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  • Writer's pictureGuidemyvoyage

Europe by Trains (Ultimate Guide for Budget Travel)

Updated: Aug 6, 2022


When it comes to train travel, Europe has ultimate legacy of greatest train routes and connectivity. Also, most scenic train journeys in the world are found in Europe. Some of the unique train routes in Europe are also UNESCO World heritage sites.

In Europe, there are different types of trains that offers different experience (e.g. Fast trains or high speed trains which connects cities and countries, slow trains, Mountain excursion trains, special trains such as Bernina express, glacier express etc.) Based on the routes and countries you are travelling; you will find different types of trains.

Travelling by trains in Europe is costly. Sometimes, trains costs more than flights if demand of booking increased. If you love trains and if you are on budget, then this guide is for you. This guide will give you an idea on how to book trains in cheaper price while travelling Europe by trains.


1. Always book tickets from official trusted sites or Apps.



There are different operators for train services in Europe. Every Country in Europe has their own train operating Companies and ticket booking platforms. Refer following country wise official train ticket booking sites. Always book tickets from the trusted or official platforms offered by train operators provided in the list below. Alternatively, if you are already in Europe, then you can also buy train tickets of that country at ticket booking counters available at train stations.

If you want to travel across the countries, then you can book ticket with any of the train operator (either originating or destination country). However, always see the prices on both the sites to verify the cheapest price.


Austria: www.oebb.at

Bulgaria: www.bdz.bg/en

Czech Rep.: www.cd.cz

Croatia: www.hzpp.hr

Denmark: www.dsb.dk

Finland: www.vr.fi

Germany: www.bahn.de

Luxembourg: www.cfl.lu

Norway: www.vy.no

Portugal: www.cp.pt

Slovenia: potniski.sz.si

Slovakia: www.zssk.sk

Switzerland: www.sbb.ch

Sweden: www.sj.se


2.Book Ticket in Advance for High-Speed Trains.



Always book your train in advance if you are planning for long journey by high-speed trains. The train tickets get costlier as the demand increases. The booking in some cases opens at as low as 10 Euros (or even less) and starts increasing thereafter as per increase in demand. You will always get costly deal if you book your train tickets at last moment. Therefore, always book train tickets in advance. You can book your tickets as early as one year before your departure. However, to be practical, if you book your tickets 2 months before departure, 99% of times you would get budget deals.


3. Look for odd timings for high-speed trains:



The Ideal time which people prefer to travel is around 7 AM to 11 AM in the morning and 5 PM till 7PM in the evening. Therefore, the demand for travellers during this time is always higher.

Therefore, if you are on budget trip, always book trains departing at odd times (i.e. 5AM to 6.30 AM in the morning and 11.30AM to 4.30 PM in the afternoon. You will surely get tickets in cheaper price than the trains departing on rush hours.

Remember that there are also overnight long-distance fast trains that departs after 8 PM in the evening from most of the European Cities. The prices of overnight trains are usually higher if you do not book in advance.


4. Go for slow trains (Regional Trains)



If you are on a budget trip and if you are not in a hurry, then slow trains (often called as regional trains) would be great options for you.

The slow trains usually connect different regions or cities within one country in Europe. The slow trains are slow because they stop at more stations than the fast ones. In most of the countries, the prices for slow trains are fixed and usually do not change as per the demand and therefore, you can also book them in the last minute. The prices of slow trains are much cheaper than the fast ones. The problem with slow trains is that they do not usually cover the long distance, therefore, if you have long distance to cover, you may need to go for the connecting trains. The train websites always show you the available connections for your journey automatically. You only need to select the time and the destination.

How to find slow trains? It is obvious! The cheapest are usually the slower ones. You can also compare prices as well as journey time.

Another advantage for slow trains is that the tickets are usually flexible. Means, it gives you flexibility to select any train in given timeline (e.g. If you are in Italy, you can travel by any slow train departing in next four hours after selected time).


5. Select Travel Pass Wisely



If you are exploring Europe by trains then you would find many attractive Train passes in Europe such as Europe rail pass, Swiss pass, Scandinavia pass etc.

