How to Book European Train Travel (and not get ripped off)

A question I get asked quite often is how to book trains within Europe and then if they should get a Eurail pass.

My first response to the second question is usually a big fat NO! Book yourself, book direct and don’t buy a pass under any circumstances. This advice is especially true for Australian travellers who often get caught up by travel agents and various websites trying to sell those all inclusive passes or a selection of countries in one pass. And no matter what anyone tells you, you CAN and SHOULD book train travel yourself to save $$$$

So how do you book?

It does take a bit of work, so do put some time aside when doing it for the first time so you can go through the steps carefully to ensure you don’t make any mistakes. Whatever you do DON’T use the RailEurope website. You will be charged hugely inflated prices for routes and passes.

Most of the booking sites for trains open around 90 days in advance. I would always advise booking in advance at roughly this point as this is when the cheapest seats go on sale. You can often pay for first class even cheaper sometimes then 2nd class at 90 days out. The longer you do leave it, you may not get the availability you’re after and the prices will change (depending on country and popularity of route).

Italy in particular is one of the most popular countries for train travel. By going direct to (which is their national booking site) you can offer snare 2 for 1 deals, book 90-120 days in advance (depending on route) and pick the exact departure time you like and select your seats. Add to that the ability to print your boarding passes immediately after purchasing it is fantastic. The site will load in Italian, but at the top right hand corner you will be able to change into English.

Booking the Eurostar direct on their website again can offer great promotions, and even after the conversion in Pounds, still is a much better saving than if you were quoted here for the same route/date.

All the respective countries train travel websites all have English options by following the same methods which you can find by going HERE

Ultimately the very best train travel guide on the Internet is by “The Man in Seat Sixty-One” who has been providing the most advanced guide on travel travel for many years around the world. There you’ll find all the links, tips, hints and how to book all those train trips and in depth country train travel guides. I would highly recommend you bookmark this website as one of your go to travel guides for anything to do with train travel.

Seeing countries via train is a hassle free and comfortable way to travel. No airport delays, you can normally save hours by not having to go to/from an airport, the seats are very comfortable and there are often dining carts on board.I have taken many routes throughout the UK, France, The Netherlands, and Italy and if you think it’s like Australian trains (shudder) think again! It’s something you should definitely do within Europe if you don’t have to take a flight to your next destination.


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