blue train in tunnel during day

Interrail/Eurail. Your Ultimate Guide!

Interrail/Eurail is one of the best experience that you can do to get around Europe. Find out what it is and how you can make the most out of it.

Have you ever thought about travelling around Europe? If the answer is a loud “YES” and you have a spirit of adventure Interrail is what you are looking for.

It is a life changing experience, but probably there are many questions and a lot of confusion about it. That’s why we want to help you with this step by step guide.

Let’s start!!!

Read also our top 10 tips and advise for an amazing Interrail:

Ben getting on board on the first train to Kandy
Photo by Etienne Boulanger / Unsplash

What is Interrail?

The Interrail program was born in 1972 and It has been created mainly for a young target resident in UE. It is a train ticket that allows you to travel in a flexible way inside the EU countries, which decided to take part to this initiative. Nowadays (2020) It is possible to travel across 33 countries, allowing you to have unlimited amount of destinations during the period the ticket pass is valid for.

Which ticket should I buy?

Let’s start talking about the differences about Interrail and Eurail. Both are the same thing but if you are a European citizen or a resident, you are able to buy the Interrail Pass. Should you not be from Europe then the Eurail pass will make more sense for you. Here their website.

To understand how it works we have to mention which passes are available. There are two kinds of Interrail/Eurail pass: The One Country Pass and the Global Country Pass.

Interrail/ Eurail One Country Pass: It is possible to use it just for one country out of the 30 in the list except for your country of residence. However, you use it in a limited amount of time. For example, if you decide to visit Switzerland and decide to go for the “5 days within 1 month” option, you will be able to visit the country in one-month time, but you can actually travel with the pass for 5 days during this month.

Here are the different One Country Pass options available: 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8 days within 1 month

Interrail/ Eurail Global Pass: This is by far the most popular one as it is the most cost-effective and with less restrictions. The main difference with the one discussed above is that, as the name suggests, it is valid for all the 33 participating countries except for your country of residence. You can use one travel day to leave your country of residence (outbound) and another one for the return (inbound).

This pass can be further subdivided into two sub-categories:

the first one I will discuss is the option that allows you to travel for a set amount of days in a set amount of months, which is somewhat similar to the one above, with the exception that you can use it to move across countries. The options you can choose from are the followings:

The other option available is unlimited rides in a set amount of time. For example, if you buy the 15 days pass, you can take unlimited rides in these 15 days.

Likewise, if you take the 2 months pass you can take unlimited rides for 2 months.

As of today, the options available that you can choose from are the followings:

Hard to decide which ticket to buy?

So, decide how many days you want to travel, which country and cities you want to visit especially taking in considerations the different distances before buying a ticket. Do not be in hurry, and take your time to organise your trip with the Find train times page and the Railway map.

If you need another hand, then you might find this link Find the best Interrail Pass for you helpful.


1st or 2nd class?

My friends and I spent the entire day in London. Now, close midnight, my friends and I were running back to the train station to take us to our hotel in Southampton. On the way up to London the train was so full it was hard to find a seat. The train was empty this time, just us on it. That allowed me to really see the symmetry of the train and I had to snap a photo of it.
Photo by Andrew Scofield / Unsplash

Of course, there are different advantages to buy the 1st class ticket even though it is more expensive.

First of all, the comfort, the seats are wider and you have more leg-room especially after a long walk with your backpack. Secondly the 1st class is not as busy as the 2nd one, so there are more chances to have a seat and have a bit of relax. Wi-fi and plugs for charging the mobile phone are almost always present.

Price and Discount?

If you are between 12 and 27 years old you will have 25% discount. Instead, if you are a senior (65+) you are entitled for a 10% discount. This is a great experience also for families since kids under 4 years old can travel for free. Moreover, two children (between 5 and 11) with an adult can travel also free. You can find all the deals here.

The prices range from £100 for a One Country Pass to £600 for a Global Pass. The best buy is the Global Pass travel 7 days within one month, but again, this totally depends on how long your holiday will be.

How do I fill my ticket correctly?

