Rail Europe Review | Ultimate Guide to Booking Train Travel in Europe

Rail Europe is a one-stop-shop for train travel in Europe. With access to over 11,000 destinations across 33 countries, the booking website makes traveling by train – and buying your train tickets in Europe – easy and convenient.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first timer, this Rail Europe review will explain everything you need to plan and book your perfect European train adventure using the online booking platform.

This Rail Europe review includes our personal experience booking train travel through the online platform and answers all your questions about the website and train travel in Europe.

a train at a platform inside a train station in Europe
Booking train travel in Europe can be confusing for first-time visitors, but this Rail Europe review explains how to book your train tickets online.

What is Rail Europe?

Rail Europe is a website that specializes in selling train tickets and rail passes for travel in Europe. For those wondering “Is Rail Europe a legitimate website?”, the short answer is yes! It is not only legit, but also very reputable and widely used by visitors to Europe who want to book train travel in advance.

They offer a wide range of options for train travel, including high-speed trains, scenic routes, and regional trains. Plus, they have partnerships with a number of European railway companies, which is convenient if backpacking Europe or traveling to multiple countries in a single trip which are all serviced by different rail companies. 


Our experience using Rail Europe

our family and the authors of this Rail Europe review taking a photo in a train station in Europe.
Our family about to board a train in Europe which we booked through Rail Europe.

We have used Rail Europe to book individual train tickets as well as to buy the Eurail pass, which lets you hop on and off trains in participating countries without having to buy individual tickets for each trip.

With the Eurail Pass you can choose from a variety of options that allow for different amounts of travel days within a certain time period, so you can customize your pass purchase to fit your needs.

The website itself is easy to use and lets you search for different train times and choose which route, departure time, and price is best for you. 

The first time we purchased a Eurail Pass it took some getting used to. It wasn’t as seamless as just arriving and hopping on any train at any time because some of the most popular routes require reserved seating.

Ultimately, we have used Rail Europe on multiple Europe trips and have found the website and the Eurail Pass convenient and ideal for our Europe trips. 

About Train Travel in Europe – Everything you need to know

a train station in europe
The rail lines look like this in just about every European city.

Traveling by train in Europe is an experience that will wow most travelers from the United States. European trains typically have large, comfortable seats and can conveniently take you from the heart of any major city to just about anywhere. 

From high-speed trains that can get you from one city to another in a matter of hours, to scenic routes that wind through mountains and along coastlines, trains in Europe are one of the best ways to travel around the continent. 

In fact, while there are a few reasons you might opt for a road trip through Europe, for the most part, train travel in Europe is less expensive and less stressful than driving or flying.

As you’ll find in this Rail Europe review, when it comes to booking train travel, Rail Europe offers a wealth of information, including timetables, fares, and routes. You can also find helpful tips on everything from packing to navigating train stations.

How to Book Train Tickets in Europe

Booking train tickets in Europe can initially feel daunting, especially if you live in a part of the world where train travel isn’t the norm. I’ll admit the first time we went to Europe I was intimidated by the train stations and the booking process. Luckily, Rail Europe makes it fairly easy and stress-free. 

The user-friendly website allows you to search for and book train tickets from the comfort of your own home or hotel, and helps you plan your route and Europe train itinerary. Rail Europe also offers different ticket types, including point-to-point tickets and rail passes, so you can find the best option for your travel needs.

On the home page, it is as easy as typing in your departure and arrive train stations, date and time you and you want to travel, and the number of passengers traveling, and the website finds all the options for your trip and lists the price, travel time, and number of station changes for each.

You can also search for rail passes on the homepage, specifying whether you’ll be traveling in a single country or multiple countries.

First Class vs. Second Class

our meal in a first class train car from Edinburgh to London
Our meal, which was included with our first-class train ticket from Edinburgh to London.

When booking train tickets in Europe, you’ll have the option of traveling in first class or second class – which you can specify when booking through Rail Europe. 

First class offers more spacious seats, and occasionally complimentary food and drinks. It tends to be more quiet and less crowded than the alternative option.

Second class is more budget-friendly but still offers comfortable seating. Most trains, regardless of class, offer access to amenities like Wi-Fi and snack bars or bistro carts.

Navigating Train Stations in Europe

A train and the sign showing the platform, train station it is going to and train number
The digital boards at each platform list the platform (7A) the departure time (11:02) the train number (Tagnr 486) and the final destination (Helsingborg Goteborg)

Train stations in Europe can be busy and overwhelming. While this article is mainly a Rail Europe review, we also want to provide all the information you need regarding train travel in Europe to make the entire process less overwhelming and to make planning your trip easier.

Navigating train stations is similar to navigating airports. At airports you have different terminals, gates, and flight numbers. At train stations in Europe, you have train platforms and train numbers for the various routes. You have the same type of departure boards similar to airports letting you know when each route is expected to depart from where.

Usually at each platform, there will be another digital sign listing the platform number, train number, final destination for the route, and departure time. 

And speaking of departures, train schedules in Europe are typically very reliable. With the exception of Belgium, where the trains seemed to be running behind while we were there, we found the trains in Europe left almost on the exact minute that they were scheduled.

What to expect onboard a train in Europe

sitting in a first class train cabin reading
Train travel in Europe is much more comfortable than air travel.

Onboard a train in Europe, you can expect comfortable seating, as previously mentioned, as well as ample legroom, and large windows for enjoying the passing scenery. 

Depending on the class of travel, route, and the train company operating your rail service, you may also have access to amenities like Wi-Fi, power outlets, and food and drinks.

