As you may or may not know from my About Me page, I went interrailing in the September of 2019 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I went with 2 of my friends and we travelled from Hungary to Prague to Vienna, Venice, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Munich, Brussels then back home to London. I’ve had many people ask me how we planned the trip and how we went about looking for places to go in each city so I decided to make an ultimate blog post about it. I’m gonna share everything. From planning it, booking places to stay, packing and finding places to go!
Getting the Tickets
I was lucky enough to win tickets that the European Union kindly gave out to thousands 18 year olds in EU countries. So if you’re 18 years old and definitely want to go interrailing, try applying for their DiscoverEu opportunity! If you are in the UK, we are still in the transition period of Brexit, so you can still apply for tickets for 2021!
If you are older than 18, you’re gonna have to buy interrail tickets from Interrail.Eu. There are different types of tickets/passes you can get, ranging from how many days you travel. For example, a 10 day within 2 month pass allows you to interrail for 2 months and have 10 travel days where you can hop on as many trains as you like. Alternatively, you can get a 1, 2 or 3 month pass where you don’t have limited travel days (these passes are more expensive though). My friends and I had a 7 day within 1 month travel pass.
Planning the interrailing trip
My friends and I wanted to explore as much of Europe as we could. To do this, we thought it would be best to go from Eastern Europe to South then West. The Interrail Planner app really helped us plan exactly which cities we were going to and the exact train times we had to follow. I very highly recommend the app.
There were many changes of plans due to the cost of having to reserve (expensive) train seats to some countries as they were compulsory and we didn’t want to spend a lot on reserved train seats. We also wanted train journeys with a maximum of 1 transfer. If you’re on a budget, I say go on train journeys where you don’t have to pay for compulsory seat reservations. In the end, we only had to pay for reservations from Munich to Brussels and Brussels London as we were using the Eurostar. Also, all but one of our trains were direct!
When buying compulsory reservations, I would highly recommend paying through the official train company website. Buying from the interrail website is long, unnecessary and for us, impossible. We saved so much money buying our reservations from Germany to Brussels because of this. We also booked train tickets for the Eurostar from Brussels to back home in London.
Afterwards, we booked flights to Budapest which included a bus journey to the city centre. We also paid travel insurance, using Debenhams. We found that they the perfect option as the territorial limits included the whole of Europe.
Booking Places to Stay
My friends and I decided to only book Airbnbs as we weren’t comfortable staying in hostels for a range of reasons. We booked them in terms of how their ratings, the price and how far it was from the train station we would go to for our next journey.
If you’re completely fine with staying in hostels, go for it! Many people swear by Hostelworld to book their hostel stays!
P.S. if you’re booking any Airbnb stays for the first time, click the link here to get £34 off your trip!
At this point, I’d recommend making a spreadsheet about what country you’ll be in, the address, check-in and check-out time of where you’ll be staying, as well as your train times. It makes the trip SO much easier!
I’ve added a Google Sheets doc here as an example! Feel free to copy and paste or save onto your own GDrive and use it as you please 🙂
Planning an Itinerary For Each City
The typical “places to go in x city” Google search can only go so far. I would recommend looking at Instagram hashtags of every city or town to see places to go. We decided that we should have at least 2 places to go to every day. Here are my recommendations if you decide to go to any of the following cities:
– Budapest: Szechenyi Thermal Bath and Buda Castle.
– Prague: Museum of Senses and Bukowski’s Bar (if you’re a fan of £4 cocktails)
– Vienna: Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly House) and Belvedere Palace
– Venice: Booking a gondola ride and Lido beach
– Ljubljana: Lake Bled
– Zagreb: King Tomislav Square
– Munich: Odeonsplatz and Marienplatz
– Brussels: Brussels Square I highly recommend getting a Monzo card as it allows you to spend up £200 without any fees. Also, the Nationwide Flexone card allows you to withdraw money abroad without fees.
I also recommend going to the supermarket for food instead of going out to eat all the time. I do not recommend not getting a ticket when travelling by tram (which can pretty much get you wherever you want to go in each city) where no one ever checks if you have a ticket…
Many people recommend bringing them huge camping bags as if you’re doing the Duke of Edinburgh award, but we all used luggage bags. Just a medium-sized luggage bag was enough for us. We didn’t want to break our backs and they were 4 wheelers so they were easy to push around. People always say how luggage is an inconvenience when bringing them on the trail journeys. However, for us, they were completely fine and I found mine to be the perfect leg rest on our train journeys!
Interrailing is a really great experience that I think everyone should try out. Whether you want to visit 3 European countries or 8, interrailing is a great way to do so! The train journeys are long, I can’t lie, but I actually enjoyed them. I occupied my time by chatting with my friends, listening to podcasts and music most importantly, sleeping.
I hope this can be a helpful guide for your next travelling plans!