In the summer of 2022, I went on an interrail trip around Europe and visited some of the most popular destinations. Here’s what went down on the trip:
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About one year ago, I entered the Discover EU competition to win a 7-day Interrail pass around Europe. I had wanted to enter in 2020, but because of covid, the round got pushed back. Luckily, they still let people who were supposed to enter then enter in 2021. In January, I found out that I had won – so I started planning immediately!
As I originally planned to go on my interrail trip during my gap year in 2020, I had a rough idea of places I wanted to visit already, my list just needed perfecting. Over the next few months, I found cheap accommodation, train reservations I had to pay for, someone to travel with, things to do and train times.
The top destinations that I was sure I wanted to visit on my interrail trip were: Berlin, Budapest, and Lake Bled in Slovenia. I didn’t want to visit a country I had visited before; however, my boyfriend wanted to visit Paris and Italy, so we compromised and filled in the remaining days with Austria because it was in the right place, and we wouldn’t have had to go out of the way to visit it. Unfortunately, we had some issues with getting to Slovenia, so we chose to go to Slovakia instead. So our destinations were:
- Paris, France
- Berlin, Germany
- Budapest, Hungary
- Vienna, Hungary
- Bratislava, Slovakia
- Rome, Italy
- Naples, Italy
In Italy, we also wanted to go to Vatican City and Pompeii, so that’s why we went to Naples.
On the first day of our trip, we went from England to Paris, France, on the Eurostar. We had to make a reservation that cost £30 for the Eurostar, but I got this cost reimbursed by DiscoverEU. Everything went good with our ticket, but when we were on the local trains from my city to London, it was a bit worrying as the ticket inspector looked so confused!
We got to Paris around 7 pm, as we had a day around London beforehand. After we checked into our hotel, we walked around Paris at night, and it was so beautiful! We ate crepes by the Arc De Triomphe, walked along the Seine, and stood under the Eiffel Tower sparkling under the stars.
The next day, we went to Paris Opera. It was so stunning and way better than I thought it would be. The whole place looked like a Palace. From the Opera, we went to the Lourve, then to Notre Dame and finally to the Eiffel Tower. We went allllllll the way to the top floor, and it was breathtaking. It was also very cheap, as it cost us only €12! We only had around 24 hours in Paris to make the most of it, but for me, that was enough as it was a bit expensive (seriously, it was like €10 for Mcdonald’s!) and I had been before.
From Paris, we went to Berlin. Our train stopped in Frankfurt, so we decided to take a later connection and walk around for a few hours…that was a mistake. As soon as we left the train station, my boyfriend was almost robbed straight away, so I had to pull him from the man, and we took cover in a nearby shop. Quickly, we then decided to just sit in a restaurant at the train station till our train, which is what we did…for hours because our train was delayed – of course!
On our first full day in Berlin, we went to the Topography of Terror, Checkpoint Charlie, the Memorial for the Murdered Jews, the Brandenberg Gates, the East Side Gallery, the Mall of Berlin and to the East Side Mall.
On the second full day in Germany, we had to kill time for our night train…unfortunately, we didn’t do this very well and spent a few hours sitting in a Lidl car park, walking around OBI, and getting a massage in a random shopping centre. Then guess what?! Our night train was delayed by two hours! When it finally came…we had a big issue…the ticket inspector said that it had to be a paper ticket and didn’t want to let us on, even though on the app it said, “it can be shown on your mobile device or printed if you prefer.”. After pleading for a few minutes, he finally let us on, took a photo and came back a few minutes later and said it was fine – all that drama for nothing!
The first night train
After the ticket mishap, we went to our room. Now, we weren’t expecting too much, but we were hoping for at least some basic things. First of all, there was no WiFi which was a bit surprising for a night train – I mean, even Tesco has WiFi, and I doubt their customers are there as long as people are on night trains! Secondly, there was only one plug socket, and I’m pretty sure it was for shavers too! The ladder didn’t attach to the bed properly, and it was super high up. Also, it was dirty.
One thing that was a bit strange was that there was a bottle opener built in – so I don’t understand why there was one charging point? It was probably an old train, which hadn’t been updated.
The night journey was relatively decent. Sometimes the horn would wake us up, and it was very bumpy at certain points. I don’t get motion sickness, but I needed to take some tablets because that’s how bumpy it was sometimes.
In the morning, we got a nice breakfast delivered to our door and enjoyed the views. Overall, the ticket inspector was really nice, and it was a decent journey.
After arriving in Budapest at 10 am, we decided to go to Lukacs Thermal Baths to relax and store our luggage whilst waiting for our check-in. These baths were the perfect thing after a long journey, and they only cost around £7!
The next day, we went to see the Parliament and then had a look around the shops. One thing we weren’t prepared for was how cold Budapest would be in September! I had bought mostly summer dresses, but luckily my boyfriend was smarter than me and bought two jackets – he’s a lifesaver. We then ate Langos at Retro Langos, which is so tasty! It’s basically like fried dough, with cheese and sauce – but you can have other toppings too! In the evening, we did a fantastic boat tour along the Danube River. Everything was lit up, and we even got a welcome drink too! We also ended up on the wrong side of the river because somebody put the wrong directions in 😉
On our third day, we went to Fisherman’s Baston, which is also known as the castle district – or as what I originally knew it from – Selena Gomez’s iconic Round & Round music video. Fisherman’s Baston was like something out of a fairy tale! It was beautiful! I’d highly recommend you visit if you ever go to Budapest, and it was also free.
