Just how much of Europe can you see in just 41 days? The answer – a lot. Well if you want to be specific around 15 cities. Or at least that’s how much me and Mark managed, and honestly, I think it was the perfect amount.
I feel like everyone should go interrailing at some point in their life. Not only is it one of the cheapest and easiest ways to fulfill that wanderlust, but you can make your trip perfectly suited to you. Go for one week or 6, stay in hostel dorms or 4* hotels, see the big tourist spots or get off the beaten track. Make it exactly what you want it to be.
This 6-week route can easily be altered to suit your needs. Whether you cut out some stops, miss out a few cities at the start, or simply come home earlier, it’s a great starting point.
Our route covered pretty much everything Europe has to offer, be it grand palaces or tiny cobbled streets. We got to spend days lazing by crystal blue seas, only to be walking among Roman ruins a few hours later. It was the best way to experience Europe’s many cultures and of course cuisines. As well as covering all the major tourist attractions!
Before we get to it I want to be completely honest with you guys. Our itinerary was not all down to us. We decided to book our interrail adventure with the wonderful people at Euroventure, who were a massive help in deciding how to spend our 6 weeks.
I went into more detail in this post about planning and booking your interrail trip with Euroventure which I would definitely go read if it’s something you’re thinking about.
For now, read on for what I think is the perfect 6 week interrail itinerary.
Our 6-week Interrail Itinerary.
So let’s just get down to it. Here’s how me and Mark spent the last 6 weeks;
Stop 1: Brussels (2 nights)
Since we’re in the UK it made sense to make the short journey over to Brussels for our first stop. We opted for a cheap flight that took around 2 hours, but you can just as easily take the Eurostar. We stayed at the Meininger Hostel, which is about a 15/20 minute walk outside of the city centre. While in Brussels make sure you take time to wander through the incredible Grand Place, taste real Belgian chocolate and spend an evening sampling proper Belgian Beer. Don’t forget to say hi to the famous Manneken Pis as well. After two days eating more than our fair share of waffles and chocolate, we hoped on the train and made our way to Amsterdam.
For more inspiration read my guide to 48 hours in Brussels.
Stop 2: Amsterdam (3 nights)
Amsterdam is only a two and a half hour train journey from Brussels, which made it perfect for our second stop. Our hostel in Amsterdam was the well known Flying Pig Uptown on the edge of Vondel Park. Choose to spend your time soaking up the cultural side of Amsterdam; the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank’s House and more. Or opt for the more typical Amsterdam experience and discover the red light district and the cities famous coffee shops. After we’d finished partying in Amsterdam, we headed west to Berlin.
For more ideas on what to do in Amsterdam check out my guide to 72 hours in Amsterdam.
Stop 3: Berlin (3 nights)
The train from Amsterdam to Berlin took around 6 and a half hours meaning we still had the evening to start exploring. We stayed at the Circus Hostel which is little further away from the main attractions than I would have liked, but the hostel itself more than made up for it. Your spoilt for choice for things to do in Berlin. Fill your days with the must-see sights like the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, and the TV tower. Then either spend your evenings chilling with a beer in Prater Biergarten or party till the early hours at Berlin’s infamous Berghain. Our evenings were definitely spent chilling with a pint particularly the night before our 9 hour bus ride to Krakow…
See how we spent 48 hours in Berlin here.
Stop 4: Krakow (2 nights)
That 9 hour bus from Berlin to Krakow was possibly my least favourite journey but Krakow is definitely not a city I would miss out. We stayed in a private room at the Ginger Hostel, which was about a 10 minute walk to the main square. While in Krakow make sure to visit the nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. A very hard visit but something everyone should do if they can. Then spend at least a day wandering around Krakow itself. Taking in the vast market square, stunning Wawel Castle, and the historic Jewish Quarter. At the end of our two days in Krakow, it was time for our first ever night train…
Read more about how to spend your day in Krakow here.
Stop 5: Bratislava (1 night)
After our very rickety 7 and a half hour night train we arrived in Bratislava in the early hours of the morning. Giving us just over 24 hours to explore. We stayed at Hostel Blues which was right on the edge of old town. Spend your time in the city wandering the cobbled streets or taking in the stunning views atop Slavin Hill. Head to the picture perfect blue church, and if your feeling fancy treat yourself to a meal in the futuristic UFO. After that, it was just a short train ride to our next stop.
Want to know how to spend 24 hours in Bratislava? Read this post.
Stop 6: Vienna (3 nights)
Vienna is only an hour train ride away from Bratislava. So while you’re visiting one it makes sense to visit the other one too. We stayed in a private room at Wombats hostel. It’s a bit outside of the city centre, so we did have to get the metro to the main sites each day. Vienna is the place to throw away your budget and splash out a little. Explore extravagant palaces, indulge on Sacher Torte and spend an evening at one of the worlds oldest theme parks. After a few days treating ourselves, we headed back east to Budapest.
Going to Vienna? Then have a look at my post for some local insights.
Stop 7: Budapest (2 nights)
The train to Budapest from Vienna was only two and a half hours so it was a good choice for our next stop. We stayed in another Wombats Hostel also in a private room. This one was right in the heart of Budapest, very close to the infamous ruin pubs. Speaking of which, you can not visit Budapest without spending an evening at Szimpla. Or spending a day relaxing at one of the cities thermal baths. And for the best views of the city make sure you head up to Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion. Then, from Budapest, we headed south towards Croatia.
