How to save money and time when buying tickets for train travel in Europe, short cut links to booking tickets and rail pass guides inc Eurail and InterRail passes.
Therebytrain.com guides you through the process of obtaining a European rail ticket or rail pass online.
TWO GENERAL TICKET BOOKING TIPS
Here are two things to consider when booking European train tickets online, they won't apply to every booking attempt, but they've caught out ThereByTrain more than once, so we're passing them on...
One: If you're presented with a choice of how to receive your ticket, whether to have it posted to you, or collect at the station etc, the best option is often to select 'collecting from the country/station' in which you'll be starting your journey.
If you've selected 'collect in your own country', or to receive your ticket by post, you can get stuck along the purchase path, or may may be told that no tickets are avaiable when you process an order - and it may not be obvious why this has happened.
Two: This might seem extreme, but it can be a good idea to tell your bank that that you will be using your debit/credit card 'abroad' - as you do if you're going on holiday in another country, before making an online booking for train tickets outside your home country.
More than once our bank has presumed that someone else is using our card 'abroad' and we've then had train ticket transactions declined because the bank has assumed a fraud risk!
POINT TO POINT TICKETS
If you're familiar with booking European train tickets online, click the links below for instant ticket booking access
A Beginner's Guide To European Rail Tickets
If you require a ticket(s) for a point to point journey (between two towns and cities) within a single country we strongly recommend clicking the link(s) to the respective countries ticket page to the left.
Booking tickets for trains in Europe can see complicated and occasionally it is, but the ticket information we've provided (to the left) will tell you:
- When booking online in advance is particularly recommended
- If booking online will save money
- Why ticket prices can vary between destinations
- How to avoid or identify more expensive trains
- Explanations of ticket types and rail passes
If you require a point to point ticket for an international rail journey such as Munich to Milan, we recommend checking the ticket booking links for the countries in which you’ll be starting and finishing the journey as prices can vary.
These points below are necessarily broad, this is an introduction to/summary of European train tickets after all, but here's some key points to consider booking tickets online for European train travel.
- You generally won't find tickets/trains listed that have tickets you can access more than three months ahead of your travel date
- The most heavily/discounted tickets are usually very limited in number - often you need to book more than two months ahead to obtain them.
- Be wary of using these cheapest ticket prices, when calculating a multi-journey trip, particularly when comparing the total costs of the journeys to a rail pass.
It's much easier to find out these cheapest ticket prices than the actual tickets.
- For international travel, it's usually only possible to book tickets for direct trains from the country on the booking links above.
For example on the German Railways, D-Bahn booking site you can find/book tickets for the direct trains from Germany to the likes of Austria, Hungary and Poland.
However, you won't be able to buy tickets for a journey by train from Germany to Spain because there are no direct trains from Germany to Spain.
- Generally when searching for tickets you have to use the domestic names of the towns/cities in which you'll be starting/finishing your journey.
For example search for Wien and not Vienna, and Firenze, not Florence.
We've given more specific information about tickets HERE
If you’re planning a rail travel schedule involving multiple journeys by train rail passes may save you money and make travelling easier.
Rail passes can provide great value and flexible options for travel within a specific country, between multiple countries or trips across Europe.
A rail pass enables its holder to board trains without having to purchase point to point tickets and gives the freedom to travel on as many trains as you wish/need within a defined number of days or months.
Further information and booking links for rail passes for travel within a single country can be found on the ‘tickets’ pages of the respective countries to the left.
As the ‘Swiss Pass’ is justifiably popular therebytrain.com has provided a direct quick link.
Multiple Country Rail Passes
Holders of rail passes also qualify for discounts on certain boat services and tourist railways and can be great value for money, particularly if you’re planning to take a number of long distance journeys by train throughout Europe.
If you’re a citizen of a country that’s a member of the European Union you can use an InterRail pass to make journeys by train through multiple countries.
In addition to online booking links for purchasing InterRail passes, the Buy InterRail page will tell you all you need to know: from the types of tickets that are available and their prices; to information that applies to rail passes in each specific country, including when you can save money and when additional charges apply.
InterRail used to be associated with young people exploring by train as cheaply as possible and it still can be used for such trips, but people aged over 26 can now purchase InterRail passes and 1st class pass holders can experience the ultimate in European 21st century rail travel.
If you want to travel on budget or indulge in the rail trip of a lifetime, therebytrain.com will hopefully provide you with all the information you require regarding trains, international rail services and the stations at your destination(s).
If you’re not a citizen of a country that’s a member of the European Union, Eurail passes enable you travel Europe by train.
Eurail passes can be used for travel within many single countries in Europe, but they’re also available in (what can be a bewildering) multitude of options that enable multiple country rail travel.
Before purchasing a Eurail pass we recommend taking a look at the therebytrain.com’s guides to rail tickets in the countries that you're planning to visit, as well as our Eurail Info/Tips page.
If you’ve never previously travelled by train in Europe we also recommend our Ticket FAQs page, it contains information that will smooth and enhance your trip and help you to save time and money.
European East Pass
Non-European residents can also purchase the European East Pass which provides unlimited rail travel throughout, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia therefore this is the only rail pass available to non-Europeans that allows rail travel between Poland and countries other than Germany.
Prices in U.S. dollars for five days rail travel within are $325 - 1st class and $223 - 2nd class. Up to 5 additional days can be added at a rate of $37 per day for 1st class pass holders and $31 per day for 2nd class pass holders.
Children aged 4-11 can travel at 50% discount
The European East Passes can be obtained from travel agents who will also be able to provide information regarding supplements and charges for overnight trains.