Eurail and Reservation: expensive or not?
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The Eurail pass has many advantages, one of them is of course the freedom to travel by train to anywhere at anytime. At least, that could be the first impression, but this is unfortunately hardly ever the case.
There are just a few countries in Europe where you can just hop on a train and get off at any station without any worry about seat reservations, availability and so on.
Switzerland is one those countries. You can just take any train you want and outside rush hour it’s seldom busy; it’s easy to find a free seat in the spacious trains and on any route you have a nice vista (also on the the “non-scenic” routes)
It’s not all free: In Switzerland you are required to book seat reservations for the special panorama trains The Glacier Express and the Bernina Express. Actually, this is not a bad thing, in high season the trains would be overcrowded. Not so much fun if you have to stand during the 7 hour trip of the Glacier Express, even with all the sceneries outside.
Other countries where you don’t have to book seat reservations are The Netherlands and Belgium, just get on the train and go anywhere you want (domestic trains only, international trains like the Thalys require a seat reservation)
Also in Austria, Great Britain, Germany and Norway you don’t need to reserve a seat, but it’s possible to do so and recommended for long distance trains and if you travel during rush hour or on busy routes.
In Sweden you can take all trains without a seat reservation, but the two major lines requires a reservation: the high speed train X2000 that connects all major cities in Sweden as well as Oslo and Copenhagen, and the night trains, especially the one from Stockholm to Narvik, maybe the most beautiful route in Europe, and therefore often fully booked.
Other countries in Europe require seat reservations for high speed trains and often also for slower intercity trains. France, Italy and Spain have an excellent rail network, it’s easy and fast to travel through the country, but the downside is you have to book reservation for all trains which can cost quite a lot (depends on the season and time) Sometimes trains can be fully booked.
We recommend to book a early as possible, even if the trains are not open yet (often three months in advance)
You can (pre-)book all reservations with HappyRail!