Help Deciding Europe Train Pass

  • 5 April 2023
  • 8 replies

I need help buying a train pass but I am not sure if it will be worth buying the Global Pass or buying the individual tickets for each destination. 

I am landing in London Heathrow Airport on April 28th from USA. I am planning to buy the Europe Global Pass to get from the airport to London’s City Center. Would the pass work for this and do we have to book in advance or is 1 day before fine? Would this pass work for travel within London as we are not planning to get a rental car or use taxis as I heard they are expensive and traffic.

On April 30th, we are planning to go from London to Paris then on May 2nd we are planning to go from Paris to Zurich. On May 4th, we plan to go from Zurich to Amsterdam and on May 5th return to London from Amsterdam as our flight back to USA is from London on May 6th. Would this be the best order of travel considering total time to travel between destinations, we are trying to minimize our travel time on the train.

Which train pass would be budget friendly for 3 travellers (2 are under 23 years old) for these destinations? Is booking in advance necessary for all of these destinations or a couple days in advance is fine? We will have 3 luggages with us, is that allowed on the train?

I was planning on getting the Europe Global Pass 5 days within 1 month. Does this mean I have 5 days to travel within my start date or I can skip some days like travel on the 28th from London Heathrow airport to city center then use it again in 2 days for Paris then Zurich in 1 day etc. and the total days travelled has to be 5 days?

Thank you in advance.

8 replies

Badge +5

You need to see if there are spaces on Eurostar first. Passholder places sell out weeks in advance. See the reservations section to see how to reserve places. Travel from Heathrow to London is easy. Buy an Oyster Card at Heathrow and this will cover all your London travel. Use the Elizabeth Line. Not valid on Heathrow Express.

The train from Paris to Zurich has an expensive supplement and must be reserved well in advance.

From Amsterdam to London you will have to change in Brussels as there only a handful of passholder places on this train. 

You’ll arrive in London on a bank holiday weekend. London will be heaving! And you come back in time for the Coronation!
You may find getting accommodation may be difficult and expensive. If you have the chance fly to Paris instead and give London a miss this time. 

This advice comes from a Brit. so I know what I’m talking about. 


Userlevel 7
Badge +3

Heathrow - London would be a very expensive use of a Eurail pass. Either use London Underground or Elizabeth Line and connections with contactless credit/debit cards or if you are in a desperate rush pay more for Heathrow Express.

Travel around London pass is not valid for, use cards as above

London - Paris on April 30 is already sold out for Eurail holders. There are still seats left to Lille, you would have to change there for Paris.


Similarly, no availability from Amsterdam on 5 May, there is still some availability from Brussels.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Lots of questions - here are some answers. 

A Global pass will allow you to travel into the centre of London on the Elizabeth Line trains but not the Heathrow Express. There is no reservation possible, but it runs regularly.

A Global pass does not include transport in London other than on the Elizabeth Line and the Overground trains operated by participating operators.

You are correct that a 5 day in a month pass allows you to travel on any 5 days in the month after you start your first journey. You can travel on as many trains as you wish on each travel day. A travel day is for trains scheduled to leave from 0000 to 2359 CET and you can stay onboard a train after midnight. Once you leave that train any further connection will require a new travel day.

Most of the trains you indicate require reservations, especially the Eurostar from and back to London. These are limited so you need to book these in advance - ask for the best way to do this.

There are a few ways of reducing the cost of some routings, especially to Zurich, but they mean changes.

The itinerary will give you very little time in any of these places,

Using high speed trains you will need to budget at least 100 euro for reservations, plus accommodation.

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Buy an Oyster Card at Heathrow and this will cover all your London travel.

Is there any advantage over using a contactless card?

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

Buy an Oyster Card at Heathrow and this will cover all your London travel.

Is there any advantage over using a contactless card?


Oyster cards now cost £7 which is not refundable. (Deposits on older cards bought before 2020 can be refunded)

TfL are heavily pushing contactless card use now over oyster and paper tickets.

Badge +5

Contactless is best unless the card issuer charges you for foreign transactions. I suspect many must do as Oyster cards are now marketed at visitors rather than domestic customers.


Badge +5

I didn’t know the £7 is non refundable. This changed last year

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

So almost everything has already been answered. Most of the trains you'll take have mandatory reservations but as train tickets are really expensive on those trains (Paris - London is at least 150€ on 30.04), a pass will still be worth it. Eurail Global Pass 5 days in a month.

- DAY 1 : London - Lille-Europe 30€ book ASAP, for example 09:01 - 11:26 (1h time difference)

- TGV Lille-Europe - Paris-Nord 12:05 - 13:23 OR 13:39 - 14:41 10€

- DAY 2 : TGV Paris-Est - Strasbourg 07:21 - 09:06 OR 07:58 - 09:59 10€

- TER Strasbourg - Basel SBB 09:21 - 10:40 reservation-free

- Basel SBB - Zürich HB 11:06 - 12:00 reservation-free

- DAY 3 : travel around Switzerland

- DAY 4 : Zurich HB - Basel SBB 06:59 - 07:53

- Basel SBB - Frankfurt (Main) Hbf 08:13 - 11:08

- Frankfurt (Main) Hbf - Amsterdam Centraal 11:26 - 15:53 (optional reservations for 4,50€ Zurich - Amsterdam)

- DAY 5 : IC Amsterdam Centraal - Bruxelles-Midi 16:28 - 19:17 reservation-free

- passport control for the UK made in Brussels so be about 45 min in advance

- Eurostar Bruxelles-Midi - London St. Pancras 20:55 - 21:57 30€ book ASAP (last train of the day

Another possibility would be to take the night train between Basel SBB (1h of Zurich) and Amsterdam on 3rd May. You then arrive in the morning of 4th May and have the full day to explore Amsterdam. 

- Basel SBB - Amsterdam Centraal 23:13 - 09:58 44€ shared couchette book ASAP

Is Zurich really a must ? It's quite out of the way and you miss the best of Switzerland, the Alps. I'd rather focus on Paris, Brussels (day trips to Gent and Brussels) and Amsterdam. You'll basically have no time for Amsterdam which is a real shame.

Let us know for questions

Luggage are allowed on trains with no extra charges