If you have firm travel plans, it’s definitely easier, less frustrating, and cheaper to buy European train tickets in advance. Rail Europe, the folks that bring you a dizzying array of rail passes, have recently upgraded their website (raileurope.com) to make it easier to find and purchase point to point tickets in Europe. Still, if you don’t find exactly what you are looking for, it’s a good idea to check the European rail websites—such as ns.nl (Netherlands), sncf.com (France), and especially bahn.de (Germany)—for detailed information about routes, stations, amenities and local rules. Remember, even if you purchase a pass, many trains (including sleepers and all high speed trains) require supplemental tickets.
By Clay Doyle for The Out Traveler, Winter 2006