Are you going on an Euro backpacking trip anytime soon?
You may want to reconsider whatever itinerary you have planned, as we have just come across an irresistible deal that will make your travels much simpler. Instead of multiple, ultra-expensive flights that will likely get delayed in the end, how about booking a single train ticket enabling you to travel across 33 countries for a whole month, or longer, for less than $200?
The Eurail Pass is a Europe-wide initiative aimed at boosting train ridership at a time when carbon emissions are rising, especially after the resumption of international flights, and strengthening connectivity within the continent. Essentially, pass holders are allowed to hop on and off trains as many times as they wish, within a pre-determined period of time, as per existing fare rules.
Pretty exciting, right? Here’s everything you need to know about the increasingly popular ‘Europe train pass’:
Travel All Of Europe With A Single Ticket
Known as the Eurail Pass, this ticket grants unrestricted travel to 33 countries within the European region, including both European Union (EU) and non-EU member states, such as Turkey and Serbia. In sum, it grants its holders the right to hop on any train of their liking for a number of days within a specific timeframe (e.g. 7 days within 1 month).
Effectively, it is a pretty good deal for backpackers visiting Europe for longer, as it allows them to travel the continent with a single pass, as opposed to booking separate tickets for each section of their trip. There’s more: if you’re a young traveler, aged 12 to 27, you get a 25% discount off the fare, regardless of the longevity of the pass.
This means you may be eligible for a minimum of 4 days of unlimited travel within Europe for only $188.
Train Travel Is The Way Forward
If there is one trend picking up momentum now that the aviation industry has descended into chaos is long-distance train travel. Originally a transport modality that only a niche of travelers used, either for environmental concerns or for the scenic views, trains are getting more and more affordable now that flight prices have gone through the roof.
The crisis is hitting some countries harder than others, particularly in Europe, where a number of airports have been forced to cap the number of daily flights due to the overwhelming demand, mostly to no avail. Luckily, unlike the Americas, Europe has a well-developed rail system offering links between multiple cross-border destinations.
Surpirisngly, many Americans are not aware the Eurail Pass exists, but one of the best ways to travel Europe is booking this multi-journey ticket valid between one to three months, or the exact amount of time tourists are normally allowed to stay in Europe. Needless to say, train travel is the way forward.
What Are The Eurail Fares And Validity?
Eurail Pass Fares
Unlimited Travel Days Within 1 To 2 Months
- 4 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $188 (2nd class) / $250 (1st class)
- 5 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $215 (2nd class) / $287 (1st class)
- 7 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $255 (2nd class) / $341 (1st class)
- 10 unlimited travel days within 2 months – $306 (2nd class) / $408 (1st class)
- 15 unlimited travel days within 2 months – $376 (2nd class) / $502 (1st class)
- 4 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $250 (2nd class) / $334 (1st class)
- 5 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $287 (2nd class) / $383 (1st class)
- 7 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $341 (2nd class) / $454 (1st class)
- 10 unlimited travel days within 2 months – $408 (2nd class) / $544 (1st class)
- 15 unlimited travel days within 2 months – $502 (2nd class) / $669 (1st class)
- 4 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $225 (2nd class) / $300 (1st class)
- 5 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $258 (2nd class) / $344 (1st class)
- 7 unlimited travel days within 1 month – $307 (2nd class) / $408 (1st class)
- 10 unlimited travel days within 2 months – $367 (2nd class) / $490 (1st class)
- 15 unlimited travel days within 2 months – $452 (2nd class) / $602 (1st class)
- 15 consecutive days of unlimited travel – $338 (2nd class) / $451 (1st class)
- 22 consecutive days of unlimited travel – $396 (2nd class) / $527 (1st class)
- 15 consecutive days of unlimited travel – $451 (2nd class) / $601 (1st class)
- 22 consecutive days of unlimited travel – $527 (2nd class) / $702 (1st class)
- 15 consecutive days of unlimited travel – $406 (2nd class) / $540 (1st class)
- 22 consecutive days of unlimited travel – $474 (2nd class) / $632 (1st class)
- 1 month of unlimited travel – $503 (2nd class) / $682 (1st class)
- 2 months of unlimited travel – $558 (2nd class) / $744 (1st class)
- 3 months of unlimited travel – $689 (2nd class) / $918 (1st class)
- 1 month of unlimited travel – $682 (2nd class) / $909 (1st class)
- 2 months of unlimited travel – $744 (2nd class) / $993 (1st class)
- 3 months of unlimited travel – $918 (2nd class) / $1224 (1st class)
- 1 month of unlimited travel – $614 (2nd class) / $819 (1st class)
- 2 months of unlimited travel – $670 (2nd class) / $894 (1st class)
- 3 months of unlimited travel – $827 (2nd class) / $1102 (1st class)
If you are traveling within a single European country, there is a separate Eurail One Country Pass that can be purchased. Unlike the standard Eurail Pass, prices vary among countries. In Italy, for instance, they start at $107 for 3 days of unlimited travel within 1 month, though it can be as expensive as $326 for a 5-day pass.
