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Ideas & Inspiration Rail Pass Itinerary: No Reservation Fees
Rail Pass Itinerary: NO Reservation Fees

Rail Pass Itinerary: No Reservation Fees

If you want to avoid having to pay additional charges when using an InterRail or Eurail pass, this itinerary solely includes trains with no extra fees

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Why choose this trip of a lifetime:

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

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 otherwise.
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 specific departure and arrival times of the included trains will be confirmed after the next pan-European rail timetable on December 11th, until then they are a guide and will need to be checked locally.

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.

OR our Concierge rail travel planning service, could help you plan a similar itinerary.

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.

1. Paris to Gent

MONDAY – FRIDAY:

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

Train 2:
Depart: Amiens at 11:50
Arrive: Lille Flandres at 13:07

Train 3:
Depart: Lille Flandres at 14:09 – the train should be heading to Anvers
Arrive: Gent Sint-Pieters at 15:24; Gent-Dammport at 15:35

SATURDAYS:

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

Train 2:
Depart: Amiens at 12:37
Arrive: Lille Flandres at 13:55

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 8 min connection is far from guaranteed, but on Saturdays AND Sundays, 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 10:38

Train 2:
Depart: Amiens at 12:37
Arrive: Lille Flandres at 13:55

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

Gent is a great destination

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.

Adding Brugge to this itinerary:
Brugge is an option on this Eurail and InterRail 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.

2. Gent to Amsterdam

Train 1:
Depart: Gent Sint-Pieters at 09:28 or Gent-Dammport at 09:36
Arrive: Antwerpen-Berchem at 10:17

Train 2:

Depart: Antwerpen-Berchem at 10:38
Arrive: Amsterdam-Centraal at 12:38
Amsterdam with no additional rail pass fees

You don’t have to take these suggested 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.

3. Amsterdam to Berlin

Depart: Amsterdam Centraal at 09:00 or 11:00
Arrive: Berlin Hbf at 15:22 or 17:22

To Berlin on the InterRail trip with no extra fees

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.

4. Berlin to Prague

Depart: Berlin Hbf at 08:59 or 10:59
Arrive: Praha Holseovice at 13:15 or 15:15

OR
Arrive: Praha Hl (Nadrazi) at 13:26 or 15:26.
(The final destination of the train that departs at 08:59 is Budapest).


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.

6. Vienna to Venice

Train 1:
Depart: Wien Hbf at 14:25
Arrive: Villach Hbf at 18:46
This rail pass itinerary has amazing journeys and destinations but no extra fees

The best of the views will be available if you sit on the left of the train.

Train 2:

Depart: Villach Hbf at 19:29
Arrive: Udine at 21:13

Train 3:

Depart: Udine at 22:09
Arrive: Venezia S. Lucia at 23:59

Rail pass users now have to pay reservation fees on the direct Railjet trains from Wien/Vienna to Venezia/Wien of €10 in 2nd class and €15 in 1st class.
However, if you pay those fees prior to boarding you can travel direct and depart Wien at 06:25 and arrive in Wien/Venice at 14:05, or depart Wien at 12:25 and arrive in Venice at 20:05.

7. Venice to Florence

Venice by InterRail or Eurail without paying additional fees

Mondays to Saturdays:
Train 1:
Depart: Venezia S.Lucia at 08:57
Arrive: Venezia Mestre at 09:07 (the train will be heading to Bassano del Grapa)

Train 2:
Depart: Venezia Mestre at 09:34 by IC train
Arrive: Firenze Rifredi at 12:27

Train 3:
Depart: Firenze Rifredi at 12:43
Arrive: Firenze S.M. Novella at 12:50
On Sundays you will be waiting more more than an hour at Rifredi station for a train for the short journey on to the city centre station at Firenze S.M.Novella.

