Ketti Wilhelm, the travel blogger and author of this guide to buying train tickets in Europe, riding a train in Milan, Italy. ©KettiWilhelm2023

Omio vs Trainline vs Rail Europe: How to Buy Train Tickets in Europe

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Do you have questions about booking train tickets in Europe, or in North America? Then you’re in the right place! I’m simplifying the process in this guide, and comparing the best options for buying tickets in different situations, with the pros and cons of each service.

This is a sustainable travel blog, and there’s no denying that traveling by train is much better for the environment than flying. But booking train tickets is often much more confusing than booking flights.

Why?

Well, if you’re buying train tickets in Europe, each country has a different national train system, with its own website, language, sometimes its own currency, and definitely its own glitches.

To buy a flight, on the other hand, you just go to Skyscanner, and in a few clicks you have tons of options and routes, no matter how many countries you need to pass through to get where you’re going.

Now, several ticket resellers for European train tickets are trying to make train travel as easy to book and figure out as air travel.

The main contenders are Omio, Rail Europe and Trainline.

Those three are all legitimate companies, and established ticket resellers for European train tickets. (They’re official partners of the European national train companies.)

And they all put you on the same trains! (There’s no such thing as an “Omio train” vs a “Trainline train” vs a “RailEurope train.” It’s just a matter of who’s selling you the ticket.)

Latest Travel Deals: Save 10% off any train, bus, flight or ferry tickets from Omio with THIS LINK and the code MARCH . (Valid through March 20, 2024. Maximum discount will be €10. First-time Omio customers only – or use a different email address.)

My default is Omio, but there are some useful differences between these three resellers, which I know well from experience. So that’s what I’ll break down in this post, to help you find the best way to buy European train tickets specifically for your Euro trip.

First, the highlights:

Most International + Multipurpose
Best for Business Travel in Europe
Best Filters for European Train Tickets
4.5
3.0
4.0
Europe, Canada & United States
Europe only
Europe only
Trains, busses, flights, ferries & airport transfers
Trains & busses
Trains & busses
Student discounts + sometimes other offers
Discounted UK Railcards
Sells EU Rail Passes (sometimes worth a discount)
Yes
No
Yes
Usually. Amount varies.
Sometimes. Amount varies.
Yes. $8.45 flat fee + (standard) fees for some seat reservations
  • More than trains in Europe – book ALL kinds of tickets in Europe & N. America
  • Option for invoice & other business travel features
  • “Via Station" to search specific routes, layover times, or multi-city tickets
  • Compare CO2 emissions vs flying!
  • Book EURail passes
20+ (Asian, EU + many more)
~15, mostly European
6 (English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
20+ (USD, CAD, AUD, Euro, British Pound + MANY more)
10 (USD, CAD, AUD, Euro, British Pound + more)
5 (USD, CAD, AUD, Euro, British Pound)
Yes
Yes
No
Germany
UK
France
2013
1997
1932
Most International + Multipurpose
4.5
Europe, Canada & United States
Trains, busses, flights, ferries & airport transfers
Student discounts + sometimes other offers
Yes
Usually. Amount varies.
  • More than trains in Europe – book ALL kinds of tickets in Europe & N. America
20+ (Asian, EU + many more)
20+ (USD, CAD, AUD, Euro, British Pound + MANY more)
Yes
Germany
2013
Best for Business Travel in Europe
3.0
Europe only
Trains & busses
Discounted UK Railcards
No
Sometimes. Amount varies.
  • Option for invoice & other business travel features
~15, mostly European
10 (USD, CAD, AUD, Euro, British Pound + more)
Yes
UK
1997
Best Filters for European Train Tickets
4.0
Europe only
Trains & busses
Sells EU Rail Passes (sometimes worth a discount)
Yes
Yes. $8.45 flat fee + (standard) fees for some seat reservations
  • “Via Station" to search specific routes, layover times, or multi-city tickets
  • Compare CO2 emissions vs flying!
  • Book EURail passes
6 (English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
5 (USD, CAD, AUD, Euro, British Pound)
No
France
1932

[Looking a comparison of Omio vs. ItaliaRail? I’ve got all the details on that in my full Guide to Train Travel in Italy. In short, I prefer Omio over ItaliaRail for its simplicity and use-friendliness.]

