How to buy an Interrail Pass
(or Eurail Pass)

How to buy an Interrail / Eurail pass

We bought our passes direct from the Interrail website.

Interrail vs Eurail: what's the difference?

In short: if you live in Europe (including the UK), you get an Interrail pass. 

If you live outside Europe, you get a Eurail pass.

Apart from that, there's basically no difference. Same price, same benefits, same rules.

Do I need an Interrail or Eurail Pass? (The full story from the Interrail website - click to expand.)

There are several different flavours of Interrail / Eurail pass to choose from.

One-Country or All-the-Countries?

Your first choice will be between a One-Country pass which gives you unlimited travel in — you guessed it — a single country, and a Global pass which lets you travel freely in all 33 countries in the Interrail network.

(There are limits on how much you can travel in your home country — more details on that below.)

"Continuous" vs "Flexi" passes

So-called Flexi Passes allow you to travel for a given number of days within a longer time period. For Global passes, the variants currently available include:

Flexi passes can be a good choice if you plan to "stick around" and explore places in more depth while you travel.

Continuous passes, on the other hand, can be very good value if you like to keep "on the move", catching a train most days without too many week-long stops on the beach en route.

They allow unlimited travel for a continuous period. Options currently available are:

Remember, for these continuous passes, the clock starts ticking (or the days start counting) on the day you catch your first train.

First-class or Second Class Interrail pass?

Second-class Interrail passes are, of course, cheaper, but the upgrade to first class is not that much more expensive. For example, for a three-month global pass, the first-class pass is only 27% more expensive than the second-class pass.

Is it worth the extra money? Well, it depends on a few things.

Interrail discounts for young people

If  you're 27 or under, you're in luck. Interrail  / Eurail passes for under-28s are about 25% cheaper than full-price adult passes.

Interrail discounts for older people

If  you're 60 or over, you're also in luck, but not as much luck as the lucky under-28s.  Interrail  / Eurail passes for over-60s are about 10% cheaper than full-price adult passes.

Using your Interrail Pass in your home country

You can use a Global Pass, for unlimited train travel across the 33 countries in the Interrail network.

BUT — there's a catch. You can only use it for two "travel days" within your home country.

Notionally these are called your "outbound" and "inbound" travel days, designed to allow you one day to get "away", and one day to get back home again.

But the rules don't require you to use them like that. 

If you wanted to, you could, for example, as a UK resident, begin your journey in Turkey, and use both your "outbound" and "inbound" travel days at home in the UK at the end of your trip.

Or you could start your trip in Portugal, come home and travel in the UK for a couple of days in the middle of your journey, and finish your ride in Estonia.

But, whichever way you slice it and dice it, the limitation is that you can only use your Interrail pass in your home country on two days. And that rule applies no matter how long your pass is valid for: whether you have a 3-month pass or a 4-day pass, you still get just two days in your home country.

Can I use an Interrail One Country Pass in my home country?

No. You can't use an Interrail one-country pass to travel in your home country. 

How does Interrail determine my "home country"?

Basically, it's the country where you live. This might be different from the country whose passport you hold.

When you travel with your Interrail pass, you'll need to carry your passport, residence permit or official ID from the country you've declared as your "home country". You won't need to show your passport/ID every time, but ticket inspectors can and do check from time to time, so make sure you have it with you.

What's better: an Interrail Mobile Pass or Paper Pass?

In the "old days", Interrail passes were made of real paper: you could fold them up, put them in your pocket... and destroy them in the washing machine!

Nowadays, you have the choice between an old-style Paper Pass, or a Mobile Pass which works via an app on your smartphone.

Which is best? Most people nowadays will probably find the Mobile Pass more convenient. The smartphone app had some glitches when it was first released, but these are gradually being ironed out and it's now a pretty good, reliable system.

Bear in mind though, the mobile app does rely on:

If you think you might struggle with these requirements, then the paper pass is probably best for you!

A big advantage of the Mobile Pass is that you don't need to specify your start date when you buy your pass. You can activate a mobile pass any time within 11 months after purchase. 

For many, this start-date flexibility is a big bonus, which you don't get from a paper pass: on a paper pass you have to specify your start date at the time of purchase, and you can't change this later on.

What's included in an Interrail Pass?

The main benefit of an Interrail pass is of course that it gives you unlimited* train travel across 33 countries in Europe. (Assuming you buy a Global Pass, of course. A one-country pass will, as the name suggests, limit you to a single country.)

Are ferries included in Interrail?

A side-benefit of an Interrail pass is that you'll be entitled to discounted travel on many European ferry lines, including:

Which ferries are inlcuded in Interrail? Click to expand the current list

What's not included in Interrail's "unlimited" train travel?

I said Interrail gives you "unlimited*" train travel, with an asterisk, because there are a few limitations.

Firstly, a handful train companies in Europe aren't part of the Interrail scheme. 

These are mostly smaller operators on regional routes, so they probably won't affect you.

But it's worth being aware that, for a few trains here and there in Europe — including, for example, the Arriva trains which run between České Budějovice and Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic — your Interrail pass won't be valid, and you'll have to buy an extra ticket. 

The Interrail app is pretty good at flagging these "not-incldued" trains now so you can plan to avoid them if you want to. 

Secondly: some trains are included in Interrail, but you still have to pay. 

What?? Well, these are the trains which include a compulsory reservation. Your Interrail pass covers the basic "ticket" part of the journey, but sometimes you'll have to pay extra for the reservation. This applies to nearly all long-distance and high-speed trains in France, Italy and Spain, for example. Reservation fees range from a couple of euros to 30 - 40 euros or more: the costs can mount up quite quickly, especially if you plan on doing a lot of high-speed travel in Spain, Italy and France. 

The good news is that in many countries, reservations are either free, or not required at all. And even in "expensive reservation" countries like Spain, Italy and France, there are often reservation-free regional trains which you can use instead. They're slower, but you'll save money, and you might find that the "slow travel" is even more enjoyable, as you're more likely to stop off at smaller places along the way that you might not have visited (or even heard of!) had you just been whizzing through at 250 km/h.

Interrail for Sleeper Trains in Europe

Yes, you can use your Interrail pass on sleeper trains in Europe — but if you want to lie down in a couchette or sleeper berth, you'll have to pay a supplement for the sleeper reservation. The sleeper supplement varies from route to route and can depend, airline-style, on how early you book. 

Reckon on at least 20 euros per berth on the cheaper routes if you book well in advance, all the way up to over 100 euros for a private en-suite compartment.