Planning on making a trip around Europe next spring during my gap year between a-levels & uni.
I'm in the UK at the mo, so i'll be doing mainland Europe as you can imagine.
Is there any rail passes that can get me around Europe? I'd like to visit the obvious destinations, such as the big cities - Barcelona (just got back from - must go again!), Madrid, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Venice etc, but wouldn't mind going of the beaten trail a bit - maybe visit Russia if possible. Or just to avoid the cities.
So a pass that could allow me to get around some of these places but also allow me the freedom to stay in places as for short or long a duration as I like would be ideal - or am I being expecting a bit much?
On another note. Is it worth booking accommodation in advance and having a set plan and route, or will I be fine to just do everything on a whim. I'll be travelling in spring so must places shouldn't be too busy, at the same time I don't want to be sleeping rough, had enough of that in Japan!
Any help would be much, much appreciated or just other advice you can offer.
Well, the interrail pass is the obvious choice, everything you need to know about the pass and how to order it is here.
I'd imagine the best pass for you is the one month continuous global pass, which lets you use the train in most countries in Europe as often as you like. There are occasionally supplements, but they're never very expensive. As for planning in advance, personally I've never been a fan of coming up with an extensive route before I leave (the twice that I've bought one of these passes), if you're staying in hostels then usually you can find a place if you book it a few days in advance, though in some places which are particularly busy you'll need to book earlier.
As for Russia, no rail passes cover a trip on the train to Russia so you'll have to fly or buy individual tickets. You also have to get a visa, which is a bit of a hassle and costs about £50 or so as far as I remember. The cheapest flight I've been able to find to Moscow was from Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart and a couple of other German airports using Germanwings. You can find flights for as cheap as 48 Euros including taxes one way. Maybe you could make your way to one of these cities and get this flight as direct flights to Moscow from London tend to be pretty expensive.
That's brilliant. Thank you very much.
Shame I can't do 2 months as that would have been ideal, but I guess I can just book 2 tickets.
Will I have access to all the rail services in any given country, or will it be limited? In other words, will I only be able to get between the main cities on certain 'interrail lines' or will I also be able to use the local trains to smaller destinations within each country? - if that makes any sense.
It'd be nice to go from Paris to Berlin for example, but I might want to travel elsewhere whilst in Germany, and I don't know quite how much freedom this pass would give me.
From what i remember of the interrail you can travel within a country and to and from the large cities. If you want to travel on the high speed inter-city trains (like the Thalys and TGV in France) then you will have to pay supplements - these can sometimes be €20 or so, but other times cost just a couple of euros for a reservation. Check out http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en?newrequest=yes&protocol=http:&
for timetables and stuff.
If you are wanting to do a 2 month trip, something id suggest is to fly to western europe - say barcelona - with easyjet or someone equally cheap and make your way across the continent via train, visiting the big cities as well as stopping off in smaller countryside places. You could buy the month long interrail pass for western europe where train travel is fairly expensive. Then move on towards eastern europe - prague, hungary,croatia,slovakia,slovenia, poland etc where you wouldnt need a rail pass as the prices are just as cheap point to point. You can then find somewhere cheap to fly home from - more and more places in eastern europe are opening up to cheap flights.
If theres anything else you want to know just holler.
Sorry for the late response.
Thanks Nicola, i'll keep that in mind, didn't realise travel was so cheap around Eastern Europe.
Is there anywhere that will tell me exactly what the interrail covers, i'd like to know whether i'm going to be paying standard charges travelling within each country or whether i'm covered for more or less everything (apart from any supplements).
I'm probably blind but the IR site doesn't seem to have much info reg. this.
As already pointed out, flying can be a good and cheaper way to get around. My advise is to first make an initerary, and then check if you can get flights for the rides, that take more than 5-6 hours by train (check the train timetables on www.bahn.de, and check www.flightassistent.com or/and whichbudget.com for flights). Note that is some countries trains are actualy pretty cheap (Spain, Italy), so wonder if a pass, is any good there.
If you know where you need to go by train you can fill in this route on www.railsaver.com, which provides a sound advise on which pass is best for yours. I come along a lot of people that buy a pass first, and then make the choice on where they want to go. For me that is the wrong way. Also note, that reservations, and nighttrains will cost you extra.
Cheers Herr Bert. I certainly wasn't planning doing it all on a whim, but at the same time, I don't want a fully structured trip. I was going to book accommodation in a few of the main attractions that I want to see so i've got some idea of where i'll be at certain times, and work around this and at other times i'll go wherever takes my interest within a given country/area.
I'm trying to do trains partly because its eco-friendly as well as convenient, so I don't think i'll be flying except there and on my return.
The railsaver link is fantastic actually, so thank you very much for that. I think i'm sorted now with a lot of information to get through. If anyone's got any more recommendations or tips, however, i'd be glad to hear them, and i'll update if I have any more queries.