With your Eurail pass, you can hop on and off most regional trains within Europe. However, there are some trains that require a reservation at an additional cost. This applies to some high-speed and international trains and most night trains.
The French TGV trains, Thalys and ICE trains between Paris and Franfurt have a year-round limited seat allocation for Eurail pass holders. When this allocation has been reached, you’ll have to buy a full-fare ticket. By booking these trains far in advance you should be able to ensure yourself a seat. Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance of your travel date. We advise you to make you reservations as soon as possible during peak season (May-September) and during European school holidays (late October, Christmas, mid-February, Easter, late May), when the continent is full of happy travelers and the seat allocation for pass holders may be fully taken.
Find trains that don't need reservations
To avoid the extra cost of reservations, you could take regional trains to reach your destination. This means that you may need to change trains more frequently or take slower connections. But it will save you money and you’ll get to see extra places, as regional trains make more stops along the way.
Find out on this page how to get the most out of your pass by:
- checking alternative routes between popular destinations
- searching the Eurail timetable for trains without reservations
|Paris Nord||Amsterdam Centraal||Thalys||3hr 20min|
|Paris Nord||Amiens||InterCités* (Schnellzug)||1hr 10min|
|Amiens||Lille Flandres||Regional-Express||1hr 20min|
|Lille Flandres||Antwerp Centraal||Regional-Express||1hr 50min|
|Antwerp Centraal||Amsterdam Centraal||InterCity||2hr 10min|
|7 - 9hr|
|Paris Est||Frankfurt (Main) Hbf||TGV||3hr 50min|
|Paris Est||Frankfurt (Main) Hbf||ICE*||3hr 50min|
Alternative route (available once per day)
|Paris Est||Chalons en Champagne||Regional-Express||1hr 35min|
|Chalons en Champagne||Metz Ville||Regional-Express||1hr 35min|
|Metz Ville||Saarbrücken Hbf||Regional-Express||1hr 10min|
|Saarbrücken Hbf||Frankfurt (Main) Hbf||ICE||2hr|
There are many other alternative routes available between Paris and Frankfurt, ranging from 8.5 hours to 11.5 hours travel time and from 3 to 9 changes of trains. Therefore, we recommend you use the online timetable to find the alternative route that suits your plans best.
|Paris Est||Zurich HB||TGV||4hr 35min|
|Paris Est||Mulhouse Ville||Intercités* (Schnellzug)||4hr 30min|
|Mulhouse Ville||Basel SNCF||Regional-Express||25min|
|Basel SBB||Zurich HB||InterRegio||1hr 15min|
|7 - 9hr|
|Paris Lyon||Milano Centrale||TGV||7hr 8min|
|Paris Est||Belfort||InterCités* (Schnellzug)||4hr|
|Mulhouse Ville||Basel SNCF||Regional-Express||40min|
|Basel SBB||Arth-Goldau||Interregio||1hr 45min|
* Reservation recommended
** Reservation compulsory
Why not change your itinerary and visit Germany? There is a direct ICE train running from Paris to Frankfurt 3 times per day.
|Paris Est||Frankfurt (Main) Hbf||ICE*||3hr 50min|
|Frankfurt (Main) Hbf||Zurich HB||ICE||4hr|
|Zurich HB||Milano Centrale||Regional-Express||3hr 40min|
|Paris Lyon||Marseille St. Charles||TGV||3hr 10min|
|Paris Bercy||Dijon Ville||Regional-Express||3hr|
|Dijon Ville||Lyon Part Dieu||Regional-Express||2hr 5min|
|Lyon Part Dieu||Marseille St. Charles||Regional-Express||2hr 35min|
|Paris Lyon||Nice Ville||TGV||5hr 55min|
|Paris Bercy||Lyon Part Dieu||Regional-Express||5hr|
|Lyon Part Dieu||Marseille St- Charles||Regional-Express||2hr 5min|
|Marseille St- Charles||
|Marseille St. Charles||Nice Ville||Regional-Express||13hr 30min|
|Marseille St. Charles||Geneva||TGV||3hr 30min|
|Marseille St. Charles||Lyon Part Dieu||Regional-Express||3hr 35min|
|Lyon Part Dieu||Geneva||Regional-Express||1hr 50min|
|Paris Montparnasse||Bordeaux St. Jean||TGV||3hr 10min|
|Limoges-Benedictins||Bordeaux St. Jean||Regional-Express||2hr 30min|
* Reservation compulsory
|Madrid-Puerta de Atocha||Barcelona Sants||AVE||3hr|
|Madrid-Chamarín||Barcelona- Franca||Regional Express||9hr|
Please keep in ming that train durations are approximate and include the time it takes to change trains. At certain times of the day, timetables may state that a reservation may be recommended for the 'Schnellzug'. The online timetable indicates when a reservation is recommended (the train details will state: ‘Please reserve’).
- Go to the Eurail timetable.
- Enter your departure city and destination city.
- Click on 'show more options' and check the 'avoid trains that require reservations' box.
- Click on find you train route to check the list of train routes that don't require a reservation. Journey times could be longer in this list.
Example of an alternative route: Paris – Amsterdam
If you don’t want to take the high-speed Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam, because you want to avoid the extra cost of the reservation or if the seat allocation for Eurail travelers is fully booked for this train (possible during high season) you could take this alternative route:
Paris Nord – Amiens – Lille Flandres – Antwerp Centraal – Amsterdam Centraal
Start the day in Paris with a freshly-baked croissant and then you’re ready for the short train journey to Amiens. Stop for a coffee in this small French town and make sure you pay a quick visit to the charming cathedral. Lille Flandres is your next stop, where you can stretch your legs while taking a look at this historical station – construction of which began in 1869. Then board a train to Antwerp – Belgium’s cool and happening city. Spend a few hours exploring the architectural delights of this city. It’s also a great place to enjoy an authentic Belgian lunch, washed down with a mouth-watering local beer. In the early evening hop back onto the train for the short ride to Amsterdam, in time for a canal-side evening meal! Three countries in one day!
Please note that the number of seats available for Eurail pass holders is limited on the following high-speed trains:
- TGV: all domestic and international routes.
- Thalys: on all routes between France and the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
- ICE: Paris – Frankfurt route only.
We recommend that you make reservations as soon as possible. You can make reservations up to 3 months in advance. To check availability for the train, contact a booking center or visit a European railway station.
If a train is fully booked for pass holders you can:
- check our alternative routes.
- buy a full-fare ticket (if this is the only train you take that day it saves you a travel day).