Europe » Experience Of A Lifetime: 7 Best Interrail Routes Through Europe

Experience Of A Lifetime: 7 Best Interrail Routes Through Europe

From adventures through Italy, Southern Europe and Scandinavia, to themed itineraries, these are the best Interrail routes in Europe.

One of my favourite ways to travel is by train. There’s something so liberating about gazing out of the window and taking in the ever-changing scenery of a destination.

train travel
I love travelling by train

Some of my favourite train journeys have been through the mountainous landscapes in Switzerland and Austria. I remember the route from Zermatt towards Gornergrat, one of the most scenic train journeys in the world, seeing snowy landscapes all around, topped by the jagged peak of the Matterhorn.

Zermatt to Gornergrat train
The Zermatt to Gornergrat train is one of the best train routes in the world

Interrailing: The Low Down

One of the best ways to explore Europe by train is by purchasing an Interrail pass. Can you believe Interrail is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year?! That’s 50 years of amazing experiences for so many generations of travellers.

If you’re not familiar with this way of travelling, Interrailing gives you the flexibility to explore Europe by train. It connects over 40,000 destinations across 33 countries, meaning you can plan a huge trip visiting multiple countries! With so many of us aware at our carbon footprints, train travel is an ideal option as it’s the most environmentally-friendly way to travel.

best Interrail routes Europe
I’ll be sharing some of my favourite Interrail routes in Europe

There are several different Interrail passes you can choose from depending on the length of time you’d like to be away for, including one country passes and global passes. You can use the handy Interrail planner app to put together your trip, and then you’ll just need to organise seat reservations for some journeys. It’s as simple as that.  

These passes are available for all ages too. I remember a lot of friends interrailing in their 20s – it seemed like the next step from the post A-Level gap year! But, these days it’s open to all. Whether you’re a solo traveller who is excited to see more of Europe, a family with kids wanting to plan a holiday to remember (especially as kids under 12 travel for free) or you’re in your 80s planning one last hurrah, an Interrail holiday is for everyone!

It’s such a great way to travel, so in this guide I’m going to share some of the best Interrail routes in Europe. From seeing the highlights of Scandinavia, to eating your way around Italy and exploring the most beautiful train routes through the Swiss Alps, you’re guaranteed to find an Interrail itinerary for you.


7 Best Interrail Routes In Europe

3 Best Interrail Routes In Europe For Themed Trips 

I’m kicking off with three of my favourite themed routes! These cover food and drink, beautiful Swiss mountains and my favourite time of year – Christmas! These are ideal if you’re looking for inspiration to plan a themed holiday through Europe by train.

Europe Food and Drink Itinerary

This European train route is ideal for all the foodies out there!

  • San Sebastian, Spain – Pintxos, traditional Basque cuisine and Michelin starred restaurants.
  • Barcelona, Spain – Gothic quarter restaurants and fresh seafood.
  • Lyon, France – Lyonnaise specialities, cheese, wine and more.
  • Geneva, Switzerland – Delicious Swiss cheese and chocolate.
  • Bologna, Italy – Italian cuisine including traditional ragu, fresh tortellini, Parmesan and mortadella.
  • Graz, Austria – Styrian cuisine with great local produce including pumpkin, white asparagus and apples.
Enjoying the beach in San Sebastian
San Sebastian is one of Europe’s best cities for foodies

Epic Swiss Mountain Trains

This is one of the most beautiful Interrail routes in Europe for scenery. You’ll see spectacular mountain peaks, perfect lakes and picturesque towns. Some of this route is regarded as the most beautiful train journey in the world too – you’ll be glued to the windows!

  • Lucerne
  • GoldenPass to Interlaken, then on to Lauterbrunnen
  • Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald
  • Interlaken to Zermatt (via Visp)
  • Glacier Express from Zermatt to St Moritz
Zermatt to Gornergrat train
The Zermatt to Gornergrat train is one of my favourite train journeys in Europe

European Christmas Market Itinerary By Train

If you fancy getting festive and visiting some of Europe’s best Christmas markets, this route will take you to 5 great cities across a week.

