might charge €15 in low season and €20 in summer. The easiest way to figure out hostel prices for your dates is to click on the links of those recommended hostels in the article. Each of them is the cheapest of the highly rated and well located hostels in each city, so put in your dates and you’ll have those costs figured out.

On the individual pages for each city you’ll see transport and attraction costs that are valid all year. And for food and drinks, it’s all a matter of where you go and how careful you are. In Madrid it’s easy to get a filling jambon (ham) sandwich for lunch for €3, but if you sit down at a restaurant in a main square you’ll be paying €10 or more for the cheapest item on the menu. If your funds are limited it’s easy to travel well without spending much.

In two months in all of those countries a Eurail Pass might be perfect because you’ll be doing long jumps. Just make sure you read up on it as the UK isn’t included although Ireland is. I’m sure you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. -Roger

QUESTION

I noticed that on some trains there is a Premier Class that is one notch above 1st class.

My first question is — does Premier Class have more legroom or larger, more reclining seats? (I have a handicap and need the extra space if it’s available). With a 1st class Global Eurail Pass, is it possible to upgrade to premier class on trains that have it, or are you required to either go 1st class or buy a separate premier class ticket and forego using the pass altogether? Thank you so much. Your knowledge of the rail systems and advantages is a lifesaver.
Angie

ANSWER

Angie, some of the trains that have Premiere 1st Class do have more legroom, but it’s worth noting that all 1st Class seats on European trains have ample legroom. (I’m very tall and I’m usually fine with legroom even in Second Class.)

The main benefit of Premiere 1st Class is that it comes with free drinks and often a free meal along with magazines and a few other little amenities.
All trains that offer Premiere 1st Class also require reservations for every seat, which are usually €5 to €10 each. With a 1st Class Rail Pass you can at that time pay extra for Premiere Class if it’s available, usually around €25 per journey. So it’s a small add-on and you can use your pass. Bon voyage. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello Roger,
I am traveling in June with my daughter (18) celebrating her graduation. We will fly into Paris and stay for 4 days. We ,then, plan to take a train to Lucerne and stay there 3 days. From Lucerne we plan to take a train to Stuttgart where we will stay 3 days . Finally, we will return to Paris via train for the remaining 2 days.

Do you suggest that we purchase Eurail passes or individual train tickets? Does this itinerary look attractive to you. My daughter has studied German for the last several years and is eager to spend time in the Black Forest and Stuttgart areas.
Thanks for your help
Allison

ANSWER

Allison, your itinerary includes only 3 journeys and they are all relatively short so a rail pass would not be a good idea. Either buy tickets as you go or if you prefer to lock everything in you can buy them in advance online. The city choices sound fantastic so I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful trip. -Roger
Reply

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
My wife and I are spending some time in europe this sept. We will be travelling by train and our itinerary is as follows in order:
London 3 nights, Paris 3 nights, Nice 2 nights, Florence 3 nights,
Rome 4 nights, then fly home. We will be making a day trip to Naples from Rome to see Pompei as well.

We have been concerned that we may be trying to accomplish too much and don’t want to spend all our time travelling on trains. Does this schedule seem too full for the time allotted? Also, what type of train pass would you recommend, if any? We would greatly appreciate any feedback regarding our euro adventure. Thank you
Adam

ANSWER

Adam, you’ve chosen a classic itinerary for this trip, which is almost identical to the suggested France and Italy itinerary I recently wrote about, except you are adding London. You can read a bit more about my recommendations in that article, but overall I’d say you are going quick, though not too quick.

If I were you I’d do Florence in two nights and add that extra night to London or Paris, unless you have something particular in Florence to do.

You will be spending a good chunk of time on trains, but the scenery is quite nice all the way so that should be relaxing and interesting (unlike air travel). As for passes, the Eurostar (train between London and Paris) should be bought as early as possible since the price goes up the closer you get (like most airlines).

You can get a discount on the Eurostar tickets if you buy a France-Italy regional rail pass, which would work pretty well for a trip like yours. Or you could buy tickets as you go. In September the crowds shouldn’t be bad, but a rail pass tends to make the trip easier and a bit nicer. -Roger

QUESTION

Good Morning Roger,
What a great service you offer. I’ll keep this brief as I can see how busy you are. In summary we are a family of 4 travelling from Bordeax to Anitibes (3 nights), Antibes to C.Terre (3 nights), C.Terre to Venice (3 nights) all within a periond of 2 weeks in July this year. The family will then split for a while and we have 1 adult from Milan to florence (August)and then 3 of us from Florence to Avignon mid August.

We are trying to determine the pros and cons associated with car hire versus Eurail pass vs train tickets purchased on the day. It can be rather complicated but from research it appears the Eurail offers more convenience and ease of travel although costly, however I wonder if the additional booking fee’s the agent is quoting $15 per person per leg of the booked journey + the $1318 eurail cost makes it more expensive than it should be if we were to combine some car hire with some instant train bookings? Your thoughts??
Michele

ANSWER

Michele, a France-Italy regional Eurail Pass might be a good choice for you, but still I think you aren’t making long enough jumps to make it worth it. It’ll be incredibly crowded in all of those areas in July and August. I don’t know much about the cost of a car hire in high season, though my understanding is that driving in the area is fairly easy, even if parking isn’t. I’d lean towards buying train tickets as you go. None of those journeys is too long or expensive and you might even find some regional trains (rather than express trains) will work. -Roger

QUESTION

Thanks Roger. So in essence, although a busy time of year, you think it would be okay to book as we go regardless of the fact we could pre-book with the Eurail pass? Can you pre-book 3 days a head at any train station for your next trip?
regards Michele

ANSWER

Michele, yes, you can book train tickets in person at any station in the same country for up to 6 months in advance. To be safe you might even buy the outgoing tickets on arrival, especially if you know the exact date and time you want to travel. I normally buy the day before I want to leave and I’ve never been denied. The worst case scenario, even for busy season, is your first-choice train is sold out so you have to go earlier or later or on a slower regional train (that would also be cheaper). You’ll be fine. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Like everyone who has posted here I too need some advice in regards to Europe train travelling and whether point to point train purchase would be a cheaper option for me rather than a Eurail pass.
OK – I am planning on train travel for the following dates and countries –

23 Aug-Amsterdam-Berlin
27 Aug-Berlin-Prague
26 Sept-Salerno-Rome
1 Oct-Rome-Florence
5 Oct-Florence-Venice
6 Oct-Venice-Salzberg
9 Oct-Salzberg-Milan
20 Oct-Paris-Bruges via Eurostar
23 Oct-Bruge-London via Eurostar
2nd Nov-London-Amsterdam via Eurostar

I understand that getting a Eurail pass will give me a discount with Eurostar travel, but it is not applicable for travel in Italy.

If a Eurail pass is a cheaper option for me, then what pass would you suggest? Would you suggest I purchase an Italy train pass? Also, does Eurostar have a special pass for multi travel as I could not see it on their web site.
What ever advice you can give me would be most appreciated!!
Andrew

ANSWER

Andrew, Italy is part of the Eurail Pass system, but still I’d recommend individual tickets for an itinerary like yours. They only last up to 2 months anyway, and your trip will be longer. Besides, many of your trips are relatively short and in cheaper areas so you’ll save money buying as you go.

I don’t believe the Eurostar has a pass system and even if they did it wouldn’t help for only 3 trips. Also, as of now, the Eurostar only has 2 routes, London to Paris and London to Brussels. So from Paris to Bruges you’ll take a TGV or Thalys train to Brussels and then change to a local one for the Bruges part. For your last two trips you should buy a Eurostar roundtrip from Brussels to London soon and just buy those other legs locally on the day. Eurostar has its best rates for round-trip tickets bought early. -Roger

QUESTION

Leaving in a few days for Germany.
First time.Staying about 12 days.

What must see?

Not sure what will do one say to the next.
What is the best way to get around?

Also,should I buy a travel pass in advance.

What kind and where?
Thanks for your quick response.
Ertha

ANSWER

Roger Wade says:
May 6, 2013 at 7:16 am
Ertha, my favorite places in Germany are Berlin, Munich, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (spend a night there), Koln, and Hamburg, but there are plenty more worthwhile stops.

The trains in Germany are the perfect way to get around and actually a Germany Rail Pass is ideal if you still have time. I used one on my first solo tour of the country and it was amazing. You have to buy them from home though as they are not sold in Europe at all.
German Rail Pass

The trains in Germany are a bit expensive if you buy each journey separately, but at least the trains are fast, frequent, and comfortable. Good luck. -Roger
Reply

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I’m backpacking for two months (70 days) starting at the end of May. My itinerary may be a little ambitious, but I understand that I’ll most likely have to cut some stuff here and there. I’m landing in Dublin and plan on making my way south and I have some questions regarding the path I take.
I’ve mapped out one possible path I can take.

I ran out of way points (an indication this might be too ambitious), but ideally after Italy, I would go to Greece, then fly to Portugal/Spain before getting back to Dublin for my flight out.

Questions:

1. Would a global rail pass be worth it? Most of the train rides I take in this itinerary would be relatively short (<5 hours) and with the pass, the most I would be able to do is 15 travel days within 2 months. So it would really only be 15 train rides for me, something that seems like it wouldn’t be a great deal. 2. Would an S-shaped path be better? That is to say, going from London>Belgium>Netherlands>Germany>France>Switz.>Italy?

3. Does it make a difference whether certain countries are traveled to in June or July? Am I correct to assume that tourism ramps up in July, so anywhere I go in July will be relatively busier than in June?
This is my first time travelling to Europe. Your advice is much appreciated. Cheers!
Gary

ANSWER

Gary, yes, your itinerary is overly ambitious so I’m glad you already realize it. It looks like you plan to travel every other day for 70 days while seeing about two-thirds of Europe’s highlights. It might make for a good reality show but not an ideal first trip to Europe.

Summer tourism patterns in Europe aren’t so simple. In July and August you have enormous numbers of Europeans heading from cities to beaches for a month at a time. So in cities like Munich or Paris or even Rome you’ll have fewer locals in July and August and more tourists. In June few locals are on holiday and early in the month there isn’t a crush of tourists yet either. It’s also worth mentioning that July and August are very hot in the southern countries and air-con isn’t standard in cheaper places so it can get sweaty and miserable.

Hotel and hostel prices are at peaks all summer in beach areas, but not necessarily in the big cities. If you are staying in hostels the timing probably doesn’t matter.

What I’d recommend for you is to do your first part but after Paris I’d head to Nice and then to Italy in early June. If you want to do Greece then take a ferry there from Italy. After Italy (or Greece) start moving north as the locals are coming south. Then you’ll hit the best weather pretty much your whole trip and you’ll miss most of the crowds. By the way, if you go to Greece then you’ll want to fly out because ground transportation is slow and frustrating.

Plan on staying in larger cities for a minimum of 3 nights and smaller ones for 2 nights. Book your onward transportation (don’t forget that buses in Europe are usually cheaper than trains and often take the same amount of time, so they are an option) a day or two before you want to go, and book your next hostel or hotel there at about the same time as well. The best and cheapest hostels in Europe will usually still have beds a couple days out, but they’ll usually be full by noon on the day in summer. So those who don’t reserve in high season end up staying in the remote or expensive or poorly run hostels and hotels. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I have a couple questions I hope you can help me with.

I am doing a Spain/ Italy tour and am on the fence as to whether a eurail spain/italy pass is worth it.
Im travelling with a friend in Spain and we were thinking Madrid (where we land) –> Seville –>Granada –> San Sebatian –> Barcelona. I am then flying to Turin and am going to go to CInque Terra (not sure which village to start in) –> Florence –> Naples –> ROme.

Is the pass worth it? Am I able to use the pass on local trains as well as the Renfe (in spain) and Ferrovie trains (in italy)?
Thanks so much for your help.
Angela

ANSWER

Angela, this is an interesting situation because those journeys you are planning in Italy are relatively short and cheap, while the journeys you are planning in Spain are best done on high-speed lines, which are fairly expensive. So for you I’d seriously consider just a Spain Rail Pass and then do Italy one journey at a time. The Spain-Italy Pass might still be good value, but this gives you more flexibility.

And yes, these passes are good on all the local trains as well as the express trains. In fact, you’ll need to pay a bit for a reserved seat on most of the fast trains, while you can often just hop on the local trains, even as part of one travel day on a pass. -Roger

QUESTION

One more quick question – is the first class ticket worth it over the second class?

ANSWER

Angela, for most people I’d say Second Class is comfortable enough. I’m quite tall and I’m usually fine in Second Class, but I’ve used a First Class pass before and it was wonderful. -Roger

QUESTION

Wow Roger your knowledge is amazing! I am planning our trip to Europe September to October and need advice on train travel.

Train Naples to Florence 17th Sept.
Train Florence to Rome 19th Sept.
Train return daytrip Salzburg to Munich 24th Sept.
Train Salzburg to Lucerne 25th Sept.
Train Lucerne to Locarno 27th Sept.
Train Ascona to Interlarken 29th Sept.
Train Interlarken to Paris 2nd October.

Should we buy the 4 or 5 country 5 day select saver Eurail pass or a Swiss pass and regional passes or Swisspass and point to point tickets ? Your help would be much appreciated . Cheers Lorraine from Australia

ANSWER

Lorraine, I think you’d be best off with a France-Switzerland pass or perhaps a 4-country pass including Austria and Germany as well. Your Italy legs won’t cost too much, but all the rest would be fairly expensive on their own, and a few of them are very expensive. Either of those combinations should work out well for you. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
You seem to be a life saver adviser out here!!! i went through most of the comments above and found it very helpful.

I had a slightly different question, and was wondering if you could help… my husband and I are planning to travel to germany in november. We are getting 7 days complimentary stay in “schliersee” It seems to b small town, and there isn’t much info available about it on the internet. Only info I have been able to dig out is that, it does have a rail route passing by it and also has bus connectivity. I dont know how good or bad it is though. Have u heard of this place and have any idea abt local transport network there??

We were thinking of visiting Munich, Salzburg and Innsbruck in Austria by keeping this place as a hub. And later heading towards Switzerland (and getting a local hotel there). Also, if this place works, do u think a 5 day eurorail pass for 3 countries wud be sensible for travel between these places that i mentioned?? or should we buy point to point tickets??
thanks in advance for your help.
-Hiral

ANSWER

Hiral, I’m not familiar with Schliersee but I am familiar with the general area and it’s gorgeous. It appears that the train from Munich central takes only an hour and runs every hour. Those local train tickets aren’t too expensive (maybe €10 or even less), and Salzburg and Innsbruck are both only 2 to 3 hours from Munich by train, with tickets costing around €30, or even less if there’s a promotion running (and Germany has a lot of train promotions). So long story short, you aren’t covering nearly enough ground to justify a rail pass and the individual tickets should be cheap.

Also, both are nice but Salzburg is much more interesting than Innsbruck. Hopefully you can spend at least one night there because it’s beautiful in the evenings.

QUESTION

I’m taking my daughter on a trip to Europe in 2014 for 14 days excluding travel to and from.

She’d like to see Madrid & Barcelona, Rome, part of Germany (foreign exchange friend to visit) & part of Denmark (foreign exchange friend to visit). I’d like to see Paris as this will be our only chance to visit Europe together.
Is this too much in too little time and are night trains worth the cost? Would this be a trip that merits a rail pass?
Thomas

ANSWER

Thomas, thanks for answering my question, it makes sense now.
As for your itinerary, it could work but I wouldn’t recommend trains for the longer jumps. You could do 3 days in Madrid, 3 in Barcelona, and then take the night train (or fly) to Rome for 3 days. From there it will probably be cheaper (and obviously much faster) to fly to Paris.

