What is Eurail?
Eurail is when you take a trip around Europe by rail, using a Eurail pass. A Eurail pass is a special ticket that lets you travel by train in one or more European countries, without having to buy tickets for every rail journey. Depending on which type of Eurail pass you buy, it can be valid in up to 28 European countries.
What are the different types of Eurail pass?
There are 3 main types of Eurail pass: ‘One Country’ passes, ‘Select’ passes, and ‘Global’ passes. As the name suggests, a One Country pass is only valid in 1 country - you can choose which one, and the price will vary by country. A Select pass is valid in 2 to 4 bordering countries. Again, you can choose which ones and the price will vary depending on your choice. A Global pass is for exploring the maximum Europe has to offer, as it is valid on train networks in all 28 countries available through Eurail. Generally, the more countries the pass covers, the more expensive it is.
Eurail passes also vary by the time period they are valid for, and the amount of train travel they allow within that time period. Eurail passes can be valid for up to 2 months, depending on which one you choose. Within that period, the pass may also specify a number of ‘travel days’, e.g. 7 days within 1 month. This means that in the overall validity period of 1 month, you can only make train journeys using your pass on 7 days within that month. These travel days do not have to be consecutive - you can use them on any day in the month.
Some passes do not specify a number of travel days, and instead, they say ‘continuous’, e.g. ‘15 days continuous’. This means that in a 15 day validity period, you can travel using your pass every single day. In other words, you have unlimited travel days within that validity period.
Different passes specify different time periods and travel days and, in general, the longer the time period and the more travel days, the more expensive the pass.
What is a travel day?
A travel day is a 24-hour period within which you can travel on trains using your Eurail pass. A travel day lasts an entire calendar day, from 0:00 to 23:59 (effectively midnight to midnight). During that time frame, you are free to travel on trains in any of the countries for which your pass is valid. Even if you make multiple train journeys in that time, it still counts as using only 1 travel day. As you travel, you record each train journey you make by writing them on your Eurail pass - this is used to track how many travel days you have used, so that you don’t exceed the amount specified by your pass. You must use your travel days within the overall validity period of your Eurail pass (i.e. 1 month).
Do I have to use 2 travel days for a night train?
No, you don’t have to use 2 travel days to get a night train. Although a night train will technically span across two calendar days, it is possible for this to only count as 1 travel day. This is because of the "7pm rule", which means that it will only count as using 1 travel day as long as your night train departs after 7pm and is arriving at its final destination after 4am the next day. (It doesn’t matter if you get off before it reaches that final destination.)
The calendar day used for the travel day is the day of arrival, not the day of departure. This means that after you arrive on your night train in the morning, you can continue to travel using your pass for the rest of the day, using the same single travel day. However, it also means that if you want to use your pass for any train journeys prior to the night train on the day of its departure, you will have to use a second travel day.
It is not possible to use the 7pm rule if the day of arrival is the activation date for your pass - your pass must be activated on or before the day of departure.
How many days is a month-long Eurail pass actually valid for?
The number of days a month-long Eurail pass is valid for depends on the month in which it is activated. If your Eurail pass is activated in a month with 31 days (such as July), it will be valid for 31 days. If, however, it is activated in a month with 30 days (such as June), it will be valid for 30 days.
Who can use a Eurail pass?
Eurail passes are designed for anyone who is not a European citizen or an official resident of a European country. If you are not a European citizen, but reside in a European country, you might be able to choose to get an Interrail pass instead. You can find out whether you qualify for an Interrail pass here. If indeed you are able to use an Interrail pass, you can plan your trip using Interrail Planner instead.
How far in advance can I order my Eurail pass?
You have to activate your Eurail pass within 11 months of ordering it. Therefore, you can order your pass up to 11 months before your planned trip start date. Your pass can be activated at a European train station or you can pre-activate it when ordering it online. It is free to activate it either way.
Are seat reservations required for every train journey?
It is a requirement to have a reservation on all night trains and most high-speed trains. However, to make sure you have a seat even when it’s busy, we suggest reserving seats for all the rail journeys you plan to take. If you want to check if a reservation is required for a particular train, you can use the Eurail timetable.
When should I make seat reservations?
We suggest making seat reservations 2-3 months in advance. Usually it’s not possible to reserve seats any earlier than 3 months in advance, but the sooner you do it once the reservations become available, the more likely it is that you’ll get the trains you want.
How do I reserve seats?
Seat reservations can be made online using the Eurail Reservations Service or through rail ticket websites, such as ACP Rail. If you can’t make a reservation online, you can book over the phone with the rail company operating the route, or even make the reservations at a European train station whilst on your trip.
Can I travel on the Eurostar using my Eurail pass?
Although Great Britain is not included on any of the Eurail passes, you can actually get a discounted fare on the Eurostar using your Eurail pass, provided your Eurail pass is valid in France or the Benelux region (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). This allows you to travel to or from London using your Eurail pass, but to go anywhere else in Great Britain, you will have to buy tickets separately.
Should I plan my trip in advance?
Europe is a very popular place to travel, especially in summer, so we really do recommend planning your trip ahead of time. This will ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible, as you’ll know what trains you need to get for your route, you’ll have any seats reserved, and you’ll be booked into the best places to stay in Europe before they fill up.
How much does it cost to use Eurail Planner?
Nothing, it’s free! Your trip will cost the same as it always would. You can read more about how we make money here.