My first trip abroad alone! As I mentioned in an earlier post, my (sad) reasoning for finally deciding to travel solo was the fact that I turn 26 in October (sad face) and Interrail tickets seem to double in price. So, I bit the bullet, got over my fears of travelling alone (sort of – I was still super nervous until I was actually sat on the plane), and booked.
I chose the Interrail Italy Pass, which cost me around £170 at the time ($244 or 215 Euro), for 8 travel days. I’d heard pretty decent things about the trains in Italy and I wasn’t fussed about 1st class, so I booked everything 2nd class (which saved me about £100!).
I’d decided to travel Italy by train, as I’ve been told that train travel is the best way to get around Italy (plus, I was desperate to go back to Venice!). Those people were not wrong – trains in Italy are amazing and they get you into the centre of each city or town you arrive in! There are noticeboards all over the stations, which tell you each individual stop, and the time the trains are arriving at each stop. The people who worked at the stations were also happy to help if I needed (but everything was so straightforward that this hardly happened). I would definitely recommend travelling Italy by train.
But would I do it again with an Interrail pass? That I still haven’t decided, and here’s why:
(Double-decker trains in Italy! These were a novelty for me)
First things first, if you do decide to go Interrailing, you must choose between an Interrail pass and a Eurrail pass. Simply put, an Interrail pass is for people who live in Europe, and a Eurrail pass is for people who don’t live in Europe. As I live in the UK, I chose an Interrail pass.
I chose the Italy Pass with 8 travel days, as I wasn’t sure how many trains I was going to need (I officially knew I was going to be travelling for 6 days, so I used my 2 leftover days for all of the trains around Cinque Terre). On a travel day, you are allowed to take as many trains as you want, which is extremely handy.
A lot of trains in Italy (and other countries) require seat reservations. This was a bit of a pain, as it meant that I had to pay around 10 Euro just to reserve a seat for at least half of my trains (trains in Italy are strict. If the train requires a reservation, you are not allowed to just hop on and stand in the aisle, or at the end of the carriages – you need to have a reservation. And if you are caught without one – or without a ticket on a non-reserved train – then you get an on-the-spot fine of around 200 Euro). So keep in mind that this has the potential to get very expensive. Visiting certain cities (like Milan) require you to get a reservation for every train you catch going into and out of the city, so if you were to visit the Lakes (which is roughly a 30 minute journey), you would be paying 10 Euro on top of the ticket price, just for one journey. Unfortunately, seat reservations are not included with the Interrail pass, so do your homework beforehand and look at the regional train websites (like TrenItalia) and work out if it would be cheaper to just buy an individual ticket (for some reason, it’s cheaper to buy some tickets individually with the seat reservation included, than to just buy the seat reservation).
I wouldn’t recommend an Interrail ticket for Eastern Europe, as my friends who have travelled by train there have told me that the trains are so cheap that it wouldn’t be worth it – and when I visited Prague last year, I found out exactly how cheap everything was (except trains, which I didn’t have time to try out).
However, travelling in Western Europe, yes, having an Interrail Pass certainly does make things easier (less tickets to carry around), the pricing works out roughly the same as buying individual tickets (but if you were to do this, buy in advance as, obviously, trains get more expensive, closer to the date of departure!)
I’m definitely going to travel Italy again by train, but next time I think I will try buying individual tickets, just to see if the pass was actually worth the money (it was definitely worth the experience, as I loved every bit of it!)