When you’re planning a trip to Europe from outside of the European Union, the cheapest way to get around multiple cities in different countries is by train or on budget airlines. This guide to a budget trip to Europe explains Eurail passes as well as top tips about traveling around Europe. Read on!
HOW TO BUY A EURAIL PASS
If you’re thinking about traveling around 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5+ European countries by train on your upcoming trip, here’s what you need to know about the Eurail pass.
THE FINE PRINT: Eurail passes can be used on all trains run by National Railway companies, including the popular SNCF and TrenItalia train companies. Eurostar trains are NOT included with this pass. The pass does include train journeys within one country or between different countries. For example, all SNCF trains within France as well as from France into Italy and/or Switzerland. However, high-speed trains while are included in the pass, must be confirmed online by reserving your seats in advance for each leg of your journey. Additionally, some countries’ public transportation systems are included with the Eurail pass, such as S-Bahn in Germany, Vienna and Innsbruck. It is also important to note that this pass is exclusively for non-European citizens. European citizens will need to buy an Interrail pass instead.
Click here to see a list of all European trainlines where you use your Eurail pass
Click here to reserve seats on high-speed train journeys
HOW TO BUY A EURAIL PASS: Passes range in prices based on whether you want to explore one country or 2, 3, 4 or 5+ connected European countries, and for how many days you will be using the pass in your selected region. Once you select the type of Eurail pass you want and pay for it online, it will be shipped to your home address (with free shipping to the United States at the moment) so be sure to book in advance!
You can buy your Eurail pass online by clicking here
COSTS: Depending on which country or countries and how many days you select, costs for the Eurail pass differ. For example, traveling around France on SNCF for 3 days cost 159€, whereas 8 days cost 296€. Traveling around France, Italy and Switzerland in 5 days for example costs 314€. These prices are for people from the age of 18-27, with adult tickets about 40-50€ more on average. Lastly, you can buy a “global” Eurail pass which includes 5+ countries. The biggest bargain on the site is Eurail’s offer for 7 days of traveling between 5+ European countries for 456€ for ages 18-27 and 568€ for ages 28+. You can also buy a month-long continuous pass for 753€/1 month or 940€/1 month for ages 18-27 or ages 28+ respectively. If you’re traveling in a family, Eurail also provides discounts for families traveling together when purchasing one to their many passes.
Click here to see the list of all the European countries where you can use the Eurail pass
Click here to see popular combinations of countries where you can use the Eurail pass
Click here for more options for global Eurail passes
CHEAP EUROPEAN TRAIN TICKETS AND HOW TO FIND THEM
Wondering how to find cheap European train tickets but not interested in purchasing the Eurail pass? Scroll down…
TIPS FOR BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS IN EUROPE
The best advice that we can give for booking train tickets in Europe is to plan your trip and buy your tickets in advance. Tickets that are purchased closer to the travel date drastically go up in price so if you know you want to travel from Paris to Zurich for example, be sure to book your journey advance! Also, if you already have an idea of what kind of itinerary you want to follow on your Eurotrip or trip around one European country, play around with prices online. For example if you want to travel to Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille in 4 days, compare SNCF’s prices for each train journey with the 4 days in France Eurail pass price to make sure you’re getting the best deal out there. Sometimes, individual train journeys around a specific country are not that expensive and it may be more economical to not buy a Eurail pass.
Another top tip about purchasing train tickets in Europe is to be sure to keep track of all of your train journeys if you plan on traveling around a lot. The best app to do this on is Trainline EU.
Click here to read about the best apps to download before your trip to Europe
Lastly, never leave your passport behind. More often than not if you’re on a train that crosses a border, shortly after crossing the border passports will be controlled. So if you’re traveling from Spain into France, even if just for a couple days with a small bag, do not leave your passport behind!
OTHER USEFUL PRACTICAL TIPS ABOUT TRAINS AND TRAIN STATIONS IN EUROPE
Watch out for pickpockets: How to avoid scams in Paris
Tips for Paris on a budget: Paris on a budget
Tips for traveling around France on a budget: Travel in France on a Budget