Daily
Train 1:
Depart: Venezia S.Lucia at 14:01
Arrive: Venezia Mestre at 14:11 (the train will be heading to Trieste)
How to travel Europe by InterRail or Eurail without paying additional fees

Train 2:
Depart: Venezia Mestre at 14:34 by IC train
Arrive: Firenze Rifredi at 17:27

Train 3:
Depart: Firenze Rifredi at 17:45
Arrive: Firenze S.M. Novella at 17:50

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.

8a. Florence to Milan

From this point on two separate routing options have been mapped out.
Option a involves making some beautiful journeys across Switzerland, while Option b involves travelling along the Mediterranean coastline.
And we also show how you switch between these two options at the end of Day Eight.

Journey option 1 - daily

Depart: Firenze S.M. Novella at 08:21
Arrive: MIlano Centrale at 12:15

This rail pass itinerary has amazing journeys and destinations but no extra fees

Journey option 2- daily

Train 1:
Depart: Firenze S.M.N at 15:10
Arrive: Firenze Rifredi at 15:15 (the train will be heading to Pistoia)

Train 2:
Depart: Firenze Rifredi at 15:33 by IC train
Arrive: Milano Centrale at 19:17

9a. Milan to Basel

Train 1:
Depart: Milano Centrale at 09:43
Arrive: Lugano at 11:08

Train 2:
Depart: Lugano at 11:34 – the train will be heading to Basel SBB
Arrive: Luzern at 13:41
Through Switzerland on a budget InterRail itinerary

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

Train 3:
Depart: Luzern at 14:06
Arrive: Interlaken Ost at 15:55 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 16:00 or 16:30
Arrive: Basel SBB at 18:01 or 18:32
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 pass users can obtain a 50% discount on the cruise boats!

Add a Swiss lake cruise to an InterRail or Eurail itinerary

10a. Basel to Paris

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.
Switzerland to Paris on a budget InterRail and Eurail itinerary

MONDAY TO FRIDAY

Train 1:
Depart: Basel SBB at 14:21 – the train will be heading to Strasbourg
Arrive: Mulhouse-Ville at 14:46

Train 2:
Depart: Mulhouse-Ville at 15:42
Arrive: Paris Est at or 20:25

SATURDAY and SUNDAY

Train 1:
Depart: Basel SBB at 14:39
Arrive: Mulhouse-Ville at 15:10

Train 2:
Depart: Mulhouse-Ville at 15:29
Arrive: Paris Est at 20:19

SUNDAYS ONLY

Train 1:
Depart: Basel SBB at 10:39
Arrive: Mulhouse-Ville at 11:10

Train 2:
Depart: Mulhouse-Ville at 12:35
Arrive: Paris Est at 17:16

8b. Florence to Genoa

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 to now follow the Day 9 and 10 of the Option 1 itinerary, take this train and connect in Genova for the 19:36 train to Milano Centrale.

9b. Genoa to Marseille

Coasts, mountains, lakes and great cities on an InterRail or Eurail Pass itinerary with no extra fees

(1) Depart: Genova Piazza Principe at 11:43 by Regionale Veloce train
Reservation fee = €3 for 1st and 2nd class pass users
To make the most of the sea views you need to be sat on the left on departure from Genova; where the train will have reversed direction.
(2) Depart: Ventimiglia/Ventimille at 15:15 by TER train
(3) Depart: Nice at 16:23 by TER train; Arrive Marseille at 19:07.
Sit on the left for the best of the sea views - you'll be looking over the beaches and marinas of the Cote D'Azur between Nice and Frejus and then the sea can also be seen after departure from Toulon.

10b. Marseille to Paris

Train 1:
Depart: Marseille St Charles at 10:55
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 at 12:01 arrives in Paris at around 15:23!

Approximate total 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

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

1st Class Youth = €401
2nd Class Youth = €301

---------------------------------

Comparison against 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):

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

At the cheapest possible price - ShowMeTheJourney could find online:
1st class = €637
2nd class = €397

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

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

At the cheapest possible price - ShowMeTheJourney could find online:
1st class = €453
2nd class = €292

So on this option 2 itinerary - if you're happy to book discounted tickets, around 2 - 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 should save compared to the cost of using most passes.

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.

Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.