The Ultimate Europe Interrail Route
If you’re looking for the perfect itinerary around Southern Europe, then you’re in the right place!
In 2018, my partner and I decided we would go on the ultimate interrailing trip around Europe. We spent 6 weeks travelling around Europe via train going to numerous cities.
We thought we had the perfect plan, until we discovered that actually some routes were impossible via train. So this Itinerary is the final and perfected version of the 6 week trip we took around Europe from August-September 2018 – with a few added bits to make your journey more comfortable and organised than ours was!
You can start anywhere you like when inter railing – we found it best to start in Budapest and work our way back towards the UK where we live.We decided to start in Budapest and work our way back through Europe to the UK where we live. It’s possible to start anywhere you like! It is much faster to fly to your starting destination, and for us it made a lot of sense to fly to Budapest rather than get the train there all the way from the UK.
Things to do in Budapest
There are plenty of things to do in Budapest! If you’re backpacking or interrailing around Europe, Budapest is considered a must-visit destination.
There are plenty of things to do, such as explore the famous ruin bars such as Szimpla Kert, visit the city’s spas and baths and even go the internationally famous Sziget festival which takes place in the city every August. If the festival takes your fancy, find out everything you need to know about going to a festival abroad – in particular Sziget – right here!
Recommended Stay Length: 4-5 days – we spent 8 days in Budapest as we went to Sziget festival, however Budapest is an amazing city and one that I’d really recommend spending a lot of time in!
Airport: Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport has flights to most countries and brilliant transport links. It’s super easy to get to the city from the airport, as Budapest has excellent public transport including trams and subway stations.
Train: Budapest has 3 main train stations, Keleti, Nyugati and Deli. Keleti is the main and international train station in Budapest, and has services throughout most of Europe.
Bus: The main bus station is Népliget Bus Station, which has international and domestic services. However, dependent on which bus company you travel with, the stop may alter, so keep this in mind!
Additional Stop: Vienna, Austria
From Budapest, you can either travel straight to Zagreb or take a pit-stop in Vienna. It can be a challenge to find a train directly to Zagreb, we managed to find one, but most trains require a change over in Vienna. You could easily plan a stop in Vienna as part of your trip before heading to Zagreb.
Things to do in Vienna
Vienna is a cultural hub, filled with beautiful architecture and lavish palaces. If you’re a fan of history of art, museums and gorgeous scenery then you should definitely check it out!
From Budapest: The easiest way to get to Vienna from Budapest is via train. 12 trains per day travel from Budapest to Vienna, and the journey is less than 3 hours.
Airport: Vienna has an international airport with flights to most countries, so it’s easy to travel to!
Train: Vienna’s Central Station is the international and national hub for trains in Austria. There are three other stations, Wien Westbahnhoff, Wien Meidling and Wien Mitte – but generally most international and national trains leave from the Central Station.
Bus: Vienna International Bus terminal is where most international and national buses leave from – again making Vienna easily accessible!
Things to do in Zagreb
Zagreb isn’t a well-known tourist destination, but it is filled with lots of little gems! Zagreb is rich with history and culture which you can learn all about on some brilliant walking tours, but it also has quirks such as the Museum of Broken Relationships – of which only two exhibitions exist worldwide!
From Zagreb it’s fairly easy to visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park – which thousands of people visit every year for its unique natural beauty.
Recommended Stay Length: 2-3 days – Zagreb isn’t a particularly large city so doesn’t take too long to explore, however, visiting the Plitvice Lakes takes an entire day so you need to consider extra time for that!
From Budapest: Trains from Budapest to Zagreb aren’t frequent, with just 2 leaving Budapest each day. The journey is approximately 6 1/2 hours by train and no more than 4 hours 40 minutes via bus. Buses to Zagreb are also much more frequent, so if you are happy to pay around £15 rather than use your interrail ticket, then I would recommend taking a bus!
From Vienna: There are a few direct trains from Vienna to Zagreb, but the journey is nearly 7 hours. Bus journeys vary from 4 1/2 hours to over 7 hours. I’d recommend taking the train, as you can easily use your interrailing tickets!
Airport: Zagreb Airport is Croatia’s largest international airport with flights to most countries. However, we found flights to the UK were easier and cheaper to get from Ljubljana rather than Zagreb, so keep this in mind!
