Europe by train with the Interrail Global Pass

Europe in one month with the Interrail Global Pass

Traveling through Europe is a dream for many travelers around the world – and while getting there from another continent is quite easy by plane there are several options to get around once you are in Europe. Renting a car, taking flights, hitchhiking or buses are all valid options (and there are still plenty I didn’t even mention!) that have their right to exist. However, during September 2018 I traveled through Europe by public transportation, mostly trains, with the Interrail Global Pass.

Already when I was a teenager I was thinking about doing an Interrail trip through Europe, yet, I didn’t do it. Eventually, after some more years have passed, I gave it a try and will tell you about my experiences during my month traveling with the Interrail Global Pass.

*Disclaimer: As a part of a collaboration Interrail provided me the Interrail Global Pass (1st class) ticket. All opinions are my own.

What is Interrail?

While Interrail is quite known already I’m sure there will be some of you that have no idea what it really is. And that is totally okay because I am about to tell you what Interrail is and how it works! To be honest Interrail is full of interesting details, however, I will try to keep it short and simple for you:

Interrail is basically a European railway ticket, which allows unlimited rail travel in and between all of the 30 participating countries. The ticket includes major tourist hotspots like Paris (France), Rome (Italy), the Swiss Alps (Switzerland) or London (UK) but also less touristic countries like in the Balkans or Eastern Europe. There are also some buses and even ferries that you can use with your ticket. You can find more information about Interrail or the Interrail Global Pass that I used on their website.

If you were looking for information about Eurail, don’t be confused – it’s the same thing, just for residents outside of Europe, while Interrail is for residents of Europe. The services are the same though.

My Interrail trip

Interrail Global Pass possible route

Berlin-Warsaw-Krakow-Prague-Budapest-Belgrade-Skopje-Ohrid-Tirana-Kotor-Mostar-Sarajevo-Zagreb-Zurich

30 days, 10 countries, over 14 cities

That’s just a short and simple review of my whole trip. Of course, these numbers don’t tell much about my experience with Interrail, how I liked it and the adventures I was part of. But it gives you an overview of how much you are able to see in this short time while traveling by train in Europe. Please note that I also took privately organized buses, especially in the Balkans, that were not included in the Interrail ticket. I decided to do that because I already saw most of the big cities in central Europe, where I grew up and still live. But let’s split my journey into parts to give you some more insights:

Central/Eastern Europe by train

Berlin – Warsaw – Krakow – (Auschwitz) – Prague – Budapest

My journey originally started in Berlin, from where I took my first train to Warsaw, the capital of Poland. To my surprise, this was the least luxurious train during my time in Eastern Europe. After that, I took a train to Krakow, where even breakfast and some drinks were included in my ticket (first class) and served during the journey. I was really happy with the quality of trains in general – so traveling by train in Eastern Europe is certainly a good option.

Interrail in Poland
Complimentary drinks on the train from Warsaw to Krakow

What I was really looking forward were the night trains – because they save time (you travel while sleeping) and money (you save the costs of a hotel/hostel for the night). While the night train from Krakow to Prague was super comfy and spacious – I should make some other experiences in the Balkans later on my trip. But I will tell you more about that later! Depending on your ticket and the money you want to spend, you can usually book everything from a regular seat to a single room with a bed on night trains. But it’s always better to check the availability beforehand. On my trip from Krakow to Prague, I stayed in a 2-bed sleeper with one other person.

Travel by train in Eastern Europe
My bed in the night train from Krakow to Prague

Once I arrived in Prague I originally wanted to book another night train to Budapest – which was unfortunately not possible, as everything was booked out already. If you are traveling on popular routes (especially in night trains) you should make reservations early in advance. Luckily that was usually not the case in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Eventually, I reserved a regular train from Prague to Budapest, which left early in the morning and arrived shortly after noon. Luckily, there are always different options to choose from.

Balkans by train (& bus)

After Budapest, the real train adventure was about to start. I made a reservation for a sleeper (2-bed room) for the night train to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. On the internet, I read many bad reviews about this particular connection – as there were some unpleasant incidents in the past. However, these problems are under control now, thanks to a higher presence of police. Like in my previous night trains the bed was quite comfy and I started to sleep pretty fast. Unfortunately, the area of the European Union ends here, as Serbia is not part of the union yet. That means that you will have to show your passport in the middle of the night. But that’s the same for every way of transport!

Anyway, quite tired I made it to Belgrade, where I immediately made my next reservation: Another night train, this time to Skopje, which is located in Macedonia. On the day of the departure, I made it to the train station “Topcider”, which looked quite special and really old. I was not even sure I’m at a train station until I saw some other backpackers and talked to them. (They were as puzzled as me). This train (which continues to Thessaloniki), only offers 6-bed couchettes – which means less space and more people in one room. The train ride itself was extremely slow – which made it boring but also interesting. I will not forget the moment I looked out of the window at night, in a totally remote area of Serbia, and saw a sky full of stars.

