InterRail, or Eurail as it’s known outside of the UK, is a rite of passage for many young people. Judging by the people I know, in both the UK and the USA, InterRailing is normally the first overseas, backpacking trip that a person takes. Many InterRailers are from the USA or further afield; they travel so far they want to see as much of Europe as possible and trains can be the quickest and most fun way to travel. Although it’s great that US travellers want to explore our beautiful continent, it’s also vital that we understand our own culture and the culture of our neighbours. Travelling is the best way to learn and expand existing knowledge, so what better way to learn our own history by experiencing it firsthand.
People are always looking to explore as far away from home as possible (us in the UK go to Australia or Asia), where we can have amazing, new experiences. But travelling close to home is also important. Although many of us may take family holidays, or short breaks to Europe, InterRailing can be used to explore less ‘touristy’ destinations, or to do the things you have not had the time to do before. Like any backpacking trip, InterRailing can be as short or as long as you like. Most of my friends have gone from between 3-6 weeks because it has been something that we have done whilst we were at university, which meant that our time was limited.
InterRailing was something that I always wanted to do, and assumed that I would do at some point, but I had never thought about actually sitting down and planning my trip. When my friend said that she had booked her trip and suggested I join her for some of it, I would have been stupid to pass up the opportunity! Ailsa had already picked her destinations, which were all destinations that I wanted to visit, and most of them I had never been too. Most of my holidays had been in Western Europe and InterRailing was a great way for me to explore more of Eastern Europe. Our itinerary was: Krakow → Prague → Vienna → Budapest → Ljubljana, I would then fly home and Ailsa would continue on to Croatia. The only city I had been to before was Prague, about 5 years previously with my dance school, so I knew it would be a completely different experience this time round.
Choosing the destinations to visit whilst InterRailing, and fitting everything into the time scale you have can be the most difficult part. There are also a number of different passes and options to choose from. I opted for the 10 days within 22 days Global Pass, as it was the most convenient for me. However, you can get shorter or longer passes as well as a One Country Pass. If you are only planning to visit a couple of countries, buying 2 One Country Passes would be better value than the Global Pass. Below are some route options to consider when booking you InterRail trip.
Budapest → Bratislava → Krakow → Prague → Salzburg → Vienna → Ljubljana → Zagreb→ Split
It is a version of this route that I chose to InterRail, mainly because it includes many places that I had never been to before. Eastern Europe is very scenic and extremely interesting. I also ate some amazing, new foods here. Flights are relatively cheap to many of the places on the route, which is always a bonus! A lot of Eastern European countries are also not in the Euro, which makes it cheaper than a lot of destinations and means you can have a lower budget.
Brussels → Amsterdam → Berlin → Frankfurt → Paris→ Toulouse → Barcelona → Madrid
Western Europe is such a beautiful place, it’s no wonder it’s an extremely popular InterRail route. The culinary experience in Western Europe is fantastic, especially in Italy. Although I have visited quite a few countries in Western Europe, there a still hundreds of vibrant and intriguing towns, and cities to explore.
Helsinki → Stockholm → Gothenburg → Oslo → Bergen
Scandinavia is somewhere I have always longed to discover. Last year I was lucky enough to go to Copenhagen but I am very eager to experience more, especially Norway. Although this route includes some long distances and can be quite pricey, the stories I’ve heard and pictures I’ve seen definitely make it seem worth it!