Quality time with your kids...     Child age limits on European trains, listed by country

Kids love trains, and a train journey is part of the holiday.  A major advantage of trains over flights or long drives is that it means quality time with your family, sitting together around a table, talking or playing, away from doorbells, phone calls and other distractions.  And kids really really love sleeper trains, it doesn't get any better than bunk beds on a train!  I'm convinced that taking your kids by train teaches them a degree of independence, too, rather than passively being ferried around by car.

  The baby-changing room on a Eurostar train
 

Baby-changing room on Eurostar, cars 1 & 18. Most modern trains now have these, usually a drop-down table in one or more toilets.

  The play area on a French Corail Teoz train
 

Play areas...  You occasionally find trains with a small play area, for example French 'Téoz' trains and some Swiss & Finnish InterCity trains.  Here, Nathaniel is playing on a 125 mph French Téoz train from Paris to Clermont Ferrand.  Bring your own toy cars!

Babies & infants go free...

Children travel at a reduced fare...

... but watch out for these pitfalls.

Tips & advice for train travel with babies & children...



Child age limits on European trains

  Travelling with children by train:  On board Eurostar.

On board Eurostar:  This train travel thing is child's play...  Photo courtesy of Nathaniel

Within the UK, children under 5 go free, children from 5 to 15 (inclusive) travel at half the adult fare.

On Eurostar, children under 4 go free, and a special child fare (currently £25 single, £50 return to Paris or Brussels in standard class) applies to children from 4 to 11 inclusive.  Children 12 & over travel at the youth fare (for ages 12-26).  All children under 12 must travel accompanied by an adult, and unaccompanied children from 12 to 16 require a consent form signed by their parent or guardian.  See www.eurostar.com for details.

On other European trains, age limits for children vary from country to country, so here's a summary.  Just make sure you tell your booking agency how old your children are, and they will do the rest.  Online booking systems will ask you the ages and will work out the fares for you.  The child fare is normally 50% of the adult fare, although on international trains where special 'global fares' are charged, a special child fare applies.

International trains:

Eurostar, Thalys, Lyria, TGV, Thello, Alleo*

Domestic trains in:

Byelorussia, Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine

Children under 4 go free.

Children 4-11 inclusive (= under 12) pay the child fare, unless an adult fare is cheaper.

UK & Ireland

Children under 5 free.

Children aged 5-15 inclusive (= under 16) pay the child fare.

Belgium

Children under 6 free.

Children aged 6-11 inclusive (= under 12) pay the child fare.

On domestic journeys within Belgium, up to 4 children under 12 travel free of charge if accompanied by someone paying the adult fare, no ticket needed for the children see www.belgianrail.be.

Netherlands

Children under 4 go free.

Accompanied children aged 4-11 inclusive can use a €2.50 Railrunner ticket covering all of the Netherlands for the whole day.

Switzerland

Children under 6 free,

6-15 inclusive (= under 16) pay the child fare.

Italy

On all trains, children under 4 go free.

Children 4-11 inclusive (= under 12) pay the child fare, unless an adult fare is cheaper.

However, from December 2012 the age limit was raised to 4-14 for long-distance trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca, InterCity, ICN, sleepers) so children under 15 now qualify for the child fare.  The child fare is 50% off the Base rate, not off all fares.  An adult Economy or Super-economy fare may be cheaper.

Be careful when booking, as the age limit for Regional trains remains under 12.

Spain

Children under 4 travel for free, but as from October 2014 will require a ticket to travel on Renfe's long-distance & high-speed trains which you can get free of charge from the ticket office.

Children 4-13 inclusive (= under 14) pay the child fare.

Germany

(including international City Night Line sleeper trains, also Alleo*)

Children under 6 free.

Children aged 6-14 inclusive (= under 15) also go free if accompanied by a fare paying adult, half fare if travelling alone.  This applies to many international routes to or from Germany, too, if you book at www.bahn.de.

Austria

Children under 6 free,

6-14 inclusive (= under 15) pay the child fare.

Denmark

Children under 6 free,

6-15 inclusive (= under 16) pay the child fare.

However, two children up to 11 years old travel free if accompanied by a fare paying adult.

Sweden

Children under 6 free,

6-15 inclusive (= under 16) pay the child fare.

Norway

Children under 4 free.

Children aged 4-15 inclusive (= under 16) pay the child fare.

Finland

Children under 6 free,

6-16 inclusive (= under 17) pay the child fare.

Hungary

Children under 6 free.

Children aged 6-13 inclusive (= under 14) pay the child fare.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia

Children under 6 free.

Children aged 6-11 inclusive (= under 12) pay the child fare.

* Alleo is the consortium of French/German national railways running the Paris-Frankfurt/Stuttgart/Munich high-speed daytime trains.  The French show child age limits as 4-12, the Germans apply their own 6-14 age limits, so even the operators can't agree which child limits apply!  I suggest you book with the Germans if you have children aged 5, 13 or 14!


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