EURAIL

   
 

 

SEE THE REAL EUROPE. WITH RAIL EUROPE
We may be biased, but the train really is the best way to travel through Europe.
Whether this is your first Eurail journey or your tenth (or more), Rail Europe can take you where you want to be. Travel to capital cities and charming, forgotten towns where time has stood still for centuries. You can save by going second-class (it's hardly roughing it) or travel first class all the way - with gourmet meals and private sleepers.
Eurail travel is for everyone: young and old, the frugal or the spend-happy. Because the goal of any real traveler is to experience that sense of place. Beauty is found not just in a museum or monument. It's also right outsideyour train window.
 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

While the train does get you from Point A to Point B, it will also enrich your travel experience. Learn from locals (who really aren't much different than you). Hear about restaurants you wont find in a guidebook. Discover an off-the-beaten path attraction. Don't worry about not speaking their language (although many people speak some English). A smile is the universal hello.
Think about the many places you can discover rather than how you're going to get there. That's our job.
 

TRAIN TRAVEL. IT'S ABOUT TIME

Time to reflect. Time to mingle with new friends. Time to travel not like a tourist, but like a local.
Rail travel is a cultural experience. When you travel by air it's almost like a suspension of life. You're just anxiously waiting to get to your destination. But this is valuable vacation time - to be savored and enjoyed like a mouthful of foie gras or a Van Gogh painting. Breathing in recycled air while munching on shrink-wrapped food is not what Europe is about.
 

GET THERE FASTER

Many travelers think to themselves, "It's got to be faster to fly." In reality, it's not. Have you factored in non-flying time? You need to get to the airport an hour or more before your flight, stand on the check-in line, get through security and then hope weather or other factors don't delay your flight. Now you're traveling for hours - possibly the same amount of time -- or even more -- than the time a train would have gotten you there.
Those low cost carriers tout themselves as quick and cheap. But in reality, you still need time to get to the airport (no easy feat if there's traffic). And inexpensive fares really don't apply unless you book them last minute, and even then those gimmicky prices disappear in a flash. With a rail ticket, you can book Eurail and other trains a couple of months in advance for a price you can live with.
When was the last time you saw a runway in the middle of a grand boulevard? Airports are not in the city-center. After maneuvering through the terminal, you have to find a taxi (read: expensive) or take a long bus ride to your hotel. The train stops right in the city, giving you time to see more. Now isn't that why you're traveling to begin with?
 

 

TRAIN TRAVEL OFFERS A SCENIC, COMFORTABLE AND EXCITING DEPARTURE FROM THE "TYPICAL" EUROPEAN VACATION.

The romance of traveling by train continues to enthrall tourists as it has for more than 170 years, and nowhere is this felt more profoundly than in Europe. Rail travel is the best way to get close to all that Europe has to offer, from big cities and quaint hamlets to scenic beauty and fascinating people. It is also the one form of transportation that conveniently and efficiently takes travelers practically anywhere and everywhere they want to go...in style.
 

ELIMINATE THE HASSLES

The major cities and attractions you long to see are linked by the extensive European rail network -- a vast system stretching over 160,000 miles, as extensive in size and scope as the U.S. highway system. And train travel eliminates all the hassles that can play a part in a complex European itinerary. This means:

 

• travel city center to city center
• no maneuvering through crowded airports located miles from the nearest city
• no hailing taxis from airport to downtown
• no traffic headaches driving in and out of big cities or trying to understand

   foreign road signs

 

European trains provide frequent service, are roomy, eminently punctual, and take passengers directly from one bustling city to the next without the bother of airport transfers. Train travel allows you to see some of the most breathtaking scenery in the eastern hemisphere -- certainly more than they will see soaring 35,000 feet above the Continent!

 

TODAY'S RAIL EXPERIENCE

Maybe you have toured Europe by train as college students, armed with a giant backpack and a second-class railpass. Or you may be someone whose idea of a train trip is the overpriced, unreliable commuter rail you take to and from the nearest city each day. Those who have not experienced the excitement and affordability of today's European railways and are in for a big surprise.
A first-class train trip in Europe is a totally different experience from what you might expect or remember. Unless, of course, what you remember is the absolute freedom and flexibility of hopping from city to city, town to town, every few days on a different train with schedules that run like clockwork!
 

Today's first-class rail experience is one of:

• spacious, reclining seats
• leisurely dining
• soaking up magnificent landscapes without a care in the world
• a great opportunity to socialize

 

A delightful departure from the typical European vacation, rail trips through Europe create treasured memories that last a lifetime.

