If you’re planning on interrailing, you might be unsure as to where to start or finish your trip. An important decision to make, it can often be difficult to choose the perfect route.
There are so many factors that you’ll want to consider when planning your route – from deciding on which countries you want to explore to whether you will fly to your initial destination. To help make planning your interrailing trip a little easier, here is a guide as to which the best cities to start and to finish in, along with the reasons behind the choices.
Reason 1 – Finish in a place which you wouldn’t otherwise visit because it’s on the edge of where you are going.
Travel Suggestion: Interrailing around Croatia.
If you’re planning a trip to a certain destination such as Croatia, why not finish your interrailing adventure at a location that’s on the edge of the country – in this case, Split. If you’re planning on travelling to Croatia, here is an example of a few cities that you could visit before ending your trip in the beautiful city of Split.
Start – Zadar
Location Rating: 4/5 – it only takes 2 hours 30 to get to Zadar from London. However, as there aren’t lots of flights, you will have to plan your trip accordingly.
Social Ranking: 3/5 – there are 19 hostels to choose from across the city.
Zadar is one of Croatia’s hidden treasures. A city that’s often forgotten about (people often only think of Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb when they consider Croatia) there are plenty of attractions throughout the city that make it a great choice – both for those visiting Croatia for the first time and those that have ventured to the extraordinary country before.
Situated on Croatia’s picturesque Dalmatian Coast, it’s known for its historic Old Town, the 11th Century St Mary’s Convent and the Venetian gates that align the city’s walls. Abundant with delicious restaurants, from the elegant Restaurant Kornat beloved for its seafood dishes to Restaurant Zadar that’s known for its traditional Croatian dishes, you’ll have plenty of decadent choices to choose from throughout your trip.
Where to stay in Zadar
Boutique Hostel Forum – 2* hostel in the heart of the city, costing £20 a night. Modern, stylish and centrally located, this is a great choice for those on an interrailing holiday.
Next stop… Sibenik
Location Ranking: 5/5 – it only takes 1 hour 28 minutes on the train from Zadar.
Social Ranking: 2/5 – There are only 5 hostels to choose from.
After visiting Zadar, hop on the train and head just under 1 hour 30 minutes to Sibenik. This medieval city on the Adriatic coast is often referred to as the gateway to the Kornati Islands.
Adorned with attractions from Sibenik City Museum to the UNESCO Cathedral of St. James that dates to the 15th Century, it makes a fabulous city to visit. Similar to Zadar, there are also plenty of places to eat, including the glamorous Pelegrini. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, however, Nostalgija Konaba is a wonderful option.
Where to stay in Sibenik
Hostel Indigo – Family run hostel with beautiful views out towards the sea.
Finish – Split
Location Ranking: 5/5 – 1 hour 44 minutes on the train from Sibenik.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – a very popular place for tourists and has over 30 hostels to choose from.
And now we reach the final destination – Split. This breath-taking city is perhaps the most popular choice for anyone visiting Croatia. Located at the bottom of the country, Split is the second-largest city. A buzzing city with a unique twist of history and modern attractions, you won’t be lost on things to do here.
From the beautiful Bacvice Beach to the UNESCO Diocletian’s Palace and Marjan Forest Park, there’s something for all tastes there. In terms of restaurants, you’ll have lots to choose from, including the likes of the traditional and centrally-located Villa Spiza and the stylish Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar.
Where to stay in Split
Old Town Hostel – although it’s basic, this hostel has all that you need and is in a great location. With prices starting from £18 a night, its budget-friendly cost makes it well worth it.
Other Travel Suggestions:
- Fly to Naples, then Rome, Florence, finish in Bologna.
- Fly to Munich, then Rothenburg, Nuremberg, finish in Stuttgart.
Reason 2 – Start in a place that’s far away from your home and then work your way back.
Travel Suggestion: Interrailing around Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium.
Another wonderful way you can interrail is to start in a place that’s far away from home and then work your way back across Europe. For example, if you live in the UK, you could fly to Budapest, before visiting several cities on your way back. If this sounds tempting to you, here are some suggestions of the cities that you could visit along the way.