Train: Zagreb’s main train station is Glavni Kolodvor, the largest train station in all of Croatia! There are numerous international and national services.
Bus: Zagreb Bus Terminal (autobusni kolodvor) is one of the largest in Europe, with national and international buses leaving frequently everyday.
Things to do in Bohinj
Bohinj is a little off the beaten track, so if you’re going interrailing in order to drink and go out every night, maybe this isn’t the stop for you. However, if you enjoy nature, swimming and long walks, Bohinj is the perfect place to get away. You can find out more about Slovenia’s Hidden Gem in my post here.
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – Bohinj is incredibly beautiful and serene. It’s wonderful if you enjoy nature, however unless you want to enjoy peace and quiet for a long time then 1-2 days is plenty!
Admittedly Bohinj is a little harder to get to than the other destinations on this list, but it is worthwhile I promise!
From Zagreb: It’s possible to get a bus from Zagreb to Bohinj, otherwise it is easier to travel to Ljubljana and get a bus or train from there.
Airport: Ljubljana airport has numerous international flights, and from there you can catch a bus or other mode of transport to Bohinj.
Train: This isn’t the easiest mode of transport to get to Bohinj – as I personally discovered – you have to get a train from Ljubljana to Jessenice and then to Bohinjska Bistrica Station, before getting a bus or taxi to Bohinj. The buses and taxis from there are also fairly infrequent, and you will think you’re in the middle of nowhere – but if you’re trying to use your interrailing pass it is possible to travel via train.
Bus: It is so much easier to travel to Bohinj via bus. You can get a bus from Ljubljana in under 2 hours. Simples!
Things to do in Bled
Lake Bled is a super popular tourist destination, and you can see why! The lake is absolutely magnificent, you can swim in it, kayak, row a boat – you name it! The main attraction of Bled is the lake, but there are numerous places to eat and drink too!
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – Bled is popular for its gorgeous lake. There are many activities to enjoy in Bled, but again if you’re interrailing 1-2 days is more than enough time in Bled.
From Bohinj: The easiest and cheapest way to get to Bled is via bus. It’s 30 minutes from Bohinj – easy!
Airport: You can catch a bus from Ljubljana airport which has numerous international flights.
Train: Bled has two stations, neither of which are near Bled itself. You can get a train to Lesce-Bled and then either hike or grab a bus to Bled.
Bus: This is the easiest way to get to Bled from anywhere! It’s just over an hour away from Ljubljana via bus.
Things to do in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a beautiful city, filled with lots of interesting bridges. There’s great food, cool street art and lots of museums. There’s even a castle which boasts spectacular views.
If you want to go to Bled, but don’t want to spend lots of time there, its super easy to go on a day trip to Bled from Ljubljana.
Recommended Stay Length: 2-3 days – As the capital of Slovenia, there is plenty to do in Ljubljana! A few days to explore the city is the perfect amount of time.
From Bohinj or Bled: Bus is definitely the easiest mode of transport to get to Ljubljana!
Airport: Ljubljana airport is Slovenia’s largest international airport, so it’s super easy to get cheap flights to most destinations .
Train: Ljubljana has a huge train station, connecting to Trieste, Budapest, Zagreb and much more. It’s super easy to use your interrailing pass in Ljubljana and you can get to most popular interrailing destinations from it!
Bus: The bus station in Ljubljana is actually part of the train station – making it a really strong transport hub. You can easily get buses or trains to most international or national destinations.
Additional Stop: Trieste, Italy
Things to do in Trieste
Trieste is a stone’s throw away from Venice, and isn’t commonly known as an interrailing destination! There are numerous castles, piazza’s and a beautiful harbour. It is great for a day trip or a relaxing stop whilst interrailing.
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – we visited Trieste for a day trip en-route to Venice. We would have liked more time to explore the Grotta Gigante (Giant Cave), so if that takes your fancy then maybe make it an overnight stay!
From Ljubljana: It’s super cheap and easy to get a bus to Trieste before getting a train elsewhere. The drive was also very scenic and enjoyable!
Airport: Trieste airport is a small airport with flights to surrounding European countries, including 11 direct flights per day, and 8 different airlines.
Train: The Train Station and Bus Station in Trieste are next to one another, making it super easy to utilise either one!
Bus: The bus station in Trieste has great transport links and goes to most cities.
