Whether you are a student backpacker or a train enthusiast, afraid of flying or simply wish to see all of Europe but do not have the resources, InterRail can make all your wishes come true even if you are on a tight budget. Available at most railway travel agencies in Europe located inside or outside train stations, the InterRail pass allows you to travel across Europe for a period of up to one month. With the so-called Global Pass, you can ride on virtually any train on the continent without having to pay the ticket, as well as on some ferry boats operating in all corners of Europe.
Travelling across Europe by train has numerous advantages. Western European countries generally have an excellent network covering almost every major and medium sized city. You can literally hop from the center of one great European city to another completely different city in a matter of hours. The great thing about train travel in Europe is the fact that most train stations are located in the very heart of the city, alongside spectacular cultural monuments and sightseeing attractions. This means that you can arrive in a city, place your luggage inside a locker at the station for a couple of hours, step outside and start exploring immediately. Moreover, most stations have decent toilet and shower facilities so you can freshen up after a night spent sleeping in a couchette. You can always check whether a train station has these facilities by identifying the cities you intend to visit and browsing the websites of the train stations to find the information.
Europe is a remarkably diverse continent. It boasts many different cultures and languages and all countries have a strong sense of national identity. That is what makes it so appealing for train travel. You can start from the Iberian Peninsula in the south and travel all the way up to Finland and watch how the scenery and customs and habits change before your eyes in just a few days. If you are interested in cultural tourism, European capitals are vast treasure chests of art and thousands of years of history. These cities are centers of nightlife and fun as well. You can even use your InterRail to go on a festival tour of Europe. In the summer months, Europe is struck by a wave of festivals that take place all over the continent, from Glastonbury in the United Kingdom to the highly acclaimed Exit festival in Serbia. Before start to plan your first InterRail experience, however, there are some facts you should know.
You are eligible for an InterRail ticket only if you have been a resident of a European country for at least six months. This includes Moldova, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. If you are not from Europe but are studying at a European university, check with the immigration office to see if you are eligible for resident status. There are two types of InterRail passes, i.e. the Global Pass and the One Country Pass. The Global Pass allows you to travel in thirty European countries, excluding Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Albania. You can choose between first and second class tickets. Within this type of pass, there are a number of length options. There are passes that allow you to travel for a month or twenty-two days continuously or for five days within a ten day period or ten days within a twenty-two day period. Prices will vary depending on the length of validity of the pass. Another factor that influences the price you will pay for an InterRail ticket is your age. You have a special discount if you are 26 years old or younger. Depending on the type of pass you choose, the price ranges between 150 and 800 euros, 800 being the price of a one month continuous adult pass. You also have the possibility to opt for a One Country Pass. As its name suggests, this pass grants you free train travel in only one European country and prices depend on which country you intend to visit.
Please keep in mind that your InterRail ticket is not valid for travelling in your country of residence. You will be required to pay for the distance crossed by a train in your country of residence. This means that if you are, for example, a resident of Germany and intend to travel from Munich to Paris, you will only have to pay for a ticket from Munich to the French border. Although the InterRail pass grants you the right to travel on European trains without paying for the ticket, it does not exempt you from paying other fees. These include reservations, couchettes and rides on fast trains. Remember that while you do basically have the ticket for any train, you do not have a guarantee that you will have a vacant seat on any train you want. Therefore, you must make additional reservations for trains that require it. Reservation fees range from a couple of euros to around 10, depending on the type of train. The cost of reserving a couchette is normally under 20 euros. In some cases, fast trains require an additional supplement that will not exceed five euros.
The InterRail experience is actually much simpler than it sounds. Once you get your Global Pass and make all the required reservations, all you have to do is board a train and write down the train route details on your ticket. This is what you show to the conductors who ask to see your ticket along with you identity card or passport and reservation stub, if you have one. That is all you need to worry about. Everything else is pure fun.