Eurail for couples. Everything you need to know.

by Kim on December 17, 2013 · 19 comments

Brian and I just wrapped up an epic tour of Europe by train with eurail.com. The fun started in Barcelona, Spain and ended five weeks later in Budapest, Hungary.

Our eurail.com travel route

Our route: Barcelona, Spain –> Caussade, France –> Paris, France –> Brussels, Belgium –> Bruges, Belgium –> Amsterdam, Netherlands –> Berlin, Germany –> Prague, Czech Republic –> Budapest, Hungary.

Many moons ago, Brian and I traveled to France and Italy for a two-week vacation. We also spent a two-day layover last Christmas in Germany. Otherwise, we hadn’t spent much time in Europe and we’d definitely never traveled across the continent by train. We weren’t sure what to expect, especially regarding travel details like making train reservations and how much time to allow for making train transfers (the answer, it turns out, is only about 5-10 minutes).

If you’ve traveled with a significant other perhaps you’ve noticed that nothing can cause a travel argument like the stress of the unknown. Learning how to travel in a new country and worrying about missing trains is a surefire way to get Brian and I barking back and forth at each other in no time.

So, to save you and your loved one an unnecessary argument, I’ve put together some essential tips to keep the stress at bay and ensure that you have a wonderful time traveling Europe by rail. (The good news is that it’s really easy).

Note that Brian and I traveled through Europe with the Eurail Global Pass. With this pass, we had access to the trains in 24 European countries. Our pass allowed us 10 travel days in a 2-month period.

Countries in Eurail global pass

What is a travel day?

A travel day is a 24-hour period from midnight to midnight. On each travel day you have access to the entire Eurail network of trains. You can ride the train as many times as you want (as many transfers as necessary) in one day and that counts as only one travel day. For example, on our trip from Paris to Brussels we transferred trains four times but the transfers all fell within a 24-hour period so we only used one of our ten travel days.

How do the Eurail passes work?

Eurail passes allow you to hop on and off many of Europe’s trains. It’s simple. Board the train of your choice with your Eurail ticket in hand.

Brian with Eurail tickets

Make sure you’ve written in the correct date in the space provided on your ticket here:

eurail.com ticket

And write your route in the space provided as well:

Eurail global pass

When the ticket inspector comes around he will ask for your ticket. You’ll hand him your Eurail pass. The inspector will make sure that you’ve written in the correct date. He’ll punch your pass and move on. It’s as easy as that.

Where can I find information about the train schedules?

Information about train schedules is available online. But I recommend this amazing Eurail.com Rail Planner app that we used exclusively to find train schedules during our trip. The app is easy to use and works off-line, so no data or Internet connection is required. While you are in transit, the app even shows you the location of your train, so you never have to fear that you’ll miss your stop. Brian writes more about how to use the Rail Planner app on his site.

Do I need to make train reservations?

For most high-speed trains, international trains and night trains, reservations are required. You’ll know whether a reservation for the train you’d like to take is required or not because it will be marked as reservations compulsory on both the website and the app.

first class seats

It’s important to note that reservation fees are not included in your Eurail passes, so you’ll have to pay those fees in addition to the cost of the pass. We found that the easiest way to secure a reservation was to make it directly at the train station. If you are traveling during peak season (May-September) it is important to make train reservations well in advance if they are required or recommended.

Learn more about making train reservations.

Where are the train stations located?

I was happy to learn that the train stations in all of the cities we visited were located right in the city center. This meant that we could ride the train to the middle of town and then walk to our hotel. Door to door service!

Central train station

Which European cities are the most romantic? (Hey, this is a post about Eurail for couples after all).

Barcelona, Spain -Barcelona has a great vibe. It’s young and laid-back. The wine is cheap and you can walk everywhere. It’s romantic in the schools-out-for-the-summer kind of way. I loved it.

Paris, France- Paris is, of course, the most romantic city in the world. A tour with your main squeeze through Europe would not be complete without a stop in the city of romance. Brian and I spent our time strolling hand in hand through Christmas Markets, gardens and museums. Even in the dead of winter Paris maintains her charm.

love locks bridge Paris

The love locks bridge in Paris

Bruges, Belgium- When we mentioned to our waitress that we were headed to Bruges she said, “You are lovers so you will be happy there.” She was right. The historic center of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with winding canals and medieval architecture. The town map even comes marked with “spots to kiss.” It was lovely.

Bruges, Belgium at night

Bruges, Belgium at night

Prague, Czech Republic- We’d never been to Prague before and were quickly swept away by the stunning grandeur of the city. It’s just gorgeous. The city suffered almost no damage during World War 2 so the old architecture, arched bridges, and town square impress in all their ancient glory.

Prague

Prague Old Town Square Christmas Market

The bottom line: train travel is romantic.

On our travel days, Brian and I would buy a bottle of wine (you can bring it onboard with you!) and sit side-by-side staring out of the window as our train whooshed by countryside pastures and cliff-side castles. Hours would pass and then, suddenly, the train would deposit us in one storybook city after another. There really is no place like Europe for romance. And the best way to see Europe is by train.

For more information about Eurail tickets visit eurail.com. You can also visit the Eurail.com Facebook page or connect with them on Twitter @eurail to ask questions and receive great travel information.