From Budapest, we then travelled to Vienna, Austria. Once arriving at the train station, we had an issue with the tram ticket and were still not sure if we had printed the right one or not. We then walked around the area where our hotel was and explored. I also lost my IKEA virginity – and just a little tip, IKEA in Vienna has the BEST views!
On our first full day in Vienna, we walked around the St.Stephen Cathedral, then we went to the Manner shop! From there, we decided to take the metro to Prater, which is a big amusement park. There we played some games and tried to win on the claw machines. In the evening, we walked to Schönbrunn Palace, which was so pretty. We also walked around the park, which I loved as it was so Autumnal, and people were happy and smiling.
As our original plan to go to Slovenia fell through, we thought that a short visit to Bratislava would be a great option for a few reasons. It was close, it was cheap, and it was small and we could rest there for a bit – so that’s where we were headed next.
We arrived at the train station, and our first impression was that it was definitely much different to the others… but I love that kind of architecture. Then we checked into our gorgeous Airbnb and went out to explore! The streets were beautifully cobbled, and there were plenty of charming little shops. For dinner, we went to Slovak Pub – and I had one of my favourite foods ever – Bryndzové Hallušky!
We didn’t spend too much time in Bratislava, as it was more of a place to just explore for a few hours and to relax. However, it was a nice stop on our trip!
The second night train
From Bratislava, we then went back to Vienna to catch the night train to Rome. Unfortunately, on this night train, we were a little too late when it came to booking a sleeper cabin (literally by 10 minutes because it was free, and when we went to book a few minutes later, someone else took it 😭), so we booked a private compartment instead. That was an eventful night…
Firstly, if you do book a private compartment, just know that some people don’t have common sense and will open your compartment up and ask to sit there, even though the lights are out and the curtains are closed. This happened around four times during the night on the Rome train. Once, someone came back into our compartment for the second time and full-on stared in for 20 seconds, so my boyfriend asked him, “WHAT?!” quite sternly, and he moved off again. I understand if the first time it’s a mistake, but it’s a little unsettling when it’s the second time within a few minutes, and they stare in for ages.
I wish that there was a way to lock the door on the inside. Luckily, we improvised a bit and used a shoelace, but people still tried to open the door. There were also some people who got kicked off the train for not paying for a ticket, and they tried to sneak into people’s compartments.
It was quite comfy, and there was more space than the sleeper cabin, but I didn’t get too much sleep because I was worried someone would come in.
We arrived in Rome around 11 am and went to check in to our hotel. Once checking in, we took the metro to the Colosseum, walked around, ate some pizza – of course – and then I got into an argument with a scammer near the Colosseum (longggg story), went into the Colosseum and then walked to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps. One thing that surprised me about Rome was that the metro system wasn’t very big, so be prepared to take the bus if you do go.
On the second day in Rome, we went to the Palatine Forum and to the Altare della Patria. We then found somewhere to eat some pasta, and it happened to be a cute little restaurant opposite the Pantheon. After dinner, we walked to the Magnum shop and created our own Magnum. Not to be dramatic, but it was one of the best ice creams I’ve ever eaten – so if you’re an ice cream lover, you should definitely go and check it out.
On our third day in Rome, we went to Vatican City. First, we explored the Vatican Museums – and I’ve honestly never seen so many people in my life. I think the museums were the busiest tourist attraction I’ve ever visited. Apart from the people, looking around the museums was really interesting, and the Sistine Chapel was beautiful! I highly recommend that you also go to the pizzeria in the Vatican Museums as it’s some of the nicest pizza I’ve had!
After spending four days in Rome, we then headed down to Naples. Honestly, I personally wasn’t really a fan of the city. As soon as we stepped out of the train station, it felt unsafe. There was lots of rubbish and dirt everywhere…and sometimes more than that, if you know what I mean. Our hotel was amazing, though, and that really made our trip to Naples better!
On our second day in Naples, we headed to Pompeii. The train was jam-packed with tourists, so it was quite easy to navigate but a bit uncomfortable as everyone had to stand. Once we got off the train, the entrance to Pompeii was easy to navigate.
Personally, I didn’t really enjoy Pompeii and felt a bit disappointed with the place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic to visit, and it’s been spectacularly preserved; however, some things let it down. For instance, the online map was hard to navigate, and we didn’t even get a physical one as we didn’t see where they were at the entrance. Secondly, there are no information signs about what you’re looking at – you have to purchase an audio guide instead. Also, there wasn’t a restaurant, only one over-price cafe selling sandwiches for €7! Finally, there were so many tour groups who didn’t observe their surroundings and would push in the queue, which got a little annoying sometimes.
After our day in Pompeii, on our third day in Naples, we went to the Science Museum, which was a nice way to spend a few hours. We then went to do an Underground Tour, which was the highlight of our time in Naples. We got to learn about the war, and Naples’s growth throughout history, which was really interesting.
Following the tour, we then went to L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. I’m not going to tell you how long we waited for pizza because you’ll think we’re crazy, but it was quite a while. The pizzeria is known as being one of the best in the world, and it’s only €5 too! It was quite good pizza, but I’m not sure if it was worth the wait.
After Naples, we took a Flixbus to Milan, as that’s where our flights home were from. In Milan, we walked around the Duomo, went to a nice cafe and had tiramisu and fresh orange juice for breakfast! Then said goodbye and flew home.
Our Interrail Trip – Conclusion
Overall, my interrail trip was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on in my life! I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Discover EU gave me for multiple reasons – and if you have the chance, then go and do it! If you liked this post, then I recommend that you check out these other posts:
- How To Travel as a Student
- Naples Underground Tour – Everything You NEED to Know & Review
- How To Make Friends as a Solo Traveller
- The Best Tips for Solo Travellers!
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