The first time I got a real taste of ‘travel’ as opposed to a typical beach holiday was on an interrail trip around Europe, this was an amazing experience and definitely started my appetite for travel. Read on for my 22 day interrail route.
My friend and I visited 7 cities in 22 days during the summer of 2015. Our first stop was Paris where we spent the first evening sipping beer up at the Sacré-Cœur staring across the city. I had recently quit my job and the feeling of freedom I experienced was the moment I realised how much I wanted to see more of the world.
Perhaps this experience makes me a bit bias, but I was taken aback when I recently saw an article on Conde Nast suggesting that you should skip Paris on your first trip to Europe. This got me thinking about the trip and what I would change if I were to do it all over again. I don’t think I would change anything and I definitely wouldn’t remove Paris – it was a great start to the 22 day experience – a city full of things to do and places to see.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely see where the article is coming from, and would wholeheartedly agree if you decided to skip Paris on your third, fourth and fifth trip to Europe, it’s become riddled with tourist traps and can be expensive – but it’s still an iconic must-see destination.
Getting off the beaten path is a great thing to do, especially if you’re a seasoned traveller, but for a first trip to Europe, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hitting some of the hot spots. Here is a recap of my first 22 days of inter-railing back in , it’s an itinerary I can highly recommend for anyone setting out for the first time.
Travelling on a budget? Check out my budget travel tips for Europe.
Which interrail pass?
In order to take this route you’ll need to get a global pass, this allows travel within any of the 30 countries that accept interrail tickets.
There is a specific 22 day interrail pass, however for this trip I would not recommend you use this as it allows continuous travel (i.e. you can travel every single day for 22 days).
For this itinerary you will be fine with the 10 days within one month pass which is a lot cheaper. View all the passes here.
How much will it cost? This post by Coddiwomp has lots of info about the cost of travelling Europe.
22 Day Itinerary
Here is the main route we took through the 7 European cities – see below for full schedule details and photos of each destination.
Paris (3 nights)
My very first stop was Paris and it really set the scene for a great trip. We spent the first evening swigging beers we had randomly acquired up at the Sacré-Cœur, taking in the stunning view across the French capital.
It goes without saying that the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral will be on your to-do list but if you get chance, try viewing Paris from the water, there are plenty of boat trips down the Seine from a quick sightseeing tour to a full dinner cruise.
TOP TIP: Keep your wits about you around the main attractions, there are lots of con artists who will try to sell you bracelets or ask you to sign petitions and then hassle you for money.
Things to do: Wander at the Eiffel Tower, Take a boat trip down the Seine, visit Notre Dame.
Munich (3 nights)
If you love beer (as I do!), then you’ll love Munich (as I did!). The famous Hofbräuhaus will astonish you with the delicious Bavarian beer. But the beer cultire extends much further than this with lively beer gardens across the city. If you happen to visit during Oktoberfest, the worlds largest beer festival, then you’re in for a real treat.
I can recommend taking a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, a real fairy tale castle. You’ll notice the similarities to Disney land, that’s because Walt Disney visited and was inspired by Neuschwanstein. Take a tour inside to see what it was like to live there.
TOP TIP: For the best view across Munich and a wonderful place to stroll, visit Olympiapark – site of the 1972 summer Olympics.
Venice (2 nights)
Next stop, Venice! We actually had to bypass Venice on our trip, but I have subsequently been back and you definitely don’t want to miss this city off your interrail itinerary!
Made up of 117 small islands linked together by 400 bridges, Venice is top of my European bucket list. With no roads, and only canals to get around, life in Venice is completely different to any other city – even the postman uses a boat to get around. Make sure you ride down the grand canal, visit Piazza St Marco (St Mark’s Square) and experience a gondola during your trip.
Zagreb + Plitvice Lakes (2 nights)
Next we headed into Eastern Europe for a totally different vibe. Going from city to city can be a little exhausting so Plitvice Lakes makes a great half way destination to get out into the countryside. We used Zagreb as our base and took a day trip to visit the lakes, the photos below will do this stop more justice than any adjectives.
TOP TIP: I’m not huge on art museums, but whilst you’re in Zagreb, there are a few ‘interesting’ ones to check out including the museum of broken relationships and the museum of optical illusions.
My friend Kasia over at KasiaWrites has some great tips for visiting Zagreb.
Budapest (3 nights)
The Capital of Hungary is an ever popular destination in Europe. Whether you’re a first time interrailer or a city breaker, there’s a lot of sights to see including the most beautiful parliament building, an amazing palace and the wondrous Heroes square.
Check out one of the thermal baths, perfect for an afternoon of relaxation (especially if you have a hangover!).
TOP TIP: On Saturday nights throughout the summer, Szechenyi thermal baths hold a ‘Sparty’ – essentially a rave in your swimwear. Try to plan to be in Budapest on a weekend to experience this.
Prague (2 nights)
Think of Prague and the Charles Bridge probably springs to mind, this is a great experience for any visitor whether your first or third time in the city, especially in the evening as street artists perform all manner of acts across the bridge.
However it is not the only great attraction, there is the astronomical clock that puts on a show every hour, there is Prague castle which (according to guiness world records) is the largest ancient castle in the world and Wallenstein Gardens where you’ll almost definitely encounter a meeting with a peacock!
TOP TIP: My favourite restaurant in Prague was without a doubt the Vytopna Railway Restaurant. With a netowrk of miniature train tracks and stops at each table in the restaurant, place your drinks order and wait for a miniature steam train to bring it to your table. You don’t have to eat here, we just stopped by for some drinks.
Berlin (3 nights)
When visiting Berlin I realised that the city certainly has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history nerd, love experiencing new cultures or just love to party (or all three as in my case) there will be something for you in the capital of Germany.
Each site in Berlin has a great story to go with it so a guided tour is definitely the best way to view the city, make sure you keep an eye out for the fantastic architecture such as the Reichstag and Berlin Cathedral.
If you have the opportunity, a day trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp will give you real perspective on Germany’s history and is definitely worth a visit.
TOP TIP: The good news is that it is free to visit the Reichstag (German parliament building), however you must register in advance here. You can try a same day registration but no guarantee can be made for your entry time.
Amsterdam (3 nights)
Amsterdam was the final stop on our 22 day interrail route, and what a place to finish! Not only is it a great city to party and enjoy the vibrant nightlife but also boasts an interesting history as one of the most important cities for trading and finance in Europe during the 17th century.
Cycling is an integral part of life in Amsterdam so be sure to rent a bike and follow one of the city’s many cycle routes.
Experiencing a coffee shop is a must-do activity and in the evening hit the red light district for a truly unique evening.
TOP TIP: If you’re a solo traveller, I wouldn’t recommend going to the red light district at night alone, if you can’t find someone at your hotel/hostel to go with, there are organised tours or bar crawls such as this one that I went on.
My friend Jim over at Travel Stories and Images has some useful tips about Amsterdam.
What to pack when interrailing Europe for 22 days? Here’s my packing guide.
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