A red train travels through a forest with trees in the background while showcasing what is interrail.
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What is Interrail? A Traveler’s Ultimate Guide

If you’re seeking an exciting, but affordable way to experience Europe’s best locations, interrail might be just for you. Imagine waking up to a new city every morning, meeting different people everyday, and trying new cuisine every night. But what exactly is Interrail and how do you make the most out of this opportunity?

There’s a lot of planning and preparation involved, not to mention the environmental responsibility we share. In this guide, You’ll learn everything you need to know about interrail, one of the most alternative adventures for travel enthusiasts. 

What is Interrail and how does it Work?

what is interrail? A woman taking a photo of a picturesque mountain by the lake
What is Interrail?

Before getting into the details, it’s important to have a basic understanding. So, what is Interrail? 

Interrail is a concept that allows you to explore Europe by train using a single ticket, known as the ‘Interrail Pass’. It provides a unique opportunity to travel across 33 countries and experience the diverse cultures, landscapes, and attractions that Europe has to offer. Designed for flexibility,  you are free to choose your route, schedule, and pace. 

Depending on the type of ticket you purchase, you either have a continuous pass (travel whenever you want, in a given timeframe) or a flexi pass (travel on a set number of days within a specific period). 

What is the difference between an Interrail pass and a Eurail pass?

Now you know what is Interrail. However, you might be wondering about the terms, Interrail and Eurail, and how they differ. While both pass types allow for an exciting journey across the landscapes of Europe, there are a few key differences to take into account. 

An Interrail pass is intended for European residents and offers a budget-friendly way to explore Europe by train, providing unlimited travel across up to 33 countries. An Eurail pass, on the other hand, is designed for non-European residents, allowing them to travel to the same areas with similar benefits. 

What countries can I visit with an interrail pass?

As said above, with an interrail pass you can visit up to 33 European countries. But first things first, let’s address a common question: Does “33 countries” mean all the countries of Europe?

While the Interrail ticket covers most of Europe, there are some exceptions. Countries like Russia, Belarus, and Moldova are not currently part of the interrail network. Also (this is something I learned the hard way, as I couldn’t leave the country and had tou get a flight), as for now, Greece does not have a railroad connected to other countries. So, if you want to visit Greece, you’ll first need to find another way to get there.

Below you’ll find a list of the countries you can visit in your interrail trip:

Central EuropeGermany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia
Western EuropeBelgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom
Southern EuropeItaly, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia
Nordic CountriesNorway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland
Eastern EuropeEstonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia

Where can I buy an Interrail pass?

Now that you are all warmed up about what is Interrail, let’s dive into the most practical part: Where can you buy an interrail pass? 

Years ago, the only way to purchase an interrail pass was to visit a train station or a travel agency, which could sometimes be messy, costly and generally difficult. However, today you can easily buy an interrail pass online.

The internet is actually the easiest and most effective way to purchase your ticket. The official Interrail website is the main online place for bying an interrail pass. The website is user-friendly and the steps to purchase a pass are quite easy to follow.  Plus, an online purchase provides the perfect oportunity for browsing and comparing your options before making the final decision.

While the official Interrail website is the cornerstone for pass purchases, don’t be surprised if you stumble upon other online travel platforms offering the same. However, make sure to always cross-check the credibility of the seller, read reviews, and double-check the details to ensure the safety of your transaction.

How much does an Interrail pass cost?

A Green Norwegian train that we had to take in order to reach Bergen
What is Interrail? Somewhere in Norway

Pricing of the interrail passes vary depending on the duration of your trip, your age, and the countries you wish to visit. Here’s a quick table to give you a sense of the cost to expect. 

icket TypeDurationPrice (in Euros)Price (in Dollars)
Youth Pass5 travel days within 15 day period206234
Youth Pass7 travel days within 1 month253288
Youth Pass10 travel days within 1 month301342
Youth Pass15 travel days within 1 month372424
Adult Pass5 travel days within 15 day period267304
Adult Pass7 travel days within 1 month330376 
Adult Pass10 travel days within 1 month392446
Adult Pass15 travel days within 1 month484551

Also, children aged between 4-11 travel for free when accompanied by an adult with an Interrail pass, although a free Child Pass still needs to be ordered (Prices are approximate and always subject to change).