Do not be afraid, it is not so complicated. The ticket has two sections, the first one (the blue one in the picture below) is a proper train ticket with all the data about you and the type of pass you have bought, the second one (the red one) contains a “journey Table”, where you can track all your trip.

Cute fact, the calendar can be sent to the Interrail Office (free of charge) and your data could be used for their statistics and you will receive a souvenir.

A very important thing that you have to remember is to log the day and the month of your journey on your ticket. This needs to be done either before or immediately after you take a seat on the train. Travelers who don’t do this properly can face a fine should the inspector catch them. More info here.

Are there any other reservations to do?

With an Interrail Pass you can take most of the trains but there are some exceptions where a reservation is required, like in the case of high-speed trains, night trains and very popular routes. These kinds of trains are available for a tiny extra charge, from £5 to 30£.

This is another thing to take in consideration before buying an Interrail/ Eurail Pass, you are able to buy them before the beginning of your journey so you will avoid queue and other wastes of time in the train stations. You can make a reservation up to 8 days before but we advise to do it as soon as possible.

Night trains have their charm and they are really helpful as you don’t waste time travelling during the day, as well as helping you saving money for hotels and hostels.

Platzkart
Photo by Kalegin Michail / Unsplash

Especially for those who have the Global pass with limited travel days it can be useful. If you take a train before midnight and you arrive at destination in the next morning you can use just one travel day instead of two.

You can do all of these reservations with the Rail Planner App, in each train station or by phone (call Centre). Obviously, you can avoid the reservation fee using the filter “Avoid trains that require reservations” on the website or app.

Are Bus and Ferry included?

This is the ferry boat that brings visitors to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima, Japan. The rain was torrential on the day we visited but this photo was taken during a brief lull in the downpour.
Photo by Joe deSousa / Unsplash

Yes! If the train is not be available for a certain route there are other ways to reach your destination. Thanks to your Interrail Pass you will be able to buy them with discounted prices.

Where to sleep?

Well, hostels are always perfect for those who like adventure, want to know more people and want to travel cheap.

For a couple that wants their own privacy I recommend hotels with 2/3 stars.

For a group of friends, you can find really good deals with private apartments on Air B&B for example.

The reservation in advance is recommended but not required (depend on the period).

You can use O2GO Travel. It is a travel search engine that compare the best and cheapest flights and hotels. The profit made by this company will be invested into reforestation projects that will help to offset the CO2 emissions of our journey. You can find the website here: www.o2gotravel.com.

Lastly for the brevier people, sleeping outside the train station can be a really good and cheap option. Be aware that the train station can close during the night but you should be able to sleep outside with a sleeping bag.

Do it in those big train station where there are security controls in place.

Advantages?

On a moving train
Photo by JK / Unsplash

You will really love this way of travelling and as there are many advantages beside the fact that you can definitely save money.

It is a cheap way of travelling, not missing anything that every country could offer me!

It is also an eco-friendly way to travel around Europe reducing the CO2 emissions. Moreover, there are not restrictions or time-consuming controls as the ones that you would encounter when travelling by plane. Another great advantage is that the trains arrive most of the time in the city centre, so you get off the train and you are ready to explore the city.

Disadvantages?

Lightroom Presets available (link in profile).
Photo by Erik Odiin / Unsplash

Even though the pass is a great invention you may find some difficulties during your journey such as: missing trains, delays, getting to the wrong station and language barrier. It could be frustrating but it is the beauty of the adventure as well.

Organising an Interrail trip it is not so easy and you should not underestimate it. The train line doesn’t reach every single angle of Europe and you should always have a plan B as a back-up. Also, the extra fee for the reservations are really annoying and of course it means that you have to take into account to spend more money on top of the pass itself.

Conclusion

This experience is really worth the money, you will have a really cool time with your friends and with the people you will meet in this amazing journey. Travelling around Europe in a month or less is really doable and affordable. Everyone can personalise their own travel according to their tastes. You can create different routes, you can be in Spain one day and the day after in Germany. This is just mind-blowing and you will notice how pleasantly weird you will feel. Don’t expect to get it right straight away, and that’s the beauty of it. Making mistakes and learning from them will improve your personal growth as a traveler.