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abcolls Aug 17th, 2014 02:17 AM

Europe in 20 days with Eurail select pass?
My partner and I are travelling to Europe next May/June of 2015. We have looked into the 'Eurail Select Pass' allowing the choice of 4 bordering countries. We would be using this to travel from Paris to Rome, Rome to Venice, Venice to Innsbruck (Austria) and either Berlin or Munich (undecided). We would only be travelling for 20 days. I know this is a lot to fit in but we are from far away New Zealand and don't know when we'll be back! (we may also do a week in London either side of this).

The reason we like the sound of travelling by train is it seems you get to see more of the countryside, it is faster and there's more room to have a stretch and walk around a little.
Is this true?
Should we use Eurail? Does it suit a short trip?
Are there better ways to get around Europe
Is it 'value for money'?
What are the down sides?

We want to be fairly planned in our travels (its our first time in Europe) so if there is alternative ways of getting round efficiently, can it be booked well in advance? We are travelling in peak season so we will need to book accommodation pretty early I assume?

Here's our itinerary in days

1 ARRIVE: Paris
2 -4 (3 day)

5 TRAVEL: Rome
6 -8 (3 days)

9 TRAVEL: Venice
10-11 (2 days)

12 TRAVEL: Innsbruck (Austria)
13-14 (2 days)

15 TRAVEL: Munich OR Berlin
16-18 (3 days)

19 TRAVEL: Paris
20 DEPART: Home

adrienne Aug 17th, 2014 04:50 AM

There is no reason to return to Paris for your flight home. Best to start in Paris and end in Rome. You'll waste time and money getting back to Paris.

Have you done any investigation on train duration or pricing? The Paris to Rome trip is 11+ hours. The night train takes you through Munich so it would make sense to change the order of your trip to Paris, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Rome.

Before buying a Eurail pass, check pricing on point to point tickets. Use the following web sites and put in fictitious dates 60 to 90 days from now to get approximate pricing.

For a great overview on European trains:

For trains to and from Germany and the easiest site to use for train schedules:

Christina Aug 17th, 2014 05:01 AM

I don't know what you mean when you say "should we use Eurail"? DO you mean should you buy a Eurailpass? It's hard for me to know based on your schedule, those passes are usually very expensive but for several long trips in a short period could make sense. You do know Eurail is just a marketing name for that pass, don't you? There is no railroad called "Eurail", if that's what you mean (if should you use the railroads is the question).

I like traveling by train for short distances, of course, and with high speed rail, you can do a lot. I don't use it for very long distances, I fly on budget airlines like Easyjet. I don't want to spend a full day on a train and would never take one overnight, that's not for me. I don't have that much vacation time to waste it like that and I don't like sleeping on trains. If time is not object, it makes more sense. Budget airfares can be as cheap or cheaper than train fares nowadays.

For example, in a couple months I need to get from southern Spain to Paris and I'm flying by Easyjet, not taking the train. The flight is only about 45 euro and takes 2:45 hrs. The train would take many more hours and probably would cost more.

I also would never take the train between Paris and Rome. Easyjet also flies Paris to Rome in only 2 hrs and it costs about 50 euro. Sure, there can be increased time at an airport in some cases (in smaller cities that isn't as big a problem as the airport isn't that far out), but the savings in time is huge to me. The train from Paris to Rome takes about 11 hours at a minimum and you have to change at least once. Ugh, I have zero desire to spend 10 hours on a train when I'm on vacation (but you might). The overnight trains take even longer, which they kind of have to do or you'd arrive at a weird time. There is one that leaves Paris about 8 pm and arrives in Rome about 10 am, for example, and of course, you have to change trains in Milan at the crack of dawn.

I think that only makes sense if you plan to stop at several cities or towns along the way, not as a good way to get long distances. That could make sense. Your itinerary makes no sense in arriving in Paris and going back to it at the end of the trip solely to fly home. It wastes time and money. You should fly home from Germany.

Sometimes you can see the countryside by rail and it is pleasant, sometimes it is nothing special in terms of views. Those passes can be a problem in that you have to make reservations on many trains, which is a nuisance more than the extra cost (but the cost can add up on some type of trains). And some trains limit the seats to railpassholders, so you can't just get on any train you want (they do in France, I know). The cheapest Selectpass is about 350 euro if you always travel together, and then you only get 5 days of travel. So it might not work if you plan to stop off at various places along these trips. If you only use it for major trips, it would work. I don't know the price of your four major trips, but that's an average of about 90 euro per trip, which isn't horrible but not great, either. It may cost you more than just buying those individual tickets. Innsbruck to Munich is only a couple hours and can cost only 35-40 euro with a regular ticket. Rome to Venice is only about a 4 hour trip and you can buy a single ticket for that trip for only 20-30 euro, also. Venice to Innsbruck is about a 5 hour trip and you can buy that ticket for only 40-60 euro. The Paris to Rome trip can cost about 80-120 euro. The cheaper prices I've quoted involve discounts and preplanning and buying tickets in advance and no changes or exchanges. The longest trip is the main one that affects.

