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Your Best European Rail Vacations


Ready for traveling by train in Europe…then start enjoying many amazing European Rail Vacations...


The European Travel Planning Tutorial
is best read in Firefox.
(Download free)


But, before you book, read all the helpful time-saving tips in this online European Travel Tutorial.

Europe has over 160,000 miles of passenger tracks, stretching all the way from the Mediterranean beaches to the Arctic Circle and from the Atlantic Coast in Western Ireland to Greece.

You can reach nearly every part of Europe by train.

The benefits of rail travel in Europe…

  • It’s very convenient for any distance – within a country or all across Europe and…very relaxing.
  • Trains in Europe go often and connections are well timed. You rarely have to wait more than 2 hours before the next one.
  • Most trains travel fast (although not all are the high-speed ones like the TGV in France). They are also comfortable. It’s often faster to take a train than a flight.
  • Airport Rail links…many airports in Europe now offer quick direct rail service to the center of the cities…from Heathrow to Paddington Station in London, from Charles de Gaulle to Paris and from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam.

    Free luggage carts are available, making your walk underground to the airport railway stations easier.

  • It's less expensive than renting a car if you're traveling by yourself.

And a few things to consider about European rail vacations before you go…

  • You must be able to handle your own luggage - no porters anymore. Not all stations have escalators to the platforms. Luggage carts are available at many stations with a refundable deposit.
  • Since rail stations and some crowded trains are known for pickpockets, watch your luggage, particularly at stops.
  • If you want to visit small villages, (hill towns in Provence for example) or the many archaeological sites, a train won’t do…however you can always take excursions from major cities listed on the European Travel Research Center website.
  • Trains can be very crowded, especially during commuter times (many Europeans travel by rail to/from work), during the holiday seasons, or if something special is going on (an important soccer match, for example).

    For you this actually means they can be crowded anytime.

  • You can book a seat in advance for most international trains. You may not need it, but you never know for sure! Think about enjoying your trip...standing for hours in a crowded train is no fun!


This Tutorial shows you how to make your European train vacations more enjoyable. It helps you avoid difficulties in Europe…in advance.

Some of the important basics will also help you to decide better what type of European train vacation to choose.

Regular point-to-point tickets…

First class or second class… It all depends on your budget…

  • First class is roomier and quieter. There are fewer seats here, so you have more space for luggage.
  • Economy class (also called second class) is 50% cheaper, but is more crowded.

Be careful...you are never guaranteed a seat unless you have a reservation. For the longer international trains you can make reservations before you leave from home or at the station before you depart.

What’s the best ticket for your European train vacations…you have four choices…

Regular point-to-point train tickets. Information on rail travel in Europe is listed here.

And what if you want to travel at night...

Traveling at night, from Madrid to Paris for example, offers you more time for sightseeing, a business meeting or other activities during the daytime.

For details on "What is it to be on an overnight train?" click here.

The same four classes listed above apply to accommodations on overnight trains.



What about rail passes…do you save over point-to-point tickets?

The rail companies never guarantee saving money with a rail pass…but there are many reasons for you to have a pass, especially if you plan some long train trips or...a complete European train vacation.

Simply…the more time you use the trains the more you save over point-to-point tickets. If you only travel a little bit by train, of course, it’s better to have regular tickets or maybe a one-country pass.

The savings on passes depend on how long you plan to travel, and the number of countries and cities you plan to visit.

My recommendation

  • If you plan to travel for more than 3 days consider a pass.
  • For less than 3 days the point-to-point tickets are the best.
  • You should also consider a pass if you’re not sure about your itinerary.
The greatest benefit is that with a pass you can change your plans any time you want.


Four important points about rail passes for a European train vacation

  1. Buy your rail pass before you leave home within 6 months of your vacation, and have it validated in Europe on your first day of travel. You can’t buy it in Europe.
  2. The European Travel Resource Center offers direct links to all information and prices you need for any pass, saving you an enormous amount of time.
  3. Eurail passes do not include trains in Great Britain, but they do include Ireland. Great Britain has its own Britrail Pass. The Eurail Pass offers discounts on the ferries between Ireland and France but not between Great Britain and continental Europe.
  4. Eurail passes offer two discounts…if you’re under 26, you can travel on a Youth Pass. When you travel with your own party between 2 and 5 people, you receive the Saver Pass discount.


Two Types of Rail passes in Europe...Consecutive Pass or Flexi Pass

  1. Consecutive Passes provide unlimited rail travel every day for the duration of the pass. This is ideal if you plan to move around and travel by train each day. But it also means that if you do not travel for a day by train you lose that day!
  2. A Flexipass is valid for a specific number of travel days within a longer period (e.g. 10 days within 2 months) This pass offers you more flexibility to choose the specific days you want to travel.

    On a per-day basis the Flexipass is understandably more expensive than the Consecutive Pass.


The two “all Europe” passes...decide which European train vacation is the best for you

Note:
For complete last minute information and direct links visit the European Travel Research Center (link) and click on the "Travel To" section for the country. They include the opdats for 2019.