Start – Budapest
Location Ranking: 5/5 – less than 2 hours 30 from London and easy to travel from via train.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – over 30 hostels to choose from across the city with prices starting as low as £9 a night.
Hungary’s capital, Budapest (known as the City of Spas) is one of the most popular interrailing destinations. Set on the River Danube, its two districts, Buda and Pest are connected by the 19th Century Chain Bridge.
Boasting numerous attractions from Buda’s glistening Old Town to Trinity Square that’s home to Matthias Church that dates to the 13th Century, it’s an ideal location to start your trip. It’s also renowned for its 118 natural thermal springs spread throughout the city.
In terms of restaurants, you won’t be stuck for choices. One in particular that stands out is Mazeltov which serves scrumptious Mediterranean cuisine, with an open garden that’s ideal for summer getaways. Also look out for the McDonald’s restaurant which has been dubbed as the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world – it’s located at Budapest Nyugati railway station.
Where to stay in Budapest
Maverick Hostel & Ensuites Budapest – a 2* chic hostel with modern amenities and spacious rooms in the centre of Budapest.
Next stop… Vienna
Location Ranking: 5/5 – Vienna is only 2 hours 55 minutes on the train from Budapest.
Social Ranking: 4/5 – there are plenty of hostels to choose from across the city. It’s also known for its bustling atmosphere and friendliness to tourists.
Austria’s capital, Vienna is also located on the River Danube. A short distance from Budapest, it’s known for its artistic legacy (it was previously home to Sigmund Freud and Beethoven), its imperial palaces (including Schonbrunn) and historic buildings.
When you get hungry (or thirsty), don’t worry – you won’t be limited on restaurants, cafes and bars to visit. From Wiener Wiazhaus offering traditional Viennese cuisine to the stylish yet simple Greek offerings at Ariston, you’ll have a delicious culinary adventure in Vienna.
Where to stay in Vienna
Hostel Ruthensteiner – only a 5-minute walk from the Wien Westbahnhof train station, this artistic hostel is set amongst all of Vienna’s main attractions.
Location Ranking: 4/5 – it takes 3 hours 30 to get to Prague from Vienna via train.
Social Ranking: 4/5 – there are over 20 hostels to choose from throughout the city available at very affordable prices.
Prague has long been a beloved stopping point for those travelling across Europe. The capital of the Czech Republic, it’s nicknamed ‘the City of a Hundred Spires’. Renowned for its beautiful Old Town Square that’s aligned with traditional shops, restaurants and street artists, its Gothic churches and Charles Bridge (shown in the image above) Prague is a fabulous location to stop in.
People in particular love to visit the Astronomical Clock and the UNESCO Prague Castle at the top of the city. When you get peckish during your trip, head on over to the modern Czech restaurant, Restaurant Mlynec for traditional cuisine, along with live jazz evenings within 3 minutes of Charles Bridge.
Where to stay in Prague
Czech Inn – 3* star hostel in the centre of Prague with prices from as little as £10 a night. There’s even a basement bar in this quirky hostel.
Location Ranking: 3/5 – Frankfurt is located 5 hours on the train from Prague, making it one of the furthest on this list to get to.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – not only are there a few hostels to choose from, but Frankfurt is a bustling city that’s full of life.
A city that’s situated in the centre of Germany, Frankfurt sits on the River Main. Although it’s primarily known as a financial hub, the number of attractions within the city and its generally buzzing atmosphere make it a good choice for interrailers. From Romer, the iconic 13th-century town hall to Palmengarten, an impressive botanic garden, you’ll be in abundance with attractions to enjoy.
If you’re looking for something a little different when you’re in Frankfurt, why not visit Im Herzen Afrikas. Now, you might be thinking, why visit an East African restaurant when you’re in Germany. But if you’re a little fed up of all the heavy food the surrounding regions have to offer, this gives you a delicious change. Delicious and elegantly presented dishes await you as this central restaurant.
Where to stay in Frankfurt
5Elements Hostel Frankfurt – a funky hostel with a modern lounge and game room in the centre.
