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Booking european train tickets

Melbourne, Australia
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Booking european train tickets
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Hi,

I am just wanting some advice on booking European train tickets. My partner and i are going to Europe in June-August and are wanting to book the following trains: Paris- Tours, Tours - Amsterdam, Amsterdam- Rothenburg, Rothenburg- Prague, Prague- Krakow, Venice- Florence, Florence- Monterosso, Monterosso - Rome and Rome-Sorrento. We have gotten quotes from travel agents who always suggest a pass and the quotes are so expensive! I have obviously done my research and understand agents tend to suggest passes to get more commission. However, we are going to a lot of places and don't know if a pass would be the best option. So that would be my first question; would a pass be better than point to point tickets? My other question is, if I did book these myself, where do I book? I've heard mixed reviews are raileurope but their tickets seem the most reasonable and affordable. Any advice would be much appreciated!

Nashville, TN
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7,755 posts
9 reviews
53 helpful votes
1. Re: Booking european train tickets
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See http://www.seat61.com for all the information you'll need about train travel in Europe (and elsewhere) including when, where and how to buy tickets.

Sydney, Australia
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16,218 posts
38 reviews
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2. Re: Booking european train tickets
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" quotes from travel agents who always suggest a pass "

It is so frustrating to keep reading about these stories, Australian travel agents are completely clueless regarding train travel in Europe. A pass earns them commissions from Rail Plus in Melbourne, whereas a proper advice to the customer cos them time.

Basically, the rule of thumb is this:

1. Do you qualify for an Interrail pass (for EU resident), or are you under 26 to qualify a youth pass?

If you do, just use this figure as your benchmark: Pass cost divide by number of days, this is your daily cost

2. Are you willing to fix your dates in a particular destination, i.e. hotel booking are fixed, rather than " will leave tomorrow straight away " type. In other words, is your travel from A to B spur of the moment ?

If the answer is NO, a pass is not for you

" but their tickets seem the most reasonable and "

That would be the most incorrect statement I have heard for today, as the following thread proves

https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g1-i12483-k7242366-Rail_Europe-Train_Travel.html

" where do I book "

Book direct from the people who runs the train, and as early as possible

Mandatory reading : http://www.seat61.com

Sydney, Australia
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16,218 posts
38 reviews
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3. Re: Booking european train tickets
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Let me give you some pricing examples for end of June:

Amsterdam - Rothenburg (http://www.bahn.com) cheapest €39.90, most expensive €119

Venice - Florence (http://www.trenitalia.com) cheapest €19.90, most expensive €29

Paris - Tours (http://www.trainline.eu) cheapest €17, expensive €45

Quainton, United...
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
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Prague-Krakow from €19 http://www.cd.cz

These cheap prices mean specified train only, no refunds, no changes. The only consideration is whether the extra cost of an unlimited travel pass is worth it for the flexibility and built-in insurance, as with a pass, if a strike, fire or flood cancels one journey, you simply reschedule the rest, or re-route around the problem, whereas a complex itinerary built out of different cheap train-specific no-refunds tickets could collapse like a house of cards.

Wengen, Switzerland
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for Switzerland
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5. Re: Booking european train tickets
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A few rules of thumb:

- Generally speaking the first place to look for booking a ticket is the national railway of the country where your trip starts.

- For short trips just buy locally at the station.

- Often it is good to have a look at the offerings on the website of the railway of the country where the trip ends. But be aware. Only buy e-ttickets. If you buy a ticket from DB that needs to be picked up at a station this will only be possible at a DB station. Which can be a problem if it is for a trip that starts outside of Germany...

UK
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6. Re: Booking european train tickets
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" Generally speaking the first place to look for booking a ticket is the national railway of the country where your trip starts."

- or the one where your trip ends. Usually prices are the same, but occasionally one of the other operator may be running special offers. I've also read here, from one of our regular contributors, that the Czech rail operator is often cheaper for cross-border journeys than the other operator involved.

So - it's always worth checking both.

Wengen, Switzerland
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It is indeed worth checking the railway of the country where your trip ends. I actually mention this :-)

The main thing to watch out for if you don't book from the railway where you start is to make sure you don't end up with ticket that you need to pick up at the station.

For example: Booking Lyon - Interlaken will always be a ticket that you need to pickup, so you should not book that on SBB if you are not going to be in Switzerland beforehand...

Brno, Czech Republic
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for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
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8. Re: Booking european train tickets
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Rothenburg to Prague is a LONG journey involving three trains and a bus (and before anybody starts going on about buses, it is possible by train only, but it'll take 15 hours) - are you sure you want to do that in one go? It only costs from €19.90, though, from http://www.bahn.com

And you realise you are going from one crowded hot and expensive tourist trap to another, you'll need some downtime somewhere to chill out and recover. Check out e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/sep/29/brno-czech-republic-cheap-city-break-alternative-prague

DO NOT use Rail Europe or a travel agent or you will pay many times more than you should. Lots more information in here http://europetrainsguide.com/

Edited: 5 years ago
Dallas, Texas
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9. Re: Booking european train tickets
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Travel agents like to tout passes because they get a nice fat commission and don't have to do any work. Booking individual point to point tickets for you is much more work and yields them nothing.

Brussels, Belgium
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"I've heard mixed reviews are raileurope but their tickets seem the most reasonable and affordable."

How on earth could you know that they are the "MOST reasonable" if (as is clear from your question) you haven't actually checked the prices of each trip on the websites of the national train operators concerned?!

Rail Europe is a ticket reseller, not a train operator, and while it can be worth using IF you want to pay in your own currency and have physical tickets mailed to you AND perhaps if you were only using the most expensive trains anyway, you can do a lot better buying from the train operators.

I once looked up what they were charging for Brussels-Brugge and in USD, it was fully 3 times the price of the (invariable price) ticket sold by Belgian Railways!

Note, incidentally, that Tours-Amsterdam is via Paris, so this is Paris-Tours, Tours-Paris, Paris-Amsterdam; and for this last, you can do Paris-Amsterdam by Thalys or half by Thalys (Paris to Brussels) and the rest by non-high-speed IC. I mention this because IF using a pass, you could use it on the IC train from Brussels to Amsterdam (3 hrs instead of 2 by Thalys), but not - without paying a supplement - on the Thalys between Paris and Brussels (1h22) (OR on the only alternative, which is IZY, taking 2h30). However, as Paris-Amsterdam by Thalys may cost the same as Paris-Brussels, you probably wouldn't save anything by changing to IC in order to use Eurail pass - if you had one.

Basically, you need to do your research...

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