It's the fastest – and cheapest – way to add multiple ticks to your travel bucket list. Here's your cheatsheet to railing it around Europe.
Consider the InterRail pass your ticket to ride. It gives unlimited train travel on national railway services across all 30 participating European countries. Sounds only deadly, right? It is. Travelers either reserve a seat or just hop on board their chosen train journey (depending on the train service) and present their ticket to travel. If you’re under 28 a global one month pass, valid for continuous travel, costs €419. For over 28s, the same pass will check out at €537. Want a cheaper option? The Flexi pass, which allows you to travel on a select number of days, can be purchased for as little as €175. Once booked, you’ll receive a pack with a travel report card which must be filled out on each journey.
The choice is endless. As a guide, InterRail suggest three different route ideas. The Best Beaches option covers Algarve, San Sebastian, Côte d’Azur, Zlati Rat Kolocep and Corfu. More of a culture fiend? You’ll love the Best Museums route, taking in cultural hubs like Madrid, Florence, and Lisbon. For the bucket list traveller, the Central Europe tour covers hotspots like Amsterdam, Krakow, Vienna and Paris. Not your thing? Not to worry, you can always create your own tour and tailor your trip to include all your ultimate must-see destinations.
Peak season for European travel is generally considered as mid-June to August, and if you’re smart you’ll plan your trip around Europe’s differing climates. As a rule of thumb, head to Mediterranean spots around June when the temperatures tend not to be stifling, and hold off until late August to visit generally chillier countries like Denmark, Finland and Norway. If you time it right you can hit up festivals across the continent too. Consider Sziget in Budapest taking place between August 9 – 16 this year, or Barcelona’s Primavera Sound on May 31 – June 4 for extra picture perfect memories.
For the craic and budget value, stay in hostels. You can get loads of purse-friendly deals on sites like hostelbookers.com or hostelworld.com if you don’t mind sacrificing a few home comforts. Need your privacy? Airbnb it instead. 58% of the site’s listings are situated in Europe so it shouldn’t be too tricky to find a gaff you can call home for a night or two. Hot tip: If you’re working to a really tight budget, overnight train journeys will save you the cost of a night’s accommodation.
Make life easy for yourself and ditch your wheelie suitcase. A lightweight backpack will be much easier to lug on and off trains. Choose a side-opening one for easy access to all your gear.
Sorry to go all Irish mammy on you, but an inclusive travel insurance policy is a must. Do your research before you purchase one and always read the fine print to get to grips with your level of cover.
A versatile wardrobe
Different countries means different climates, so layers are essential. Oh, and remember a comfy pair of flats for your day-long sightseeing trips.
Flights here can be pretty pricey so it makes sense to include this desto in the cost of your train ticket. Its marbled streets, ancient city walls and clear blue waters make for some seriously beautiful snaps.
Lake Bled in Slovenia’s North Western region offers some of the most stunning scenery Europe has to offer. The tranquil emerald green lake set against the backdrop of a medieval castle and the Julian Alps is the perfect antidote to the stresses of traveling.
Whether it’s culture you’re after or just a damn good time, this German city has it all. Visit the Berlin Wall memorial and take a tour of the Reichstag Building by day and then enjoy some German beer on one of the city’s many famed pub crawls by night.
This article first appeared in STELLAR’s April issue. Our May issue is on shelves now!
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