Photo Photo by Simon Pielow licensed under CC
Do you know that people aged 60 or over are eligible for an InterRail Senior Discount pass? It'll give you a 10% saving on your Global InterRail passes, ideal if you're planning a tour around Europe.
Silver Travel Advisor writer, Peter Lynch, writes about his time InterRailing around Europe, and we look at 5 benefits of having an InterRail Pass.
I had a week’s holiday and a desire to travel in comfort overland and see Europe's finest culture.
A first class Global InterRail Pass (Europe-wide) seemed to fit the bill. It costs £331 and gave me 5 rail travel days anywhere in Europe for a 10-day period. I went for a circular trip to Poland and Austria, travelling through France, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.
From Brussels to Poland via Cologne
My journey started with a Eurostar to Brussels (at an extra cost), before a speedy change sent me en route to Cologne. I spent the afternoon and evening exploring the city's magnificent cathedral and sampling its unique Kölsch beer.
The 22.30 night train to Warsaw was a €91 supplement (less than an average hotel bill). It was comfortable but not exactly luxurious. There was water and snacks, and the carriage attendant brought coffee in the morning.
I picked a hotel within walking distance of the station to get the most from my short time in Warsaw. The city has been impressively rebuilt after the devastation of the Second World War, but you wouldn't know because the restoration has been so remarkable.
Chopin is one of Warsaw’s most famous sons, and there are regular open-air concerts playing his music. There's also a fascinating Chopin trail, marked by marble benches which play one of his classics when you sit down.
Poland is incredible value for visitors. A beer or Bison grass-infused vodka costs 80c and a large helping of the new tapas-style bar food was a mere €1.50. This post-communist food revival brings back traditional Polish market snacks with some modern flair.
The European gem of Krakow is just a few hours from Warsaw. It has castles, cathedrals, the largest platz in Europe and it's all set in a beautifully preserved Old Town.
There are also reminders of the war - the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Oskar Schindler factory. Today, the factory is an impressive museum. It's a powerful and atmospheric audio-visual record of Krakow under the Nazi jackboot.
Vienna and Germany
Another night sleeper took me from Krakow to Vienna. There are few luxury frills on public night trains, but they’re still a great way to travel – saving money and time.
The 8x10ft cabin had space for clothes and bags, 2 high shelves, a wall cabinet, a sink, electric sockets and reading lights.
Vienna is the grand city of the Habsburgs, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire whose rule came to an end after the First World War. It’s the city of Johann Strauss, elegant waltzes, the Hofburg Palace, dancing horses, coffee houses, Sachertorte, strudel and the Third Man movie.
The picturesque ride through hills and mountains to Salzburg was a real treat. Surrounded by mountains, Salzburg is a stunning city with another wonderfully preserved Old City.
Towering above is the impressive Hohensalzburg Fortress, which is the home of the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg. There’s a funicular to the top so there's no need to hike, unless you want to.
The cobbled streets and alleyways are a joy to stroll through, but Salzburg’s greatest fame is that it's the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for the Sound of Music.There are tours, events and concerts to please fans of either.
The city is captivating. There’s so much to see and do, but it also has a delightful ambience, which is a joy to just sit around and imbibe.
Returning home involved a spectacular ride through mountains and lakes to Frankfurt. Then I hopped on an onward high-speed train to Brussels, where a Eurostar train was waiting for the final leg back to London.
5 benefits of an InterRail pass
An InterRail pass is ideal:
- when you want flexibility, because you can always change your plans and take the next train if you want to explore somewhere and stay a bit longer
- if you don’t want the hassle of having to buy tickets en route
- when you want the peace of mind that if you miss a train you can simply take the next convenient one, at no additional cost
- when you want the freedom to meander around a country or the whole of Europe without a fixed timetable
- if you want major saving, especially on long journeys and during high season.