Want some ideas for things to do in Budapest? Read my guide to 36 hours in the city.
Stop 8: Zagreb (2 nights)
Zagreb was 6 hours from Budapest and somewhere I hadn’t really thought about visiting. However because I was dying to visit both Split and Ljubljana, Zagreb was a good place to stop first. Once again we had a private room, this time in Funk Lounge Hostel. The cities main attractions include a museum about broken relationships and a man who fires a cannon at the same time every day. Full of old world charm and a street entirely lined with cafes and bars, I was wonderfully surprised by Zagreb.
Want to know how we spent our time in Zagreb? Make sure you read this post.
Stop 9: Ljubljana (3 nights)
Just under 3 hours from Zagreb is the charming Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. I was so so so so so excited for Ljubljana, and this is the one place I definitely wouldn’t miss out. We stayed in Hostel Tresor Ljubljana which was literally around the corner from everything we wanted to see. You can not leave Ljubljana without taking a trip to the breathtaking Lake Bled. In the city itself, spend your time cafe hoping along the river or head up to the castle for the most incredible views. Then, from Ljubljana, we headed back into Croatia.
Stop 10: Split (3 nights)
After a full day travelling and a stop in Zagreb we arrived in Split quite late. We were staying at Split Backpackers 1 which was in the perfect location. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do in Split. Laze on the beach, explore Roman ruins or spend the day island hopping. And if you’re feeling a bit more active, head up Marjan hill for the most incredible views of the seafront. Our next stop was Florence, and if you chose to do the same be prepared for an even longer travel day.
Stop 11: Florence (3 nights)
A bus, an overnight ferry, and two trains later we arrived in Florence. Our hostel, PLUS hostel, was more like a hotel, complete with a pool and rooftop terrace. Spend your days in Florence marvelling at the Cathedral, window shopping on the Ponte Vecchio and gazing at Michelangelo’s David. Then use the evenings to eat as much pizza and pasta as possible washed down with an Aperol spritz and finished off with a large helping of gelato. After all that food we reluctantly left Italy and headed for France.
Stop 12: Nice (2 nights)
After a delayed train and another full day of travel, we arrived in the stunning seaside resort of Nice. We were staying in a massive 16-bed dorm in Villa Saint Exupery Beach, just 10 minutes away from that crystal blue sea. Obviously, you can not leave Nice without spending some time soaking up the rays on the world famous seafront. But if the sun isn’t your friend take some time to explore the old town and it’s market, head on up the Castle and take in the views or grab a velo bleu and cycle along Promenade des Anglais. After Nice, we carried on west and headed into Spain.
Stop 13: Barcelona (3 nights)
After a rather long 13 hours on 4 different trains, we arrived at our hostel, Sant Jordi Rock Palace. This was probably one of my favourite hostels complete with a little rooftop pool. Spend your days in Barcelona marvelling at La Sagrada Familia or any of the other Gaudi creations around the city. Take a stroll down Las Ramblas, take some pictures in front of the (less famous) Arc de Triomf or get lost in the many squares and alleys of the Gothic Quarter. Definitely, don’t leave the city without eating your bodyweight in paella and churros. And the Spanish food didn’t stop there…
Stop 14: Madrid (2 nights)
Madrid is just under 3 hours from Barcelona so there’s absolutely no reason not to visit both cities in the same trip. We were staying in the Generator Hostel which is the BEST hostel I have ever stayed in. My favourite part? The incredible rooftop bar. Often Madrid is overlooked for Barcelona but I think I enjoyed it more. Take time to learn about the Spanish Inquisition and discover the citie’s dark past, dine at the world’s oldest restaurant, and eat some true Spanish tapas. After all that it was time for the last few trains of our interrail journey as we headed to our final stop.
Stop 15: Porto (3 nights)
After an overnight train to Lisbon and then another train in the morning, we arrived at our last stop. Our final hostel was the Tattva Design Hostel, just minutes away from Sao Bento train station. Whilst in Porto make sure to head to the Lello bookshop, where J.K.Rowling worked on the Harry Potter books, climb to the top of Clergios Tower for stunning views over the city, and try to count just how many buildings are covered in Portuguese tiles. Make sure to try a traditional Franchesina, eat at the world’s prettiest Mcdonalds and have as many Pastel de Natas as you can. And of course, drink all of the Port. Then try not to as sad as I was when it’s time for the plane home.
We finished our journey with a cheap, two and a half hour flight from Porto to Manchester.
So there you have it. Is it just me that thinks that looks like a hell of a lot to fit in 6 weeks when it’s written down. But trust me, I honestly believe it was the perfect amount and completely doable in the time frame.
Would I change anything?
I’ve called this itinerary perfect for a reason. Nowhere was more than a day’s travel apart, and I feel like we got to see a really nice mix of well-known and more off the beaten track.
And for some extra inspiration…
So there you have it, how I’ve spent the last 6 weeks of my life! If you have any questions about anywhere we went, or about the trains and logistics of it please do ask! Also, keep an eye out for my destination posts to see what we got up to in each city.
And if you needed any more inspiration for your own interrail adventure here’s a little snapshot of what we got up too.
(Bonus points if you figure out which city we forgot….)
All my love,