Ever dreamed of chucking it all and traveling around Europe for a month or three? If the sidewalk cafes of Paris, the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps and the bustling beer halls of Germany are all on your must-visit list, you might be a good candidate for a Europe rail pass. Several types of Eurail passes are available for unlimited rail travel in up to 28 countries. Which one is best for you? Read on.
Eurail Global Pass
The Eurail Global Pass is the most comprehensive Eurail pass, available for first-class train travel over periods ranging from 15 days to three months. The pass is valid in the following 28 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
You can purchase a “continuous” pass, which is good for unlimited travel over 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months or three months of travel. Or opt for a “flexipass,” which entitles you to five or seven days of travel over a one-month period, or 10 or 15 travel days over a two-month period. With the flexipass option, you’ll want to choose your travel days wisely; if you’re taking a brief hop between two nearby cities, it may be more cost-effective to simply buy a point-to-point ticket for that day and save the travel days on your pass for longer, more expensive trips.
Eurail Select Pass
While Eurail Global Passes are ideal for extensive multi-nation train travel, tourists who are visiting only a small handful of countries may be better off purchasing a Eurail Select Pass. With this flexible “designer” pass, you may choose to travel within two, three or four bordering European countries for a duration of four to 10 days within a two-month period.
You may choose from the following destinations: Austria, Benelux (includes Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), Bulgaria, Croatia/Slovenia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro/Serbia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
Traveling with at least one buddy? Try a Saver Pass, which grants a 10 to 15 percent discount to two to five people traveling together. To take advantage of this pass, you and your companion(s) must be present at the start of your trip to validate your passes, and travel together throughout your itinerary.
Passes for Youths and Children
Many Eurail passes offer discounted prices for travelers between the ages of 12 and 27 (on the first day of use). These essentially provide the same benefits as the regular adult passes, except that you travel in second class rather than first class and save up to 35 percent off the normal price. Passes are free for children 11 and under.
Other Eurail Pass Tips
If you’re visiting only one or two countries, or if your itinerary is limited to a specific region (such as the British Isles), you should consider a European Country Rail Pass.
Rail passes can be purchased in non-E.U. countries through travel agents or from sites such as RailEurope.com, Eurail.com and ACPRail.com. In most cases, they cannot be purchased after you arrive in Europe. Be sure to compare all of your options carefully before you buy, and weigh the price of the passes against the cost of individual point-to-point tickets.
For help purchasing your pass, see Buying a Eurail Pass.
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