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I've been reading some sites on train travel and it's very overwhelming. I'm still not sure what I need to do. I understand that within a country in Europe, its best to purchase from respective sites, but I've no clue what to do between countries. I also don't know if it's advisable, or even possible, that I use the same train pass (the one for getting from country to country) for train passes within the country.

Over the course of 2.5 months, I need to go from Italy to Austria to the Czech Republic, to Germany, to Sweden, then Belgium, and finally France.

What do I do for the train rides between countries?

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marked as duplicate by Ankur Banerjee Aug 25 '13 at 0:31

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There is no centralised site where you can book all these tickets, as there is e.g. for air travel.

You have to go through the sites of the respective national rail companies of the countries you are crossing.You will find the adresses of these sites by googling or via the country pages on seat61.com.

The legs from Germany to Sweden and Sweden to Belgium are bit more involved. You have to book a trip from Germany to Copenhagen via DB and a trip from Copenhagen into Sweden via SJ. A similar strategy applies from Sweden to Belgium. Buy a ticket to Copenhagen via SJ, a ticket from Copenhagen to Cologne via DB and a ticket from Cologne to Brussels via banh.de or (better) via b-europe.be

To sum up and based on my experience, I would use the following sites:

  • To and from Austria: ÖBB
  • To and from Germany: DB
  • From Denmark to Sweden: SJ
  • To and from Belgium: b-europe.be

You can also walk into a station in any of these countries and buy tickets at an international counter. They have usually a bit more options than you may have via the www.

Remarks:

  1. If you dislike b-europe.be (see e.g. the comments below), you can also buy a ticket from Cologne to Brussels via DB if it is an ICE or via the Thalys website if it is a Thalys train.

  2. Again, if you dislike b-europe.be, for any reason whatsoever (see e.g. the comments below), you can buy your ticket from Belgium to France via www.voyages-sncf.com

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b-europe.be better then DB?. The b-europe.be website is quite clumsy and a lot of issues with accepting international credit cards. –  andra Aug 24 '13 at 8:48
    
b-europe sells Thalys and ICE, whereas DB only sells ICE ;-) –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 24 '13 at 8:49
    
I had so many issues with b-europe in the past, that I only consider them a last resort now. –  andra Aug 24 '13 at 8:50
    
What kind of issue? For me it has always worked perfectly ... –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 24 '13 at 8:51
    
First of all their security is crap, only last year their customerbase was leaked on the internet. A lot of time their booking site fails when connecting to the payment module so you need to start over and as I already said I had to pay for friends with foreign cards since theirs was simply not accepted. –  andra Aug 24 '13 at 8:54

It is overwhelming because the spectrum of possibilities is wide. I would suggest to start your exploration on the possibilities Interrail offers. If the price fits your budget, it is all you need. Be aware that interrail works with sectors, given your itinerary you would different passes.

The next distinction is between high-speed and traditional links. If you would like to travel for example from Belgium to France. You can take the high-speed connection between Brussels and Paris, where it is advisable to book online in advance to get the better deals. If you have time, you could consider the connection through Lille. In that case you could obtain your ticket through the Belgian railways.

So basically it boils down to.

  1. See if Interrail fits your budget and plans
  2. Identify the highspeed connections you need and book through the individual carriers (preferably in advance)
  3. For traditional inter european train connection you can purchase tickets at any european train station, or online through the websites of the national train companies
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There is no Interrail ticket for 2.5 months ... –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 24 '13 at 9:05

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