Please sign in to post.

Best rail pass for NL, BE, and FR

I will be potentially traveling through NL, BE, and FR and wondering if there is a pass for travel in all countries? I'm familiar with the Belgian rail company, but not so much with Netherlands and France.

From what I've been reading, it's best to book in advance. Anyone know if there is a pass for travel in all countries, and is it worth it?

Posted by
12040 posts

Not really (this discussion excludes France, of which I don't know that much).

Individual domestic rail tickets in the Netherlands and Belgium are relatively cheap. There are no advanced purchase discounts, no seat reservations are offered, and trains run very frequently. Hence, no need to buy anything in advanced. Just go to the train station, buy your ticket and hop on the next train. Belgium also sells its own domestic rail pass that more than one people can use at a time. If your party has two or more people and you plan to ride domestic trains within Belgium, this pass will probably be a good deal for you. Buy it at the station as you would a normal ticket. Just ask the ticket agent.

The one ticket you want to buy in advanced is for the high-speed rail service between these countries on Thalys. Booking in advanced will give you a significant discount. And note that Thalys levies a steep supplemental fee on 3rd party rail pass holders and requires you to purchase a specific reservation. Sort of kills the whole point of a rail pass (as if there was still any).

Posted by
6898 posts

Stephen, the primary fast train system between Amsterdam and Paris is the Thalys system. As Tom indicates, they are not kind to Eurail passholders. In fact, to travel on their trains, you will have to pay an extra supplemental fee on top of the cost of your pass. It's one of the highest in the EU. For example, from Amsterdam to Paris, it's an extra 39Euro. I can buy an discounted ticket on the Thalys train for this price. Also, Thalys limits their seats to passholders. If the passholder seats on your particular train are gone, you will be asked to pay full price to ride the train. You can buy nicely discounted tickets in advance on the Thalys train.

Secondly, where will you be traveling in France? Here, you can buy heavily discounted tickets on the TGV lines in advance. Note that France also limits their seats on the TGV train to passholders. They also charge supplemental fees to ride their TGV trains. About 9Euro for each train.

The big secret here is to do more homework and planning on the different train systems, nail down your precise travel dates and buy tickets that you need in advance. The pass is just too easy an answer then enough detailed planning has not been done. We can help if you provide more detail on where you will be and when.