Jump to the details here:

Why listen to me?

I’ve taken a lot of trains! After all, I lived in Europe for about four years, including one year spent commuting between my life in Italy and my job in France. Now that I’m based in the US, every trip to Europe involves visiting in-laws in both Italy and Prague, as well as friends scattered around the continent.

So I’ve already used Omio, Trainline and Rail Europe personally. I know the pros and cons of each, and have a lot of specific tips to share below.

Plus, since the focus of this blog is how to travel more sustainably, I opt for trains over flight whenever possible (and in Europe, trains are actually possible quite often).

[Related: I get around by train in the US a lot, too, but it’s trickier and there are fewer destinations served. My Adirondack weekend getaway guide includes important advice for getting to Upstate NY by train. And this story about Detroit and Chicago is all about travel in the US.]

Ketti Wilhelm, the travel blogger and author of this guide to buying train tickets in Europe, riding a train in Milan, Italy. ©KettiWilhelm2023
That’s me, freshly landed in Milan, taking the train from Malpensa to the city center. (Barely awake behind the glasses…)

Because hey, some people watch their waistlines, but I’m more focused on watching my travel emissions.

So pass the croissants, I’ll take them for my train snack!

[Related: I’ve also written a detailed Guide to Train Travel in Italy, and a Guide to Ferry Travel in Greece.]


Omio Review

For quite a while, I’ve used and recommended Omio for booking European train tickets. It lets you buy train tickets, and nearly any kind of travel, in almost every country in Europe – and in North America!

(There are no “Omio trains.” It’s not a train company, just an easier way to buy train tickets, whether you’re traveling from Paris to Milan, or Chicago to Seattle.)

That’s the first thing I like about Omio:

Pro: Omio covers the most countries and modes of transport.

I use Omio to quickly compare trains, flights, ferries, busses, and more – all in one search.

While it’s not global, Omio does already let you buy tickets in most of Europe and North America, which is a wider reach than Trainline or Rail Europe, and they’re expanding.

For the route variety and prices it finds, I’ve found Omio does the best job with trains and busses (vs. planes and ferries). But it’s still a useful starting point for any route, just to see what options exist and compare travel times.

But there are several alternatives to Omio, with pro and cons to each one. So I decided to test them all on my real travel plans.

About those travel plans…

I spent much of this summer in Italy – starting in Milan, my old expat hometown! From there, I took a train to the central region of Marche for a unique Italian bike trip with gorgeous views, wineries, an olive oil tasting, and other pleasures.

[Travel Opportunity! I’ll be inviting readers on this same Italian bike adventure in 2024! If you’re interested, be sure to get on my email list below for updates!]

Anyway, back to the train tickets. I took a look at Omio first to book my tickets from Milan to Fabriano for the bike trip, but I didn’t stop there. Below are all the differences I found comparing Omio vs Trainline vs Rail Europe.

Pro: You can book with your loyalty & discount card numbers on Omio.

Omio lets you include many loyalty card numbers, or discount memberships when you book tickets.

The options include a CartaFreccia number, for Italian train tickets. (If you have one, great. But, as I explained here, if you’re not a current or former resident of Italy, good luck getting one.) Rail Europe also offers this for the most countries.

Pro: Omio Student Travel Discounts:

This is definitely unique: Omio offers a student discount on train and bus tickets!

The discount is 5% off, but it’s only available for students based in certain countries. (This link should redirect you the right page for your country, if available.)

UPDATE: Omio’s student discount is now applicable on Deutsche Bahn (Germain train tickets), Amtrak, and VIA Rail (US and Canadian trains), as well as most other tickets on Omio. However, it won’t work on Flixbus or Greyhound bus tickets.

