Lesser Known Rail Passes Which Can Offer Great Value For Money

Eurail, InterRail and Swiss Travel Passes can all offer a value for money means of taking European rail journeys, but they're not the only rail passes which allow the freedom to explore by train.

Hence shining a spotlight on these lesser known passes and special tickets, which can be used to travel around a country, or region
Many of them are ideal for taking fabulous day trips by train to multiple locations, which is ShowMeTheJourney's favourite type of holiday.

Using any of these suggested passes and tickets isn't guaranteed to be a money saver, as the usual golden rule of any rail pass applies - namely you need to be travelling far enough to make a pass worthwhile
Though it's always worth comparing these passes with the costs of booking typical journey tickets, because they offer the potential for a good deal

You can use the ShowMeTheJourney Concierge service to check whether using these passes will save you money, or if you want help with planning an itinerary, so that you can make the most of using any of these passes.

1: The Balkan Flexipass

This rail pass can be used to travel by train in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Bulgaria, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and on the Regiontrains in Romania.
Note that this pass is not valid in Croatia or Slovenia

It can be purchased at staffed ticket desks at major stations or online, though be aware that compulsory reservations, such as couchette/sleeping cabins on night trains and seats on the Turkish high-speed YHT trains, will not be included.

The pass can be used for a set number of travel days within a two month period of time.

No. of travel days

1st class
(in €s)

2nd class
(in €s)

3

127

91

5

180

134

7

243

181

10

314

233

15

378

280


Note that when booking at stations you will pay the equivalent prices in the local currency, a €10-20 supplement is also charged for passes valid in July - August.
In comparison a 5 day InterRail pass will cost the equivalent of, 1st class = €289; 2nd class = €217.

Though ShowMeTheJourney's advice is to plan journeys with care before committing to this Balkan Flexipass.
That's because in order to ensure that the pass is value for money, you will almost certainly need to travel internationally, but the rail connections between these countries are comparatively limited.

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2: Einfach-Raus-Ticket (Austria)

This special group ticket can be good option for exploring the most beautiful areas of Austria, particularly those which aren't served by the express Railjet and EuroCity trains - because you can't use this type of ticket on the express trains.

Instead you can travel on the regional Rex services, the urban S-Bahn trains and virtually all other local trains managed by the national rail operator OBB - and these train services can be found on many rail routes in Austria.

Although, worth knowing is that there are no direct Rex services between the main cities on the Wien/Vienna <> Linz <> Salzburg <> Innsbruck route.

Two people can travel together for the day for €34 and up to three other people can be added for an additional €4 per person - and bikes are permitted if you pay an additional charge, from €9 for two bikes.

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3: The Explore Wales Rover
Explore Wales by train

The remaining railway network in Wales, offers a swathe of beautiful railway journeys and those stunning routes and the locations they serve, can be accessed by train with an Explore Wales Rover pass.

The pass can be used for 4 days of train travel within an 8 day period on any train within Wales operated by TFW, Cross Country and Virgin.
While a big plus of using this pass is that it can also be used on trains between Wales and the English towns of Chester, Crewe, Gloucester and Shrewsbury - the area in which the pass can be used is shown here.

The pass, which costs £99 per adult and £49.50 for children aged 5 - 15, also allows for free travel on  bus services, which plug some gaps in the railway network - such as Aberystwyth <> Camarthen and Bangor <> Porthmadog via Caernafon.
It also gives a 20% discount on some of the scenic private railways in Wales including The Ffestiniog Railway and The Welsh Highland Railway - and the Talyllyn Railway

Potentially the ultimate Explore Wales Rover itinerary is:
Day 1 - Chester > Bangor > bus to Caernafon > to Porthmadog on the Wesh Highland Railway
Day 2 - A return trip on the Ffestiniog Railway > Porthmadog to Machynlleth > Machynlleth to Aberystwyth
Day 3 - By bus from Aberystwyth to Camarthen > by train from Camarthen to Tenby
Day 4 - Tenby > Swansea > Shrewsbury > Chester

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4: Holland Travel Tickets

If you want to turn the very good idea of visiting multiple lovely Dutch towns and cities in a single day, into a reality, Holland Travel Tickets can be good value for money.
Use them after 9:00 and you'll have access to unlimited travel anwhere in The Netherlands on all trains operated by NS, plus any bus, tram and Metro.

These Holland Travel tickets cost €41 and for comparison, a round trip by train of - Amsterdam > Utrecht > Rotterdam > Amsterdam will cost approx £33.
So if you were to ALSO use public transport to and from the stations in those cities, you would be making a saving - despite the fact that the train journeys in this EXAMPLE are comparatively short.

And that is just one of multiple itineraries that would be worth following with one of these tickets.

