To travel around Europe by train has been one of many travel goals I have on my travel bucket list.
I wanted to explore continental Europe via train, as I find it convenient.
Enriched travel experience to watch the beautiful landscape on a first class coach on a bullet train, while sipping the lovely Italian coffee or wine. Don’t you think so?
The best way to travel around Europe is by train. Using the rail network within mainland Europe is a great way to see the beautiful landscapes and off-the-beaten paths within the continent. You can also save time and money on your travels especially on scenic trains, high-speed trains or expensive European country or region. I will discuss in this article on how we planned to travel Europe by train using Interrail and Eurail passes.
How to Travel Europe by Train Using Interrail Pass and Eurail Pass Contents
- How does Interrail and Eurail works?
- Which type of pass do I need?
- Choosing the right pass Duration for rail journey: Flexi or Continuous Pass
- Which train class category?
- Here is my personal experience when we travelled Europe by train using our Interrail Pass
- You can reserve your seat up to 3 months in advance and book the seat reservations using different options:
- Accommodation tips:
How does Interrail and Eurail works?
To travel Europe by train using Interrail or Eurail is easy to do once you understand and know what you want to do for this journey.
Eurail Pass is for non- European citizen and/or non-EU residents.
Interrail Pass is for European citizen and/or EU residents with Non- EU passports (Proof of residency required).
In choosing the right pass for your European train adventure, you have to consider four major key points:
Countries – Make sure that the pass that you will get is valid in the country or countries that you wish to visit.
Validity Period – Pick the most convenient Interrail or Eurail pass for the number of days that you want to travel. This will also determine how many “travel days” you have on your itinerary.
Traveller type – You can choose from a variety of options from Youth, Adults, Groups (Saver Pass) and Family pass.
Class Type – Choose whether you would like to travel on 1st class or 2nd class. 1st class train reservations normally incur additional charges but more convenient and comfortable than 2nd class.
Which type of pass do I need?
After choosing the right type of train pass based on your nationality and country of residence, you can now move on to selecting the suitable pass that will fit your travel needs.
Both Interrail and Eurail have the same types of passes to choose from.
The Global Pass will let you travel around the 30 countries (for Interrail) and 28 countries (Eurail).
One Country Pass
As it says on the tin, if you are planning to visit a particular country in Europe, might as well use this pass as it will also save you some pennies.
Select Pass (Only applicable to Eurail)
The Select Pass will give you the flexibility to choose 2 to 4 bordering countries (within the allowed 28 countries of Eurail Pass).
Mix and match different countries that you would love to visit per European regions.
Premium Pass (Only applicable to Interrail)
The Premium Pass is only available for Interrail if you wish to travel in Spain and Italy. This will let you waive the first class seat reservations fees during your trip.
There are popular EU destinations that offer premium service or extra travel perks or route to your pass. You can check the details of the perks on this link.
Choosing the right pass Duration for rail journey: Flexi or Continuous Pass
The flexible and the continuous passes are the validity of the tickets based on your travel style and schedule on how you want to use your Interrail / Eurail pass.
This pass will let you have a set amount of travel dates within the number of months from the first time you will use your Interrail / Eurail Pass.
E.G. 10 travel dates within 1 month or 5 days within 15 days
This pass will let you travel every day within the set number of months. However, this is more pricey than the flexible pass.
E.G. 22 continuous days or 3 months continuous
Which train class category?
First and second classes are available on the trains and ferries.
You can pick what class category will suit your budget, of course, second class is cheaper. First class seats can incur an additional train reservation fee especially if you are using the high-speed trains, panoramic trains & overnight trains and ferries.
Youth (12-25 years old) — first and second class options are available
Adult – first and second class options are available for Interrail pass holders. However, the Eurail pass holder can only have the first class option.
Kids 11 years old and below can travel for free.
Here is my personal experience when we travelled Europe by train using our Interrail Pass
Interrail pass (British – EU citizen) – Global pass – Flexible (10 travel dates within 1 month) – Adult – 1st class.
Planning your route and travel tips:
Both Interrail and Eurail passes have a different number of travel date options that you can avail depending on your itinerary.