Last stop… Brussels!
Location Ranking: 4/ 5 – a 3-hour 30-minute train journey from Frankfurt.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – Brussels doesn’t only offer over 20 hostels, but it’s also a central hub that many interrailers visit.
Known as the historical centre and the capital of Belgium, Brussels is one of the easiest European destinations to visit for those living in the UK. Known for its Grand Palace in the heart of the Old Town and the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – a 19th Century shopping arcade, Brussels makes the ultimate stop on your interrailing adventure.
Although there are plenty of restaurants in the city, there’s one, in particular, we wanted to mention – Nuetnigenough. This charming brasserie is filled with an art nouveau facade and offers a large selection of Belgian beers and food.
Where to stay in Brussels
2GO4 Grand Place Hostel – although this is one of the most expensive hostels on this list (approx. £46 a night) this centrally located hotel offers comfortable accommodation with a sociable lounge and kitchen.
Finish – UK
Other Travel Suggestions:
- Fly to Milan, then Zurich, Stuttgart, Luxembourg, Antwerp, Amsterdam and finish in UK.
- Fly to Berlin, then Hanover, Cologne, Brussels and finish in UK.
Reason 3 – Finish in a place that’s a bit different from the rest of your trip.
Travel Suggestion: Interrailing around France and Spain.
Another way that you can interrail is to finish in a place that’s different to the rest of your trip. Of course, the final destination and the preceding destinations are up to you. But to get you on the right track, we’ve suggested the below route, ending in Malaga as it offers relaxing beach vibes to have a relaxing end to your Interrail trip.
Start – Paris
Location Ranking: 5/5 – Paris is very easy to get to from the UK and the rest of Europe. If you’re coming from the UK, it can take just over 2 hours on the Eurostar or if you’re flying, 2 hours.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – there are over 40 hostels to choose from in Paris.
Known as the city of love, Paris, France’s iconic capital is visited by millions of interrailers and other tourists alike every year. The capital of art, fashion and gastronomy, it’s filled with attractions. Not only can you visit the Eiffel Tower, but the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre museum. If you fancy an activity that takes longer than a few hours when you’re in Paris, you can always hop on the train and visit Disneyland Paris that’s only a couple of hours away.
As mentioned, Paris is known for its incredible cuisine. And although there are 1000’s of places to choose from, a lot of them are quite expensive. If you want a more casual meal, Patchanka Paris is a wonderful choice – popular with locals and tourists alike, you’ll be amazed by the chef’s cooking skills.
Where to stay in Paris
Generator Paris – a trendy hostel with a rooftop terrace and a vibrant eatery. Prices start from £20 a night.
Next stop… Lyon
Location Ranking: 4/5 – just under 2 hours on the train from Paris. A hidden gem that’s often forgotten about.
Social Ranking: 3/5 – there are only 7 hostels to choose from in Lyon.
Lyon is often a French city that’s forgotten about, but has so many charming features that it deserves more recognition. Reflecting over 2,000 years of fascinating history, it’s filled with Renaissance and medieval architecture and has several attractions to enjoy – from the Musée des Beaux Arts (a fine art museum) to the beautiful Quartier Saint-Jean and Quartier Saint-Georges (the Old Town).
If you’re looking for a culinary delight but don’t know where to start, Epicurius is a ideal. Hidden on the corner of a street, it offers a warm welcome, delicious cocktails and a fantastic ambience.
Where to stay in Lyon
Le Flaneur Guesthouse – although they offer simple accommodation, its colourful courtyard and sociable kitchen make it a great option when in Lyon. It’s also budget-friendly at €19 a night.
Location Ranking: 5/5 – Lyon is only 1 hour 40 minutes from Lyon.
Social Ranking: 3/5 – there are only 7 hostels to choose from across the area.
South France is one of the most beautiful locations in the world. And within this picturesque destination, lies the port city of Marseille. At the centre of Marseille lies the Old Port (Vieux-Port) where you can see fishermen sell their catch every day. Its most notable landmarks are the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde and the MuCEM that holds lectures, film screenings and history of the Mediterranean civilisation.