  1. The Eurail Global Pass

    …unlimited travel in 21 countries

    (in 2019 now includes Great Britain)

    You can travel all over Europe with the Consecutive Pass for 15 or 21 days or 1, 2 or 3 months.

    The Flexipass is for 10 or 15 days within a 2-month period. It is for first class travel, except the Youth Pass, which is for second class.

    Both passes offer Saver and Youth Pass discounts. Travel is in first class, with the exception of the Youth Pass which again is for second class.

    (Saver passes are no longer available in 2019. But in 2019 Senior Passes are now available for passengers over 60.)

  2. The Eurail Select Pass - the Select passes are no longer available in 2019.

    …unlimited travel for the duration you select

    This Pass entitles you to travel for a selected number of days within a 2-month period.

    You make your choice of 2, 3 or 4 connecting countries. You can select a pass for 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 days.

    This Pass is for first class travel. There is also a Youth Pass for second class. Two children (4 - 11) are free with each adult passenger.

    Two to five people traveling together at all times can share the Saver Pass.


And your four country passes for…one, two, three or four countries

  1. A Four-country pass

    The Eurail Scanrailpass is a popular four-country pass that covers European train vacations in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland in second class only.

    There are many discounts available with the pass on the ferries between these four countries.

  2. A three-country pass

    The Benelux Pass combines The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg into one pass.

  3. Two-country passes

    These passes are no longer available since 2016.

  4. One-country passes

    You’ve got even more possibilities for these passes. Many countries offer them. Conditions for each can be different. The often-used France Pass for example offers a selected number of days of rail travel, both in first and second class.

    The Swiss Family Card is another money-saving pass. If you add this to a Swiss Card, it offers free travel for children under 16 who travel with at least one parent.

Also note that most passes offer special discounts…ferries, museums, cable cars and more. See links from the European Travel Research Center website.

The often-asked questions for rail passes in Europe

  • Do I need a seat reservations with a railpass for European train vacations?

    You can board most regular trains with a pass, however, you must also purchase a reservation when riding high speeds trains and night trains.

    You can do this in Europe at rail stations or before you leave home, which is a little more expensive.

    But remember…without a reservation…you are never guaranteed a seat!

    For details click http://agents-traveltoeurope.com/affiliates/rail-europe.php

  • Are there discounts?

    Yes...Youth and Saver Pass discounts

    Youth under 26 receive lots of discounts including on all Eurail Global and Eurail Select passes listed below.

    Families from 2 – 5 people traveling together, receive Saver Pass discounts on the Eurail Global and Eurail Select passes.

    For details click http://agents-traveltoeurope.com/affiliates/rail-europe.php


Make your European train vacations in Europe even more special and enjoyable…

You can check the European Travel Resource Center for details and direct links on all services listed below.

All-inclusive European train vacations, listed in the Land Vacations section in the Tutorial, are available in Ireland (with B&B or hotels), Spain and Scotland.

  • Scenic European trains…if you’re planning to travel in Norway, do not miss the spectacular combined rail and fjord steamer Norway in a Nutshell journey.
  • Switzerland offers many scenic rail journeys…the Glacier Express, Golden Pass, Bernina Express, Wilhelm Tell Express (lake steamer and train), Bernina Express, Centovalli and the Chocolate Express…if you love chocolate!
  • Historic trains…would you like to experience the romantic Orient Express atmosphere but only have one day to do it? Take a trip to Great Britain and settle into your British Pullman or Northern Belle trains.

A few more time- and money-saving tips about European train vacations…

  • Seat61.com is a very special private web site that shows you the best way to travel from London – by rail and ferry – to all over the Continent.
  • For more general information on rail travel…get a copy of Frommer’s Europe by Rail. Also check RailEurope’s Rail Help.
  • Eurail passes are not for Europeans. Travelers have to reside outside Europe but can be a citizen of a European country if they are living outside Europe…(like me, a Dutch citizen living in the U.S.)
  • When buying a pass or rail ticket, check the conditions for refunds and unused passes. Once a pass has been used...there’s no refund unless you buy the rail protection insurance.

So…what’s the best and simplest way to book your European train vacation?

Decide before you book

  • What countries do you plan to visit…one or two or…are you going all over Europe?
  • What's the best for you…a regular point-to-point ticket or a rail pass?
  • If you prefer a pass, which one is the most suitable for you…
  • Do you want to travel first class or economy? See below to learn how you can find all the fares for most rail travel quickly.

And finally…

There are so many more facts about rail travel that it would take hundreds of pages to mention all of them.

That’s of course not the purpose of this Tutorial so...

  • RailEurope is the major company for buying rail tickets, rail passes and making seat reservations in advance. Its site offers point-to-point fares between thousands of cities in Europe.
  • If you’re new to train travel in Europe I suggest you visit their Rail Help.
  • The Europe Travel Resource Center offers direct links to all passes for prices, important information and valuable country bonuses.


RailEurope offers most passes and rail tickets, however, you won’t find some of the drawbacks about rail travel you need to know.

It also does not give you details about European train vacations and products that are not offered by RailEurope.

Thus, the reason for this Tutorial is...to give you ALL the facts.

Enjoy your European Train Vacations wherever you may go!

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