Depending on where in Germany and Denmark you want to visit, flights are probably best for those legs too, although even flying you won’t have much time in the remaining places.

There are dozens of low-cost airlines in Europe (often flying into secondary airports) and if you book well in advance you can get most places for between US$50 and US$100 each way. Since you can book early, it’s almost certain to be your cheapest way.

So a rail pass wouldn’t be a good choice for a trip like this. Looking more closely at the itinerary, I’d recommend skipping one of the southern cities or skipping the exchange-student visits. Each of those southern cities are large, wonderful, and complex, and you really want 3 nights minimum in each of them. I hope this helps. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger
I am planning a three month trip to Europe starting early in July. My destination list includes starting in Copenhagen then venturing to Berlin, Prague, krakow, Vienna, Zagreb, down to Greece then Turkey. What would be your advice regarding purchasing (or not) a eurorail pass? You are kept very busy on here so I thank you for your time.
-Brianna

ANSWER

Brianna, that’s actually an ideal itinerary to use a Eurail Pass because you will be making longer jumps in some expensive areas. However, you’d only want one to go as far as Zagreb because from there on south there are no trains running to speak of.

From Zagreb into Greece and then Turkey you are best off in buses (which are still quite nice and also cheap) or even flying if you can reserve well in advance. So think about maybe a 5-journeys Eurail Pass for that first part, although if you are making more stops in between those cities you mentioned it could be a different story. -Roger
Reply

QUESTION

Thank you Roger! Your advice is very helpful.
It is possible that I will make more stops in between to explore outside of the cities. How different would the story be if that were the case?
Brianna

ANSWER

Brianna, a Eurail Pass can be a great value for journeys of at least 3 hours and especially for trips of over 5 hours. So for example, your Copenhagen to Berlin leg is very expensive on its own, and using one travel day on a pass is perfect. But if you break that up into 3, spending a night in Hamburg and another night in Rostock along the way, you’d be using 3 travel days on a pass so the individual tickets might be better value.

However, you are free to buy a pass that has, say, 5 travel days, and only use it for the longer legs, buying individual tickets for the cheaper legs in between. So you really just have to figure out how many stops you are likely to make and then see if a pass makes sense for the longer ones. -Roger
Reply

QUESTION

we are a group of 6 Ladies who intended to go overseas around early Dec 2013,we would like to get some advice how to make this trip the best trip ever.We would like to visit more tahn 1 country in one trip.e,g flying from South Africa > London>Paris and other closeby countries like Germany etc we not really sure which countries to combine we have an option of flying straight from SA to London or SA to Germany then visits other countries that are closeby but easily accessible via trains(not expensive one) we want to spend at least 2 nights in every country. pls advice
Nezi

ANSWER

Nezi, one important thing to consider when visiting in December is that it will be cold and days will be short. That said, most European cities are very easy to visit in winter and in December you have the added bonus of Christmas decorations and markets.

London and Paris are obviously must-visits, and both are lovely in winter. From Paris I’d recommend heading to Cologne/Koln Germany, which isn’t too far away and has one of the best and most popular of Germany’s Christmas markets. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, the sight and atmosphere are magical.

Two more nearby cities to consider are Brussels and Bruges in Belgium. I normally don’t rave about Brussels, but in winter it’s nice, and you can get to Bruges in only a couple hours on a local train from there. Bruges, as you may know, is a gorgeous medieval town that is one of Europe’s highlights. Best of all, you can connect London, Paris, and Brussels on the Eurostar train, and if you buy those tickets well in advance they can be quite cheap. -Roger

QUESTION

I’m travelling 53 days just in Eastern Europe and almost all of the trip will be by train/bus. Do you recommend to buy a Europass?

ANSWER

Rafael, I’m glad you asked this because I should have mentioned Eastern Europe and I will add it. About half of Eastern Europe isn’t part of the Eurail system, so you have to compare your itinerary to the main map. Also, just as bad, the trains in the included parts of Eastern Europe tend to be as slow or slower than buses. Coverage is spotty as well, so probably not a good fit for your trip. -Roger

QUESTION

So I think I have to buy each stretch of my trip separate – always comparing the price and the duration of the trip to choose between train of bus. And is not a problem if I but the tickets one day before, am I right?
Thank you again,
Rafa.

ANSWER

Rafael, exactly right. I spent most of this summer traveling around Eastern Europe (currently in Serbia) and even in high season it was easy to buy tickets even just before departure. But for international trains I think it’s wise to buy the day before because sometimes the lines at those windows are long, and once you have a ticket you can breeze into the station at the last minute. If you buy tickets the day of, you have to get there quite early just to be sure.
And don’t hesitate to take the buses because they tend to be comfortable and pretty fast as long as you get the express ones rather than the ones that stop in each town. Bon voyage. -Roger

I will accept your recommendations.
Actually, my budget is the same as the European Backpacker Index 2012.
Hope it works! =)
Thank you again and as a frequent reader of this website, I have one feedback:
I think you can post more topics about Eastern Europe. I know that is more common go to Western Europe but I guess EE has they beautiful places as well.
Looking forward the next topic,
Rafa.

QUESTION

Im planning on travelling for roughly 12-14 days in Europe where I want to cover Italy 4-5 days(Rome and Florence/Venice),Spain 4 days(Barcelona and Valencia/Seville) , 3-4 days Amsterdam and Brussels (Maybe) and end up in France (Paris)(Base in Europe). I am awfully confused on what to chose as flights seem cheaper. I plan on taking the 3 or 4 Countries pass. Catch a flight from London and go to Benalux-Italy-Spain-France(If I choose the 4 country option)What would you suggest?
> Does the pass cover the local trains in Italy and Spain? eg (Rome-Venice-Florence)?
Note: I am 24, and have no problem with booking in advance whether its trains or flights.
Thank you in advance…

ANSWER

Vikram,
Normally I am the last one to say that people are trying to see too much in too little time, but for you, this is a crazy itinerary.
The train passes definitely cover all the local trains, so going from Venice to Rome would be covered, but really you should think about cutting at least half of your destinations before deciding on trains vs. planes. The thing is, whether you are taking trains or flying, it eats up most of a day whenever you change cities. Even if flying, you’ll have to leave your hotel at 9am to catch a noon flight, and you won’t check into your hotel in the new city until 4pm. Trains can be better and at least you see something on the way. For example, Florence to Rome only takes a couple hours with good scenery, and you don’t waste time going to and from airports.
For you, in 12 to 14 days, I’d recommend Venice (1 day), Florence (2 to 3 days), and Rome (3 to 4 days) as minimums, and then add Paris or Barcelona for the rest. Save the rest for your next trip.
-Roger

QUESTION

Thank you for your reply,
Actually Paris is taken care of as I a relative staying there so I would be spending 3-4 (Either in the beginning or the end of the journey) days in Paris anyway.SO excluding Paris I have 12-14 days left to cover the places I mentioned. So 7 days in Italy, 5 days Spain and 2 days in Amsterdam seems ok? Or am I pushing it too much again? To sum it up I have 18-20 days minimum for all the mentioned places so what would you suggest…
Thanks in Advance

ANSWER

Vikram,
I think 7 days in Italy works okay as a minimum, but longer would be better, of course. Five days in Spain should be good if you stay in and around Barcelona rather than trying to hit multiple cities that are many hours away from each other. You might even take a day or two in Nice, France along the way. It’s interesting and very close to Cannes and Monaco for day trips.
If you want to spend 2 days in Amsterdam then you’ll definitely need to fly. I’d recommend saving it for another trip where you also hit Berlin and Prague and Bruges, but I understand the draw of Amsterdam, and you can have a fun 2 days there if you can work out good flights. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe starting from Madrid -3 days, Barcelona 3 days, Ibiza 2 days, París 4 days, Nice 1 day, rome 2 days, Florence, 2 days, Venice 2 days, Athens 2 days, Mykonos 2 days, Bruges 2 days, Amsterdam 3 days, Hamburg 3 days and Berlín 2 days and back to Madrid to catch a plane back home to Perú what Do you think it is better for us to buy the Eurail Pass or should we rather fly from some cities to another? If so, what Eurail Pass do ypu think better suits us? And what do you think about our trip itinerary is it to much to cover within 33 days?

ANSWER

Marisol,
Your last question first, yes, I do think you are attempting way too much for 33 days. Two days is enough for Venice or Bruges, and even for Athens if you stick to the main sites. I’d skip Ibiza and Hamburg on this trip, unless you have specific reasons for those. In fact, I’d save Amsterdam and Bruges for another trip as well.
One way to think about it is that any day you are traveling, you don’t have time for sightseeing. With 14 destinations in 33 days, you’ll only have about 20 days of actually seeing what you are going to see. From the time you check out of your hotel, even if it’s near the train station, it will be probably 6 to 8 hours before you check into the hotel in the next city. Even if you fly it’s about the same amount of time spent going to and from airports. After a day traveling, you won’t want to rush to a museum if you get in at 4pm.
However, if you do include most of these cities, I’d recommend a 30-day Eurail Global Pass or a 10 travel days out of 60 Eurail Global Pass. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger, if you are still monitoring this article, I was hoping I could get your advice. I am travelling to Europe in March for 90 days (27Mar-26Jun) I will be visiting friends I made while studying abroad a few years back. my rough plan at the moment is
Cologne->Siena->Brno->Prague->Hamburg->Lyon spending 1-2 weeks in each place. and possibly trvelling a bit in the area during the stay (ie possibly spend a few days in Rome while in Italy, or hopping over to Krakow from Brno) then possibly a week or 2 in Scotland. its kind of a screwy order, because I have to start in Cologne and I have to be in Prague for the first week of May for a wedding. My plan was to buy cheap flights where possible and do train/bus or even carsharing for the rest. do you think a Eurail pass might be a good idea? I’m guessing I will spend somewhere around 75% of the time sleeping at friends places so lodging costs will be minimal. Travel costs will be my main concern. thanks, adam

ANSWER

Adam,
You are obviously covering some pretty long distances with many of these jumps, and with 2 in Germany and one in France, the individual train tickets would be quite expensive. The problem with a Eurail Pass for this is you’ll only have about 5 or 6 big jumps over a 90-day period. The 90-day Eurail Pass would be way too expensive for this, and the 10 days out of 60 probably won’t work either.
Flights are probably the best option, although since most of these are 2nd-tier cities, it will be tough to find direct flights. You’ll probably have to use nearby airports for many of them. I’d start researching flights now and buy any that you can at low prices (since budget airlines generally get more and more expensive as the flight approaches), and then a couple of train or bus journeys for the ones with no easy flights.
My advice would be to look around at nearby airports to each city and then use whichbudget.com to find the low cost airlines. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Really glad that I come across this article. we are a group of students under 25,traveling to France-> Germany (Munich)->Vienna->Prague->Germany (Berlin). It’s a short tour of less than two weeks. Would you suggest that we take a eurail pass of France-Germany and buy tickets for the rest? Or would it be better for us to buy eurail 3 country pass of Germany-Austria-Czechs plus a eurail pass for France (we will be traveling quite a bit in France)?
Thanks in advance!

ANSWER

Lora, I think the France-Germany Pass is your best option because individual tickets in and between those two countries tend to be quite expensive. Calculate the number of longer trips you’ll be making within those borders and get the 4, 5, 6, 8, or 10 days within 2 months option. And of course if you plan any shorter jumps, like Berlin to Dresden for example, it might be cheaper to just buy those as you go too, and only use the pass for the longer ones. Trains in Czech Republic are fairly cheap on their own. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger, Your advise sounds very good.
My Partner and I are planning a trip to Europe, going:
London – Paris – Lausanne – Milan – Florence – Rome – Venice – Salzburg – Budapest – Prague – Berlin – Brussels – Amsterdam.
Total trip time: 44 nights. We are going in Feb 2014.
Do you think we should look at getting a rail pass for the entire trip? Or should we just book each train seperately? We are not keen to fly anywhere…
Your advise will be greatly appreciated! Sophie

ANSWER

Sophie, your itinerary looks like a really good one for a rail pass because you are doing many medium-length journeys in different countries. The only cheaper ones will be those within Italy, so I’d buy a 10-days in 2-months Global Youth Pass (if you are both under 26) or a First Class Saver Pass if you are 26 or older. The Saver Pass is 2 to 5 people using the same pass so you always have to travel together, but it’s 15% cheaper than 2 individual passes.
Your London to Paris leg will be on the Eurostar, which is a separate system (information near the top of this page) and you’ll want to buy those tickets up to 6 months early for the cheapest fares. With this itinerary it still leaves you 11 journeys, so for either Milan to Florence or Florence to Rome, just buy individual tickets rather than validating the Pass for that day. Most of your other legs would be quite expensive individually (especially in 1st class) so the pass will save you money and hassle. -Roger

Sophie says:
May 19, 2013 at 11:34 am
Thank you so much for the quick reply
You have been very helpful 🙂
Sophie

QUESTION

Your advice has been incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for help us naive first time travelers:)
My girlfriend and I are doing a 14 day trip. Im 24, shes 23.
-Fly Tampa,Fl to London. (cheapest flight I could find into Europe)
-Get in early in the morning, see whatever we can see that day in london, take the Eurostar rail to Paris that by 8pm.
-Spend 3-4 days in Paris (train to Versailles one day?)
-Train to Interlocken, spend 1 night
-Train to Florence, spend 3 nights (Cinque Terre 1 day?)
-Train to Rome, spend 2-3 nights
-Ferry to Athens, spend 1 night
-Ferry to Santorini
-Some how make it back to Tampa from there!
Question:
Railpass worthy?
Do they cover those ferries?
Railpass discount on Eurostar?
Any itenerary suggestions welcome! What can I cut out?

ANSWER

Kerry, to be honest with you, this itinerary is a bit of a mess. Landing in London and getting to St. Pancras train station by 5pm won’t allow you to see much, even if you aren’t in a jet lag daze. I’d spend at least one night in London, if not more.
At least skim through this article about concentrating on the “great” cities for your first Europe trip.
You’ll love Paris. The train to Interlaken takes 5.5 hours, as does the train from Interlaken to Florence, so you won’t be seeing much by staying there only one night. Also, those are both quite expensive train rides so you might think about just flying from Paris to Florence or Rome.
The ferries between Italy and Greece aren’t close to Rome or Athens, and they take around 15 hours on the water, so from Rome to Athens using the ferry it’ll take most of 24 hours. Then to only spend one night in Athens isn’t really worth it, plus it’s another long ferry ride to Santorini. If you really need to go to Santorini I’d just fly there from Rome on Easyjet.
What I’d really recommend for you is fly to London and spend a few days there, take the Eurostar to Paris for a few days there, then a night train (12 hours) or flight down to Barcelona (you’ll love it) for at least a few days. If you want to include an island you could go to Ibiza or Mallorca from there. This way you’ll spend more time sightseeing and almost no time rushing around, and you’ll get cities, beaches, and islands if you like. Italy is great, and Greece has a lot going for it as well, but doing them all on one short trip starting in London means spending 5 of your 14 days in transit. -Roger

QUESTION

Wow thank you so much for your insight!
I would really like for Paris, Rome and Santorini to be in this trip so I have made some changes to the itinerary.
-Fly into Paris, spend 4 nights
-Fly to Florence, spend 2 nights
-Morning train to Rome, spend 3 nights
-Fly to Santorini, spend 3 nights
-Fly home. (expensive and long)
Obviously no rail pass needed.
-Plane for Paris to Florence is ~$100
-Train for Florence to Rome is ~$60
-Plane for Rome to Santorini is ~$400
Is this anywhere closer to reality? Thanks again!

