Updated: 2/2/20 | February 2nd, 2020
One of the most convenient ways to explore Europe is with a Eurail Global Pass. For decades, the Global Pass has allowed backpackers and intrepid explorers alike to wander the continent for both short-term and long-term trips, giving them the ability to book trains on a whim.
Offering access to 31 different countries around the continent, the Eurail Global Pass is a great option for anyone looking for a flexible trip around Europe.
But is the Eurail Global Pass right for you? To find out, let’s answer a few questions.
Table of Contents
- What is the Eurail Global Pass?
- What Countries Does the Eurail Global Pass Cover?
- What If I’m Just Going to 1 or 2 Countries?
- How Much is the Eurail Global Pass?
- What’s the Difference Between First and Second Class?
- What Discounts Are Available for Students and Youth?
- Other Frequently Asked Questions
- Should You Buy a Eurail Global Pass?
What is the Eurail Global Pass?
The Eurail Global Pass is one of the most popular ways to explore Europe, offering travelers access to 31 countries. The pass gives you a set number of stops in a set time period, ranging from three days to three months, allowing for a flexible, hassle-free trip without having to purchase single tickets for every leg.
The pass comes with first-class and second-class options, as well as discounts for youth and seniors (see below).
In short, it’s meant to be an easy way to travel Europe by train, allowing you to see as much of the continent as possible — all without breaking the bank.
What Countries Does the Eurail Global Pass Cover?
The Eurail Global Pass covers 31 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland), Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey (as well as Liechtenstein and Monaco).
Here is a Eurail Pass map:
What If I’m Just Going to 1 or 2 Countries?
If you’re just going to a few countries, chances are the Global Pass isn’t for you. Instead, you can check out the 27 single-country passes by visiting eurail.com.
How Much is the Eurail Global Pass?
The Eurail Global Pass has several different options, ranging from three days (within one month) to three months of continuous travel. There are also two classes and different prices for adults, youth (anyone aged 27 or under), and seniors (60 and over). Additionally, kids under 11 travel for free (maximum of two kids per adult).
Here are the 2019 prices for the Eurail Global Pass:
What’s the Difference Between First and Second Class?
Not sure which class of pass might be best for you? Here’s a breakdown of the differences between them:
Note: You can sit in either first- or second-class cars with a first-class ticket.
What Discounts Are Available for Students and Youth?
Anyone under the age of 27 is eligible to apply for the Eurail youth ticket. You don’t technically need to be a student to purchase this pass, either. As long as you’re the “age” of a student (under 27), you’re eligible! This will save you over 20% off the standard adult ticket price.
The youth ticket option is available for both Global Passes (for all 31 countries) as well as single-country passes.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Eurail Global Pass work on local trains?
The Eurail Global Pass does not work on local trains such as subways or trams. It only works on intercity trains.
Does the Global Pass cover high-speed trains?
The Eurail Global Pass does include access to high-speed trains. It also covers overnight trains. However, you almost always have to make advance reservations for these, as they limit the number of Eurail pass holders on each train. So for any night trains or high-speed trains, you’ll need to plan at least a little bit ahead.
Can I use the Global Pass on Eurostar?
Yep, but you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. (Eurostar is a high-speed railway service connecting London with destinations in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.)
Will I need to pre-book tickets?
This will depend on the route. For some routes, you may be able to show up at the train, present the conductor with your pass, and continue your journey. However, for some you’ll need to book a seat ahead of time. Some countries require this, and reservations are often required on most high-speed and overnight trains. The information booklet you get with your ticket will have more information to help you with this part of your trip.
Do Global Pass prices fluctuate?
The price for the Eurail Global Pass is generally the same all year around (though there are occasionally sales, so be sure to sign up for Eurail’s newsletter so you can find out when!).
How long do Global Passes last?
Global Passes are good for as little as three days (in one month) or as long as three months of continuous travel.
Can I buy a Global Pass in person?
No. Eurail Global Passes need to be ordered online before you visit Europe. The pass will be mailed to you before your trip.
So, Should You Buy a Eurail Global Pass?
At the end of the day, the Eurail Global Pass is all about money and convenience. A Global Pass is only worth getting if it saves you money or makes your trip so convenient that the extra cost is worth it.
That means you must do some math to figure out if a pass is right for you and your trip. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is certainly worth it in the end — because you might save a ton of money!
To figure out if the pass is right for you, outline your itinerary and decide how many countries you’re going to visit. If it’s just one or two, this pass likely isn’t for you.
However, if you’re going to be visiting a lot of countries, then look up individual ticket prices on a site like Rome2Rio to get an approximate cost of your trip without the Eurail pass. Then compare that to the cost of the Global Pass that would work best for your trip. Then you’ll have your answer.
Just keep in mind that Rome2Rio will only give you a rough guideline. You’ll need to visit the official ticket-booking websites to get an exact price.
To sum it all up, a Eurail Global Pass is worth buying if:
- You want to be flexible. To me, the Global Pass is all about flexibility. Being able to hop on and hop off trains when you want, traveling on a whim — this is the best part of the Global Pass. If you are traveling long-term, you probably aren’t going to preplan months of travel all at once. That means you’re going to want the ability to go with the flow.
- You will be taking a lot of ferries. Global Pass holders get 50% off ferries in Greece, Italy, and Germany, 40% off ferries in Finland, and some bus discounts as well. If you’re taking some ferries during your trip, the pass is likely going to save you money.
However, you should NOT buy a rail pass if:
- You are planning on a short trip and know your exact travel plans. Most individual train tickets that you book directly from train companies are nonrefundable. However, they are often cheap if you can book in advance. If you know your exact travel dates, you can likely buy individual tickets for less than a Global Pass.
- You are traveling to just one country. If you’re just visiting one country, look at the single-country passes Eurail offers.
As you can see, the Eurail Global Pass isn’t for everyone. But for travelers looking for a flexible way to explore Europe, the Global Pass is one of the most affordable options on the market.
Exploring Europe by train is one of the most popular ways to see the continent, offering scenic views and access to a wide variety of amazing destinations both on and off the beaten path. Not only is train travel more environmentally friendly than flying but you’ll just get to see more of each destination.
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Book Your Trip to Europe: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. (Here are my favorite hostels in Europe if you need any suggestions.)
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use — and I think they will help you too!
Looking for more information on visiting Europe?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Europe with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!
Photo credit: Florian Pépellin