Train travel in Europe offers a window into some of the continent’s most stunning scenery, with an extensive rail network connecting the bustling cities, quaint towns and picturesque countryside. From the iconic high-speed trains in France and Spain to the scenic routes in Switzerland and Austria, Europe offers a range of experiences for train lovers.
One of the most memorable train journeys in Europe is the Glacier Express, which takes passengers on an eight-hour journey through the heart of the Swiss Alps. The train passes through charming villages, deep valleys and over breathtaking viaducts, offering a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. Another must-do train ride is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, which has been transporting passengers in style since the 1920s. The train exudes old-world charm, with plush furnishings, fine dining and attentive service, as it winds its way through some of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
But train travel in Europe isn’t just about luxury and scenery – it’s also a convenient and sustainable way to get around. Many cities have efficient metro and commuter train systems, making it easy to explore without a car. And with the increasing focus on reducing carbon emissions, train travel is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to flying. So whether you’re looking for a luxurious journey through the Alps or a simple commute between cities, train travel in Europe has something for everyone.
When it comes to booking train travel, it can get confusing. Often where there are options, confusion follows. In a bid to remove any guesswork and help travellers be cost-effective with their train travels, here are some tips and comparison methods that demystify the wealth of information and options available on rail passes and point-to-point tickets.
Number of Cities
Generally, for itineraries that involve visiting more than three cities, a rail pass might be more cost-effective. Note also, Eurostar services are included on the Eurail pass and each journey is equivalent to one “day” on the pass with seat reservations to be made separately.
Rail passes offer travellers a lot more flexibility than point-to-point tickets as the latter is attached to a fixed departure date and time. Passes do not require seat reservations on many regional trains, so travellers can simply hop onto any of these trains as and when it suits, and enjoy unlimited travel for each “day” on the pass within the 24 hours from midnight to midnight.
Eurail passes offer free travel for up to two children from ages four to 11 years per adult pass holder, while children under the age of 16 travel for free with an adult using the Swiss Travel Pass.
Perks and Discounts
Unlike point-to-point tickets, rail passes have different discounts and bonuses attached to them. Depending on the pass, they may include discounts for tour attractions, restaurants, ferry rides, Wi-Fi connections, hotel stays and more.
Travellers can save up to 70% off their rail bookings when planning ahead. Eurail passes can be booked up to 11 months in advance and three months in advance for seat reservations. Point-to-point tickets are usually available three months out due to the seat reservations attached to their bookings.