There are restrooms on board every train, typically located between two train cars. The restrooms are larger than airplane lavatories but are similar in that the water is non-potable and not suitable for consumption. 

Where to put your luggage on European trains

Ann empty second class train car in Europe with space for luggage storage overhead
Most trains have luggage racks above the seats for smaller carry-on bags, and one rack per cart for larger luggage.

Finding space for your luggage on European trains can be a challenge if you are traveling with large or oversized bags. Most trains have luggage racks at the end of each car where you can store large suitcases.

For smaller suitcases, most trains have overhead compartments. But be sure to pack light for the best experience. We typically use a large backpack for Europe travel, which works great for us as we prefer to travel carry-on only. 

Traveling between countries by train in Europe 

standing in a security line to board a train from Belgium to the United Kingdom
Standing in the security line to board the Eurostar train from Belgium to the United Kingdom.

Traveling between countries by train in Europe is a popular option for travelers, and Rail Europe can help you plan your journey.

With high-speed trains and overnight options, you can easily travel from one country to another – and book it online before your trip. Rail Europe can also provide information on border crossings and passport requirements.

When traveling within the European Union from one country to another, you typically don’t have to present a passport. In fact, the process is typically as easy as crossing a state border in the USA. 

It’s important to note though, that if you are traveling from mainland Europe to the United Kingdom by train, you will now need to go through passport control as the UK is no longer part of the EU

So, while you can typically arrive at the train station about 10-15 minutes before your departure, if you are traveling to London, you will want to get there a couple hours in advance to go through security, have your luggage scanned and passport checked, just like you do in an airport before an international flight.

Individual Train Tickets Vs. A Rail Pass

View from the train platform on one of the more scenic train routes that we took in Norway.
One of the more scenic train routes that we took in Norway.

When planning your train travel in Europe, you’ll have the option of purchasing individual train tickets or a rail pass. Individual tickets are great for short trips or if you plan on traveling to only one or two destinations. 

Rail passes, on the other hand, are ideal for longer trips and offer unlimited travel within a specific region or country.  

The Eurail Pass is a rail pass for tourists, non-resident, and travelers to Europe. It is an excellent option for getting around and exploring multiple places or countries. You can buy a Eurail Pass that covers the number of days you plan to travel and hop on and off trains at your convenience. 

You can book the Eurail Pass directly on Rail Europe and compare prices of the pass to booking individual tickets, to help you decide which option is best for your travel plans.

FAQs about Booking Train Travel in Europe

Booking rail travel in Europe can be a stressful and confusing process, particularly for first-time visitors from the United States, where passenger trains are not commonplace.

It’s natural to have a few questions when booking your rail travel in Europe. So, we wanted to include some of the most frequently asked questions we have received in our Rail Europe review.

Is it better to take the train or fly in Europe?

Mother and daughter sitting on a train with a large window showing the scenery
Enjoying our cozy train seats while traveling from Austria to Germany.

Whether it is better to take the train or fly in Europe depends on your travel itinerary, time constraints, budget, and personal preferences. 

If you are traveling long distances, flying is usually faster and more convenient than taking the train. For example, it may take several hours to travel from Paris to Rome by train, whereas a flight takes just a couple of hours. But for some long journeys, you can take an overnight sleeper train. If you prefer to travel a long distance by train, sleeper trains let you go to sleep in one country and wake up in another.

Budget is another thing to consider when determining whether to fly or take the train in Europe. Generally, taking the train is less expensive than flying, especially if you book in advance. 

Comfort and convenience are perhaps the things we consider the most. For us, the comfort of train travel is worth a slightly longer travel time. Flying is more stressful and uncomfortable, especially if traveling with kids.

Is it better to drive or take the train in Europe?

hanging out the door of a Thalys train stopped at the platform in the Netherlands
While trains can take you to much of Europe, some smaller villages aren’t easily accessible by rail.

Driving is another option for traveling across Europe. And while Europe is well-connected by rail service, there are still some places and adorable small towns in Europe, like Giethoorn, Netherlands or the quaint fishing villages along Sweden’s west coast, that are not accessible by rail.

Trains are designed for long-distance travel and can cover large distances in a relatively short time, so they are often faster than driving.

In addition, trains provide an opportunity to relax, read a book, or enjoy the scenery while traveling. Generally, taking the train is less expensive than driving, especially if you are traveling long distances, through multiple countries, or dropping a rental car off in a different destination than where you picked it up. 

Finally, if you plan to drive in Europe, it’s important to be aware of the different driving regulations and road signs. In addition, some cities have restricted driving zones or require special permits to drive, so it’s important to research your destination beforehand. 

Is the Eurail pass worth it?

a train in a station in eastern europe

The Eurail pass can be a good value if you plan to travel extensively within Europe, visiting multiple countries or cities. However, if you have a more limited travel itinerary, such as staying in one country or city, or only making a few shorter trips, it may not be worth the cost.

On Rail Europe’s website, you can choose different Eurail passes that suit your travel needs – from a few days or a few rail trips to months long passes. In fact, you can enter your route when purchasing the pass, and it will let you know if you need to reserve seats in advance. 

Your Eurail pass is stored on your phone using the Rail Planner app, which can be used each time you travel by train. You’ll just scan your pass on your phone entering and exiting the train station or show your pass to the train operators who will often come by on longer train rides to verify travelers have train tickets.

Rail Europe Review Conclusion

Overall, Rail Europe is an excellent resource for anyone planning to travel by train in Europe. With their extensive network and convenient website, Rail Europe makes it easy to plan and book your individual European train adventure.


Have a question that this Rail Europe review did not answer? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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