To date my 3 weeks Interrailing around Europe in the summer of 2014 remains one of my favourite ever trips. It was booked somewhat on a whim owing to a surplus of annual leave I needed to use up. I then also found out that once I hit the ripe old age of 26, the price of such a multi-stop train ticket would significantly increase, I duly arranged the last weeks of my 25th year to be spent on a rail journey around some of Europe’s most amazing cities.
Should you ever be in the same boat (well, train) and thinking about such a trip, might I recommend a few of the below as stop off points along your route.
The German capital offers visitors a plethora of history to take in during the day time, much of it tragic but with important lessons to learn from. Berlin was the first stop of my own Interrailing trip and I really fell for its blend of uber cool nightlife and day time history lessons. It feels almost silly to type it out, but history and art fans must obviously visit the Brandenburg Gate and East Side Gallery.Likewise, night owls would do well to keep an eye out for impromptu parties within the cities underground/rail system, plus at any number of the super cool clubs tucked away under railway arches and other unsuspecting locations.
The castle, the old town square with its astronomical clock and the Charles Bridge - Prague is an amazing city and perfect stop off when Interrailing. As with many European cities, free walking tours aplenty are advertised and while they may not be for everyone I certainly learned a lot walking around the city on such a tour.
As with Berlin, Prague also has a thriving night scene. Cellar bars with hidden entrances have always appealed to me, but if you’re the type who wants to reach for the lasers, Prague has no shortage of multi floored nightclubs too.
My fondest memory from Vienna is an afternoon spent on one of its urban beaches, kicking back with a few beers and retelling old stories with a couple of friends who had flown out that morning to join me on my Interrail journey.
Vienna is a stunningly beautiful place, famous for its art, music and quality of life.
Schönbrunn Palace is a must visit, so too the oldest zoo in the world … if you can tear yourself away from the museums and galleries.
I could have named a whole host of Italian cities in this synopsis, but I’ve chosen Rome because it is a destination I am yet to visit and have been researching. Firstly I want to sample of the pizza, ALL of it! Likewise with the pistachio gelato. Not ice cream, oh no. GELATO!
Food aside there is of course the Colosseum to fit in to my impending visit and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. A coin thrown in the Trevi Fountain would hopefully bring good luck for the rest of my travels.
We all know the deal with the Dam, super relaxed and friendly, with a cool café and bar scene. There’s the red light district which has an interesting and colourful history and a tour along the cities canals is a great way to learn and see more.
That’s all south of the main train station, but don’t forget to also head north into Noord and check out some of its interesting independent breweries and art houses. I also managed to (via the help of a friend) track down an open air cinema in an old petrol station. Noord is a really cool spot.
What can-can you say about Paris that has not been said before? Food, art, romance, you know the score. Of course you’re going to head up the Eiffel Tower and our course you’re going to (attempt to) visit Le Louvre. Montmartre would no doubt be on the to-do list and no trip to Paris would be complete without experiencing Notre Dame.
Personally I have never experienced any wild nightlife when in Paris (I wasn’t looking to be fair), but what I have found (and loved) is a number of secret bars. All I’m saying is that when in Paris you should check out Moonshiner … if you can find it.
Of course your Interrailing experience is in no way limited to the cities above. There are so many different places and countries you could visit using your Interrail pass, including Bosnia, Poland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey and more.
The above probably wouldn’t make sense as an itinerary either, but that’s half the fun of such a trip, creating your own route and working out all the different train times and where you’re going to stay in each location.
Author: Neil Barnes travels the world on a budget whilst holding down a 9-5, read more about him on Backpacks and Bunkbeds