It’s no surprise that Marseille has dozens of fantastic restaurants. One, in particular, that’s popular with tourists is Restaurant Lapoulenoire – with a great wine list and decadent desserts.
Where to stay in Marseille
Vertigo Hostel Vieux-Port – an urban hostel with a warm atmosphere and private rooms. Prices start at £22 a night.
Location Ranking: 3/5 – not the easiest place to travel to, you’ll have to stop at Montpellier, as the journey takes just over 7 hours on the train.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – there are dozens of hostels in Barcelona. It’s also known for its friendly nature.
Known as the cosmopolitan capital of Spain, Barcelona is rich in architecture and art. Barcelona has numerous pretty streets to walk around, food trucks, shops and more – meaning that you won’t be bored throughout your stop there. Its most prominent attraction is perhaps the Sagrada Familia, and the Park Guell – famous for its artistic sculptures.
Where to stay in Barcelona
Urbany Hostel Barcelona – bright, airy private rooms and dorms with a rooftop terrace and an indoor pool.
Location Ranking: 5/5 – Valencia is less than 2 hours 30 minutes from Barcelona on the train.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – there are over 20 hostels to choose from across the city.
And the next interrail stop from Barcelona is…Valencia! This mesmerising port city is situated on Spain’s southeastern coast. Notably, this unique city has dozens of futuristic structures within its City of Arts and Sciences including a planetarium, an interactive museum and an oceanarium.
If you fancy going to the beach during your time here, Valencia has several different beaches to visit – including Las Arenas beach and Malvarrosa that are only 15 minutes from the centre.
One restaurant in Valencia that deserves to be in the spotlight is Restaurant Karak. With frequently high reviews due to their impressive dishes and welcoming atmosphere, it’s worth a stop in during your trip here.
Where to stay in Valencia
Home Youth Hostel Valencia – quirky rooms with a rooftop terrace offering fabulous views over the city.
Finish – Malaga
Location Ranking: 3.5/5 – Malaga is just under 5 hours from Valencia.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – known as one of Spain’s ‘party’ cities, Malaga has a vibrant centre, numerous hostels and more.
If you’re looking for an extraordinary way to end your getaway, then why not stop in Malaga? Located on Spain’s Costa del Sol, it has several beach resorts and landmarks. Although many visit this port city for its buzzing nightlife, there are also many cultural attractions to see including the Alcazaba (a medieval Moorish palace) and the Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga.
If you want a quick bite on the go when you’re in Malaga, head to Spagos. Offering fresh pasta with several flavours to choose from, it’s ideal for those travelling through.
Where to stay in Malaga
The Urban Jungle Hostel – vibrantly decorated with a rooftop bar and shared kitchen, this boutique hostel is perfect for a few night’s stay.
Other Travel Suggestions:
- Fly to Naples, then Rome, Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Lisbon and finish in Malaga.
- Fly to Bern, then Geneva, Turin and finish in Nice.
Reason 4 – Start in a place that’s close to your home location so you can get the train straight there rather than flying.
Travel Suggestion: Interrailing around The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium.
Alternatively, you could start in a place that’s close to your home location, so that you could hop on the train instead of flying. In the age of flight shaming, the alternative of getting the train should always be an option. This is because of the concerns of what air travel is doing to the planet. If this is a concern or you simply want an easy route to take from the UK, the below route could be ideal.
Start – Amsterdam
Location Ranking: 5/5 – now you don’t have to fly to Amsterdam. You can now get a Eurostar train straight to the city from London, that’s only 4 hours 40 minutes.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – Amsterdam is a renowned city for backpackers and tourists alike with plenty of hostels to choose from, ranging in prices.
Amsterdam. An amazing city and the capital of the Netherlands, it’s known for its vibrant nightlife, artistic heritage, beautiful canals and more. It’s also one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly destinations in Europe. Spend your time here wandering through the Vondelpark, seeing works by Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum, discovering the fascinating yet horrific Anne Frank House and exploring the numerous streets with traditional Dutch houses.
