Is it reasonable to make any required train reservations when I get to Europe instead of paying the extra handling fees for advance reservations while in the United States? I will be traveling in Europe from the last week of March to the first week of April, 2009. Thank you.
Europe is a continent filled with many countries of and each one has a different train system.
Please rephrase your question with the countries and cities you are going to for a good answer to your question.
It depends on what you mean by reservations. In Germany, few trains require reserved seats, but if you want them, you can reserve them for €4 each from the German Rail website and print them at home.
Seat reservations for some trains in Italy are best made when you get to Italy. Some "premium" trains require a supplemental fee, which is called a "reservation" because you get a reservation with it. Again, you can do that when you first arrive.
What are called "reservations" on night trains are actually a charge for the accommodations, but come with a reservation. These are best purchased from the United States because they will probably be sold out long before you arrive, but preferrably purchase them from a European railroad.
I will be traveling to Paris, Rothenburg, Munich, Prague, Venice, Florence, Salzburg, Lake Como. Thank you for your considerations.
In a very general sense, that time of year you would be safe in making any travel arrangements a few days before to right up until the time you get to the station. The exceptions would be: Any overnight trains, especially if you plan to reserve a bunk, should be done well ahead of time. Any trip on the Eurostar(Chunnel) train is usually best done early. Also, there are some special prices you can get by booking early on fast trains or group prices, so check that out.
Isn't Salzburg out of place?
Paris to Rothenburg: if by night train - reserve in advance, if by TGV to Stuttgart, probably a good idea to reserve. However, if you can commit to a date, you can purchase discount tickets online from DB and get reservations for only €2.
Rothenburg to Munich would best be done with regional trains (which don't have reservations) and with a Bayern-Ticket (all day pass for unlimited rides on regional trains for up to 5 people, €28).
Munich to Prague is fastest by regional trains. You can get reservations on this (these) train(s) - the only regional trains I have ever seen in Germany for which reservations are available. Check the Bahn website.
Can you suggest some European railroad websites that allow for online reservations for overnight travel? One leg of an overnight travel being considered requires a transfer at 4 AM. Is this a difficult transfer to mess-up on?
Steven: You asked about a 4am transfer to another train. What that mainly means is that you're not going to get much sleep that night, even if you're one of those who can, generally, sleep on night trains. You'll probably want to avoid planning a big schedule for the next afternoon/evening.
I'm sorry, I was going by memory. My I starting in Paris then traveling as follows: Paris to Rothenburg to Munich to Salzburg to Prague to Venice (sleeper) to Florence to Lake Como, return to Paris. Thank you very much for your review and comments.
Ok, again, Rothenburg to Munich, do by regional trains. You can do it with an express train, but that route is round about and doesn't save any time. You can do it by regional trains with a Bayern-Ticket (€28 for up to five, €20 for a single).
Munich to Salzburg. Usually best by a Bayern-Ticket. Regional trains take ½ hr longer. You can't travel before 9 AM on workdays.
Salzburg to Prague. Again, regional trains to Furth im Wald, German Rail Anschluß ticket (~€20) from there.
I think that in Italy you can wait and buy tickets there.
Thank you to all.