But hold on—there’s more to it. It’s important to be aware of reservation fees. While the Interrail Pass gives access to most trains, some high-speed or intercity trains require you to make a separate seat reservation.

Why? These trains often get fully booked, especially during peak travel season, and having a reservation means you are guaranteed a seat. It’s usually a small fee, but it can add up, particularly if you’re planning to visit more popular routes. 

On the other hand, regional and local trains usually don’t require reservations. You can simply hop on with your pass and find a free seat. But remember, it’s always a smart move to check the reservation requirements of any train before you board.

Remember: If a journey requires a mandatory reservation, be sure to book your spot in advance to avoid being left out of the train!

How to Make a Reservation? 

Purchasing reservations can be completed in many ways: at train station ticket counters, through the Interrail Reservation Service, or at the website of the rail companies. It always depends on the train and the company. It needs a bit of search, but you’ll be rewarded in the end.

How long is an Interrail pass valid for?

Let’s start with the most straightforward option. You have the one-country passes that are valid for one month since the first day of use. You’ve got a full thirty days to hop on and off trains to your heart’s content in your country of choice. 

Of course, it’s possible that you want to visit a lot more than one country. With the “Flexi passes”, you can choose a set number of travel days within a period of one month. This means that you can use trains for n days (whenever you choose, during one month after you start your first trip.

If you ask me, the best option would be a Flexi pass. It gives you all the freedom you need to start your trip and be the master of your itinerary. That’s how I managed to visit 7 countries in 16 days, and I wouldn’t change it for anything!

How do I plan my Interrail Itinerary?

Some of the many great views seen in the road. A lake somewhere in norway
Some of the many great views you’ll see along the way

Once you’ve understood what is Interrail and purchased a pass, you can start Planning your Interrail itinerary requires many hours of careful research.

Firstly, determine how many days or weeks you have available to travel. This will help you find the number of destinations you can visit and the amount of time you can spend in each place. Remember to always keep in mind the travel time between destinations as well.

Next, choose the countries you want to explore. Europe offers a wide range of options, from popular destinations like France and Italy to lesser-known gems like Slovenia and Estonia. Consider your interests, budget, and any specific attractions or landmarks you want to visit. Research each country’s culture, history, and transportation options to make an informed decision.

Once you have selected the countries, it’s time to decide on the specific cities or towns you want to visit within each country. Consider the distance of these destinations to one another and the ease of travel between them. Look for a good balance between popular tourist spots and off-the-beaten-path locations to get a well-rounded experience.

After finding your destinations, create an itinerary outlining the number of days you plan to spend in each place. Be realistic about the time needed to explore each location and allow for some flexibility in case you want to stay longer in a particular city or discover a new destination along the way.

Research the train routes and schedules between your chosen destinations. As we said above, interrail passes offer unlimited train travel within a specific period, so make sure to check if your desired routes are covered. Take note of any reservation requirements or additional fees for certain trains. This will help you plan your daily travel and ensure a smooth journey.

Explaining the Rail-Planner

The Rail-planner is a valuable tool for anyone planning an Interrail adventure. It is an online platform (and app) that helps you plan our train journeys.

With the Rail-planner, you can easily search for train routes, check timetables, and find the best connections between different cities and countries. It provides up-to-date information on train schedules, including departure and arrival times, as well as any necessary transfers or connections. 

One of the key features of the Rail-planner is its user-friendly interface. It allows you to determine your starting point and destination, along with the desired date and time of travel. The Rail-planner then generates a list of available train options, including both direct and indirect routes.

It also provides details on the duration of each journey, allowing travelers to compare different options and choose the most suitable one for their needs. Additionally, the Rail-planner allows you to filter your search results based on preferences such as travel class, number of transfers, and specific train operators.

Another advantage of using the Rail-planner is its ability to provide real-time updates and notifications. Train schedules can sometimes change due to unforeseen circumstances, such as delays or cancellations. The Rail-planner constantly monitors these changes and alerts travelers accordingly.

This ensures that you are always aware of any disruptions and can adjust their plans accordingly. The real-time updates also come in handy during the journey itself, as travelers can easily check for any last-minute changes or updates to their train schedules.In addition to planning individual train journeys, the Rail-planner also offers the option to create a complete itinerary for an Interrail trip.