 

A RAILPASS FOR EVERYONE

Whether you are on your first visit to Europe, or planning a repeat trip, chances are you'll find a railpass that's just right for you. Once you've determined the key factors in planning your trip -- the amount of time you have to spend and the places you want to visit within that time, you'll be able to choose with confidence the Rail Europe railpass that best suits your needs. This is Europe on your terms.


 

RIDING THE RAILS IS EASY, STYLISH AND FUN

If you're planning a trip to Europe and wonder what's the best way to get around, why not try exploring by train. You may be uncertain about exploring Europe by train, simply because you don't know what to expect and don't understand how train travel works. You may worry about how to get around rail stations, what to do with luggage, how to read timetables and, most importantly, how to find the right seat on the right train. You'll soon see that rail travel is the convenient, affordable, amazing experience that it is. Let's start at the beginning.

 

AIRPORT CONNECTIONS

A good idea is to fly into a European airport that has direct links to the center of your first city of travel. Train stations are located within many European airports. This includes Amsterdam Schiphol, Barcelona Prat, Berlin Schoenfeld, Birmingham, Brussels Nationaal, Copenhagen, Dόsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Genθve Cointrin, London (Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted), Malaga, Manchester, Munchen Strauss, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Rome Leonardo da Vinci, Stockholm, Stuttgard Echterdingen, Wein Schwechat and Zurich Kloten.

THE TRAIN STATION
The adventure begins in the European train stations. In most cases, these create the first impressions visitors have of each city on their itinerary. Each station is unique, often picturesque, with its own distinct personality. Most are centrally located and have a full range of convenient services and facilities to make transit passengers feel at ease. Remember: When you can't find your train or need help in a European train station, you should look for the "i", the universal symbol for "Information." In most major stations, you will find:


• information desks access to metro/subway stations
• reservation offices taxi stands
• restrooms postal services
• gift shops restaurants
• luggage carts lockers
• bookstores (great for purchasing maps and city tour guides) currency exchange
• ATMs telephone

LUGGAGE/BAGGAGE
The best rule of thumb is to pack lightly and don't travel with more bags than you can handle yourself. And the lighter your bags are, the happier you'll be. Most train stations provide baggage carts, but you still need to load your bags on them, or you may have to go up and down a staircase. On the trains you are allowed to bring as many carry-on bags as you can place underneath your seat or in the baggage rack above you. Some trains have special racks for baggage, but unless they were checked, you are always responsible for them. All excess baggage must be checked. Most train stations have lockers or luggage checkrooms where you can store your bags. Many stations no longer have porters, but if they do, you'll easily recognize them by their uniform or official badge.

TIMETABLES AND FINDING YOUR TRAIN

In most stations poster timetables show departure, arrival and platform numbers. They can be recognized easily by the background color. As a rule, departure timetables are printed on a yellow background. Arrival tables are on a white background. Major rail stations provide this information on computerized boards. All trains are listed chronologically from 0 to 24 hours. Fast trains are shown in red rather than black ink. Next to the time you'll see the name and number of the important intermediate stops, as well as track and platform number at which the train departs and arrives.

FINDING THE RIGHT CAR

Once you have found the right track, the next step is to locate the right car. Some trains will split at certain junctions, one part going one way and the other heading in a different direction or stopping altogether, so, it is necessary to find the right car. Also, if a passenger has a reservation, he/she must match the number shown on his/her ticket with the correct car and seat number. If passengers are planning to get off a train at a small town not noted on the side panel, they need to ask the conductor which car they should be on before, or slightly after, boarding.

To further assist passengers, many train stations will have diagrams located on the platforms that illustrate the location of each car on the train. These diagrams enable travelers to situate themselves on the platform very close to where their seat will be. Each train car has an identification panel on its side, indicating:


• on top: the name of the city where it originated.
• on the bottom: the name of the final destination.
• in between: the names of the most important stops en route.
• beside the door: a digital panel will indicate the car number.


Each car is also marked first-class or second-class by a number "1" or "2" displayed on its side. There may also be a yellow stripe under the roof for first-class, green for second-class.

 

 

Rail Europe has the perfect rail product for every trip to Europe
You have unique wants and needs for your European travels. Perhaps you have three weeks to spend and want to explore several countries. Maybe you are a Francophile who wants to see as much of France as you can in a two-week-period. Or perhaps it is Great Britain you want to visit, with a brief trip to Paris to cap off your holiday. The options are endless. It is with this notion in mind that Rail Europe has created its diverse product line, to ensure that you can experience Europe as you want to. Here is a breakdown of the Rail Europe products.

