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Interrail vs point-to-point tickets

 

 

Got a headache researching whether to buy point-to-point tickets or Interrail? You're not alone! One of the questions many first-time visitors to Europe have is whether it's worth buying point-to-point train tickets or an Interrail Pass. 

 

Europe is huge, so it's not surprising; there's so much information to digest, and it can take weeks to decide how to get around the continent. We recommend buying individual tickets if you only want to travel from A to B on one or two specific dates. Conversely, if you're planning to cover long distances in several European countries, it's best to take advantage of the Global Pass for unrivalled flexibility.

 

If you're still on the fence about whether or not to travel around Europe by train, this post will outline the essential things to consider and show you the differences between Interrail and point-to-point tickets.

Ellie Kingswell

Writer @Interrail

1. What's important when you travel? 

 

Before you decide how to travel across Europe, be sure to consider your travel priorities. For instance, do you prefer to travel as cheaply as possible from A to B (so you have enough money left over for sightseeing), or do you value comfort, convenience, and flexible travel with the option to change your itinerary on the go? 

 

Not sure what your travel priorities are? Let us help you decide how to travel with our breakdown of unique benefits for Interrail and point-to-point tickets: 

Benefits with the Global Pass

 

✔ You have the option to change your mind while you travel

✔ Have the flexibility to stay in one place or travel when you want some adventure

✔ Added comfort and convenience

✔ No hidden fees for your luggage

✔ Access to unlimited reservation-free routes across Europe

✔ You can take advantage of over 100 exclusive Pass holder discounts 

X Seat reservations are not included for some high-speed and night trains

 

Point-to-point tickets

 

✔ Go from A to B on a predetermined date and time

✔ You can relax and stay in one place once you arrive at your destination

✔ No hidden fees for your luggage

✔ Point-to-point tickets include the cost of compulsory seat reservations

X Lose your connection and money if you miss your train (tickets are mostly non-refundable)

 

Woman at ticket machine

 

2. Do you value flexibility or like to plan everything? 

 

We all have different travel styles and needs on vacation. You might love to budget and plan every aspect of your trip months in advance, or perhaps you want the spontaneity to start your day eating Wiener Frühstück in Vienna and finish the day with a slice of pizza in Rome (the Global Pass has the potential to cater to your every whim). 

 

Do you love carefully planning your holiday to get the best discounts and manage expectations? If this sounds like you, it's probably best to consider point-to-point tickets, especially if you want a fixed itinerary. However, if you prefer to leave room for spontaneous detours and want to see as much of Europe as possible without too much forward planning, you should consider the ultimate key to Europe, the Global Pass. 

 

If you're still wondering what's the difference between Interrail and point-to-point tickets, take a look at the contrast below: 

The beauty of Global Passes 

 

  • Get unlimited travel in 33 countries 
  • Buy now - travel up to 11 months later
  • Freedom to plan and change your itinerary on the go
  • Choose a start date when you're ready to travel
  • Flexibility to plan your route in advance or spontaneously go at your own pace
  • Change of plans? Don't worry, we have a generous refund or exchange policy

 

Note: different rules apply in your country of residence with Interrail 

Point-to-point tickets

 

  • Point-to-point tickets are regular tickets (single or return)
  • Linear travel from A to B with no detours
  • Valid for a single date and departure time
  • The perfect option when your itinerary is set in stone
  • No refunds on your ticket if you miss the train
  • No exchanges if you change your travel plans at the last minute
switzerland-bernina-express-viaduct-from-below

 

3. What's the cheapest option? 

 

Sadly, there's no "one size fits all" answer to this frequently asked question. Therefore, it's always best to compare the prices to determine whether it's cheaper to travel with Interrail or point-to-point tickets. 

 

Have you found a fantastic deal on point-to-point tickets? Book your tickets immediately to lock in the discount (prices fluctuate). Conversely, the cost of Pass holder seat reservations is consistent, and the Interrail Pass is set in stone at the beginning of the year and only changes for promotions, like on Black Friday. Therefore, if you don't have the time and energy to scour the internet for the best discounts on train tickets, the Global Pass is your perfect travel companion. 

 

More on seat reservations: point-to-point tickets always include the cost of your seat reservation, but this is not always the case for Interrail (for some high-speed trains and all night trains, you must purchase an additional seat reservation). However, you can often find reservation-free routes in the Rail Planner app if you're happy to travel for a little longer on regional trains (the best way to see Europe, in our opinion). 