You can input multiple destinations and dates, and the Rail-planner will generate a complete plan that includes all the necessary train connections and transfers. This is particularly useful if you are looking to explore multiple cities or countries during your Interrail adventure. 

Nowadays, the rail planner app is the one you’ll use as your ticket. After picking your train of choice, it will generate a QR code that will be scanned by the ticket inspectors. It’s as simple as that!

Do I need to book accommodation in advance?

The balance between flexibility and security can sometimes seem challenging to maintain. 

Peak Season vs Off-Peak Season: Your chance of finding last minute accommodations is a lot lower during peak travel periods. Summer holidays, major city-wide events and weekends are peak travel times when places fill up fast. If you intend to travel during these periods, booking in advance is essential. 

Location, Location, Location: Larger cities tend to have more accommodation options, therefore you could maybe find a place upon arrival. However, understanding that the best spots – the ones with great reviews, central location and tempting amenities – will likely be taken, should play a major role your decision. The smaller the destination, the less options you may have and the more important pre-booking becomes. 

Budget Constraints: While there may be more adventurous to find a last-minute place to stay, this is not always practical or economically feasible. Booking in advance usually allows you to grab deals and budget appropriately for your trip. 

Personal Comfort: Not everyone is comfortable with the uncertainty of not having a place to stay when they arrive at their destination. If you’re unsure, it’s better to book ahead and secure that peace of mind. 

If you want my personal opinion, book your stay in advance. You’ll always be getting a better deal, and you will feel safer. It is important to always have free cancelation on your hotel bookings- Better safe than sorry!

Is it safe to travel by train in Europe?

Certainly, you might have concerns about safety while traveling through Europe by train. Rest assured, Europe’s train system is famous for its security and efficiency. However, like anywhere else, you need to be conscious of your surroundings and take basic precautions such as minding your belongings.

In general, the experience of train travel in Europe is safe and comfortable, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic views.

What are the Benefits of traveling with an Interrail pass?

The essence of what is Interrail also includes understanding the safety and benefits that make it a popular and convenient travel option. Here are some reasons why you should consider Interrail for your next European adventure.

1. Flexibility

Interrail passes offer flexibility in terms of travel dates, durations, and destinations. You can choose to travel for a week or up to three months, and you can explore multiple countries or stick to a single country depending on your travel plans. With the ability to hop on and off trains, you have the freedom to customize your itinerary and stay longer in places that you love most.

2. Cost-Effective

Interrail passes offer value for money, with unlimited travel across a range of European countries for a single upfront cost. It’s an affordable way to explore Europe, especially when compared to the cost of purchasing individual train tickets.

With careful planning, you can save money on transportation and allocate more for experiences, accommodation, and local cuisine.

3. Scenic Journeys

Interrail allows you to experience some of Europe’s most scenic rail journeys, from the snowy mountains of the Swiss Alps to the countryside of Italy’s Tuscany region. You can sit back and relax, enjoy the stunning views, and take in the diverse landscapes of Europe.

The train rides themselves become part of the adventure, offering a unique perspective and a chance to witness the beauty of the continent.

4. Eco-Friendly

Train travel is a more eco-friendly mode of transport than flying, making Interrail an eco-conscious choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint while exploring Europe.

By choosing train journeys, you contribute to more sustainable travel and have the opportunity to appreciate the natural wonders of Europe without adding significant emissions to the environment.

5. Cultural Diversity

Interrail is an opportunity to experience the cultural diversity of Europe, from the massive cities of Berlin and Paris to the historic towns of Croatia and Portugal. You can immerse yourself in different languages, cuisines, and customs, making for a unique and enriching travel experience.

Discover the incredible architectural wonders, explore museums, indulge in local delicacies, and engage with locals to gain a deeper appreciation of each destination’s cultural heritage.

What are the Best tips for planning an Interrail adventure?

1) Do Extensive Planning

Organizing an interrail trip is no easy task. It will take a lot of time, and it will be frustrating. You have to pre-plan your destinations and be aware of the train timetables. 

In addition, not all places are easily connected by train, and finding the right balance will be hard. My tip is to devote a few days to be sure about what places you want to visit and whether your plan is actually feasible.