Con: You can’t choose exact seats on Omio.

Unlike the alternatives below, Omio doesn’t let you choose specific seats on the train, the way you choose your seats on an airplane. Normally, this isn’t much of a problem, since you can choose a seat preference. (Window, aisle, solo seat, quiet zone, etc. The options depend on the train type and country.)

This is usually free for train tickets within Italy, but in some countries, it costs a few euros.

Options to choose a seat preference – window, aisle, solo seat, or any seat – on Italians trains on Omio.
The free seating preferences Omio offers for fast trains in Italy.

That’s what I did when I bought our two tickets to Central Italy – I selected “window” as the preference. Then I checked the tickets that Omio issued, and they put us in the seats we would have chosen anyway – window seats facing each other. (Not spread out in random spots on the train, as airlines tend to do if you don’t pay.)

In Italy specifically, you can’t buy tickets on the FrecciaRossa‘s “Area Silenzio” (that’s the quiet car of Italy’s main fast trains). I asked Omio about this and they said it’s a feature they’re working on and will be available soon. (That’s the latest as of writing this, in June of 2023. I’ll update this here when it changes.)

Tip: As soon as you purchase, Omio sends you an email with your official train tickets (no need to print them in the vast majority of cases. Just keep them on your phone.)

Omio booking fees?

This has changed quite recently, as of writing this in June 2023.

Before, Omio charged a flat, 3€ booking fee for any purchase. But now, the fee varies based on multiple factors. From what I’ve seen, it’s usually from 2€ to 10€, and sometimes there’s no fee at all.

(I reached out to ask them about this. They said it’s based on the location where you’re booking tickets, where you’re booking from, ticket class, and other factors.)

I wish it were more straightforward how much the fees would be, but at least you know how much it will cost from the beginning of the booking process. On Omio, you see the fee as soon as you put a ticket in your cart and select your ticket class. That’s better than many platforms, especially Trainline.)

Pro: Choose the currency you pay in on Omio.

Another unique feature is that Omio lets you choose the currency you actually pay in, not just the currency that prices are displayed in. (Trainline and Rail Europe just show the information to make it easier on us, but the charge will go through in the local currency.)

This is the biggest benefit if you don’t have a credit card without foreign transaction fees – but you should! Foreign transaction fees, which are around 3% on every transaction, will add up quickly.

If you do have a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, then ALWAYS opt to pay in the local currency, NOT your home currency!

Your bank or credit card company will always give you a better exchange rate than the merchant’s bank, so you’ll save money on every purchase during your trip. (Usually the charge is applied based on the currency of the transaction, not the location, but it’s worth double-checking this with your bank.)

Omio lets you choose the currency you want to pay in when booking bus, ferry, or train tickets in Europe or other countries. This can help you save money on foreign transaction fees.
If you have a travel credit card (with no foreign transaction fees) be sure to switch this option to Euros on Omio!!

Tip: If you don’t have a good travel credit card already, Capital One is a good place to start. None of their credit cards have foreign transaction fees, and they offers lots of cards with no annual fee.

[Related: Stay tuned for my post about more simple ways to save money on your travels, coming soon!]

The view of the glass ceiling next to the platform in the train station of Strasbourg, France, with a blue sky behind. ©KettiWilhelm2023
The Strasbourg train station, during what turned out to be a very… dramatic trip to Strasbourg!

Trainline Review

Trainline is the first platform I wanted to compare with Omio, because it’s the most similar. They both have apps, and let you book train tickets in most of Europe. (Although unlike Omio, Trainline doesn’t cover North America, and only works for trains and busses, nothing else.)

Con: Yes, Trainline charges a booking fee, too (it’s just sneakier).

And at the beginning of this search, I had a bit of a crisis of confidence about recommending Omio. That’s because, at first, it seemed like Trainline didn’t charge a service fee, which would make it the better, or at least cheaper, option. (And I shuddered at the thought of having to rewrite my entire Italian trains guide.)

