How to make the best of a European rail trip

There are few more convenient ways to travel through Europe than by train.

You travel at a slower pace, watching the scenery slide by and quite often arrive in the heart of a city, without the hassle of checking your luggage in and organising transfers from an airport that could be way out of town. 

Train travel also allows you to explore smaller destinations that may otherwise be overlooked as you tour city to city. 

So where to start if you are planning a rail journey through Europe?

Rail Europe is the global reference brand for European train booking. Its service staff provide technology solutions and customer care services to +15,000 partners in more than 70 countries.

In light of the many frequently asked questions from around the world, Rail Europe has shared its top three inquiries along with answers.

1. Should I get point-to-point tickets or a rail pass?

Answer: Rail Europe advises using these simple comparison methods to help you determine the best option for your travel needs.

  • Number of cities: For itineraries for a handful of cities, a rail pass might be more cost effective. Note, Eurostar services are included on the Eurail pass and each journey is equivalent to one ‘day’ on the pass with seat reservations to be made separately.
  • Flexibility: Rail passes offer travellers more flexibility than point-to-point tickets as the latter are attached to a fixed departure date and time. Passes often do not require seat reservations on regional trains, so travellers can simply hop on to any train when they’re ready to go. Passes also allow users to enjoy unlimited travel for each ‘day’ on the pass within the 24 hours from midnight to midnight.
  • Families: Eurail passes offer free travel for up to two children under 11 per adult pass holder, while children under 16 travel free when accompanied by an adult using the Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Perks and discounts: Unlike point-to-point tickets, rail passes have discounts and bonuses. Eurail passes often include discounts for tour attractions, restaurants, ferry rides, wifi connections and more; while the Swiss Travel Pass grants users access to unlimited travel on all of the country’s public transportation including boats, trains and buses, free access to more than 500 museums and up to 50 per cent discounts on cable car rides. 
  • Forward planning: Save up to 70 per cent off rail bookings when planning ahead. Eurail passes can be booked up to 11 months in advance, three months for seat reservations. Point-to-point tickets are usually available only three months out.

2. Are there countries where seat reservations aren’t required for Eurail passes?

Answer: Seat reservations are determined by the operator and type of train used. As a general rule of thumb, reservations are required for trains that are high-speed, and/or operating international cross-border, panoramic and overnight routes. Local or regional trains largely do not require a seat reservation. In fact, more than 99 per cent of trains across Europe do not require seat reservations for daytime travel. Where seat reservations are required, bookings can be made advance via Rail Europe’s website or mobile app.

3. How do I keep a record of all the places I’ve visited?

Answer: The best way to do this is via the Rail Planner app, where travellers can easily and conveniently refer back to travel itineraries at any time. The map and itinerary can also be exported and shared via email or WhatsApp. 

Rail Europe’s catalogue of products focuses on 200 rail providers and they sell about five million European train tickets every year. 

For more information visit

Have you travelled through Europe by train? Do you have any tips? Why not share them in the comments section below?

Also read: To do or not to do of rail travel

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