Eurail Pass hacks? From people who sell Eurail Passes? That’s right — we’re telling you how to hack our own product. We know you’re going to try to hack it anyway, so at least this way we can make sure you’re doing it right, you know?
When we say “hack,” though, what we really mean is how to get the most out of this product. We genuinely believe that seeing Europe by train is one of the best ways to experience this beautiful continent, and if you’re going to take a Eurail Pass along with you as you go, then we want you to get the most out of it that you possibly can. And no one knows the product better than we do!
So here we go — straight from yours truly, the European train experts — here’s a few of our favorite eurail pass hacks.
Day trips, day trips, day trips.
Here’s the thing about Eurail Passes: during each “day” on the pass (24 hours from midnight to midnight), you can take as many trains as you want. So if you buy a 5-day in one-month pass, you can only take trains on 5 of the days within that one month period. BUT, you can take as many trains as you want during each of those 5 days… meaning that day trips are your best friend.
With this in mind, try to plan your hotel nights in cities that are centrally located to other cities or towns that you want to visit. For example, if you want to see a bit of Germany, try staying somewhere like Frankfurt — Hannover is 2 hours away by train, Berlin is 4 hours away, Dresden is 4.5 hours, and Munich just over 3 hours away.
See if you qualify for a SaverPass.
Never heard of the SaverPass? It’s a great deal! If you’re traveling with a group of 2-5 people and you’re all making the same stops along your trip, you probably qualify for a SaverPass, which is just a discounted rate for a normal Eurail Pass. One of the lesser known Eurail Pass hacks!
Don’t forget about the travel bonuses and discounts that come with the Pass.
Many people don’t know that Eurail Passes offer discounts and bonuses on other forms of travel like buses, ferries, and private railways. For example, here are a few of the current bonuses for France that are offered with the Eurail Global Pass:
- Discount on first and second class tickets on the high-speed Eurostar train link between Paris, Lille and Calais to London and Ashford via the Channel Tunnel.
- 30% reduction on the standard foot passenger fares on ferry crossings from Cherbourg to Rosslare (Ireland – February to December) and Roscoff to Rosslare (Ireland – May to September) operated by Irish Ferries. Advance booking is recommended and reservations required
- Free travel on the bus from Digne – St Auban/Veynes and the bus from Oloron – Canfranc (Spain) [note: check your pass’s specific bonus list for other discounted bus travel]
This is especially helpful if you’re traveling to Spain and Italy, or Italy and Greece, or almost anywhere in Scandinavia — ferries are a common way to travel between these places and are often discounted with certain rail passes.
And there are also discounts on hotels, WiFi, and sightseeing!
That’s right, the pass won’t only get you where you want to go, it will also help you do the things you want to do once you get there. Every pass has different discounts and bonuses, but here are a few examples so you get an idea:
- Free entrance to the Railway Museum in Hamar (Norway)
- CD Bike – Rent a bicycle at a special rate (Czech Republic)
- Reduction on the Titlis Rotair Cableway from Engleberg (Switzerland) [Side note: we HIGHLY recommend trying out a cable car while in Switzerland; the views are amazing]
- Reduction on the Stanserhorn funicular/cable railway (Switzerland)
- 10% discount on the daily rate at the A&O hotels and hostels in Vienna and Graz (Austria)
- 15% discount at the Oceanário (Portugal)
These discounts and bonuses are usually updated each year, so make sure you’re looking at the most up-to-date information when browsing for your rail pass.
Get free travel for your kids.
One of our favorite and newest Eurail Pass hacks — as of January 2015, Eurail passes offer free travel for up to two children ages 4-11 per adult pass holder! Any bit of savings helps with a family vacation.
Book your reservations in advance.
Remember that for many trains in Europe you’ll need to book a seat reservation that you’ll use in conjunction with your rail pass. Many trains can be booked 60-90 days in advance, giving you plenty of time to plan ahead and the book the trains that you know you’ll be taking for sure (for example: if you know if you have to be in a city on a certain date because of a hotel reservation or tour or something, it’s probably a good idea to secure a train reservation for that specific date to make sure the reservations aren’t sold out when you arrive in Europe).
This is especially important for the busy summer months, when trains do often sell out. Some people are surprised to hear that trains can sell out — but yes they can! Like any other mode of transport, there is a limit to how many people a train car can hold.