RAIL PASSES
Rail passes provide unlimited rail travel for the number of travel days indicated on the pass. Rail passes can be valid for a single country, a region or multiple countries.

Eurail Global Passes, and Eurail Select Passes
Rail Europe offers two major categories of multi-national passes:


Eurail Global Passes: For unlimited travel in 20 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland (Rep.), Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. These offer great flexibility and the opportunity to cover the most ground. Within this category are several variations:
 

• Eurail Global Pass: For travel on any or all days, this consecutive-day pass offers

  15 days, 21 days, or one, two or three months of unlimited first-class train travel.
• Eurail Global Pass Flexi: Individual days of non-consecutive train travel allow

  you to discover Europe at your own pace, with a choice of 10 or 15 days of

  unlimited first-class travel in a two-month period.
• Eurail Global Pass Saver: Same as the Eurail Global Pass, but discounted for

  groups of two or more traveling together.
• Eurail Global Pass Saver Flexi: Allows groups of two or more traveling together

  to choose the exact days they want to travel. Choice of 10 or 15 days of first-class

  travel in a two-month period.
• Eurail Global Pass Youth: A second-class railpass for those under 26; otherwise,

  it is the same as the Eurail Global Pass.
• Eurail Global Pass Youth Flexi: A second-class flexipass for travelers under 26

  (same as Eurail Global Pass Flexi).


Eurail Select Pass: These give you the flexibility of unlimited travel in your choice of any three to five bordering countries of the 22 European countries. (Note: Benelux - Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg - count as one country.) Choice of five, six, eight or 10 days of first-class travel in a two-month period. Bonus features include special fare on high-speed Premier routes within the selected countries; free or discounted travel on selected ferries, lake steamers, boats and buses.

• Eurail Select Pass Saver: Groups of two or more traveling together can receive

  a special rate: same benefits as the Eurail Select Pass.
• Eurail Select Pass Youth: A second-class railpass for those under 26; same

  benefits as the Eurail Select Pass.

Eurail Global Passes,and Eurail Select Passes bonuses

You'll receive these exciting, value-added bonuses with the purchase of any Eurail Global Pass or Eurail Select Pass:
• Discounted passholder fare on high-speed Premier Trains.
• Free or discounted travel on selected ferries, lake steamers, boats and buses.
• A complete list of bonuses is included on the free Eurail orEurail Select Pass map you receive with your pass.
• A FREE timetable: a handy schedule for all the trains you need to know about.

NATIONAL/REGIONAL PASSES
Many European destinations feature their own railpasses, perfect for anyone who plans to visit only one or two countries or regions.

TRAIN TICKETS
Rail Europe offers tickets for single journeys from one destination in Europe to another. Passengers with this type of ticket who are not holding specific seat reservations can get on and off the train as many times as they like between the two destinations. Search our Train Tickets & Schedules database of the most popular rail routes to obtain schedules as well as first and second class ticket fares.

PREMIER TRAINS
The shining stars of Europe's rail network, Premier Trains combine high-speed travel with unmatched service and comfort. There is no need to fly when you can board an ultra-modern train and arrive at your destination in no time, relaxed and ready to go. These trains are unlike any others you have experienced. Each train has slightly different amenities; however, there are certain features that they share:


• bars and restaurants
• public phones
• reclining seats in first-class
• most Premier Train tickets include a reserved seat. (Note: Many railpasses are

  accepted on Premier trains; you need only purchase a passholder fare which

  includes the seat reservation.)
• with first-class Premier Train tickets, you are usually served a meal at your seat,

  newspapers and magazines, welcome drinks and more. Following is a list of

  Premier Trains that operate throughout Western Europe:

Artesia: Also known as the France-Italy day train, it covers many routes including Paris to Milan in under 5 hours.