  • Brussels
  • Cologne
  • Nuremberg
  • Prague
  • Vienna
Cologne is a great stop on this Christmas market train route
Cologne is a great stop on this Christmas market train route

4 Best Interrail Routes In Europe: Detailed Itineraries

Coming up are four detailed itineraries for travelling Europe by train. For each destination I’ve suggested a few must-sees, plus some additional day trip suggestions – many reachable by regional trains, covered by your Interrail pass. These are ideal if you have more time and fancy getting off the beaten track.

The Big Italian Adventure: Italy By Train Itinerary

If you’re thinking of Interrailing in Italy, there is a great route that will take you all the way from the top of the country to the bottom. From seeing the magnificent architecture in Milan and Florence, to feasting on Italy’s best cuisine in Bologna and Sicily, this Italian train route has it all!

Milan

  • Visit El Duomo, the world’s largest Gothic cathedral.
  • Eat your way around Milan on a delicious food tour!
  • See Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
  • Enjoy an aperitivo by the canals in the Navigli neighbourhood.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Lake Como and explore the pretty lake town of Bellagio.

Venice

  • Cruise along the Grand Canal on a traditional gondola.
  • Venture inside the magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica.
  • See all of the famous sights including St Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs.
  • Day trip idea: hop on a boat to the island of Murano to see the colourful glassworks. 
Gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice
While you’re on Venice, I’d recommend a gondola ride on the Grand Canal

Bologna

  • Take in the beautiful views of Piazza Maggiore.
  • Go on a food tour of Bologna and sample the best of Bolognese cuisine, including mortadello, ragu and tortellini.
  • Climb Asinelli Tower for the best view of Bologna.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Modena or Parma – the homes of balsamic vinegar and Parma ham.
Exploring Bologna
I loved exploring Bologna through its food (including gelato!)

Florence

  • Admire the stunning architecture of the Duomo Cathedral, Giotto’s Campanile and Palazzo Vecchio.
  • See Michelangelo’s original statue of David in the Accademia Gallery of Florence.
  • Feast on Florence’s most famous dishes, including bistecca alla Fiorentina (a steak from the region) and lampredotto (a sandwich filled with tripe!) Oh, and gelato too!
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower.

Rome

  • Visit all of the famous sights including the Colosseum, St Peter’s Square, The Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.
  • Take in the amazing ceiling by Michaelangelo inside the Sistine Chapel.
  • Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain for good luck!
  • Have a hearty bowl of cacio e pepe or carbonara.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Orvieto, a picturesque medieval city perched on a rock cliff in Umbria.
Stunning city of Rome, Italy
Stunning city of Rome, Italy

Naples

  • Feast on Neapolitan pizza – this is the birthplace of the Italian staple dish after all!
  • Try a pizza fritta – a type of fried pizza, popular with locals.
  • Day trip idea: Visit the Amalfi Coast, taking in the beauty of Positano, Sorrento or the island of Capri.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

Catania

  • Enjoy the buzz of the city centre in Piazza Del Duomo and visit the 13th century Ursino Castle.
  • Feast on Sicilian cuisine, including arancini, caponata and sweet filled cannolis.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Taormina – one of the prettiest towns in Sicily.
  • Day trip idea: visit Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna.

Scandinavian Adventure: Scandinavia By Train Itinerary

This exciting train route passed through three countries in Scandinavia. It’s a journey that will be very different from season to season. Visit in peak summer for lovely long days and time by the water, or wrap up warm for a snowy winter trip through frozen landscapes.

This route is filled with spectacular views, and the route from Oslo to Bergen is often regarded as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.

How about Copenhagen for a winter city break in Europe
This Scandinavia train itinerary is filled with highlights

Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Visit Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world.
  • See the city sights including the colourful buildings in Nyhavn and the famous Little Mermaid Statue.
  • Try some Danish delicacies including Smørrebrød (rye bread open sandwich), Danish hot dogs and of course, a flaky Danish pastry! Wash it all down with a Danish beer.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Helsingør, explore the town and visit Kronborg Castle, aka Hamlet’s castle!

