James Jackman shares his favourite destinations for going Interrailing in winter with a particular focus on Christmas markets!
There can sometimes be a bit of a misconception with Interrailing – that it has to be during the summer! That if you want to see the best of what Europe has to offer, you have to head out in July and if you’re like me, face the heat and possibly even sunburn. This is quite simply not true, you can Interrail any time of year and to prove it, we’ve put together a special winter Interrailing, or “Winterrailing” route to prove that there are some things only winter can offer!
We start in Hamburg, in the north of Germany. You can probably guess why we’ve chosen to start here, it’s of course for the Christmas markets! The German Christmas markets are famous for a reason, as when the air fills up with those festive scents and the light displays are in full swing few other markets can compare. During advent, Hamburg is filled up with several markets and is also host to parades, fairytale ships on the canal and more. There are practically German Christmas markets anywhere that a few stalls will fit! So, enjoy the Glühwein and sweet treats, it’s certainly the most festive way to get this journey going!
Next stop is Aarhus in Denmark. The second biggest city in Denmark, Aarhus might sometimes be overlooked in favour of Copenhagen. However, with the attractions this city has, you’ll be glad you visited. At the Old Town Museum you can discover what a Danish Christmas is really like, or if you fancy a break from Christmas festivities, why not get some thrills at Tivoli friheden, a theme park in the centre of the city?
And we’re off to Sweden! Hopefully you’ve been seeing more snow on the ground now as we head further north. On the night train up here, if you were really lucky and the conditions were just right, you might have even caught some of the northern lights.
If you fancy getting out of the cold for a bit, Karlstad is rich in museums and art galleries where you can while away the hours. Alternatively, you could relax as you stroll along the many waterways Karlstad has to offer, or enjoy the hopefully plentiful snow in the parks.
Welcome to Norway, the final country in our journey. Oslo is a city incredibly well-equipped for winter, so we hope you’re not worn out yet! For fans of sledding and tobogganing, Oslo is home to Korketrekkeren, a 2km sled run, reachable on the metro. You’ll be able to rent sleds or toboggans there and spend the day flying round the track. Once you’ve gotten your fill of speed, you could spend an evening ice skating, or enjoying the bars and clubs this city has to offer.
Hemsedal via Flam/Mydral
Our final stop! As this is an Interrailing trip, we thought we’d include a special train journey as well. On your journey from Oslo, you’ll make a stop at Myrdal, and from there you’ll head up to Flam where you’ll get on the Flam railway. A 20.2 km railway, it offers some of the most brilliant views of any train journey, with views of waterfalls, fjords and the Flam valley. It’s also one of the steepest train journeys in the world, with over 80% of the journey having a gradient of at least 5.5%.
At the end of the full journey, you’ll arrive in Hemsedal (be aware, you may have to stop in Gol and get a bus), in the Scandinavian Alps. Here you’ll find ski resorts where you can practice your skiing skills, whether that be on the black run or you fancy trying your hand at cross-country skiing!
There we have it, a route for Interrailing in winter that would make any summer traveller jealous! Let us know if you have any suggestions for other winter activities that we might have missed, or are worthy of a whole new route.