If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably know how much I enjoy to travel by train. We recently went through a month-long train adventure across Europe and loved it.
And one great potential asset for such adventures could be the Eurail Pass, a low price all-in-one train ticket that makes traveling across the European countries a breeze.
But, as you probably know already there are pros and cons about everything – and today we’ll focus on checking out the Eurail Pass pros and cons based on my own experience.
What is the Eurail Pass?
An Eurail pass is, at its core, a train ticket that allows absolutely amazing freedom when travelling within Europe.
With the one hitch that it is only available to non-European residents, who have to use their own version called InterRail. So if you’re an EU citizen, you should use the InterRail pass instead, which is basically the same thing.
Back to the Eurail pass, the basic idea behind it is that it has a certain number of days that you can then use for as many train trips that you want to go on, say 5, 10 or even 90 days worth of unlimited travel!
Yes, you’ve read that right: unlimited travel during the said time period!
You will need to validate your Eurail ticket at the place where you’re going to be boarding your first train and, if used correctly, it can save you a lot of money and time!
If you want to get inspired on what to do during your adventure in Europe, make sure to also read my 3-day itinerary to Munich.
Is the Eurail pass worth it?
From the North American point of view, such a crazy idea of crossing so many countries borders on the improbable and even the mysterious.
While taking a train may very well be the cheapest way to get around Europe, (second maybe only to some of the discount airlines out there which have plenty of hidden costs) there are so many ways to take advantage of this incredibly popular mode of transportation.
And this is where the Eurail pass comes in to the rescue.
An Eurail pass is really worth it if you know that you’ll be traveling often by train in a given period. This way, you will not only reduce train travel costs tremendously, but you will also avoid the stress of having to purchase new tickets for each new destination.
There are plenty of choices to choose from, as you can see in the screenshot below (make sure to double check the Eurail website to confirm these options and prices):
There’s also a really popular choice of an Eurail pass that allows for unlimited travel on 15 days within 2 months. At the moment of writing this article, it’s only $565 (which means at most $37 per ride if you do travel at least once during each of these 15 days).
All in all, if you know you’re going to travel often by train during a given period of time, the Eurail pass is a great deal.
Add to that various discounts for youths and seniors, as well as free rides for children up to 11 as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Great deal!
Eurail Passes: The Good and The Bad
Now that we know everything about Eurail Passes, let’s get into them a bit more in depth and check out the pros and cons of getting an Eurail Pass.
When you finally get to use your Eurail pass you can get on board your train without first having to stop at the ticket office. Its quick, fast and allows you great flexibility in your itinerary.
Once you get on the train and in your seat you can just write down that day’s date on your pass and it acts as your ticket.
This in turn, allows you to have the most flexible travel schedule possible so that you can board any train without having to stress about long ticket lines and having to worry about what time you should be at the station.
There are a few exceptions to this however, overnight trains and some fast travel trains require reservations, usually at a decent price but for the most part you are able to travel with great freedom.
Bonuses & Freebies
With a Eurail pass you can get additional discounts and it can be used for more than just train trips.
Some of the best freebies are the free transport on International Ferries and the Swiss Lake Cruises – but you should check the Eurail app to see the updated offers when you travel.
Or at least it appears to be expensive. You have to pay a huge amount per ticket – as you saw in my screenshot above.
And if you don’t put it to good use (travel regularly during your available days – especially longer trips), you can end up paying more than you would if you bought the tickets individually.
So I would say that the Eurail pass is only good for those who are 100% sure that they will travel often by train – ideally without the need of a seat reservation or with high speed / night trains as those might require extra expenses.
Extra costs (potential)
As I mentioned above, if you want to travel in most high-speed and night trains, you will need to pay additional money for a mandatory seat reservation. While these are really cheap in most cases (just a couple to a few Euros), it’s still extra money.
Conclusion: Is the Eurail Pass good or bad?
It’s easy to decide if the Eurail pass is good or not for your particular situation. In my case, we’ve added up how much it would roughly cost to do point to point tickets during our travel.
The costs ended up to be only a bit higher with individual tickets, but the peace of mind of having a pass that you know is valid (which now comes as a mobile app, which makes everything a lot easier) is priceless.
Plus, we didn’t take advantage of any of the freebies or discounts, but they could easily add extra value if it was something that you were planning to do anyways.
So overall, I think that as long as you plan ahead (or are 100% certain that you will travel often by train during the validity of your ticket), it’s worth it. Fortunately, it’s easy to find out by simply checking out the prices.
But what do you think? Is a train pass like Eurail worth it or you’re better off purchasing tickets on a trip-by-trip basis?