ANSWER

Kerry, it’s my pleasure to help if I can.
This itinerary seems much more enjoyable and focused. There are 3 airlines flying nonstop from Rome to Santorini (Easyjet, Meridiana Fly, and Blue Panorama) so hopefully you can get a better fare than US$400. As far as getting home, you might do best with a round-trip from home to Paris and then flying from Santorini to Paris (Orly) on Transavia, which should be cheap, and then switching over to Paris-Charles de Gaulle for the home flight if you have to. Either way, this is MUCH better than before. -Roger

QUESTION

My last post I swear:)
Final itinerary
– Paris – 4 days
– Rome – 4 days
– Santorini/Athens – 4 days
Thank you so much for your help, you really made my trip:)

ANSWER

Looks great. All highlights and short hops in between. Let me know if you need anymore help. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger, I will be traveling from Paris-Lyon, Lyon-Barcelona, Barcelona-Lleida-Saragossa-Madrid, Madrid to Lisbon and I am 25 and my roommate is 24, would you recommend a Eurail pass? Or is it just better to buy tickets as we go? who know we may even decide to stay in some places longer than expected 🙂

ANSWER

Efrain, you are better off just buying those train tickets as you go. Paris to Lyon isn’t cheap, and Lyon to Barcelona requires a change in Montpelier, and it’s also not cheap, but those others won’t cost much so a pass wouldn’t pay off. Also, Spain and Portugal have good and cheap bus service that is often your best option, so keep that in mind as you go. -Roger

QUESTION

Roger,
Great information here. Thank you for your insights. I have a unique travel opportunity coming up and I would love to read your thoughts about how I should approach it.
I am in the preliminary stages of planning this trip, but here are the basics: I have a friend who is living in Germany (near Frankfurt) for the next three years and I have decided to fulfill a lifelong dream to travel around Europe starting in April/May of 2014. My plan is to stay in Europe for about 6 months and see as much as I possibly can. I am a US Citizen and I am aware of the Schengen Agreement. I am currently communicating with the German Consulate about the possibility of getting a Resident Visa that would allow me to stay in the EU for a period longer than three months. While this isn’t the focus of my question here, any insights you or other readers have on the documentation necessary to stay in Europe for more than three months would be appreciated.
I imagine this trip revolving around the premise that I will be using my friend’s house in Germany as my base of operations. I will take trains out from Germany for approximately two to three week jaunts to various places across Europe and then come back to Germany for a couple of days to rest up, do some laundry and then head back out again. Naturally, these “jaunts” will have basic itineraries to maximize my time, but the beauty of this trip is that I don’t want to feel rushed or limited. If I find a place that I like and want to stay a few more days than I had planned, then so be it.
Finally my question: Should I buy two back-to-back Eurail 3 Month Continuous Global Passes or should I just wing it and buy tickets as I go along the way? Also, will these Global Passes give me access to the train systems I need to “get off the beaten path” if that’s what I want to do? Two Eurail 3 Month Continuous Global Passes would cost me about $4,254 US dollars. While I have saved the money for this dream trip, it is not limitless. I’m intrigued by the obvious flexibility that those Global Passes would afford me, but at the same time, I don’t want to buy something that I won’t be using enough to make it worth the costly expenditure.
I know this is an unusual scenario, but any thoughts you have on the matter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your response.

ANSWER

Scott, this sounds like an epic trip you have in mind. I’ve done a few things like this (including spending the last 3.5 years on the road) and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
I very much doubt that buying those continuous Global Eurail Passes would pay off for you. However, they do allow you on all trains in all participating countries, so you could get very off the beaten path with them.
Here’s the thing about what you have in mind: The individual train tickets to most of the interesting cities near Germany (Prague, Budapest, Krakow, Salzburg, Vienna, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, and even Copenhagen) can be bought relatively cheaply once in Germany. They have these €29 specials on weekends for any trip within Germany, so you can take that to the border and then get a cheap train into the bordering country. With a very flexible schedule you’ll have some really nice choices that won’t cost too much.
And then for interesting cities that aren’t too close to Frankfurt, flying will be the cheapest and best option. Obviously it’s a bit less flexible than rail-pass travel, but it’ll be way cheaper and those overnight or otherwise super-long train rides would get old quickly. So let’s say you want to see Barcelona and a bit more of Spain. You book a cheap flight to Barcelona a month in advance for maybe US$100 or even less, then you drift around in Spain for a week or two and when you know you want to go back you book the cheapest flight from Madrid or Lisbon or wherever else you are, and it might still be only US$150 a few days before you leave (although it’ll be a very early or late flight). Those long train fares would cost WAY more than that, and take most of a day in each direction.
So you can still do most of your trips by train, plus a few flights here and there, and it’ll be way cheaper than two Global Passes. And after spending a couple weeks in Germany, you’ll figure out the best and cheapest ways of doing everything.
As for the Schengen waiver, I haven’t done it but thousands of Americans hanging around in Berlin these days have, so it doesn’t sound too difficult. Good luck. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello, I’m a 20 year old that is going to backpack around Europe. I’ve been to Europe before but I want to expand where I can go. The global Eurail pass is expensive, almost $1,400–and I think it would be worth it but I’m not exactly sure how it works. I hear from some people that it’s great because you can go where ever you want, whenever you want. But then I hear we do have to pay a 5 euro fee to book a seat on a train no matter what. Can you explain this? I will be mainly in Italy, and I want to go to Greece and Romania for certain, then Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Croatia etc. I read on the website that Greece does not have trains that go in and out of the country so I would have to buy a plane ticket?
If you can explain how the eurail passes work–how to book seats on a train or how to even get on the train with just the pass…that would be great. Because I can’t seem to find my answer. And I am curious about overnight trains as well.
Thanks!

ANSWER

Jasmine, taking your questions in order:
A Global Rail Pass is perfect for some people but not worth it for others, and I try to help people figure out which they are here. The consecutive days version (like 30 straight days) is only good for people who’d want to change cities every other day. The version where it’s like 10 travel days out of 60 days is better in that it’s like buying 10 train vouchers that you can use on more expensive journeys.
For example, that 10 days out of 60 pass is US$591 for people under 25, which means you’d want to use it on rides that average at least US$59 each. So a 2-hour ride from, say, Rome to Florence might only be €32 (US$40), so it wouldn’t make sense to buy a pass to cover that day. But from Copenhagen to Berlin would cost around €140 (US$180), so using a voucher that cost US$59 would be an amazing deal. It’s a bit complicated because the more travel days you buy, the cheaper each becomes, so it can even pay off if you use it on a few cheaper journeys, but overall you mainly want to consider a rail pass to cover your longer rides, and especially those in France and countries to its north.
As for the seat reservations, there are actually loads of trains you don’t need reservations for, but in the past few years more reservation systems have become computerized so now most of the longer express trains (which are the expensive ones rail passes are best for) require a small fee for a seat reservation. They mostly cost around €5, but some are cheaper, and ones for the luxury high speed trains in France are more like €10. Even those expensive ones are good value because the trains themselves are very expensive if you pay as you go. Some reservations can be made over the phone or online, but mostly they are made in person at any train station in the same country. I usually make the reservation the day before I travel, but in most cases you can actually make it just before the train leaves. Most of these trains run hourly, so even if the queue is long and you miss the first one, you can usually just get a reservation on the next one and hop aboard.
For travel within Italy, you might consider an Italy Rail Pass, but only if you are making longer jumps. If you are going from one major city to the next closest one, just buy tickets as you go.
I didn’t even know that any Greece trains were still running (the government loses a fortune on them), but definitely not international for now. Your choices are long-distance buses, which are actually quite nice and quite cheap, or flights, which are also cheap if you buy well in advance or fly at weird times. For Romania, the buses might also be a better option than the trains.
For Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, a Europe Select Pass for 3 countries (seen information and booking link in the main article above) is probably wise because those individual tickets cost a fortune.
Overnight trains are common for routes of between 7 and 12 hours and they all require a seat reservation. A normal seat might be €5 or you can get a couchette (small bunk) for around €20, which is well worth it for most people. They are especially useful in expensive countries since they allow you to save a night in the hostel and maximize sightseeing time.
Hopefully I answered all your questions. Let me know if I didn’t. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
My brain hurts from trying to figure out what is most cost effective. My choices are either a regional pass for spain and italy or point to point. I can’t decide. Please help.
I am traveling alone, so convenience is important to me, but so if price. Can you tell me what you would do?
Here’s my schedule for June 2week trip:
Arrive to Barcelona in morning from LAX – cab to hotel – 2 full days
3rd day morning train to Madrid to meet friends – Take trains to Seville, etc… for 3 days
6th day of trip – train to Madrid airport to fly to Milan
Day trips to Verona, Lake Como etc…from Milan for 3-4 days
Day 10 late morning train from Milan to Bologna – Stay over night – Food tour all next day
Day 11 (Food tour) Night train from Bologna to Lerici (La Spezia) – 2 days in Lerici
Day 12 Ferry to Portofino
Day 13 Spend day in Lerici – Night train to Milan airport hotel
Day 14 Fly home
All reservations for flights, hotels and tours are made. The only thing that’s left is the train decision and I have to make it quick so I can get the pass with no rush shipping fee.
Leaving in 1 week.
Would so appreciate your opinion.
Thank you,
Susan

ANSWER

Susan, stress no more because you’ll be best off buying tickets as you go on this itinerary. Pretty much all of your train journeys are 3 hours or less, and in Spain and Italy those are relatively affordable. An itinerary where an Italy Pass might pay off would be Turin to Venice to Milan to Rome to Florence, but not for this.
And by the way, in Europe (and most other places) a “night train” is a journey of between 7 and 12 hours or so with sleeping cars where you arrive in the morning. I believe you mean just an ‘evening train’ because yours are like 2 or 3 hours.
In both Spain and Italy you’ll find getting the individual tickets quite easy. I normally try to buy my ticket the day before I leave so I can just walk from my hotel onto the train with my backpack, but in most cases you can just get there 20 or 30 minutes early and still get a ticket in plenty of time. Better still, on pretty much all of these routes there will be trains leaving every 30 to 60 minutes all day, so you can just head to the station, buy a ticket, and board the next one going. Have fun. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Thanks for such a helpful article! My family and I will be travelling to Europe for a 14 day trip and would love to get any suggestions on our itinerary and transportation.
Day 1 – land in Barcelona, hop on a train to Italy that night
Day 2-4 – Italy. We want to visit Rome, Venice, and Pisa.
Day 5-7 – Switzerland
Day 8-10 – Paris
Day 11-12 – London
Return to Barcelona for day 13 and then flight out on day 14
Do you think that itinerary is too hectic or should that be fine? Also what modes of transportation would you suggest? We’re currently looking into the Eurail global pass.
Thanks for your help!

ANSWER

Rachel,
I do think your itinerary is too hectic. After that long train ride, you’ll be somewhat exhausted when you arrive in Italy. Even if you get decent sleep, those long train rides seem to take something out of most of us.
In Italy, skip Pisa. I haven’t been there myself since I was a child, but most people agree that there isn’t much to see after you’ve photographed the Leaning Tower, at least compared to other major tourist cities in Italy. Rome is overwhelming (mostly in a good way) and two days is quite short to do it any justice. I normally recommend a minimum of 3 days in Rome, although 1 day (and night) in Venice is enough because it’s quite small.
If you were my friends asking for my opinion (and assuming this was your first trip to Europe), I’d recommend saving Switzerland for your next visit. You could then add another day in Italy, another in London, and another in Barcelona itself. Switzerland is lovely (if expensive) but it might not be worth it if you are racing around just to squeeze it in. However, if Switzerland is a high priority, I’d save London for another trip, and 2 days there isn’t really enough anyway.
As far as getting around, Paris to London is best done on the Eurostar, which isn’t part of the main Europe rail system. And depending on what your itinerary ends up being, this could be an ideal trip for a rail pass. Either a Global pass or a Regional pass, depending on what you settle on, because several of your journeys would be quite expensive if purchased individually. I can help you decide once you’ve locked it in. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Thanks for the response! After discussion we’ve decided to skip London and instead focus on Italy, France, and Switzerland. As of now, we are planning to spend 1 night in Barcelona, 4 nights in Rome, 1 night in Venice, 3 nights in Switzerland, 3 nights in Paris, and then the final night in Barcelona.
For the transportation from Barcelona to Rome, we looked into the train but it appears that the Elipsos train between Barcelona and Milan is now cancelled. Do you have any more information about this? We’re looking into flying as an alternative.
The train from Venice to Switzerland is what we’re struggling with. What city would be easiest to get into from Venice? Is our only option to go through Milan?
Thanks!

ANSWER

Rachel,
I’m not sure about the specific trains that could connect Barcelona with Rome, but I do know it would take around 18 hours and probably involve a change or two. I’d fly for sure. Ryanair and Vueling both have cheap nonstop flights between the cities.
The train lines into Venice only go east and west, so you will have to pop back over to Milan to get to Switzerland. I’d recommend Lucerne or Interlaken if you want a good base to see the scenery and all that. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Rodger…so glad I found this site. Some really useful information. I’m planning a trip in April/May next year with my wife and three kids. We are definitely still in the planning stages. Haven’t booked anything…haven’t even really thought about an itinerary although want to see a fair bit as we are coming from Australia so this will be a one off trip. Will be spending time with family in UK and also have family in Spain that we want to visit.
Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Switzerland and Spain/Portugal are definites on the European mainland.
I’m thinking at this stage of flying into Paris then heading to Spain, Italy, Switzerland then back through Paris to UK. Total trip length will be around 5 weeks.
As I said I am very much in the early planning stages which is fun and exciting. We have some accommodation sorted which will help keep costs down but, with 5 of us, minimising costs is important. I like the thought of flexibility and using trains as much as I can and was thinking of a Eurail Global pass initially, however with Spain, Italy and France all having compulsory reservations…some upwards of 20 Euro I’m thinking it may not be worthwhile.
I was also thinking about regional passes for each country perhaps. I was having a look on the Swiss rail site and our kids would travel free. Plus, it seems, that regional passes also include reservation fees.
Any help/ suggestions would be appreciated.
Mike

ANSWER

Michael,
Pretty much all of the reservations for seats in France, Italy, and Spain cost between €6 and €10, and that can still be a great bargain because many of those longer or international routes can cost €100 (for adults) or even more individually. I’m not aware of regional passes covering reservation fees, although there might be some like that.
Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of time to figure this out, as the rail passes and such don’t change price whether you buy them very early or just before you leave. What I’d recommend doing is continuing to research and daydream until you come up with a draft of a full itinerary, and then it might be obvious whether a rail pass or individual tickets or even a flight or two is the best choice. If you still aren’t sure then post what you have and I’ll try to help. -Roger