In short, your pass isn't a good value, it appears to me, if you plan and buy tickets on your own. If you want to plan at the last minute, it might be about breaking even. When you ask if traveling by train is quicker, quicker than what? There really is no alternative other than flying. I think it is fine for your trips except maybe the Paris Rome leg, for shorter trips there isn't any other option as to how to travel (there can be buses within countries, though, these can be good in Spain, and sme between Germany and Czech Republic, for example). I doubt if that is a great option for any of your trips, and there are rail lines.

There is some website that helps you figure out if your cost makes sense, but I don't recall it, maybe someone else will.

nytraveler Aug 17th, 2014 05:40 AM

Eurail is not a train line. It is just a company that resells tickets provided by the individual train companies.

Before you know if a pass makes sense you have to finalize you itinerary and look at the cost of individual tickets - bought in advance at deep discount prices (but they you must commit to specific trains about 90 days out).

kybourbon Aug 17th, 2014 05:56 AM

>>> The overnight trains take even longer, which they kind of have to do or you'd arrive at a weird time. There is one that leaves Paris about 8 pm and arrives in Rome about 10 am, for example, and of course, you have to change trains in Milan at the crack of dawn.<<<

The overnight train between Paris/Italy (Thello) is not included in the pass either.

For your itinerary, I really doubt a pass could be cost effective. Trips crossing country borders usually require some kind of supplement payment which can be high at times (depends on country). All but the slowest trains in Italy require seat reservations (10€ each) that passes don't include.

You should book flights into one city and home from another (use the multi-city function when searching flights, not two one-ways) to save backtracking.

Easy Jet between Paris Orly and Rome. Book a train ticket (it's far too early now) between Rome/Venice on Trenitalia or Italo. Train to Innsbruck (I would drop Innsbruck), train to Munich.

You don't have as much time as you think. Two nights somewhere only gives you one sightseeing day.

mamcalice Aug 17th, 2014 06:16 AM

I like Adrienne's idea of flying into Paris and out of Rome. It will likely cost no more and you will save time and money on returning to Paris. Also, your train trips between destinations will be shorter. I, too, would skip Innsbruck. That will give you an extra day in Paris and Rome which you really need.

Sue_xx_yy Aug 17th, 2014 06:55 AM

As others have pointed out, buy an open jaw (into one city, out of another) air ticket.
Use for rail schedules.

1st leg. Paris (4 nights) to Beaune, 1 night (France is a big country, give yourself a little time to see it.)About 3.5 hours.

2nd leg. Beaune to Interlaken (3 nights, subtotal 8 nights) in Switzerland - about 4 hours, and thence Lauterbrunnen in just another 20 minutes, a great hiking base, beautiful scenery

3rd leg. Lauterbrunnen to Milan Italy (lovely scenery en route)about 5 hours. 2 nights (subtotal 10)

4th leg. Milan to Venice 2.5 hours 3 nights subtotal 13

5th leg. Venice to Rome 3.5 hours 4 nights subtotal 17

If you're determined to see Munich, fly there from Rome (6th leg) for 3 nights subtotal 20.

I'd buy the tickets as I went, or on arrival in Paris, because you have to make seat reservations for most of the fast trains anyway.

Mimar Aug 17th, 2014 09:23 AM

As others have said, you can save a lot by buying train tickets ahead of time. And you don't seem loath to having a fixed itinerary. When you buy such a ticket, it includes a seat reservation. Whereas in France and Italy (and Spain), with a Eurail pass you need to also buy a seat reservation for the faster trains. And, in France, the fastest trains have a limited number of seat reservations for pass holders.

Sassafrass Aug 17th, 2014 09:30 AM

When looking to book your tickets, do not look at one-way tickets. Click the "multi-city" search button. We often call it open jaw, but that is not how it is named on the search web sites.

Too costly and time consuming to return to Paris. Begin in Paris, end in Rome, fit other cities in between.

Mimar Aug 18th, 2014 08:41 AM

Sassafras is talking about plane tickets.

Sassafrass Aug 18th, 2014 08:48 AM

Right, Mimar. Thanks for clarifying.

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