As it’s quite a large and bustling city, there’s plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars. From the tourist-friendly Hard Rock Cafe just outside the centre to the pretty canal-side eatery and wine bar Cafe Du Jarin, there’s something for all tastes.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
WOW Amsterdam – a hip hostel in the centre with stylish rooms, a patio and a sociable kitchen area. Prices start at £26 a night.
Location Ranking: 5/5 – it takes 2-3 hours to get to Dusseldorf from Amsterdam.
Social Ranking: 3/5 – there are only 5 hostels across the city.
Situated in west Germany, Dusseldorf is one of the most visited cities in all of the country. Not only does it offer a great art scene and fashion industry, but it’s filled with history.
During your stopover in Dusseldorf, wander through the Alstadt (Old Town) and discover the various pubs and shops. Then, head to the Rhine Tower for spectacular views out across the city. When you get hungry stop off at the Bauernstube Deppe, that’s known for its casual atmosphere and traditional German dishes.
Where to stay in Dusseldorf
Backpackers Düsseldorf – colourful and quirky rooms can be found in this hostel. Plus, you’ll get a free breakfast – a bonus that not many hostels offer. Prices start at £38 a night.
(info about Frankfurt can be found above in Reason 2)
Location Ranking: 2/5 – unfortunately, Luxembourg City isn’t the easiest to get to. Taking approximately 10-12 hours from Frankfurt, it requires a changeover at Saarbrucken HBF.
Social Ranking: 3/5 – there are only 14 hostels to choose from across the city due to the size of it.
Luxembourg is often forgotten about due to its location and size. But it’s one that shouldn’t be ignored. A small European country that sits in between France, Germany and Belgium, its capital, Luxembourg City, is famed for its fortified old town that’s situated on sheer cliffs. With attractions that include the likes of the medieval Vianden Castle, Cathedrale Notre-Dame and the Adolphe Bridge, the small yet charming city has plenty to offer.
Although there are several traditional restaurants and cafes to choose from if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat when exploring the city, head over to Lux’burgers. Offering an extensive, fuss-free menu, it’s great for tourists and interrailers on the go.
Where to stay in Luxembourg
Luxembourg Youth Hostel – a riverfront hostel, it offers fabulous views across the Old Town, as well as a cafe, bar and free breakfast.
As previously mentioned, read about interrailing in Brussels in reason 2
Finish – UK
Reason 5 – Start in a place that offers easy Interrail pass use to get you used to using it.
Travel Suggestion: Interrailing around Poland, Czech, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium.
There are certain countries, such as Italy, Spain and France that are notoriously tricky for interrailers as they need to pay for seat reservations along the way. Which is why this reason is so prevalent – start in a location that offers an easier solution, such as Krakow. Of course, the city you start or end in is up to you, but this route below could be just the ticket.
Start – Krakow
Location Ranking: 4/5 – it’s only 2 hours 20 minutes from the UK by plane. As Krakow is quite far from England, it would be easier to catch a flight and then proceed to travel via train on the way back. Or continue your eastern journey and get another flight back!
Social Ranking: 5/5 – there are over 60 hostels across the city.
Krakow is rapidly becoming one of the most popular cities in Poland. Near the border of the Czech Republic, it’s a wonderful place to visit no matter what time of year. It is, however, especially magical throughout the winter months when the market square is host to a huge, traditional Polish Christmas market.
There are plenty of things to see and do here, including Wawel Royal Castle, Wieliczka Salt Mine and the historic Cloth Hall. Alternatively, you can grab an excursion to the harrowing Auschwitz concentration camp which is only 1 hour 45 minutes away.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that there are plenty of eateries around Krakow. One that’s worth a mention, however, is Pod Wawelem Kompania Kuflowa. Offering stunning views of the castle, local dishes, live music and traditional Polish theming, it’s guaranteed to give you a memorable dining experience.
Where to Stay in Krakow
Flamingo Hostel – modern and very central this cheap and cheerful hostel is perfectly situated to explore the city. Prices start at £15 a night.
