What Are Point to Point Europe Train Tickets?You can buy single Europe train tickets, also called point to point tickets, for a particular destination as opposed to buying a Eurail pass, and you can buy single Europe train tickets, or point to point tickets, before you leave the US. A ticket from Paris to Lyon, or Munich to Prague, are examples of point to point tickets.
What's the Difference: Point to Point Europe Train Tickets and Eurail Passes?Eurail passes are created by a consortium of European train carriers which is called "Eurail." A Eurail pass covers unlimited train rides over the course of a chosen number of days and generally cover two, three or more European countries. A Eurail Global Pass, for instance, covers 20 countries and a whole lotta rides which would otherwise have to be purchased as single tickets. A Eurail pass is a bit complicated, so get the picture before you decide which you need:
- Eurail Passes 101
- How Days on a Eurail Pass Work
- About single country Eurail Passes
- About multiple country Eurail Passes
Point-to-point tickets go from (yeah) point to point, like Milan to Rome, though you can often hop off and back on over the course of more than one day (rules vary). They often include seat reservations, which cost a few bucks; you'll have to make reservations if using a pass and want an absolutely guaranteed seat. (Tickets on the high speed trains like the Thalys always include reservations; the fastest trains are $pendy trains, by the way.) You often can't change a discounted point to point ticket, and a Eurail pass allows you to jump on whenever (provided a seat's open) over the life of your pass.
We'll talk about overnight trains in Europe in a minute.
Can I Get Student Discounts on a Point to Point Ticket?Discounts on single European train tickets generally exist by categories like purchase date or travel time (off-peak times, like not nine to five, are usually cheaper), but some youth discounts do exist -- sometimes, though, you must have a youth rail card for that country, which may cost extra. You can get significant discounts on youth Eurail passes bought in the US, and those will cover your train ride - you may have to pay extra for a reservation.
What About the Eurostar Train?The Eurostar is the train running from London to Paris and back under the English channel. You can be in Brussels in the morning and London in the afternoon using the Eurostar. Travel on the Eurostar requires a separate ticket from any Eurail pass you may have, but some Eurail passes will give you discount fares for Eurostar tickets. As a student under 26, you can get a discounted Eurail pass *and* get a Eurostar youth flexible voucher which you can exchange anytime for a Eurostar ticket.
Do I Have to Buy Point to Point Tickets in Advance?You can, of course, but the answer is no. That's a beauty of single Europe train tickets should you not want to spend the possibly bigger bucks on a Eurail pass, or aren't sure yet how long you'll be staying in a single country. Just show up at the station and purchase. You run the risk of finding no seats available because everyone else reserved, just as you do if arriving at the airport without a ticket -- train stations are almost always in the heart of European cities, though, and you can pretty much be guaranteed that there's a hostel near the train station if you have to spend another night.
What About Night Trains?You can buy single tickets for overnight trains (generally run all night after 7:00 p.m., like the train from Munich to Rome), or you can make reservations on an overnight train that you'll be riding using your Eurail pass. Overnight trains in Europe may be a way to go if you absolutely positively have to save some time, but they don't necessarily save you money if you're staying in hostels (see "Overnight Trains Save Time, Not Money"). European overnight trains are one place where it may pay to do a little advance planning and buy a ticket and reservation from the US -- sitting up all night in a seat is a drag, and you may want to reserve a bunk in a couchette sleeper (or better if your moneybelt is bulging).
Individual Country Rail WebsitesEuropean train ticket costs and rules vary hugely from country to country. You'll probably be fine with the single European train tickets you can buy on Rail Europe's website or at the Die Bahn website (covers tix in much of Europe), and if you buy more than two, you may want to consider a Eurail pass, even for one country. If you need more info, though, check out the individual country rail websites for the full scoop: