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Booking Eurail Reservations

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Booking Eurail Reservations

I am planning a 40 day backpacking trip around Europe (France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands) this July and August and I'm planning on buying a Eurail Global Pass (15 days in 2 months probably).

What I'm confused about are these reservations you still have to make, especially in France and Italy. A lot of websites are saying that we should book wayyy ahead of time (like, weeks or months) in order to get seats in France (for example). But then it's nearly impossible to find websites that SELL these reservations (and if they do, they come with an extra fee).

My question is whether we actually have to book all of these ahead of time, or if we can show up at the train station the day of (or even a couple days before) and reserve then.

Same question for the overnight trains: can we do day-of or is it important to buy them over the phone/online before getting there?

Thank you! It's so confusing finding anything clear online about this.

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

Well, Eurail is not what it used to be 20 years ago. It is an overpriced way to travel, it is inconvenient, and it is riddled with exclusions.

On the one hand, they are selling you 'flexibility', on the other hand, they are telling you to pre-book the reservations at a price.

Most of us regulars here would NEVER recommend buying a Eurail pass. Assuming you are youth (under 26), the price of the pass is € 580, translating into about € 38.

Depending on where you travel, you can get point-to-point tickets perhaps less than that, or occasionally more than that. But that price is the price you will pay, rather than a base price that you have already paid, without reservations.

Anyway, to answer your questions now:

In France, Spain and Italy, the pass is a hindrance. Reservation fees have to be paid for most trains, and in France and Spain, you have to front up to the station to book the reservation. Only Italy allows reserving online, at € 10 per person per sector.

In France, seats for passholders are quota controlled, so you may end up not being able to go onboard the train that you selected, if the quota is already exhausted. As most of France is now connected with TGV trains (except travelling locally using the TER trains), you cannot board the train without the mandatory reservations.

As for overnight trains, some booking is open 120 days ahead, not booking means you may not get a couchette or cabin. (a seat will probably be available). Mandatory reservation for couchette and cabin are additional, of course, to the pass price.

A typical example of the cost to passholders can be found here for the German run CNL train

citynightline.de/citynightline/view/en/angeb… (see "Fares in EUR" tab)

Edited: 06 June 2014, 04:32
Brno, Czech Republic
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for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
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2. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

In addition to the above, train tickets bought on the day in Hungary and the Czech Republic are WAY cheaper than a pass.

How are you planning to get from Italy to Hungary?

This should tell you all you need to know http://www.europetrainsguide.com/ - also read the section on rail passes and which trains require reservations.

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3. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

Ok, so you're suggesting not getting the Eurail pass at all, and just buying the full train tickets at each station before we go? That definitely sound like we'll have less freedom, but if it saves money (and a headache) in the long run, I guess it could be worth it?

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4. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

And yeah, I'm not exactly sure how we plan to get from Italy to Hungary. We want to go from Venice to Budapest, and it seems there's a way through Vienna, but I'm open to suggestions on cities to stop in/better ways to get there (maybe a flight is even worth it at that point, especially if you think I shouldn't get a Eurail pass?)

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

>>just buying the full train tickets at each station before we go? <<

That's an over simplification. If you want to save money, fix the dates for the longest journey (inter country, cross borders) and simply pre-book those journeys at the earliest possible time for the most significant savings.

Perhaps do a search on this forum first, and come back with a question. It is hard to give a general advice.

As regards Venice to Budapest, yes, the easiest is via Vienna.

The sectors are, usually (by no means the only one)

Venice Tronchetto to Villach by Austrian Federal Railways bus (OEBB Intercity), info and timetable here:


From Villach there are connections via Vienna to Budapest with Railjet trains.

Timetable : www.oebb.at

Wales, United...
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for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
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6. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

You can buy local tickets at the station, as these generally don't have discounts when purchased in advance anyway, so you can still have freedom and flexibility for the area around where you are staying.

For long journeys, especially for international routes. then you are well advised to buy your point to point tickets in advance to obtain cheaper fares and a reservation.

Sadly, the days of being able to roam around Europe without restriction have long gone, at least in France, Italy and Spain anyway.

Imperia, Italy
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7. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

In Italy you can roam around OK, as the reservations are available without quotas online, from ticket machines and from booking offices until shortly before departure. However, once you add the cost of the reservations, passes are uneconomic except for very long journeys.

See seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm

8. Re: Booking Eurail Reservations

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