How available are reservations on the trains?

My husband & I are traveling a rather ambitious itinerary - we love being on the move - by train and have decided that a Global Saver Pass fits us best. We don't want to commit to dates 2 or 3 months in advance, we like 1st class and don't mind paying more for the convenience of last minute plans. It's been a few years since we've done a rail tour like this, it's never been a problem in the past but it seems there are less trains running these days and routes are being deleted. We are arriving in Barcelona by cruise ship on May 1st and are returning to the US from Paris by air on May 30th. Our itinerary is: Barcelona to Milan Milan to Venice Venice to Ljubljana Ljubljana to Salzburg Salzburg to Vienna Vienna to Budapest Budapest to Prague Prague to Berlin
Berlin to Paris We also want to be able to get on regional trains for day trips if we want. My question is for those of you who are frequent train travelers how hard are reservations to get at the last minute these days? I will reserve the night train ahead of time from Berlin to Paris but the others we want to leave open. I appreciate your help.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6888 posts

You have quite an ambitious itinerary to complete within 30 days. I realize you have the global pass and that you don't mind being on the trains but one thought I would suggest is flying on from Barcelona to Milan. The flight takes 90 minutes. The train ride will take you 22.0hrs-25.0hrs according to the best train website ( One negative for taking Vueling is that it is a budget airline. Great fares beginning at 34.99Euro but they will charge extra for large and overweight luggage that I suspect may be in your possession if you are coming off of a cruise. You could research other full price airlines. Secondly, there is a nice bus run from Venice to Ljubljana. The bus trip takes 3.5hhrs from either Venezia-Mestre or Marco Polo airport. Fare is 25Euro. As for reservations as you need them, you will need to buy them in the train stations. At some locations, you can buy them in the machines. At others, you may have to wait in line. I don't know how far in advance you have to make them online.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3927 posts

Hi, You will need a reservation for Berlin-Paris, day or night, mandatory. The cost 1st class (day) is 30 Euro. The reservations dealing with Ljubljana (Laibach), Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Prague can be bought a day or two prior to the ride...not hard at all getting the reservations in May. I've done Berlin-Paris at night. As a rule the night trains book up if your ride is on a week-end. Berlin-Paris on the CNL is 2nd class. Hopefully you won't have to transfer in Hannover and get a straight shot. Vienna to Budapest... not necessary to reserve. I did that in late May of 2010, Sunday morning, where the coach was practically empty.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21484 posts

Christi, Passholder reservations can be "limited" in some cases, so may not be available on short notice. When riding trains in Italy that have compulsory reservations be ABSOLUTELY SURE that you have reservations for the specific train and departure time that you're using, or you'll likely be fined on the spot! Fines start at about €50 PP and increase from there if not paid at the time. I can say this with absolute certainty, as it's happened to me and I've seen other people get fined (as recently as September). Happy travels!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8700 posts

You can book reservations on the direct Berlin-Paris CNL night train up to 92 days in advance on the German Rail site. Choose "Book only extra charge".

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

I will tell you what works for us. Upon arrival in a city and before departing the train station....we made our seat reservations for our departure. However, the least amount of time we spend in a city is 2 nights. It is usually 3-4 nights or more. We do not mind paying the extra for seat reservations.