Planning a Europe train trip but wondering is a Eurail Pass worth it? You’re not alone, this was the most-asked question during my recent two month rail adventure! Here’s a super detailed breakdown about Eurail Passes, when they’re worth it, when they’re not worth it, how much you could save on example itineraries and exactly how much I saved on my trip.
Let’s be honest, we’re all a bit sceptical about ‘travel passes’ that promise to save you money on attractions or transport when you purchase an upfront expensive pass, and for good reason! Sometimes these passes can be a bit sneaky, knowing that you probably won’t even use the pass enough to get your money back, let alone actually save any precious travel dollars.
Is Eurail like that? Is a Eurail Pass truly worth it, or is it a waste of money and you should just buy tickets outright instead?
Luckily I’m a Type A travel nerd who is absolutely obsessed with getting the best bang for my buck while travelling, and I’m here to do all the calculations so you don’t have to.
I recently spent two months exploring Europe with a Eurail Global Pass thanks to the legends at Rail Europe, and I had the time of my life. I visited 25 cities/towns in 11 different countries, travelled almost 10,000km by train, and saved 55% of the cost of point-to-point train tickets by using a Eurail Pass. Yep, 55%!
But the potential savings of a Eurail Pass (and whether a Eurail Pass is worth it or not) is totally dependent on your actual trip, your travel style and your priorities.
Here’s a detailed explanation of if a Eurail Pass is worth it for your trip, including how to calculate the potential savings, situations when a Eurail Pass is probably worth it vs. probably not worth it, the actual savings from my exact Eurail trip and some example itineraries with seat reservation prices and point-to-point prices based on different booking timeframes.
BUT WAIT: If you’re brand new to Eurail Passes and don’t quite understand them yet, you might want to read my How to Use a Eurail Pass post first. This post explains in detail how Eurail Passes work, from all you need to know before buying your pass, how to prepare for the trip and then important tips to help you have a stress-free Eurail experience.
Is a Eurail Pass worth it? A quick summary
How to calculate if a Eurail Pass is worth it
There are two calculations you can use to determine if a Eurail Pass is worth it or not for your Europe rail trip.
If you know your Europe train itinerary already
The first one is super accurate if you have an idea of the trains you will be taking: A Eurail Pass is worth it if the cost of the pass plus the cost of seat reservations is less than the cost of the point-to-point train tickets if you bought them outright. It’s as simple as that!
Cost of Eurail Pass + seat reservations < point-to-point tickets = GET A EURAIL PASS
You can find point-to-point ticket prices at Rail Europe and you can find seat reservation fees using the Eurail seat reservation tool.
Note: If you don’t know what seat reservations are, scroll down to the FAQ section below where I explain seat reservations and other important details about the Eurail Pass.
If you don’t know your Europe train itinerary
If you don’t know your Eurail itinerary yet then that first calculation won’t help you, so the next, less accurate calculation is to divide the Eurail Pass by the number of days and that gives you an average ‘cost’ per day that you’d need to save in order for the pass to be worth it.
For example, a 15 travel days in two months Eurail Global Pass in 2nd class costs €518, and 518÷15=34.53.
If you think that each ‘travel day’ will save you at least €34.53, then you can be fairly sure a Eurail Pass is worth it for your trip.
Average saving on train ticket = Point-to-point cost – seat reservations
‘Cost’ of travel day = Cost of Eurail Pass ÷ number of travel days on the pass
‘Cost’ of travel day < average saving on train ticket = GET A EURAIL PASS
If you’re looking at purchasing a consecutive Eurail Pass (one that gives you unlimited travel for 15 days, 22 days or 1, 2 or 3 months) then it might be easier for you to work out the weekly cost of a Eurail Pass rather than the daily cost, because you won’t be doing long train trips every day during your pass.
Figure out the weekly Eurail Pass cost (pass ÷ number of weeks you’re travelling), then assume you’ll take 2-3 train journeys each week and see what your saving is likely to be with a pass.
