Fifty years after the first Interrail travellers began finding their way across Europe, the railway industry has come up with its best–ever deal: half-price unlimited travel passes.
The flash sale has been extended until 11.59pm on Wednesday 11 May, if you book through the UK retailer myinterrail.co.uk. Digital passes bought now can be used at any time in the next 11 months, with no need to specify a start date until immediately before the journey.
You could buy now and start your journey next Easter Sunday (9 April 2023), by which time remaining Covid restrictions on international travel may have been lifted.
The 50 per cent discount applies to longer continuous “global passes”. These allow unlimited travel for one, two or three months on the national railways of 33 participating countries.
The original one-month pass costs £281 with the offer, less than £10 per day. The rates for longer trips are even better: a two-month ticket is £307, while three months costs £379, which is less than £5 per day.
The first-class premium is around one-third, with a full three-month first-class pass costing £505.
No age limits apply; travellers 27 or younger get a further 25 per cent discount and those aged 60-plus save 10 per cent. Under-12s travel free.
Interrail passes are also valid on some ferry lines, particularly across the Adriatic between Italy and Greece, though port fees apply.
Nicky Gardner, international rail expert and co-editor of Europe by Rail, calculates that Interrail can take travellers from Tralee in southwest Ireland, almost 10 degrees west of Greenwich, to Kapıkoy in eastern Turkey, at over 44 degrees east – and from Arctic Norway and Sweden to Algeciras in southern Spain.
Supplements are payable for using Eurostar trains from London to France, Belgium or the Netherlands, though they are much lower than normal fares for the Channel Tunnel trains.
In some countries, particularly in France and southern Europe, supplements – typically €10 or €20 – are payable for faster trains.
Ms Gardner said: “As Interrail turns 50, now is perhaps the time to rediscover the slow trains which, being free of supplements and restrictions, are perfectly suited to Interrail.
“Interrail is about flexibility, stopping off on a whim, and savouring the serendipitous discoveries and diversions that come with ‘Slow Travel’.”
The Dutch organisation Eurail BV, which runs the scheme, said: “The promotion runs during Europe Day which falls on 9 May, paying tribute to European unity and cultural exchange which have been at the core of the Interrail pass from the very beginning.
Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the UK Rail Delivery Group said: “Many of us are increasingly concerned about our personal impact on the environment, and what we can do to lessen it.
“We hope that this great offer on Interrail global passes will help more people enjoy sustainable and scenic adventures by train this summer”.
Helen Coffey, travel editor of The Independent and author of upcoming flight-free memoir Zero Altitude, said: “Climate-wise, we know we need to be getting off planes and onto trains wherever possible.
“Not only does an Interrail pass allow travellers to do that, it also embodies all the best bits about slow travel: taking your time to reach your destination, having the freedom to be flexible about where you stop off and when, and creating a multi-stop itinerary where the ‘getting there’ bit is as exciting as the ‘there’ itself.
“And the half-price offer makes it all the more attractive as a holiday option; hopefully this will entice more Brits to try something new and get exploring.”