Is it possible or necessary to make seat reservations online before I arrive in Europe? I'll be in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and France. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
It looks like you can make reservations at raileurope.com.
During our 8-week trip through Western Europe and the Czech Republic...we made many seat reservation the day of or the day before...but none were necessary except the train from Zurich to Salzburg.
IMO, I would make them once you arrive in the city for your departure.
We traveled on the Eurail Pass which give you 1st Class seats. 1st Class was never full except from Zurich to Salzburg.
Will you have a railpass? If so, read the railpass sections at www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com. Some trains require reservations, for others they are recommended but optional, and for others they aren't even possible. The detailed timetables at www.bahn.de will break it all down for you. Click on "Internat. Guests" to view the site in English.
Thanks everyone, this is great info...appreciate your suggestions!
Making a train reservation far in advance shouldn't be necessary with the exception of the London-Paris Eurostar, which has some second-class coaches which sell out early. I like the flexibility of picking where and when to go while I am over there, not while I'm planning at home. You can get tix a day or so in advance at the station, and when the ticket windows are closed, ticket machines do just fine.
If your using fast trains (TGV, TALLYS, etc), reservations are necessary. Can you make them in the States? Yes. Should you??????? If your trip is on the short side of three weeks, make your reservations here. If I make the assumption that you're hitting the biggies: Ams, Par, Alps, Rome, Flo, Ven; time in transit is an important commodity. Do you want to get stuck on a slow train? Hey, maybe you do, but that's always an option, irrespective of reservations. However, not having reservations might cause an itinerary change. It might work out for the best, it might not. The point is to build the trip and fine tune it, then make your reservations. Study up on some options for your destinations so if you want to change on the fly, you will be prepared to do so. On the other hand, if you are going to be in Europe for a month or more, just disregard my post except for; read Rick's "Europe Through the Back Door" over and over again. The information will serve you well...Good Luck...
probably not in france and italy. you may save money by buying train ticket from local travel agency in france, and in italy i usually just buy tickets at the station.
It is recommended to have a train reservationsa, esplacially from now till August/September is a busy season, especialy if you are going to need a sleeper (traveling 8 hours at night to save on i day hotel cost. I believe that rail Europe have a service where you can make and pay for your reservtions. July/August is when all the Europeans goes on vacation for a month.