Eurail Pass FAQs
For a more thorough guide with all you need to know about Eurail Passes you can check out my Ultimate Eurail Guide, but here’s a quick rundown on what Eurail Passes are, what benefits they provide, how much they cost and more.
What is a Eurail Pass?
A Eurail Pass is a rail pass that covers your ticket cost on trains and some ferries across 33 countries in Europe (if you get the Global Pass) or in one country (if you choose a One Country Pass).
If you travel with a Eurail Pass you don’t have to pay the ticket cost for the trains you take, but you may still have to pay a seat reservation fee.
Note: Eurail Passes are only able to be used by non-European residents, but if you live in Europe then you can get an Interrail Pass which is basically the same thing (just check the rules for departing and returning to your home country).
What are seat reservations?
Many trains in Europe are totally free with a Eurail Pass, but some trains require seat reservations at an additional cost.
This is the case for most high-speed trains, night trains, commercial scenic trains (like Switzerland’s Glacier Express) and many trains in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy.
Seat reservations usually cost between €3-€12, but sleeper trains, the Eurostar and long, high-speed trips can cost between €25-45. If you’re determined to stick to a budget you can find ‘no reservation required’ routes between many major cities, this is a search option on the Rail Planner app (the Eurail/Interrail app).
Seat reservations are typically the same price on a route*, they don’t change based on demand or when you book. In saying that though, many railway companies limit the number of seats available for rail pass holders, so if you’re travelling during summer or on a popular route (London to Paris on the Eurostar on a Friday evening for example) you may need to book in advance to ensure you can get one of the rail pass seat reservations.
*The one exception to this is the panorama trains in Switzerland which have different reservation prices for low season and high season.
What are the Eurail Pass options?
You can choose from a Eurail Global Pass which gives you access to the whole Eurail network of 33 countries, or you can choose a One Country Pass if you’re spending all your time in a single country.
With the Global Pass you can choose from a Continuous Pass or a Flexi Pass.
A Continuous Pass is where you get to use the pass any (or every!) day during a 15 day, 22 day, or 1, 2 or 3 month period, it’s more expensive but allows for total freedom.
The Flexi Pass on the other hand lets you choose a set number of travel days within a set period, either 4, 5 or 7 travel days in 1 month, or 10 or 15 travel days in 2 months. This pass is cheaper and gives you the flexibility to choose when to use a travel day, but that means you do need to plan a bit more to make sure you’re using the travel days on the train journeys where a Eurail Pass saves the most money.
With a One Country Pass you can typically choose from 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8 travel days in one month, but some countries offer slightly different passes.
How much is a Eurail Pass?
Here are the current prices for adult Eurail Global Passes as of 13 January 2023. Prices typically get updated once a year in December so these should be correct for the rest 2023 but if they’re not then please leave a comment and I’ll update them.
|Pass type||2nd class||1st class|
|4 days in 1 month||€258||€328|
|5 days in 1 month||€296||€376|
|7 days in 1 month||€352||€446|
|10 days in 2 months||€421||€534|
|15 days in 2 months||€518||€657|
Does Eurail offer discounts for youth travellers?
Yes, there are great discounts available on Eurail Passes for youth travellers!
If you’re 27 or under on your first travel day then you can purchase a Youth Eurail Pass which gives you a discount of up to 25% on the adult pass price. If you turn 28 during your trip that’s no problem, as long as your trip starts at least one day before your 28th birthday.
Are Eurail Passes ever on sale?
Eurail Passes tend to go on sale a couple of times a year, discounts are typically around 10-15% and these sales will usually not include summer travel.
To give you an idea of what sales you can expect, the 2022 Black Friday sale had 10% off Eurail Global Passes to be used between 1 January 2023 and 31 May 2023.