But as I went through the booking process on Trainline, I realized that was not the case. Trainline does charge a service fee similar to Omio’s – it’s just added at the end, which makes me prefer Omio. At least there it’s clear from the start.

Pro: You can book (a few) more ticket class options on Trainline.

The one benefit I’ve found of Trainline vs. Omio is that it allowed me to choose tickets in Business Area Silenzio (the “silent area” of TrenItalia’s Business class carriage). Whereas Omio doesn’t offer those tickets yet. (I’ve done multiple tests of this, looking at the same train, at the same time.)

Other than that one, slightly odd, difference I’ve found, Omio and Trainline seem to offer the same ticket class options at the same prices. (At least for trains in Italy.)

Pro: You can choose specific seats with Trainline.

Trainline lets you choose your exact seats when booking Italian train tickets, while Omio only lets you choose a preference. (Window, middle seat, or solo seat.)

They charge the same fee (roughly $2 per seat) that the train companies charge when you book seats with them directly.

The seat map for choosing seats, for a fee, when booking train tickets in Europe on The Trainline.
Trainline’s seat map – choose your exact spot for a couple of $.

(Rail Europe, the Trainline alternative below, also lets you choose your seats.)

Con: No loyalty or discount card numbers.

Unlike Omio and Rail Europe, Trainline doesn’t let you add any local loyalty numbers when booking European train tickets.

Pro: You can get a business invoice for Trainline tickets.

Trainline is the only train booking website I’ve seen that lets you request a personal or business invoice during the booking process.

Business Travel Tip: Trainline also has a specific Trainline Business platform, designed for business travelers. I haven’t used it, but it’s described as a free way to keep track of travel expenses, automatically receive invoices, and send calendar invites.

Pro: Discounted UK Railcards on Trainline

While Trainline doesn’t offer a student discount like Omio, it does have a legitimate 20% discount on Railcards. Those are the annual discount cards for taking trains in the UK, which can be quite valuable if you’re planning a trip there with multiple trains rides.

Tip: Yes, travelers can use Railcards, too! You don’t have to be a UK resident.

Bottom line on Trainline:

After this comparison, Omio is still my preference over Trainline. While the option to select exact seats on Trainline is a pro, I really don’t like how they bury the service fees at the end of the booking process.

It also seems bit glitchy sometimes. On my first test, I was actually going to purchase my Italian train tickets from Trainline, but when I got to the end of the process, it kept telling me the trip had expired. So I ended up going back to Omio.

A problem with Trainline's booking site didn't allow me to book my train tickets in Italy.

Rail Europe Review

Rail Europe is a bit of a sleeper here – I almost didn’t include it in this comparison. It’s less flashy than Trainline and Omio – no app, less of a glitzy website, and it’s been around since 1932, for heaven’s sake.

But Rail Europe impressed me with several unique features that others don’t have:

Pro: Shows your climate impact from taking the train vs flying!

This is definitely what I think is most interesting about Rail Europe: When you search for your train tickets, Rail Europe shows you the estimated CO2 savings from taking the train vs flying the same route!

It’s the only platform I’ve found that offers this information, and I think it’s great that they’re trying to make this knowledge more widely available.

[Related: Check out my Guide to the Best Travel Carbon Calculators! Spoiler: For comparing flights vs trains vs driving a certain route, I recommend TravelAndClimate.org. And for cleaning the up the emissions that have already happened, I recommend this organization.]

Pro: Suggests better tickets where they count.

I’ve noticed that Rail Europe tends to do something smart for Italian train tickets with a connection: It automatically upgrades the FrecciaRossa part of the journey (where business class actually makes a difference), and automatically gives you second class for the Regional train connection.

This way, you can get more for your money – although you can always change the class for any section of your train route separately.

(The difference is pretty minimal between first and second class on Regional trains in Italy. I described the train types and differences in tickets classes here in my Italian train travel guide.)

Rail Europe shows the difference between carbon emissions of trains vs flights when you book European train tickets.
Smart class choices (the blue arrows on the left) and carbon calculations (the green arrow) on Rail Europe.

