It was a cloudy Monday morning when we saw the famous Mount Vesuvius as we cruised the highways of Naples heading to Sorrento. “We will trek the volcano tomorrow afternoon, after visiting Pompei” – I excitedly exclaimed to our friends who are traveling with me and my husband. This is the start of our once in a lifetime adventure exploring four countries in Europe using trains, buses, and boats! Exciting times ahead!
Travelling around Europe has been one of many travel goals I have on my list. I wanted to explore the continental Europe via train travel, as I find it convenient and extraordinary. That feeling of watching the beautiful landscape on a first class coach on a bullet train, while sipping the lovely Italian coffee or wine, it is just a legendary experience.
I will discuss in this article on how we planned our Eurail / Interrail adventure. So let’s start on choosing the right ticket that will fit your travel needs and budget.
Interrail or Eurail?
Most people get confused on what type of ticket you should use for this massive adventure trip of a lifetime. Interrail or Eurail is easy to do once you understand and know what you want to do for this journey.
Eurail is for non- European citizen and/or non-EU residents.
Interrail is for European citizen and EU residents with Non- EU passports (Proof of residency required).
Which pass do I need?
After choosing the right type of ticket that you can use based on your nationality and country of residence, you can now move on to selecting the suitable pass that will fit your travel needs and the countries that you want to visit in Europe. Both Interrail and Eurail have the same sort of pass to choose from.
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. Check the list of countries and ticket prices of the one country pass for Interrail and Eurail.
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.
Passes with Extra (Only applicable to Interrail)
This is the Add- On choices that you can purchase at an additional cost to your Global or One Country pass. 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.
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., ten travel dates within one 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.
Which pass did I use?
As an example, I’ve used:
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 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 certain local regions of the countries. So 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 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)/. Download the copy of Interrail / Eurail Maps here.
On our recent 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 two 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. You can reserve your seat up to 3 months in advance. You can make your seat reservations with different options:
- The Interrail / Eurail website – you need to create an account and make your itinerary. 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. Here is the reservations page for Interrail and Eurail. There are also advantages in doing it this way (like what we did!). If you do it this way, 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 traveling in the various countries), just less hassle for you!
- Using the train company’s website or via the call centers – 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 centers 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 on 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 “7 p.m rule” for the Night trains. A very handy tip if you want to save on your travel dates on the Flexible pass holders. 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. Remember, 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.
Strategically book 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. We stayed in the Deluxe room with the Lake view! Everything is just exquisitely perfect from the fabulous staff that will welcome you like a rock star up to the breathtaking view of the lakes and the mountains.
Bellagio is a small cosy Italian town with a picturesque view of the two lakes, the Lake Como and Lake Lecco. There are a few number of Hollywood films recorded here (like the Star Wars – the planet Naboo), and world renowned dignitaries like the royalties of Europe and previous presidents of the US and the prime ministers of the UK have stayed here.
Bellagio can be reached through a various combination of transportation around Lake Como. From Milan Centrale, you can catch the train to Como and get a ferry or bus to Bellagio or rent your car from Como. Alternatively, you can also get a train from Milan Centrale to Varenna- Esino, and catch a ferry to Bellagio.
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. The hotel’s building is the old post office of Bavaria, truly an icon and historical building in the city. When you enter the hotel’s lobby, it has a touch of luxury, modern and eclectic interior design.
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. It’s a fun and great way to explore Europe with your family and friends.
Have fun roaming around Europe!
If you have any questions about Interrail and Eurail, please comment below.
Note: 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.
About the Writer
Ryazan Tristram is named after a Russian city near Moscow. The Miss Zan-shine of Everything Zany – A Photography, Lifestyle and Dual Citizen Travel Blog. She likes to travel, history, meet people & try exotic foods! Planning to explore more countries with her D.I.Y trips as a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina). Follow her travels on Facebook and Instagram.
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