Starting your Interrail trip with Eurostar: where to go first

Booking an interrail trip is so exciting. But it’s arguably made more exciting when you know you’re starting it off on the Eurostar. There’s something so exhilarating about turning up to London St Pancras and knowing you’re about to board a train and head off to a new destination. Whether it’s Lille, Paris or another city, Eurostar is a relaxing and smooth way of getting there. 

One thing to keep in mind if you’re planning on starting off your Interrail trip in this way is that booking the Eurostar with your Interrail Pass requires a seat reservation that will cost you £35. Also, it’s a very popular way to start off an Interrail trip, so it’s essential that you book well in advance, as seats can be limited. 

Both an Interrail and Eurail Pass will work on the Eurostar, but you will need to reserve a seat ahead of your departure date. And on the day of your travel, you should make sure that you arrive at St Pancras at least 90 minutes before your train is due to depart, this allows time for border control, security and any queues (St Pancras does get very busy!).

Your passport, seat reservation and Interrail/Eurail pass will be checked ahead of boarding the train. Trains from St Pancras will leave every few hours, so it’s a good idea to look at the timetable and work out what time train works for your travel plans. 

So where does the Eurostar go? Currently, the Eurostar travels directly to Lille, Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. A fast and convenient way of getting to these incredible cities, you’ll be able to enjoy all they have to offer in no time at all. 

But how long does it take to get to each of those destinations? And what is there to do in each city? We’ve created a guide will all the information you need!

1. Lille

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An underrated city, from London St Pancras it only takes just under 1hr 30 minutes by Eurostar to get to Lille Europe Station that’s located in the heart of the city, within easy reach of popular landmarks and transport links.

Rapidly growing in popularity, the capital of the Hauts-de-France region has a rich culture, a bustling market square (that once was home to a medieval wheat market) and beautiful architecture with a combination of French and Flemish roots.

With so much to see and do in Lille, it’s no wonder that more and more people are heading there on the Eurostar.

What to see in Lille 

Lille is home to a huge variety of attractions, from historic to modern. Some highlights include the Palais des Beaux-Arts, that’s home to an impressive collection of European fine art, the Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral et Lille, featuring sacred and religious artworks and the Zoo de Lille which has a diverse range of wildlife and beautiful scenery. 

Where to eat in Lille 

Whether you’re looking for a light bite or a hearty dish, Lille will not disappoint. A foodie’s heaven, restaurants and cafes in Lille showcase a selection of decadent cheeses, scrumptious stews and tasty seafood. 

Here are three restaurants that you should visit on your Interrail trip to Lille:

Estaminet La CH’TITE BRIGITTE – If you’re craving a true taste of France, Estaminet La CH’TITE BRIGITTE is just the ticket. Giving an authentic flavour of Northern French and Flemish cuisine, there’s a great selection of hearty dishes, refreshing beer and a buzzing atmosphere. And the best thing? Bottomless French fries!

Autour de Vous Lille – Take delight in delicious cheeses, pasta and more at this cosy restaurant. Highlights include the truffle ravioli and fried octopus.

La Bottega – Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little different in Lille, head to La Bottega for some delicious Italian fare. Quaint and traditional, you can expect decadent pizzas.

Where to stay in Lille 

Couvent des Minimes Alliance Lille – Situated in a 17th-century convent, this hotel is perfect for those looking to treat themselves on their Interrail trip. Stylish and chic, this four-star hotel is perfectly located in the heart of Lille.

The People – Budget-friendly, this laid-back hostel has a modern bar and restaurant and comfortable accommodation.

HI Hostel Lille Stephane Hassel – A trendy hostel that features complimentary breakfast, spacious rooms and a modern bar. 

2. Paris

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Known for its romance, iconic attractions (such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre) and first-class cuisine, Paris is often on people’s bucket lists of cities to visit. A popular Eurostar stop-off and one that interrailers often add to their travel plans, you’ll have an abundance of activities within Paris to keep you occupied throughout your time there. Look forward to classic bistros, chic boutiques and more the moment you step off the train. 

It only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes on the Eurostar from St Pancras to Gare Du Nord, meaning you’ll be in Paris in no time, exploring all that it has to offer!

What to see in Paris

We had to start with the aforementioned Eiffel Tower. Perhaps the first thing that people imagine when they think of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is an iconic landmark dating to the 19th Century. Not only does this 324m high tower make for a great photo opportunity, but you can take a lift to the top of it and admire stunning views out towards the city. 30 minutes on the train from Gare Du Nord, once you’ve got the metro into the centre of the city, you’ll have so many attractions around you to discover.

Get your culture fill at the Louvre Museum. Although there are often long queues to get into it, the artworks and installations you see within it are well worth the wait. Or if you want a unique view of the city, head to the Arc de Triomphe and see the extraordinary landmark that took 30 years to build.

Where to eat in Paris

Chez Gladines Buttes aux Cailles – Take delight in decadent escalopes, stews and other warming French dishes in this cosy restaurant. 

La Petite Rose des Sables – Enjoy fantastic home-cooked food at this authentic French restaurant. Popular with locals, it serves generous portions with an affordable price tag. 

Where to stay in Paris

The People Paris Marais – Stylish and modern, The People Paris Marais is only a quick 2-minute walk from the metro and less than 7km from both the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum. 

Terminus Lyon Hotel – Conveniently located opposite the Gare de Lyon station, this sleek hotel is set in the centre of the city; perfect if you want to explore the Place de la Bastille. 

3. Brussels

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Although Brussels is often only thought of as the business hub of Belgium, it’s got beautiful architecture, fabulous food and an extensive history that dates to 979 AD. Warm and welcoming, everyone in Brussels will make you feel at home, and with so many hidden gems spread across the city, there won’t be a dull moment throughout your Interrail trip there. 

