Are Eurail Select Passes generally a good value?
The Select Pass is often a great value, offering maximum customization for travelers on a multi-country trip. Choose three, four, or five of the countries connected by a direct line in the diagram at right. The Select Pass does not cover Great Britain, Poland, or (up until April 1, 2014) France. Some countries are grouped to count as one country for the sake of this pass: "Benelux" (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), Croatia/Slovenia, and Serbia/Montenegro.
A few multi-country passes for certain regions work out to be even cheaper — see below for details.
Breaking news: Starting April 1, 2014, the Select Pass will only be available as a four-country pass. On the upside, after that date you'll be able to include France as one of those four countries. So if a pass that included France plus just three other countries would fit your trip (and you're not leaving home before mid-April), it makes sense to wait until April 1 to order your pass, especially if you otherwise would be paying for a separate France pass or for a more expensive Eurail Global Pass. But if you're planning to buy a three- or five-country Select Pass, be sure to do so before 5 p.m. ET on March 31.
How do I see whether a Select Pass makes sense for my trip in particular?
Use these maps 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. 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
- Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
You can get a pass for three, four, or five countries, for either 5, 6, 8, or 10 travel days within a two-month window. The five-country Select Pass also has a 15-day option (also within a two-month window).
Note: The three- and five-country versions of this pass are only available through 5 p.m. Eastern time on March 31, 2014.
- European East Pass: This four-country pass is much cheaper than a four-country Select pass; it covers train travel in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia (albeit within a one-month window, whereas the Select Pass allows a two-month window).
- Scandinavia Eurail Pass: This four-country pass is cheaper than a four-country Select Pass; it covers train travel in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden (albeit in second class, whereas the Select Pass isn't available in second class to anyone 26 or older — but second class on Scandinavian trains is as comfortable as first class on southern European trains).
- Eurail Global Pass: The per-day price difference between a five-country Select Pass and a 24-country Global Pass is about $5 per day. If you expect to cover lots of ground and want to keep your options open, you may prefer the full-blown Global Pass.
- Two-country passes: If you're traveling in three countries but only doing very limited train travel in the third country, you may save money by buying a two-country pass (if there exists a two-country pass for your two main train-travel countries), then simply buying a point-to-point ticket for the stretch of travel within your third country — check these maps to see what you'd pay for that extra stretch.
What does the Select Pass cover?
While the Select Pass covers the full cost of your ticket on the overwhelming majority of trains in your selected countries, plus a range of non-train "bonuses," it's important to know what's not covered:
- Accommodations on overnight trains
- Seat-reservation fees (required on certain trains)
- A few privately operated routes (listed on each country's page — see sidebar)
If you're not leaving before mid-April this year, wait until April 1 to buy your pass. If you're leaving before then, you may want to consider getting a Eurail Global Pass (which already covers France), or one of these passes in addition to (or instead of) the Select Pass.
To connect Italy and Spain without a rail pass that covers France, you can either buy a separate point-to-point train ticket (roughly $100 in second class), take a ferry (a Select Pass gets you a 20 percent discount on Grimaldi Lines ferries), or fly.
What if I wind up on a train traveling through a country not covered by my pass?
If your train crosses through a country not covered by your rail pass, you must buy a separate train ticket for that stretch (even if you have no plans of getting off the train in that country). Get your ticket before boarding, to avoid the extra fee (or possibly a heavier fine) for purchasing the ticket on board. Online train schedules show the route of each train, including connection points and stops on the way. Examples of routes to consider:
- Paris–Italy trains: Not only is train travel within France (currently) not covered by the Select Pass, but point-to-point tickets for both daytime and overnight trains on this popular route can sell out quickly — book as soon as possible.
- Munich–Venice: If Austria isn't included on your rail pass, it costs about $25 extra to cross through Austria on this route (in second class; about $40 in first class), making it worthwhile to add Austria to your Select Pass.
- Budapest–Prague: If Slovakia isn't included on your rail pass, it costs about $30 extra to get a point-to-point ticket to cross through Slovakia on this route (in second class).
- Between Greece or Turkey and...anywhere: Greece isn't currently connected by train to any neighboring country. Turkey is connected by train to Bulgaria, but service is sparse. Flying is the best way to reach Athens, Thessaloniki, or Istanbul from any major city in Europe. Ferries also connect Greece to Italy and Turkey. Within Greece and Turkey, buses are generally your best option for getting around (but they aren't covered by rail passes).