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5: Irish Explorer

IE is the national rail operator in Ireland and at station ticket offices it sells Irish Explorer tickets.
They allow 5 days of unlimited standard class travel in a 15 day travel period on any of its routes, for €160 per adult and €80 per child.

Most of the routes are scenic and the majority of Ireland's most wonderful towns and cities are still served by train.

Though note that this pass can't be used on trains in Northern Ireland/Ulster.

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6: Special 'jizdenka'(rail tickets) for travel in Czechia/The Czech Republic

CD is the national rail operator in Czechia/The Czech Republic and it offers a range of great value tickets, which can be used to travel on its trains.

(1) The Group Weekend Ticket (Skupinová víkendová jízdenka) - offers unlimited travel on a Saturday or Sunday, or national holiday, until midnight
Two adults and up to three children aged 3 - 15 can travel anywhere in the Czech Republic by CD trains on the one ticket, which costs CSK 679 (approx €27)

(2) The All-Day Ticket (Celodenni Jizdenka)"
For CSK 579 (approx €23) per person, you can travel on any day of the week up until midnight, on any train operated by CD across Czechia/The Czech Republic.

(3) The Ticket For Summer (Jízdenka na léto)

CD sells a national rail pass, which can be used for unlimited travel on any of its trains between July 1 and Aug 31st for periods of 7 days or 14 days.

It's great value for money, as it's cheaper than one country Eurail and InterRail passes.
It  can be booked online or at stations and the basic price for a 7 day pass is CSK 790 = approx €31 while the basic price of the 14 day pass is CSK 1190 = approx €47.
More info is available HERE.

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7: 'Lander' Tickets (Germany)

If you are planning a day trip by train within a particular region in Germany, these regional day tickets can be great value for money, they cost from €23 - 31 for an individual, but up to four other people can be added to the ticket for only €3 - 7 per person.

Meaning that, for example, five adults can explore anywhere in Bavaria in a day by train for only €52.

Though these 'Lander' tickets can be used to travel only on Regio and S-Bahn services and not on the express IC and ICE trains.

If you want to travel between regions, then the Quer-Duch-Lands-Ticket (see below) can be a good option.

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8: The Oresund-Rundt Ticket
Explore the Oresund Sound between Denmark and Sweden by train and ferry

If you will be in southern Sweden or eastern Denmark, a fabulous day trip is to follow this circular itinerary, in either direction:
Kobenhavn > Malmo over the Oresund Bridge > Helsingborg > Helsingoer by ferry > Kobenhavn - starting and finishing your journey anywhere on this route.

And this ticket, also known as an 'Around The Sound' ticket, allows for a one way trip in either direction, around this loop - plus you can also stop off and explore any of the locations you will be passing through.

It can be booked at stations or at the Visitor Centre in Copenhagen/Kobenhavn and costs DKK 249 (approx €33) for Adults and DKK 124 (approx €17) for chilren aged 7 -15

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9: The Quer-Duchs-Land-Ticket (Germany)

Also know as the Day Ticket, this Quer-Duch-Lands-Ticket allows for travel anywhere in Germany for a day, as long as travel only on Regio and S-Bahn services and not on the express IC and ICE trains.

Though using  this ticket becomes a particularly good option if you will be travelling in a group.
That's because the base price for one Adult is €44, but up to four other adults can travel on the ticket for only an additional €8 per person.

This ticket can be used for making a long-ish day trip by train, OR a multi-destination single day itinerary, OR as a cheaper, but slower alternative to taking the ICE and IC trains.

Though if you want to use this ticket instead of taking the express trains, plan a journey with care,
The Regio services tend to share routes with the faster trains but, for example, a comparatively straightforward journey by Regio trains between Frankfurt (Main) and Munich/Munchen will require two or three connections - though once the discounted tickets have sold out on an ICE train, you could save more than €50!

Also if you are thinking of using a Quer-Duch-Lands-Ticket for a day trip, these tickets tend to be better value for money if you WILL be travelling between regions.
Because if you won't be doing so, the Lander tickets (see above) can be better value for money.

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10: Rail Pass (Belgium)
Exploring Belgium by train with a SNCB rail pass

InterRail and Eurail Passes aren't available solely for travel in Belgium, instead 'Benelux Passes' can be booked, which combine Belgium with The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

However, if you only want to explore Belgium by train then this rail pass can be the best option, for only €83 it provides for 10 train journeys anywhere in Belgium in 2nd class, or for an additional €45 you can travel 1st class.

So this pass can be used to travel around Belgium on an itinerary, or for 5 day trips by train, in comparison a 5 day InterRail Benelux pass is €169.

Though this pass will be better value when traveling by train in Belgium on Mon-Friday, as Weekend Tickets give a 50% discount on any train journey within Belgium.

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11: RENFE Spain Pass:

The Spanish national rail operator, RENFE, offers the RENFE Spain Pass, which allows for train travel on 4, 6, 8, or 10 days anywhere in Spain - and the big plus of using this pass, is that you won't incur any additional reservation fees.

