Last autumn we had the chance to make one of our longest standing dreams come true: traveling Europe by train with an epic Interrail trip!
Since we were teenagers, we’ve been hearing about this opportunity to travel around Europe on a budget with a unique train ticket.
For one reason or another, we always postponed this adventure. First we had to study, then we had to work, then we traveled for 2 years in Asia. Lastly we spent 1 year in Australia. It’s interesting how some people end up traveling to the other side of the world before visiting properly their own country and continent first!
Anyway, we finally made it, better late then ever.
So let’s retrace our Interrail itinerary. We traveled through 15 countries touching 12 capitals and several other cities in less than 2 months. Totally we covered over 8,000 km by train!
If you want to know all the details and info about the Interrail scheme, how to plan your trip and book your ticket, read our dedicated post “How does Interrail work?” here.
DAY 1. ITALY – LEAVING HOME
Our opening journey is from our home town Cuneo, Northwest Italy, to Turin and then all the way to Trieste by Frecciarossa, Italian high speed train. By early afternoon we’ve already crossed the first border and reached Ljubljana, we are in Slovenia!
DAY 2. SLOVENIA – LJUBLJANA AND LAKE BLED
Despite the small size of the country and our tight overall schedule, we have a precise plan to spend a full week in Slovenia, that has been on our to-go-list for a too long time as well. We are staying two days in the capital city Ljubljana, three days in lovely Bled around its fairytale lake, and two more days in the Eastern region of Prekmurje. In order not to “waste” train days of travel of our Interrail Flexi Pass (see our “How does Interrail work?” article for pass types explanation), we choose to get around by car.
DAY 9. BRIEFLY BACK TO ITALY AND TO THE REPUBLIC OF SAN MARINO
Due to an important travel exhibition in Rimini we can’t really miss, we have to drive back to Italy for a few days, diverting from our original route.
But since we are nearby, we decide to pay a visit to San Marino. We’re talking about an old town within the small enclosed nation officially known as The Republic of San Marino. We enjoy the day discovering the wonderful medieval fortress which besides counts as country n.3 of our trip.
DAY 12. BACK ON TRACK. AUSTRIA HERE WE COME
The exhibition is now behind us and we can carry on with our Interrail itinerary the proper way.
We need three regional trains to get from Slovenia to Austria. Leaving from Maribor, changing in Spielfeld and Graz before reaching Vienna. The Austrian capital welcomes us with grace and will keep us enchanted for the next three days. We are struck by Vienna’s refined buildings, the poetic views of horse-drawn carriages trotting through the city streets and boulevards, and the overall royal atmosphere.
DAY 15. HUNGARY – ALONG THE COURSE OF RIVER DANUBE
Three days later we board an Intercity train to experience one of the most classic and must do Interrail journeys: from Vienna to Budapest. In about two and a half hours we find ourselves in the heart of Hungary.
Budapest conquers us immediately with its charming walks along the Danube. We keep warm in the world famous thermal baths and fall in love with the sublime Fisherman’s Bastion and the Parliament of Budapest.
DAY 18. SLOVAKIAN STOP&GO
Today we take advantage of one of the perks of having an Interrail Pass: traveling by night on a sleeper train! And, on the same day, we get to visit an extra city too: Bratislava, Slovakia.
We leave Budapest at around 11 am and reach Bratislava three hours later. Once dropped our luggage at the train station, we are free to walk around the city.
We hike up to Bratislava castle, and explore the main sights of the city. After a typical Slovakian dinner with soup and pork meat, we head back to the station and hop on our night train.
A private double compartment awaits us, and at our awakening we will be in Poland!
DAY 19. KRAKOW, CITY OF THE POPE
Poland is country n.7 of our trip, and Krakow is the first of the two cities we will stop in.
We stay two days in beautiful Krakow, known also for being the birth place of former Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately we don’t have time to see everything. But as Poland went beyond our expectations we promise to ourselves to come back and see more of it.
DAY 21. WROCLAW, CITY OF THE DWARFS
Another destination we’ve been having in mind for a while is Wroclaw.
We planned to stop here for two nights during our Interrail itinerary and we are glad we did.