Info about Prague can also be found above in Reason 2
From Prague to Dresden
Location Ranking: 4/5 – from Prague it only takes 2 hours and 14 minutes on the train to Dresden.
Social Ranking: 3/5 – unfortunately there are only 11 hostels on offer throughout this city.
The Capital of Saxony, Dresden is an up and coming city that celebrates its classic architecture and unique history. Although this isn’t a city that many interrailers initially consider, the attractions and beauty of the city make it well worth the travelling.
Stand out attractions in the town include the Zwinger – a grand building with manicured gardens, the reconstructed Frauenkirche (rebuilt after WWII but completed in 1743) and Dresden Castle. Although there are numerous traditional restaurants, if you fancy something a little more extraordinary, why not try Turtle Bay Dresden. Offering Carribean food and a welcoming service, it’s a great choice every time.
Where to stay in Dresden
Lollis Homestay Hostel Dresden – with unique decor, this hostel is one of the most interesting on this list. Although it’s not the most budget-friendly out of the above (prices start at £33 a night) it’s a central hostel with lots of character.
And onto Berlin
Location Ranking: 5/5 – it takes under 2 hours to get to Berlin from Dresden via train.
Social Ranking: 5/5 – there are over 50 different hostels to choose from.
Berlin is easily one of the top cities that interrailers visit every year. Not only is it easy to get to, but it has several fascinating attractions appealing to all ages and tastes.
The capital of Germany, it dates to the 13th Century. The moment you arrive in this city you’ll be greeted with historic buildings and sights, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag Building. During your time here, if you love history, head over to Checkpoint Charlie and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews – both harrowing yet fascinating landmarks in the centre.
Alternatively, if you don’t mind heights, head up the Berliner Fernsehturm, also known as the TV Tower. As it’s Germany’s capital, there are lots of restaurants around the city. But if you’re looking for a cosy, relaxed and traditional meal, then Hackethal’s is a fabulous choice.
Where to stay in Berlin
ONE80° Hostel Berlin – in Alexanderplatz, this budget-friendly hostel is modern and vibrant with prices starting at £20 a night.
Location Ranking: 5/5 – Hannover is less than 2 hours from Berlin via train.
Social Ranking: 2.5/5 – there are less than 10 hostels in Hannover.
The thirteenth largest city in Germany, Hannover isn’t the most tourist visited city throughout the country – but it’s filled with attractions, landmarks and picturesque scenery. Spend your time at Hannover Zoo, admiring the mesmerising New Town Hall or walking around the royal Herrenhausen Gardens.
After a long day of exploring, head over to Max Walloschke – a warm and welcoming eatery with plenty of authentic dishes.
Where to stay in Hannover
Hostel Hannover – set within a 19th Century building, this casual hostel is within 3 minutes of the train station making it very convenient.
Info about Amsterdam can also be found above in Reason 4
Finish – Bruges
Location Ranking: 3/5 – it takes around 3 hours to get from Amsterdam to Bruges on the train.
Social Ranking: 3/5 – there are under 10 hostels across the city.
Similarly to Amsterdam, Bruges is a beloved city due to its canals and cobbled streets. The main reason that people love Bruges is not only its rich history but also the delicious beer that it has to offer. In the centre of the city is the Markt, which is aligned with various restaurants and shops. For those movie buffs, a trip to the Belfry of Bruges in the centre of the square is bound to please – it was famously used in the 2008 crime drama, In Bruges.
In terms of restaurants and bars, they are a dime a dozen in Bruges. Two places, in particular, that deserve a mention are the 2be (known as The Beer Wall) with lots of different beers to choose from and the Bistro Zwart Huis, offering Belgian fare and cocktails in a 15th Century building.
Where to stay in Bruges
Lybeer Hostel Bruges – this 3* hostel offers a popular beer bar and casual accommodation in the centre. Prices start at £30 a night depending on when you’re going.
Other Travel Suggestion:
- Fly to Warsaw, then Krakow, Bratislava and finish in Munich.
- Fly to Zurich, then Stuttgart, Luxembourg, Cologne and finish in Antwerp.