This RENFE Spain pass is particularly worth considering if you're not a European resident, and therefore meet the requirements of a Eurail Pass, because the One Country Eurail pass for Spain, doesn't include the cost of making those rail pass reservations.

However, if  you want to explore Spain by making long-distance journeys on the larga-distancia express trains and ARE resident in Europe, it's worth comparing a RENFE Spain Pass with an InterRail Spain Premium Pass.
As that InterRail Premium Pass also in effect includes the reservation fees.

With a RENFE-Spain pass you can book reservations at ticket counters at stations, and with an InterRail Spain Premium Pass you can book reservations online - through the service that you'll then be able to access.

Take a look at the prices carefully because whether each type of pass is cheaper than the other, is seemingly dependent on how many days you will be travelling.

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12: The Spirit Of Scotland Pass:
Explore Scotland By Train with a Spirt of Scotland Rail Pass

ScotRail sells Spirit of Scotland rover tickets/passes which are valid for travel by train anywhere in Scotland and over the border to Berwick upon Tweed and Carlisle in England.

They can also be used for free travel on the ferries between the mainland and the islands off of the west coast of Scotland, including Arran, Bute, Mull and Skye.

Plus they can be used on selected longer distance bus routes operated by Scottish City Link, Stagecoach and West Coast Motors, particularly the routes which plug gaps in the Scottish railway network.

A Spirit of Scotland Pass valid for travel on 4 days within an 8 day period = £149 for Adults and  £74.50 for children aged 5 - 15.
For 8 days of travel within a 15 day period, the charges are £189 for Adults and £94.50 for children aged 5 - 15.

However, Scottish train travel can be comparatively cheap, particularly if you will be making day trips which involve travelling for no more than around 75 minutes from Edinburgh or Glasgow.

So will a Spirit Of Scotland pass be a money saver?
The answer will almost certainly be yes, even when compared with the cost of discounted tickets, IF you explore most of Scotland mainly by train on the 8 day pass.

For a 4 day pass the value for money equation can be tighter, but ShowMeTheJourney has used these passes for two itineraries and it proved to be a good deal on both occasions.

Based in Stirling for the week and making these day trips by train:
(1) to Bute via Glasgow
(2) to Aviemore
(3) to Fort William
(4) Stirling > Dundee > Lecuchars for St Andrews > Edinburgh > Stirling
the Spirit of Scotland Pass only saved around £5 against the costs of tickets on sale a month in advance.
However, the pass was still booked, as it gave the freedom not to be tied to specific train departures on set dates.

Then on this itinerary, the saving was more than £30, even when compared to booking train tickets two months ahead:
(1) Berwick upon Tweed > Edinburgh > Aberdeen
(2) Aberdeen > Inverness > Kyle Of Lochalsh > Portree on the Isle of Skye
(3) Portree on the Isle of Skye > Mallaig > Glasgow
(4) A day trip to the Isle of Arran from Glasgow.

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13: Weekondowy Max/ Bilet Weekendowy (Poland)

PKP operates the express trains in Poland - which comprises these four types of train service:
(1) EIP
(2) EIC
(3) IC
(4) 
TLK

Between 19:00 on Fridays and midnight on Sundays (or Mondays that are national holidays) you'll have access to unlimited travel in Poland by these FOUR services if you book a Weekondowy Max ticket/pass.  (Use Google Translate if need be).
These Weekend Max tickets cost 1st class = PLN 264 (approx €61) and 2nd class = 164 PLN (approx €38) - though each journey on EIP trains incurs a compulsory seat reservation fee of 10 PLN, which must be paid prior to boarding

The IC and TLK services are slower and less luxurious than the EIC and EIP services, but the Weekondoway Bilet is a similar ticket, which can only be used on those two services; 1st class = PLN 111 (approx €26) and 2nd class = 81 PLN (approx €19).

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And one pass that doesn't now offer particularly good value for money, which is the The European East Pass.
It can used to travel by train in Austria, Czechia/The Czech Repuiblic, Hungary and Slovakia - but note that this pass is NO longer valid in Poland.

It can be booked online if you're not European, but if your ARE European and not resident in those four countries, it can be purchased at staffed ticket desks at major stations.

European East passes can be used for 5 or 10 days of travel within a month
10 days: 1st class = €396; 2nd class = €303
5 days: 1st class = €266; 2nd class = €183

However, a  5 day 'Global' InterRail pass, which can be used to travel through 26 additional countries, will cost the equivalent of; 1st class = €289; 2nd class = €217, so note that the European East Pass isn't great value for money in comparison - particularly as train tickets are comparatively cheap in Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia.

The primary reason for including the European East Pass on this summary, was to point out this type of pass is no longer valid in Poland.