Traveling around Europe using any means of transportation is an amazing adventure. However, following our recent trip to mainland Europe, we would love to share our experiences to convince you that taking the train is the best approach for you. After reading this post, I am convinced that you will consider exploring Europe by train and why not! Exploring seven countries in just one week, using the train was probably the best and only way to maximize our time in all of these destinations.
Who are Eurail?
Eurail is an organization that provides visitors to Europe the option to purchase passes that will greatly help your travel around this continent. Explore up to 28 countries with a variety of passes, all customized to fit your specific needs.
The Eurail pass is your key to experiencing the most of Europe – at your own pace.
Visit Eurail’s website to find the pass that is perfect for you! Throughout our experience with Eurail, we found the customer service team to be extremely helpful, always willing to assist with questions and offer a plethora of knowledge to enhance your adventure exploring Europe.
However, the best part of this experience has to be the ease of use of the passes and the amazing ‘offline’ app that we will go into more detail later that really was a godsend during our trip.
Which Eurail Pass is right for you?
Here are some details on the various passes available:
- Global Pass (Up to 28 countries)
- Select Pass (Up to 4 bordering countries)
- Regional Pass (2 country combinations)
- One Country Pass (Pick from 27 countries)
Each of these passes have varying lengths in which you can use them. For example, we opted for the Select Pass for 5 days. This allows you to use the pass in any of your four chosen countries for 5 days over a 2 month period. Alternatively, you could purchase a 6-day, 8-day or 10-day pass depending on your needs.
You can also choose whether you want First or Second Class train travel. Our pass allowed for First Class travel which we both admit is nice because the seats are more spacious, less crowded and an overall more relaxing atmosphere.
We opted for Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany as our neighboring countries and each day is counted the moment you use the pass the first time that day. A couple of important points worth noting:
- The first time you intend on using the pass, you need to get this validated at a train station!
- Ensure that you complete the calendar of travel but more importantly complete the travel date on your ticket each day that you use your pass.
You can find all the details of the different pass options here: Eurail Passes.
As soon as you purchase your pass, you will be mailed a package that includes your tickets, a guide that includes a variety of FAQ’s and a very handy Eurail map so you can prepare your tentative itinerary prior to arriving in Europe.
Rail Planner App
If you are heading to Europe for the first time or even if you are a seasoned veteran exploring this part of the world, one issue that we all face is dealing with the lack of Internet connection with our smartphone. Sure, you can pay the extortionate data roaming charges offered by your cell phone provider, or alternatively you can consider purchasing a SIM card in a European country. However, for the mere mortals who simply want to live without cellular coverage for a while, don’t worry you can still find your way around Europe thanks to the AMAZING (I repeat AMAZING!!) Rail Planner App available.
The beauty of the Rail Planner App is that it can be used offline. It is available both on the iOS and Android marketplaces. Given that the European rail schedules are consistent on a day to day basis, this app is synchronized to these schedules and allows you to plan your trips as far in advance as you wish. However, the real benefit comes when you miss your train and you are able to access the app and find out exactly when the next train is due to arrive!
Another important aspect worth noting is that you can find train schedules for those journeys that DO NOT require a reservation. The key benefit of this is that you can simply hop on and hop off whenever you want to. You are not required to pay any additional reservation costs.
After using the Rail Planner App throughout Europe, we can attest that this app is a definite must if you purchase a Eurail Pass. It was simple to use, offered awesome service and also detailed some added perks within each of the countries that you gain as a Eurail Pass holder.
European Rail System
I can’t praise the European Rail system enough given our recent experiences around the four aforementioned countries. Our first journey was from Rome to Milan. As I mentioned, we had to validate our Eurail passes at the train station and this was actually the only trip we took throughout the week where we had to make reservations. We probably waited for a hour at Rome Central Station waiting to get our passes validated but we were soon on our way.
Here is a brief overview of our trips that we took using our Eurail Pass:
- Rome to Milan
- Milan to Lucerne
- Lucerne to Zurich
- Zurich to Montreux (via Bern and Lausanne)
- Montreux to Zweisimmen
- Zweisimmen to Interlaken (Golden Pass line)
- Interlaken to Bern
- Bern to Zurich
- Zurich to Sargans (morning visit to Vaduz, Liechntenstein)
- Feldkirch to Innsbruck
- Innsbruck to Zurich
- Zurich to Frankfurt
- Frankfurt to Dusseldorf
An action packed five days but apart from one cancelled train service between Lucerne and Zurich on day 2 of our journey, we had no issues at all. Even with that solitary cancellation, we only had to wait around 20 minutes until the next scheduled train arrived and moved us on our way!
Our Christmas and New Year adventures around Europe were amazing and we both agree that our experiences were ultimately enhanced simply because of the Eurail Pass experience. Everything about Eurail is awesome and neither of us have a negative word to say about them. Without doubt, we would highly recommend using this amazing service. You will not regret it at all.
We will soon be sharing some of our specific adventures such as the Golden Pass and the day trip from Switzerland to Austria via Liechtenstein, but after reading this we hope you will consider traveling around Europe using one of these Eurail Passes.
Disclaimer – We would like to thank Eurail for providing us with complimentary passes for our adventures around Europe. The content of this post are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.