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European Train Travel

Myths about European train travel demystified

Here are five myths about rail passes in Europe.


1. It’s almost always cheaper to get a rail pass than a bunch of tickets.

Not necessarily. You basically have to sit down, look at a map and your schedule, and cost out your trip. If you’re just planning on taking a few train journeys, then buying point-to-point tickets might well be cheaper.

Not long ago, you had to book your tickets and then wait for them to arrive in the mail. No longer. Services like GoEuro allow you to book your tickets right before you leave, or even on-the-go once in Europe, using their app.

On the other hand, you can’t beat a Eurail Pass if you want to be spontaneous and you plan to travel by rail a lot.


2. Trains are the cheapest way to travel through Europe.

That was once true but no longer. Europe has seen the rapid growth of budget airlines. These carriers often offer rock-bottom fares that can make trains look downright expensive.

That said, airfare prices fluctuate according to demand, of course, while train and Eurail Pass prices are fixed throughout the season. There are also Eurail discounts for youths, those traveling with children or in groups of two to five people, discounts which you’ll never find on any airline.

“There are no luggage fees, and trains connect you straight from city center to city center, so there’s no need for expensive airport to city center transfers,” says Gorlach of Eurail. Nor is there the prospect of encountering the endless security lines that you find at the airports.Of course, you could forsake trains and airplanes altogether and opt for the bus.



3. With a Eurail Pass, I don’t need to worry about reservations.

Eurail Pass is great, you may have to shell out some extra money to actually get a seat on a train.

​“On the majority of trains in Europe, travelers can board the train with just a Eurail Pass,” says Gorlach. “But some European trains, such as high-speed and long-distance international trains, can require a seat reservation all year-round. It comes at a discounted fee for Eurail Pass holders.”

​Some observers take an even stronger view of the reservations situation. In other words, don’t travel without one.


4. There really isn’t much difference between first and second class on European trains.

​There is typically a very big difference between first and second class travel, and it’s not simply that first class costs more. It’s all about comforts. In a first-class compartment, the seating is more spacious and many seats recline. There is also more space to store your luggage. In general, it is much quieter and less crowded. In many countries, traveling first-class gives you access to first-class lounges in the train terminal as well.



Yes, if you can find one. It’s likely that sleeper car service going to and from Paris will end this summer. Germany recently phased out sleeper trains to France. But these trains, redolent of classic spy thrillers, still exist and yes, they have romantic names, such as “Berlin Night Express,” which goes from Berlin to Malmo, Sweden.

​“Eurail Passes can be used on overnight trains,” affirms Gorlach of Eurail. “Travelers have the option to sleep in a reclining seat or book a shared or individual cabin onboard these trains. Eurail Pass holders have the advantage of pass holder discounts on cabin bookings.”


culled from US today.


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