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Interrailing is often a first time backpacker’s choice of trip because it is easy to navigate. It can be daunting planning a trip for the first time, especially when there are lots of different interrailing routes to take and a few interrail passes to choose from. So I have compiled this guide full of my best interrailing tips including the cost of interrailing and an interrail itinerary so you can get planning your own trip travelling around Europe by train.
I decided to go solo interrailing, so not only was interrailing my first experience backpacking, it was also my first experience of solo travel. Check out some of my solo travel tips to learn more about interrailing alone, as well as encourage you to maybe try some solo travel of your own!
What is Interrailing?
Interrail (ˈɪntəˌreɪl) VERB (intransitive)
to travel through Europe using an internationalrail pass, which permitsunlimited travel through most European countries via train
An interrail pass allows for more or less unlimited travel through most European countries between chosen dates.
Learn from others with previous interrail experience
There are plenty of travel blogs and YouTube channels sharing advice and interrailing tips. Interrailling planner has a lot of good blog posts on it! First hand advice is always the best so try and talk to people who have done a similar trip. Use social media proactively and drop people a message!
One of my top interrailing tips would be to add yourself to the interrail travellers group on Facebook. It’s a great place to ask questions and get quick responses from other travellers.
The Interrail Pass
There are a few different interrail tickets to choose from depending on the sort of trip you’re looking for.
- One country passes permit you to travel on a chosen number of days within in a month in just one country. Prices vary depending on the country you choose to travel in.
- Global passes allow travel on a chosen number of days anywhere within the 30 countries covered by Interrail. Check out all the interrailing countries you can travel to and look at a Europe interrailing map.
Interrail ticket prices are between £194 and £475 (July 2018 prices), depending on the type of pass and number of travel days. They are at a reduced price if you are under 27. Keep checking the Interrail site as they regularly have sales on!
Some trains will require a reservation, especially if it is an overnight train. You can find out whether the train needs a reservation by using the Interrail planner app. You can either book interrailing reservations with the specific train company online, or do it at the appropriate stations when you arrive. I found it easier to just do it at the stations.
What is a travel day?
One of my best interrailing tips is to make the most of your travel days.
“A travel day is a 24 hour period where you can take as many journeys as you want.“
So for example: my pass had 15 travel days so I was able to travel for 24 hours on 15 days within a month. In order for your pass to be valid you have to fill in the date, time and departure & arrival destinations in your interrail travel diary, which comes in the post with your interrail pass.
Don’t worry, it sounds more complicated than it is! When you get your pass in the post it comes with a guide which explains everything. Once you’ve done the first journey it all becomes clear and becomes second nature to you!
The Travel Day ‘7pm Rule”
This is helpful if you’re getting night trains!
If your trains departs after 7pm and arrives after 4am the following morning it only counts as one travel day. You just put the arrival date in the interrail travel diary.
Here’s what my Interrail pass / travel diary looked like by the end of my trip:
For everything about interrail passes go here.
In order to plan my most logical and best interrailing route, I looked at a map to see which destinations were closest to each other. I got together a loose plan, but the beauty of interrailing alone and not booking hostels in advance is that plans can easily change. Overall my trip was 5 weeks long.
My final interrailing itinerary was as follows:
In Italy, I only stayed overnight in Milan, Florence and Rome. I took a day trip to Lake Como from Milan as well as spending a day in Venice. I also made a day trip to Pisa and Lucca from Florence.
Check out some of my Italy content:
What to Pack for Interrailing
No guide of interrailing tips would be complete without a packing checklist! Luckily I’ve written a guide to the best packing checklist for interrailing so you know exactly what interrailing essentials you should take with you.
When making your interrail plan you are going to want to have some idea of where you will be staying. I always use the Hostelworld app to find backpacker friendly accommodation, perfect for interraIling alone! My interrail budget was around up to £20 a night. I would select my price range, then chose the best rated hostels that were closest to the city centre.
Always read recent reviews from other travellers and wanted to check they had luggage storage. This is essential as you want somewhere to leave your bag if you are arriving before or leaving after check out.
Here are all the hostels I stayed in!
