Travelling around Europe by train is an exciting way to explore the continent. It lets you experience cultures, cuisines and landscapes up close without repeatedly going through airports.
Buying separate tickets for each journey can be an administrative nightmare, but fortunately, Interrail is a solution. This pass allows you to travel on trains across 33 European countries on one ticket. You simply present it to train officials as you travel, eliminating the need for separate purchases. Various pass types are available depending on how much and often you want to travel, and you may qualify for discounts on bus, ferry, and hostel prices during your trip.
This page explores how to make the most of your Interrail adventure. We look at how you should plan your route, pack your bags, book accommodation, and more. Here’s how to make your train trip across Europe memorable and rewarding.
Plan Your Route In Advance With Interrail Planner
Interrailing lets you explore countries like Spain, France, and Italy at your own pace. You’re free to hop on and off trains when you want, following a timetable that suits you.
Even so, we recommend planning your Interrail route before you start exploring. You don’t want to use trains that are full or pass through areas you don’t want to visit.
First, decide which cities and countries you want to explore during your adventure. You can use online tools, like Interrail Planner, to create an itinerary and see how long it takes to travel between destinations. If you get stuck or don’t know where you want to go, you can see suggested routes to plan your trip more easily.
Once you know where you want to go, you can choose the right pass type. Global Passes let you travel in all 33 participating countries, while One Country Passes are for specific countries. You can also adjust the validity of the pass, depending on how many days you intend to travel.
Lastly, book your pass. You may need to pay extra fees for some trains, including the Eurostar and high-speed trains.
We also suggest you pack light and smart for your European Interrail trip. Lugging heavy suitcases through airports is a temporary inconvenience, but when you travel by train, it is something you have to manage on every leg of the journey.
But how do you pack a light bag without missing out on anything you need? Here’s our advice:-
- Pack your essential documents such as passport, ID card, Interrail pass, train reservations, travel insurance, credit cards and cash in a safe and secure folder. Keep your tickets on your smartphone app if you have the option to do so
- Only bring useful and compact electronics with you
- Pack a power bank, letting you charge your phone or laptop during your trip if you don’t have access to mains power
- Take travel-sized, multipurpose toiletries with you, such as shower gel
- Pack clothes that are versatile and comfortable, and suitable for a range of environments
- Choose a wheeled suitcase you can easily pull through train terminals that fits all your clothes, or go for one of our recommended Interrail backpacks.
Check out our full packing list here.
Stay In Budget-Friendly Accommodation
While travelling around Europe using Interrail is affordable, accommodation can be expensive, particularly near rail terminals.
However, you can reduce your trip’s cost by staying in hostels and using house-sharing apps. Hostels are social places where multiple travellers sleep in a single room. Some offer private accommodation, based on your budget, and you can enjoy bars, lounges and restaurants during your trip. House-sharing apps, like CouchSurfing, also provide opportunities for finding inexpensive accommodation in more rural areas.
You can also camp, or sleep on trains. Sleeping on night journeys can be an excellent way to see more of Europe on a tight schedule and budget. However, you may not get the rest you need if you are a light sleeper.
Find The Best Deals On Food And Local Attractions
Our final tip is to get the best deals on food and local attractions. Taking advantage of these options can help you get more done on a fixed budget.
Stay in self-catering accommodation lets you prepare the food you need for the next day the night before. Lots of hostels have kitchens, so look out for that when booking. Buying groceries from local supermarkets is inexpensive. And you can also save money by eating local specialities.
Another tip is to use your Interrail pass benefits or other discount cards to get reduced prices on attractions like museums, monuments, tours and activities. Also, look for free things to do in the cities you visit. Many attractions, festivals and events do not have entry fees.
So, there you have it: our ultimate Interrail guide. Which of these tips and tricks inspired you the most?