2) Always have a plan B

An even more frustrating part of your trip is constantly changing plans. It will probably happen, and you must be prepared for it. It is a part of the Interrail trip experience. I suggest always having a backup train or destination in mind if something goes differently than planned. 

Trains constantly get canceled or delayed (We see you, Germany), so be ready and don’t get disappointed if plans change.

3) Get Seat Reservations

 My tip is to get seat reservations for every train, regardless of necessity. I have heard about many people not being allowed entry or having to sit on the floor of overcrowded trains because they didn’t have seat reservations. 

Pro tip: The direct train from Hamburg to Copenhagen requires a seat reservation in the Summer Months, even though it is not stated. Get this reservation a few months in advance because it is always full.

4) Always have Free Cancelation on your Hotels

The constant change of plans during an Interrail trip makes this a necessity. In the unfortunate event of not being able to arrive at your destination city when you were supposed to, you don’t also want to lose money because of no Hotel cancellation policies.

5) Allow Time in Every Place 

It is certain that you will be tempted to see as much as possible during your Interrail trip. Take your time; it isn’t bad to slow down sometimes. Allow a few days in every city and make sure you see everything you want. Do not make sacrifices because you want to discover more and more places.

6) Bring a Power Bank

You’ll be using your phone a lot for maps, communication and taking pictures, so bring a power bank to keep it charged.

7) Have Plenty of Food and Water

This one goes without saying. Long Interrail trips require water and food, and train restaurants can be costly. So be prepared, and pack food and water in advance.

8) Pack Light

You’ll be carrying your luggage around with you for the duration of your trip, so it’s important to pack light. Stick to essentials and consider investing in a good-quality backpack that’s comfortable to wear.

9) Embrace The Adventure

An Interrail trip is all about adventure and exploration. Embrace the unpredictability of travel, be open to new experiences, and enjoy the journey.

10) Make New Friends

The last of our Interrail trip tips is going to test your social skills. Interrail is a great opportunity to meet new people from all over the world. Strike up a conversation with fellow travelers on the train or at your accommodation, and you may make lifelong friends.

What are some popular Interrail routes to consider?

Planning an Interrail route can be frustrating, because the possibilities are endless., limited only by your imagination (and perhaps your time constraints). So, let’s dive into some of the most popular Interrail routes that have been constantly chosen from travellers over the years. 

First off, there’s the Classic West Europe Loop. This route takes you across European cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich, Munich, and Berlin. You’ll meet a lot of cultures, languages, and cuisines, along with some iconic sights. Get ready for Amsterdam’s canals, Paris’s museums, Zurich’s old town, Munich’s football culture, and Berlin’s history. 

Looking for a southern European adventure? Explore the Mediterranean Journey. Begin your journey in the gorgerous city of Barcelona, cross over to Nice and Monaco, and wrap up the trip in the romantic city of Venice. Each location offers a unique mix of sun-beaches, historic sites, and delicious cuisines. Not to forget, the train journey between these cities is stunning, with majestic coastal views and landscapes. 

Ah, but have you considered the Nordic Explorer, heading towards the European North? Starting from the lovely Copenhagen, head to the elegant Stockholm, then move over to the world-famous fjords of Oslo. Continue northward to the “Gateway to the Arctic”, Tromsø, before finishing off in the charming city of Bergen. This route is your ticket to the Scandinavian landscapes.

Lastly, there is the exotic Eastern Europe Experience. Starting from the historic city of Vienna, this journey transports you through Sarajevo, the blue beaches of Split, and the history of Rome. From the streets of Prague to the nightlife of Budapest, and finally, to the beauty that is Dubrovnik. A lovely journey that is.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, you now know what is Interrail! Offering freedom, affordability, and access, interrailing allows you to fully immerse in the histories, cultures, cuisines, and landscapes Europe is famous for. By choosing trains over flights, you’re reducing your carbon footprint, contributing to the international fight against climate change. 

Don’t let the planning phase bog you down – yes, it might seem exhausting, but remember, that’s part of the journey. Embrace it. And once on board, let the rail take you on a journey of discovery. Meet fellow travelers, share stories, and make memories that’ll last a lifetime. 

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