Pro: You can choose your seats on Rail Europe.

If you’re looking for a Trainline alternative that still lets you choose your exact seat on the train, then Rail Europe is a winner. (This is the main feature missing from Omio.)

Pro: Rail Europe labels short layovers.

This might be the most useful, logical feature of Rail Europe for booking train tickets. The results for each Rail Europe search include a little flag when a route includes a short connection between trains. (Is it still called a “layover” when you’re not flying?)

Rail Europe has the helpful feature of showing the connection time for train trips in Europe, as well as flagging short connections clearly.
Nice clear connection times – and alerts for short ones – on Rail Europe.

Just like the next point, this information is available on the other websites. It’s just easier to see on Rail Europe.

Pro: Rail Europe lets you add a “via station.”

This is another very useful feature that no one else has. Adding a “via station” on Rail Europe lets you essentially book multiple train tickets in one search, or choose which city you want to transfer in.

An example of when it’s useful for train connections:

If you’re booking a popular train route that doesn’t require transfers – like Milan to Rome – you don’t need to worry about a via station.

But when I wanted to book a more obscure trip, from Milan to the small town of Fabriano, it was more complicated. If I took the route with a change in Bologna, I would have spent one hour on a fast train (the FrecciaRossa from Milan to Bologna) and then 4 hours on a slower train.

But if I booked a transfer in Ancona, instead, I’d spend 3 hours on a fast train (the FrecciaRossa from Milan to Ancona) then one hour on a slow train (Ancona to Fabriano), thus shaving an hour off the trip.

So if you know something like that, Rail Europe is the only booking platform that lets you specify which city you want to pass through or transfer in.

On Omio, for example, you can still easily see the transfer station in the details of each ticket option, you just can’t search by it.

So again, this feature isn’t necessary. It’s just nice if you know you want it.

The "more options" button on Rail Europe that lets you add a "via station" or book multiple European train trips on one ticket.
“More options” on Rail Europe lets you choose a station to connect in, or book multiple train trips on one ticket.

Pro: Book with (lots of) loyalty & discount card numbers.

Rail Europe lets you choose to add your membership number for lots of European train discount and loyalty programs before you even search for your tickets.

(Omio is also pretty good with this, while Trainline doesn’t seem to allow this option at all.)

Pro: You can buy EU Rail passes.

You can’t buy EU Rail passes on most booking sites, but you can on Rail Europe.

Whether or not it actually makes sense to is another question…

EU Rail passes basically let you pre-pay for a certain number of “travel days” during a certain period of time (say, one month). Then you book your trains tickets without paying – theoretically. (But there are several significant exceptions, including many fast trains in popular countries like Italy.)

And whether a rail pass will actually save you money will take some calculation…

Personally, I think it’s usually a better bet to just book individual tickets at least several weeks in advance. But if you decide you do want an EU Rail Pass, you can buy it from Rail Europe.

EU Rail Pass vs. InterRail Pass?

I get this question all the time, and the difference is simple. EUrail Passes are for non-European citizens or non-residents.

To use an InterRail Pass, meanwhile, you have to be a European citizen or resident.

Pro & Con: Rail Europe fees are straightforward.

Finally, Rail Europe probably has the most straightforward fees I’ve found – but I think they mark up their ticket prices a bit more. (From what I’ve seen, the difference between Rail Europe and Omio is usually just a couple of dollars, but it’s worth checking two sites to compare if you’re trying to stick to your travel budget.)

The booking fee is a flat $8.45 on Rail Europe, and it’s very clear about it from the start. It doesn’t matter how many tickets you buy, or from where.

Like Trainline, Rail Europe also charges about $2 per seat for seat selection in Italy and many countries. (If you care to choose specific seats. Omio avoids that fee by only letting you choose a seat preference – window, aisle, etc.)

The train station in Karlsruhe, Germany, with the platform sign showing trains to Stuttgart and Leipzig, Germany. ©KettiWilhelm2023
Changing trains in Karlsruhe, Germany, during my train trip from Prague to Eastern France.