What Countries Are Included In The Pass?
A total of 33 European countries participate in the Eurail scheme. Those are:
- Czech Republic
- Greece (including islands)
- Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)
- The Netherlands*
- North Macedonia
*Only these countries still have Covid entry requirements in place. If you’re flying into Europe via Luxembourg, The Netherlands or Spain, make sure you carry valid health documentation. This may include a mandatory vaccination certificate and/or negative test issued prior to departure.
Eurail passes are also valid for bus and ferry journeys in select locations, such as Spain, where AML, Balearia and Grimaldi Ferry Lines are included. In Sweden, some of the participating ferry operators are Finnlines, Fjord Line, Stena Line and Viking Line, among others. Tourists can find the complete list of participating transport operators on this link.
How Do I Buy And Use An Eurail Pass?
In order to be eligible to buy an Eurail Pass, you must fulfill two simple requirements:
- Not be an European citizen*
- Not be a resident in Europe
*This does not mean Europeans are barred from traveling by train without limits – they are simply required to apply for the Interrail Pass instead, which works just like the Eurail.
Tickets can be purchased via the official website, where tourists will be expected to create an account, providing details such as age, nationality and country of residence (for eligibility purposes). They will also be required to select the exact duration of their pass. The process is quite straightforward and the product is delivered directly to their Eurail account.
The pass can also be sent by post, in paper form, to their home in the U.S., Canada, or other locations ahead of their flight to Europe. Personally, we would recommend sticking to the online ticket as it is delivered within seconds of buying, and you won’t risk your mail getting lost, or damaging the actual ticket during your travels.
Once they have the Eurail Pass in hands, Americans are free to explore the whole of Europe by train, North to South, East to West and Central, according to their pre-selected number of travel days. It is worth noting it may be necessary to make a free seat reservation on some routes in advance, or at the station prior to departure.
This applies mostly to high-speed and night trains, where seating availability may be limited. Using the pass is super easy as well: if you’re carrying a paper ticket, you’ll need to have an official ‘activate’ it before your first trip, preferably at larger train stations such as Paris Gare du Nord, London’s King Cross, or Amsterdam Centraal. Activation includes getting a stamp indicating the ‘start and end day’ of the pass.
Alternatively, e-pass holders can simply activate it themselves after ordering from the official website. Lastly, it is of utmost importance that all Eurail customers manually fill in their travel diary, which is usually attached to their paper ticket or their online booking, detailing their departure station, departure time and destination for each trip.
In case they don’t keep a record of their traveling in the Eurail diary, including online, their pass will not be considered ‘valid’ by staff, and fines may incur. For more information on how to use the pass and fill in the correct travel information, travelers are advised to contact Eurail or qualified staff at stations. Once the Pass is validated ahead of the inaugural trip, the ‘clock’ starts running.
What Are Some Of The Recommended Train Journeys?
- The Highlands of Scotland, where incredible natural scenery can be found, including the mystical Loch Ness and Great Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis
- The night train from Vienna to Budapest, famous for being one of the most scenic train rides in Europe
- The dreamy Turkey trip between Ankara, Turkey’s capital, to the historical Kars, with breahtaking views o the Anatoliann highlands
- The relaxing 7-hour journey from Paris to Milan with the world-class Frecciarossa, passing through the idyllic French countryside
- The Glacier or Bernina Express, traveling through the majestic Swiss Alps into Northern Italy
Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com