Things to do in Venice
Venice is well-known for being a romantic city, famous for its Gondolas and winding paths. There are numerous beautiful bridges, brilliant shops and Basilica’s that you can explore!
Recommended Stay Length: 2-3 days – It’s easy to get lost in Venice with it’s winding pathways, so it can take some time to navigate the city! If you appreciate architecture then you may wish to stay longer – otherwise 2-3 days is optimal if you’re interrailing.
From Ljubljana/Trieste: It isn’t possible to get a train directly from Ljubljana to Venice – which isn’t ideal when interrailing – however, it is very cheap and easy to get a bus from Ljubljana to Trieste and then get a train to Venice.
Airport: Venice Marco Polo Airport services numerous surrounding countries and has brilliant transport links. The airport is outside the city, as cars are not permitted in the city of Venice, so transport to the city is by water-taxi or train.
Train: Venice Santa Lucia Train Station has numerous national and international train links and isn’t far from the city centre itself, making it super easy to get to most areas in Europe.
Bus: Buses aren’t an option in Venice, as cars aren’t permitted in the city as it’s mainly water.
Things to do in Rome
When in Rome… you can enjoy the beautiful architecture of Ancient Roman structures from the Roman Forum to the world-famous Colosseum! If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my guest post on Plantdreaming on the Top 5 things to do in Rome!
If you want to add an extra country to your itinerary, be sure to check out The Vatican which is a city state and it’s own country!
Recommended Stay Length: 3-4 days – Rome is colossal and there is a significant amount to explore! We spent 2 nights and 3 days in Rome and were able to see all of the main sights including The Vatican, however if you’d rather take a slower pace and visit all of the museums then I’d recommend staying a while longer.
From Venice: You can jump on a train from Venice straight to Rome, making for a wonderfully easy interrailing trip!
Airport: Rome has two airports, the most popular being Fiumicino which has plenty of international and national flights.
Train: There are numerous stations in Rome, however Roma Termini Train Station is well-connected and interrailing friendly!
Bus: Termini Bus Terminal is located directly next to the train station and has numerous transport links, making it very accessible!
Things to do in Naples
Naples rocks and you can have an explosive amount of fun exploring the city and its surrounding ruins. Discovering the history of Pompeii is amazing and its interesting to visit Mount Vesuvius, the volcano behind the ruin of the famous city.
Recommended Stay Length: 2-3 days – Admittedly, there isn’t a ton to do in Naples itself – the real fun lies in Pompeii, which isn’t as easy to interrail to. We were able to do Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius in one day, as we only had 2 nights in Naples, however we would have liked to do the San Gennaro Catacombs and visit Herculaneum.
From Rome: Getting a train from Rome to Naples couldn’t be easier and takes just over 1 hour. It is easy to use interrailing passes at the station and is easy to get to.
Airport: Naples International Airport has a mix of National and International flights, but is best connected to other airports in Italy.
Train: Naples Central Station is the main station in Naples and is located by Piazza Garibaldi. It serves as one of the main stations in Southern Italy, and is a great destination to interrail to.
Bus: Naples Bus Station is located near Naples Central Train Station and is well-connected.
Things to do in Florence
Florence is famous for its beautiful views, architecture and museums. You can enjoy strolling across the Ponte Vecchio or indulging in some of the wonderful ice cream in one of Florence’s many ice cream, parlours.
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – Florence has some incredible things to see and explore. If you wish to visit all the museums you may wish to spend more time there, however we found 1-2 days to be the ideal length of time.
From Naples: In less than 4 hours, you can travel from Naples to Florence via train.
Airport: Florence has a small international airport which serves as the largest in Tuscany.
Train: Firenze Santa Maria Novella is Florence’s main train station and is located in the city centre.
Bus: Florence’s Bus Station is not far from the city centre. There are numerous busways around the city, making it easy to travel around via bus.
Things to do in Milan
Milan is the fashion capital of Italy and arguably the world! You can shop till you drop and enjoy exploring the many designer stores. The Milan Cathedral, pictured above, dominates the shopping district and makes for a stunning visit.
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – we spent just 1 night in Milan and that was enough for us. However, if you want to shop to your hearts content and see all the sights, then maybe add another day to your trip.
From Florence: Florence to Milan is less than 2 hours via train and a super easy journey.
