Interrail card or regular tickets

Interrail passes is supposed to be a cheap way to get around in Europe. However, I have also heard that compulsory reservations can sometimes considerably increase the price of the interrail trip.

Regular train tickets on the other hand are sold on demand and therefore risk to become a costly deal as they rise and fall depending on how many people wants to leave at a certain time.

An advantage with regular tickets is, in my point of view, that you don’t have to wait for them to be delivered. You have them in the app (and by e-mail confirmation), once you have paid and can leave at once.

Considering a trip in late December 2019 – January 2020, I started to follow the prices about a week before going. Seeing them rising, I started hesitating about going. Then, the night before leaving, the price of my favourite departure fell and I bought the ticket right away and went on a very nice trip.

The price in 2020 for the Interrail pass 7 days within 1 month is 3884 SEK [1] /335 EUR [2]. To give a comparable total for my trip, the price for going with the Stena Line boat Kiel-Gothenburg needs to be added: Flexi price 499 SEK [3] /55 EUR [4] minus Interrail 30% reduction = 349 SEK/39 EUR. Total for Interrail pass and boat fare: 4233 SEK/374 EUR

N.B. 1: Paying for a cabin Kiel-Gothenburg is compulsive. Including only the fare price in the total is thus misleading however easier to compare. Choosing instead the Stena Line Rostock-Trelleborg Ferry, you only need to pay for the fare, yet that is another trip and another story…

N.B. 2: The exchange rates in my examples below differ. For the January prices, the cost in SEK comes from my statement of account from which I chose one of the EUR rates for the EUR total. For all other examples exchange rate is as of February 15.

The price of my regular tickets (except for the boat cabin) was 4196 SEK/394 EUR. (In below table, you see the separate journeys for the whole trip).

Another detail to take into consideration: My tickets included reservations whereas they would have been needed at an additional cost with the interrail pass, e.g. 4 EUR reservation for my trip Odense-Hamburg on 30 December.

Conclusion: Buying an adult’s interrail pass, it seems that the SEK price is quite the same as regular tickets even in a supposedly more expensive period, due to the holidays. Buying the interrail card in EUR is cheper than in SEK which explains the difference in the EUR price. The corresponding youth ticket, at 2974 SEK/251 EUR makes it however, as it always used to be, a lot cheaper to buy the interrail pass.

How much more expensive was it travelling in Christmas time? Checking the prices about the same time of day one month later, the trip might have been about 950 SEK/90 EUR cheaper. Might, because unfortunately I missed to check the Gothenburg – Stockholm ticket.

Now what if I, when writing this text on February 15, 2020, would have booked the same trip about a month in advance?

Knowing myself, I would have opted for the refundable tickets, giving a total price of 4476 SEK/425 EUR (boat fare and cabin included which mean a 525 SEK/44 EUR cheaper tickets than what I paid during my trip. The price with only the boat fare included would be 3826 SEK/363 EUR, thus 370 SEK/30 EUR cheaper)

Choosing the non-refundable prices would have made the total price 1707 SEK/157 EUR cheaper than the January price I paid (cabin included). On the other hand, should anything has prevented me from going, it would have been paying for a nothing. The tickets of 28 March and 2-3 April would not have been needed to book in advance since they are fixed region prices. Also, when looking at prices on February 15, 2020, both the EUR and DKK had become a bit cheaper in SEK.

I think my next test will actually be to buy the 1-month Interrail global pass and follow the regular ticket prices as I go. In other words: To be continued…

The details of my whole trip:

JourneyDateCost & Currency (Rail Company App)Cost in SEK*)Cost in
EUR*)
Stockholm – Copenhagen27 December 2019 (SJ)800 
Copenhagen – Helsingör
(24 h regional ticket[5])
28 December160 DKK (DSB)228,60 
Copenhagen – Odense29 December321 DKK (DSB)458,64 
Odense – Hamburg30 December80,10 EUR (DB)856,20 
Hamburg – Lübeck2 January 202015 EUR (DB)160,92 
Lübeck – Kiel3 January19,30 EUR (DB)207,75 
Kiel – Gothenburg (boat, 1-person cabin included)

3-4 JanuaryStena Line Scandinavia AB1304 
Gothenburg – Stockholm4 January(SJ)985 
  Total:5001,11469,33
*) The prices in SEK as specified on my statement of account from which I chose one of the EUR rate for the EUR total.  

[1] https://www.interrail.se/online/

[2] https://www.interrail.eu/en/interrail-passes/global-pass

[3] https://www.stenaline.se/till-tyskland

[4] https://www.stenaline.de/

[5] https://dinoffentligetransport.dk/citypass


Hamburg Hauptbahnhof