Interrail in the Balkans
My train from Belgrade “Topcider” to Skopje. Not the newest one 😀

Once I was in Macedonia I had to change my way of transportation mainly to buses (I will skip that part for this post), at least until I was in Mostar in Bosnia. From there I was able to take a really modern train to Sarajevo. I was surprised by the magnificent views during this ride – which were as beautiful as the famous train rides in Switzerland. I’m sure that this area will become quite popular in the future.

As Bosnia and Croatia are having some problems – there was, unfortunately, no real train connection from Sarajevo to Zagreb afterward, which led to another long bus ride. Finally, I took my last train from Zagreb to Zurich (via Austria) – which was also the end of my one month trip through Europe with the Interrail Global Pass.

Interrail Global Pass
My Interrail Global Pass

Is Interrail worth it?

Short answer: Yes. If you use it correctly. Interrail, and especially the Interrail Global Pass, gives you a lot of opportunities. In the end, it’s you that makes the trip though, and not the ticket itself. For me, Interrail and traveling by train have various advantages, here are just a few:

  • Flexible, spontaneous way of traveling
  • Perfect to meet other travelers during long train rides
  • Eco-friendlier than planes, cars or buses
  • Saving money for accommodation when taking night trains
  • For me, the perfect way to explore Europe

Of course, Interrail is not the perfect solution for every kind of traveling, but I can say that it’s a great option to travel around Europe, especially if you want to see many different places in a short time and meet other travelers during your adventure. I would recommend Interrail / Eurail to everybody, and even more if it’s your first time exploring Europe. You can get a short glimpse of various places – and take some more time on your next trip – focusing more on the places you liked the most.

Skyroam Solis Review
Skyroam is a great way to stay connected while traveling

Staying connected

*Contains affiliate links. If buying one of the products I will receive parts of the sale price. There are no additional costs for you.

One problem when traveling around Europe by train (but also other ways of traveling) is to stay connected during the whole trip, as you will be in many different countries. During my trip with Interrail, I used Skyroam Solis, which was the perfect solution for this challenge. Skyroam is a WiFi Hotspot that keeps you connected in over 130 countries around the world – and also functions as a power bank if your phone runs out of charge.

I tried out the product extensively during my train rides – and was really happy with the outcome. Of course, if you are in totally rural areas you will not really have a connection – but that is a problem of the local providers and not Skyroam. As a comparison, I usually tried my own mobile internet – which always had a similar speed to my Skyroam device. You can check out Skyroam Solis and get 10% off with my code “destinations10”

If you want to travel in Europe taking trains should be an option to consider for you. During my one month of traveling by train in Europe with Interrail I explored several beautiful destinations and had wonderful adventures. Find out more on my blog!

Comments

    1. Post
      Author
  1. Natalia

    I’m glad that finally someone wrote a honest post with pictures about traveling Europe by train. My husband and I been thinking of doing this for a while now but didn’t know where to start. This was super helpful so thank you for sharing:)

    1. Post
      Author
      Michael Gerber

      I’m glad this post helped you, Natalia! I can just recommend traveling around Europe by train. If it’s your first time I’d suggest sticking to Central Europe and/or Scandinavia though, as the trains there are modern and more reliable. I’m used to traveling by train already as I grew up in Switzerland. Hope you will have an amazing trip and if you have a question feel free to ask me!

  2. Suru

    What are the conditions of travel if one buys an inter rail global pass? Example if I use the train on day 1 and then I use the train after 3 days . Is this ok with this ticket?
    How much is the cost of the ticket and does it include berth reservation charges too? Or do we pay extra money to travel during the night for the sleeper berth!
    Is this ticket can be used in all trains?

    Can you please give more details on skyroam solis? Where to buy and it’s cost and how long valid etc?

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

    1. Post
      Author
      Michael Gerber

      Hello Suru and thanks for your comment!

      There are different Interrail passes available. For example, my pass was valid for one month (whole September) – no matter on which days I would travel. But there are also passes for shorter periods of time or passes which only use one of your days on actual days of traveling. So it might be a good idea to have a look at the interrail website to find the best solution for you.

      The reservation always depend on the train you take – some require reservations, some don’t. Night trains always require reservations – I usually paid around 5-10$ for a sleeper cabin with my first class ticket. This can be higher in other countries though. I used the apps “RailPlanner” and “Deutsche Bahn” to check that beforehand.
      And the ticket can be used on all trains (and some buses/ferries) inside the network. It’s almost all companies/countries in Europe, yet, there are some exceptions (you can find them on the Interrail website).

      Skyroam is a device that you can activate with a day pass (9$ I think) and you can stay connected for 24hours with up to 5 devices (phone, laptop, etc). I think they also have a monthly offer. You can find all of their offers here: https://www.skyroam.com/?rfsn=1657074.543956

      I hope that helps and don’t hesitate to contact me if something is not clear

      Best,
      Michael

    1. Post
      Author

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