A Eurail Pass is a great tool for anyone traveling around Europe, and especially for people with flexible itineraries. In short, a Eurail Pass is an all-in-one train ticket that lets you hop on trains whenever you want in 31 European countries (see the countries on a map here). Some ferries (like in Greece) are even included. Occasionally you’ll need to make a reservation to get a seat, but in general, you don’t even need that. It can therefore save you money and a ton of stress.
What’s new in 2019?
As Rick Steves writes for USA TODAY, this year Eurail simplified its offering. In recent years, “there were so many options, it was hard to know where to begin.” But “now, by eliminating the customized passes while cutting the price of the Global Pass, Eurail has gone back to basics…your main options now are either a single-country pass or the 31-country Global Pass.” A single country pass, of course, grants unlimited train rides in a single country on up to eight days of travel within the span of a month. A Global Pass, meanwhile, grants unlimited train rides to/from 40,000 destinations in any/all of the 31 countries in a given period of time.
So, how long will you be traveling around Europe? Once you know that, you can select the Global Pass that makes the most sense for you. For example, a Eurail Global Pass covering any three travel days in a single month costs $243 (second-class). A Global Pass covering 15 days of train use within two months is $550 in second-class), while the largest covers truly unlimited travel over three months ($1,005 in second-class).
Steves also writes that in addition to the single-country and 31-country Eurail Pass, “there are still some multicountry regions where passes are available and cheaper than a Global Pass for the same number of train-travel days. For example, Eurail’s Scandinavia Pass includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland for little more than the price of a pass covering only one of those countries; the Benelux Pass is cheaper than a Global Pass for those traveling to Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg; and the European East Pass — including Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia — is roughly the same price as a pass that just covers Austria.”
Also of note this year is that Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) is part of the mix. “The addition of Great Britain to the Global Pass in 2019 filled a long-standing gap in its coverage of Europe,” writes Steves. “Though BritRail passes still reign for a Britain-focused trip, travelers also straying to the continent can now use one Global Pass for the whole trip.”
It’s important to note that if you’re not European, you can’t buy a Eurail Pass in Europe. You have to buy it and have it shipped to you before you leave. But once you have it, there’s not much to using it. For more info, see the Eurail site or check out the free Eurail Rail Planner app.
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