How to Take Advantage of Eurail: The Easiest Way to Travel Through Europe This Summer

As Europe prepares for one of its busiest tourist seasons yet, the region will rely on its extensive network of trains to get travelers from place to place. Unlike what we typically find in the U.S., these routes are both efficient and picturesque, allowing people to traverse between cities and even countries without the hassle of disembarking (and tiptoeing around an excess of trash). 

But enrolling in the Eurail program can be a tad confusing, especially for a clueless American who may be heading overseas for the first time. We break down how the company operates and how to get the most bang for yEurail Passour buck.

What is Eurail? 

A rail transit system that connects a whopping 33 countries! Eurail passes are *only* available for non-European citizens. If you’re not a European citizen, but are a legal resident of a European country, you should use an Interrail Pass. Full eligibility requirements can be found here

What kind of passes does Eurail offer? 

If you are traveling to more than one country, you’ll want to purchase a Global Pass. If you’re traveling within one country, opt for a One Country Pass. 

Within each of these categories, there are Flexi Passes and Continuous Passes. The former is purchased if you know exactly how many days your trip will require travel via train. These range from 4-15 day passes and must be used within a month after your first trip. The latter allows you to book as many trains as necessary within extended periods of time (a minimum of 15 days and maximum of two months). 

One Country Passes rarely take part in Continuous Passes and fares are country-specific (i.e. prices for Italy start at $158, while prices for France start at $84). 

Keep in mind that you can’t upgrade your pass with additional days or countries upon purchasing. Also, you’ll need to connect your booked trips to your pass so that everything is easily accessible and in one place. This can easily be done by creating a Eurail account where trips will link together under one pass. 

Are seat reservations included?

While many local and regional train routes do not require seat reservations, there are plenty that do during summer months. This is enforced due to the region’s seasonal popularity and to ensure that there is enough room on the trains. 

Depending on the class, seat reservations typically range from $8 – $14. 

Travel on high-speed, international, and overnight trains will almost always require an advance seat assignment. These can be purchased using the site’s time table. Remember: Seat reservation prices are alway in addition to the base price of an initial pass. 

How are tickets delivered?

Mobile tickets are emailed as PDFs and can be printed before your trip, though it is highly suggested that customers download the Eurail app for easy access and activation. 

You can, of course, request paper tickets, though you’ll be paying a significantly steep delivery fee. 

You’ll also need to activate your pass within 11 months from its purchase date. Most customers will activate their pass an hour or two prior to boarding their first train. Once your pass expires, it is no longer valid, even if you didn’t use all of your travel days. 

What is required once onboard?

You’ll need your passport to scan as you enter different countries. Ticket inspectors will also need to take a look at it to verify your identity. 

What is the refund policy? 

For mobile passes, refunds are granted when requested via your Eurail account on the company’s website. These passes must be unused and non-activated. They must also be submitted no later than six months from the last possible activation date (which is indicated on your pass). 

For paper passes, the process is a bit more laborious. Requests must be submitted before the first day of the pass’s validity period and marked as “NOT USED” by a railway official in person. To be eligible, you’ll also need to return your original paper pass. 

Refunds typically take up to four weeks.

What about passes that are lost or stolen? 

Mobile passes can easily be transferred to other phones through the Eurail app. Paper passes can’t be replaced, so your best bet is to book travel digitally. Eurail will allow any customer to upgrade their paper pass to mobile, free of charge. 

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