Europe is such a vast and diverse continent that the only way to truly take in all its cultures, town squares and sprawling metropolises is to speed through the whole place in just 20 days, visiting the same cities you already have from that school trip in Year 10, but this time you also went to a bar.
Your InterRail holiday won’t be any different, but there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that.
To help you plan for your quintessential middle-class escapades, the Soton Tab has come up with a guide to help you choose the best destinations for your trip:
1. Seeing the Second City
Berlin? Rome? Paris? People will say you’re thinking way too mainstream. They’ll tell you to go to Munich, Turin or Marseille instead. Forget that this is essentially like going to Middlesborough instead of London and that there is next to nothing to do there. Yes, there may be that one district with that one bar that looks actually interesting enough to inspire an entire Facebook album, but it really isn’t worth it.
2. Head to the Balkans
And no, there is more there than just Belgrade and Dubrovnik. In fact, nowhere else in Europe can boast the same clash in culture and architecture as the Balkan countries. And alcohol is cheap. Also, the Europe Backpacker Index’s Top 10 cheapest destinations are all in East Europe. Just bear in mind that it’s in the middle of bloody nowhere and a train probably won’t even go to your preferred destination.
3. Famous for a reason
Related to Number one. When you eventually realise that Salzburg is absolutely nothing on Vienna, don’t try and be hipster and steer clear of the big attractions. It’s a waste of time for a few disposable camera shots. When you’re in Paris, just go and visit the Eiffel Tower instead of messing around at the Pompidou or some other architectural travesty. These sites are bloody amazing and nowhere else in the city can compare. If you take the world famous attractions out of a city then it just becomes a really over-sized version of Huddersfield. You’ve worked and saved (or your Dad has) too hard for that.
4. Hostels are done
Hostels have been living in a dream world for years where they have zero competition, allowing themselves to charge ludicrous rates for, essentially, a bed. And maybe a complimentary breakfast of apples and the local supermarket’s finest juice from concentrate. Go to a host-site such as AirBnB (cheap) or CouchSurfers (free) for the real deal.
Festivals are expensive but if you’ve got the money then they should definitely be on your wish-list. However, if you’re even thinking about stopping off in Croatia to go to Outlook Festival or venturing to Benicassim in Spain then you should stay home and grow an imagination instead. That was so 2014. Belgium, Poland and Austria have some top festival lineups and venues if you put the research in.
Any more tips for InterRailing? Let us know in the comments below!