Hello koh-family! Let's take a look at your itinerary first. It looks impressive and I think you'll get to see some true European highlights. As for the route in Switzerland: it would be best to enter Switzerland from Geneva (as this is closest to France/Paris) and end your stay in Zurich (as this is closer to the Austrian border). So the order Zermatt-Interlaken-Zurich seems fine to me. As for day 11: the timetable
shows connections from Schaffhausen to Innsbruck about every 2 to 3 hours, so there should be enough possibilities to get to Innsbruck in time. Seats for the train crossing the border have to be reserved, so you shouldn't miss out on the train connection you've planned. You can also decide to leave Zurich earlier in the morning, to make sure that you have enough time left in Schaffhausen and still be able to catch your train. Whether checking in is still possible around midnight, depends on the hotel you've booked in Innsbruck. It would be wise to contact the hotel you've booked (or willing to book) to ask for their policy. Often this is mentioned on their website as well. Hotels can be found through our hotel page
Seats should be reserved for all international journeys, as I just mentioned. Trips within Switzerland, Austria or Italy don't have to be reserved in advance. You can just get on board with your pass or purchase your ticket at the railway station before boarding. In your case, seats should be reserved for the trips Paris-Geneva, Schaffhausen-Innsbruck and Innsbruck-Venice. Seat reservations (for journeys both with and without a rail pass covering the trip) can be arranged for through our website
Concerning rail passes: it's quite hard to calculate in advance which pass suits your plans best. This is because fares for (international) trips can vary greatly. Prices depend on the moment of booking and travelling, the supplier of the tickets, whether you want to be able to cancel or change your order afterwards, and so on. An indication can be obtained by getting to the RailEurope site belonging to your country of residence (for example via the seat reservation page mentioned above). You can enter the journeys you've planned and see what the costs will be. This will help you decide whether a pass covering that particular country is worth your money, or whether it's better to purchase regular single rail tickets for that trip.
If you choose a pass that allows you to travel for free on a number of (non-consecutive) days, you are the one to decide which days you want to use as 'free travel days'. You don't even have to decide this in advance, but you can stamp your pass or fill out the date each morning before boarding the first train or bus. You should use free travel days for the longest and most expensive trips.
In all, these are your best options:
1) the Eurail Select Saver pass
for 3 countries: either France, Switzerland and Italy (as your stay in Austria is relatively short) or Switzerland, Austria and Italy. A 4 day pass may be worth your money as well. Again, which option is best depends on the train fares you'll get to see. You can choose from several fixed numbers of free travel days. You may consider a 6 day, an 8 day or a 10 day pass and use these free travel days for the longest and most expensive journeys, such as French border (from London)-Paris, Paris-Geneva, Zermatt-Interlaken, Zurich-Schaffhausen-Innsbruck, Innsbruck-Venice, etc. All prices are listed here
. An overview of what is included and what is not is listed on the Eurail Selectpass page
. The full fare has to be paid for most trips made on non-free travel days. Some mountain lifts and trains (such as Gornergrat and Jungfraujoch) are discounted. You don't have to use a free travel day to obtain such discounts.
2) a Swiss Saver Pass
and a Eurail Italy Pass, supplemented with regular train tickets for all (legs of the) trips outside of the Swiss and Italian borders. So you'd have to pay extra for the legs London-Paris, Paris-Geneva, Swiss/Austrian border (in most cases Buchs)-Innsbruck, and Austrian/Italian border-Venice. An overview of the validity of the Swiss Pass can be reviewed by clicking the link 'Overview of the network on which the Swiss Pass is valid' at the Swiss Pass page
Further explanation on how to calculate which pass is best, can be found in our railway FAQ
. I hope this gets your started!