QUESTION

Roger,
Your travel experience and insight into the whole of Europe is amazing. I’ve learnt so much from just reading the comments above! Well, I do have some questions of my own, I hope you dont mind 🙂 I’m 26, from Singapore.
I just took a period of 6 months of no paid leave from work and plan to travel in Europe (Mostly Eastern Europe) for around 4 months. I’m flying to Stockholm to meet a friend in early July and i’ll spend at most 2 weeks there. After which I want to do Eastern Europe and then Spain (Roughly a month). I have had nothing planned yet – I like to be flexible and I only have one rule when I travel, that is not to rush things. What I really would like to ask is.. for the 2.5 months that I have for Eastern Europe, and starting probably with Estonia, which are the countries that are a must go and are there any countries I could probably skip. ( I know its not a fair question, sorry!)
I have, only on the surface though, thought about visiting these few after i’m done with 2 weeks in sweden : estonia/latvia/lithuania/poland/czech republic/hungary/romania/bulgaria/serbia/montenegro/croatia
And then its on to spain for a month. What do yo think? From what you write above, Eurail passes are probabaly not the best. Any other tips you could give me?
Oh, and I’m travelling alone.
Cheers,
Nikhil

ANSWER

Nikhil, I love Singapore and this sounds like a wonderful trip at a very nice pace.
So, yes, a rail pass would not be a good idea for such a trip. In the Baltic area the buses are better and cheaper than the trains, and that’s true when you get down into the Balkans as well.
The other weird thing about those countries on your list is that most of them lack any “checklist attractions.” So it’s all about being able to appreciate the local architecture and way of life. I wouldn’t skip any of them, but I also wouldn’t linger in any of them for longer than you are really enjoying it. Along your route, the highlights will be Krakow, which is a great place to linger because it’s interesting, gorgeous, and cheap, as well as Prague, Budapest, and the coast of Croatia (not Zagreb). Prague is the most stunning of them, but it’s incredibly crowded and accommodation isn’t cheap.
I think your plan is perfect and you aren’t headed to any real duds. So just go and evaluate the situation day by day. With that much time you won’t risk sacrificing great destinations as long as you keep moving when you feel you’ve seen the best things in each place. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger – You are a wealth of information! So I did a quick run-down of costs of buying train tickets (using OBB, Swiss Rail etc)for 2 for the following itinerary: Vienna–> Salzburg–> Innsbruck –> Zurich –> Lucerne –> Interlaken –>Zurich (to fly out). For 2 people I got a rough estimate of $520. Does that sound right? If that’s so, then it would not make sense to get Eurorail regional pass. It doesn’t look like there are too many additional perks in those countries with Eurorail passes either. This is our first trip! Any suggestions are helpful -thank you!!

ANSWER

Cat,
Yes, that price estimate sounds about right for those journeys, and I agree that a pass wouldn’t make much sense for this. Trains in that part of Europe are quite expensive, but all of your rides are fairly short. I think your itinerary looks quite good, as long as you aren’t trying to do it in less than two weeks. And I wouldn’t plan on spending much time in Zurich unless there are specific things you want to see there. It’s quite expensive and very business oriented. Switzerland’s charms are in or near your other stops there.-Roger

QUESTION

Hello!
I am very excited for my trip to Europe this summer. Part of my trip will be in Hungary. It seems difficult to find information on trains to the rural southern parts of the country. I am wondering if my Eurail Global pass will cover the cost of these trains?
(I’ll be leaving Budapest and heading to Mohacs, Baja & particularly Dàvod)
Thanks for any info you can share.
Kind Regards from Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada
Nicole

ANSWER

Nicole,
Hungary is indeed one of the 27 countries included with a Eurail Global Pass, so the price will be covered if you are using a travel day or have a consecutive days pass. Reservations are optional on most trains in Hungary, and even when they are needed they range from €0.50 to €2 per seat. -Roger
Here are all 27 countries, by the way.
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Luxembourg
Montenegro
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey

QUESTION

Roger, thanks for all the useful info.
I am going to Lyon for a 4 month exchange program in September. I will have 3 days of classes and 4 days free every week and I am planning to travel regularly,possible every week. I will be under 25 years old. Do you think the three months global pass would be worthwile?

ANSWER

Sangeen,
My advice to you is pretty much identical to the advice I gave to Scott, above, about traveling around using Frankfurt as a base.
The short version is, no, I don’t think a rail pass is wise for such a thing because the shorter trips (within France and to nearby cities like Barcelona and Milan) don’t cost enough to justify a Global Pass, and for longer trips (ones more than 8 hours away by train) it’ll be cheaper to fly. Also, if you do travel around France from Lyon often you’ll get bored with the nearby scenery.
On the other hand, trains within France aren’t cheap, so you might consider just a France rail pass or perhaps a France-Italy pass for maybe 10 days out of 2 months. Those are cheaper than Global passes and could save you money if you use it on some of your longer trips within the country or region. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
This is a great site! My boyfriend and I are planning to meet up in Frankfurt and travel to Italy and maybe South France. We are planning to spend 14 days in Europe and trying to cover as much ground as possible while still enjoying a relaxed vacation. We would like to enjoy the beach as well as see the regions history. We are looking at the following stops: (neuschwanstein, south France beach, Venice, pisa, Cinque Terre, Rome, pompeii and Amalfi Coast) but have no idea the best route and if we are making the rookie mistake of trying to cover too much ground in only 14 days. We also thought maybe we should hit each place all the way down to Amalfi Coast and then maybe fly back to Frankfurt? Would you recommend a 3 country train pass? Or maybe Fly from Germany to Italy or France then take the train? I’m just not sure the best route. What would you recommend? -Natasha

ANSWER

Natasha,
I’m happy you are finding the site useful. I do actually think you are trying to cram too much into 14 days, especially if you are going during the summer high season. But with this kind of itinerary you can make it up as you go, which is what I’d recommend.
So take the train from Frankfurt to Neuschwanstein, and from there you are best off booking a cheap flight (as soon as possible) from Munich or Zurich to Nice in France. Spend a few days in Nice and on day trips to other places nearby if you like, and then take a train to Venice for a stay of about 24 hours. It’s small and expensive, so actually 24 hours is pretty much ideal. Then take a train down to Rome, where you’ll spend at least 3 nights. Trying to visit Rome in less than 3 nights is a bit crazy, although it is hectic and you might decide sooner to go somewhere relaxing.
By this time you’ve done the best and most important things, and if you are still in the mood to see Pisa (don’t bother), Cinque Terre, Pompeii/Naples and the Amalfi Coast, you can do it then. I’d guess you might only have the time and energy to do one or two of those side trips, but if you are interested in doing more then go for it.
For transportation, I’d just buy train tickets as you go, starting in Nice. Unless you are sure you’ll be covering long distances within Italy, even an Italy Rail Pass probably isn’t a good idea. I’m sure it’ll be a very fun trip no matter what you end up doing. -Roger

Natasha says:
May 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm
Thanks for the quick response. I may end up leaving out France all together and sticking with Italy! I really appreciate the advice! -Natasha

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I have a regional (France-Italy) pass and plan to cover a few cities between Paris and Rome in June. However, when I tried to reserve a seat from Paris to Nice on the TGV, I was told that the fee is 90 euros. That can’t be right, or is it possible?

ANSWER

Jeff,
No, that doesn’t sound right at all. The fee should be €9 on the TGV between Paris and Nice, in 1st Class or 2nd Class. However, between Paris and Milan the TGV charges €55 for a seat for pass holders (it’s a premium high-speed service so they don’t want to load it up with Eurail pass people instead of business travelers who pay a fortune for individual seats). You can find all reservation fees for European trains on that page.
Now that I think about it, France only allows a set and relatively small number of rail pass people on the TGVs (the only country to do so), so they are basically asking you to pay full price for a ticket and a seat. This wouldn’t use a travel day on the pass if you did it, but hopefully you can find another train or day where there are still pass-holder seats available.
The problem is that the TGVs in France are pretty much the nicest and fastest trains in Europe, and among the most expensive per distance, so they consider it a premium product and only allow a limited number of rail pass users on each train. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello Roger,
Your website is really helpful, thanks for taking the time to help us all out. I have something I would appreciate your advice on…
I am travelling with someone else (both over 25) from September 2013 to Feb 2014 (5 months). We are not sure which rail pass is best for us. We are thinking the Global Pass. We plan to see the following places:
Italy: Rome, Florence, Naples, Milan
Spain: Barcelona, Seville, Madrid
France: Lyon, Paris
Belgium: Brussels, Brugge, Antwerp
Germany: Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Dresden
Czech Republic: Brno, Prague
Also a couple of countries which we were thinking of just visiting one city like Istanbul, Krakow, Transilvania, Budapest
I understand that it might be best to fly between some of the longer distances. What are your thoughts?
Thanks!

ANSWER

Alison,
Yours is an unusual situation in that you have 5 months, so you won’t be in a hurry at all. The longest duration for a Eurail Pass is 3 months, and that only makes sense if you were to be moving quickly during most of that time. So for your trip, I’d just buy tickets as you go, and mix in flights when you can because during the off season you might find good airfares without much notice.
And yes, for Istanbul there are no trains until 2015 or later, so flying is one option, or buses if you coming from Romania or Bulgaria. However, with that much time I think it would be a shame to just see Istanbul and leave again. Think about a few days in Cappadocia and maybe even a couple in Antalya (both accessible by cheap and comfortable long distance buses) and then flying from Antalya to your next destination.
Another thing to consider with so much time is that you’ll want to mix in some small towns just to chill out for a few days in between the large towns. In those cases you can take local trains, which would be quite cheap individually, so a rail pass wouldn’t be good value.
Also, don’t skip Venice (for one day) and make sure you have specific reasons to visit each place on your list. For example, Frankfurt and Lyon and large cities, but of questionable value for tourists.
With so much time, and totally in the low season like this, I’d recommend keeping this itinerary in mind, but pretty much just winging it and making it up as you go. Some stops will be more interesting than you expected, and others less interesting, so being able to play it day by day is nice. And you won’t have any trouble finding hotel rooms or hostels at good prices during this period, with the possible exception of Christmas week. Have fun and feel free to ask follow up questions. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello Roger,
Your website has certainly been helpful in clearing a lot of my doubts in planning for my trip to Europe. However, I still have some questions that I would like to ask.
Currently I am travelling with 2 friends(aged 19 to 22) in June. Our current itinerary plan is:
1) Amsterdam
2) Paris
3) Geneva
4) Rheinfall
5) Stein am rhein
6) Zurich (if transport is free we should make a stop here)
7) Aarge Gorge
8) simme river
9) staubach falls
10) jungfrau
11) Florence
12) Venice
13) Prague
I am wondering if the Eurail Global Youth Pass would include transport within a country between cities (e.g Switzerland). If it doesn’t should I buy Swiss Pass in addition to Eurail Global Pass too?
Thanks!
Best,
Daphne

ANSWER

Daphne,
Yes, the Global Eurail Pass does indeed cover all domestic trains as well as international trains within the 27 included countries. And train tickets within Switzerland are quite expensive, so a pass will save you some money, but I do notice that a couple of your journeys listed here are short, like maybe an hour or so.
So what I’d recommend you do is get the cheapest Global Eurail Youth Pass, which covers 10 days out of 60, and use it for all your international trips as well as the longer ones within Switzerland. Then just pay cash for those two shortest ones, which will only be like US$15 or each anyway. A few of your other Switzerland trips might also be reasonably priced, but when you average in those other really long and expensive trips you are doing at the beginning and end, a Global Youth Pass will pay off for sure. -Roger

QUESTION

hi! I came across your site and it is so incredibly informative and helpful, and I can see that you actually respond to peoples’ inquiries so I figured I should try you with mine. Now I know my plan is very aggressive and very ambitious so just bare with it as it is kind of long and crazy sounding. im going to Israel for an organized trip and then flying out of tel aviv to (im thinking) Istanbul, travelling around Istanbul for a few days then flying to Athens, day trips to santorini and other islands and a few days in Athens proper then going (by train?)to meteora near Thessaloniki, then dubruvnik, split and Zagreb each for a day or two. then im headed to Budapest and possibly Bratislava then Vienna, Prague for four days then zurich for twoish then Strasbourg for my cousins wedding, including a day trip to a german spa with family, then touring around Strasbourg for a few days (including the wedding) train to Brussels, then Antwerp (where my grandparents are both from) and bruges. then im taking the train to paris to stay with family for maybe 5 days then im thinking ill fly to Lisbon for 2/3 days and then train to Madrid, Barcelona, nice/Monaco then to Milan and im not sure where exactly to stay with relative in Italy for 5 days then hopefully I can go to cinque terra (because its so beautiful there!) then fly to messina and somehow get myelf to the island of lipari to stay with friends who live there, then back to Israel.
leaving Israel july 3 or 4th and going back to Israel within the last week of august…is this completely insane? I am 24 and can swing the youth second class global eurail pass (I noticed that the price doesn’t increase with consecutive travel within 2 months, if you put more than 15 days of travel out of 60 ie 15 days out of 60 is $774 but anything from 21 days to 60 days out of 60 days is fixed at 1120 …this may be wrong? idk!) if it makes sense, ive just been having so much trouble with the eurail site lagging and freezing when i put all of my trips into it lol because its like 12 or so countries.
thoughts? advice? suggestions? words of wisdom please and thank you!

ANSWER

Rachel,
This does look like a busy couple of months, but I don’t think it’s insane, so I think you should try it and you’ll be able to adjust as you go.
Between Thessaloniki and Split you’ll want to take the long distance buses because there are no trains. Aegina is the only island you can really do as a day trip from Athens, so you are better off taking a ferry to one a bit farther out and staying for a couple nights.
A Global Youth Pass does sound like a good idea for this because you are mixing in quite a few trips that would be expensive on their own. There is almost no difference in price between a 15 days out of 60 pass and a 30 consecutive days pass, but a 60 consecutive days pass is a couple hundred more. Still, with all your traveling, it’s probably worth it. The great thing about the consecutive days passes is that you can use them for easy day trips. A 2-hour train ride in each direction might cost US$50 or more round-trip, but you can go for the price of a seat reservation, and even those aren’t needed on most local trains. This looks like a great trip. -Roger

QUESTION

I am planing to visit germeny to attend outdooe show – messe friedrichshafen 11-14 july,via frankfrut- also willing to see/ visit places like munich/ -Ausria- salburg/ innsburg- swiss- tourist attraction,itali- arco water sports area – florence etc.
I will be landing at Frankfrut from mumbai – then
pl. suggest after Italy end of the tour I am planing to come back to frankfrut by train – to tale flight if any option to save tavel time or cheap air fare
Pl. let me know euro rail pass I can travel twice on same rote to & fro e.g. Bern-arco/ florance – berns or to florence / arco to frankfrut by train
Thanks
Ashok