Sometimes there will be promotions where the pass isn’t discounted but instead you might get a free upgrade to 1st class, which can save a decent chunk of money if you were planning on purchasing a 1st class pass anyway.
How do I buy a Eurail Pass?
You can buy a Eurail Pass from a few different suppliers.
My recommended Eurail supplier is Rail Europe, their customer service is brilliant and their website is super easy to use.
You could also purchase a Eurail Pass directly through the Eurail website, or through other third parties like Klook or Trainline.
You can check current pricing and see if there are any deals on Eurail Passes on the Rail Europe website.
What trains can I use the Eurail Pass on?
You can use your Eurail Pass on all national railways and many private railways in 33 different countries, the Eurail website has the full list of countries and providers.
Eurail Passes can be used on popular train routes like the Eurostar, high speed international trains like the InterCity Express, tourist scenic trains like the Glacier Express, sleeper trains like the Nightjet or the Caledonian Sleeper, and even on some buses and ferries (seat reservations and other additional supplements may apply).
My Ultimate Eurail Guide has loads more info on the different trains and other transport companies that you can use with a Eurail Pass.
How to calculate if a Eurail Pass is worth it for your trip
We touched on this earlier in the blog post, but I wanted to go over the calculations more in-depth with specific examples to show you what I mean.
If you know your exact itinerary and travel dates
Let’s start with a really easy scenario:
Let’s say I know that I want eight train journeys in one month and I already know my route and dates two months ahead of my trip. I want to travel in 2nd class and I’m happy to get the cheapest tickets possible which are typically not flexible or refundable, but I don’t want to waste time with long journeys or many changes just to save money, I’ll prioritise direct journeys as long as they’re a reasonable price.
London to Paris
Paris to Interlaken
Interlaken to Venice
Venice to Vienna
Vienna to Prague
Prague to Berlin
Berlin to Amsterdam
Amsterdam to London
The first step would be to check the actual train prices for my actual travel days. You can do this through some European railway companies (DB and OBB generally have the full European network available) but I prefer the user experience of Rail Europe so I always check prices there. The prices of those specific journeys if I booked today would be:
London to Paris €79
Paris to Interlaken €82
Interlaken to Venice €77.40
Venice to Vienna €32.90
Vienna to Prague €14.30
Prague to Berlin €79.50
Berlin to Amsterdam €37.90
Amsterdam to London €65
Total cost of point-to-point tickets: €468
So the total price of buying the tickets outright would be €468. The Vienna to Prague journey is only €14.30 which isn’t worth using a Eurail Pass for, so we’ll purchase this one outright as a point-to-point ticket even if we get the pass.
The next step is to calculate what the seat reservations would cost for this journey, you can do this by searching the journey in the Rail Planner app or on the Eurail website.
Note: If you book seat reservations through the Eurail website there’s an additional €2 charge per reservation which I am including in these prices, just because I find the Eurail website is easier to use when searching for info on multiple trains. You can also book seat reservations directly through specific rail companies, this will save the €2 Eurail fee but the booking process varies for different companies.
These are the reservation prices for these journeys:
London to Paris €32
Paris to Interlaken €12
Interlaken to Venice €25
Venice to Vienna €12
Vienna to Prague (buying point-to-point ticket separately)
Prague to Berlin €0
Berlin to Amsterdam €0
Amsterdam to London €37
Total cost of seat reservations: €118
Keeping in mind that the Vienna to Prague ticket is better as a point-to-point ticket, we’d need a 7 days in 1 month Eurail Global Pass (2nd class) which is €352. Add that to the cost of the seat reservations and we’ve got €470, and then with the Vienna=Prague point-to-point ticket which we’re buying separately and it’s €484.30.
Cost of all point-to-point tickets: €468
Cost of Eurail Pass + seat reservations + Vienna-Prague point-to-point ticket: €484.30
Verdict: Slightly cheaper to buy point-to-point tickets
So knowing our itinerary two months in advance and being able to book then and there would be just slightly cheaper, saving €16.30 vs. buying a Eurail Pass and paying for seat reservations.