Oslo, Norway

  • Go on a bike tour around Oslo to see the city’s famous landmarks.
  • Eat your way around Mathallen, where you’ll find lots street food vendors, bars and food stores under one roof.
  • Visit the Ekeburg Sculpture Park, which features 30+ sculptures in a beautiful woodland setting.
  • Day trip idea: if you’re visiting in the summer, catch a boat to Oslo Fjord to see the pretty islands.
Oslo to Bergen train is one of the best Interrail routes Europe
The Oslo to Bergen train is one of the best Interrail routes in Europe

Bergen, Norway

  • Wander along Bryggen – a pretty street along the water lined with iconic red and yellow buildings.
  • Catch the Fløibanen Funicular up to the top of Fløyen for great views over Bergen.
  • Day trip idea: head out to explore the stunning Norwegian fjords by boat. One of the best options is to do a full day cruise from Bergen to Flam.
  • Travel tip: after visiting, book a sleeper train from Bergen to Oslo, to make the journey to Stockholm feel a little shorter!
winter in Bergen, Norway
winter in Bergen, Norway

Stockholm, Sweden

  • Explore the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s picturesque and colourful old town.
  • Get up close to Sweden’s most famous group at ABBA The Museum. Learn about their success, see the legendary costumes and even perform on stage as the band’s fifth member!
  • Visit the Vasa Museum to learn the fascinating history of the warship that sank on its first voyage in 1628.
  • Admire the photography at Fotografiska, one of the best photography galleries in Europe.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Mariefred, explore the pretty tow and visit the fairytale-esque Gripsholm Castle.
  • Travel tip: after visiting Stockholm, you could extend your trip by catching the ferry over to Helsinki in Finland.
Stockholm Sweden - Snow

France and Spain Adventure: France and Spain by Train Itinerary

If you’re looking for a leisurely train itinerary through France and Spain, this is a lovely option. You’ll visit seven very different cities along the way. Highlights include seeing landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Sagrada Familia, eating traditional paella in Valencia and enjoying the Andulcian culture in Seville.

Paris

  • Wander the romantic city on foot, seeing sights including the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe.
  • See some of the greatest artworks in the world at The Louvre and the Pompidou Centre.
  • Walk up to the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre for one of the best views of Paris.
  • Enjoy steak-frites or a croque monsieur at a traditional Parisian bistro.
  • Day trip idea: hop on a train to see the elegant Palais de Versailles.
Paris
Paris is the first stop on this European city train itinerary

Lyon

  • Go on a food tour of Lyon. This a city famed for its cuisine, with around a third of all France’s food and drink produced in this region.
  • Venture into some of the old traboules, the historic passageways once used by the silk trade.
  • Day trip idea: visit the Beaujolais wine region for a day of wine tasting in the picturesque countryside.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Avignon and soak up the charm of this stunning Provençal city.

Marseille

  • Wander around Vieux-Port (the old port), enjoying the views of the yachts and the hustle and bustle of the fish sellers
  • Visit Notre-Dame de la Garde (known as la Bonne-mère) and Cathédrale La Major.
  • If you love museums, don’t miss the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille and Mucem (Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean) which are both highly regarded.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Nice, one of the jewels of the Cote D’Azur.
Marseille's Old Port
Marseille’s Old Port is a beautiful area to explore

Barcelona

  • Immerse yourself in Gaudi’s masterpieces with visits to Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia.
  • Visit La Boqueria market to experience the city’s exciting food scene. 
  • Get lost in the beautiful streets of the Gothic Quarter.
  • Relax on Barceloneta Beach and explore the Olympic Port area.
  • Day trip idea: hop on a train to Tarragona where you can admire a spectacular Roman amphitheatre, explore Medieval cobbled streets and enjoy fresh seafood by the water.

Valencia

  • Visit Valencia Cathedral and climb the climb up the 167 ft baroque bell tower known as El Miguelete.
  • Wander the amazing Jardín del Turia – 9 km of gardens that snake through the city.
  • Admire the crazy modern architecture of the Ciudad de les Artes y Les Ciences.
  • Try traditional Valencian paella (containing chicken and rabbit) at one of Valencia’s beachfront restaurants. 
  • Day trip idea: hop on a train to Xàtiva, where you’ll find the majestic Xàtiva Castle, which predates Roman times!
City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
The iconic architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

Madrid

  • Visit the city’s oldest monument, the Temple of Debod. The series of gateways date back to 200BC!
  • Eat your way around Mercado San Miguel, where you’ll find stalls selling everything from popular tapas dishes to sushi and ice cream.
  • Peruse the art collections inside the Prado Museum, considered one of the greatest art museums in the world.
  • Football fans will love touring the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home of Real Madrid.

