For the past four decades, the image of the InterRail holiday has captured the sense of fun, freedom and adventure. Launched exactly 40 years ago, on 1st March 1972, the concept of exploring Europe on train was targeted towards the student armed with a backpack on a budget.
But nowadays there's no age limit and you're just as likely to meet a married couple or a pair of pensioned pals en route. Everyone can take advantage of the 30 countries to choose from and create a personalised itinery to suit their style of holiday.
Friends Lorraine Busow, 42, and Jackie Spaans, 39, from the UK mixed scenery and shopping on their holiday from Oslo to Lisbon with stops in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris and Madrid along the way.
“We booked our trip really quickly and easily and it was just the two of us across Europe,” says Lorraine. “As soon as we got onto the train in Norway – that was it! The fjords – they just take your breath away. But we also like city life and everything that's different. Otherwise – why bother taking a holiday?”
The diversity of Europe offers something for everybody and the train is the perfect way to discover the continent in comfort. “Your train window is your own private cinema,” Lorraine adds. “The best thing with InterRail is that when you arrive you are in the heart of the city. Your hotel is on the corner, check in and the city's all yours. All you've got to do is enjoy yourself.”
A Christmas getaway with a seasonal slice of culture was in store for Dutch couple Ron Smits, 50, and his wife Miep, 48 as they journeyed with friends from Amsterdam to Basel via Berlin and Salzburg.
“We love everything to do with winter,” Ron says. “And for that you need to be in Switzerland. We planned to be there for Christmas and I've never seen anything like it. Basel's inner city was one merry Christmas crib - fantastic!
The German capital provided a contrasting backdrop. “Berlin has its own story and history,” Ron adds. “You feel that when walking around. It affects you.”
A surprise present to celebrate her parents' 25th wedding anniversary was a memorable trip for Julie le Guen, 24, from France. Their journey began in Paris and took in Venice and Rome before finishing in Istanbul.
“Travelling through Europe was just unforgettable,” she says. “The idea was to see the wonders and reach the place where Europe ends and Asia begins. My mother and I often reminisce about all the small squares and lanes in Venice. And of course we visited all the sights in Rome. My parents are architecture fans so there was plenty for them to look at.”
Lorraine, Ron and Julie all travelled using the InterRail Global Pass, which offers the ultimate in freedom and flexibility. In addition, the InterRail One Country Passes gives you the opportunity to explore a particular country of interest. InterRail Adult Passes are for travellers aged 26 and over and are available in first and second class. A reduced tariff applies to the InterRail Global Pass for travellers aged 60 and above.
To date, over eight million people have travelled with an InterRail Pass. Speeding between cities, towns and villages, across and between borders, rail travel in Europe is often considered a better option to car or air travel. Today, with growing concern about climate change, energy-efficient trains are also seen as the “greener”, virtuous alternative.
And you can reach your destinations in good time. High-speed trains can exceed 300 kilometres per hour and connect major cities more efficiently than ever before. London to Paris - a distance of 495 km - now takes just under two hours and twenty minutes, as does Paris to Strasbourg. Madrid to Barcelona takes only two hours, thirty-eight minutes and Frankfurt to Salzburg is less than six hours away.
With over 40,000 railway stations in the InterRail network, the opportunities for discovery are endless. Taking you from quaint villages to bustling cities all over Europe, via stunning scenery and breathtaking landmarks, InterRail offers a unique experience to all its customers.
Article sponsored by Eurail Group.
For information on the InterRail pass range and where to buy click here.