I'm looking at traveling throughout Europe in September - October.
I am visiting multiple cities and a number of countries.
I have bought myself a EURail Global pass but need advice on whether it would be ideal to book trains in advance.
I am unsure as to what time we would like to depart certain cities and hop into a train. I am aware that some countries require advance booking for trains. I would like to know whether it would be ok to book a few days before I leave the city or would it be better to book all the trains well in advance.
Are there an abundance of seats available during this time of year on trains.
I appreciate the help.
Sep/Oct are ' easy' months, with few European travellers. It should be enough to make reservations a few days in advance, except on a few very popular routes. Moreover, many national and local trains don't require any reservations at all.
If you plan on taking a train anywhere in Europe which leaves at regular business 'Rush Hour' times I would advise you to book in advance, or else try booking an alternative train outside of these busy times.
I would like to know whether it would be ok to book a few days before I leave the city or would it be better to book all the trains well in advance.
I would recommend booking 1-3 days in advance at the train station where necessary. This gives you more flexibility, if you like a certain place you can stay longer or if you get a recommendation to go somewhere you can completely change your initiary around at no extra costs.
The big advantage of a Eurail global pass is that is gives you full flexibility, you can hop-on hop-off trains as much as you want without worrying too much about the costs of a ticket. If you now reserve all seats and all sleeper trains and what not in advance you give up that flexibitily. In this case you might as well have used point-to-point tickets without going for the Eurail pass.
So: Don't waste your Eurail pass by reserving all trains now and thus giving up its biggest advantage, ie flexibility.
I am unsure as to what time we would like to depart certain cities and hop into a train
If you don't know that yet, then why are you even thinking about reserving everything now?
Generally the deciding factor on what time of the day to leave a city is the travelling time to the next city and the frequency of connections.
Tip: If you gave us a rough initiary you would get better advice. Travelling between Salzburg and Munich is different from travelling between Rome and Venice and from between Seville and Madrid.
Booking trains in advance is so rarely necessary, regardless of what train you are on in whichever country. Reservations are often available and more welcome after a long day walking. I have travelled on trains around Europe for so many years and have never booked a seat in advance except when required to with my job so as to get a block of seats to travel with a group of co-workers.