If you’re looking for an inexpensive and flexible way to see what Europe has to offer then travelling by rail can be a great option. Europe has an extensive rail network so it’s easy to travel from country to country with minimal hassle.
One of the most popular ways to do this is by buying an InterRail Pass. You can either opt for a global pass which allows you to travel between 30 different countries or you can opt for a one country pass. The tickets are available for between 10 days and one month and travellers aged under 25 also receive a discount. The InterRail website also has lots of tips on planning your trip and information on the countries available.
If you’re looking to truly explore Europe then a one month pass is the best option although you’ll probably find you need longer!
When planning your trip it’s a good idea to make a list of all the countries you want to visit and see how easily these will fit into your itinerary. If you only want to spend a couple of days in each country then you can probably fit in about 9 or 10 countries. Some people find that this isn’t long enough to truly explore each county so you may wish to extend your trip or cut down on the number of countries you choose to visit.
It’s also a good idea to check the European train timetables before you set off. You may be able to take high speed trains if you are travelling long distances but it’s advisable to reserve a seat in advance on these, especially in peak season. This can usually be done online or at the booking office.
Another way to save time and save money on your accommodation is to take a night train. It’s definitely recommended to make a reservation on these – if the train is full you don’t want to be left with nowhere to sleep! The price of these trains depends on the sort of sleeping accommodation you want. You can book a regular seat, although this can be very uncomfortable, especially for a long journey. It’s often best to book a couchette. The majority of these trains have cabins which sleep around 6 people in bunk beds. Private cabins are available on some trains although these are more expensive.
There are a few things to bear in mind when taking the night train. It’s important to keep your belongings safe at all times. It’s advisable to lock the compartment door and keep money and valuables on your person or under your pillow. While it’s important to keep a constant watch on your belongings anyway, some trains, such as those going through Eastern Europe, are notorious for thieves boarding the train during the night so it’s wise to be aware.
Nevertheless, travelling around Europe by train can be a highly convenient way to visit the major cities. Many domestic trains don’t require reservations so you can just hop on and off as and when you please.
It’s also a great way to take in some of Europe’s most beautiful scenery. Travelling through Austria and on to Switzerland means you can take in the spectacular Alps and taking the train from Marseille to Barcelona also offers some great coastal views.
Whether you’re looking to travel on a budget or simply want a flexible way to experience Europe, travelling by rail can be an excellent way to do this. Just make sure to your planning before you set off so that you can make the most of your trip.