ANSWER

Ashok,
With a rail pass you can backtrack as much as you like, and there are no restrictions about having to keep moving in the same direction (like they have on some airfares).
If you want to tour the area just south of Germany then trains are your best option. Frankfurt itself isn’t that interesting, but not far away is a medieval town called Rothenburg Ob der Tauber that is a great stop for one day. Then you could go on to Munich for a couple days on your way to Salzburg for another couple days. Innsbruck isn’t as interesting, but if you want to go into Switzerland then head to Lucerne, which is the central point of the main Alpine sights and attractions.
However, if you are more interested in Italy, then you might just fly from Frankfurt or Munich into Milan, Florence, Venice, or Rome (cheap flights are available into all of them), and tour around Italy before flying back to Frankfurt for your flight home. Or, if you have two total weeks or more, you could do all of it by train. I hope this helps. If you have more questions let us know. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello,
We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids aged 9 and 6) & we are planning a 17 day trip leaving Dubai on 25th July & arriving back on 10th August.
Plan is as follows :
26-28 July in Rome(3 days)
29 Jul – 1 Aug – Florence / Pisa (4 days)
2-4 Aug – Venice (2.5 days) … leave on 4th evening by flight to Paris (as we don’t want to kill ourselves in the 12 hr train from Venice to Paris)
5-9 Aug – Paris
Leave Paris on 10 aug to head home
Couple of queries :
1. Is this time good enough for these sites ?
2. Is it worth buying a eurorail pass (Italy alone) – comes to 600 USD for 4 of us (family pass).. we will only travel Rome to Florence, Florence-Pisa-Florence, Florence to Venice. Is it cheaper to buy individual tickets ?
3. Options for flight from Dubai to Rome is via Paris or Amsterdam, both with just 1 hr 20 minutes between flights or 20 hr flight gaps. I prefer the 1 hr 20 minutes obviously but I doubt if this time is sufficient to switch flights. 1st time fliers to Europe and do not know if Air France or KLM put you on the next flight to Rome (or) just let you get a refund and not bother. Any pointers would help.
Thanks,
Sri

ANSWER

Sri,
Your itinerary looks good. Three days in Rome is the minimum to do it well. I’m guessing you’ll do Pisa as a day-trip from Florence, which is the way to go. Two and a half days in Venice is actually more than enough, but it’s such a lovely place that it’s great if you can afford it. And flying to Paris seems like the best plan as well.
For your train tickets, you are probably better off buying them as you go. You aren’t covering much ground in Italy, and individual tickets there are fairly cheap, at least compared to rail passes.
As for your return flights, you are probably aware that Air France and KLM are the same airline. If you buy tickets from Rome to Dubai and they suggest a 1 hour 20 minute layover in either airport, I think you are fine. Both airports are fairly compact (unlike Dubai where Terminal 1 and 3 are a long way from Terminal 2) so probably 98% chance you’ll make it with no worries. And that time of year, there are virtually no weather-related delays. Best of all, if the flight arrives too late to make your connection, they will put you on their next flight, or a competitor’s next flight. European laws require them to take care of everything if they are late, though they rarely are in summer.
However, if you are trying to buy individual tickets from Rome to Amsterdam and then on to Dubai, they aren’t obligated in the same way. So as long you are buying tickets from Rome to Dubai, you should be fine. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Thanks for the superfast response – it really helps. Your site is awesome and it helped us fix our plan … so the real credit goes back to you 🙂 Our open jaw tickets are all from KLM / Air France and is a full trip ticket both ways. Your feedback has provided me reassurance to book these flights.
Couple of more queries :
1. Pls. advise about how much roughly it would cost us for the hotels (large room as we are 4 people) … is 150 Euros per night good from a comfort point of view & also from a location perspective. Jul 28-Aug 10 could be high season and am a little concerned about the hotel costs too.
2. Are the large hotel chains in Italy (like Marriott) better than local hotels or B&B places. Don’t want to end up in a hole … trying to figure about based on TripAdvisor inputs for the hotels & your inputs are much valued also.
3. How would you rate renting an apartment in Paris compared to a regular hotel.. apartments seem to be slightly larger & with amenities like washing machines.
4. Is 1 day good enough in Disneyland Paris ?
5. Would you know anything about Schenngen visa processing success rates from Dubai – plan to apply to Italy which is the most days we spend. Someone was suggesting I make dummy travel / hotel bookings & apply for the visa & once they approve it, then I make the actual bookings. I am not 100% comfortable but in one way, it makes sense so if rejected still OK. We have clean records, by the way 🙂
6. Train reservations from Rome to Florence, Florence to Pisa & back, Florence to Venice : is it a long queue usually in late July / August for the bookings or is it better to book online from the Train websites. If booking in advance is better, which is the best train company website to book it from.
Many many thanks in advance for answering these queries too !!
Thanks,
Sri

ANSWER

Sri,
I’m glad I can help.
1 – Yes, €150 per night should get you a pretty nice 3-star hotel room large enough for 2 adults and 2 kids in most European cities, although be prepared for small rooms because only really the 5-star places have larger rooms in Europe. Obviously it depends in each city.
2 – I think the chain hotels in Europe are better for business travelers who need more services, but I think the smaller family-run places are better value. Just look for a hotel with a central location that has many TripAdvisor reviews, and an average of at least 3.5 out of 5 score. That’s what I do and I find that system to work well in Europe.
3 – Renting an apartment in Paris is a wonderful idea because hotel rooms there are unusually small, even for Europe. That also lets you buy food at the markets to prepare for breakfast or even lunch, which will save a lot and mean you aren’t racing around all day. AirBnB is pretty dependable for that, but there are other websites to try as well.
4 – I’ve never been to Disneyland Paris but I’ve been to Disneyland and I think one day is exactly right. You can see everything you want and it would be a shame to miss other things in or around Paris in order to ride more rides.
5 – I don’t know about Schengen for UAE residents. I’m American and for us we just turn up in the first country and get a stamp in our passport rather than an actual visa.
6 – The queues for ticket reservations might be long at that time, but I doubt it would be more than 30 minutes or so. During busy times they have most windows open, and if you go at off hours there might be no queue at all. Also, you should be able to buy tickets or seat reservations for all of your journeys in Italy all at once, as long as you are sure of the dates and times. Personally, I like to pop into the station the day before to buy my ticket or seat reservation, so I can walk right onto the train just before it leaves the following day. -Roger

Sri says:
June 1, 2013 at 7:58 am
Roger,
Many Thanks for the response. Will let you know the outcome of the hotels / trip once we complete the trip, so others can also benefit in the future.
Thanks,
Sri

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I have finally booked the tickets Dubai-Rome-Venice-Paris-Dubai at some great prices on AirFrance. Booked apartments in Rome, Florence & Venice at some decent locations. Thanks for all the guidance you provided earlier.
I have a dilemma about Paris stay … is air conditioning a must in Paris between aug 4-10 ? How hot does it usually get ?
We prefer apartments for the size … The nicer apartments at abt 400 sq ft size do not have A/c and hence I pre-booked ourselves at a hotel with aircon for 200 euros (Triple room). The room size is just 20 sq meters (abt 200+ sq ft) – felt a little cramped to spend 6 nights with 2 kids.
What is ur suggestion here ? If the weather would be hot (say 30 degrees centigrade) then may be I will stick with the hotel.
Also, which area is better – Sacro Coeur or near Saint Lazare train station. The apartment is near the Sacro couer basilica and the hotel is near Saint Lazare station. Appreciate your feedback to help finalize !!
Many Thanks,
Sri

ANSWER

Sri,
Well, the good news is that Paris almost never gets very hot. In August the average daytime high is 25C and the average low is 17C. There have been famous heatwaves in the past few years, but honestly you’d be quite unlucky to be there during the next one. Personally, I’d not pay more than a tiny amount more for A/C because it’s most likely you won’t use it at all.
As for those specific locations, I must admit that I don’t know them well enough to say. But yet another great thing about Paris is that there is a Metro station literally every few blocks. In most cities having a “central” location is a big plus, but in Paris it’s only a matter of a few extra minutes per day because the transport system covers everything and it’s distributed so widely. Just choose whichever one looks better and you’ll have a great stay. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Great .. thanks for the update. I booked our stay at the apartment (Villa Montmartre near Sacre Coeur basilique). It’s a newly renovated apartment and has 51 reviews on booking.com all with good reviews … 9.2 on 10. The price is about 30 Euros cheaper than the hotel I had booked earlier.
One more query : this came as a suggestion from a friend of mine here. Why not drive in Paris with a GPS-fitted rented car ? Is it a better option or is parking a nightmare ? I am pretty good at directions thanks to my stay in USA and do not want to venture into this if this is going to have issues like bad traffic in August, parking issues etc. Not concerned about spending some extra money if this would be a timesaver. Any pointers here would help please.
Thanks,
Sri

ANSWER

Sri,
Parking is normally terrible in Paris, and very expensive. Actually, during August it might not be quite as busy as normal, but it will still be expensive and the Metro goes everywhere faster than you can drive and park, so I would not recommend driving. -Roger

Sri says:
June 7, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Hi Roger,
Thanks for the inputs.
Regards,
Sri

QUESTION

My girlfriend and I are going to Italy for 14 days in 2 weeks and I’m just trying to make sure I have things straight as far as the trains go. We have a first class 5 day Italy FlexPass. We will be going from Venice to Florence (would like to stop in Bologna along the way); Florence to Rome; Rome to Pompeii; Pompeii to Genoa; Genoa to Milan. We still have not nailed down the exact departure times we would like to use since we have never been before and are not on a specific timetable so would like to remain as flexible as possible. Since I see reservations are required on the majority, if not all, of these stretches, how should we go about getting our reservations? Should we just go to the train station about 20-30 minutes before and make reservations then since most of these routes have frequent trains or is this something we need to do more in advance? If so, do we just go to the normal ticket booth to make these reservations? Thank you in advance for your help!

ANSWER

Josh,
Even in the July and August high season, you should be fine just getting to the train station 30 minutes or so before you plan on leaving to make a reservation. Especially in First Class, there is almost no chance of any of these trains being sold out, as long as you avoid trains the business travelers use, which are leaving before 9am or around 4pm to 5pm. Still, in July or August, there aren’t many business travelers in Italy.
My own preference is to make a seat reservation the day before, which not only allows me to know exactly when I have to leave my hotel and head to the station for my train, but it allows me to know where everything is, like if I want to buy coffee before I get on board and such.
However, during the day there are trains going between all of your destinations no more than 40 minutes apart, so you can literally just go to the train station whenever you want, and jump in the reservations line, asking for a seat on the next train out. Most likely it’ll be for a train leaving in 30 minutes or less, so you can pretty much just wing it. -Roger

QUESTION

Saw your comments regarding the Eurorail in Italy. Friends have told us we could hop on and off with no reservation with Eurorail First Class Flex Pass. Is this correct or is a reservation required even if there are seats available? Thanks

ANSWER

Debbie,
It’s a bit complicated, unfortunately. In Italy, the high speed La Frecce trains and the EuroCity trains (which are part of international routes) require a €10 mandatory seat reservation in either 1st or 2nd Class. But the Intercity trains, which connect most Italian cities at normal speeds, have optional seat reservations at only €3 in either class. So with those you can sit in any unreserved seat without paying a fee, or standing if all seats are taken. In 1st Class you’ll pretty much always get a seat, but if you have a group it still might be worthwhile to reserve so you are sure to be sitting together.
So I do believe you can go between any Italian city without a seat reservation if you have a rail pass, but not on the high-speed trains. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi
Wow what an informative site you have
2x adult
Berlin > Hamburg – buy on the day ticket
Berlin to Prauge ( 4 days)
Prauge to Vienna ( 2 days)
Vienna to salzburg ( 2 days)
Salzburg to Munich (4 days)
Munich to Innsbruck ( stop over at mittenwald for 4/5 hrs)- 2 days
Innsbruck to Heidelberg (2 days)
I was looking at the Eurail Select Pass 3 countries/6 days
1 is this the right pass
2 is it worth it
3 is there different options
Thank you & look forward to your reply
PN these are all day train trips

ANSWER

Carmen,
This is precisely the sort of itinerary that gets good value out of a rail pass since pretty much all of your journeys are over two hours and in countries where individual tickets are fairly expensive.
You really have two choices: One is that 3-country Eurail Select Pass you mentioned, which puts you in 1st Class and with two traveling you qualify for the Saver version that is 15% off. Or, if you don’t mind traveling in 2nd Class you can actually save a bit more money by going with a Austria-Germany Regional Pass. Then, when you are traveling from Berlin to Prague you go to the ticket counter and show them your pass and ask for a ticket for just the part in Czech Republic, which might be €30 or so (but I’m not sure). From Prague to Vienna you do the same thing, asking for a ticket only valid in the Czech Republic (or maybe buying one for the whole journey since the portion in Austria is short).
It sounds complicated, but even in 1st Class you’ll save a bit of money, and in 2nd Class you’d save even more. You might also cover that Berlin to Hamburg day with a pass because that won’t be cheap on its own. Let me know if you have any other questions on this. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi roger! Pls help us plan our tour in europe. Starting point is lisbon (june 27)…..end point heathrow,london(july15). We are getting a eurail pass for 10 days in 2 months. Places we want to visit,, madrid, barcelona, milan, venice, florence, vatican city and rome. How many days do you recommend in each? And where to stay? 😉 we are on a budget tour. And if possible in sched we want to see turin, padova and assisi ;-). What should be our travel order thats best for train route,, and which point do we need to make a reservation? Thanks so much in advance 😉

ANSWER

Marianne,
Okay, here’s what I’d recommend for you:
Stay in Lisbon for 2 nights and then take a night train to Madrid.
Stay in Madrid 2 or 3 nights and then a train to Barcelona.
Barcelona for 2 or 3 nights and then a train (or even a cheap flight because it’s a long way) to Milan.
Milan for 1 night and then to Venice for 1 night. If you want to stop in Padua you can do it just before or after.
After Venice take a train to Florence for 2 or 3 nights, and then another train to Rome for at least 3 nights. Vatican City is within Rome and you can tour the museum (with the Sistine Chapel) and see St. Peter’s in a day.
I’d skip Turin and perhaps Assisi as well, but if they are important you can stop as you pass through them.
If you haven’t already figured out how to get from Rome back to Heathrow, I’d book a flight ASAP on a low cost airline (which might actually fly into a different London airport). Going by train would take a full day and not be fun or interesting.
You’ll need seat reservations on most of those journeys, except some within Italy. Here’s a list, sorted alphabetically by country.
To help with the itinerary details you might read this recent post about how long to stay in each city. For specifics on Italy have a look at the second half of this post on France-Italy itineraries.
As for where to stay, you’ll find cheap hotels in all of those cities except Venice and Rome (and Milan if there is a convention, which I doubt there is this time of year). I’d recommend looking for basic places with central locations rather than nicer places in the suburbs. Hotel rooms are pretty small in most of Europe, and most include breakfast. Especially in summer like this, the cheaper and better places will be full in advance, so if you wait until you arrive you’ll be choosing among more expensive or remote places. In other words, book in advance as soon as you have your itinerary sorted out. I’m sure you’ll have a great time. -Roger

QUESTION

Wow! Thank you so much for the prompt reply. Its such a big help. Last question,,, how can we make seat reservation on eurail? 😉

ANSWER

Marianne,
In those countries the only way to make a seat reservation is at the train station itself. Fortunately, they are all located in the city center, so you are likely to pass them when you are sightseeing, or even book a hotel near them. I prefer to go the day before I leave to make my reservation so I can come back just before the train leaves on my way out, but in most cases you can make a reservation just before the train leaves.
Look for the normal ticket lines and when it’s your turn just tell them you have a rail pass and just need a seat reservation. The queues are usually less than 30 minutes, of often only a few minutes. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi, roger! Is there a train from barcelona to rome? I cant find online. Super thanks

ANSWER

Marianne,
Yes, there are trains that can take you from Barcelona to Rome, but not one train. Leaving Barcelona, you will probably have to change trains on the Spain/France border, and maybe one more time in Nice or Milan. None of them are high-speed yet, so it’s a long journey. When checking online, check Barcelona to Nice and then Nice to Rome and at least you should get schedules and results. -Roger

QUESTION

Thank You for your quick response
You have an amazing talent to know so much info
I think I will stick to The 3countries/6 days $914.00 + maybe reservations costs, as the Austria/Germany pass is $863.00 on the Eurail site and will early pre book Berlin – Hamburg trip for a bit of a discount.
Take care and Thank You again

Hi Roger
I have another Q
Is my Munich ( stopover at Mittenwald) to Innsbruck – 1 journey
Innsbruck(change train at Munich) to Heidelberg – 1 journey
Thank You & have a great day
Carmen

ANSWER

Carmen,
I’m not totally sure what you are asking. When using a rail pass, a “travel day” includes all the travel you do in one calendar day or a night train if it leaves in the evening and goes past midnight. So one example I did was I took a train from Dresden to Munich during Oktoberfest so I got off and went into the event grounds for like 4 hours. Then I came back to the station for a train to Innsbruck where I spent the night. All of that was one “travel day.” Is that what you mean? -Roger

carmen says:
June 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm
Thank You
I know what you mean, you have answered my question
Regards
Carmen

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I am a university student traveling to Europe on the 26th with my friend. We are going for a total of 58 nights and are starting in Greece and moving our way across Europe to Portugal and then eventually to Ireland. I am wondering if you can help me decide what pass we need with the following itinerary in order of where we are planning to go. I was wondering if it is best to pay our way while in Greece in Italy and then go with a one month continuous (we are both 21).
Also just curious as to how many nights in each you suggest to stay and whether it is worth it to go to Poland or not (worth the time and money).
Thank you so much!
Greece
Italy (Rome, somewhere in Tuscany, Venice)
Austria (Vienna)
Germany (Berlin)
Netherlands (Amsterdam)
France (Paris, Marseille, Nice)
Spain (Barcelona,Madrid, Granada)
Portugal (Algarve, Lisbon)
Then we are finishing in Ireland (flying from Lisbon to Ireland)
Thanks again!

