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. When I board the train, can I sit anywhere I want?
A. If you booked a reservation for a specific train, you’ll have a designated car and seat number. This information will be located on your ticket.
If you don’t have a reservation and the train you’re traveling on either doesn’t accept reservations or reservations are not mandatory, then you’ll be able to get on board and look for an available seat in the class of service you booked. Keep in mind that during the train journey, if another traveller gets on board and has reserved the seat you’re occupying, you will need to move.
Keep in mind that local commuter trains generally do not accept reservations. During peak hours (typically before 9am and in the evening between 5-7pm) the trains are used by locals going to work and tend to be a bit more crowded. This may make it more difficult to find an available seat.
Q. Is dinner and/or breakfast included with my reservation on an overnight train?
A. When you travel on an overnight train meal inclusions vary depending on the train you are on, as well as what type of train ticket you have purchased. With the purchase of a Premier class ticket, you will generally get a meal on board the train. This meal is typically breakfast in the morning. Some trains will bring the meal to you in your compartment, while other trains will serve you breakfast in the restaurant car on board the train.
If you are not traveling in a First Class sleeping compartment, don’t worry, you won’t starve on board! Overnight trains all include a restaurant car, bar car or vending machine services containing hot/cold drinks and snacks. Most restaurant/bar cars are open until at least 1:00am. Additionally, you can purchase food before hopping on board the train and eat as you wish. Though not included with the price of your ticket, you can certainly find something to eat during the ride.
Q. How can I track the status of my refund?
A. To check the status of your refund, you can visit our Contact Us page to send us a message. Please be sure to include your original booking number so that the refund request can be researched.
Refunds processed online for e-tickets are completed immediately. Emails received for e-ticket refunds will be processed on the next business day.
Refunds for paper documents cannot be completed entirely online because your original travel documents must be sent back to us. They will be processed within 1-2 business days after the documents are received by Rail Europe. Our Customer Relations team will contact you once your refund is processed.
Please note that once a refund has been processed, it will take 7-10 business days for it to reflect in your credit card account.
Q. Is there onboard medical help in case of emergency?
A. Currently most trains do not carry emergency medical equipment. In case of a medical emergency, conductors on board will radio ahead to the next stop so that help will be ready and waiting.
Q. Do the train stations offer services to help carry my luggage?
A. Many train stations in Europe have self-service luggage carts that you can use to transport your luggage through the train station. These carts are usually coin-operated and when you return your cart, you’ll get your coin back.
It’s always best to pack light and anticipate that you will need to carry your own luggage. Only a few stations in Europe offer porter services. Also keep in mind that while some stations offer elevators and/or escalators, you may need to carry your luggage up or down stairs to reach the correct train platform.
Q. I made a mistake when I ordered my rail pass. How can I correct it?
A. Once your rail pass has been printed, it is not possible to modify it. If you absolutely need to do it, you can pay a 15% penalty and a 7% processing fee to exchange it. If you catch the mistake and call us right away - prior to your rail pass being printed, we may be able to modify it for you. If you bought the Rail Protection Plan™ when you ordered your rail pass, you can exchange your original pass at full value and use it towards the new one, with no fee or penalty incurred. Read more about the Rail Protection Plan™ coverage and how to file a claim..
Q. What is a travel day on a rail pass?
A. A travel day on a rail pass is a 24-hour period, from midnight to midnight, during which you can take as many train journeys as you desire. Since rail passes use calendar days, journeys within 24-hours of each other but on different days will count as two travel days.
Q. I selected a train ticket, but when I placed my booking the price changed. Why? Can the previously quoted price be honored?
A. For most trains, the price quoted is based on live availability from current seat inventories. However, for some trains, we cannot check fare availability at the time of quote due to technical limitations of the international rail distribution system. Therefore, we use a cached price to build your quote, based on generally available fares for the trip you requested.
While rare, sometimes, we find out that the fare used for quoting your trip is no longer available as we’re trying to confirm your reservation. This is when the system gives us the new price based on that very moment’s availability. This explains why you may receive a message advising you that the price has changed from the original quote.
Q. Are there luggage handling services at the station for groups?
A. Yes, luggage handling is offered at select train stations in Europe. Please contact our group department for more details.
Q. Is there WiFi onboard?
A. WiFi availability is increasing on European trains. This service, however, is not currently offered on ALL trains. Where it is offered, it’s usually complimentary with the purchase of a First class ticket. If you’re traveling in Second class, you may incur a fee to connect to the WiFi service.
Here is a brief list of trains offering WiFi:
ICE (select trains)
SJ High Speed
In addition, WiFi access can typically be found at many major train stations throughout Western Europe. More than likely, you’ll encounter a small fee to use the WiFi service. In some stations First class ticket/pass holders will find complimentary WiFi, usually in designated First class lounges.