Every region of the world has its own idiosyncrasies involving train travel, and Europe is no exception. The continent is crisscrossed by rail lines, which allow tourists to see its rural beauty as they zip between cosmopolitan centers or visit small towns and villages well off the beaten path. If you choose to see Europe by rail, keep the following things in mind to have a great trip:
– Search for discount fares on European websites. English-language sites and sites based in America sometimes offer great deals, but you can also find excellent fares through European travel sites like Britain’s Seat61.com or directly through the websites of national rail carriers.
– Take a long look at the Eurail pass, and crunch the numbers before buying one. The Eurail pass allows travelers to avoid ticket-counter queues and to purchase multiple trips that can be scheduled within a given time period. They can be a little confusing and difficult to use, however, and they cost a lot of money upfront. Eurail passes are best for travelers planning to do a lot of long-distance traveling or who expect to change their plans frequently. If you’re only taking a few short trips, you’ll probably come out ahead by purchasing tickets for each leg ahead of time a la carte.
– Think hard about whether seat reservations and first-class tickets are worth the money. Most second-class train cabins in Europe are clean and comfortable and therefore not always worth the extra cost to buy a first-class ticket. A seat reservation, on the other hand, lets you chose your preference of window or aisle seat and might ensure you don’t end up standing on a crowded train when passengers have claimed all the reserved seats.
– Get to the station early. European trains are famously efficient, and that means they usually depart the station exactly on time. If take too much time to find your train and end up a minute late, the train will leave without you.