How to Plan Your Train Times Offline: Free Rail Planner App
Between a two week trek through Andalucía in Spain and meeting up with friends in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, you’ve decided to do some hiking in the French Alps on the way. An ambitious plan? Maybe, but not improbable for those getting properly creative with their Eurail pass on the rail planner app.
Complications ensue, though, when you step off the train in Lyon, France and it’s unclear exactly which regional connections will get you to Chamonix in the least amount of time and with the least number of stopovers. So you end up changing trains four times, when in fact you could have only made two changes…
Enter the new Eurail Rail Planner App to the rescue. Except when the above scenario hit during my own Eurail trip several years ago, the app didn’t exist.
One of the beauties of the Rail Planner App is that it doesn’t require you to be online. You can plan a rail journey from the top of Mont Blanc. And it’s easy to use, even for the app-phobic. Search for the next connection to Lisbon -departing in 5 minutes from the station where you’re at right now or one from Budapest to Prague leaving at dawn next May. Think of the app, essentially, as a Swiss Army knife: it comes equipped with functions you think you won’t need until you need them.
Download the Rail Planner App for free
For the chronically indecisive – or just those who have countless trips on their wish list – the ability to “favorite” journeys is indispensable.
A timetable function means you can quickly search all trains arriving and departing any station (helpful if your friend is arriving around 3pm from somewhere in Germany, but you can’t remember the exact details).
Need to travel with your bike? Hit the “bicycle carriage required” function. On a budget or want to take the longer scenic route? Search for trains without a compulsory reservation, to avoid any additional costs.
Hoping to find recommendations for vegetarian dishes in Bosnia-Herzegovina (try grašak), or can’t remember the unit of currency in Bulgaria (the Lev)? The Country Facts section can help you out.
My favorite hidden feature? The Pass Benefits section. When I arrived in Amsterdam after a weekend in Paris on my last Eurail trip, I needed to check my email. Although you’ll find free wifi on most Intercity trains in the Netherlands, the signal can be weak. Plus, I was dying of thirst. I checked the Pass Benefits section to see if there was a first class lounge, and within a few minutes I was being served a Pellegrino on a comfy leather couch while I checked my email.
Limitations to keep in mind
A few (minor) limitations: the app can’t tell you when there’s a delay – you’ll have to check that at the station or on the individual rail websites. While the City Maps section features Paris, Berlin and London, don’t count on it to lead you to your beachside hostel on the Amalfi Coast. And you can’t magically book a 1st class sleeper from the app–unfortunately – although the app will tell you if a sleeper is compulsory.
Download the Rail Planner App now:
Visit the Eurail website for more tools to help you get planning your own European rail trip.