Rail Pass Itinerary: NO Reservation Fees

Paris  →  Gent/Ghent  →  Amsterdam  →  Berlin  →  Prague/Praha  →  Vienna/Wien  →  Venice/Venezia  →  Florence/Firenze  →  Milan/Milano  →  Basel via Interlaken  →  Paris

OR 

Paris  →  Gent/Ghent  →  Amsterdam  →  Berlin  →  Prague/Praha  →  Vienna/Wien  →  Venice/Venezia  →  Florence/Firenze  → The Cinque Terre  →  Genoa/Genova  →  Marseille  →  Paris

WHY CHOOSE THIS TRIP OF A LIFETIME:

This suggested rail pass itinerary lives up to its title, as it EXCLUDES any train on which Eurail and InterRail Pass users have to pay reservation fees.

It shows that you don't have to pay additional charges to visit the most popular cities in Europe by train

Though avoiding the trains which do have reservation fees, means you have to take more trains than you would, if you were happy to pay those reservation fees.

So we also show when the alternative trains with compulsory reservations are an option worth considering - and what the additional costs of taking them are.
 

The need to take more trains is offset by how comparatively stress-free following this itinerary should be – you can just hop on these trains with your rail pass, once you have filled in the details of the trains you will be taking.

We’ve also squeezed in as many scenic train journeys as possible!
 

The itinerary is also a continuous loop, so you can follow this itinerary if you want your start and finish point of your entire trip to be in any of the cities, where each day concludes.
 

The required rail pass:

If you use a 10 days of travel within two months InterRail Global Pass OR a 10 days within 2 months Eurail  Global Pass you can take breaks between your days of train travel.

You can then spend some time in fabulous destinations including Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Venice or Florence.

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THE ROUTING:

Most of the journeys are clickable, so you can access more useful info about each individual train ride including:

(1) All you need to know about the stations where you will be joining and leaving the train.

(2) What to expect when on board each train, such as catering facilities and tips for how to manage your luggage.

(3) Insights for scenic journeys - what to look out for, which side of the train to sit on for the best of the views etc.

Plus if you click the station buttons on the journey guides, you will also usually* find:

(1) Lists of overnight accommodation with easy access to the station and with high user ratings;

(2) Links to destination guides to help you make the most of each location.

*Just the big cities, for now.

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Day One:

MONDAY – FRIDAY:

Train 1:
Depart: Paris Gare Du Nord at 10:31 – the train should be heading to Boulogne-Villle
Arrive: Amiens at 11:38

Train 2:
Depart: Amiens at 12:34
Arrive: Lille Flandres at 13:58

Train 3:
Depart: Lille Flandres at 14:08 – the train should be heading to Anvers
Arrive: Gent Sint-Pieters at 15:24; Gent-Dammport at 15:35

This 10 min connection in Lille is something of a gamble – if the train from Amiens arrives in Lille too late, there won’t be another train on to Gent for two hours.

Though an option is to take the pressure off of the connection by taking the time out to see something of Lille between trains.


Lille Flandres station is close by the charming city centre.


SATURDAYS:

Train 1:
Depart: Paris Gare Du Nord at 10:31– the train should be heading to Boulogne-Villle
Arrive: Amiens at 11:38

Train 2:
Depart: Amiens at 12:38
Arrive: Lille Flandres at 13:58

Train 3:
Depart: Lille Flandres at 14:03* – the train should be heading to Anvers
Arrive: Gent Sint-Pieters at 15:24; Gent-Dammport at 15:35
 

*Yes that 5 min connection is far from guaranteed, but on Saturdays, the next train on to Gent should be departing only an hour later.

SUNDAYS:

Train 1:

Depart: Paris Gare Du Nord at 09:31 – the train should be heading to Boulogne-Villle
Arrive: Amiens at 10:37

Train 2:
Depart: Amiens at 11:38
Arrive: Lille Flandres at 12:58

Train 3:

Depart: Lille Flandres at 13:08 – the train should be heading to Anvers
Arrive: Gent Sint-Pieters at 14:24; Gent-Dammport at 14:35

That 10 min connection in Lille is something of a gamble, but on Sundays you’ll have to wait less than an hour for the next train on to Gent.

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A choice of stations in Gent:
 

Regardless on which day you will be making this journey, the train from Lille will make two station calls in Gent - At St Pieters station and at Gent-Dampoort station.

So check which station in the city, is closest to where you’ll be spending a night or two.

Don’t be surprised if you have to also make an unscheduled change of train at Kortrijk, when making the journey between Lille and Gent.

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Adding Brugge to this itinerary:


Want to also visit Brugge? Spend two nights in Gent and take an easy day trip from there to Brugge by train.

The return train ticket to Brugge from Gent will cost less than €15.