ANSWER

Lindsay,
This looks like a really nice itinerary for the amount of time you have. Since you have 2 months, I’d even think about adding Budapest, Prague, and Krakow in between Vienna and Berlin. All three are very nice and refreshingly cheap as well, so you can even splurge a bit while you are there.
As of now, there are no international trains out of Greece, and you might even think about flying to Italy or taking the ferry.
For this itinerary I think I’d recommend a 10 Days out of 60 Global Youth Pass, rather than 30 consecutive days. With consecutive days you’ll feel rushed, so even if you really like a city you’ll feel the need to push ahead to the next one. With a 10/60 Pass the thing to do is figure out your most likely route in advance, and then use it for the 10 most expensive legs. Those shorter ones within Italy might be the cheapest, but Lisbon to the Algarve is fairly cheap as well (and buses are an even cheaper option there). It would also be good in Ireland, and some of the longer train journeys there are pretty expensive so you might save a day or two for your time there (because Dublin is the least interesting part of Ireland). -Roger

QUESTION

Hi, roger! It’s me again 😉
*With our itinerary,, which eurailpass should we get? is the travel time indicated below is really the travel time?
*you are such a big help. Thank u thank u so much 😉
June 27 depart lisbon.
10 hrs night train.
June 28,29,30 madrid. – leave july 1 am to barcelona
3 hrs train.
July 1,2,3 barcelona. – leave july 4 am to rome
By ferry or 2 hrs flight
july 4,5,6 rome. -leave july 7 am to florence
1 1/2 hrs train
july 7,8 florence. – leave july 9 am to venice
2 hrs train
July 9 venice. -leave july 10 am to milan
2 hrs train
july 10, 11 milan. -leave july 11 pm to BERLIN
NIGHT TRAIN
july 12, 13, 14 BERLIN – leave july 14 pm to LONDON
NIGHT TRAIN
july 15 LONDON…… .

ANSWER

Marianne,
Hmmm…yours is a tricky one if you do it this way because you only have 7 travel days here and you’d be skipping France, which means you couldn’t do a Select Pass because all the countries have to be bordering. And the lowest number of days in a Global Pass is 10, so only using 7 would be a waste.
Your best bet is to get a 15 Consecutive Days Global Pass. Your first “travel day” would actually be June 28 because if you leave on a direct night train after 7pm, only the arrival day counts. The 15th day would be the day you arrive in Berlin on July 12. This means you’d be best off taking the night train between Barcelona and Rome because it would be included, except for the €20 or so to reserve a couchette (bunk). Just research a night train from Barcelona to Nice and then you’ll take a morning train in a normal seat from Nice to Rome. The scenery is lovely on that one.
Then you’d fly from Berlin to London on July 14 or 15 because there are no night trains connecting them anyway. The closest you could get is to take a night train to Paris and then change to the Eurostar to London in the morning, but a flight from Berlin might be cheaper than the Eurostar one-way anyway, and there’s no scenery (obviously) on a night train, or even on the Eurostar. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I will be traveling using France and Germany regional pass. If I decide to travel to Amsterdam using German ICE, how will the ticketing work. Will I have to pay for the portion I travel using ICE in Netherlands? Will I need to pay for it ahead of time or to the conductor?
Thanks,

ANSWER

Stan,
This is a pretty common issue in Europe, with a pass covering part of a journey but not all of it. So what you do is go to the ticket counter in Germany where you’ll need to buy a seat reservation anyway, and tell them you have a pass that covers Germany. They’ll calculate the portion of the trip that covers the Netherlands and issue you (depending on route) a Maastricht to Amsterdam ticket. Keep that together with your pass and the conductor will validate both as they go by. You might be able to buy it on the train itself, but that usually costs quite a bit more. -Roger

QUESTION

Thanks for the great articles!!! You mention that an advantage of having a Eurail pass is that it allows you to skip ticket lines, which is great, but you also say that seat reservations are often necessary. Does that mean getting in line anyway, to purchase a seat reservation? My trip (self and wife, 90 days) looping Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium is on the cheap staying in hostels and budget hotels, so rail is great to put us right in city centers. For my trip, I think buying tickets is slightly cheaper, but not much and I think missing lines would be helpful.

ANSWER

Tom,
I’m always happy to hear that this information is helpful. The seat reservation issue has become a tricky one. Only a few years ago, it was rare that pass holders needed seat reservations, but now they are required on most longer intercity and international routes. Those are also the most desirable routes for rail pass holders because they are the most expensive individually. You can still ride most regional and local trains with no reservation, but those are the cheaper ones that don’t make as much sense for a pass.
So the bottom line is, the computerization of European rail in recent years has meant that skipping ticket queues with passes is only an option in some places. On a slow (90 day) trip like yours, you are almost certainly better off buying tickets as you go. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
my friend and I are planning a trip around Europe (UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, and Spain; about 17 cities in 2 months). we would be spending a minimum of 2-3 days in each to the maximum of 6 for the bigger cities. we are both under 25 and I was wondering what would b the best choice for us?

ANSWER

El Mkay,
A trip of 2 months where you are visiting 8 or 9 countries like that is ideal for a Global Youth Pass of either 10 out of 60 days or 15 out of 60 days. More than likely the 10-day version will be best, and you can just pay individually for the cheapest 6 legs. That also allows you to fly or even take buses for legs where those might be better options. The shorter legs within Italy (Rome to Florence, for example) will be cheap, as would shorter legs within Ireland. And the longer legs between France, Germany, and Austria, as well as the legs within Spain (on high-speed trains) are expensive.
As you might already know, the UK itself isn’t included in the Eurail system, and Britrail Passes are quite expensive unless you are using them every day. However, some trains in the UK are cheap if you buy them online in advance. Like, London to Edinburgh might be £60 each way if you just walk up before it leaves, but it might only be £9 one-way if you buy online a week or two in advance. Most other European rail pricing doesn’t work that way, except the Eurostar. -Roger

QUESTION

Hey Roger,
I’m going to a 14 days summer trip. My group thought about Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague and Paris (average 3 days for each one). Do you think we should buy a select pass or a global one? Remembering that the Select pass doesn’t cover France anymore. Thank you

ANSWER

Filipe,
For such a short trip with only 3 train journeys, I think you are better off without a pass. Global Passes start at 10 days/legs, and you are doing 4 countries with one stop in each. Honestly, you might find that flying from Amsterdam to Berlin is cheaper if you buy in advance, and same with Prague to Paris. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I will be planning a trip to Europe this Aug with 3 other friends (all below 25) and I was hoping you could give us some travel advice to help us save some costs for transportation.
Itinerary:
Rome 2 days
Venice 1 day
Switzerland 5 days
Paris 3 days
Do you think we should get a Eurail Pass (select pass etc.) and is it cheaper to buy the tickets there or online?
I also wouldn’t mind receiving any recommendation for Switzerland as we are abit overwhelmed in deciding where to go.
Thank you and appreciate your help!
Ezra

ANSWER

Ezra,
Unfortunately, France can’t be included in the Select (3, 4, or 5 countries) Passes, so your best bet would be a France-Switzerland Pass. However, those are relatively expensive so they are really only a good deal for those making several longer trips within France. Switzerland itself is small, so even though rail fares are a bit expensive, they are never too high because nothing is more than a few hours away. The train tickets within Italy aren’t too expensive either, so I’d just buy them as you go.
As for Switzerland, my general advice is this: The big cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Basel aren’t very interesting and they are incredibly expensive. The charms of Switzerland are in the smaller Alpine and lake towns, so I recommend Lucerne and Interlaken as bases for 2 or 3 days each. They are nice on their own, and also close to many really wonderful hikes and sights, and they are very tourist friendly. If you want to see one of the big cities, you might just stop there for a few hours in between other stops. You might also think about staying in Rome for a third day and doing one less in Switzerland. Rome has so much to see that 2 days is kind of quick, but Rome is also somewhat frenzied so the Switzerland thing will be more relaxing. Either way you’ll have a great time. -Roger

Ezra says:
June 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Thanks Roger, for the help, it will help us alot in our planning. Might be looking at Italy for another day. Keep up the great work(:

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Thanks for useful information. Me and my wife (29 years old) are going to travel to Europe 26 July to 10 Aug. Both arrival and departure airport is Dusseldorf.
Please kindly help us to find best pass for our preliminary itinerary:
Berlin: 2 night
Prague: 3 night
Vienna: 2 night
Budapest: 1 night
Salzburg: 1 night
Munich: 2 night
Zurich/Lucerne/Interlaken: 3 night
Thanks & Regards,
Ali

ANSWER

Ali,
For this trip the 5-country Select Pass Saver is perfect, with 8 travel days. It looks like you’ll have 8 longer journeys in exactly 5 different countries, as long as you pay as you go for the shorter trips within Switzerland. With two people always traveling together in First Class, you’ll get great value out of it compared to buying individually, and it’ll be nice to ride in First Class during the high season when you’ll be going.
You are covering a lot of ground in a short time, but each stop looks well planned out and you can get a nice taste of Budapest and Salzburg in one day. Bon voyage. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger!
I’m sorry if you already addressed this, but I am leaving for Europe next Tuesday, and I am frantically trying to figure out if I need to buy a rail pass or just buy individual train tickets. I’m 22 and will be there for about 5 weeks.
I am flying into Frankfurt to begin, and then I will be going to Switzerland, Austria, Prague, then back down to France. I am flying home out of London, so I was going to take the high speed train from Paris. Does it make sense to do a 10 day travel pass, or just buy individual tickets as I go? I was just sticking to trains, except for my flight from prague to somewhere in Paris.
Thank you so much!

ANSWER

Melanie,
I’d need to know more about your planned itinerary to help you decide if a rail pass would be wise. In this comment you’ve only described a journey from Frankfurt to Switzerland then to Austria and then to Prague, plus a flight to Paris and then the Eurostar to London. That is as few as 3 train trips plus a flight and a Eurostar. If that’s what you have in mind just buy as you go, but if you are planning on bouncing around Germany, Switzerland, and Austria then a Regional Pass or Select Pass might be good. If you have a more detailed itinerary let us know and I’ll help you decide right away. -Roger

QUESTION

Roger,
Sorry for the vagueness! I am thinking Frankfurt to Zurich, then Interlaken. I was then thinking of moving towards Austria, so Innsbruck and Vienna, then making my way up to Prague. I would then probably fly from Prague to France. I’m thinking Lyon, Nice, Marseille and Paris. I may shift some places around in Switzerland or visit Prague before Austria, but those are the destinations I am thinking. Thank you so much for your quick reply!

Melanie,
At this point you probably don’t have much choice, but still it’s probably better to just buy as you go. Many of your journeys will be fairly short so a rail pass doesn’t make sense. Bon voyage! -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger, my partner and I will reach Paris in early July. We plan to take the Tralys to Amsterdam (2 days) followed by Rotterdam (1 day), Antwerp (1 day), Brussels (6 days for study) and finally back to Paris for our flight back. Is it more worthwhile for us to buy the Euroselect pass (France-Benelux) for 5 days or buy point to point tickets? Is there any other railway operator we can choose other than Thalys (which seems quite pricey). Thanks in advance for your advice.

ANSWER

Sarah,
This is a tough one because your Paris legs will be quite expensive, but the others are relatively short and cheap. I’d say that you are probably a little better off buying individual tickets. For the Paris to Amsterdam leg, the only direct trains are the Thalys, and if you buy those online in advance and choose a less popular time of day those aren’t quite so expensive. Check Thalys.com for that. You might also be able to take a few cheaper local trains, like Paris to Lille to Brussels to Amsterdam, but those still might cost just as much in the end.

QUESTION

Hi Roger!
We’ll be going to europe this coming monday. It’s a fast paced trip since we only have 25 days. Our itinerary will be France (Paris, Marseille, Nice, Lyon) – Switzerland (Geneve) – Austria (Salzburg) – Czech Republic (Prague) – Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Heidelburg) – France (Paris)… Since France is not included in the Eurail select pass, would it still be convenient to get the 4-country 5 day pass? Our would it be cheaper to buy individual train and bus tickets?
Does a Eurail select pass include city to city (Berlin to Hamburg) and intercity travel (Berlin day pass) train transportation?
Thanks,
Leanne 🙂

ANSWER

Leanne,
I’d say a 4-country 5-day Select Pass could be wise if I’m understanding your itinerary correctly. You seem to be doing mostly shorter journeys, but starting in Geneva you’ll be doing at least 5 longer ones where a pass can save you money. I’d recommend that, and buying the others as you go, although the France ones might be better bought online in advance if you know the dates for sure.
All Eurail passes work that same in that they are good on all rail journeys during a designated travel day. So for example if you did Prague to Berlin on a Monday, then you can ride the regional rails for free on that same day, like if you wanted to pop over to Dresden for the afternoon. But they aren’t valid on the “local” transit. In German cities they have two local systems (U-Bahn and S-Bahn), which are basically subway or tram systems, and a Eurail Pass is not valid on those. However, usually an all-day pass on those is like €8 or so, so it’s not a big difference. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger I need your help before I go crazy LOL
Im extremely confused on the trains in Europe
So we are 3 adults traveling and a 18 month old baby. We are thinking on getting the Euro rail Global Pass. The 24 unlimited countries. Also what will be the most adequate the continuous or the flex? Our itinerary is more less like this.
Barcelona to Rome 2 days in Rome.
Rome to Paris 2 paris
On this 2 i would like to take the night train to save on hotel and since we are 3 we can get a closed compartment i think.
Then Paris to Luxembourg just want to spend the day in Luxembourg and then Luxembourg to Paris again if necessary bc after lux im going to brussels. Stay for 3 days there and there Brussels to London.
I know im all over the place but i dont know if the unlimited global pass and worth it im aware for the reservations fees.
Also im traveling in late oct and its a 10 days travel.
Please help me and advice me the best I could do thank you

ANSWER

Jessica,
The shortest Global Pass available is for 10 travel days out of 60, and this looks like only 4 or 5 travel days. Is this a 10-total days trip? If so a rail pass doesn’t make much sense. The only possibility might be the France-Italy Regional Pass, since the Barcelona to the France border portion of your trip is short and cheap. You could do 5 travel days on that one, and it would probably save quite a bit of money with those long night trains. If I’ve misunderstood, let me know and I’ll try again. -Roger

QUESTION

Roger,
Is Jessica & Roberto from previous message
Yes, you are right, total time for this trip is 10 days, My trip starts in Barcelona Spain, because I have business there, and I leave back the USA from London, so from Barcelona to London, and I would like to travel to Italy, Paris, Brussels and end i London, in your opinion what is the best train pass to get or is a train pass even a good idea, i would like to take the train and travel at night if possible, i can spend up to 2 days in each location, so what do you recommend is the best travel plan in your opinion. Thank you in advance.

