Traveling Around Europe By Train
- Book up to 60 days in advance
- Regional trains
Many agree that traveling by train in Europe is the preferred method of getting between cities because train travel is part of the experience, not just a means of getting from one city to the next. Trains in Europe are sleek and efficient and offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere, generous legroom and typically, amazing scenery outside! Whether you choose first or second class, you’re sure to have a great ride on-board a train in Europe.
On many trains in Europe, travelers can enjoy the company of other travelers in a bar-buffet car offering a complete selection of food and beverages for purchase. (These types of bar-buffet cars are available on many major routes but should be confirmed at the train station before the train departs.) European train stations are typically found in the city center, so when you depart or arrive, you’re right in the heart of the city – a major advantage over flying, no hassle or extra cost of going from an airport to downtown.
For longer journeys, night trains are a great option as they get you where you want to go while you sleep soundly, saving money on a hotel for the evening. Night trains vary according to route. The most common compartments are Singles, Doubles, and Couchettes. Some night trains offer T3, T4 and Deluxe sleeping compartments as well. You can read more about Night Train sleeping compartments by visiting our overnight accommodations page.
Receive your ticket directly to your address. Just take them with you and you are ready to travel. Shipping fees apply.
- Regular trains tickets are open for booking 60 days ahead.
- Get the lowest prices by booking early and don’t wait until the last minute as cheaper seats sell the fastest.
- Opt for off-peak trains when you have to travel short notice. They are more affordable than morning and evening trains along with those running on holiday eves, Friday and Sunday afternoon.
A class apart
Classes of service
|Second class||First class|
|Regionals trains (Intercity, TER Express Regional Trains…) allow for more comfort in 1st class, offering spacious seating with generous legroom.|
|Regionals trains (Intercity, TER Express Regional Trains…) provide basic comfort in standard seats.|
Common Questions, Simple Answers
Q. Do trains offer facilities for handicapped passengers?
A. The ability to exchange or refund a train ticket while you’re in Europe depends on whether you have a paper or e-ticket, as well as the specific conditions for the fare you booked.
If you have an e-ticket that you bought on our website, you can perform the refund online, according to the conditions of your train ticket. Please visit our Cancellation and Refund page to begin.
If you purchased a paper ticket, you must perform the exchange locally at the train station. Go to the ticket window and a railway representative will be able to assist you with the exchange procedure.
Please keep in mind that exchanges on train tickets are only permitted for the same city pair or route originally booked.
If your ticket is non-exchangeable, a new train ticket must be purchased.
To obtain a refund for a paper ticket/reservation, a railway official at the origin station must cancel your seat and they must stamp the back of your ticket/reservation “Not Used” before the original train departure time. Our partners at the European Railroads will not allow us to process a refund unless this step has been taken.
You must mail us the original unused ticket for the refund to be processed. When you’ve returned from Europe, mail us back your train ticket. Please visit the Contact Us page on this site for further details.
If you didn’t purchase your train ticket online or are unable to initiate the refund online, please contact us using our Contact Us page for assistance. In most cases, for a refund to transpire, the associated reservation must be released before the train departure.
Q. What do I do with my luggage?
A. Once on board you’ll need to find a place to put your bag(s). Small and medium sized bags typically fit on racks located above the seats. Larger suitcases and items can be stored in racks found near the train door entrance.
In addition, you’re responsible for your luggage. The railways assume no responsibility in case of loss or theft of baggage carried on board.
If you’re traveling on Eurostar, Thalys or a TGV, you’re limited to two large items per traveller (maximum 85cm in any one dimension), plus one small item of hand luggage. On most high speed trains there’s room for luggage above the seats and for larger items at the end of each coach.
Be advised that when traveling on Eurostar, Thalys or any French train, you must properly label your bag(s) with your first and last name. In general, it is a good idea to keep luggage tags on your baggage for easy identification.
Q. Can I open the train windows?
A. If you’re traveling on a slower train you may have the option to open a window, depending on the age and configuration of the car. However, most modern rail cars are air-conditioned and you won’t have the option of opening the windows.
For safety reasons, high speed trains don’t offer the option of opening windows.
Q. Can I add a friend to my existing rail pass?
A. Once a rail pass has been printed, another name cannot be added. We may be able to exchange the rail pass through our contact center, but exchange fees and penalties will apply. The only exception is if you bought the Rail Protection Plan along with your rail pass. In that case, you’re eligible to exchange your rail pass for a new one that includes your friend, without incurring any fee or penalty. You’ll just need to pay the additional cost of the rail pass for your friend. .
Q. I misplaced the printout of my print at home e-ticket. What now?
A No problem. You can simply reprint your train ticket from any printer, as long as you can still access the pdf provided to you at the time of booking.
You can find links to the pdf in the confirmation email sent to you. Or if you’ve registered for an online account, you can access the booking in which the pdf link was contained in your dashboard.
The only exceptions are if you purchased a Thalys or NTV-Italo print at home e-ticket. Those pdf’s are sent in separate emails and can’t be retrieved online at this time.
If you request to have your train ticket reprinted at a station ticket window, there may be a local service fee.
Q. What is the "validity period" of a rail pass?
A. The validity period of a rail pass is the time period in which you must complete your travels with your rail pass. This period is calculated from the date stamped on the rail pass by the railway official.
With a flexi pass this period is defined as a certain number of calendar months – typically one or two.
With a continuous day pass the validity period equals the number of travel days.
Q. I am taking a cruise while in Europe. How do I connect between the train station and port of call?
A. Traveling between a port and a train station is usually simple. Sometimes, getting between the two is an easy walk. And in other cases, it’s best to take a taxi, bus, or train.
Q. What do I do if my train goes through a country not listed on my rail pass?
A. If your train travels through a country not listed on your rail pass, even though the country of origin and country of arrival are covered by your rail pass, you need to purchase a ticket for the uncovered portion of the journey. We suggest doing this at a ticket counter in advance. You don’t need to buy a ticket for the entire journey, just the section not covered by the purchased rail pass.
Q. I made a mistake when I ordered my rail pass. How can I correct it?
A. Once your rail pass has been printed, it is not possible to modify it. If you absolutely need to do it, you can pay a 15% penalty and a 7% processing fee to exchange it. If you catch the mistake and call us right away - prior to your rail pass being printed, we may be able to modify it for you. If you bought the Rail Protection Plan™ when you ordered your rail pass, you can exchange your original pass at full value and use it towards the new one, with no fee or penalty incurred. Read more about the Rail Protection Plan™ coverage and how to file a claim..
Q. Do I need to do anything to my train ticket before boarding the train?
A. If you purchased and received a paper train ticket in the mail, there is nothing further you need to do.
If you purchased a print at home e-ticket, be sure to print your ticket before you leave home and keep your train ticket safe and secure. For Italo tickets, just print your Rail Europe email confirmation which includes your unique e-ticket confirmation code(s). This e-ticket confirmation code along with your photo i.d. will be checked when on the Italo train.
If you purchased a print at the station e-ticket, you’ll need to visit a self-service kiosk to print your train ticket (remember, you’ll need the e-ticket confirmation code included on your invoice). When retrieving your e-ticket in France at an SNCF kiosk or in Italy at a Trenitalia kiosk, you will need to “stamp your ticket” (composter votre ticket as French say) prior to boarding the train. Should you have any problems, just ask the conductor of the train to do it for you when you board the train.