Keep in mind that those point-to-point tickets are not flexible at all, not changeable and non-refundable. So paying just €16.30 more to get a Eurail Pass gives you the freedom to change your plans, switch travel dates or change your route. If you’re fully set on your route and know you won’t change it then the point-to-point tickets make sense, but a Eurail Pass offers a bit more flexibility for just a small amount more.
If you know your rough itinerary and travel dates
What makes this calculation a bit confusing is that point-to-point train tickets can vary drastically in price depending on how far in advance you book, and many travellers don’t know what train tickets they require a few months before their trip. The beauty of Europe train travel is the flexibility it provides, and having to plan in advance can really ruin the magic of the trip for some people.
If you are able to, I’d recommend at least trying to estimate a rough itinerary to find the routes you are likely to take, then to check prices in 1-2 weeks’ time. This will give you a bit of an idea of what you can expect to pay if you choose to book your trains as you go while you’re already on the trip.
Lets assume that the route stays the same, but that the travel dates are now in 10 days’ time instead of 2 months.
London to Paris €118
Paris to Interlaken €88
Interlaken to Venice €78.20
Venice to Vienna €94.30
Vienna to Prague €21
Prague to Berlin €59.90
Berlin to Amsterdam €79.90
Amsterdam to London €125
Total cost of point-to-point tickets: €664.30
If we do the same calculation with the Eurail Pass, the seat reservations will be the same (€118), the Eurail Pass is the same (€352) and we’ll still buy that cheap Vienna to Prague point-to-point ticket outright for €21, coming to total €491.
Cost of all point-to-point tickets (buying 10 days in advance): €664.30
Cost of Eurail Pass + seat reservations + Vienna-Prague point-to-point ticket: €491
Verdict: A Eurail Pass would save €173.30, more than 25% cheaper than point-to-point tickets
So you can see how beneficial a Eurail Pass is when you want to be able to book tickets during your trip, rather than having to pre-plan your itinerary months in advance!
If you have no idea about your itinerary or travel dates
If you’ve got absolutely no idea of your itinerary or travel dates, it’s pretty hard to do a calculation! So instead you can break the Eurail Pass cost down to a ‘per travel day’ cost for the Flexi Pass, or a ‘per week’ cost for the Continuous Pass (because you won’t be using your Eurail Pass every single day of a one month Continuous Pass). From here you can see what a Eurail Pass would need to save you each day/week in order to make it worth the money.
Let’s go with a two month Continuous Pass for this example. The Pass is €768, if we break the two month pass into weeks it’s approximately 8.5 weeks, which means each week the Eurail Pass would ‘cost’ around €90. For a Eurail Pass to be worth it, we’d need to save at least €90 per week.
Let’s assume for this scenario that we’re taking two trains a week, so that per week ‘cost’ can be broken down into needing to save €45 per trip on average to make the Eurail Pass worth it.
The first step would be to see what a typical train journey between major hubs might cost (I’ve included prices for booking 2 months in advance as well as 10 days in advance), second step is to check seat reservations, and third step is to calculate what a Eurail Pass would save for these journeys.
Please note that all these prices are obviously subject to change, most European long-haul/high-speed journeys use dynamic pricing based on demand so these prices can change drastically. I just wanted to include them here to give you a bit of a ballpark range of what to expect, but prices may be significantly more or significantly less for your travel dates depending on the exact route you want, demand on that route, time of year, any events, etc.