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Day Two:

Train 1:
Depart: Gent Sint-Pieters at 09:27 or Gent-Dammport at 09:36
Arrive: Antwerpen-Berchem at 10:17

Train 2:

Depart: Antwerpen-Berchem at 10:39
Arrive: Amsterdam-Centraal at 12:38

You don’t have to take these suggest trains, you could leave Gent two hours later and make the same transfer at Antwerp-Berchem station.

It’s easier to make the transfer between these trains at Antwerp-Berchem station, rather than at Antwerpen-Centraal.

Though an option is to remain on the train from Gent until it arrives at the Centraal station, use the left luggage there and then explore Antwerpen between trains.

There are daily Intercity Brussels trains from Antwerpen-Centraal to Amsterdam at 17:43; 18:43 and 19:43.

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Day Three:

Depart: Amsterdam Centraal at 09:00 or 11:00
Arrive: Berlin Hbf at 15:34 or 17:34

Reservations for this journey are optional, so if you don't want to reserve, be at the station at least 20 mins before this train departs.

Do that and you can be amongst the first to board – if you don’t make reservations, sitting in the same seat for the entire journey isn't guaranteed.

For that reason, try to avoid making this journey on a Friday or Saturday.

If you do want to reserve then book the reservations online on DB, the German national railways website - more info is available here.

You'll be charged a booking fee if you book the reservations at Amsterdam Centraal station.

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Day Four:

Depart: Berlin Hbf at 09:17 or 11:19
The final destination of the train that departs at 09:17 is Budapest.

Arrive: Praha Holseovice at 13:24 or 15:24
Arrive: Praha Hl nadrazi at 13:35 or 15:35
Take this rail pass itinerary and you can avoid reservation fees

If you don’t reserve, seats aren’t guaranteed on these trains, particularly if you have a 2nd class pass - so try to avoid making this journey on a Friday or Saturday.

If possible sit on the left of the train when boarding, in order to make the most of the river valley views after Dresden.

Check the location of your where you’ll be staying in Praha/Prag, as either Holseovice OR hl. Nadrazi stations may be the most convenient for your onward travel in the city.

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Day Five:

Depart: Praha Hln at 08:51 or 10:51
Arrive: Wien Hbf at 12:49  or 14:49


Note that if you do opt to leave the train from Berlin at Holseovice station when arriving in Praha/Prague, you will need to head to this different station, hl. Nadrazi, when departing from the city.
 

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Day Six:

Depart: Wien Hbf at 06:25 or 12:25
Arrive: Venezia St Lucia at 14:05 or 20:05.

This rail pass itinerary has amazing journeys and destinations but no extra fees
The best of the views will be availalbe if you sit on the left of the train.
 

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Day Seven:

Train 1:
Depart: Venezia S.Lucia at 10:42
Arrive: Bologna Centrale at 12:40
How to travel Europe by InterRail or Eurail without paying additional fees

Train 2:
Depart: Bologna Centrale at 13:08
Arrive: Prato Centrale at 14:23

Train 3:
Depart: Prato Centrale at 14:29
Arrive: Firenze S.M. Novella at 14:50
 

This combination of trains maintains the no reservation rules for this itinerary, by avoiding the Frecce trains between Venezia/Venice and Firenze/Florence.
 

However, the Frecce train which departs Venezia S.Lucia station daily at 10:25 will get you to Firenze/Florence at 12:30.

The reservation fee for the Frecce train is €10 if you have a 1st or 2nd class pass - more info on how to book them is available here.

If you want make day trips by train from Firenze to the likes of Assisi, Sienna, Pisa or the ‘Cinque Terre’ don’t use a day of your rail pass – as none of these journeys will be particularly expensive.

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Day Eight - OPTION 1:

MONDAY-SATURDAY:

Train 1:

Depart: Firenze S.M. Novella at 09:47 – the train should be heading to Pistoia
Arrive: Prato Centrale at 10:17

Train 2:
Depart: Prato Centrale at 10:38
Arrive: Bologna Centrale at 11:50
 

An option is to leave your bags in the left luggage at Bologna Centrale and see something of this fabulous city between trains.
 

There should be direct Regionale Veloce (RV) trains on to Milano Centrale from Bologna at 15:50 and 17:50 - this also applies if the Day Eight of your itinerary will be on a Sunday.

Or to travel on to Milan/Milano as swiftly as possible take these trains.

Train 3:
Depart: Bologna Centrale at 12:33
Arrive: Piacenza at 14:10

Train 4:
Depart: Piacenza at 15:09 – direction Milano Greco Pirelli
Arrive: Milano Lambrate at 16:13
 

Lambrate station is on line M2 of the Milano Metro – the same Metro line which serves Milano Centrale.
 

