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.|
From our travel community
Common Questions, Simple Answers
Q. Will a National Rail Strike affect my train travel ?
A. A national strike impacting rail services could affect train travel for locals and visitors alike. Typically, during a rail strike there will be a reduced number of trains operating which could lead to more passengers on board trains that are running, changes in schedules, or even alternate modes of transportation (such as buses) to transport passengers to their destinations.
In the event of a strike, Rail Europe will provide as much information as possible to assist those who may be impacted. If a strike has been announced, you can always submit inquiries to Rail Europe through the Contact Us page or, if you’re already in Europe during a strike, go directly to a railway station and ask the local railway official for assistance.
Q. How do I use the bonuses that come with rail passes ?
A. Rail Pass travel bonuses must be redeemed locally.
There are two types of bonuses. Free bonuses (such as a free airport transfer) require the use of a travel day on your pass. If all travel days have been used on your rail pass you will not be able to take advantage of any more free bonuses. Discount bonuses do not require you to use a travel day, but do require that your pass still be within its validity period. In other words, even if you’ve used up all your days on a pass, you can still claim discounted bonuses as long as the pass validity period has not expired.
The exception to this rule is the Swiss Travel Pass. Although a discounted bonus doesn’t require you to use a travel day on your Swiss Travel Pass, the pass must still be valid and you must not have used up all your travel days.
Q. Is there a fee to take luggage on a train ?
A. In general, there are no luggage fees when traveling by train, however, some rail carriers do restrict the amount of luggage a traveller is allowed to bring, and any additional luggage may be subject to local fees.
On Eurostar, you’re permitted to carry two large bags and one small piece of hand luggage. If you have more than this, an additional fee may be required locally.
Q. Where can I find more information about European train stations ?
A. We offer valuable information on the most popular train stations in Europe. You can find a link to our Train Station page in the footer on any page on the website.
Q. How far in advance can I buy my rail pass ?
A. A rail pass can be purchased anywhere from 6 to 11 months prior to your first travel day. We advise you to check the specific conditions of use for the pass you are interested in.
Q. I have my train ticket. Do I also need to buy a reservation ?
A. Rail Europe train tickets usually include a reservation whenever possible. In other words, if you’re taking a train that requires a reservation, one will already be included with your train ticket from us. If you’re boarding a train that offers reservations but doesn’t require them, tickets sold on our website will include one, if available, at the time of booking.
For certain trains that offer reservations but don’t require them, it is possible that we do not include a seat reservation with your train ticket. This may happen when we don’t have access to those reservations, which can only be purchased locally. Rest assured that even if this is the case, your Rail Europe train ticket will still allow you to board and sit at any unoccupied seat.
Q. Why are e tickets not available for certain trips ?
A. Availability of e-tickets depends on two factors : whether the rail company operating the train offers e-ticketing, and if it does, whether Rail Europe was granted technical access to their inventory to enable e-ticketing on their behalf.
Not all European rail companies offer e-tickets. But when they do, we work with them to make this option available on our website. And we’ll continue to do so in order provide more e-ticket options for your convenience.
Q. A rail strike in Europe prevented me from fully using my rail pass as intended. Can I get a refund on the unused days ?
A. Passes that have been activated or partially used are not eligible for a refund. You may wish to have your pass cancelled and noted by a European railroad official that it was “not used due to a strike” and return it to our customer relations department. The claim will be reviewed to see if we are able to provide compensation depending on the European railroads’ policies. Please send us a message using the Contact Us page on our site.
Q. Do restaurant cars cater to specific dietary needs like vegetarian, diabetic or kosher ?
A. Some European trains do offer special menu items. You can check the menu card found on board the train when you get on. Please keep in mind that you are also permitted to bring food on to the train, so if you have a specific dietary condition that requires special food, you can purchase before getting on the train and avoid any disappointment if the train you are on does not cater to your specific needs.
On Eurostar a wide variety of meals can be arranged prior to your departure to Europe. They include vegetarian, kosher, halal, vegan, diabetic, low fat, low salt and gluten-free meals. For vegetarian meals, we require 24-hours notice in advance of travel. For all other meals we require 48-hours advance notice. If you need to arrange a special meal for your Eurostar journey, please contact us via our Contact Us page.
Q. Do I need to book a rail pass for everyone in my traveling party, including children and infants ?
A. You will need to book a rail pass for each adult and child. In the case of a saver pass, it’s one rail pass with each traveller’s name listed on the pass. Some rail passes offer free child discounts, the children need to be added to the rail pass at the time of booking, there will be no charge incurred for them, however. While a child under 4 years of age and sharing a seat with an adult does not need to book a rail pass. If the child will occupy his/her own seat, a rail pass must be purchased for them, as well as a reservation when needed.