How to buy a European rail pass

A rail pass is a travel document that entitles you to travel on European trains in a specific geographic area (country/countries), for a specific number of days.

You can buy rail passes on Rail Europe; to do so, select the "pass" tab on the search page.

Select your country ( for the moment we offer only passes for Switzerland; see Swiss Travel Pass for details).

Select the first validity date. This date should match the first day you are going to use the pass on the train. Depending on the pass type and country, the first validity date cannot exceed 6 months to 1 year ahead.

Complete the passenger section carefully with the precise age of the children at the expected time of travel. Who is considered a child may change from one rail operator to the other. 

On the next screen, you'll be asked to choose either a Continuous or a Flexi pass, when available. Use the drop-down menu to select your desired number of day travel.

A Flexi pass is valid for a specific number of travel days, to be used within the overall validity period of that rail pass. For example, 15 days of unlimited train travel to be used within a 2-month period. With this kind of rail pass, you can pick and choose any days (they don’t have to be consecutive) to travel within the rail pass’s validity period.

Continuous (or consecutive) rail passes, such as the Eurail Global Pass, are valid for unlimited train travel during the entire duration of the pass’s validity period. In other words, with a 15-day Eurail Global Pass, you can travel for 15 consecutive days by train. Even if you don’t take the train each and every day, those days will be considered used.

Once you've chosen the type of pass, a sub-box will appear for travel clas. Note: if you select First Class you can also travel in Second Class (for example, on a local train where only Second Class is offered).

On the next screen, you'll need to fill in the traveler details and confirm the printing method of your pass. Then proceed to checkout. Print-at-home tickets will be emailed to you.

Printing Method and validation of your pass

Your pass is pre-validated at the time of booking and will be valid for the period of time you have selected. 

With a continuous Swiss Travel Pass, the pass will be attached to the booking confirmation email. It is available in two formats: 

  • Print at home ticket which must be printed on white A4 paper 
  • E-ticket with barcode which can be shown on all mobile devices

For Swiss Travel Pass Flex, the pdf that will be attached to the confirmation email is a receipt and not a valid travel document! You will need to activate your travel days on www.activateyourpass.com. Then you will receive a valid ticket for each activated travel day. It is available in two formats: 

  • Print at home ticket which must be printed on white A4 paper 
  • E-ticket with barcode which can be shown on all mobile devices

You can find more detials on How to use a Swiss Travel Pass Flex.