Basically what it is, I want to travel all around Europe for a couple of months this summer more than likely taking in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy among other countries, but what is the deal with Eurail passes?
They seem frighteningly expensive to me, are they worth it for the seemingly limited travel time you get?
How hard are they to acquire?
Is there any other advice you can give for people bouncing round on trains with a budget?
Thanks, Spar :D
Since u will be travelling all over Europe, u would require a Eurail Global pass which is valid in 20 european countries, this would cost u around 750USD for 15 days of consecutive travel in a month. Other options are also available like flexi pass, saver pass and if u r below 26 yrs of age u can get considerable discount on such passes. U can use the follow link to get more information
But if ur not travelling much, i would advise u to buy point to point tickets at the station itself, which could be much chepaer if u get the saver fares.
Lets take the 2nd class youth 15 days global pass for USD 469 as example.
Simple math will tell you that it is only worth it if
1) The total cost of all train trips you are taking (excluding reservation fees and surcharges for fast trains) are more than USD 469. The national train sites can tell you how much tickets are, so you are able to compare.
2) You are spending on average 33 USD (24 EUR) per day on train travel. (469 divided by 15 = 31,21 USD.) Since an hour of train travel costs roughly 10 EUR in most parts of Western Europe (Germany, Austria, Netherlands) this means spending on average 3 hours per day on a train over a period of 15 days.
You will be able to get the best value out of it if you take a lot of long-distance trains. Be wary of night trains though - you'll have to pay surcharges for couchette or sleeper which are usually more expensive than a hostel bed.
For example: I recently went within Germany from Magdeburg to Munich. The train ticket with ICE fast train was 117 EUR (no surcharge for Eurail pass holders). The sleeper train was 88 EUR plus 29 EUR surcharge for the couchette, 117 EUR total. A Eurail pass holder would have paid 29 EUR surchage for the couchette on the sleeper train. For the return trip I used a special discounted ticket called Schoene-Wochenende-Ticket (Happy-Weekend-Ticket). It was 35 EUR for a Saturday or Sunday of unlimited travel on the regional trains in Germany. It only took me 2 hours more than the ICE train and the difference in price was worth the inconvenience of changing 4 times instead of once.
I guess what I am trying to say is that travellers are usually better off buying point-to-point tickets and using a combination of bus, plane and train tickets.
IMO Eurail only becomes half-way decent value at the height of summer when flights are super-expensive and when you buy the 2 or 3 month pass, reducing the price of rail travel per day to 15,21 USD (for -26) or 23,21 USD respectively. It all takes basic maths, comparing prices and crunching some number to figure out whether eurail is expensive or not.
You might also want to check out http://www.ricksteves.com/
Take his info with a grain of salt, while most of it is very well reserched Rick doesn't know all there is. For some Europeans who don't have a car it is a sport to find out the cheapest way from A to B using any method possible. This involves tricking the train system to cough up the cheapest fares and combining it with budget flights, ride-share services and buses. Rick Steves has not even started scratching at the surface of this with his site.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 2, 2008, at 1:24 AM by t_maia ]
If your living in the UK then you can get an Interrail pass.
You might want to compare them at least, to work out your options.