Buying Tickets Directly with National Rail Companies

Of course, I also compared going straight to the TrenItalia website for this trip. (Italy’s national rail company.) And of course, booking tickets directly with TrenItalia is still just as glitchy as I remember it being when I lived in Italy and used the site all the time.

The official TrenItalia website seemed much cheaper on the search results page, but the price changed when I clicked, with no explanation. Frankly, that’s pretty standard.

It’s always been a glitchy website, and I’ve consistently had problems paying with a US credit card. There are also translation issues. For example, if you type “Venice” into the search bar on TrenItalia, it won’t recognize it. You have to enter city names in Italian – Venezia instead of Venice, Roma instead of Rome, etc.

So even when the prices are a little lower, it’s not always worth the hassle and lack of customer service.

These lost-in-translation problems are why companies like Omio exist in the first place.


Why I’d rather take the train than fly:

I’m glad all three of these companies are trying to simplify buying train tickets, because along with being much more sustainable, train travel is often also a better way to travel in Europe (as opposed to flying).

Buying the tickets is just the most complicated part.

But after that, it’s easy. There’s no security line to deal with. (Well, there often is some degree of security check, but you don’t have to give up your liquids or get to the station two hours early!) There are hardly any baggage restrictions.

[Related: For another way to stop worrying about luggage restrictions, check out my guide to packing lighter, with mindset tips to make it work for you. (Hint: It’s not a one-size-fits-all packing list.)]

The seats are bigger, and the prices are lower. (Especially in 2023, with flight prices climbing, even for the famously-cheap short flights in Europe!)

Plus, train stations are almost always in the center of European cities – no long rides to the airport.

And the experience of train travel doesn’t mentally take you out of your trip, the way the sterile uniformity of an airport does. Instead, you stay on the ground and much more in the culture you’re visiting, and get to enjoy some views you wouldn’t otherwise see, along the way.


Before You Go – More Resources for Your Trip:

For everything in one place, check out my Travel Booking Resources page. It has the vetted companies that I use all the time for flights, ferries, insurance, hotels and sustainably-run, multi-day trips.

Going to Greece? Check out my guide to Greek ferries!

Book your hotels… or something else

Find the right travel insurance:

I skipped travel insurance for years, but after a recent incident with a bread truck in France, I might be finally learning my lesson!

Insure My Trip is my first recommendation for short-term travel insurance. For long-term travel, start with SafetyWing.

DETAILS: For more travel insurance options and what I like about each one, see this section of my Travel Resources.

If you have any questions about Omio, Trainline or Rail Europe, or about taking trains in Europe in general, leave them in the comments below!

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21 Comments

  1. This was a very helpful article. I was always curious which booking was better and this made it very straightforward.
    I usually don’t use third party sites to book hotels or flights because I know the price is marked up.
    But the train company’s websites are BRUTAL (I’m looking at you Renfe and TrenItalia) to navigate which made me fly more often than I wanted. So you have definitely made a sustainability difference with me because I’ll be booking more trains and less flights.
    Thank you for writing this.

  2. Very helpful, as I want to take the train from London to Barcelona after flying in from Canada! Helped me with my research – much obliged!

    1. Hi Liz,

      That’s sounds like a great adventure! Happy to help! 🙂

      I just took the Euro Star from London to Paris last month, and then continued on a train trip all the way to Prague. I booked it with Byway, which made the logistics simpler, since they specialize in train trips like that in Europe. I’ll be writing about the whole trip soon!