The architecture of the buildings and houses is very peculiar. The colourful main square is so beautiful that we walk through it at least 10 times.
The legend of the dwarfs and the fact that the city is scattered with small statues of them, makes Wroclaw even more interesting and fun. Last but not least, Pierogi Polish dumplings stole our hearts (and stomachs!).
DAY 23. CZECH REPUBLIC – PRAGUE
We change countries and change currencies again, our minds are constantly put to the test to calculate exchange rates. For Edo it’s a return to Prague, whilst it’s Ambra first time in Czech Republic’s capital.
Prague is always charming, definitely one of those cities to include in your Interrail itinerary through Europe. However mass tourism has grown extraordinarily since our last visit, and we’re traveling off season in October/November!
We wake up twice at sunrise trying to avoid peak hours. Views of Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle in the mist give us goosebumps.
Our overall experience is still more than positive, to the point that Ambra lists Prague in her top 3 of most liked destinations during this trip. Read ’til the end to find out the rankings!
DAY 26. CROSSING GERMANY
As we don’t have the gift of endless time but we do have the power of our Interrail pass, our time in Germany will mostly see us on ICE’s, German high speed trains. Still, we dedicate half day to stop and visit Dresden, one of the most culturally rich cities of the country. Attractions and sights are countless and absolutely worth a go, we do recommend to pay a visit to Dresden if you travel across Germany. Later on, the ICE takes us to Frankfurt, where we’ll just spend the night and have a quick look at the city by night.
DAY 27. THE NETHERLANDS – EDO’S SECOND HOME.
As some of the most tireless blog readers and Instagram followers of you may know, Edo was born in The Netherlands and a part of his heart belongs there. As a matter of fact, the whole Interrail idea was Ambra’s gift for Edo to go back and see together his childhood places.
So you can imagine the emotional arrival at Utrecht Central Station halfway through our Eurotrip.
We will spend 10 days in The Netherlands.
The first few days in Utrecht, Edo’s birth city, often in the shade of its neighbour Amsterdam, but more fascinating and way less crowded.
Then we head on a day trip Amsterdam, just 30 minutes away, as much beautiful as busy.
Visiting some lesser known locations is ideal to discover true Holland. We do so in places as Enkhuizen, Haarlem and Delft, all to be reached via the super efficient Dutch railways.
We also have time to stay three days in Den Haag (The Hague) and visit one of The Netherland’s most iconic places, Kinderdijk, where 19 windmills rise close to each other.
For all these reasons The Netherlands are definitely one of the highlights of our trip. We can’t help but suggesting to include them in your own journey.
DAY 36. BELGIUM – STARTING HEADING SOUTH
All good things must come to an end, and so we have to leave The Netherlands. Holland was also the Northernmost point we touched during our Interrail, and damn we did feel the cold. The thermometer touched 0°C for the first time since we left home.
Next destinations is Belgium, country n.11, and more precisely the city of Antwerp. If there’s one way to reach this city, it’s definitely by train, as Antwerp’s train station is a true masterpiece of architecture and functionality. Trains platforms are situated on three different levels, and the building’s entry hall and facades are truly breathtaking.
Furthermore, Antwerp is a nice little city very pleasant to discover.
We were on the contrary a bit disappointed by Brussels, which appeared to be a bit dirty and worn out. Surely visiting on a cold rainy night didn’t help us to leave with a good memory. We will have to come back here too and eat more delicious waffles!
DAY 38. WE REACH LUXEMBOURG AND ITS GRAND DUCHY
The official name of the country is Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It’s very interesting to learn the history and facts of this tiny nation embedded between Belgium, France and Germany.
First of all, Luxembourg is not as small as the other European micro-states. It counts actually a population of over half a million people.
Secondly, they have a unique own language, Luxembourgish, which they proudly use even though everybody knows at least three foreign languages.
Thirdly, they don’t have a king nor a queen, but a Duke (Duke Henri) since they are as said a Grand Duchy, which makes Luxembourg the world’s only sovereign duchy.
These are just some of the things we learned during our stay in the country.
Read our Luxembourg post here to know more.
DAY 40. FRANCE – PARIS IN LOVE
Ambra had the idea in the first place of doing the Interrail trip, so she claimed the right to pick some destinations no matter what, and Paris was definitely on her list. Not that Edo complained!
