Interrailing is a great way to travel Europe, which is all done via train. It is the best and most fantastic way to explore Europe and its variety of countries.
I’m writing this post of tips as a few people have asked me for advice over the years, and I hope this might help others who are considering interrailing around Europe.
In June 2014, I went interrailing for 3 weeks – I travelled to 11 cities in 9 countries – Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna, Munich, Venice, Lake Bled, Split and Zadar (in that exact order.)
1. Plan Ahead
When do you want to leave? Planning your start and end date is the first step, where will your journey begin?
How long do you want to travel for? Do you plan on going for two, three or even four weeks? Decide this, and you’ll have the foundation of your route. The next step will be to purchase your Inter pass; I bought mine from Interrail.eu.
How many countries and/or cities are you hoping to visit? Make a list of the cities you wish to visit and for how many days you’d like to spend in each (I’d recommend 2-3 days per location.)
2. The Route
This is the most frustrating yet rewarding part is when you (finally!) finalize your route.
It took me multiple attempts of planning to find the right route for me. You will need to be brutal and probably end up cutting out some locations because they just don’t work, or don’t fit into your timeframe.
Give yourself plenty of time to map out your route: check each journey, from which train stations you’ll travel to/from, right down to the potential train departure/arrival times – trust me, this will save a lot of hassle during your travelling and you’ll be thankful you planned ahead.
Do some research into each city you plan to visit, make a list of attractions and things you’d like to do/visit. Use websites like TripAdvisor and LonelyPlanet for ideas.
One thing that I enjoyed doing in most locations was climbing or reaching a high point – whether that was the Berliner Fernsehturm or Prague Orloj – to get an amazing view of each city!
It’s a given to save, but you’ll be thankful for it in the long run. Once you’re in holiday mode, you’ll be surprised how quick you can blow through your money, so it’s best to be prepared. It’s better to have too much rather than not enough cash.
5. Booking Accommodation
The Hostel World app was a lifesaver for us on this trip. Being able to book accommodation on the move was so handy. I’d recommend at least booking your first location in advance of your trip, as well as for the bigger and more popular cities to ensure you grab yourself a bargain and not get ripped off. We did this for Amsterdam and Berlin and booked the rest on the move.
The further south you go, the cheaper it will get anyway. For example in Berlin, we paid €30pp per night and once we reached Croatia, it was €10pp.
6. Pack Clever
I made the mistake of overpacking, which was a pain to carry! To top it off, I didn’t even wear everything I brought with me… Just be realistic when you pack, after all, you’ll have to carry all that weight around in your backpack from location to location, so don’t make things difficult for yourself! Only pack what you really need.
7. Reserve Your Train
Most trains require you to reserve a seat. I’d recommend doing so, to guarantee that you actually get a seat! Some journeys can be long, so ensuring you and your travel companions have seats together will make a difference.
You can reserve your seat in each train station, costs can vary from each location, so keep in mind that some reservations can cost €2 and others can be up to €14.
8. You Will Get Tired
Not only are you travelling a lot, there’s also a ton of sightseeing and late nights, of course. Be prepared, it will catch up with you! So make time to rest and reset, without it affecting your schedule.
9. Document Your Journey
Whether you take photos or create a video of your time away, document it! It will go by so quick that you won’t remember every detail. I took photos throughout and also brought a travel journal with me, which I updated on the departure train from each location. I wrote down what I liked/disliked, where we went, what we did and tips for my own future reference, in case I ever planned to travel back.
It’s always great to look back on these journals, images, and videos.
If you’re planning an Interrail trip, I hope these tips come in handy for you. If there are any questions you have about it that I haven’t covered here, please leave a comment!