Inter-Rail is the name of a rail pass that allows you unlimited free travel on nearly all train services in Europe for up to a month, for a one-off payment (and quite a cheap one at that). Popular among young travellers such as gap year students, there are two types of pass, the youth pass for those aged under 26, and the adult pass, which is slightly more expensive (see below).
There are a few different types of pass to choose from, depending on where you want to travel and for how long. The continent is divided into zones of a few countries each, and you may purchase a one-zone pass, which lasts only 22 days, a two or three zones pass, which last a month, or a 'global' pass, which covers all of Europe, as well as Morocco and Turkey, and also lasts a month. Non-global pass holders qualify for a 30% to 50% discount in other zones for the purpose of getting to the zones they are travelling in - but in my opinion, the global pass is easily the best, as it only costs slightly more than the others.
Note that the Inter-Rail pass is only available to those who have been resident in Europe for the past six months. If you aren't eligible, an alternative is the Eurail Pass, which isn't quite as good value, but isn't bad.
Inter-Rail Zones are as follows:
Note that you don't always get free travel in the country you bought the pass (this is certainly the case for UK residents)
- UK and Republic of Ireland
- Norway, Sweden, Finland
- Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Finland
- Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland, Hungary, Croatia
- France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg
- Spain, Portugal, Morocco
- Italy, Greece, Turkey, Slovenia
- Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Macedonia
A lot of travellers on a budget make use of night trains as an alternative to finding accomodation. Unfortunately, in some countries (for example France), supplements need to be paid to travel at night, even for a regular seat, never mind a sleeper. Supplements also need to be paid for certain high speed services, and one or two other exceptions (see the Inter-Rail website). Also, the pass does not cover the Eurostar, though it does entitle you to a discount on this, some ferries, and even some tourist attractions.
Current prices for the Inter-Rail pass appear below. Note that they are due to change in March 2002 (I will update them if I remember). Prices appear in £ Sterling, with approximate prices in Euros in brackets. There may be a very slight variation between countries - these are UK prices.
ONE ZONE PASS Under-26: £129 (€210) / 26+: £185 (€301)
TWO ZONE PASS Under-26: £169 (€275) / 26+: £239 (€388)
THREE ZONE PASS Under-26: £199 (€323) / 26+: £275 (€447)
GLOBAL PASS Under-26: £229 (€372) / 26+: £319 (€518)
See www.interrail.com for more information.