Why train travel should be on the top of your list
Interrail has been around since the 70's. The goal was to give youngsters a cheap way to travel, explore the European continent and expand their worldview and understanding of other cultures. The rise of low-cost airlines and cheap flight tickets created a growing desire amongst European travelers to explore every corner of the world. But as tourist hotspots grew more and more crowded and the environmental impact of our travel decisisons became clear, a reverse trend started. Now in 2020, Interrail travel is becoming popular again. Slow and environmental travel are the new trends and what better way to travel both slow and environmental than by train. Time to take a look at what Interrail is exactly and how it can offer you the travel of a lifetime.
What is Interrail?
The goal of Interrail is to make travel easy between the already connected European countries. In 2020 you can already travel to over 40 000 stops in 33 countries with an Interrail ticket. From big capitals to small villages and the middle of nowhere, if there is a station you can get off and hop on. Interrail travel is perfect for those who want to do a series of European city trips or those who are looking for off the beaten track experiences. Every type of traveler can enjoy a trip tailored to his needs with Interrail.
An Interrail ticket does not only give you access to trains, you can also reserve a seat on ferries if you want to travel to Scandinavia or other countries that are hard to reach by train. In general, Interrail offers you a seamless and borderless European travel experience. A travel experience that leaves lasting impressions!
How does an Interrail pass work?
The Interrail pass is a single train ticket that you can use for as many days as you paid for. The price depends on your age, how many days you want to travel, from 4 days to 3 months, and if you want to travel first or second class. There are a several Interrail passes available but in general there are two types:
- The One Country pass (travel for a certain amount of days in one country. The Italian Country pass is very popular)
- The Interrail Global pass (travel for a certain amount of days in all 33 available countries). With this pass you pick the countries you want to see, or you go crazy and do all 33.
An example: you buy an Interrail pass that allows 7 days of travel in one month. This means that on 7 days in this one month you can take as many trains in one day as possible. No need to buy individual train tickets, you take all these trains just by showing your Interrail pass. Missed a train? No worry, there is always a next one.
An Interrail pass is always valid for 11 months so you don't have to travel straight away after buying the pass. When you buy a pass, you have two options:
- Flexi pass: You can travel on each day during the overall validity of your pass. So if you're travelling with a Global Pass 5 days within 15 days you have 5 travel days which you can use within a 15-day period.
- Continuous pass: The continuous pass is only available with the Global pass. With this pass you can travel you can travel on every single day within the validity of your pass. So if you buy a 15 day continuous pass you can take trains on every single of these 15 days.
With the free Interrail mobile app, which also works offline, you easily check train schedules and plan your whole trip. With this app you can also book a seat on trains that travel faster, offer extra comfort and other services. For these trains you need to make a reservation or pay an extra fee as the seats are limited. France, Italy and Spain have many train routes that require reservation but don't worry, there is always a free alternative available that you don't need a reservation for.
Interrail: from train to ferry
Creating a borderless travel experience by train is quite hard if you want to explore Greek islands or travel up North and visit Scandinavian countries. That is why you can also get free or discounted tickets to multiple ferry lines. Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Italy, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland... all these countries can be reached by ferry with the Interrail pass. Taking an overnight ferry also saves you the cost of an extra night in a hotel or hostel.
Once you disembarked you simply hop on the next train and continue your journey. You can plan the whole trip easily using the Interrail app. Seriously, we cannot think of any other way to make travelling any easier.
Benefits of train over plane
True, taking the train goes much slower than travelling by plane. But is that really a downside? Connecting with the area you are travelling in and with the people you meet on the train? Staring out the window and watching beautiful landscapes pass or enjoying a game of cards with a bunch of Italians you just met on the train. There are other benefits to travelling by train. Here is a quick summary:
- Train travel is sustainable. Your ecological footprint definitely decreases when you use the train instead of a kerosine guzzeling plane.
- You arrive in the heart of your destination. No airport shuttles that take hours or haggling for taxis, you get off the train and you have arrived. The adventure starts straight away.
- No luggage worries. You don't have to pay extra to put your luggage on a train, you can take as much as you want and you can always keep in closeby.
- Forget about being at the platform 2 hours in advance. There are no security lines, no baggage drop-off line, no standing in line at the gate. You arrive at the platform a couple of minutes in advance and you are good to go. Your departure is as stress-free as the entire travel.
- Slow Travel: The new travel trend is all about enjoying where you are and how you get there. Stop rushing to all these tourist hotspots but appreciate the travel for the sake of travelling.
- Community feeling. After 5 minutes in an airplane, 50% of the passengers has put on a headset or is browsing through the available movies. On a train people are more inclined to start talking to each other. You can actually meet people on a train and maybe even adapt your travel plans if you meet new friends!
- Last but not least: Legroom! If you are a bit taller you probably don't look forward to spending a few hours with your knees close to your chin. Most trains offer you a lot of legroom and space to move around.
Why is Interrail becoming more popular?
There are several reasons why Interrail is becoming increasingly popular:
- Sustainability: We are becoming more aware of our impact on the environment. We change our daily behavior to save the human species, so why not do the same with our travel behavior. Can you still justify flying all the way to Thailand to spend 10 days lying on a beach?
- Flexibility: Traveling by train takes the stress away. Trains run way more frequent then airplines so if you miss the one at 10, there is always the one at 11. Time becomes less important when you travel so flexibel.
- Exotic Europe: The interest in the unknown Europe is growing. People are losing interest in the big popular cities such as Berlin and Amsterdam and are travelling to small villages and places that are hard to find in popular travel guides. Interrail offers over 40 000 stops in 33 countries. More than enough small towns and picturesque villages to explore.
- Affordable travel option: There is an Interrail pass for every budget. Plus when you are you under 27 you can enjoy a year round special youth fare.
- Slow Travel: Not having to hurry on your trip, not coming back more tired than you left. Slow travel sounds nice doesn't it? More and more travelers leave the hastle of airports behind and prefer to travel slowly while taking in their surroundings and connecting with locals and fellow travelers. What better way to travel slow than by train?
Top Interrail destinations
Another great thing about Interrail travel is that you make your own plan. As long as there are train tracks or a ferry line, you can get there. We at KILROY can, of course, give you some valuable advice on where to travel.
- The Balkans: Mix trains and buses and create an unforgettable journey in an exotic part of Europe that has not been overrun by tourists. Use your Interrail pass to travel to Slovenia for some mountainbiking or kayaking, do some island hopping in Croatia and end up in the Albanian mountains in Shkoder. You really don't have to travel far for an exotic trip, the Balkans are but a trainride away.
- Scandinavia: The train route between Bergen and Oslo is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. It's just one of the many highlights you come across while making a train tour through Scandinavia. Take the train North and witness the magical Northern Lights on the Lofoten Islands or take the train to Hardangervidda and hike for a few days in this beautiful national park in beautiful but ruthless nature.
- Italy: Italy is a fan favorite amongst Interrail travelers. What is so nice about Italy is that it fits nearly every travel style. You can visit the fancy cities like Venice, Firenze, Milan, Rome or you can explore the small towns and villages like Foggia or Bacoli for an authentic Italian experience. Love relaxing on the beach? More than enough places to choose from in la bella Italia!
- Eastern Europe: Budapest is not only a place of big parties and cheap vodka, it is also the starting point of an amazing train journey through Eastern Europe. Travel from Hungary to Athens and visit Count Dracula's home in Transylvania or go rafting in Sofia. Once you arrive in Athens you will have a completely different idea of this region and the friendly people who live there.