Should I purchase a pass if I am going to the Greek islands, Italy, Spain and Portugal?

  • 28 April 2022
  • 4 replies

Hi everyone, 



I have many questions before I purchase a Eurail pass. I am 21 years old and will be backpacking Europe for 3 months, starting June 29 and ending September 25. I will be traveling to Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Below I have detailed my itinerary, and I was hoping you could answer my questions after reviewing my travel plans. 


My Itinerary: 

- Fly to Greece on June 29

Greece: Athens>Milos>Athens>Crete

- Fly to Catania, Italy

Italy: Catania>Calabria>Bari>Rome>Florence>La Spezia>Bologna>Venice>Milan

- Take overnight train to Barcelona, Spain 

Spain: Barcelona>Valencia>Granada>Seville>Madrid

- Take train to Porto, Portugal 

Portugal: Porto>Sintra>Lisbon

- I will fly back to the US from Lisbon on September 25


My concerns:

  1. I learned that reservations are needed on most train routes in all of these countries. 
  2. The ferries are an additional cost and not included in the rail pass. 
  3. I will be traveling in the summer, the busiest time, and I fear that seat reservations will book up far in advance and I will not be able to get a train the next day (I am a very spontaneous traveler). 
  4. I worry that all the seat reservations will add up and that I will not have saved money if I would have just bought the train tickets from local train websites. 


My questions: 

  1. How much would I end up spending on seat reservations between each of these locations I listed above? 
  2. Should I get the Greek Island pass if I am only traveling to two Islands, Milos and Crete?
  3. Is the 3-month continuous pass worth it? Should I just book from the train companies directly to save money? 
  4. Are there any trains that don’t require reservations in these countries? If so, how can I find them? 
  5. If I value flexibility but also cost savings, what should I do? 

Thank you very much!



Best answer by rvdborgt 28 April 2022, 23:40

View original

4 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

There is no overnight train from Milan to Barcelona. There is a night ferry Genova - Barcelona though.

  1. Reservation prices for domestic trains can be found here. Vigo - Porto is supposed to be a free reservation.
  2. I don't think so. If you have a pass, you can get 30% discount if it's a ferry companies that participates (I didn't check).
  3. I think the 3-month pass will be too much, certainly for Greece. You should make a plan and price the individual journeys. And then check if a pass (plus reservations) could be worth it. Check prices in Italy on Trenitalia, prices in Spain via Rail Europe (Spanish railways’ own website is terrible) and prices in Portugal via Rail Europe or CP.
  4. Travel without reservation in Italy can be done, certainly for shorter journeys. On the Trenitalia website, choose "Regional” instead of "Main solutions”. Travel in Spain without reservations is sometimes possible but certainly not always.
  5. See 3.

For travelling from Madrid to Porto, see Seat61.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Use an LCC=low cost carrier (=airline) for Mil->BCn-or close by. This means fixing a date/time but fares can be as low as 19.99, DO, repeat DO read all the info on how to use these cheap airlines (notably RYAN) as they are full of unkind hidden surprises-re check in, luggage etc. if you do not, certainly for ignorant USAers.

A flite from Kriti/GR to Catania will be very hard to find though.

You have again chosen-like the multitude of all newbees, the 3 most nasty countries to use a pass in: ES on 1st, then IT and FR (passing by), and the trains in GR are so few and not serving your places, that this does not count. But buying tickets in ES for your order of places will also be cumbersome. You may also contemplate, the tipical newbee on a low college expenditure, the BUS-FLIX for International ALSA in Spain-will offer many more overnite options

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Lastly, how far in advance do trains book you in these countries over the summer? 

Pass holder seats on domestic train in Spain and Italy are not quota-controlled so normally a few days in advance is enough.

For Spain, pass holder reservations are not available online and the best way is to buy them at a ticket office in Spain. For Italy, pass holder reservations are also available online without booking fees via ÖBB using these steps.

If you want to buy regular tickets: for regional trains, it doesn't really matter when you buy tickets. For long-distance trains, one week or a few weeks in advance is usually good if you want to have lower advance fares.

Thank you both so much! 

Lastly, how far in advance do trains book you in these countries over the summer?