Airport: Milan Malpensa Airport is international and has flights from Hong Kong to Havana.
Train: Milano Centrale Train Station is located near the city centre and is one of Europe’s most beautiful train stations, helping the fashion capital live up to its reputation.
Bus: Milan has numerous bus stations, however none of them are near the city centre! It is definitely best to travel to and from Milan via train.
Things to do in Genoa
Genoa isn’t your typical interrailing destination, however that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting. If you want to experience fantastic seafood and beautiful views, then you must explore Genoa! The Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi a Nervi is a beautiful coastal walk which will help you relax, especially when interrailing and travelling so much can become stressful at times!
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – Genoa is a nice relaxing stop after visiting numerous cities. 1 or 2 days was enough for us to rejuvenate, but if you need more time to recover from travelling then this is a great place to do so.
From Milan: In less than 2 hours you can reach Genoa from Milan, making it the perfect stop en-route to the rest of your trip.
Airport: The airport, Genova airport, has a few international destinations, making Genoa very easy to access.
Train: Genoa Piazza Principe Train Station is a large station with over 20 platforms and connections to countries all over Europe – making it perfect for interrailing!
Bus: Genoa Bus Terminal is located just outside the city centre. Genoa is a fairly large city, so it is easy to travel around via bus, but I would recommend travelling to and from Genoa via train.
Things to do in Nice
Nice is located in the Côte d’Azur and is not to be missed. The south of France isn’t your typical interrailing destination, however if you love relaxing on beaches then it makes for the ideal stop!
In Nice you can explore the beautiful Parc de la Colline Du Chateau and try over 50 flavours of ice cream in Fenocchio’s. If you’d rather escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore more remote sandy beaches, then check out my post on the beautiful Villefranche-Sur-Mer.
Recommended Stay Length: 2-3 days – There are lots of lovely beaches to explore in and around Nice. We spend 2 nights in Nice which was perfect for us, and we had the chance to spend the day in the beautiful Villefranche-Sur-Mer and enjoy the view of the Cap Ferrat.
From Genoa: Trains from Genoa to Nice take around 3 hours, transporting you straight from Italy to the beautiful South of France.
Airport: Nice Côte d’Azur Airport has flights to over 100 destinations, making it a brilliant transport hub and easily accessible.
Train: Nice-Ville Train Station is located in the city centre and has links to numerous countries around Europe, making it an easy place to interrail to.
Bus: Nice has numerous Bus Terminals, however since the train station is so well located, it is easiest to travel via train.
Things to do in Marseille
Marseille is another unusual interrailing destination, but again, its worth visiting. If you’re a fan of boats and yachts, then you will be at home in the Vieux Port! You can also check out the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, and beautiful sandy beaches at Prado Seaside Park.
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – The beach in Marseille is lovely, and it is easy to spend the entire day there. We found 2 nights was the right amount of time to spend in Marseille before heading off to larger interrail destinations such as Barcelona.
From Nice: Nice to Marseille takes around 3 hours on the train. However, there are numerous beautiful towns such as Antibes that you can visit on the way to help break up the journey.
Airport: Marseille Provence Airport is a growing airport with numerous national and international flights.
Train: Marseille has numerous train stations, the main being Marseille St Charles Train Station. There are services to stations all over Europe.
Bus: Marseille St Charles Bus Station is efficiently located next to the train station. There are buses and coaches to numerous destinations, but if you’re using an interrail pass I recommend travelling via train.
Things to do in Barcelona
Home of the famous Sagrada Familia and the famously beautiful artistic works of Antoni Gaudi. Barcelona is a very popular interrailing destination, filled with beaches and partying. Enjoy the history of Barcelona and indulge in delicious tapas.
Recommended Stay Length: 3-5 days – Barcelona is a huge city and a great place to interrail. There are so many different parts of the city to explore and you should allow plenty of time to do so. We spent 3 nights in Barcelona, however we would have liked some more time to enjoy the city and the works of Gaudi.
From Marseille: Crossing the boarder from France to Spain is effortless. Trains to Barcelona take 4-5 hours, but they are comfortable and you can enjoy fantastic views as you travel.
Airport: Barcelona El Prat Airport is one of the largest airports in the world by number of passengers, there are many international flights to help make Barcelona accessible to holidaymakers around the world.
