When I left University my plan was to go interrailing with a couple of friends but the trip didn’t materialise, which was definitely a good thing for my wallet. It also allowed me to get into a pretty good career path where three years on I’m confident enough to take a summer off exploring.
When I thought about going first time round, I barely looked at a map and didn’t get anywhere near planning an itinerary. I’d been to Spain, Portugal, Italy etc but still had quite a narrow view of world geography. I’m surprised I made it to Canada and it was sheer ignorance about how far I was going that got me there.
Not today though! So, when I was planning this trip I started from scratch. I got up a map of Europe which still rests on the wall behind my desk, and went online to see where interrail could take me. Narrowing down this list was a quick process. In two days I had a solid core list and then within a week I had my route.
How I built my itinerary
After writing my hitlist, I whittled them down by removing farther away destinations like Finland which would take out too many of my allocated interrail pass days, of which I have thirty. It just wasn’t doable on this trip.
The remainder of my destinations literally literally wrote the route themselves as they connected in a loop with reasonable train journey times. I also had some help from a seasoned traveller who warned me off a couple of dodgy places that do a little too well on Google images.
Where I’m travelling
My trip starts with a flight from Gatwick to Bergen in Norway. This beautiful city is an expensive place to start (as are the Nordics in general), but it’s probably best to visit them when I’ve got the cash to spare. From Bergen I’m taking one of the most beautiful train rides in the world to Oslo, taking in six and a half daylight hours of travel time. Next up is Gothenburg, Sweden, followed by Copenhagen where I’m meeting a friend who will travel through to Hamburg and Berlin, before we part ways for me to go onwards to Vienna, Austria.
Next up I’ve got a day trip to Budapest; I’ve done this city extensively already this year so my plan is to take the short walk from the train station and spend the afternoon in the sloth enclosure at the zoo. If I can physically leave the sloths, I will be on a night train to Romania where Sibiu, Brasov, Bucharest and Veliko Tarnova await.
In Bulgaria which I’m very excited about from watching The Vampire Diaries, I’ll see Sofia and Pirin, before heading to a different experience in Belgrade, Serbia, then Sarajevo. This middle portion of my trip is all brand new to me; I’ll have never seen so many fresh places in such a short period of time.
Croatia will see me hit Split, Sibenic and maybe Zagreb, before a couple of days in lljubjana, Slovenia, where I’ll meet my boyfriend to travel to the picturesque Lake Bled. This perfect place of calm (and hoards of tourists in August) was the first destination I knew I absolutely had to go to.
As I enter my second month, the pace starts to slow as I spend longer in each country and have a third of my destinations remaining. From Bled I head solo to Italy for eleven days! If you’d have asked me before I built this route, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be spending the most time in this country, it just sort of happened as many places appealed to me; top cities I’d always wanted to visit like Venice, Milan and Rome, which I follow-up with Florence, Lucca and Riomaggiore.
Mid-August sees me in Monte Carlo, a dream destination. I love having this to look forward to as a highlight towards the end of my trip. In France I’ll visit Nice, Marseilles and Gorges du Verdon (the Grand Canyon of Europe), before Lyons and what will be my third visit to Paris.
Capping off my trip will be a two hour flight to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, where I’m hoping to have enough muscle strength to laugh.
33 destinations across 17 countries
The aim, the dream, the milestone. My interrail trip through Europe. Anywhere I’ve missed?