Im planning a trip to Europe for the first time, initial plans are to travel along the southern coast from Portugal to Italy.
Firstly, as an inexperienced traveller, are there any flaws to this route? costs, feasibility, etc?
secondly, i have done some research into the various rail passes available, EURAIL and Inter rail etc. But will i need one? is it the best way to travel? a pass will seem to give me alot more flexibility as to where are when i travel, but is the extra cost worth it?
As i am British i ammume i will need a inter rail pass, (plus its cheaper) but there are many options availiable, what type of pass do you think i will need? i am 20 so i qualify for a youth pass.
further, i am travelling with an American, and as i understand inter rail passes are only avaliable to Europeans. What advice can i give to her? will she need an EURAIL pass? will any difficulties arise when travelling as a pair with different passes?
finally, an EURAIL pass seems alot more expensive than an interrail pass, is this true? and are there any other options worth investigation?
Here are some answers to your questions....
- There doesn't seem to be any flaws in your route....as long as you're going in a straight line, and not backtracking, you'll be ok. As for budget, my rule of thumb in Europe is 50 Euros a day. In most places you will be able to find cheap accomodation, food, etc. Of course, it depends where you are staying and what you plan on doing when you are there. If you know that you will be sightseeing a lot, then up the budget...if you know that you will be camping or trying to save, then lower it.
- From my experience train is the best way to travel if you are going to many places over a short period of time. There are always buses and budget airlines that you could look into as well. Although buses take at least twice as long as the traihn, and budget airline tickets could add up and land up costing you a lot.
- If you are travelling by train, then yes, you will need train passes. Since you qualift for a youth pass, then you'll be saving tons of money. I suggest getting a Global pass for 399 Euros, because you will be travelling through 3 zones. (Interrail website: http://www.interrail.net/web/index2.php4?language=en ) As for your AMerican friend, you're right, she will need a Eurail pass. She can qualify for the Youth passes, but the type will have to be looked into. She will probably have to get a Europass Youth OR a Europass Youth Flexi. Here's the difference....
-Europass Youth lets you travel for X amount of consecutive days.
-Europass Youth Flexi allows you to travel for X amount of days in the period of a month or two (not consecutive)
To decide, you'll have to calculate how many travel days you will be using up before you leave (or at least estimate) and make sure that if she gets one pass or the other, she won't get stuck. Here's the website: http://www.eurrail.com/ .
- And yup, the Eurail pass is more expensive. No clue why, maybe the Interrail pass is cheaper as an initiative to get Europeans to travel more within their continent.
I hope that helps, please contact me if you need any more info!
Good stuff as always from Katie. Hopefully i won't now contradict everything she's said &/or bore you to tears!
1. If you stick to the coast or thereabouts, the route should be relatively cheap, and is fairly straight forward, and there’s lots of things to see/do along the way. With regard to feasibility, the main problems are at the start between Portugal and Cartagena. There is a railway along the Portuguese section of coast, but no connection to Spain (The Spa-Port is one of Europe’s most pathetic borders to cross by train – the 3 crossings offer a sum total of 4 trains a day, and 2 of those are night trains anyway, whilst a 4th crossing they’ve deliberately removed the connections to necessitate a 25km walk).
However, there are trains to near the Spanish border, and lots of buses from there to Huelva and Sevilla, as well as a couple of through ones from Faro, and it is a relatively easy journey to make. Between Huelva/Sevilla and Valencia, there is no complete costal route – there are 4 or 5 routes down to costal towns, but they require trips inland to connect them. Again, buses are recommended, although several of the inland cities/towns are definitely worth a visit anyway.
Between Almeria and Cartagena, there isn’t even a sensible option of traveling by train, as it involves an approx 700km (guess) trip into the centre of Spain, and for some connections, even via Madrid, for a distance of barely 100km. It’s only worth training it if you have a pass and use the opportunity to visit Madrid on the way.
After that, it’s easy all the way around the coast to Sicily, and even back around right the way to Split in Croatia. One tip – Through French/Spanish trains are at a premium due to the need to change guage. Changing trains at the border is much cheaper, and buying tickets to the border and again there, even more so.
2.Whether you use a pass or not depends on how much you plan to travel, and how much time you have. Interrail passes generally come into their own for lots of long distance journeys in a relatively short space of time. In addition, two of your countries – Spain and Italy – have compulsory reservation/supplement on long distance trains, which will obviously cost more. Finally, Spain/Portugal and Italy are the 3 cheapest Western European countries to travel by train in anyway, and especially if you are planning on stopping off a few places on the way (as opposed to just 3 or 4 stops on the whole route), and bearing in mind Southern Spain is not great for trains anyway, it’s probably not worth getting a pass.
3. As an European resident, you either get a Interrail pass or Eurodomino passes. Interrail for your 4 (ok, 5 with Monaco) countries means 3 zones, which is a global pass anyway, and will be a month long. Eurodomino passes are specific country passes for 3, 5, 7 or 10 (I think) days for a country within a longer time frame. These are good for a few long journeys spread over a period of time and are worth looking at if you intend to do a couple of long journeys within Spain for example – you can supplement that with tickets bought on the spot for short journeys.
4. There are no technical difficulties for people with different types of pass traveling together (or pass and bought on spot ticket holders). However, because of the differing nature of the passes it could turn into a juggling act to make sure you both get the most out of your passes. If she is not a European resident, she will only be able to get a Eurail (or Eurodomino) pass anyway.
5. Eurodomino’s are possibly worth investigation, but if you are just planning on more or less following the coast, I would guess that buying as you go will probably work out best. Eurrails are more expensive because they are significantly more flexible. They can be split by country, and also you only but the number of days you want within the time frame. Interrail work on zones only (so if you are just traveling in Germany and France, for example, you need 2 zones and also get Lux, Bel, Neth, Den, Aut and Swi without needing them!), and are also consequtive blocks of time only, so if you don’t travel for 3 days, you loose them.
As well as the sites katie listed, do google searches for Interrail, Eurail and Eurodomino to get full information on what has to offer, and if you then have any further questions etc, just ask/post on here.
Hope some of that long winded waffle is helpful!
Good luck and happy traveling