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If you are interested in touring Europe by train, you need to become familiar with Eurail train passes.  We review train passes in general, the specific  varieties of Eurail passes, and provide links to official Web sites.

 

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Travel Advice/Travel Tips - Eurail Passes – what you need to know.

 If you think you might want to tour Europe by train be sure to visit RailEurope (http://www.raileurope.com/us/index.htm) and  Eurail (http://www.eurail.com/).

Discount train passes can provide good value if you carefully plan your travel. The Rail Europe site offers a broad array of services, provides a helpful FAQ about train travel in Europe, and is a one-stop shopping site for rail needs in Europe.

Discount rail passes for Europe must be purchased before you depart the United States.

  • Most rail passes are not available to European residents.

Perhaps the most well know discount rail pass is the Eurail Pass, which comes in a variety of flavors and lets you travel in the following 17 European countries:

  • Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The Eurail pass can be purchased in the following formats:

  • The basic Eurail pass allows the holder to unlimited first-class travel during one of five specified periods ranging from 15 days to three months. Longer periods are more expensive. Variations of the Eurail Pass include:
    • Eurail Pass (for one person)
    • Eurail Pass Saver (discounted for groups of two or more)
    • Eurail Pass Youth (discounted for those under 26 but is for second-class rail travel).

 

  • The Flexi Pass allows the holder to travel for 10 or 15 days (more days = greater expense) within a two month period. For purposes of a Flexi Pass, a travel day is all rail travel that occurs within a 24-hour period (midnight to midnight). If you traveled two hours and did not resume your journey until the next day, the two hours would count as a travel day and the second trip would count as a second day. If you board an overnight train after 7pm (1900), only the following day of travel is counted on a Flexi Pass or a Selectpass.). 

    Variations of the Flexi Pass include:

    • Eurail Pass Flexi (one person)
    • Eurail Pass Saver Flexi (discounted for groups of two or more)
    • Eurail Pass Youth Flexi (discounted for those under 26 but for second-class rail travel)

The Selectpass is a little more complicated. Using the Selectpass, you can choose first-class travel in 3, 4, or 5 countries (of those mentioned above) for 5, 6, 8, or 10 days within a two-month period. More countries and more travel days increase the cost of the pass.  For purposes of the Selectpass, the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg) are considered as one country.  Variations of the Selectpass include:

  • Eurail Selectpass (one person)
  • Eurail Selectpass Saver (discounted for groups of two or more)
  • Eurail Selectpass youth (discounted for those under 26 but for second-class rail travel)

Eurail Two-Country Passes offer  basic passes for train travel between Romania and Hungary or Germany and the Benelux.

Many other combinations and single country passes are described at the RailEurope site (http://www.raileurope.com/us/index.htm).  In addition, Eurail pass holders can often make reservations on sleeper cars and high speed trains for a discounted price.

Having a pass will help control your costs if you want to travel by train but may not include all of the routes or all of the flexibility that you desire.  There a number of combinations that we have not discussed here (train plus car rental, for example) and you should visit the RailEurope site to find other options.

 

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