London to Paris
Seat reservation: €32
Point-to-point ticket in 2 months: €79 (Eurail saves €47)
Point-to-point ticket in 10 days: €118 (Eurail saves €86)
Paris to Rome
Seat reservation: €45
Point-to-point ticket in 2 months: €103.90 (Eurail saves €58.90)
Point-to-point ticket in 10 days: €125 (Eurail saves €80)
Rome to Venice
Seat reservation: €12
Point-to-point ticket in 2 months: €42.90 (Eurail saves €30.90)
Point-to-point ticket in 10 days: €42.90 (Eurail saves €30.90)
Venice to Zermatt
Seat reservation: €25
Point-to-point ticket in 2 months: €67.40 (Eurail saves €42.40)
Point-to-point ticket in 10 days: €84.40 (Eurail saves €59.40)
Zermatt to St Moritz (on the Glacier Express panorama train)
Point-to-point ticket (price is always the same, not based on demand): 152CHF + high season seat reservation of 49CHF
Seat reservation: 49CHF only
Eurail Pass saves: 152CHF (about €152 as of 13 Jan 2023)
St Moritz to Vienna
Seat reservation: €0
Point-to-point ticket in 2 months: €56.90 (Eurail saves €56.90)
Point-to-point ticket in 10 days: €104.50 (Eurail saves €104.50)
Vienna to Berlin
Seat reservation: €0
Point-to-point ticket in 2 months: €49.90 (Eurail saves €49.90)
Point-to-point ticket in 10 days: €139.90 (Eurail saves €139.90)
Berlin to Amsterdam
Seat reservation: €0
Point-to-point ticket in 2 months: €37.90 (Eurail saves €37.90)
Point-to-point ticket in 10 days: €79.90 (Eurail saves €79.90)
As you can see, the price you can save with a Eurail Pass varied drastically by country and by time of booking. The main benefit of a Eurail Pass if you don’t know your itinerary is that you can wing it as you go, and you don’t need to lock yourself into an inflexible itinerary just to get cheaper train tickets.
And if you’d like to get some inspiration for where to go on your Eurail trip, check out my ultimate two month Europe trip itinerary.
When a Eurail Pass probably is worth it
A Eurail Pass is probably worth it in these situations:
- You know your itinerary already and the point-to-point tickets would be more expensive than the Eurail Pass plus seat reservations
- You don’t know your itinerary yet and you want to stay flexible and be able to book your route as you go
- You plan on using international high-speed trains that are typically very expensive unless booking very far in advance, like the Eurostar
- You’re travelling throughout Western and Central Europe where train networks are well connected and point-to-point tickets can be expensive
- You have some complicated international journeys in your itinerary that involve multiple train transfers
- You want to experience the panorama trains in Switzerland like the Glacier Express
- You’re travelling at a busy time of year, like during Europe summer or around big events* where the cheap tickets probably book out very early (Rugby World Cup 2023, school holidays etc.)
*Note: As mentioned, during busy periods you’ll likely need to book at least a bit in advance to ensure the rail pass seat reservations don’t sell out. But during these busy periods you’ll definitely need to book accommodation in advance too so probably will need to have your trains locked in at least a week beforehand anyway!
When a Eurail Pass probably isn’t worth it
- You know your itinerary and travel dates already and point-to-point tickets are cheaper than the pass + seat reservations (in which case just book the point-to-point tickets now!)
- You know your itinerary already but aren’t sure of your travel dates, but the prices 3-4 weeks in advance are cheaper than buying a Eurail Pass + seat reservations (in which case book your point-to-point tickets as soon as you know your dates)
- You’re travelling through some Eastern Europe or Balkan countries where train tickets are often very cheap and some countries don’t have great train networks (buses are better in the Balkans for example)
- You only plan on taking a few trains during your trip (the shortest Eurail pass is 4 travel days in 1 month)
- Your train journeys are mostly short distances
- You’re on a super tight budget and would rather take cheap, longer buses than more expensive, faster trains
- If you’re planning on travelling a lot through Spain and France I’d highly recommend checking reservation costs of the routes you want to do as they tend to have the most expensive reservations which may mean the Eurail Pass isn’t worth it
Is a Eurail Pass worth it: Calculations from my actual trip
On my recent Eurail adventure I travelled for two months, totally winging it as I go. My exact Eurail route was very messy, I had to fit it around a conference in London, multiple hotel collaborations on specific days, and Christmas markets which had various start dates, so I ended up doubling back on myself multiple times.
