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
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.
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
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
no maneuvering through crowded airports located miles from the
no hailing taxis from airport to downtown
no traffic headaches driving in and out of big cities or trying to
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!
first-class rail experience is one of:
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
RIDING THE RAILS IS EASY, STYLISH
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.
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
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)
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
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
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
to discover Europe at your own pace, with a
choice of 10 or 15 days of
first-class travel in a two-month period.
Eurail Global Pass Saver: Same as the Eurail Global Pass, but
groups of two or more traveling together.
Eurail Global Pass Saver Flexi: Allows groups of two or
more traveling together
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,
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
Many European destinations feature their own railpasses, perfect for
anyone who plans to visit only one or two countries or regions.
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.
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
reclining seats in first-class
most Premier Train tickets include a reserved seat. (Note: Many
accepted on Premier trains; you need only purchase a passholder fare
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
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
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
Riviera Day Trains: International trains operating between the
French Riviera Italy
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
Thalys: Links Paris to Brussels, Cologne, Dusseldorf and
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
Eurostar runs almost hourly between London and Paris (18-21 times
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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
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