Some trains require advance reservations. For some high-speed and international trains and most night trains, you’ll need to reserve a seat. You can book train reservations up to 90 days (and occasionally 60 days) before your travel date.
An advance reservation is also recommended if you must reach your destination on a certain day and time, for example if you have a flight to catch.
For some trains, a reservation is not compulsory but optional, which can be useful if you’re traveling in a group and want to ensure you’re seated together. Reservation are not usually possible for local or regional trains.
If the timetable states ‘Please reserve’, then reservations are recommended for that route, but not required.
Want to save money and see more of a country? Learn how to avoid seat reservations.
Peak season seat allocation
In the high-season (May-September) and during European school holidays we advise you to reserve as far in advance as possible. Some popular high-speed trains have a limited allocation of seats for Eurail travelers, including the French TGV and Thalys trains.
Which trains need to be reserved?
In the Eurail timetable that you get with your pass, you can see if a compulsory reservation is needed for the train you want, by looking out for the 'R' symbol.
Online timetables also indicate when a reservation is necessary. In the example below, Eurail pass holders can board the InterCity from Amsterdam Centraal to Bruxelles-Midi (Brussels) without a reservation. However, if you take the Thalys from Bruxelles-Midi to Paris Nord a compulsory reservation is needed.
Night trains always require a reservation for the sleeping accommodation. There is usually a choice of sleeping accommodation to suit each budget, including sleepers for 1, 2 or 3 persons, couchettes for 4-6 persons, or reclining seats if you want to keep costs down.
More on night train reservations.
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).