ANSWER

Jessica,
Those first few are quite long train trips, and in 10 total days to do 3 very long or overnight train trips, you’ll be a wreck. To be honest if I were you I’d fly from Barcelona to Rome and then to Paris. It will be cheaper in the end, especially if you book early. Those 12 or 14-hour train rides are fairly expensive and you won’t be too refreshed upon arrival even if you sleep. From Paris you should take the train to Brussels and then the Eurostar (train) to London. No pass really works for what you are doing. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
My family are traveling from London to Paris. With perhaps 5 days in Paris then down to Nice for a few days, then on to Rome with stops along the way at Milan, Venice and Flornece. We’re flying home from Rome. There will be 2 adults and 2 kids15 & 12 as the group always traveling together. We’d like fast trains if possible but are also open to doing a few overnight’ers if needed. I believe the London to Paris TGV is a separate purchase, would you mind suggesting waht would be the best Eurail ticket for us for our Paris-Nice-Milan-Venice-Florence-Rome travel? Thank you for your time. Regards, Ian.

ANSWER

Ian,
It looks like you are doing the classic France-Italy itinerary that I wrote about (and that so many people do). Your best bet by far is the France-Italy Regional Pass. The London to Paris part is actually the Eurostar, which is a separate system from the TGVs in France. Book as early as possible to get the best price. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger!
This sight is so much help 🙂
I have a question regarding getting a Eurail Select pass or not.
I’m under 26 and going to Italy, Austria, Hungary and Czech Republic. My trip starts and ends in Rome. The trip will be 2 months long in August and September.
I don’t whether or not to get a Eurail pass or just do point to point! Whilst I know I want to go to these 4 places I also like to be spontaneous and not be rigid in my schedule aka in case I’m in a city and want to stay longer then I want that kind of flexibility.
I’m not sure whether I should get a Select Pass or get the Eastern Europe pass or just do point by point. Also, potentially dumb question, but the Eastern Europe pass is only for one month but I will need it for more than that, so would I just be able to buy another one once the first month is over?
My itinerary is not 100% secure because I want to be flexible but I’m aiming on being in each country for 2 weeks and going to both the cities and also day excursions.
Thanks! 🙂

ANSWER

Vanessa,
Thanks for the compliment. For a trip like this I’d recommend just buying point to point. Fortunately, train tickets in all 4 of those countries are relatively cheap, and the only way a pass pays for itself is if you used it for the longest trips within them. However, you can be as spontaneous as you like with a Eurail Pass, if not more so.
The reason I don’t think a pass is wise on a trip like yours is that you have enough time that you might decide to cut longer trips in two or three legs by stopping in smaller cities in between. Those shorter legs in Hungary or Czech Republic might only cost €10 or €20 each, so a pass wouldn’t be good value. In fact, you might even discover that a bus is a better option for some of those legs since the buses in that area are often faster and cheaper than trains. Have fun. -Roger

QUESTION

Is it possible to use the eurailpass with this dates of travel?
I’m flying to Paris on the 22th June then same day to Prague
Prague to Berlin: June 24 overnight train
Berlin to Amsterdam: June 25 overnight train
Amsterdam to Bruges: June 26 at night/early morning of June 27 (depends on hotel cost)
Bruges to Paris: June 27 night trip
Paris fly out: June 29
Is this itinerary doable?
How much do eurailpass costs? where to buy it?
Thanks much

ANSWER

Frances,
For a trip with this few stops, and one that includes France, there isn’t really a good rail pass for you. The Global Passes have a minimum of 10 journeys and the Select Passes (where you choose 3, 4, or 5 countries) don’t include France. To be honest, you’d be better off flying to Prague and then from Berlin to Amsterdam if you can buy a flight well in advance. -Roger

QUESTION

Dear Sir,
My Europe trip plan is as follows.We are two persons(myself & wife).
July 30 – arrival at Frankfurt airport in the afternoon from Bahrain.
July 30- Evening travel- from Frankfurt to Hanover
stay at Hanover on 30 & 31st July with Friend
August 01 – Hanover to Amsterdam
August 02 – Amsterdam to Hanover
August 03 – Hanover to Lucerne (switzerland)
August 04 – 06 stay at Lucerne
August 07 – Lucerne to Venice(Italy)
August 08 – Venice to Florence
August 09 – Florence to Rome
August 10 – Rome
August 11 -Rome to Frankfurt
Shall I purchase Eurorail global pass? Please guide me.
Best Regards,
srinivas.

ANSWER

Srinivas,
It looks like you are doing 8 journeys, and most of them would be quite expensive if purchased individually. This is a perfect itinerary for a Eurail Select Pass of 8 journeys within 2 months in 4 countries. Since you’ll be a pair traveling together, you’ll qualify for the Saver Pass, which is 15% less in First Class for two who always travel together on the same pass. You can buy it on the Rail Europe International Site. Just select the 4 countries you’ll be traveling in and through, and then select 8 travel days and you should be set. -Roger

QUESTION

Roger,
After reading your helpful hints I thought I would drop a line for your advice.
I will be traveling arriving in Copenhagen on August 17th at 10:30AM then traveling to Linkoping that day, then returning on August 22nd for a flight out of Copenhagen at 12:25PM. I am 69 and looking for the best way to travel between these two cities. I have never taken any trains in Europe however I have used the JR trains in Japan and I really like their system.
Thank you for your help.
Jeff

ANSWER

Jeff,
Your best option is certainly the train, which will take about 3.5 hours and cost about US$100 each way. The trains in Denmark and Sweden are very nice and all the important signs are in English, plus everyone you’ll meet will speak fluent English, so it couldn’t be easier. -Roger

QUESTION

Roger,
Thanks for your quick reply, I really appreciate the help.
Just one more question. Should I purchase tickets at the train station or prior to my arrival?
Thanks again for your help.
Regards,
Jeff

ANSWER

Jeff,
It looks like you can get cheaper tickets if you book in advance on the Swedish rail site. The Danish national site doesn’t seem to do international tickets. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello there, your page has been very helpfull. But I’m still undecided on which global pass to buy. This is my route within a little over 2 month period: dublin-london-paris-amsterdam-berlin-prague-vienna-budapest-sofia,bulgaria-athens-rome-florence-venice-cinque terre-niza-marseille-barcelona-madrid-porto-lisboa-sevilla-granada-gibraltar-morroco. I will be taking the ferry to london and the train to paris and the bus from sofia to athens and a plain from athens to rome and a ferry from gibraltar to morroco. The rest will be on train but what i’m uncertain about is wether to buy the 10 or 15 day within 2 months because i don’t know if trains would be cheaper to buy individually in the south of france and spain and portugal.

ANSWER

Ana,
It looks like you’ve done your homework and this itinerary looks fantastic. I’d get the 10-days in 2 months pass and use it from Paris all the way to Budapest, which is 5 legs. You might find that a bus from Budapest to Sofia is nicer and faster than the train anyway because trains are slow in that corner of Europe. Then with the 5 remaining legs you’ll use it from Cinque Terra to Nice and to Marseilles and to Barcelona and to Madrid and to Porto.
Starting in Porto and all the way to Gibraltar, the trains are fairly cheap and buses are often a better and faster option. Both Spain and Portugal have decent train service between the largest cities, but for a few of those last legs you might find there is two trains per day that take 5 hours, or 6 buses per day that take 4 hours and cost less.
On the other hand, if you did buy the 15-days version, each ride is cheaper, and those trips within Italy might be worth using a pass on. So I’d go with the 10 to keep more flexibility, and most of the savings will be in those first 5 trips, but the 15 Days one could work well too. -Roger

QUESTION

Hello there, your page has been very helpfull. But I am still undecided about which Global Pass to buy. I would qualify for the youth discount. The following is the route I am covering on a little over a two month period: Dublin-London-Paris-Amsterdam-Berlin-Prague-Vienna-Budapest-Sofia, Bulgaria(this would be my connection to greece)-Greece-Rome-Florence-Venice-Cinque Terre-Niza-Marseille-Barcelona-Madrid-Porto-Lisbon-Sevilla-Granada/Malaga/Gibraltar-Morroco. I’ll be taking a ferry to london and a bus from sofia to greece and flying from athens to rome and taking a ferry from gibraltar to morroco. The rest of the trip would be on train. I wasn’t sure on which package to chose because I don’t know if the train tickets in italy, south of france, spain and portugal would be cheaper to buy individually. Suggestions?

QUESTION

Hey Roger,
My friend and I are spending 8 days in Greece, then flying from Athens to Prague, and then traveling by train from Prague to Paris over 11 days making stops in between- we would love to see the alps and maybe stop in Munich. We are also planning on traveling a little bit within France after reaching Paris for 8 days. We are trying to decide which Euro Pass to purchase- or if we should. We are both 22 years old. Suggestions?
Thanks so much for your help!

ANSWER

Lauren,
Without knowing which stops you intend between Prague and Paris, and possible stops within France, it’s impossible for me to make a recommendation with any confidence. But most likely you’ll be better off buying as you go. France is a tricky one for shorter trips and rail passes because they don’t participate in the Select Passes (3, 4, or 5 countries) and 2 countries won’t help much, while a Global Pass would be too expensive and need too many travel days for your trip. So unless you have something unusual in mind, just buy as you go. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I’m planning to have a trip with my husband to Europe on 24 Oct – 9 Nov 2013(15 days).
Both of us will meet up at Munich on 24 Oct 2013 after i finish my business trip from Regensburg.
I would like to get your advice on which transport that I should choose Global Passes have a minimum of 10 journeys or Select Passes (5 countries).
We are plan to travel at below country:
Netherland(Amsterdam)
Belgium(Brussel)
France(Paris)
Italy(Milan, Pisa, ROME, FLorence, Venice)
Swiss(Interlaken)
Germany(Berlin, Munich)
Prague
Pls advice.
Thanks.

ANSWER

Clarenz,
Does this mean you are planning on visiting all 12 cities in 15 days? Obviously that means that you’d be spending around 4 hours each day on a train, and even though these are scenic journeys, I wouldn’t recommend going nearly that fast. Not that you asked, but I’d skip Brussels (or spend a few hours there on your way from Amsterdam to Paris), skip Milan, skip Pisa (or just spend a few hours there on a day trip from Florence), and probably save Munich or Berlin for another trip.
Unfortunately, you can include France on a 3, 4, or 5-country Select Pass, so if you want to go through the country you’d need a Global Pass. The good news is that you’ll save the most money with a 15-Continuous Day Global Pass with the Saver option (two traveling together). Even if you only take 8 or 9 journeys, it would be cheaper than individual tickets because you are going through mostly expensive areas. And with the Continuous 15-day option, you can change cities every day if you have the energy, at no extra cost. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger
Yes, you are right. Berlin I might not want to include in the trip but for Munich is my last point as the flight ticket that I bought was departure from Munich. Pls feel free to share your point on accomodation, transport & the itinerary looks.
For me, cost is my concern. I would like to plan have a short/day (2-4 hours) trip at Brussels, Milan & Pisa only.
For short day trip, where can I find the temporary luggage locker to keep our luggage?
So I would like to know is it better if I choose Global pass for 10 days or separate Select pass (5 countries within 5 days) + separate pass from Munich to Paris?
I’m not sure whether the individual pass is worth for my trip?
Some of my night would like to overnight in train. Hence how can I bought this ticket? Is it Global pass include the night train?
My option would be:
Option 1(Select pass 5 days 5 countries + Munich to Paris pass(1way):
Munich –> Paris (DB Night train) + 1 day overnight at Paris
Paris–> Belgium (Day trip)
Belgium –> Amsterdam 1 day overnight + ( Night train)
Amsterdam –> Lucern/Interlaken 1 day overnight
Interlaken –> Milano (Day trip)
Milano –>Pisa/ Florence 2 day overnight
Florence –> ROME
ROME –> Venice
Venice –> RBG (Night train) + 1 day overnight
RBG –> Prague (Day Trip)
Prague –> RBG –> Munich
Option 2(Global pass 10 days):
Munich –> Amsterdam ( 1 day overnight) + night train
Amsterdam –> Brussel (Day trip 3 hrs)
Brussel –> Paris (1 day overnight ) + night train
Paris –> Lucern/ Interlaken (1 day overnight) + night train
Lucern –> Florence 2 days overnight
Florence –> ROME (Day trip 8 hrs)
Florence –> PISA (Day trip 2 hrs)
PISA –> Milan (Day Tour 4 hrs)
Milan –> Venice (Day Tour)
Venice –> Munich (Night train)
Munich –> RBG (1 day overnight)
RBG –> Prague (Day trip 8 hrs)
Prague –> RBG –> Munich
Thanks.

