In addition to simple railpasses, many countries (as well as Europass and Eurail) offer rail-and-drive passes, which combine car rental with rail travel a good option for travelers who wish both to visit cities accessible by rail and to make side trips into the surrounding areas.
DISCOUNTED RAIL TICKETS
For travelers under 26, BIJ tickets (e.g., Wasteeis, Eurotraln, and Route 26) are great alternatives to railpasses. Available for international trips within Europe, travel within France, and most ferry services, they knock 20-40% off regular second-class fares. Issued for a specific international route between two points, they must be used in the direction and order of the designated route and must be bought in Europe. However, tickets are good for 60 days after purchase and allow a number of stopovers along the normal direct route of the train journey. The equivalent for those over 26, BIGT tickets provide a 20-30% discount on first- and second-class international tickets for business travelers, temporary residents of Europe, and their families. Both types of tickets are available from European travel agents, at Wasteeis or Eurotrain offices (usually in or near train stations), or directly at the ticket counter in some stations. For more info, see www.wasteels.com.
FURTHER RESOURCES ON TRAIN TRAVEL.
Point-to-Point Fares and Schedules: www.raileurope.com/us/rail/ fares_schedules/index.htm. Allows you to calculate whether buying a railpass would save you money.
European Railway Servers: http://mercurio.iet.unipi.it/misc/timetabl.html. Links to railway servers throughout Europe.
Info on Rail Travel and Railpasses: www.eurorail.com;www.raileurope.com.
Thomas Cook European Timetable, updated monthly, covers all major and most minor train routes in Europe. In the US, order it from Forsyth Travel Library. (*800-367-7984; www.forsyth.com. US$28.95.) In Europe, find it at any Thomas Cook Money Exchange Center. Alternatively, buy directly from Thomas Cook (www.thomascookpublishing.com).
On the Rails Around Europe: A Comprehensive Guide to Travel by Train, Melissa Shales. Thomas Cook Ltd. (US$18.95).
Europe By Eurail 2003, Laverne Ferguson-Kosinski. Globe Pequot Press (US$18.95).
Photo Gallery of Best countries to visit
Click to on Photo for Next Best countries to visit Images