InterRailing is one of the cheapest, most flexible, and downright enjoyable ways to travel around Europe. Depending on the kind of InterRail pass you buy, it gives you access to trains across thirty different European countries, so you can plan your own itinerary and travel at your own pace.
The beauty of InterRailing in Europe is that there is so much to see, and it’s all so close together. We recommend not trying to see everything in a single trip. Rather, choose an area of Europe and work out a rail route that’ll give you plenty of time to properly explore and enjoy your chosen destinations. Let’s use Eastern Europe as an example: start in Krakow, Poland, before heading on to explore Prague in the Czech Republic. From there you can head to Budapest, Hungary, before visiting Romania or Serbia. You can get InterRail passes that last up to a month, so you’ll have plenty of time to play with!
You might even consider a Single Country Pass, and explore one country in depth. Take Italy, for example: begin in Milan, before heading across to Venice and down through Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples. Bellissimo!
Wherever you choose, you’ll find InterRailing to be a budget-friendly and liberating way to travel.
If you want to InterRail around Central Europe then your best bet is to start off in Croatia in either Split or Zagreb. You can fly into either of these cities for cheap on budget airlines. The historic medieval towns of this region make it an ideal place for history buffs. Backpacking in Croatia is a diverse experience places to explore, with quaint streets in Dubrovnik, sailing trips to Hvar island and the incredible clear waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Also recommended is capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, with its beautiful Triple Bridge, and capital of Hungary, Budapest, with its natural spas and amazing ruin bars.
From Split, we recommend this circular route:
Split (Croatia) > Zagreb (Croatia) > Ljubljana (Slovenia) > Budapest (Hungary) > Belgrade (Serbia) > Zagreb > Split
InterRailing in Eastern Europe
If you want to InterRail around Eastern Europe then we recommend starting in either Budapest, Hungary, or Prague, Czech Republic. This part of Europe is the budget backpacker’s dream, with everything costing much less than in the rest of the continent. Wander around Wawel Castle in Poland’s oldest city, Krakow, walk over stunning Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic, and check out the world’s heaviest building in Bucharest, Romania – the gargantuan Palace of the Parliament.
From Budapest, we recommend this circular route:
Budapest (Hungary) > Bucharest (Romania) > Constanta (Romania) > Sofia (Bulgaria) > Belgrade (Serbia) > Budapest
From Prague, we recommend this circular route:
Prague (Czech Republic) > Warsaw (Poland) > Bratislava (Slovakia) > Ljubljana (Slovenia) > Vienna (Austria) > Prague
InterRailing in Scandinavia
If you want to InterRail around Scandinavia then your best option is to start and finish in Copenhagen, which is usually fairly cheap to fly to. Of all the regions of Europe, Scandinavia is by far the most expensive, however it does have the most dramatically beautiful landscapes. And Stockholm, capital of Sweden, might be one of the world’s most expensive cities, but it’s also one of the most fun! One of the major highlights of this region is hiking or cruising around the Norwegian fjords – prepare for some truly jaw-dropping scenery.
From Copenhagen, we recommend this circular route:
Copenhagen (Denmark) > Gothenburg (Sweden) > Oslo (Norway) > Stockholm (Sweden) > Helsinki (Finland) > Stockholm > Copenhagen
InterRailing in Southern Europe
If you want to InterRail around Southern Europe, you can look forward to warm weather and Mediterranean cuisine. Head to Barcelona in Spain for a mixture of great beaches, amazing architecture and some of Europe’s best hiking trails around Mount Tibidabo. Inland, Madrid (capital of Spain) is famed for its tapas restaurants, and a visit to the Plaza Mayor Square is a must. And then there’s Italy, where you can take a gondola through the canals of Venice or gaze at the world-famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
Here are a couple of options for InterRail routes in Southern Europe:
Rome (Italy) > Naples (Italy) > Bari (Italy) > Patras (Greece) > Athens (Greece) > Thessaloniki (Greece) > Istanbul (Turkey)
Alternatively, you could start in Portugal and take this route:
Lisbon (Portugal) > Porto (Portugal) > Santiago de Compostela (Spain) > Madrid (Spain) > Seville (Spain) > Granada (Spain) > Madrid (Spain) > Barcelona (Spain)
InterRailing in the Balkans
If you want to InterRail around the Balkans, our recommendation is to start in Croatia, perhaps in Zagreb. The Balkans offer some of the most awesome sights and things to do in all of Europe. The cities and towns are steeped in history: some of the best include Prizren in Kosovo, Kotor in Montenegro, and Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And while you’re in Bosnia and Herzegovina, don’t miss the beautiful town of Mostar, with its stone bridge that daredevils leap from into the pristine river below.
