While Eurail and Interrail Passes are accepted on most trains throughout Europe, some trains require an advanced booking for an additional fee, which is not covered by your Pass. This reservation guarantees a seat (or bed) on a specific train and sometimes includes additional amenities.
Some special trains, such as high-speed, international, high quality and night trains require reservations for which there is an additional cost. Having a reservation gives you the peace of mind of having a guaranteed place on a specific train. Often there are additional extra benefits such as direct high-speed trains with faster journey times than regular trains, free Wi-Fi and refreshments served on board.
We advise customers to book in advance of travel (especially for trips in the busy summer high season) to avoid disappointment. Most seats are available to book two to three months ahead.
Quick Reservations Guide
(Eurail version, same conditions apply for Interrail)
Which trains require reservations?
In general, trains requiring an advance reservation include (but are not limited to):
- Most high-speed and international trains (like SNCF TGV, Thalys, Lyria, Trenitalia Freccia, RENFE AVE, PKP EIP and Eurostar);
- Sleeping accommodation in night trains, like couchettes and beds
- Panoramic coaches, available on some scenic trains.
If you want to know which trains require a reservation you can consult the Trip Planner section of our Rail Planner App (example)
You can download our Rail Planner App for free and it works offline:
If you don’t want to book in advance, you can usually choose regular trains which don’t require a reservation; use the ’Options’ function in the Rail Planner App to easily filter out trains with a compulsory reservation.
Usually, regional trains do not require a reservation and, while journey times are longer and you may have to change more frequently, they have several benefits, including:
- Go off the beaten track and visit some of Europe’s most charming towns and villages;
- Enjoy the sights as many regional trains take a scenic route enabling you to enjoy beautiful surroundings at a slower pace;
- Meet the locals, as regional trains are the ones they most often take;
- Enjoy flexible travel. If you miss your train just simply board the next one, since regional trains have frequent services;
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I have to pay an additional fee for reservations?
Your Pass covers most trains across Europe, however special trains, such as high-speed and international services, require each customer to have a reserved seat for their own comfort and safety. The booking needs to be made separately to purchasing the Pass. Making an advanced booking has several benefits, which is why there is an additional cost:
- A guaranteed seat offers peace of mind and comfort: no need to stand in the aisles or face overcrowded trains.
- Advanced booking offers you the opportunity to secure seats together with travel companions.
- In many cases trains requiring a reservation are high-speed; reaching destinations more quickly and efficiently than alternative trains.
- Often the fee provides the customer with additional comfort and services, such as wider seats with extra leg room and free WiFi.
- In some cases customers also benefit from a meal and drink or other services such as lounge access or complimentary newspapers.
Is there any way to lower the price?
It is possible to save reservation fees by choosing alternative routes where the trains don’t require reservations. The Trip Planner in the Rail Planner App has a ‘Trains without compulsory reservation’ option that allows you to plan your trip without any reservations. Please note that your trip may take longer and you may need to make more changes of trains if you avoid trains requiring reservations.
Why can't I receive all my reservations as e-tickets?
Not all train companies have e-tickets yet, so some reservations are still made using physical ticket paper. It’s therefore important that customers allow ample time for these to be sent to them by post. More and more reservations are becoming available electronically each year, and we are continuously expanding the e-reservation options in the Rail Planner App.
Why can’t I book my trains yet?
Most trains are uploaded to the booking system two – three months in advance with scheduled timetable changes in June and December. Trains are not bookable if they’re not yet loaded into the system. We advise customers to try again closer to their date of travel (preferably within two months).
Why are the trains fully booked in high season?
Train travel in Europe is popular and tourist numbers increase in the high season (summer months). Sometimes this means trains are either sold out or the allocated number of seats for Interrail and Eurail Pass holders has been reached. To avoid this, advanced planning is strongly advised.
Can I make a seat reservations while I’m already on my trip?
Yes, it is possible, however, it is highly recommended to make a reservation at least two months in advance, especially for high-speed and night trains. To guarantee a seat (or bed) on a train, the best thing to do is to book it before you start your trip.
If I miss my train due to factors beyond my control, can I use the next train with my previous seat reservations?
In some cases, it is possible to exchange your reservation. Review the exchange and refund terms of your reservation to determine if it can be exchanged. Certain semi-flexible and flexible fares allow you to exchange your reservation even after the train departure time. If that’s the case, proceed as soon as possible to the ticket window at the train station in order to obtain a new reservation. In case you missed your train because you were on a connecting train that was delayed, ask a conductor or railway official to endorse your reservation saying there has been a delay. This is usually sufficient proof for the train staff at the onward station to allow a free transfer to the next available train.
In case of a spontaneous reservation (not booking in advance), can I make one shortly before my trip?
Yes, it is possible, however, it is highly recommended to make a reservation at least two months in advance, especially for high-speed and night trains. To guarantee a seat (or bed) in the train, the best thing to do is to book in advance.
If I cannot reserve the seat, what should I do?
If the train you’re planning to take requires a reservation and reservations are sold out, there are two things you can do. Purchase a regular, full-fare ticket if they are still available, or try to travel on another (earlier or later) train that still has reservations available.
If you do decide to go ahead and purchase a regular train ticket, you won’t have to use your Eurail or Interrail Pass for this trip. If you don’t plan on using your Pass for any other trips during that day, be sure not to mark a day in the Travel Calendar.
Am I allowed to pick specific seats, or are they assigned?
When making a reservation, make sure to book all the reservations for you and your travel companions at the same time; the reservation service will then make sure that everyone is seated together. It is not possible to choose which seat you want to reserve on the train.