Europe Train Passes

Mastering Eurail Seat Reservations: A Comprehensive Guide

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You already know that the Eurail passes are possibly the best way to explore Europe. Not only can you relax, unwind and watch the beautiful countryside go by, but you have the freedom to hop on and off trains at any station you like! However, navigating the Eurail system can be daunting, especially when it comes to seat reservations. But worry not. I’ve done this a few times, and I am here to go into the nitty gritties of Eurail seat reservations, covering how to use the Eurail app, how to reserve a seat, which routes require reservations, and other essential information. You’re welcome!

Interrail Global Pass

How to reserve your seat on Eurail/Interrail

This is the linchpin in your travel planning. Mandatory for many high-speed, international, and night trains, reservations ensure your seat amidst the beauty of European rail travel. The process is streamlined through the Eurail website or app, empowering you to secure your spot with ease. We recommend you book your seats as much in advance as possible.

Step 1:

In the app, use the ‘Plan’ or ‘Find Train’ feature to search for the train journey you wish to reserve. Enter your departure and arrival stations, along with your desired travel date and time.

Step 2:

Once you’ve found your desired journey, check if the train requires a reservation. The app will indicate this with a symbol or note. Not all trains require reservations, but high-speed, international, and night trains often do.

Step 3:

For trains requiring reservations, select the option to ‘Book Reservation’. If you’re planning to travel on a train that doesn't mandate reservations but you prefer to reserve a seat (for peace of mind or specific seating preferences), look for an option to make an optional reservation.

Step 4:

Follow the prompts to enter the necessary details for the reservation. This typically includes the passenger name(s), pass number, and seating preferences (if available).

Step 5:

Reservations come with an additional fee, separate from your Eurail/Interrail Pass. You’ll be prompted to enter payment information to cover this cost. Complete the transaction through the app’s secure payment gateway.

Step 6:

After payment, you should receive a confirmation of your reservation. Depending on the train operator, you might receive a digital reservation (which can be saved to your phone or within the app) or instructions for picking up a physical ticket at the station. Make sure to add your reserved journey to ‘My Trip’ in the app, so you can keep track of all your planned journeys and reservations in one place.

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Routes Requiring Seat Reservations

Eurail Global Pass

Not all Eurail journeys necessitate seat reservations, but some popular and high-speed routes do. These are the routes where reservations are usually required:

  • High-speed trains like TGV (France), AVE (Spain), and Eurostar (connecting the UK and mainland Europe).
  • TMajor scenic routes like the Glacier Express (Switzerland), Bernina Express (Switzerland), and West Highland Line (Scotland).
  • Trains during peak seasons and holidays.

Train services you can use with a Eurail Pass

Train Services Supporting Eurail Pass With the Eurail Pass, you'll unlock a vast transportation network spanning 33 countries. It covers national railways, private rail services, and iconic journeys like the Eurostar and Glacier Express. You can even hop on night trains like the Nightjet or choose select buses and ferries (with possible additional costs). Explore Europe your way! Explore more about Eurail Pass countries on our in-depth country guide!

What Trains Can I Use the Eurail Pass On?

The Eurail Pass is accepted on a vast array of trains across Europe:

  • High-Speed Railways: Zip across Europe on trains like France's TGV, Germany's ICE, Italy's Frecciarossa and Italo, and Spain's AVE.
  • Regional and InterCity Connections: Connect with smaller towns and cities, immersing yourself in local experiences.
  • Scenic Rail Journeys: For something relaxing yet rewarding, you have to get onto Switzerland's Glacier Express or the Bernina Express.
  • Overnight Train Adventures: Opt for Nightjet and journey across countries while you sleep comfortably on the train. This also means saving a lot of money on hotels!
Eurail Global Pass

FAQs about the Eurail Pass

Where can I buy a Eurail Pass?

You can purchase a Eurail Pass online right here on Headout. Make sure to buy your pass before you start your trip, as they are generally not available for purchase within Europe.

Can I get a refund if my travel plans change?

Unused Eurail Passes have a validity of up to 11 months. So rather than cancel, which usually involves a fee, just use it at a later date!

Are there discounts available for groups, youth, or seniors?

Yes, Eurail offers discounts for different groups of travelers. Youth passes (for individuals under 27) are typically cheaper than adult passes. There are also discounts for groups of 2 to 5 people traveling together with the Saver Pass, and some discounts for seniors aged 60 and above.

Can I buy the Eurail Pass after arriving in Europe?

Ideally, get your Eurail Pass before arriving in Europe. They are available in select countries but at a higher price. 

How far in advance can I activate my Eurail Pass?

You can activate your Eurail Pass up to 11 months after the purchase date. The activation needs to be done before you start using it for travel though. 

Can I travel on any train with my Eurail Pass?

While the Eurail Pass is valid on most trains operated by the national railway companies in the countries covered, some private railway lines, high-speed trains, and night trains require an additional reservation and/or fee.

Do I need to carry my passport along with the Eurail Pass?

Yes, you must have your passport with you when traveling with a Eurail Pass. Train conductors may check it along with your pass. This is not only for identification, but as a non-Europe resident, you may need to clear immigration across some borders. 

How do I make seat reservations with my Eurail Pass?

Seat reservations can be made online through the Eurail Reservation Service, at train stations, or sometimes through the railway company's website. It’s best to make reservations as early as possible, especially during peak travel seasons.

What's the difference between a 1st class and 2nd class Eurail Pass?

First-class passes offer more spacious seating and are generally less crowded than second class. Some additional amenities might be available in first class, such as power outlets and complimentary food and beverages on certain trains. Plus, lounge access at train stations. 

Can I use the Eurail Pass for city transportation (buses/trams)?

The Eurail Pass is primarily for train travel and does not include most local city transportation like buses and trams. However, some local and regional trains might be included.

Is there a limit to how much I can travel in one day with the Eurail Pass?

There's no limit to the distance you can travel in a single day with a Eurail Pass. You can take as many trains as you like on each day of travel.

Are there any benefits or discounts with the Eurail Pass besides train travel?

Yes, Eurail Pass holders often get discounts on ferries, buses, hotels, and attractions. Check the Eurail website or guide for details on additional benefits.

Eurail Seat Reservations