However, if you are on a budget, then you need to study the train passes wisely before purchasing any.

Generally, if you are buying rail passes for longer duration (let us say for 30 days) then for sure it is worth buying as you will end up saving money. However, if you are planning to buy train passes for shorter duration (let us say one week) then it is better to do your analysis before buying any train pass.

Let us say if you are purchasing Europe rail pass for 7 days, it will cost you around 431 Euros. Based on your itinerary, check prices of point-to-point tickets from official train booking sites for all planned trips within those 7 days and then compare the prices of Passes and amount you have reached with point-to-point tickets. Go for the cheapest option you will reach. Passes are usually good deals in summer since the train prices during summer are usually higher considering the density of tourists coming from all over the world (Check our blog for best places to visit in Europe: Ultimate Month wise Guide).

It is important to note that if you are buying Europe rail pass, then you need to pay extra money for reserving seats in high-speed trains. Therefore, do your analysis considering this factor. For slow/regional trains, the seat booking is not required.

If Switzerland is in your itinerary, then buying Swiss pass would be worth deal to travel freely within the country. It covers not only trains, but also other modes of public transports such as boats, ferries, some mountain excursions etc. Also, all Swiss scenic trains (i.e. Bernina Express, Glacier express, Gotthard Panorama, etc.) are covered under Swiss pass.

Swiss pass does not always cover mountain excursions. However, you will get 25% to 50% discount on prices of famous mountain excursions. If you are not going to use any mountain excursions, then you should do your analysis by comparing prices of point-to-point ticket with respect to price of Swiss pass to get the cheapest option. In Switzerland, seat booking for trains is not required even if it is a fast train. You can sit on any vacant seat available in your class of Swiss pass (first class or second class).


6. Consider Long High speed train Journeys on Weekdays



The high speed trains on weekends are costly due to increased demand for bookings. If you missed to book your tickets in advance and fast trains are only your options, then do not directly buy high price ticket. Try to restructure you Itinerary in such a way that you would take the same train on any weekdays instead of weekends. You will clearly see the difference in price.


7. Offers and promotions:



Always look for offer or promotions before booking any train tickets in Europe. You can check the offers directly on the booking sites. Many train sites offer seasonal discounts or offers (such as 30% discount on ticket price, 50% discount on ticket price, buy 1 ticket and travel 2). Some seasonal offers apply automatically at the payment page while purchasing your ticket.

Another trick you should not miss is Booking through Apps. Usually, if you are using any app for 1st time, you get welcome discount. The same goes with train apps. Download their apps from play store or apple store and avail their welcome discount. For example, in Italy, Trenitalia is official site for booking of trains anywhere in Italy. Instead of booking from web site, you can download Trenitalia app and avail their welcome discount on your first booking (such as 20% discount on price). Also, in Italy, there is one sub-company that operates High speed train (i.e. Italo). You can always find Italo trains on Trenitalia site or app. However, you can also download Italo app for your bookings to avail their welcome discounts for first booking from the app.


8. Ticket Booking platforms:


If you are not booking your tickets from website, then its important to know which third party platform you should use to book your tickets in order not to lose money in additional hidden charges. From Our opinion, Trainline and Omio are the most trustworthy platforms for booking your train tickets.


Trainline

Trainline books your train tickets and travel passes within seconds with same prices or sometimes even less prices than the official booking sites. You can also avail their different discounts during their promotional offers. We have personally used trainline many times for booking train tickets in Europe. Click here to book your train tickets with Trainline.


Omio

Omio is another reliable and trustworthy platform to book your tickets not only for trains, but also for flights and buses. You can also make comparison of tickets of bus, train and flight on Omio and make your booking on the platform itself. We have used Omio personally many times to make comparison and booking for trains, buses and flights. Click here to book your tickets with Omio now.


We hope that this guide will help you book cheapest trains for your Euro trip. If you like this post, then please let us know in comment section. If you need any assistance for your itinerary planning or train booking, then please let us know. We will plan a best budget trip for you. Please also check out our blog for How to find budget Hotels in Europe, Best places to visit in Europe: Ultimate month wise Guide and Explore Europe in budget: Guide for bagpackers and budget travellers.

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