Planning your next cheap holiday? Why not Interrail around Europe for an affordable way to travel between this continent’s best cities?
To give you some interrailing inspiration, we’ve researched affordable Interrail destinations and have found the seven cheapest Interrail cities on offer. From the charming streets of Lisbon to the bars of Budapest, there is something to interest everyone.
The allure of Portugal’s capital is easy to understand: filled with historical marvels and blessed with good weather and seafood, this coastal city never disappoints.
After enjoying a pastel de nata (the custard tart’s more delicious cousin) from a nearby cafe, ramble along the cobbled streets of the Alfama district. Or, if you don’t fancy all the hills, take the tram instead. Whatever you choose, look out for the famed tiles which line many of the city’s houses.
Above all, the Jeronimos Monastery and the Gulbenkian Museum are worth a visit. The former was built in the reign of King Manuel I, patron of the explorer Vasco de Gama, and the latter shows off the impressive art collection of the Armenian émigré, Calouste Gulbenkian. Both are free for visitors one morning each week.
The home of Franz Kafka, the Charles Bridge and some of the world’s best beer, Prague is a literary, architectural and gastronomic delight.
Despite suffering frequent invasions, Prague has managed to retain many of its historic buildings. Your first stop should be the Old Town Square, where one of the world’s best preserved medieval clocks still greets the hour with an entertaining show. Afterwards, the choice is yours: stroll along the Charles Bridge towards the impressive castle complex; visit the Josefov, the Jewish Quarter, to see its overcrowded cemetery; or learn about 20th century history at the Museum of Communism.
Alternatively, if the sun is shining, rent a pedalo and lazily drift down the Vlatava River.
Check out our interrailer’s guide to Prague for more tips.
Not as well-known as Prague, Český Krumlov is quieter but even more picturesque. Located only a few hour train journey south of the capital, you would be mad to leave it off your itinerary.
The Old Town Centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its castle is the second largest in the country. Carpeted with snow in winter and the ideal spot for a picnic from spring, the weather around this 16th century castle may vary but its beauty does not.
Look out for the Wiseman Free Tour, which helps cash-strapped backpackers to explore the tales and legends of this enchanting town.
Most people know the capital of Hungary for its cheap drinks and its good nightlife (top tip: head to Instant for a cheap yet incredible night). But did you know that Budapest is comprised of three different cities? Buda, Óbuda and Pest each have plenty to keep the traveller occupied.
Along with all those inviting ruin bars, the Hungarian Parliament is a must see. Wander along the opposite bank of the Danube to take in this Gothic Revivalist masterpiece, before heading to the parks, recreation and ruins of Margaret Island. Or, if you feel like some exercise, jog around its rubber-coated running track (5.5km).
It’s a true party city, and while it may not be within your Interrail budget, definitely consider going to the thermal bath rave held at the Széchenyi Baths every Saturday night. Read more about that here.
Poland’s second biggest town is full of interesting facts: Krakow purports to have the largest medieval city square in Europe (at 40,000 square metres) and its Town Hall has a noticeable slant of 55cm.
It also yields more concrete incentives for a visit. Krakow is the home of Da Vinci’s acclaimed Lady with an Ermine and also of the Schindler Factory Museum (free on a Monday), the historic site for the story told in Steven Spielberg’s renowned film.
An additional recommendation is the Rynek Underground Museum, which recreates the city’s appearance 700 years ago.
Few places are steeped in as much history as Sofia, which has seen the rule of Alexander the Great, the Romans, the Ottomans and the Soviet Union. Housed in the city’s oldest mosque, the National Archaeological Museum – free every last Sunday of the month – showcases some of this rich history.
If you’re interrailing in the Bulgarian capital between April and November, take the free Sofia Green Tour. This five hour tour will take you on a hike up Vitosha Mountain, the massif which looms behind Sofia, and will allow you to visit the UNESCO-listed Boyana Church.
For foodies, the free tour organised by Balkan Bites is a no-brainer. You’ll also get the chance to sample local wine.
Croatia’s capital has one of Europe’s more unusual attractions: The Museum of Broken Relationship. Despite its gloomy name, its collection of objects (left over by former lovers, each with a brief description) is extremely popular.
If this is too downbeat, the Street Art Tour may be for you. Learn more about Zagreb through its impressive range of street art and graffiti. Then explore its food with a visit to the stalls at Polac Market. Remember to sample the traditional Štrukli, made of rolled dough and usually filled with cottage cheese.
The beer is cheap here, much cheaper than the coastal destinations in Croatia, which are also very popular Interrail destinations (check where else to go interrailing in Croatia). Head to Alcatraz bar and make sure to stay at the fun-filled Whole Wide World Hostel!