- Berlin – Citystay Mitte £21 / night
- Prague – Hostel Homer £18 / night
- Krakow – Woodpecker Hostel £11 / night
- Bratislava – Dream Hostel £18 a night / night
- Budapest – 11th Hour Cinema Hostel
- Zagreb – Subspace Hostel £19 / night (this isn’t on hostel world but check it out here)
- Split – CroParadise Pink and Blue Hostel £18 / night
- Ljubljana – C Punkt Hostel £16 / night
- Milan – New Generation Hostel £18 / night
- Florence – Santa Monaca Hostel £18 / night
- Rome – Freedom Traveller £18 / night
BEWARE OF EXTRA COSTS! Some prices per night didn’t include city taxes so there was an extra charge on arrival. This happened in Bratislava, Florence and Rome. Sometimes there was a deposit needed for the key and also a deposit or hire charge for a towel.
Best Things to do While Interrailing
Culture Trip and The Crazy Tourist are amazing for giving your good ideas on what cities have to offer. Before I went away, I made a rough list in a notepad of attractions in each city, then on arrival I tried to plan a rough itinerary out.
I focused mainly on what free or relatively cheap activities there were to do to keep the interrailing costs low! One my best best tips for budget interrailing is to take part in free walking tours. These are super informative and give you a great feel for the city when you first arrive. The tour guides incomes are based purely on tips so you give what you think the tour was worth. I took part in free walking tours in Berlin, Prague, Bratislava and did 2 in Ljubljana.
How much does Interrail cost?
Europe is by no means cheap to travel so the cost of interrail isn’t as budget as other areas of the world. Once you have got past the initial interrail pass cost, that is the most you will spend. By doing free and cheap activities in destinations it kept the costs down.
All the hostels I stayed at had kitchens so I cooked a lot of my own meals. I did try and eat out once in every city I went to, and also checked out some nice coffee shops! Of course I couldn’t resist trying pasta and pizza in Italy, and I always wanted to try local foods. One of my favourites was a Slovak national dish – Bryndzové Halušky – which are potato dumplings with sheep cheese, which I tried in Bratislava.
My overall spend was £1800 for 5 weeks (this includes everything!).
Hopefully this guide of interrailing tips helps anyone who is planning on doing a similar trip interrailing around Europe. Don’t forget to check out my guide to packing for interrailing so you can compile a checklist of all your interrailing essentials. Enjoy your trip!
Enjoyed this guide full of interrailing tips?
Check out some of my other European content:
- 24 Hours in Zagreb CroatiaIt is easy to get around the Croatian capital, Zagreb in just one day. Here is my guide on how spend 24 hours in Zagreb Croatia.
- 3 Days in Lisbon: A Lisbon City Break GuideLisbon is one of the best cities to visit in Europe and the perfect place for a city break. Here’s my guide to spending 3 days in Lisbon.
- Bratislava 2 Day ItineraryThe Slovak capital might not be on everyones bucketlist but this Bratislava 2 Day Itinerary really gets the most out of the city.
- Lake Bled Travel GuideThis post may contain affiliate links, including Amazon Associates. This means that I will make a small commission from any purchases you make, at no extra cost to you.Lake Bled was my main reason for going to Slovenia. Found in the Julian Alps in the northwestern area of the country, Lake Bled is located at …
- Milan to Lecco by Train: Lake Como Day TripA Lake Como day trip is a popular excusrion from Milan. Lecco is town on Lake Como, slightly off the tourist trail reached easily by train.
- One Day in VeniceVenice’s expensive accomodation can mean that budget backpackers are only able to spend One Day in Venice, here’s how to make the most of it.
- What to do in LjubljanaThis post may contain affiliate links, including Amazon Associates. This means that I will make a small commission from any purchases you make, at no extra cost to you.Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a small city I had never even heard of before I looked at visiting Slovenia. The population of Ljubljana is just …
- What to do in Milan: A City GuideMilan in northern Italy has a lot to offer any tourist, so here is the perfect, concise guide of what to do in Milan.
- What to do in Split Croatia: A Four Day ItineraryThe city of split is one of the best landmarks in Croatis. Find out what to do in Split Croatia with my 4 day itinerary.
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