Seville

  • Visit Seville Cathedral and climb the Giralda Tower for one of the best views of the city.
  • Explore the Alcazar de Sevilla – a beautiful royal palace filled with artefacts, decorative courtyards and gorgeous landscaped gardens.
  • Dive into Andalucian cuisine with a food tour of Seville.
  • Take in the beauty of Plaza de Espana, a curved architectural masterpiece with spectacular water features.
  • Day trip idea: catch a train to Cadiz, one of the oldest and prettiest cities in Western Europe. Explore the Roman ruins, sample traditional Andalucian cuisine and chill on La Caleta Beach.
Exploring the Real Alcazar De Seville
Exploring the Real Alcazar De Seville has to be on your Seville itinerary

European City Adventures: Top European Cities by Train Itinerary

If you’re looking to see a lot of amazing European cities by train, this is the route for you. This is one of the best Interrail routes in Europe for first-timers too. Train services are speedy and direct, and you’ll get to seven different countries over the course of your trip. If you fancied extending your trip, you could visit London before setting off for Paris.

Paris

  • Wander the romantic city on foot, seeing sights including the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe.
  • See some of the greatest artworks in the world at The Louvre and the Pompidou Centre.
  • Walk up to the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre for one of the best views of Paris.
  • Enjoy steak-frites or a croque monsieur at a traditional Parisian bistro.
  • Day trip idea: hop on a train to see the elegant Palais de Versailles.

Brussels

  • See the spectacular Grand Place with its opulent buildings and huge square.
  • Visit the Royal Palace, the official residence of Belgium’s royal family. It’s open to the public in the summer months.
  • Check out The Atomium, a huge sculpture of an atom that’s 100m tall.
  • Stop for a beer at Delirium Café, which is famed for holding the record for the most beers on sale at 2004!
Brussels, Belgium

Amsterdam

  • Cruise along Amsterdam’s canals and enjoy the scenery from the water.
  • Visit the Museumplein district, with trips to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
  • Learn the harrowing story of one of Amsterdam’s most famous residents at the Anne Frank House.
  • Enjoy the cool bars and quirky street art of the city.
Beautiful canals and architecture in Amsterdam
You’ll see the beautiful canals and architecture in Amsterdam

Berlin

  • See Berlin’s most famous landmarks including the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.
  • Visit the East Side Gallery, where over 100 Artists from all over the world were invited to paint murals on the remaining section of the Berlin Wall.
  • Soak up the cool vibes of Kreuzberg, with all its quirky food and drink spots.
  • Hop on two wheels and see the city on a guided bike tour.

Prague

  • Explore the pretty old town, seeing the main square and the 14th century Charles Bridge.
  • Try some delicacies from the Czech Republic, including trdelník (chimney cake), goulash and dumplings. Wash it all down with a pint of Czech beer!
  • Cruise down the Vltava River for a different view of the charming capital city.

Vienna

  • Visit Hofburg Palace, the amazing palatial complex in the heart of the city, which is home to the Austrian government.
  • Learn about Austria’s history at the stunning Schönbrunn Palace, which dates back over 300 years.
  • Spend an afternoon in trendy Neubaugasse, known for its independent shops and cool cafes.
  • Enjoy a sophisticated night at Vienna State Opera House.
  • Visit one of Vienna’s classical style coffee houses, such as Café Frauenhuber or Café Mozart, for an experience steeped in old-world charm.
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
Schönbrunn Palace is a must-visit while you’re in Vienna

If you’re looking for more inspiration, take a look at Macca’s Eastern Europe Interrail itinerary.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my suggestions and travel tips. Train travel is a beautiful way to explore the world, so I hope you found the ideal route for you!

To find out more about Interrail or to start planning your trip, visit the Interrail website. It’s full of maps, tips and info on how to book your passes.

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