Europe overland travel by train: Guide to interrail and Eurail passes

Feb 21, 2020 BY Paul McWilliams

Does Europe overland travel by train capture your imagination? Well there are two continent wide rail passes that make your adventure affordable and convenient. This guide to Interrail and Eurail passes provides information about both and helps you understand which is best for your plans.

Europe overland travel by train Guide to interrail and Eurail passes Pixabay royalty free image of Paris

You’ll discover what each pass entitles you to, some more about the major destinations on route, and find out how to make your money go further. But first, let’s have a look at the main differences between the Interrail and Eurail passes.

Interrail vs Eurail: What’s the difference?

If you’ve grown up in Europe, then the name Interrail will probably already be familiar. It’s a word that summons up images of continental exploration – and all at great value. And far from being a thing of the past, the Interrail pass is still going strong. 

Your pass gives you access to rail journeys in 33 countries across Europe. There are more than 40,000 destinations to visit! You can plan your journey well in advance or simply turn up on the day and travel. Interrail gives you the freedom to explore. 

In addition to rail access, your Interrail pass includes some ferry journeys. In most cases, just showing your pass is enough to get you moving but sometime you’ll need to purchase a seat reservation. Do a little research before you travel if this extra expense will be an issue. 

So, what’s the difference to the Eurail pass? Well, essentially, the Interrail pass is for customers who are citizens or residents of Europe and Eurail is for those coming from other parts of the world. It used to be that Interrail allowed access to more countries but Eurail now offers just as much adventure.

Europe overland travel by train Guide to interrail and Eurail passes Pixabay royalty free image of Matterhorn Switzerland

In recent years, the United Kingdom, Lithuania and North Macedonia have been added to the Eurail pass. You even get discounts on the Eurostar – which was previously only possible with Interrail passes.

However, both passes have several notable exclusions from travel. These include Albania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

Guide to interrail and Eurail passes

Prices for an Interrail and Eurail passes start at just €18. This entitles you to four days rail travel within a month. A more popular option is the seven-day pass, which gives you a week’s worth of rail travel over a month for just €251.

Other options include 10-day passes, 15 days ,22 days and a solid month. You can also purchase two- and three-month tickets if you are planning an extended journey. 

For both you can get ‘one country’ or ‘global options’. Which as you might expect, give you access to just one specified country or to all participating countries in the scheme.

Singles activity holidays in Europe Kotor, Montenegro one of the best places to adventure and party Pixabay royalty free image

All types of pass offer a discounted ‘youth’ option for anyone aged under 27 plus senior discounts for people aged over 60. You can also choose between 1st and 2nd class train travel. 

Once you decide whether to buy the Eurorail or Interrail pass you still need to consider what duration and coverage you need. If you will spend more time in fewer destinations, then a cheaper pass will suffice.

If you want the freedom to move around as and when you want, then the global pass is a better idea. However you do it, Europe overland travel by train is much cheaper and easier with an Interrail or Eurail pass.

With travel tickets, covid passes, proof of vaccine, attraction passes and so much more you could end up with a lot of documents on your phone. There are plenty of resources online to compress a PDF to reduce the space they take up.

Where to visit during Europe overland travel?

This guide to Interrail and Eurail passes would not be complete without discussing where you can go! The beauty about travelling overland in Europe is that there are so many cultures, languages, cuisines and landscapes all crammed into a relatively small area.

All countries have developed or improving rail networks. Plus relatively short travel times make the train a great way to get around.

Europe overland travel by train Guide to interrail and Eurail passes Pixabay royalty free image of Rome Vatican

Major cities

However, there are some obvious highlights across Europe. Major capitals such as Paris, Berlin and Rome should be must sees on any journey through Europe. For example, there are plenty of tours in Rome, during which you can see ancient iconic landmarks such as the Coliseum and Spanish Steps. 

Other major capitals like Vienna offer incredible art or world-renowned nightlife, like Madrid or Lisbon. But you can also travel east and explore some of the lesser known destinations.

Head East

Head to the Balkans to discover exciting cities like Belgrade, Novi Sad and Zagreb. Take a trip south to North Macedonia (until recently known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and its capital Skopje.

Alternatively travel north east to Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The impressive city of Budapest was once the centre of a great empire and is well worth a visit You can even travel to Turkey and the majestic city of Istanbul, a huge, sprawling city of 20 million that is dripping with history and culture.

Popular routes

Want to visit many places when you Europe overland travel by train? The best way to plan is to make a list of the destinations you most want to see. Then plot the most convenient route through it.

Flam railway to Vatnahalsen snowboard holiday in Norway

Travel east to west from London to Paris, via Rome, Budapest and Athens to Istanbul. Or go north to south from Norway, through Denmark, Germany, France and Spain before ending up in beautiful Lisbon on the western edge of Europe. 

Or, you could book your Interrail or Eurail pass and set off, seeing where you end up. Either way, Europe overland travel by train is a great way to explore one of the most diverse continents on Earth. 

Activities during Europe overland travel by train

Of course, it’s not just the places you can go, it’s the activities you can try! Europe is blessed with stunning coastlines, incredible mountains, long rivers and much more. When you Europe overland travel by train you can try everything from scuba diving to skydiving.

How about surfing and paragliding in Portugal to or kitesurfing and climbing in Spain? What about hiking ot and mountain biking in the Alps or pyrenees or sailing or windsurfing in Greece? The choice is yours and travelling by train is a great way to access many adventure sports.

Hike the Cinque Terre in Italy, go white water rafting in Austria or sail around the Turkish coastline. There is a wealth of activity options across Europe. Book your Interrail or Eurail pass now to get access to all of it.

Marina in Bodrum for Turkey sailing holiday Pixabay royalty free image

Hopefully this guide to Interrail and Eurail passes has been of use to you?Also by highlighting some of the benefits of overland travel by train in Europe we hope it has inspired you to book a pass.

Be sure to check out our adventure discounts in Europe as you could save a fortune on your next holiday.


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