Luckily a Eurail Pass was perfect for this, seat reservations are always the same price no matter how late you book, and because I was travelling in the shoulder season (October to December) I didn’t have any issues with trains selling out of rail pass seats, even though I was sometimes only booking one or two days in advance.
There are some journeys missing in here because I bought some point-to-point tickets outright, but I’ll add them into the calculation below. I also travelled with a 1st class Eurail Pass, so the point-to-point prices here are based on 1st class tickets if I bought them at the same time as I booked my seat reservation (usually between 2-14 days in advance)
|Journey||Seat reservations||Point-to-point cost||Saving with Eurail|
|Naples to Zermatt||€25||€182.90||€157.90|
|Zermatt to St Moritz||€49.45||€322.27||€272.49|
|St Moritz to Tirano||€24.20||€81.32||€57.12|
|Milan to Bolzano||€12||€44.60||€32.60|
|Caldiero to Lyon||€39||€210.80||€183.80|
|Lyon to London||€62||€260||€198|
|Barcelona to Paris||€48||€228.60||€180.60|
|Paris to Vienna (night train)||€41||€134||€93|
|Vienna to Budapest||€0||€79.90||€79.90|
|Budapest to Prague||€6||€144.60||€138.60|
|Salzburg to Innsbruck return (day trip)||€0||€146.40||€146.40|
|Strasbourg to Florence||€27||€210.40||€183.40|
|Florence to Amsterdam||€35||€228.70||€193.70|
|Amsterdam to Frankfurt||€5.90||€123.90||€118|
|Frankfurt to Copenhagen||€5.90||€91.90||€86|
As you can see, the point-to-point tickets for my exact route would’ve been super expensive!
As well as these 15 Eurail journeys, I also spent €138.95 on four point-to-point train tickets as I didn’t have enough Eurail travel days to cover my whole trip.
So with a Eurail Pass, these was what my two month trip came to:
1st class Eurail Global Pass (15 days in 2 months) worth €671
Seat reservations: €380.45
Point-to-point tickets: €138.95
If I had bought all the tickets outright, the total for my 19 journeys would’ve been €2646.24 in total.
My total saving with a Eurail Pass: €1455.84
My Eurail Pass made my trip 55% cheaper than if I had booked tickets outright!
The final verdict: Is a Eurail Pass worth it?
Hopefully this blog has shown you that a Eurail Pass is absolutely worth it in many situations (when you want flexibility, when you’re booking last minute, when you want to try the Switzerland tourist trains, when you’re taking complicated journeys etc.) and it can save you literally hundreds of Euros compared to point-to-point train tickets.
BUT if you are a keen travel planner, you know your itinerary ahead of time and you don’t mind being locked into non-refundable, non-changeable point-to-point tickets then you certainly could save money by just booking your Europe train itinerary a few months advance and benefitting from the cheapest ticket prices, rather than purchasing a Eurail Pass.
I hope this detailed ‘Is a Eurail Pass Worth it?’ blog post with example itineraries and costs has helped you figure out if a Eurail Pass is right for you!
If you have any more questions about Eurail you might find what you’re looking for in my ‘how to use a Eurail Pass blog post, otherwise feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll try to help you out.
Other Europe train travel posts you might be interested in:
Super impressed with this comprehensive, well articulated guide on the Eurail experience.
Knowing I still have a couple of hours of homework to do to work out what the best option is for me, shows how much time Alexx must have spent compiling all of this information, and how much time it will ultimately save me to do the research.
Now I can plan with more confidence that I will be travelling as cost effectively as possible. Thank you!
Alexx Hayward says
Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad it’s useful! I hope you have the best trip!