ANSWER

Clarenz,
For day trips, you’ll find luggage lockers or Left Luggage desks at every larger European train station. It’s usually only a few euros for like 4 to 6 hours in the lockers, and a bit more at the desks with people working at them.
Are we still talking about you doing all of these stops in 15 days? I normally encourage people to move quickly if they feel motivated to, but this still seems crazy. If you did either of these versions you’d be spending half your waking hours on trains or at train stations or at least disoriented. In 15 days I’d recommend no more than 8 cities, including side trips.
That said, if you are set on one of these then I think they both make very good use of time and the passes you’ve designed them around. Option 1 would obviously be cheaper because the pass is cheaper, but Option 2 looks good as well. You can ride on overnight trains with any kind of rail pass that covers the countries you are riding through, and as long as the train leaves after 7pm (and arrives in the morning) then it only uses the arrival date as a “travel day” on the pass. You need reservations for all overnight trains, and it’s usually only around €5 for a normal seat, or €20 to €30 for a couchette (small bunk). -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Very thanks for your valuable inputs.However I still have some doubt.
Does this means that Option 1 & 2 also can ride on any train to the countries I would like to visit?
Actually my wish is visiting 10 city(Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Interlaken, Milan, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Venice, Prague). Munich & Regensburg is my departure & arrival destination. Would not be staying there.
Where can I get the train schedule & timetable?
Am I need to purchase the pass online now or I can purchase while I’m at Germany(info: I will be go to Regensburg for business trip for 3 weeks then only start my holiday journey with husband). Which would be better for the ticket purchase from your point of view?
The ride on 7pm means wad? How to calc this?
DOes the pass(global pass/ select pass) entitle to use in the countries i visit or it just allow to use for ride from 1 contry to other country?
Should I purchase the Hop on & Hop off pass for each country i visit or I can just use my pass(global / select pass) to use any transport(public buss/ train) within the ocuntry that I visit(example: when I depart from paris to interlaken, can I use my pass to ride on any train at swiss?)
Thanks for advice.
Clarenz

ANSWER

Clarenz,
With Option 1 on your earlier comment you can take trains through any 5 different countries as long as none of them is France. For any leg that partially includes France you’d have to pay for the France portion separately, though you can use the pass to cover the remaining portion. In Option 2 you can go through any country including France.
If you get a rail pass it will come with a timetable book for all trains, or you can find the schedules online. The German rail site has most European trains on it.
You can’t purchase a Eurail pass from within Europe so you’d want to order it online before you go. Once you have it you can wait up to 6 months to actually validate it, which you do at the first station on the first day you are using the thing. Of course, if you choose to just get individual tickets then you can get those while in Europe, and in some cases they will be cheaper there than online, but not always.
Basically, there are “night trains” between pretty much every pair of large cities that are 6 to 12 hours apart. For example, between Rome and Paris, there would be one “night train” that leaves at, say, 10pm and arrives at 7am. So as long as it leaves after 7pm (and all night trains do), then you only have to use the arrival date as a travel day.
All European rail passes allow you to ride on the domestic trains as well as the international trains as long as you use a travel day. So they are valid for Zurich to Milan, and also from Milan to Rome. If you get a Continuous Days pass (as in 15 continuous days) then all train travel would be included, but if you get a 5 or 10 travel days out of 60 days, then you might not want to use a travel day for short domestic trips.
Let me know if you have any more questions. -Roger

QUESTION

Do you mean that Euro Global pass cannot purchase at any Europe country? Meaning that I only can purchase online and the ticket will courier to Asean(Malaysia)?
So here in this case, I would like to plan to book hostel but I do not know what is the timetable for train, can I book the hostel in advance? I afraid after I book the hostel based on my option 2 plan but in the end there is no train from Amsterdam to Paris then i will waste the hostel fees(as I search through train ticket on website :http://www.raileurope-asean.com/book-now/ but I cannot found any train schedule).
Kindly advice.
Thanks in advance.

ANSWER

Clarenz,
Yes, that’s correct. Eurail Passes are only available outside of Europe. European residents can buy different passes that are more restrictive and usually more expensive as well.
Booking hostels in advance is wise, especially during high season since the cheaper and better places fill up on most days. There are 8 daily express trains from Amsterdam to Paris, leaving at least every two hours. You have to reserve a seat even if you have a rail pass though. Here’s a link to the schedule for that route: http://www.thalys.com/nl/en/train-timetables/Amsterdam/Paris
-Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Do you know what is the lead time for purchase the global pass ticket to Asean?
I would like to know when is the last date that i should purchase the ticket as my trip is start on Oct 2013.

ANSWER

Clarenz,
I’m not sure how long shipping takes to SE Asia from France (where Rail Europe is located) but I’d think 1 to 2 weeks. However, all of these rail passes can be validated any time within 6 months of purchase, so if you ordered one in July you can start using it in October or even December. I hope this helps. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Does the Global pass include in the public transport(bus & train) at the 24 counteries?

ANSWER

Clarenz,
All of the Eurail Passes are the same in that they are good for all train travel within each country they are valid for on designated travel days, but they aren’t good on buses or even metro/subway systems. But of course those metro/subway systems are cheap so it shouldn’t become a problem except maybe in Scandinavia. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I would like to know if I had purchase global pass, should I need to purchase a Eurostar ticket to London from Paris Nord? Did Global pass included to London?
How about the price for eurostar?
Thanks.
Rgds,
Clarenz

ANSWER

Clarenz,
Here’s an article that explains the Eurostar trains.
Eurostar is a totally separate system from the rest of the European rail lines so it requires a separate ticket. However, you can get a discount if you have a rail pass and you don’t need to use a travel day for it. It’s best to buy the Eurostar ticket as soon as possible because prices start low and keep going up the closer you get to the travel date. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Wish to check with you how to make a reservation for those train that need reserve after I had bought a global pass?
Is it can buy online or must purcahse at the train station on the spot while travelling?
Can we make purchase earlier?
If we suddenly cannot go to travel, does global pass refund us?
Any terms & condition?
Need your advice.
Thanks.
Rgds,
Clarenz

ANSWER

Clarenz,
Here’s an article that explains everything you need to know about making reservations on European trains with a railpass.
The short version is: Most international express trains require reservations, which usually cost around €5 per seat. The only ones that it’s wise to make early are any trips on the French TGV trains because those have a quota of seats for railpass holders. However, even if you don’t get on the ideal train, you can usually get on another train earlier or later in the day. For pretty much all other trains, it’s fine to make the reservation the day before or even shortly before the train leaves on the same day.
You should be able to make a seat reservation on the site you bought the rail pass (raileurope or eurail.com, which are basically the same company).
For most trains it’s easiest and cheapest just to stop into the train station on the day of travel or any number of days before. You go into the travel office and take a number or get in the proper queue, and usually only a few minutes later you are at a window. They make reservations for pass holders every day, so it’ll be fast and easy once you are there. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
I check through the website that I purchase the global pass & try to make a reservation on the night train, the cost was more than 5Euro(actual was 35 Euro from Munich to Amsterdam on CNL with reclining seat).
Therefore would like to understand is it purchase on the train station will get cheaper compare to book online?
By the way, can you share with me the link that have show 5Euro seat reservation?
Thanks in advance.
Rgds,
Clarenz

ANSWER

Clarenz,
My understanding is that seat reservations are basically the same price regardless of where you book them. The problem in this particular case is it sounds like you are booking on one of the TGVs in France, and those high-speed luxury trains do have a higher reservation fee, as well as a quota of pass-holders.
Here’s a list of all the reservation fees where they are needed.
The average of the ones that require reservations is about €5, but there are a few exceptions, particularly the TGVs in France. -Roger

QUESTION

Hi Roger,
Would like to get your advice on below items:
I already plan to buy Global pass for my Europe trip, do you think I should make a seat reservation at the same time as well?Or I should make reservation of seat(5Euro) when I’m arrive at the train station?
The reason i ask because currently Rail Europe Train has summer sales(Example: 1200 Euro discount 80 Euro).
But I face the problem was from the website i cannot found the cheap )5Euro) seat reservation as you mention to me before. Therefore until now I still do not buy the global pass yet.
Pls help.
In addition, would like to know if I purchase goods(bad) at Paris but I will flight from Munich to my hometown, can I claim the tax at Munich airport for goods that bought at Paris?

ANSWER

Clarenz,
I’ll answer those that I know in order…
Depending on the country and the type of train you are taking, you may need a seat reservation even with a rail pass. Here’s a list that covers all of them:

Which European trains need reservations? Find out here

On a day that you are using a rail pass, you can ride domestic trains and suburban rail lines for free, but not buses or subways or other urban public transportation.
To reach Mt. Titlus you take a train to Engelberg, which is the town at its base. From Bern it takes a bit under 2 hours and from Interlaken it takes a bit under 3 hours. Trains leave hourly from both cities.
I’ve never actually done the VAT rebate thing so I’m not sure, but I do think it’s for one country at a time so you’d have to claim your refund when leaving the country of the purchase, because it’s them that collects the tax. The country next door probably doesn’t want to refund tax they didn’t collect, though again, I’m not really sure. -Roger

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All Comments

  1. Vicki says:

    My granddaughter and I are planning a European trip in September 2021. We will fly into and leave from London, and we have one month. Are we insane to think we can go all the way to Florence, up to Amsterdam, stopping in major cities along the way?

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Vicki,

      I think it can be done if you plan it well. My recommendation is to spend three nights in pretty much any city you stop in. So you could fly from London to Rome and then Florence and Venice (which can be enjoyed in about a day) and then a train to Paris and then a train to Amsterdam from there. You’d be able to add at least 3 or 4 more cities, which could be in Spain or Austria or Switzerland or German or Belgium, but you couldn’t do all of those, of course. I’m happy to help you plan this more. -Roger

  2. Nicole says:

    Hi Roger

    Thanks so much for your input. You site is such a blessing for travelers like me! I’ll definitely be looking into your “where to article in Switzerland”. (We’ll just be using Zurich as the jump off point of our tour) I didn’t know there was a half fare swiss pass but i’m so glad you mentioned it! You’re helping me save so much money.

    Again thank you so much!!

  3. Nicole says:

    Hi Roger!

    I love your site! Its so helpful! I have a question though, i hope you can help me out, My family and i are planning to travel around europe by train this coming july. (We are a group of 7 all traveling together)

    I know that buying a euro rail pass would be most advisable when travelling long distances and when travelling in a group, but the places we want to go are fairly close together. We want to go from:

    -Munich- vienna
    -Vienna- salzburg
    -Salzburg- Innsbruck
    -Innsbruck- zurich (im planning to buy a swiss rail pass when we get to switzerland as well)
    -Zurich -Munich

    May i know what would be the best tickets for these trips? Would a euro rail pass give us the best value for money or would you suggest just buying the tickets per trip?
    Your advice would be greatly appreciated

    Thanks so much,
    Nicole

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Nicole,

      Always happy to hear that people find this useful. For a trip like the one you’ve described you’ll actually get the best deal by buying individual train tickets at least a month or two in advance so you can get the supersaver fares. Eurail Passes are great for people on long trips who want to be able to make plans as they go, but the per-day cost can be quite high and it’s usually higher than advance-purchase train tickets. So the good news is that the train tickets between those cities will be cheaper than a Eurail Pass. To check the prices just look for those same journeys leaving about 10 weeks from now and you’ll see how much the discounted fares are.

      Switzerland is a whole other thing. Train tickets within Switzerland are quite expensive, but the Swiss Travel Pass is also very expensive, especially for shorter trips. It all depends on how long you’ll stay in Switzerland and what you are planning to do there. The link just above should help you figure that out. If you’ll be staying in Switzerland for at least 3 days or so, then a Half Fare Card can be your cheapest option, and it’s also described in that article.

      You also probably don’t want to focus on Zurich unless you have something specific to see there. You might have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland for some other options. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  4. Naomi says:

    Found it! Thanks for the info and directing me to the correct page! This is a great place for me to start planning. Thanks again!

  5. Naomi M says:

    Hi Roger,

    I love this website and all the info. Thanks very much. 2 years ago we took our family of 5 to Europe for the first time for three weeks and covered London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, Lisbon and finished with relaxation in the Algarve. Now we have the Europe travel bug. (girls ages are 19, 7 and 13)

    What should we do next?…only two weeks this time and we are willing to travel a little slower. I am thinking Spain, then fly to Athens? maybe add on Croatia and/or Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am having a difficult time planning this second round. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Naomi,

      This sounds fantastic. It’s tough to say because (as you’ve discovered) there is a million different ways to do this. Personally, I prefer to keep with train travel once I’m there rather than flying around, but Athens isn’t on any useful train lines so flying in and out is really the best way. Assuming that you are going in summer, I’d probably do about 9 days in Spain and then fly to Athens for 2 or 3 days and then take a ferry or short flight to one of the Greek islands for the last 2 or 3 days. So Barcelona and Madrid for 3 days each (they are both large and very different from each other), and then Seville or even the Malaga area for 3 days.

      Then fly to Athens for 2 or 3 days. You can see the main sights in Athens in one full day so if you are anxious to get to an island you can stay only two nights. Santorini and Mykonos are probably the two most popular islands and either would be great. I’d save Croatia and Bosnia for a future trip, and you can combine them with Prague and Budapest and perhaps Slovenia. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  6. PJ says:

    Hi Roger, you helped with an itinerary in the past, and had to run something by you.

    I had a total of 6 nights that I’m trying to divide up and was wondering what your thoughts were..
    From Rome we are taking a train to Milan. We arrive at 11am, and the current plan is to stay 2 nights. From Milan, we were thinking of heading to Lucerne Switzerland and would arrive by 1pm. We were then planning 2 nights there, and from there heading to Geneva. We would arrive in Geneva at 2pm, and plan to stay 2 nights and leave via train to Paris.

    I guess a couple questions. Do you think that would be too much travel, or is it enough time to get a general idea of the 3 suggested cities? The other thought we had would be 3 nights in Milan and 3 nights in either Lucerne or Geneva (probably leaning towards Geneva).
    What are your thoughts?

    Train ride from Milan to Lucerne is roughly 4 hours.

    Lucerne to Geneva is 3 hours.

    If we bypass Lucerne, train time from Milan to Geneva is 4 hours.

    We plan to go mid December, and Lucerne seems pretty picturesque and a nice change of pace from the large cities that we’re seeing.

    Thank you!

  7. cerise says:

    hi Roger,

    Can u advise and help me plan my itinerary. I have 12d 10n to explore 4 countries. so far, the flight is maybe Flying in from budapest, flying out from milan. my plan is 2 night budapest, 1 night bratislava, 2 night vienna, 1 night innsburck, 3 night milan,1 night rome. could u suggest what transportation that suitable for those routes? train/bus/flight? or maybe should 1 change my flight in and out? your reply will very helpful for me. thanks

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Cerise,

      Trains should be the fastest and by far most pleasant to get between all of those cities. In some cases there may also be buses, but they would be slower and less comfortable, although also cheaper. Flying into Budapest and out of Milan seems like a good idea if those are the cities you want to visit. Not that you asked, but it’s an interesting choice of destinations. Bratislava is pleasant enough, but not very interesting compared to most European capitals. Innsbruck is mostly a ski resort town and recreation area and it’s not nearly as interesting for tourists as Salzburg, which is really lovely.

      In Italy they have the “Big 3” tourist cities which are Rome, Florence, and Venice. Milan is a big city, but it’s only got a few tourist attractions so most people skip it. It does have a large and busy airport though. Buy your train tickets as early as possible for the lowest fares and best selection of departure times. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  8. Liam says:

    Hi Roger

    Thanks for reply to my other comment, it really helped. We thought about buying a pass for belenux/germany (5 DAYS) and France/Spain/Portugal (6-8 DAYS) and doing the rest of our travel (Poland, Czechia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece) on the go. After having a look at train prices for Belenux/Germany, I’m not sure wether the pass is worth it as the prices were reasonable even when booking a few days out. My thinking now is we should buy a select pass for France/Spain/Portugal and leave the rest of our travel to be booked on the go (trying to book around a week in advance of when we travel, but eating any extra cost if we feel like being spontaneous. We plan on spending roughly half of our 13 week trip in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, so it seems to make sense that we have the pass for these countries to minimise the cost of the longer inter-city and inter-country trips.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and any further suggestions you may have with regards to out intinerary.

    Cheers, Liam

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Liam,

      It sounds like you’ve got a good handle on this. I think your idea sounds quite good about buying a France/Spain/Portugal pass. Before you lock that in make sure you research the seat reservation fees and terms in France because the fees can be very high on many of the more popular high-speed routes. And France has quotas for the number of rail pass seats they will sell on any given train, so if you try to book at the last minute it’s even possible that they have no rail-pass seats left at all. And also check the bus fares and schedules in Spain and Portugal. The high-speed trains in Spain are very fast, but the normal trains can be about the same speed as buses, and the buses tend to be cheaper and run more frequently in some parts of the country.

      Your overall plan sounds great and I’m sure this will be an amazing trip. I’m happy to answer any other questions that you have. -Roger