Is the Eurail Global Pass the best option when traveling to many countries on a budget?

My parents are planning a trip in Europe and want to take full advantage of their time there and visit many countries and also remain on a budget. The itinerary plan is as follows: First they will be traveling from Amsterdam to Munich. They want to go via the Rhine Valley. They plan to stay here two nights. Then they are going from Munich to Praga. From Praga they will be travelling to Vienna. Then from Vienna they are going to Switzerland, but they want to take the Glacial train (the scenic route). Where should we end in Switzerland to take a train to Paris? And also what would be the best option for the trains? Should we buy the tickets for point to point or should we buy a global pass?
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) May 21, 2015 15:48
    Hi Lillyana. Thank you for your question.

    For that much rail travel through as many as 6 countries, your best option would be to purchase the Eurail Global Pass. You would purchase the Eurail Global Pass here: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-ticket....

    While the rail pass itself covers the ticket costs on trains, your parents would still need to purchase reservations for some of the trains that comprise of the itinerary you laid out. For travel with a rail pass, you would purchase reservations by clicking on ‘Book your Rail Pass Reservations’ on our homepage, entering a route, and indicating the type of rail pass being traveled with (i.e. the 'Eurail Global Pass').

    Amsterdam to Munich via the Rhine Valley

    As far as the Rhine Valley goes, your parents would have to choose a specific location they want to go.

    Munich to Prague

    From Munich to Prague, they can use their pass to take either a direct train (‘Alex’ trains) or a bus (‘InterCity’ buses). Reservations are recommended on the Alex trains and required on the InterCity buses. Generally, the trains and buses from Munich to Prague can be reserved once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

    Prague to Vienna

    From Prague to Vienna, they would take a direct high-speed train called the ‘Railjet’, on which reservations would be highly recommended. Generally, the trains from Prague to Vienna can only be reserved within 60 days of an intended date of departure.

    Vienna to the start of the Glacier Express route (St Moritz)

    The full Glacier Express route is from St Moritz to Zermatt. A connection from Vienna to St Moritz takes about 9.5 hours in duration and involves 2 train changes en route; once in Sargans and the once in Chur. Of the trains that comprise of a connection from Vienna to St Moritz, reservations would only be recommended on the segment from Vienna to Sargans. The rail pass is then all your parents would need to board a train from Sargans to Chur and a train from Chur to St Moritz. Generally, the trains from Vienna to Sargans can be reserved once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

    The Glacier Express (St Moritz to Zermatt)

    Please note, there is a segment of the Glacier Express route that is not covered by the Eurail Global Pass. The segment of the Glacier Express not covered by a Eurail Global Pass is between Disentis and Zermatt. Therefore, the rail pass would only cover the ticket costs for the segment from St Moritz up to Disentis. To be covered for the remaining part of the route from Disentis to Zermatt, you would have to purchase the ‘Disentis-Zermatt’ option of a special ticket called the ‘Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare’. You would purchase this ticket here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/....

    In addition to the Eurail Global Pass (for the segment from St Moritz to Disentis) and the ‘Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare’ (for the segment from Disentis to Zermatt), the Glacier Express train itself would require reservations. Generally, the Glacier Express trains can be reserved once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

    The end of the Glacier Express route (Zermatt) to Paris

    There are multiple places in Switzerland from where you can board a train up to Paris. The most feasible connections from Zermatt to Paris would have your parents going to either Lausanne or Basel to catch a train to Paris. The quickest of these two options would be to go via Lausanne. Such a connection would involve 2 train changes en route; once in Visp and then once in Lausanne. The segment of this route from Zermatt to Visp runs along the portion of the Glacier Express that isn’t covered by the Eurail Global Pass. Therefore, you would also need to purchase the ‘Zermatt-Visp’ option of the ‘Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare’ ticket in order to compensate for this.

    The trains from Zermatt to Visp themselves don’t accept reservations, so the ‘Zermatt-Visp’ option of the ‘Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare’ is all they’ll need to board. Trains from Visp to Lausanne also don’t accept reservations, so the Eurail Global Pass is all they’ll need to board. In contrast, the trains from Lausanne to Paris are high-speed ‘TGV Lyria’ trains, which do require reservations in addition to the pass. The trains from Lausanne to Paris can be reserved once within 90 days of an intended date of departure.

    For planning purposes, you can just check schedules for any of the non-reservable trains I mentioned above by clicking on ‘Find Fares & Schedules’ on our homepage (instead of ‘Book your Rail Pass Reservations’) and entering the segment/route, this time not indicating that you’ll be traveling with any type of rail pass.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 24, 2018 14:31
      Update:

      As of 2017, any multi-country rail pass that includes Switzerland (including the Eurail Global Pass) will begin covering ticket costs for the stretch of railway on the Glacier Express line between Disentis/Visp and Zermatt. Therefore, the 'Glacier Express Eurail Passholder Fare' ticket would no longer be necessary to cover this segment.

      Seat reservations would still be necessary for the actual Glacier Express between Zermatt and St Moritz (to go along with a rail pass).
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  • I’m thankful
    You are an angel, it's amazing how people can make a better world. You made my day!!! I'm trying to do this as a gift to my parents and as you can see English is not my first language, but I keep trying. I received so many insulting emails because of that. People has no respect and assuming they travel around the world they should have a higher level of education or a drop of ethic. Here is all what I need to know to make their itinerary and I have no words to express how Thankful I am. I have a vacation home in Costa Rica and if you ever plan to visit my country don't hesitate to contact me and is yours for whatever time you can use it. Thank you and my best wishes for you!
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) May 22, 2015 18:24
    You're very welcome, Lillyana. I'm glad I was able to help. Costa Rica sounds perfect; definitely a place I would love to go!
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  • Hello Lillyana, I am sorry you have received such negativity, but I have been there. Unfortunately, too many American's feel everyone else should understand English and that gives many of us a bad name, but it also occurs in other countries. English is my first language, though I have, over the last 50 years, I have been passable in Spanish, German, Arabic and Korean, though through lack of use, I am no longer fluent. Spanish was my first alternate language, but that was when I was in elementary school. While in Buenos Aries a few years ago, my late wife and I were ordering Gelato and I was having trouble communicating with the man behind the counter. After ordering and as we were leaving, the man made a comment in Spanish about Americans and there inability to bother to learn another language, which my wife understood perfectly. After she told me what he said, I started to go back and see how much Korean, Arabic and German he understood, but I did not want to appear as an 'Ugly American.'
    I hope you realize that some of us go out of our way to understand people from other cultures. My common response when someone apologizes for their English is "Your English is better than my XXXish."
    I hope your parents enjoy their trip.
    Dan
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