By Rick Steves
Are rail passes a good value for the Balkans?
Since point-to-point train tickets are cheap in this region, a rail pass isn't likely to save you much money. If a rail pass happens to match the countries you plan to visit, it can be worth considering — but read ahead before getting this pass, as your guidebook may recommend travel by bus instead of train for many of your destinations.
How do I see whether a rail pass makes sense for my trip in particular?
Use this map to add up approximate pay-as-you-go fares for your itinerary, and compare that cost to the price of a rail pass for the number of days you expect to spend on the train. Dotted lines show ferry routes and dashed lines (Split–Dubrovnik) show bus routes, neither of which are covered by rail passes. Also, follow the links below for:
- More tips for figuring out whether a pass makes sense for your trip
- The basics on choosing among rail passes
- More tips on how to save money by fine-tuning your rail pass
- Advice on deciding between first and second class
- Fare-estimate maps outside the Balkans
- Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Choose one of the passes below to check prices and to buy your pass (orders are fulfilled by Rail Europe).
Do I need to make seat reservations on trains in the Balkans?
InterCity (IC), and InterCity Express (ICE) trains require extra supplements for required seat reservations, which can be made locally. Otherwise, you can hop on most other trains in this region with just your rail pass in hand, though overnight trains, and some international routes, do also require reservations (as indicated in online train schedules).
If a rail pass doesn't pencil out for your trip, see our general tips for buying point-to-point tickets.
Balkans Rail Passes: Key Details
Balkan Flexipass: Covers trains in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. Available for 5, 10, or 15 days of train travel within a one-month window. Only available in first class, even to travelers under 26. On just this pass, the half-price deal for kids extends for those up to age 12.
Hungary–Romania Eurail Pass: Separate, single-country rail passes are cheaper for most trips in Hungary and Romania, even though you use a day of each pass when crossing the border. The main benefit of this two-country pass is the ability to spread travel over a two-month period (which the single-country Hungary Eurail Pass doesn't allow). Second-class passes can only be used by travelers under 26; travelers age 26 or older must buy a first-class pass.
Eurail Select Pass and Eurail Global Pass: Second-class passes can only be used by travelers under 26; travelers age 26 or older must buy a first-class pass.