Long gone are the days when a Eurail pass was the transportation pass of choice for footloose backpackers looking to save a bundle of cash on long European vacations. The basic idea was sound--you just boarded a train and handed the pass to the conductor when he seemed to be asking to see tickets. No need to fret over language or cost, and no need to stand in long lines at the ticket windows either.
So what happened? The Eurail pass got expensive, faster trains required supplementary fares, and many Americans take shorter vacations these days. Marketers had to come up with passes whose days of use and destinations were carefully controlled to offer value while protecting the bottom line. So these days the traveler must sift through a long list of European rail passes to find one that'll suit a chosen set of destinations; there are passes for single countries, multiple countries, seniors, students, youth, and conglomerations of options labeled "flexi" and "saver." It's a jungle out there--but that doesn't mean that you can't save a bundle of cash by purchasing the right rail pass.
How to Purchase the Best Rail Pass for Your Trip
One thing you can say for sure, most railpasses issued today are best suited for folks who plan their vacations very carefully--unless you have enough time and cash to purchase the original Eurail pass, which is still being sold and is the first stop on our rail pass tour.
Remember that you can't buy rail passes in Europe; you must purchase them within 6 months of your vacation and get them validated on your first day of travel.
Traveling throughout Europe Footloose and Fancy Free - Eurail Global Pass and Eurail Select Pass
The Eurail Global pass offers consecutive-day 1st class travel in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) for 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months, depending upon the duration you choose. Prices per day decrease with increasing pass duration. You'll still have to pay supplements on high-speed trains, and you'll have to pay for seat reservations if you want them, although first class tends to have more unreserved seats then second in most markets.
The Eurail Select Pass offers unlimited train travel of 3, 4 or 5 bordering countries connected by train or ship. There is a choice of 5, 6, 8, 10 or 15 days within 2 months, consecutively or not.
Eurail Global Pass (purchase direct or get more information)
(Note that Britain is not included in Eurail passes. See British Rail Information for rail pass information and prices.)
Eurail Select Pass (Buy Direct or Get Information)
Traveling in two adjacent countries - Multiple Country Rail Passes
Here is the rail pass for you if you've narrowed things down to a couple of big countries. Lots of country combos to choose from.
Multiple Country Passes (purchase direct or get more information)
Sticking to a single country - Single Country Rail Passes
A variety of passes for a single country are available for travelers who have really narrowed down their vacation destination. Prices will vary because the rail system in each Country has a different fare structure. Plan longer trips to get the best value from your rail pass.
Single Country Passes (purchase direct or get more information)
Eurail also offers Youth Passes, with discounts on second class rail travel for travelers between the ages of 16 and 25.
If you're over 60, discounted rates are available for some passes and specific trains. Be sure to check the appropriate box when you check out. ---
Is a Rail Pass worth it? Click to the next page for a price comparison.