SUNDAYS:
 

Train 1:
Depart: Firenze S.M. Novella at 10:10 – the train should be heading Lucca
Arrive: Prato Centrale at 10:29

Train 2:
Depart: Prato Centrale at 10:38
Arrive: Bologna Centrale at 11:50

Train 3:
Depart: Bologna Centrale at 12:33
Arrive: Piacenza at 14:10

Train 4:
Depart: Piacenza at 15:09 – direction Milano Greco Pirelli
Arrive: Milano Lambrate at 16:13

THE ALTERNATIVE:

OR take a Frecce train from Firenze to Milano.

The journey time will be around 1hr 40mins and there is at least 1 x train per hour.

The reservation fee for the Frecce train is €10 if you have a 1st or 2nd class pass - more info on how to book them is available here.

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Day Nine - OPTION 1:

Train 1:
Depart: Milano Centrale at 08:10
Arrive: Erstfeld at 11:24
The 08:10 from Milano to Erstfeld saves rail pass users money AND it's fabulous

Sit on the left of this train for the best of the views!

Train 2:
Depart: Erstfeld at 11:34 – the train will be heading to Basel SBB
Arrive: Luzern at 12:41

Sit on the right of this train to see the best of the views over Lake Zug!

Train 3:
Depart: Luzern at 13:06
Arrive: Interlaken Ost at 14:55 by the Luzern-Interlaken Express
This suggested itinerary for Eurail and InterRail Passes includes amazing journeys but no train reservation fees

Sit on the right of this train to see the best of the views as it passes four lakes

Train 4:
Depart: Interlaken Ost at 15:00 (on the ICE train heading to Frankfurt or Hamburg)
Arrive: Basel SBB at 17:08 
You can include Switzerland on a Eurail and InterRail pass itinerary and save money
Sit on the right of this train to see the fabulous over Lake Thun!

Making these connections on this day nine schedule may seem ambitious, but you'll be in Switzerland so these changes of train shouldn't be a problem.

The trains on from both Luzern and Interlaken operate hourly, so an option is to explore Lake Luzern between trains - InterRail and Eurail passes can obtain a 50% discount on the cruise boats!

The alternative schedule:

You’ve probably worked out for yourself that as the train from Erstfeld is also heading to Basel, then the suggested connections above in Luzern and Interlaken are optional.
 

We’ve included them so that you can include two more stunning journeys on your trip.
 

If you’d rather skip them, you can also avoid the early start from Milano by following this alternative schedule.

Train 1:
Depart: Milano Centrale at 16:10
Arrive: Erstfeld at 19:24

Train 2:

Depart: Erstfeld at 19:34
Arrive: Basel SBB at 21:55

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Day 10 - OPTION 1:

Basel can be an expensive city in which to spend the night, so an option which can be worth considering, is to spend the night in Olten instead.

The trains to Basel on Day 9 will all be calling there and then in the morning there are frequent trains from Olten to Basel -  and the journey won’t take more than 40 mins.

MONDAY TO FRIDAY only an option after  April 26th!


Train 1:
Depart: Basel SBB at 13:39 – the train will be heading to Strasbourg
Arrive: Mulhouse-Ville at 14:10

Train 2:
Depart: Mulhouse-Ville at 15:45 
Arrive: Paris Est at or 20:25
 

SATURDAY and SUNDAY

Train 1:
Depart: Basel SBB at 14:39 – the train will be heading to Strasbourg
Arrive: Mulhouse-Ville at 15:01

Train 2:
Depart: Mulhouse-Ville at 15:46
Arrive: Paris Est at 20:17
 

SUNDAYS ONLY

Train 1:
Depart: Basel SBB at 12: 21 –– the train will be heading to Strasbourg
Arrive: Mulhouse-Ville at 12:44

Train 2:
Depart: Mulhouse-Ville at 12:55
Arrive: Paris Est at 17:16

But note that 10 min connection in Mulhouse so this option is a risk!

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Day 8 - OPTION 2:
 

MONDAY - SATURDAY:

Train 1:
Depart: Firenze S.M. Novella at 09:53
Arrive: La Spezia Centrale at 12:20


SUNDAY

Train 1:

Depart: Firenze S.M. Novella at 09:28 - the train should be heading to Livorno
Arrive: Pisa Centrale at 10:28

Train 2:
Depart:
Pisa Centrale at 11:05
Arrive: La Spezia Centrale at 12:20

Drop your bags in the left luggage office at La Spezia Centrale - to avoid being in a long queue, try to make this trip on Monday - Thursday.

Then hop on a train heading towards Montrerosso and spend the afternoon exploring the Cinque Terre villages.
Explore the Cinque Terre on day 9 of our InterRail or Eurail pass itinerary
You can use your rail pass on any of the Regionale trains which link the five villages!