Our Eurail Global Passes were provided by eurail.com but the opinions above are my own. Many thanks to Eurail.com for helping us make our time in Europe a wonderful adventure.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) December 17, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Great write-up, Kim! I used a eurail pass when I traveled through Europe in 2005 and it was so convenient and made for such a great way to get around the country. It does look like it’s possibly gotten a little more complicated to use now—I don’t remember having to fill in dates and routes every time I used it—but that’s not really much of a hardship. Still one of the best (and most romantic!) ways to do Europe!

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Kim December 18, 2013 at 2:02 am

Well, you do need to fill in your trips but that is SUPER easy, only takes a minute :) Definitely the best way to see Europe in my opinion.

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eemusings December 17, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Wish we’d know about that app! Many times we spent attempting to figure out the timetables, along with other puzzled foreigners.

I think we only paid reservation fees a couple of times – always went for the cheaper trains to save on those where possible!
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Kim December 18, 2013 at 2:03 am

Agreed, we only got a reservation once! I actually preferred the cheaper (and usually slower) trains because I loved my time gazing out the window. And the app was a lifesaver, it made everything so straightforward and easy.

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Carmel December 18, 2013 at 2:44 am

I liked having a pass the last time I went. Do they still offer the youth pass? I think the cut off was 26 (which I am WAY past already), but if so, it might be useful to some of your readers. If we do decide to do Europe again, we’ll probably end up with the Eurail pass again. So nice to have an app now…(putting on my granny panties…): I remember the old days when you just had to show up the station to find out what time the train left, now there’s an app??? :)
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Kim December 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Yes, they do still offer a youth pass. It’s much cheaper than the adult pass and the age of use is 12-25. Unfortunately I missed that cut-off quite awhile ago ;)

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Victoria December 18, 2013 at 3:14 am

Excellent! We’re intending on doing an Eurail trip sometime soonish so this will be very useful. Thanks Kim. Hope you’re enjoying Saigon. Sorry we didn’t cross paths in Europe.
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Kim December 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Oh, you will love it so much. I’m excited for you guys Victoria! And I wish we’d had a chance to cross paths in the UK. Someday it will happen!

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Sara December 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

The first time I traveled via train through Europe, I was 21 and with my cousin. We had a blast, but I kept thinking how much I would LOVE to do it all over again with a love. (and we mostly stayed in Western Europe, so much to see!) So, many years later on our 1 year anniversary my husband and I traveled via train, mostly sticking to central Europe. I loved it all over again. (Particularly Vienna. Swoon.) But, even then….nearly 14 and 8 years ago, train travel using the Eurail plass was so easy. And now with apps and wifi everywhere I would imagine it would be even simpler! thanks for sharing your adventures!
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Kim December 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm

That sounds like a very romantic one-year anniversary indeed. And, yes, the app makes it SO easy. No stress!

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Carina December 18, 2013 at 8:18 am

I did a couple months by Eurail in college as it seems everyone else I knew did, but I had an unlimited pass so I never had to worry about listing trains or dates or anything like that (and since this was more than 10 years ago, I had to carry a time table book with me!). If you get a 10 day pass, does an overnight train count as 2 days? I took overnights almost all the time (college = low budget and train = cheaper than hotel), kind of sucks if it does since many people with more limited vacation time would use overnights as being more efficient and basically only get 5 trips while paying for 10. I definitely would have put a bunch of cities in Italy as the most romantic, but I love Italy and I know you didn’t have time to go.
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Kim December 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm

That is a good question and I have an answer!

If you have a 10 day pass and you take an overnight train, it only counts as one day as long as you board the train after 7 p.m. So, lets say that you are catching a train to Paris at 8 p.m. on 12/18. When you fill out your Eurail pass you’ll actually list the date as 12/19. Then the ride is valid along with all of the trains you might actually catch on 12/19. Make sense?

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Carina December 20, 2013 at 8:18 am

Yep, perfect sense! Thanks!
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Patti December 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm

“If you’ve traveled with a significant other perhaps you’ve noticed that nothing can cause a travel argument like the stress of the unknown. ”

This is SO funny and SO true!

We love traveling by train! This is a great source of information so I’m going to bookmark it for future reference. Thanks for sharing.
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Kim December 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm

It is true, unfortunately!

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Maddie January 10, 2014 at 6:26 am

Sorry I’m so behind with reading posts! This is a great guide and I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in our corner-ish of the world. I did a brilliant month long train adventure around Europe when I was 19 and it still ranks as one of my favourite travel experiences, there’s just something so lovely about cruising through the countryside by train.
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Kim January 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Yeah, there’s just really nothing like seeing Europe by train. Add it to the long list of things I want to do again!

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cynthia January 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I loved following along on your train journey! I’m curious about the comfort of the trains/size of seats. My partner is a big guy and he gets uncomfortable fairly quickly on planes, in movie theaters, etc. due to various back and neck injuries suffered in his younger days. (Getting old sucks!) Any thoughts?

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Kim January 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Hi Cynthia,

Actually, the trains were incredibly comfortable, I was quite surprised. The seats were large and had a lot of legroom. A lot of times Brian and I would grab a 4-compartment seat (two seats on either side facing towards each other). We’d sit one person on one side and one on the other. The trains weren’t crowded so most of the time we got to keep this area to ourselves.

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