As you might know trains are my huge passion! So huge that most of my childhood memories have something to do with trains, I wrote my master thesis about them and now I even work at the railway company (today is exactly 7 years since I started, I plan and organize trains’ schedules, how cool is that?). Ever since I remember I was always travelling by train and I grew up believing this is the best way to move around. Now, all these years later I still second that opinion. And so when I was planning my June trip to Romania and Bulgaria I figured out that Interrail tickets might be my best option.
Interrail is a pass that allows you unlimited travels around Europe by train. You choose the days and countries and you are free to take any train you like. It’s a perfect way to discover Europe as not only you’re easily getting from place A to place B but also you can admire incredible views on the way. It’s like sightseeing and relaxing at the same time! Just remember: Interrail tickets are only available for European citizens (and their are not valid in the country of your residence, all the others can use Eurail pass which basically works the same.
Now here you have few options to choose the best Interrail tickets for you. As soon as you plan your railway trip around Europe you can see which pass would work the best for you. There are country passes, where you can travel freely around one country chosen by you and there is a global pass which allows you to use trains in 30 European countries.
Here’re some prices of the country pass (for adult, in the second class however you can get discounts and choose between first and second class travels):
Germany – 3 days within 1 month: 203€, 4 days: 223€, 6 days: 283€, 8 days: 313€
Spain – 3 days within 1 month: 173€, 4 days: 197€, 6 days: 256€, 8 days: 297€
Poland – 3 days within 1 month: 78€, 4 days: 95€, 6 days: 125€, 8 days: 148€
Switzerland – 3 days within 1 month: 118€, 4 days: 149€, 6 days: 199€, 8 days: 239€
The whole list of countries and prices can be found on Interrail website.
The global pass can be bought in 5 different combinations: 5 days of travels within 10 days – 264€, 10 days within 22 days – 374€, 15 days continuous – 414€, 22 days continuous – 484€, 1 month continuous – 626€.
So you see, the options are very wide and everyone can find something suitable for his/her trip!
Yes, there might be some! In some countries ticket reservation is obligatory and can cost extra (like 3€ in international trains in Central Europe or around 10€ is high-speed domestic trains in Spain). But there are countries like Germany, Austria or Poland where you can use all the trains without spending more money. The best way to find if the supplement is required is the Rail Planner app – not only it works offline and allows you to look up the schedules anytime and any place you want to but it also shows you in which trains you’d need to pay extra! Of course you can always take slower trains at no costs – with Interrail tickets you’re flexible and it’s all up to you how you’d travel!
The recent trip was my first one using Interrail tickets but at my work once a year I can apply for a pass that in 90% works the same as Interrail – I’ve been using that one for over 10 years now (before I started working I was getting it from my parents’ – they work at the railways too) and crossed Europe few times with it. My itinerary was as follow:
Warsaw, Poland – Budapest, Hungary (night train, I bought a supplement for a couchette for 11.90€) -> Budapest – Arad, Romania (international day train, with a required supplement of 3€) -> Arad – Timisoara (a regional train) -> Timisoara – Bucharest (night train, I bought a supplement for a couchette for 8€) -> Bucharest – Gorna Orjahovica, Bulgaria (international day train, with a required supplement of 3€) -> Gorna Orjahovica – Veliko Tarnovo (regional train) -> Veliko Tarnovo – Gorna Orjahovica (regional train) -> Gorna Orjahovica – Sofia (fast train, no supplement required) -> Sofia – Budapest (overnight train that took 21 hours, I bought a supplement for a sleeping compartment for 18.20€) -> Budapest – Komarom (fast train that apparently I needed a supplement for but I didn’t have one and I talked myself out of the troubles) -> Komarno, Slovakia – Nove Zamky (regional train) -> Nove Zamky – Bratislava (international fast train, no supplement required) -> Bratislava – Warsaw (night train, I bought a supplement for a couchetter for 11.90€).
The whole trip took me 9 days out of which I spent 7 days traveling by train, I went through 5 countries. I used a global pass, 10 days within 22 days as it was the best one for such a journey. I spent 59€ on supplements but I could have done this trip for less, i.e. getting a seat reservation in the night trains (I took 4 of these). Still I think those were money well spent as you feel completely different after a night in a horizontal position and without worrying that someone might rob you any minute. I could have also taken only day trains but to be honest I really enjoy travelling overnight – not only I can save time that way, I also like the sound on the wheels clopping on the tracks.
Twice, during the whole trip, my trains got delayed so much I was about to miss my connection, both times in Gorna Orjahovica, Bulgaria. Fortunately, since you have to write down on the ticket the trains you’re taking, the conductor could see my plans and I didn’t have to explain where I want to go. Before I even asked she explained, in a poor English, my train will be waiting and I shouldn’t worry. And it was indeed there when I arrived!
Should you get Interrail tickets for your next European trip?
In general: YES! However, in some Central and Eastern European countries, where the train connections aren’t that well developed, it’s good to do some research before, to compare schedules and count prices to see if this is really the best option for you (most likely it will be). When it comes to Western and Northern Europe I wouldn’t think twice, you can’t get any better deal! For example in Germany high-speed train from Berlin to Munich takes 6.5 hours and costs (the regular price) 130€ while 8 days of travels within a month is 313€…
But the best things about Interrail tickets are the flexibility and the freedom! You can choose and then change your route whenever and however you want, you are the only person deciding where and when to go! If you feel like suddenly going to the seaside or visiting a nearby city the only thing you need to do is catching the next train! And if your train happen to be delayed for whatever reason (or without any reason at all) you can just modify your journey without paying extra! Seriously, I can’t imagine a better way to travel around Europe, I’m already looking forward to my next train journey and I can recommend Interrail tickets to everyone! And if you’re looking for some inspiration be sure to check out my posts where I asked fellow travel bloggers about their favourite railway journeys!
Note: I got a complimentary Global Pass from Interrail however I did a significant amount of train travels around Europe in past 10 years and all the opinions are 100% mine!
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