Looking up train times in Europe
No matter if you want to plan your trip far in advance or if you plan to make last-minute decisions. You’ll always need to figure out the schedules for your connections. Your Eurail Pass allows for extremely flexible travel. You will always have the option of staying an extra night in a place you love. Another option is cutting short your stay in order to catch a concert, festival or other unexpected special event. Other travelers need to know exactly where they’re going and when. Sometimes, even months before they pack their bags. Fortunately, you have plenty of ways to figure out which train to take and at what time. Find out more about looking up train times in Europe for your Eurail adventure.
How trains in Europe work
Different trains run on different schedules. Some major cities are connected by hourly departures, if not more frequently. For example, direct trains from Paris to Lyon leave several times an hour on most mornings. Remote locations or less popular routes usually have far less frequent connections. For example, there’s often only one direct train each day between Vienna and Ljubljana.
In addition, train schedules can change depending on the season (generally with more frequent departures in the summer) or even the day of the week. When you’re looking up train times, remember that you’re sometimes going to see two different times posted. Often the arrival time of a train at the station as well as a departure time.
Checking for reservations
Your Eurail Pass opens up almost infinite possibilities for last-minute changes, rerouting and rescheduling. Be aware, however, that the train systems of some countries — like France and Spain, for example — do require reservations on high-speed trains. Other countries — like Germany and Austria — have no such limitations. All night trains, however, require a reservation for sleeping accommodations.
When reservations are required, it’s a good idea to book your reservations in advance. Each high-speed TGV train in France has a limited number of reservations allowed to Eurail Pass Holders and if the train is full you’ll be asked to buy a full-price ticket or try a different train.
How to find train times in Europe
There are a few different ways for looking up train time before and during your Eurail trip.
The easiest way for looking up train times and what kind of connections or transfers you’ll need to make is by using the Eurail timetable. Enter your departure station, the date, time, and destination station and you’ll quickly get all possible itineraries. Tip: print your itinerary. Be aware that you might have to enter the local name for your destination and departure locations, rather than the English or international name.
At the train station
The most common way for looking up train times in Europe is on the departures board at the train station. This is usually a giant screen listing the train times, the number of the train, the stations along its route, its final destination, and the platform from which passengers can board. Many stations also have freestanding computer terminals that are connected to the train timetables. While at the station don’t forget to listen for announcements about schedule or platform changes, most of which are also repeated in English.
On the train
Once you’re on the train, many international trains and even national trains have brochures on board detailing that particular train’s exact schedule, also listing many of the possible connections from stations along your route.
On your phone
Finding train times via your iPhone or Android smartphone is possible without worrying about roaming charges. Eurail’s free Rail Planner App will help you find rail and boat connections all across Europe. It even works offline, so you won’t end up with a big phone bill. The app’s “extended” mode allows you to filter your search for regional transport or to exclude high-speed trains. You can also find routes which do not require a reservation in advance. The app even includes basic maps for major destinations, so you can quickly get your bearings once you arrive.
Want some help putting together the perfect itinerary? We’ve got tips to get you on your way.