Time your exploration so that you're back in La Spezia in good time to collect your luggage, before boarding...

Train 2 or 3:

Depart: La Spezia Centrale at 17:50
Arrive: Genova Brignole at 19:15*

OR 

Depart: La Spezia Centrale at 19:45
Arrive: Genova Brignole at 21:38
 

*If you want tonow  follow the Day 9 and 10 of the Option 1 itinerary, take this train and connect in Gennova for the 19:36 train to Milano Centrale.

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Day 9 - OPTION 2:
Coasts, mountains, lakes and great cities on an InterRail or Eurail Pass itinerary with no extra fees
MONDAY – FRIDAY:

Train 1:
Depart: Genova Pizza Principe at 09:43
Arrive: Ventimiglia at 12:03

Note that you'll be departing from a different station in Genova to that which you arrived at on Day Eight.

Train 2:
Depart: Ventimiglia at 12:30 – the train should he heading to Grasse
Arrive: Nice Ville at 13:24

Train 3:
Depart: Nice Ville at 14:23
Arrive: Marseille St Charles at 17:02

Sit on the left of all these trains on this day to make the most of the sea views
 

DAILY

Train 1:
Depart: Genova Pizza Principe at 11:43
Arrive: Ventimiglia at 14:03

Train 2:
Depart: Ventimiglia at 14:29 – the train should he heading to Grasse
Arrive: Nice Ville at 15:24

Train 3:
Depart: Nice Ville at 16:23
Arrive: Marseille St Charles at 19:08


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Day 10 - OPTION 2:

Train 1:
Depart: Marseille St Charles at 11:10
Arrive: Lyon Part-Dieu at 14:40


Train 2:
Depart: Lyon Part-Dieu at 15:16
Arrive: Paris Bercy at 20:24

 

If by this stage of your trip you want to get back to Paris as quickly as possible, then book more than a month ahead and reserve a seat on a TGV train for €10.

The daily TGV that departs Marseille between 10:00 and 10:10 arrives in Paris at around 13:23!

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TOTAL TRAIN TRAVEL COST:

Because this itinerary is based on no paying additional fees, the travel cost for following this itinerary, will solely be the cost of purchasing the rail pass.

These prices are the standard prices, but both InterRail and Eurail passes are subject to fairly regular price promotions

InterRail 1st Class Adult = €534
InterRail 2nd Class Adult = €401

InterRail 1st Class Youth = €411
InterRail 2nd Class Youth = €308

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Eurail 1st Class Adult = €531
Eurail 2nd Class Adult = €399

Eurail 1st Class Youth = €409
Eurail 2nd Class Youth = €307

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Approximate cost of train tickets*

*Note that when calculating these tickets costs, we have factored in booking tickets for certain journeys by express trains, on which rail pass users would have to pay reservation fees.

That is because when booking ahead, those express trains can be a cheaper option, than taking the slower regional trains which we have included on the itinerary.
Therefore not taking such trains when booking tickets, would be an illogical false economy.

VIA MILAN and BASEL (option 1):

At the cheapest possible price:
1st class = €637
2nd class = €397

When only booking a few days ahead:
1st class = €922
2nd class = €591

Note that because this routing includes multiple journeys in Switzerland, using a rail pass to see these destinations can be good value for money, even when compared against the cost of obtaining the cheapest possible tickets.

VIA GENOVA and MARSEILLE (option 2):

Not including the cost of exploring the Cinque Terre by train

At the cheapest possible price:
1st class = €453
2nd class = €292

When only booking a few days ahead:
1st class = €793
2nd class = €661

If you're happy to book discounted tickets, around 3 months ahead (on specific trains, most of which you won't be able to refund if you subsequently want or need to change your travel plans) - you'll save money compared to the cost of using a pass.

Even if:

on day 1 you travel from Paris to Lille on TGV trains;

on day 7 you travel from Venezia to Firenze on Frecce trains

on day 8 (option 1) you travel from Firenze to Milano on Frecce trains

on day 10 (option 1) you travel from Mulhouse to Paris on TGV trains.

on day 10 (option 2) you travel from Marseille to Paris on TGV trains.

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OUR ALTERNATIVE ITINERARIES:

POPULAR CITIES

SCENIC JOURNEYS

HIGHLIGHTS OF NORTHERN EUROPE

DIRECT TRAINS ONLY


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Tips to Ensure Your Trip Will Be Stress Free:

These EXTRA TIPS can help you:

(1) Save money when booking overnight accommodation.

(2 Know the 'rules;

(3) Have more comfortable journeys.

(4) Avoid last minute panics at the station etc etc.