Regional trains truly capture what European train travel is all about. They can take you everywhere - from the smallest villages to the continent's bustling capital cities. Travelling on a budget? Most regional trains don’t require any reservations, so you can travel on them for free with just your Interrail Pass.
Why regional trains?
Regional trains are a great way to get around Europe – and more often than not, they’re free with your Interrail pass. While they aren't as fast or luxurious as high-speed trains, they’re still a comfortable way of travelling. You’ll find toilet facilities on board and there’s sometimes the chance to buy snacks and drinks, with some lines also offering Wi-Fi!
Here are some benefits to travelling with regional trains on your Interrail trip:
Discover the smaller off-the-beaten-track destinations that can only be reached by regional train.
Avoid having to make and pay for a reservation. Most regional trains don't require them.
Missed your train? Hop on the next one! Regional trains allow you to be flexible as frequent services usually operate.
Meet the locals and get a glimpse into the culture of the country you’re in.
Where can I go with regional trains?
All ways lead to Rome, and every single one of them is worth exploring. From quaint mountaintop villages to sleepy fishing towns, there’s so much waiting to be discovered with your Interrail pass. Regional trains are your ticket to discovering places you might otherwise never find! Intrigued by the small town outside your window? Why not jump off and start exploring!
Here are a few of our favourite places that can only be reached by regional train:
Sintra, Portugal - This Portuguese town is quite simply an open-air museum, with its large Moorish castle and the strangely colourful Palácio da Pena. Regional trains from Portugal’s capital, Lisbon get you there in around 40 minutes.
Mont St. Michel, France – Like something straight out of a fantasy novel, this peninsula is one of the most beautiful sights in France. From Rennes, a regional train will take you there in 55 minutes.
Füssen, Germany - In this German town, you'll find the magical Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the direct inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. From Munich, a regional train will take you there in 2 hours.
Reservations for regional trains
One of the best things about regional trains is that you don’t usually need to worry about reserving a seat. Feel free to hop on and off whenever you like!
There are exceptions of regional trains that do need to be reserved in advance, such as airport services and some InterCity and EuroCity trains. These are fast regional trains that make fewer stops and operate between the bigger cities. They appear in the Interrail timetable as "IC" and "EC" and you can usually make your reservations for them at the train station.
Do you want to avoid reservations while planning your trip? In the Interrail timetable, simply check the box that states ‘avoid trains that require reservations'.
So, think you’re ready to start discovering Europe with regional trains? Here are some more tips to give you an even smoother journey:
Download the free Rail Planner app, allowing you to check train times on the go. The timetable is available offline, so you don’t need to be connected to the internet.
If you’re travelling with a 2nd class Interrail pass, regional trains are your best friend. Don’t be put off by the term ‘2nd class’ – regional trains across Europe still offer comfortable seats and stunning views of some of Europe’s best-loved landscapes. As regional trains travel regularly, there’s no reason not to hop off and explore those small towns and villages!
If you’re travelling with a 1st class Interrail pass you’ll find many regional trains offer comfortable 1st class cars with plenty of seats available.
If you have a need for speed, or want to travel at night to save costs, we've got you covered.
Find out more about the many other train types in Europe.