Train: Barcelona Sants Train Station is one of the cities main transport hubs, providing national and international services.
Bus: Barcelona Nord Coach Station is a huge station that services Spain and 8 other countries, making it very accessible.
Things to do in Girona
Girona is home to the filming of numerous Game of Thrones scenes. It is a popular day trip or location to visit after Barcelona. There are numerous museums and restaurants to experience. You can check out the Top 5 Things to do in Girona here!
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – Girona is another unusual interrail location, but worthwhile! It’s not a large city so 1 or 2 days is enough time to explore everything.
From Barcelona: If you hop on a train at Barcelona Sants station, you can reach Girona in just 38 minutes! It’s a super easy journey.
Airport: Girona Airport is fairly small and has flights to just 10 destinations in Europe. It isn’t connected to the Spanish railway system and can be a little harder to reach than some other airports.
Train: Girona Train Station is modestly sized and has fairly good transport links around Spain and other countries such as France.
Bus: Girona Bus Station has a few transport links, and is well-located next to Girona Train Station.
Things to do in Toulouse
Toulouse, which goes by the nickname “la Ville Rose” due to the terracotta bricks used in most of the city’s buildings, is full of museums and beautiful architectural structures such as the Basilique Saint-Sernin.
Recommended Stay Length: 1-2 days – If you wish to just explore the city, then 1 or 2 days is perfect. However, if you wish to visit the Cite de l’space (Space Museum), then you may wish to add more time to your stay!
From Girona: It’s not possible to travel straight from Girona to Toulouse, however you can grab a quick 1 hour 20 minute train to Narbonne – a beautiful town with lovely canals – before changing and getting a train to Toulouse which takes just under 1 hour 30 minutes.
Airport: Toulouse-Blagnac Airport has flights serving most European countries, making it easily accessible for those in Europe.
Train: Toulouse Matabiau Train Station is the main train station in Toulouse, it is one of the main stations serving the Midi-Pyrénées area of France.
Bus: Toulouse Bus Station has numerous transport links to surrounding areas and countries.
Things to do in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world, famous for La Cite du Vin – the City of Wine! The museum is unique and worth visiting Bordeaux for. You can also enjoy other sights such as the Jardin Public and Bordeaux Cathedral.
Recommended Stay Length: 2-3 days – You can’t go to Bordeaux and not visit La Cite du Vin, which takes a few hours, if not half a day. If you wish to properly enjoy Bordeaux then you need at least 2 days to discover the city.
From Toulouse: It takes around 2 hours to travel from Toulouse to Bordeaux via train – a great stop en-route to a larger interrailing destination such as Paris!
Airport: Bordeaux-Merignac Airport has flights to over 100 destinations, including France, Europe and the rest of the world.
Train: Bordeaux-Saint-Jean Train Station is located in the city centre and has services to most of France and some areas of Spain.
Bus: Bordeaux Bus Station has numerous intercity connections to cities all over France and 9 other European countries.
Things to do in Paris
Paris is internationally renowned for being the City of love. Home of the Eiffel Tower and some of the worlds best art collections, Paris is a popular interrailing destination. Parisian pastries are like no other, and French cuisine is some of the best in the world. Paris is the perfect destination to finish your trip!
Recommended Stay Length: 4-5 days – Considering it would take over 3 months to see the entirety of the Louvre, the worlds largest museum, I would recommend spending as much time as you can in Paris! We had 4 days in Paris, and managed to squeeze in the majority of Paris’ attractions in 3 days, before heading to Disneyland Paris for a day. However, we would have enjoy more time if possible.
From Bordeaux: Paris is just 2 hours from Bordeaux via train if you are using an interrailing pass. However, if you opt for a high-speed train you can get to Paris much faster!
Airport: As the capital city of France, Paris Airport has numerous international and national flights.
Train: Paris has an abundance of Train Stations, including Gare du Nord, Gare de lest, Gare de Lyon and many more. Gare du Nord is one of the busiest stations in Europe, and home to the Eurostar – allowing easy access to the UK among other countries.
Bus: Paris Gallieni Bus Station is Paris’ international bus station, with coaches to numerous destinations. If you’re heading back to the UK it’s easy to hop on a coach here.
I hope you enjoyed this interrail route of Europe. Feel free to comment any questions you have about the trip!