Traveling Around Europe By Train
- Book up to 60 days in advance
- Regional trains
Many agree that traveling by train in Europe is the preferred method of getting between cities because train travel is part of the experience, not just a means of getting from one city to the next. Trains in Europe are sleek and efficient and offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere, generous legroom and typically, amazing scenery outside! Whether you choose first or second class, you’re sure to have a great ride on-board a train in Europe.
On many trains in Europe, travelers can enjoy the company of other travelers in a bar-buffet car offering a complete selection of food and beverages for purchase. (These types of bar-buffet cars are available on many major routes but should be confirmed at the train station before the train departs.) European train stations are typically found in the city center, so when you depart or arrive, you’re right in the heart of the city – a major advantage over flying, no hassle or extra cost of going from an airport to downtown.
For longer journeys, night trains are a great option as they get you where you want to go while you sleep soundly, saving money on a hotel for the evening. Night trains vary according to route. The most common compartments are Singles, Doubles, and Couchettes. Some night trains offer T3, T4 and Deluxe sleeping compartments as well. You can read more about Night Train sleeping compartments by visiting our overnight accommodations page.
Receive your ticket directly to your address. Just take them with you and you are ready to travel. Shipping fees apply.
- Regular trains tickets are open for booking 60 days ahead.
- Get the lowest prices by booking early and don’t wait until the last minute as cheaper seats sell the fastest.
- Opt for off-peak trains when you have to travel short notice. They are more affordable than morning and evening trains along with those running on holiday eves, Friday and Sunday afternoon.
A class apart
Classes of service
|Second class||First class|
|Regionals trains (Intercity, TER Express Regional Trains…) allow for more comfort in 1st class, offering spacious seating with generous legroom.|
|Regionals trains (Intercity, TER Express Regional Trains…) provide basic comfort in standard seats.|
Common Questions, Simple Answers
Q. Are European trains "child friendly"?
A. Many European trains have baby changing facilities and/or family friendly play areas.
Intercités trains in France, some InterCity Swiss trains, InterCity Finnish trains and ICE trains in Germany offer play areas or dedicated compartments for families with children. The Austrian RailJet is even equipped with a movie theater especially for children.
Please note: If traveling on Eurostar, you should not travel in Premier class with children. This area is dedicated to and caters primarily to business travellers.
Q. Can I exchange or refund my rail pass while in Europe?
A. Unused and unvalidated rail passes can be exchanged for an alternate rail pass of equal or greater value. A 7% administration fee, any price difference, and additional shipping fees would apply. Some promotional rail passes are non-exchangeable; please read the terms and conditions for these passes for more details. Exchanges and refunds for rail passes cannot be performed locally at the train station.
Please send us a message through the Contact Us page to begin the exchange process. To exchange a rail pass, we must receive your original unused and unvalidated rail pass no later than 3 days prior to your departure to Europe, issue a new rail pass, and ship it to you.
If you bought the Rail Protection Plan™ when you placed your rail pass order, you are eligible to receive the full value of your original pass as a credit and use it towards any future Rail Europe purchase within 2 years, with no fee or penalty incurred.
Q. How do I contact you while I’m in Europe?
A. If you need to contact us while you’re in Europe, you can send us a message by visiting our Contact Us Page.
Q. How can I tell whether or not I have a reserved seat on board?
A. To tell if you have a reservation, first see if you received one or two travel documents for your trip. If you received two travel documents, you probably received an open train ticket and a reservation. The reservation portion will show a train number, car number and seat number assigned to you personally.
If you received only one document, see if it also indicates a seat number and car number. If so, your train ticket includes a reservation.
Q. Why doesn’t my train ticket show my date or time of travel?
A. If your train ticket does not show a date or time of travel, most likely you have a point to point train ticket without a reservation. You can use your ticket on any train that doesn’t require a reservation, operating between the cities listed on your train ticket, and on any date within the validity period printed on the ticket.
Q. How do I request an exchange through the Rail Protection Plan™?
A. To apply for an exchange under the Rail Protection Plan™, please contact us via our Contact Us page. Rail passes/train tickets/reservations/city passes/tours may be exchanged for the same or new products.
Q. The promo code I have expired. What can I do?
A. We’re sorry, but once a promo code has expired, it’s unusable. You will need to proceed without the promo code to complete your booking.
Q. Do I need to do anything with my rail pass before boarding the train?
A. Yes. You will need to visit the ticket window at the train station before boarding your first train to activate your rail pass. A railroad official will enter the first and last day of validity on your rail pass and stamp your rail pass. You will have to show your passport, and the name on your rail pass will need to match it. Then, in case of a flexi-pass, for each day you use your rail pass you will need to enter the date in the designated travel calendar box on your rail pass. If you board a train and have not entered the date, when the conductor comes around to check your travel documents you may be subject to a fine and the payment of full fare ticket that will need to be paid in local currency directly to the conductor. Be sure to read all documentation that accompanies your rail pass prior to departure. The more you know about your rail pass, the more likely you are to avoid issues onboard the train.
Q. Can I purchase seat reservations from Rail Europe once I’m already traveling in Europe?
A. Yes, but only when an e-ticket is offered for the train you want to take. If only a paper train ticket is offered, you’ll need (and want) to purchase your reservation(s) locally at the train station to avoid international shipping fees and delivery times.
Q. Can I open the train windows?
A. If you’re traveling on a slower train you may have the option to open a window, depending on the age and configuration of the car. However, most modern rail cars are air-conditioned and you won’t have the option of opening the windows.
For safety reasons, high speed trains don’t offer the option of opening windows.