In the course of my #CrossBorderRail project I have learned a fair bit about how to use Interrail passes in a bunch of different countries.

While this is far from a complete guide, here are a bunch of tips and tricks I have picked up. All are correct as of April 2024. If some of these stop working in the future I will – within reason – correct them!

Do these tips work for Eurail too?
They might, but as I live in Europe I have never used Eurail – so can’t confirm one way or another.

Should I trust the Interrail app?

What are you on about?
The Interrail app has a whole slew of problems, with passes and timetables. It downloads timetables to the app, so unless you keep it up to date all the time, that data can be wrong. And – especially for Poland in my experience – even with the app up to date it can still be wrong. Instead trust timetable data 1) from Deutsche Bahn for every country except Poland, 2) if you cannot find data in the DB search or you’re in Poland use one of the timetable sites listed below.

But it worked fine for me!
Good. I am happy for you. Maybe you were in a country that doesn’t change its timetables ad-hoc. Or maybe you are on Android rather than iOS – anecdotally it seems to go wrong more often on iOS. And really, in 2022 and 2023 I have been to 27 countries personally using Interrail, and had dozens of online discussions about the problems with the app. “It worked for me” does not cancel out all of that.

My Interrail app keeps crashing or losing my trips – what do I do?
Hell knows. I have never been able to adequately solve this. Putting your phone in flight mode can sometimes temporarily help. But make sure you keep your mobile pass code handy (it’s a 6-digit PNR code – something like 7H6TGE or 9IZ2WL) so as you can retrieve things if you have to.

Should I even use a digital Interrail pass at all then, and not just revert to paper?
If you buy a pass on paper you have to state your start date for the pass when you buy it. For a digital pass you do not – and that offers you more flexibility. You can order a paper pass online, but it takes a while to get to you, or you go and buy it at a station – also a bit time consuming. So there are pros and cons to each.

Can’t find all the trains in a given country on DB’s site?
DB’s site is still the best route planner, but for no fault of DB’s the data in it for some European countries is full of holes – because rail firms in some countries do not upload data into the UIC Merits system that DB uses. For these countries you need to use separate site(s). Data from some of these countries is steadily being added to the Interrail app as well. This list is likely not complete!
Poland – Portal Pasażera
Sweden – resrobot
Czechia – IDOS
Romania – Mersul Trenurilor
Latvia – Vivi
Lithuania – LTG Link
Estonia – Elron
Greece – Hellenic Train
Serbia – Srbija Voz
Spain – a total effing nightmare, but Adif’s app (iOS, Android) is probably the best bet, but will not help you much in the Basque Country – for that try Euskotren

Any countries to avoid on Interrail?
France and Spain. Both have loads of compulsory reservation trains, and reserving seats on these trains – even when there is availability – can often be costly. Getting to many parts of these countries on regional trains instead is somewhere between complex and impossible. If you do nevertheless want to try, the following points will help you do it.

Need seat reservations for any TGV, TGV Lyria or Eurostar train, including to London?
It depends how many trains you need to reserve.

If you are reserving 1, 2 or 3 trains, use the seat reservation system on the Interrail site. This levies a booking fee of €2 per reservation.

If you want 4 reservations or more use Rail Europe.

A few people have told me the mobile version of Rail Europe’s site does not show all the options, so if in doubt stick to a regular web browser on a computer. Some French regions are starting to introduce compulsory reservation on TER trains (e.g. Grand Est) – at the time of writing I am not aware of any online mechanism to get reservations for those trains online.

What should I do if there are no seat reservations available for the TGV, TGV Lyria or Eurostar I want?
I have never fully understood how the numbers of Interrail seats per train works, but I have had success booking reservations for different parts of the same train – so for example I managed to get Nîmes-Barcelona reservations when Montpellier-Barcelona (shorter, and on the same train!) was sold out. So experiment with longer and shorter trips, or even ticket splits if necessary.

Best way to get reservations for Renfe-run trains in Spain?
This has traditionally been complex outside of Spain, although seat reservations are now partially available on the Interrail website. If you are in Germany, Renfe reservations can be sold at Deutsche Bahn ticket offices – although sometimes not all the stations show in DB’s systems. Entering the station code (see here for a list of codes) can sometimes do the trick instead. There are some compulsory reservation regional trains in Spain, but my experience with those is that they are seldom full – so buying the reservation on the day (or even from the train manager on board) is fine.

Best way to get reservations for intercity trains in Portugal or Spain?
I am not aware of any way other than to go to a ticket office (in both countries) or ask the train manager (in Portugal). I have sometimes been told that you can only make reservations from the station where you literally are, in other cases I have been told the opposite – and I have made the opposite work as well. Basically: ask nicely and you can normally make it work. Only peak hours expresses sell out more than a couple of days ahead.

Want the cheapest online reservations for Trenitalia trains in Italy?
Obvious! Book them from Austrian railways. Choose “Interrail” as a discount when booking on ÖBB’s site.

Want the cheapest online reservations for DB IC and ICE trains in Germany?
Depends how many trains you are taking. DB has a flat rate of €4,90 for 2nd class reservations, and €5,90 for 1st class reservations – regardless of how many trains you take – providing they connect. However ÖBB has a price of €3 per train. So 1 train? ÖBB. 2 or more? DB. Reserve here on ÖBB’s site.

Want free seat reservations for trains in the UK?
Use the GWR website – even if your train is not operated by GWR. Yes, really.

Are trains in the UK compulsory reservation?
Only night trains in the UK, and Eurostar to the UK, are compulsory reservation. No other trains are, regardless of what the Interrail app might sometimes indicate.

Travelling with a bike on Interrail and want to book the bike reservation in Germany separately from your ticket?
Now possible on Deutsche Bahn’s website – choose “Bicycle” rather than a person from the passenger drop down when searching.

Struggling to get seat reservations on trains across the Poland-Czech border?
Use PKP IC to book a seat as far as the last station in Poland (e.g. Chałupki) for 1 Zloty, and then use the railway website on the other side of the border for the reservation for the next bit (ČD, DB etc.) Note that if a train manager is especially arsey about this they might try to fine you – so tell the train manager about the situation rather than let them get annoyed.

Need a paper pass number for a reservation?
Use this tool to convert your digital pass into the format of a paper pass number – separate tools for Interrail and Eurail.

[Update 25 March 2024]
Section about Interrail on TGV, TGV Lyria and Eurostar updated and re-written.

[Update 12 April 2024]
A few further changes, especially about Spain, and correcting links to Deutsche Bahn sites.


  1. Cheapest reservation for German and Austrian trains in first class is almost always via ÖBB, as they don’t charge for first class interrail reservations bought via their website, has some tips and tricks as you mustn’t select the “seat only” option when booking… does booking fee free reservations for at least (domestic) TGV and Eurostar, so might also be worth a shout.

  2. Recommending the timetable on either or the SBB app. If you only want to know the timetable (without booking any seats or tickets), it does not bother you with „how many persons“ and their possible discounts. I‘ve used it for CH, D, A, N, DK, S and also F, NL, B and GB.

  3. About the SNCF ticket machines: They are not able to issue Interrail reservations as of last week (2 March), they will just try to sell you full price tickets, even though the Interrail reservation service and Raileurope have reservations available

    • Damn I am so tired of SNCF. I assume this applies to all ticket machines in all stations? (I am in France end of next week and will try a few to confirm)

      • I tried this at Gare du Lyon, both at a semi-staffed ticket machine and at a ticket machine outside the ticket office, both gave the same result of €219 to change my €10 reservation🙃

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