Earlier this month, the EU announced it’s giving away 15,000 free InterRail passes to 18 year-old EU citizens. But interrailing isn’t just for teenagers. Would you go?
I’ve never actually been interrailing myself, so I’ve had a chat with three people at Which? who have been to find out more about their experiences.
As I’ve also been working with our Which? Travel team over the last few months I’ve seen some amazing European destinations in their features, so I was curious: is it the best way to see Europe?
How old were you and why did you go? I was 20 and went with a group of friends from university. We chose interrailing because it looked like the best and cheapest way of seeing loads of different places.
Where did you visit? Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Llubljana, Lake Bled, Rome, Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik.
Was it cost effective? I think it was. We teamed up with cheap hostels and managed to save on accomodation by sleeping on some over-night trains. I was impressed that the ticket also covered boat travel!
Is it the best way to see Europe? 100%. I’ve been to a lot of places, far and wide, and I would still say that interrailing was one of my favourite experiences ever. The whole thing felt like a bit of a pilgrimage across Europe and a rite of passage at that age. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!
How old were you and why did you go? I’d always wanted to do it, and was lucky enough to have friends to visit in different European cities. At 25 it was also my last chance to take advantage of a discounted youth pass!
Where did you visit? Oslo, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Zurich, Munich and Vienna.
Was it cost effective? As I could only take a limited amount of time off work, and I knew where I wanted to go (no spur of the moment decisions for me!), it worked out cheaper to book in advance onto specific trains. If I’d had more time (and been more spontaneous) I’d definitely have considered paying for the pass.
Is it the best way to see Europe? Absolutely. I saw loads and had the best time doing it. If you go alone, I find the free walking tours are a great option. You’ll meet other visitors to the city, potentially make some friends and also get some good pointers on where to start exploring from the guide.
How old were you and why did you go? I was 19. I choose to do interrailing as my then boyfriend and I wanted to visit Europe’s biggest countries. I was on a break from university so interrailing seemed like a convenient and time efficient way to see a lot of places in a short amount of time.
Where did you visit? Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic and The Netherlands.
Was it cost effective? Yes and no. We had a short space of time and a fairly set itinerary so it may have been cheaper to book specific trains. Although we did make a few deviations which the interrailing pass gave us the flexibility to do.
Is it the best way to see Europe? If you have a flexible schedule then, potentially, yes. I think it also depends on where you want to go. The quality and reliability of trains in central Europe are very impressive, and there are many different options and connections. However, I don’t think this is the case for everywhere.
Would you go?
It was great to hear about the interrailing experiences people here have had. As a Southern Rail commuter, it was a nice change of pace discussing positive rail stories! With adult prices starting at £243 for a pass, I think it’s something I’d consider in the future.
I also discovered that there’s an equivalent for non-Europeans named Eurail. Michelle Cini told me that it’s an extremely convenient way for non-Europeans to see the continent in one go, with stations generally being far more conveniently located than airports.
Do you have an interrailing story to tell? I’d love to hear how it went, and whether you’d recommend it. Not been? Let us know if our Which? staff members’ stories could tempt you for your next holiday.