      Enjoy your travels and let me know if you have more questions!
      Ketti

  3. Hello Ketti!
    I had an entire trip booked last year from San Diego to Amsterdam to exploring the Netherlands and the Loire Valley. I had my rooms n the Netherlands and France. The rail was so messed up when trying to make reservations. There were strikes going on and I couldn’t seem to get train connections after paying for my Global Pass. I cancelled our trip after a month of frustration. I love Europe and we have taken trains before and visited 6 countries. I was able to book on the phone from California, USA and it was so helpful. Now they no longer have reservations by phone. Any suggestions? I want to go do the same trip with maybe the Champagne region, Germany and Switzerland. I know the Global Pass for us will probably be best choice for 3 weeks. I need a travel agent that can help assist with train reservations as I don’t want to take a chance of not getting them once in Europe. Are you able to suggest anything? Thank you! Diane

    1. Hi Diane,

      I’m sorry to hear you had you such a hassle!

      If you’re worried about that happening again, I’d say, first, don’t wait until you’re already in Europe to book your tickets. Just book online before your trip, so you don’t have to deal with it once you get to Europe. If you do want to use the EuRail pass again, you can buy the passes here, and then make your date and seat reservations before you start your trip, so everything is all sorted. Then if you do have to change the reservations, or there’s a strike, you’ll be able to change them within the EuRail pass app.

      The alternative would be of course to just book tickets directly before the trip (I’d recommend using Omio or Rail Europe), but then of course you’ll just have to deal with the train companies directly for any support.

      Or, what I would actually recommend over a travel agent would be booking through Byway. They create train trips for people all over Europe (including entirely custom trips), and if there’s ever any problem/ strike/ train cancellation, or you just have a question, you have your own WhatsApp group with several of their support people (not a computer, but real people based in the UK). I took a trip with them from London to Prague last month and it was really amazing! I had them adjust all my train tickets whenever I wanted to just move the departure time by an hour (I could have done it myself, but honestly I wanted to test the service). They were fantastic.

      There’s a little more info about them here, and I’m working on a blog post about the trip, so stay tuned for that! (My newsletter is the best way.)

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have other questions, and keep in touch!

      Best,
      Ketti

  4. I wanted to add one additional “Pro” for trainline, which is particularly useful for when traveling in Italy (especially via regional train): a live tracker, at least before purchasing your ticket.

    I travel regularly from Brescia to Milano Centrale and regional trains are notoriously unreliable, with generic “guasti” (breakdowns). Trainline lets me decide when to leave my house without having to find out at the station that the train that I was planning on taking left the first station 30 minutes late.

    Or I can decide last minute if I can take an early train whose delay has already been announced

    Happy holidays!

    1. Hi Marco,

      That’s interesting, I didn’t know Trainline had that! And even better to know first-hand that it actually works. Thanks for the tip!

      Happy holiday to you, too! (A bit belated… happy new year, at least! 🙂 )

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  5. Hi!planning to travel from Paris to switzerland on the 23rd, and very confused on the trains. So you think its better to book in Omio? Or directly at the train station?

    1. Hi Haidee,

      Definitely book ahead of time on Omio! I’d recommend now, since you’re 10 days out from the trip. If you wait until you’re at the train station (even if you go there a couple days early) prices will be much higher and the departure time you want could be fully booked.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have other questions, and if you’re interested please keep in touch!

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  6. I really liked this comparison of Omio to the other sites; I was having trouble getting straight answers from EuroRail site and some old ones that Rick Steves suggested had a Hack site imbedded in it; Think it was an old Review;
    Your’s is great comparison and I went right away to Omio and got all the answers I needed for a Trip to Portugual Spain and Llourdes France that should happen soon; It’s so nice that they compare buses to trains and air and if they can’t find they kinda suggest renting a car with their ads for Car Rentals;
    Thanks Again;
    Rob

    1. Hi Rob,

      Thank you so much for this comment, it really makes my day! I’m so glad the article was useful for you. If you’re interested, please do keep in touch!

      Thanks – and have great trip!

      Ketti

  7. I have a G30 credit from SNCF for 35.30 euros can I use this with Rail Europe
    when I book my next trip to Switzerland via Paris and Basel ?

    1. Hi Archie,

      I’m afraid I’m really not sure how this would work, but my guess is that if the credit is with SNCF, you’d have to book directly with them to use it. Hope you can figure it out and let me know if you have other questions!