Taking just under 2 hours to get there by Eurostar from St Pancras, the Eurostar will arrive in the centre of the city at the Brussels-Midi/Zuid station. There are plenty of public transport options to choose from when you get off of the Eurostar, including the metro train and bus networks (De Lijn and Tec).

What to see in Brussels

Delight in several attractions throughout Brussels including the Grand Place, the towering Atomium and the Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert. With attractions for all ages and tastes, whether you’re stopping off in Brussels for an overnight stay or for longer, you’ll find lots to keep you busy. 

Where to eat in Brussels

La Table de Mus – Only a short journey from the centre of the capital, this modern gastro-restaurant is the ultimate place to visit on a special occasion. Serving traditional Belgian fare in an elegant setting, you’ll leave La Table de Mus wanting to visit it again and again. 

Au Vieux Saint Martin – Colourful and artsy, Au Vieux Saint Martin has been serving Belgian cuisine to residents and tourists since 1968. 

Brussels Grill Debrouckere – A contemporary restaurant that serves homemade burgers, regional dishes and succulent steak. 

Where to stay in Brussels

Ibis Styles Brussels Centre – Expect spacious and contemporary accommodation with complimentary Wi-fi, a fitness centre and more. 

Hostel Generation Europe – A relaxed and welcoming hostel that has a laid-back restaurant, cosy bar and terrace to take advantage of. 

Latroupe Grand Place Hostel – Situated directly on Anspach, which is a busy pedestrianised boulevard full of bars, this hostel is stylish and affordable.

4. Rotterdam

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Situated in the south of Holland, Rotterdam is known for its modern architecture and pretty harbour restaurants. Even though at first it only seems like a port city, you can look forward to a bustling nightlife, plenty of shopping opportunities and an ever-changing skyline. 

There are daily direct Eurostar trains from St Pancras to Rotterdam Centraal and you won’t have to worry about having to travel for hours upon end – it only takes 3 hours and 13 minutes to get there. It’s important though that when you reach Rotterdam Centraal you keep your ticket on you as you’ll need to scan it in order to leave the station. But once you’ve done this, you’ll be pleased to know that Rotterdam Centraal is in a great location and is surrounded by hotels, cafes and restaurants.

What to see in Rotterdam

Cross over the Erasmusbrug, the iconic white bridge that’s been nicknamed ‘The Swan’ as you walk around the city. Admire the unique Cube Houses that tower over the nearby streets, or head to the Euromast and take in views of Rotterdam from a height of 185 metres. 

Where to eat in Rotterdam

The Social Club – If you fancy heading to the bustling Old Harbour area, you should visit The Social Club. Featuring Mediterranean cuisine in an extraordinary setting, it’s a must-see.

Lot & DAAN – Savour delicious brunch options at Lot & Daan. From bagels to fresh salads and granola, this fabulous brunch spot has it all. 

The Iron lady – After a day of exploring head to the Iron Lady for tasty vegan burgers, steak and cocktails!

Where to stay in Rotterdam

Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam – Located in the city centre, this modern hostel is within the iconic Cube Houses. 20 minutes walk from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, this extraordinary hostel is the ultimate place to stay in Rotterdam. 

CityHub Rotterdam – A two-minute walk from the metro station, CityHub is a retro capsule hotel that has plenty of attractions surrounding it, including the Market Hall. 

Hotel ibis Rotterdam City Centre – In the city centre of  Rotterdam overlooking Wijnhaven port, this affordable hotel is perfectly located for those interrailing and exploring the city. 

5. Amsterdam

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It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that Amsterdam is a popular Interrail stop. The 17th-century capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is beloved for its picturesque canals, historic buildings and variety of attractions. When in Amsterdam, you should spend your time wandering down the canals, hiring a bike and exploring the city and enjoying a relaxed drink at one of its stylish bistros. 

Just under 4 hours from St Pancras, the direct Eurostar gets into Amsterdam Centraal Station. The station is very well connected to the rest of the city, with buses, cabs and other transport links surrounding it. But if you want to walk from the station, you can easily do so as it’s within easy reach of shops, restaurants and more.

What to see in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is full to the brim with attractions, from the beautiful Rijksmuseum that houses European masterpieces from a diverse range of artists, the heart-wrenching but fascinating Anne Frank House and the breathtaking Vondelpark that’s home to a cafe and open-air theatre. Everyone that visits Amsterdam loves its laidback vibe, friendly locals and the overall feel of the city. And the moment that you arrive there on your Interrail trip you’ll agree. 

Where to eat in Amsterdam 

Cafe de Jaren – Whether you sit and have a drink in its stylish interior or head out onto the terrace that faces out towards the canal, Cafe De Jaren is the perfect place to stop off during your getaway. 

Rocca Amsterdam – Conveniently located, Rocca Amsterdam has a wide selection of European dishes from ribeye steak to local seafood and pies. Locals recommend trying their vast wine selection and the decadent cheesecake!

The Pantry – Hearty homemade food awaits you at The Pantry. 

Where to stay in Amsterdam 

Ibis Budget Amsterdam City South – Wallet-friendly accommodation with bike rental, comfortable rooms and snug communal areas. 

Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam – Even though this hotel is elegant and historic, its budget-friendly prices make it affordable for everyone.

Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark – Located opposite the Vondelpark, Stayokay Amsterdam has a restaurant and bike rental. 

So there you have it! Those are the five top cities to visit on your Interrail trip when you start off your trip on the Eurostar. No matter where you travel to on your Interrail getaway, you’re guaranteed to have a fabulous time, exploring a variety of attractions, enjoying comfortable accommodation and indulging in some of the best European cuisine.