Balkans Rail Passes and Train Tips

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?

Train Fares: Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro & Serbia

Map shows approximate costs, in $US, for one-way, second-class tickets. For first-class fares, add 50 percent.

Train Fares: Bulgaria & Romania

Map shows approximate costs, in $US, for one-way, second-class tickets. For first-class fares, add 50 percent.

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. Dotted lines show ferry routes and dashed lines (such as Split–Dubrovnik) show bus routes, neither of which are covered by rail passes.

The countries grouped on these fare maps don't reflect how they're grouped for the sake of rail pass coverage. For instance, Eurail Select Passes count Slovenia/Croatia as one "country"; same goes for Serbia/Montenegro. The Balkan Flexipass covers eight countries (including Macedonia, not shown on any of the maps on this page).

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

What are my options for rail passes that cover the Balkan countries?

Choose one of the passes below to check prices and to buy your pass (orders are fulfilled by Rail Europe).

Bulgaria Eurail Passkey details

Romania Eurail Passkey details

Serbia Eurail Passkey details

Turkey Eurail Passkey details and fare map

Balkan Flexipasskey details

2-Country Eurail Select Passread more about Select Passes

3-Country Eurail Select Pass

4-Country Eurail Select Pass

Eurail Global Pass (28 countries) → read more about this pass

Rail shopping cart: Have an order underway? Review and complete it here.

Extra tip: If you're considering a two-country Hungary–Romania or Bulgaria–Romania Select Pass, note that separate, single-country rail passes can be a little cheaper (though you use a day of each pass when crossing the border). The main benefit of these two-country passes is the ability to spread travel over a two-month period.

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).

Any tips for buying point-to-point train tickets in this region?

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

Single-country Bulgaria Eurail Pass: Valid for just one month, not two, after you've activated the pass.

Single-country Romania Eurail Pass: Valid for just one month, not two, after you've activated the pass.

Single-country Serbia Eurail Pass: Valid for just one month, not two, after you've activated the pass.

 

Train & Bus Fares: Turkey

Map shows approximate costs, in $US, for one-way, second-class tickets. For first-class fares, add 50 percent.

Single-country Turkey Eurail Pass: Valid for just one month, not two, after you've activated the pass.

 

 

Balkan Flexipass: Covers trains in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. Second-class passes can only be used by travelers under 26. Note: This is not a Eurail-brand pass, so special Eurail promotional deals don't apply to this pass.