 

We've calculated the cost of two popular itineraries to show you the difference: 

Zell am See

Austria for two

Average price for you and a friend with 1st class travel in Austria.

 

Point-to-point tickets

Prices are subject to change!

  1. Vienna–Graz: €136.60

  2. Graz–Klagenfurt: €147

  3. Klagenfurt–Salzburg: €183.40

  4. Salzburg–Innsbruck:  €165.20

Total: €632.20 for two people

 

Interrail Austria Pass

4 days of travel in 1 month: €458

Reservation fees: €0

Total: €460 for two people

 

✔ You save €172.20 with an Interrail Pass
Woman reading a book in Paris

9 cities in 10 days

Price for under 27s on a solo trip across Europe in 2nd class. 

 

Point-to-point tickets

Prices are subject to change!

  1. Milan–Venice: €35

  2. Venice–Munich: €114

  3. Munich–Vienna: €58

  4. Vienna–Budapest: €56

  5. Budapest–Prague: €133

  6. Prague–Berlin: €97

  7. Berlin–Amsterdam: €116

  8. Amsterdam–Paris: €150

  9. Paris–Nice: €50

Total: €809 for 1 person

 

Interrail Global Pass:

10 days of travel in 2 months: €301

Reservation fees: €78

Total: €379 for 1 person


✔ You save €430 with an Interrail Pass
Neuschwanstein Castle near Munich, Bavaria

4. Love a good discount?

 

Did you know that you can save money on more than train travel with the Interrail Pass? You can also use it to score exclusive discounts on city tours, hostels, public transport, and more. 

 

You can take advantage of Pass Benefits from the moment you activate your Pass until the last day of its validity period. Not only will you get much more bang for your buck when redeeming the exclusive discounts, but you can also look forward to sailing across Lake Zurich or spending the night in Salzburg for less. 

 

Each country has its own range of unique Pass Benefits, so be sure to check what's possible in the countries you plan to visit before you travel. 

 

Conversely, you won't get any additional discounts or benefits with point-to-point tickets, so you'll be stuck paying the full price for museums, attractions, and hotels. 

austria-salzburg-castle-autumn-panorama-castle-view

5. Want to travel with Interrail?

 

Okay, so you love the idea of travelling with an Interrail Pass. Before you commit, take some extra time to carefully consider which Pass to buy (so you get the best value for money). The first distinction you need to make is the geographical area you wish to cover so you can decide whether to buy a One Country Pass or a Global Pass.  

 

What's the difference? 

 

You can use the One Country Pass on the national railway in your selected country (except for the Benelux Pass, which is valid in Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands). 

 

On the other hand, you will gain access to Interrail's entire railway network in 33 European countries with the Global Pass (different rules apply to your country of residence). 

 

Flex Pass vs Continous Pass

 

Once you know which type of Pass to buy, you might feel a little overwhelmed when you look at  Flex Passes vs the Continous Passes, and all the different validities. Therefore, it's best to carefully consider the length of your holiday and the number of days/journeys you wish to take to buy the appropriate amount of travel days. 

 

See below for more details. 

ireland-train-station-high-speed-train

 

More info about Interrail: 

What is a travel day?

 

A travel day is a 24-hour period in which you can travel on trains with your Interrail Pass. 

 

It lasts from 00:00 (midnight) to 23:59 on the same calendar day. On each travel day, you have unlimited  access to the train networks where your Interrail Pass is valid. In other words, you can travel on as many trains as you like on each travel day. 

Continuous Pass vs Flex Pass

 

Interrail Global Passes valid for 15 days, 22 days, 1, 2 or 3 months are all Continuous Passes. You can use them on unlimited participating services whenever you wish during the period your Pass is valid.

 

Flex Passes are valid for a limited number of travel days within 1 or 2 months. For example, if you book a Pass for 7 days within 1 month, you need to use your 7 travel days within 1 month. 

How many travel days for night trains? 

 

When travelling by night train, you only have to use one travel day (the day of departure). Your departure date will be automatically visible on the mobile Pass once you add the journey to My Trip. 

 

Note: If you want to take another train after the night train has arrived, you'll have to use a new travel day.

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