A classy TGV journey takes us from Luxembourg City to Paris Gare de l’Est. Paris more than others is one of those places where you get a great feeling of arrival when landing in one of its elegant train station terminals.
As you can presume, our three days in France’s capital are as romantic as they can get: strolls along the Seine river and the Champs Elysées, hundreds of photos of the Eiffel Tower, admiring the art works at Montparnasse coming down from the Sacré-Coeur.
Only the rain tries to spoil our stay. But as they say, Paris is even more charming under the rain!
DAY 43. AN UNPLANNED SHORTCUT TO PORTUGAL
Unforeseen circumstances can happen, especially during a two-month-long trip.
Probably the biggest glitch of our European adventure happens when we have to leave Paris. Our next destinations are Southern France’s Bordeaux and Hendaye, from where to hop on a night train to Lisbon. Unfortunately heavy rains battered the area, provoking a big landslide that interrupts train services for three days.
We are unwillingly forced to take a plane and spend extra money in order not to compromise the rest of our trip.
More rapidly and less poetically than via a train ride along the Atlantic Ocean, we find ourselves in Porto, Portugal.
The silver lining of this event is that we gained one day and used it to add one more city that we hadn’t planned to visit. It’s our second time in Porto since our first ever trip together here in 2012 and we are happy we somehow ended up here.
The smooth railway connection brings us finally to Lisbon, where we will spend 4 fantastic days. Talking about rankings, the Portuguese capital breaks strongly into the top 3 of the trip. Its gorgeous squares, charming Belem Tower, the timeless trams and elevators, the laid-back vibe, all summed up to the mild 15°C, make our stay perfect.
Lisbon is surely another destination we will return to in the future.
DAY 47. THE LONG WAY TO SPAIN
The dream ends when we have to travel from Lisbon to Madrid. If getting to Portugal was faster than planned, reaching Spain will definitely be harder than predicted.
Checking our Interrail Map we surprisingly notice there is no direct connection between the two. They suggest us to travel by night, but we have to be in Madrid that evening.
We are told by Portuguese railway officers to try and take the train towards the border and see if we can find a connection. Goodbye and good luck!
We don’t give up and eventually manage to make it. 3 trains and 11 hours later we are in Madrid, Spain, country n.15 of our trip.
The weather is cold again here in Europe’s highest capital city. Luckily the sun is shining as we enjoy a stroll through tranquil Parque del Retiro.
The following day is time for our 15th and last day of travel by train of our Interrail Pass (read our “How does Interrail work?” post for details on how many trains days of travel you have with an Interrail Pass).
From astonishing Puerta de Atocha station, we board our last train: the super fast high speed train connecting Madrid to Barcelona directly and with no stops in just 2h30mins (700km).
We spend our last few days in warm Barcelona. As usual, we hit the vibrant local markets, the Barceloneta beach, and remain speechless in front of Gaudì’s Sagrada Familia.
THANK YOU INTERRAIL!
We lost count of how many times we’ve been to Barcelona. One of our favourite cities in the whole continent, and as such a very special place to end our first Interrail.
Yes, first, because now we have a new dream: to visit the remaining 16 of the 31 countries in the Interrail scheme!
Finally, here’s our personal top 3’s of our trip:
–Ambra: Lisbon, Prague, Vienna
–Edo: Budapest, Lisbon, Utrecht
If you have made it this far, you surely have understood how special this trip was for us and what kind of adventure an Interrail Pass can give you.
What are you waiting for? Go and plan your dream trip through Europe!
WHERE TO BUY YOUR INTERRAIL PASS?
WHERE TO SLEEP DURING THE INTERRAIL?
- Hostels are often linked with a low-cost Eurotrip. They’re definitely ideal for those who travel solo and to know other travelers.
Search for hostels in your destinations here.
- For couple, sometimes a double room is cheaper than two beds in a dorm, keep 2 or 3-star hotels in consideration in order to have more privacy.
Cheap hotels for couples here.
- A great option for groups of at least 3-4 people are private apartments you can find on AirBnb, ideal to cook your own food to and save money on meals.
Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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