When do I Have to Make a Seat Reservation?
If you're traveling with Interrail, it's good to check in advance if any trains require any seat reservations.
Suppose a train has a mandatory seat reservation. In that case, you need to purchase a seating ticket in advance to even be able to board the train. High-speed trains and overnight trains do, in general, always have mandatory seating. Countries where most trains have mandatory seat reservations are France, Spain, and Italy.
Some trains have an optional seat reservation, which means that you can choose if you want to book a seat or not. We always recommend making a reservation if possible, especially during high season or if you travel in a bigger group. If you don't make a reservation when optional, you will most likely be able to board the train anyway. However, the odds of you having to stand up or sit in the aisle in such cases increase. Further, the conductor has the right to deny travelers boarding the train if it's full.
It happens that the railway companies change from optional seat reservations to mandatory seat reservations on some trains, especially during peak season or if there's a higher demand than usual. So, double-check the trains you plan to travel with a week before to inspect if the rules have changed.