From Zagreb, try this route:
Zagreb (Croatia) > Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) > Podgorica (Montenegro) > Belgrade (Serbia) > Skopje (Macedonia) > Athens (Greece)
InterRailing in Western Europe
The most popular InterRailing routes go through Western Europe, and there are so many options for getting around it can seem a little difficult knowing where to start! Our advice to begin in either Paris or Berlin, which are both easily reachable by cheap flights. With more attractions than you can shake a baguette at, like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, Paris never fails to impress. Amsterdam is another unmissable European city. It may have a reputation for vice, in the form of soft drugs and prostitution (both completely legal), but there is much more to Amsterdam that its coffee shops and red light district.
From Paris, you could take this route:
Paris (France) > Brussels (Belgium) > Amsterdam (Netherlands) > Cologne (Germany) > Berlin (Germany) > Munich (Germany) > Zurich (Switzerland) > Milan (Italy) > Marseilles (France) > Paris
InterRail passes and prices
Good news! Your options are very straightforward when it comes to InterRail tickets – you have just two to choose from.
Global Pass– from£194
This is the most popular InterRail pass and allows you to travel by train for up to a month in 30 European countries. The world ‘global’ is a bit misleading – we can assure you, this pass won’t be valid anywhere outside of Europe!
The exact price will depend on what type of Global Pass you opt for – here are your options:
Travel on 5 days within a 15 day period
Travel on 7 days within a 1 month period (this is the most popular!)
Travel on 10 days within a 1 month period
Travel on 15 days within a 1 month period
Travel every day within a 15 day period
Travel every day within a 22 day period
Travel every day within a 1 month period
One Country Pass– from £56
This InterRail pass is perfect if you want to really immerse yourself in one country, like Italy or France. You can uncover all the hidden highlights, properly soak up the culture and not have to worry about being constantly on the move.
One Country passes all allow travel on 8 days within a 1-month period.
The exact price will depend on what country you opt for. Some countries, including Portugal, Slovenia and Czech Republic will cost £56, whereas others, like Norway, Spain and Sweden are more expensive at £127.
Europe is ridiculously well connected by rail. Which is great because it means you can get pretty much anywhere by train. But it can also make planning an InterRail trip a bit daunting, because there is so much choice when it comes to routes!
As you can see from the InterRail map below, there are railways everywhere in Europe!
But realistically, you’ll only be interested in major lines – or in other words, high speed trains with as few stops as possible. Check out the below map for a map of these lines.
How much does InterRailing cost?
Working out the cost of an InterRailing trip is fairly straightforward, at least compared to other types of travel budgets.
Choose your pass
First, you’ll need to decide on which pass to go for (see above for more information on prices of InterRail tickets). The most popular is the Global Pass with the option to travel on 7 days within a month-long period. For people aged 27 and younger, this costs about £240. For people aged 28-59, the cost is about £300.
Decide how long to go for
Second, you’ll need to decide how many nights you will be away and work out how much accommodation will cost per night. This will depend on where you are. In big cities in Western Europe, like Paris, a hostel dorm will cost around £25 per night. In smaller places in Eastern Europe, hostel dorms can be as little as £7.50.
Food and drink
Third, you’ll need to budget for food and drink. Eating out in Europe can be expensive, especially in the big cities, so whenever possible try to buy food from supermarkets and make use of communal kitchens in hostels. If you do this, food shouldn’t cost more than £15 per day. When it comes to drink, this will depend on how big a drinker you are! As with everything else, alcohol tends to get cheaper the further east you travel. In Scandinavia, alcohol is eye-wateringly expensive, even in local shops.
Attractions and sightseeing
Fourth, you’ll need a basic idea of what attractions you want to visit and where. For example, if you’re going to be in Rome for a couple of days, chances are you’ll visit the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Make a note of what the current entry fees are for major attractions (don’t forget to see if there’s a student discount!) and tally them up to get an idea of how much you’ll spend on sightseeing.
So, the total budget for someone aged 27 or younger who wants the most popular InterRail pass and who’ll be away for 30 days in Eastern Europe, would be:
Global Pass = £250
Accommodation = £10 to £15 per night, X 30 = £300 to £450
Food and drink = £10 to £15 per day, X 30 = £300 to £450