Eurail routes

  • 15 August 2022
  • 8 replies


We are from South Africa. I hope to travel with my daughter from West (France-Paris)  to East (Turkey-Istanbul) starting 16 December.  We would love to experience Christmas in Europe, culture etc.  Does the Eurail cover countries such as Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey?  We intend to start from Paris gong through Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Czech Republic.

Kind regards,




8 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

All this info is easy and even more informative on the general info-as could have been expected. Yes-valid in ALL of EURope-exceptions are Rossye-Ukrayna-Byelorus-MOldova-but who wants to go there anyway at the mo?

DO note that in many countries train service is severely curtailed or non-existent on Xmas EVE and sometimes Xmas day-varies per country. Also many HTLs will not take guests those days-anyone celebrates with the family. So do prepare. Plus that there is a general timetable change on/around 12/12-new times not yet known but will not differ a lot from now.

The further east you go, the lesser the service will be-and the very last leg MIGHT even not run at all in winter (Sofia-IST), it has only very recently been reinstated, as for now they say summer only. It will also depend a lot on how covid developes and/or comes back.

En doe die groetjes aan Sarie Marijs of hr van der Merwe

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

From the many posts on the community it is obvious that crossing Eastern Europe is a challenge at the best of times ,so do plenty of research when planning with fallback options. (Alt routing or Bus or flight)

Most express and long distance trains require mandatory reservations which are in addition to your pass.

Other than around Xmas/New year you should have no problems with getting reservations, but note many of the express trains you will need only operate once or twice a day and may fill.

An additional consideration at that time is the European winter. Unless you are well south (Lower Spain or Italy you will experience a lot of cold, wet and even icy days across Central Europe. There will be little of tourist interest open at that time as it is out of season.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

An alternative destination at that time of the year would be Fra/Bel/Germany/Switzerland. Trains are many and all this area of Europe has Xmas markets in most cities and large towns.

They are also in the build up to Xmas with events such as carol concerts and nativity displays.

If you look at a line across from Paris to Vienna you have the Rhine, The Black Forest and the Alps. Widen to say 100km above and below and you get central Germany to Prague on one side and the top of Italy (lakes, Milan and Venice).

Thank you for the above.  Would anyone be willing to look at my draft itinerary for giving advice?  I have planned each specific day.  I can send this via email?

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Thank you for the above.  Would anyone be willing to look at my draft itinerary for giving advice?  I have planned each specific day.  I can send this via email?

It is better that you post your itinerary here. Then you will get ideas from more people. 

Hi, below is the draft route.  Any advice would be very helpful.


Day    Date    Country    City
    15-Dec    Depart South Africa    JHB
1    16-Dec    France    Paris
2    17-Dec    France    Paris
3    18-Dec    France    Lyon
4    19-Dec    Switzerland    Lausanne
5    20-Dec    Switzerland    Lausanne-Bern(brief stop)
6    21-Dec    Italy    Milan
7    22-Dec    Germany    Munich
8    23-Dec    Austria    Salzburg
9    24-Dec    Austria    Vienna
10    25-Dec    Austria    Vienna
11    26-Dec    Czech Republic    Prague
12    27-Dec    Czech Republic    Prague
13    27-Dec    Slovakia    Bratislava
14    28-Dec    Hungary    Budapest
15    29-Dec    Serbia    Belgrade
16    30-Dec    Bulgaria    Sofia
17    31-Dec    Turkey    Istanbul
18    01-Jan    Turkey    Istanbul
19    02-Jan    Turkey    Istanbul

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

First impression is that you will see a lot of trains, spend a fortune in accommodation and very little of the cities.

IMHO you would do much better to plan around the heart of Europe Paris/Brussels/Frankfurt or Munich then either Vienna/Prague or Milan/Venice, and then catch a flight to Istanbul for a 3 day stay on the way home.

Unlike cruising where you travel at night and have several daylight hours in port then back to another night travelling, Eurail is different. You plan travel to a start point (Paris) for a couple of days then the fun starts.

Up and train to Lyon (2/4 hours on train) - find hotel and have a couple of hours before darkness. Evening out in winter then hotel.

Up and breakfast, jump a train, find hotel, few hours touring ,evening meal and hotel  OR breakfast, touring and afternoon train…...

and so on.

Some of the routes are only a couple of hours but others vary from 4 to 7 hours. So arrival time will be in the dark.

Trying to predict trains in Central Europe from Budapest to Istanbul over the Xmas week is fraught to say the least and you will spend a lot of time on stations and on trains.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

One other consideration is after Paris to go to Stuttgart/Munich for a few days and day trip and then Vienna or Prague for a few days, Both bases have great fast trains to neighbouring cities and you get the evenings in the Xmas markets/ bierkellers. Then a quick flight to Istanbul.