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Questions regarding Eurorail prices and routes

Hello,

I've been comparing price differences and routes found on eurorail: https://www.eurail.com/en/plan-your-trip/eurail-timetable and various other sites like Rome2Rio and RailEurope. However I've noticed some discrepancies between the routes.

For example from Vienna to Krakow, on eurorail there are trains every 3 hours. On other sites, only an overnight train is available (both using Eurocity). There are many routes that are on Eurorail, but not on any of the other various rail sites.

This leads to the 2nd question: Is Eurorail worth the cost if you're only travelling between 7 cities? Does the pass also count for intercity travel with buses/trains (e.g. UBahn).

My itinerary is Budapest, Vienna, Krakow, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Paris. In a span of 3 weeks. Intercity I assume we'll just need rides from the train station and hotel, and then buses throughout the city (I don't know if Eurorail covers these busses). When looking at prices for just between countries, usually ranges between 25-50 dollars. Assuming every route is 50 bucks (including reservation), that's still only a max of $350. The 3 week pass for Eurorail is $431, and that does not include reservations.

I've been told repeatedly by multiple people Europass is the cheapest way to travel across the Continent, but when I sit down and look at the prices, Eurorail seems to be pricier than buying the tickets individually yourself.

Posted by
1902 posts

First, it is Eurail, not Eurorail. Whether it is worth the money depends on where you plan to travel. Look up the typical prices for single tickets and compare that to the price of a Eurail pass. Also note that some trains, like the Thalys between Amsterdam and Paris have mandatory seat reservations that can be pricy.

And don't rely too much on Rome2Rio and Raileurope, they are 3rd parties that I wouldn't trust to be correct all the time. In general, DB has a great search engine, so use www.bahn.com instead.

Posted by
5728 posts

I've been told repeatedly by multiple people Europass is the cheapest way to travel across the Continent, but when I sit down and look at the prices, Eurorail seems to be pricier than buying the tickets individually yourself.

. . . and there you are. You figured it out. Eurail passes provide convenience, but at a cost.

Posted by
25098 posts

your other sources used to be right - it is a good value for travelling across the Continent. That is across. Lots of long or very long trips in a short period of time and you are singing. It used to be easier to make it pay. When I was much younger I had a 3 month Youth Eurailpass which didn't cost much and I used it to death, all over France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy - I was able to just jump on pretty much any train, no reservations in those days, and on trains at night I rode half way, woke up, walked across the platform and caught another going back and slept another few hours - free hotel. Alas those days are long gone, and in addition to the trains not playing ball I am a lot older. oh well

What it is not good for is what you are doing - just a few medium sized trips, and travelling between Amsterdam and Paris, a killer on a Eurailpass.

No, there is no local transportation like buses, trams or metro/U-Bahn with a Eurailpass.

There are deals available on most of the trips you mention, you need to buy tickets ahead (just like the plane) and you can go for much less.

My old mentor at the Seat 61 site will guide you aright. Only use Rome2Rio to find out who the operator is (or operators are) of a particular route and the go to the official website of that company for tickets. As said above, resellers and Eurail only show a subset of available trains, and long established wisdom around here among people who know is that RailEurope is best stayed away from completely. They only sell tickets on some trains so only show those, and they mark up the tickets. If you have to deal with customer service for a refund they don't shine.

If you use any fast trains in France you can get discounts, sometimes steep discounts, from SNCF, the French national railways, who now operate under several brands (and who happen to part own RailEurope) but if you have a Eurailpass which covers the fast train in France you STILL have to pay a fee (called a reservation, but reservations are included with normal tickets, even dirt cheap ones) to use that train. That amount varies depending on which fast train, the day of the week, and the route, but often the fee approaches the price of the cheap tickets. It is even worse for "reservations" on Thalys trains who have all the trains between Amsterdam and Paris. In many cases you can get cheap tickets for less than the fee you have to pay to use your Eurailpass.

But as said above, if money is worth less to you than figuring out and buying the tickets then they can be very useful.

Posted by
15824 posts

I've been told repeatedly by multiple people Europass is the cheapest way to travel across the Continent,

Typical, your friends don't know what they are talking about. Either they are telling you what they have heard from other people, or people who have traveled with the Eurail Pass and just assumed they were getting a good deal, rather than, as you have done, checked on line for what individual tickets actually cost. Even the Rick Steves organization pushes them because they make a commission on the sale.

Sounds like you are really try to stretch your money on this trip. It looks like you have already eliminated Switzerland from this trip as you had a lot of questions previously.

One comment, Krakow is a bit of an outlier on this itinerary. If you use the Deutsche Bahn website, https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml, it will show you all the train schedules, although they can only sell tickets that begin or end within Germany. I see there is a direct train from Vienna to Krakow, but it is 5 3/4 hours, and the direct train from Krakow to Prague is 7 3/4 hours. You asked about spending more than a day in Berlin, and you got answers that 3 was barely enough. So maybe budget more time there. It is not an expensive city, compared tp Amsterdam or Paris and there is tons to see and do.

Posted by
41 posts

Thank you guys for the feedback! Sounds like Eurrail won't be good for our kind of trip. Yes, I had to cancel Switzerland, both for time, and money (10 countries in 3 weeks is...well not enough time from the looks of it).

Posted by
87 posts

So I think your issue is that you are looking at the 3 week continuous pass. The continuous passes pretty much never recoup their value unless you plan to travel every single day. For your trip a 7 day in 1 month pass would work perfect and right now that one is on sale for $371 (adult passes) which averages out to $53/ticket. The pass does cover intercity trains but not buses. Train tickets in Central Europe are fairly cheap, and your distances are short, so I don’t really see you getting the value back by using a pass. In 2019 I got a first class ticket (there were 3 classes) from Prague to Vienna and it set me back a whopping $23. Trains from Paris to Amsterdam can get pricey though if you don’t book well enough in advance. Passes are really only a cheap way to travel if you’re youth fare, you’re traveling long term (2-3 months) and you want to cover a lot of distance. Or if Eurail is having a decent sale. For example, I bought a pass when they were having a 20% sale in March. It is the 15 day in 2 month pass and I got it for roughly $433 which makes each travel day less than $30. Considering I can take as many trains as I want on a travel day, I will easily get that value back. So Eurail CAN be very cost effective but I would say 9 times out of 10, it is not.

Posted by
12193 posts

That all depends on your traveling style and the length and breath of the trip.

If you are going for at least a month or more and your rail pass is at least 10 days /2 months, plus you're willing to take night trains without the additional luxury of a sleeper or couchette, (you pay extra for those, just do without this feature), ie, sleep sitting upright, as you see Europeans do on night trains, then the rail pass will be cheap. You get max use out of the pass.

From what I see in the cities list, you have the night train option for Berlin-Budapest, Vienna to Berlin, Vienna to Prague, etc...all a matter of scheduling and timing the trip. With your itinerary, I could plan out a trip using a few night train rides with the rail pass.

The rail pass is valid on the S-Bahn in Berlin, say , you arrive on the night train in Berlin, take the S-Bahn to your hotel, it's covered. Then you decide to do a day trip to Lutherstadt Wiittenberg on the ICE or Leipzig on the same day (your arrival in Berlin), this day is covered but only for this day. There are ways to stretch the value of the Pass.

Posted by
41 posts

We decided not to get it, since we'd only be doing 8 uses within the month (the only option they had was 10). Also, I didn't add above, but we won't be doing any night trains. Night trains constantly seem to have stops, and you have to pay extra reservation fees for beds. Not to mention the trips are often 2x as long due to the switches between trains/stations.