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  8. I found your article extremely helpful. Thanks for that. I am planning a trip to Italy (at the time of travel, my children will be 17 and 13) and browsing all train sites to check on prices to have an idea of an approx budget. I do like trainline mainly because it shows trip more in advance than the 2 major train companies. However, the last few days, all “Italy related” groups I follow, are full of negative experiences regarding canceling trips at the last minute and charging exorbitant fees at reimbursement and lack of contact info for follow up/dispute. I’ve heard of Omio before. I will now go explore it more. I’m a planner and find comfort in the security blanket of buying tix needed ahead of time.

    1. Hi Catherine,

      I’m so glad you found the article helpful! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

      That’s good to know, I hadn’t heard of the bad customer experiences with Trainline (and haven’t had issues with them myself). I will say though, that all ticket resellers should offer tickets about 3 to 6 months in advance, as that’s generally the timeline for when the national rail companies (and Italo, in Italy’s case) release schedules. If Trainline is showing up much more in advance, I’d almost be skeptical. I’ll try to look into this. And yes, Omio is generally my go-to.

      Totally understand the security blanket and feeling better after getting something booked and being able to check that box!

      If you’re curious, I have lots of other articles about traveling in Italy. If you have any questions, please let me know what they are, and if you’re interested, keep in touch!

      Enjoy your travels!
      Ketti

  9. Hi Ketti! Thank you for the clear reviews. I have a question about booking on third-party apps. I usually feel a bit skeptical about it due to concerns about cancellations or schedule discrepancies. I typically purchase train tickets directly from national railway services like SBB for Swiss trains, IDOS for Czech trains, and SNCF for French trains. However, when I tried to buy tickets from German and Austrian trains, my card wasn’t accepted, possibly because I used my Wise card. Therefore, I’m considering using a third-party app like Omio. Do you think this is a cause for concern? Thanks!

    1. Hi Fahmi,

      I’m so glad you found the review useful! That’s great to hear. 🙂 I’m sorry it took me a while to get back to you here.

      What you’re describing is one of the big reasons I recommend people use a third-party ticket company like Omio. When I lived in Italy, my various US credit and debit cards were frequently rejected when I tried to book tickets directly with Italo, and especially with TrenItalia. (And personally, I’ve had better luck dealing with delays and cancellations with the third-party booking sites than directly with the national rail companies, but that’s harder to predict, honestly.)

      I hopes that helps a bit! Let me know if you have other questions, and if you’re interested, please keep in touch!

      Cheers,
      Ketti

  10. Are you kidding me? Omio sucks at a lot of things, finding trains for starters! I’m in a train travel group and I have seen so many people having issues with Omio, including not getting seat reservations even when you request it, and being a nightmare when it comes to delays, cancellations and missed trains. They do seem to work for single journeys and consecutive journeys with certain train operators (for example if you can buy the entire journey with Deutsche Bahn, or apparently Trenitalia), but you can easily buy those tickets through the train companies themselves. I prefer the apps where you can easily see information about delays and platforms and have the tickets easily at hand. The only people who like Omio are people who are travelling on single trains or non-complex train journeys and who don’t encounter issues.

    1. Nope, not kidding! The last line indicates that it works well for the vast majority of travelers. I’ve personally used it many times and not had any issues. Feel free to do whatever you think is best though and have a good day!

  11. Can you please tell me whether a “change” in a train schedule with only 6 minutes truly means we have to change trains with only a mere 6 minute window? That seems far too risky for missing a connection?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Great question! I would personally never book that short of a connection for myself. (Unless it’s a small town station and every single itinerary has that short of a connection, in which case it’s probably just on the other side of the platform, and that’s just the way the station works.)

      If you’re transferring through a big station, especially after a long trip with lots of chance for delays, I’d recommend giving yourself an hour, although that’s quite generous.

      Hope that helps! Enjoy your trip and if you’re interested, please keep in touch! I also have lots of other articles about travel in Italy that you might find useful!

      Cheers,
      Ketti