Hey there everyone,
I have a few questions related to getting around Europe by train and hoping the pros here can help me
My wife and I are headed to Europe for 8 weeks of travelling bliss and we plan on using Paris as a hub for excursions throughout Europe excluding the UK (as we just got back and hey is that really Europe?).
The question is about the trains. First off, what does everyone think of the Eurail pass? Is this the cheapest alternative to cover most countries. Does it cover all trains - high speed as well as slower intra-country trains, ferries, buses, etc? Any other thoughts are appreciated on this.
As we aren't flying at all and want to rely on trains for all travel, we also want to do some night trains to save money on hotels. Is there a good place to get timetables for night trains throughout Europe? Anyone know of a good reference site that someone has built for this?
And lastly, can anyone suggest a good book with itineraries for doing something like this. We have the Rick Steve's stuff but game for something new if you know of something that is a good fit.
I went to Europe for the first time from the US in 2002 with 12 year old son and 72 year old father....train travel was perfect for us. Eurorail pass covered long-distance trains and local trains, provided discounts to ferries, etc. For us, it was definitely worth it. We traveled in Germany and France primarily, with a brief stop in Belgium. We did rent a car in Normandy to visit the D-Day landing beaches, where I truly believe a rental car is necessary.
I am returning to Europe in the fall with my 2 other older children, and will be using the Eurorail Select Saver pass. The cost for 4 countries and 6 days of travel, with reservations on the longer routes, cost us $1,227. Could I rent a car more cheaply? Doubtful, from what I've priced so far, and consider the cost of fuel, insurance and parking. The saver pass requires 2 or more people traveling together on the same itinerary, and provides price options based on the number of countries you visit and how many train travel days you need (just because you are there several weeks doesn't mean you are traveling everyday).
For schedules, go to the Deutch Bahn railsite - while you can't price tix for out of Germany travel, you can get travel schedules for the cities in Europe. I was able to do all of my itinerary on the web, much in part due to this website. I purchased tix this time on the net through RailEurope - easy to do. The first time I purchased the tix through AAA.
The rail europe website has a questionaire you can go through to help decide what the best pass option is for you, and what benefits are provided. I can't speak if the buses are included as we didn't have a need - but it should tell you that in the website.
Here are some links for you:
I love traveling by train....here's a tip though - take a little luggage as you need, as you will be the one lugging the baggage on and off the train. Pack what you can in 1 rollaboard suitcase and a backpack, and do laundry on the road either in your hotel room or in the hotel laundry.
I m do think that visitinig Europe by train is the best choise, train are fast and confortable. The Rail Pass is a must, it will save a lots of money and time.
Be careful that the Rail Pass doesn't cover fast train like the TGV in France or Eurostar (goes across to Europe), you will still have to pay a little extra everytime you travel with those train, but belive me it's worth it.
It covers most of the ferries, they are a few route that you still have to pay the ticket. Be aware when you choosing the Euro Pass, are several different offers, also its very important which country you going to visit.
For more information, check it out this web site, it has many useful information, quick tips and tutorias in how to save money while travelling Europe.
I did France, Italy and Greece by train some years ago. In Italy often you have to make a reservation despite your pass and also a seat might not always be guaranteed. Not all ferries are included, or sometimes there is a small extra fee like on the ferry from Brindisi Italy to Patras Greece.
I went travelling through Europe this summer and had a ball. It's a great way to see Europ. (Heres a hint: the further east you go - make sure that you being some toilet paper! ) Oh and I would advise always making a reservation as , even though you have your pass, you aren't guaranteed a seat and for some trains you need to do it anyway. You will also have to pay supplements for the high speed trains in France and in Germany and some of the special night trains also. I'm not too sure about the Eurrail pass but I think it may not cover many train lines in Spain so you better check that out!
Get a Thomas Cook timetable book. It will be your bible!
Oh and ALWAYS check the dates on your reservations/supplements - there is nothing worse than when the person on the desk messes up and the conductor on the train fines you!