In using your Interrail or Eurail pass, the TRAVEL DATE/S means the actual date that you will use your pass to travel no matter how many times during that date via the participating train, bus or ferry companies.
The Interrail or Eurail pass is valid in the majority of the European railway network so you can travel in between countries.
However, the pass does not cover some local regional train network of the countries.
It is worth checking your route using the Interrail / Eurail train planner site or mobile application.
The Interrail / Eurail passes are also not applicable if you are using the metro and the local bus system of the city of any countries you will visit.
The pass is only valid for main train network, long-haul bus route (mentioned in your Interrail / Eurail Map), and ferries (routes are specified in Interrail/ Eurail map).
On the Italian leg of our trip, our Interrail pass is not valid on the local EAV trains (2.80 Euros, one-way ticket) from Naples to Sorrento and the local SITA bus (1.80 Euros, one-way ticket) from Sorrento to Amalfi Coast.
We bought the 2 days Venezia City Pass (30 Euros) to use the Vaporetto around to access the islands in Venezia.
We bought a metro day pass (7.50 Euros) to access the metro system around Vienna.
On planning your route, you can also have the flexibility of choosing which type of trains you would like to use, routes, schedule, etc.,
The high-speed trains will incur seat reservations charge roughly around €10 per person per train ride.
You can reserve your seat up to 3 months in advance and book the seat reservations using different options:
The Interrail / Eurail website
You need to create an account and make your virtual itinerary on their reservations system.
You can directly search the train times as you go along building your trip. There will be an additional admin service charge for booking your reservations thru here.
There are also advantages in doing it this way (like what we did!).
You will save loads on the extra bank surcharges for making a transaction in EUR (depends on your currency) as Interrail or Eurail will only charge you once.
All you train reservations can be found all on one account as you will use different trains companies (If travelling in the various countries), just less hassle for you!
Using the train company’s website or via the call centres
You can also book your train seat reservations directly on the train company’s website.
Visit the train company’s website and start looking for your preferred train schedule and the various ticket options are available before check-out.
You can also book your ticket, over the phone by calling the call centres of your preferred train company.
At the train station
You can also book your seat reservations at any of the Ticket service office in any stations.
However, this may cause a delay in your journey just in case you have a connecting train to catch.
Moreover, if the train is busy, there might not be any seats available.
The regional trains are also fantastic. However, they are normally slower and have loads of stops along the way.
You can also take advantage of the Interrail and Eurail “7 p.m rule” for the Night trains.
A great travel tip if you want to save on your travel dates on the Flexible pass.
If you catch the night train after 7 p.m. and will arrive at your destination after 4 a.m. it means you are only using one travel date.
However, please take note that the night trains will also incur an extra charge.
Always record your travel journey using the Travel Diary provided with the ticket.
This includes all the train, bus and ferry rides that you will use to go from point A to B.
Avoid any erasures on your ticket as the train inspector will consider this as invalid and you will lose a travel date, especially if you are using the Flexible pass with limited travel dates.
Always arrive at least 15 to 30 mins before your train departure!
Some train platforms and stations in Europe are massive. So arrive early to save you from rushing around.
Purposely reserve your hotel near the train stations as this will also save you a hassle of missing your train and saving some time to on moving around.
During our Interrail trip, we stayed in various hotels and apartments close to the towns and a manageable distance to the train stations.
One of the highlights of our trip was staying in an exquisite luxury hotel in Bellagio, Italy.
The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is the only 5-star hotel in Bellagio, the true Bellagio of Italia.
Overlooking the Swiss Alps, Lake Como and Lecco was just beyond words.
On our visit to Munich, Germany, we were accommodated by the luxury worldwide hotel chain, Sofitel Munich Bayerpost.
Just a stone throw away from the Munich HBF and 10 minutes walk away from Marienplatz of Munich, where the Old and New town hall of the city is located.
Once your accommodations are all booked and sorted, start planning on the things you want to do in each chosen destination.
We truly enjoyed our Interrail adventure!
We managed to visit four European countries: Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
Have fun roaming around Europe!
If you have any questions about Interrail and Eurail, please comment below.
Special thanks to Interrail EU for providing the complimentary passes for this trip. Other special thanks to Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and Sofitel Munich Bayerpost for accommodating us during this trip. All opinions on this article are my own.