• AVE: For fast and efficient travel in Spain; the AVE travels from Madrid to Seville in

  just 2 hours 30 minutes.
• Cisalpino: Connects Switzerland, Southern Italy and Southern Germany. Links

   Zurich and Milan in under 4 hours.
• Eurostar: See below.
• Italian Day trains: Offers a variety of city combinations in Italy, including Rome to

   Florence in just 1 hour 30 minutes.
• ICE: Connects all major German cities, plus parts of Austria and Switzerland.
• Riviera Day Trains: International trains operating between the French Riviera Italy

  and Switzerland.
• Spanish Trains: Madrid to Seville and more...
• TGV: Serving over 150 cities in France and Switzerland. This train holds the world

  speed record at 320 mph!
• Talgo 200: Extends the AVE line from Madrid to Malaga and Cadiz in 5 hours or

  less.
• Thalys: Links Paris to Brussels, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Amsterdam.


Eurostar: Rail Europe's most famous Premier Train. Also called the Channel Tunnel train, it set the standard in rail travel, smoothly transporting passengers from London to Paris in 3 hours and London to Brussels in 2 hours 40 minutes. Here are some Eurostar basics:

• Eurostar runs almost hourly between London and Paris (18-21 times a day).
• Check in at least 20 minutes prior to a Eurostar departure.
• Tickets can be purchased up to 120 days in advance.
• In addition to the three cities mentioned above, Eurostar also serves Ashford, Calais-Frethun, Lille and Disneyland Paris, with seasonal service to the Alpine towns of Moutiers and Bourg St. Maurice.
• Eurostar features three classes of service: Premium First (London-Paris only, with a dedicated car and high level of service); first class (includes complimentary food and beverages); and standard class (for comfort and convenience).

SEAT RESERVATIONS
With a railpass or ticket, you are able to board a train, but you are not guaranteed a seat, sleeper or couchette. In order to ensure you get the kind of seat you desire -- no matter what class of ticket you are holding -- you should purchase a reservation. While some trains may not require reservations, all sleeping accommodations require reservations. See Rail Accommodations for more information on seat, sleepers and couchettes.

RESERVATIONS IN EUROPE

For your convenience, you can also reserve seats in Europe directly at the train stations, as late as the day of departure. However, it is recommended to reserve at least 24 hours in advance, as reservations are subject to availability. In the event that you have a reservation but miss your train, you lose the reservation. Reservations are required for couchettes or sleepers on all night trains, as well as for high-speed Premier trains -- such as TGV, AVE, Eurostar and certain InterCity and EuroCity trains -- during the day. In many cases, reservations are not required or cannot be made. See Rail Accommodations for more information on seat, sleepers and couchettes.

 

 

TRIP TIPS

Rail travel in Europe can serve as the primary focus of a vacation, be used as a sightseeing tool on a complete European holiday, or fill the business traveler's need to go from city to city. There are literally thousands of trains from which you can choose to get from place to place in style: fast ones, leisurely ones, day trains, overnight trains and, of course, scenic trains.

To ensure that you get the most of your trip, plan your progress from country to country (or within one country) in a continuous loop to avoid time-wasting backtracking. Or choose a few main cities from which you can explore the surrounding areas. Remember that two hours on a train covers a lot of ground; if you base yourself in one area for an extended period of time, you can take advantage of the incredible train coverage and avoid frequent packing and unpacking.

Train departure and arrival times are displayed chronologically either on computerized boards or poster timetables using the 24-hour clock. Here is a sample of how the times will appear to prevent any possible confusion in transit. Midnight depart = 00.00

  1:00am = 01.00  
  5:00am = 05.00  
  5:30am = 05.30  
  11:00am = 11.00  
  12:00 Noon = 12.00  
  1:00pm = 13.00  
  3:45pm = 15.45  
  Midnight arrive = 24.00  

One point that can't be stressed enough if you are a first-time European rail traveler: Be prompt! Europe's railroads pride themselves on their punctuality, so they hold to their schedule no matter what. In other words, the trains will not wait for late arrivals. Trains also stop for only a short time to let people on and off; one- to three-minute stops are not unusual. Board the train the minute it arrives at the station, and be ready to disembark -- bags in hand, standing at the door -- when it stops at your destination.

You can often save considerable money by booking your flight to an airport with a direct train connection to your first city of travel -- rather than to the first city itself. (A flight to Munich, for example, may cost less than one to Frankfurt, and time spent on a 3 1/2-hour train ride is worth the money saved on the airfare.) Upon arrival at the airport, you simply collect your bags and board a train right from the airport -- it couldn't be easier.

Eliminate any confusion as to how travel days are calculated on a railpass:
1 : For trains: A travel day is midnight to midnight.
2 : For cars: A travel day is 24 hours from time of pickup.
3 : A month on a pass is counted as a calendar month. For example, a pass that begins on September 15 will expire at midnight on October 14.

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