In August, I will be flying into Barcelona and then on to Zurich with a friend. We plan to visit Florence and Portofino before going to France, but we aren't sure the best place to look for rail passes. Would a Euro pass be the best idea, or should we look at individual countries' rail information? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Catherine, Could you clarify your route. I'm not clear on where you're fitting in Florence and Portofino and then France? Railpasses are usually not the most cost effective travel method (especially in Italy), and they're certainly not the bargain they once were. Keep in mind that Railpasses DO NOT include the reservation fees that are compulsory on the "premium" trains such as the TGV in France or the Freccia trains in Italy. DON'T be caught without valid reservations on a train in Italy (if compulsory) or you'll likely be fined on the spot, and the fines start at ~€60 PP)! It will be easier to provide suggestions with more information on the route you're planning. Cheers!
Sure. Zurich->Florence->Portofino->Monaco (not entirely sure on which city but we want to stay close to the coast because we are flying back out of Barcelona).
Your original said you were flying into Barcelona. Is it too late to consider an open jaw ticket of into Zurich and home from Barcelona. That would make more sense and probably cheaper. Advance ticket purchase with deep discount would be much cheaper than any rail pass.
Barcelona-Zurich: Fly on Iberia, Vueling, or Swissair. Zurich-Florence: Your fastest route with the fewest connections is Zuerich-Milano-Firenze. Book ASAP on the Swiss Rail site to get a discount fare. Florence-Portofino: Take the train from Firenze to Santa Margherita Ligure. Your route and number of connections will depend upon your departure time. See the timetables on trenitalia.com or bahn.de. Take a bus from the train station to Portofino. Portofino-Monaco: You will travel either Santa Margherita Ligure-Ventimiglia-Monaco or Santa Margherita Ligure-Genova-Ventimiglia-Monaco. See the timetables on bahn.de. Monaco-Barcelona: Fly from Nice to Barcelona on easyJet, Vueling, or Iberia.