Travelling through Europe is a bucket-list adventure for many people. However, carrying heavy luggage through multiple airports or condensing your belongings into just one backpack isn’t for everyone. Using interrail routes offers a convenient alternative that can still tick all the boxes when planning your European trip.
Below, we’ll highlight everything you need to know about the best interrail routes and how you can access them from the UK.
Why travel via interrail?
Europe is a continent of many countries, each with its own unique history and culture. Travelling by interrail is one of the best ways to see it.
Using an Interrail Global Pass allows you to explore over 33 countries by train and ferry. All while offering great value for money, excellent interrail itineraries and great flexibility.
When you buy an interrail pass, you have 11 months to start using it, so you’ve got plenty of time to plan your trip. Interrail routes are a popular way to travel through Europe because they allow you to be more flexible and make spontaneous decisions like spending longer in a location you enjoy.
One of the biggest benefits of travelling with interrail is that you'll mostly be travelling via rail, as opposed to the hassle that comes from air travel. This means that you can get right into the centre of European cities easily and conveniently, taking in the views as you travel.
Better still, many Avanti West Coast routes take you directly to UK stations on the interrail pass. Thanks to this, you can start your train journey from the location that’s best for you.
Best Europe interrail routes
Europe presents 44 countries to visit and an abundance of iconic cities to stay in. Because of this, deciding where to go first might be the hardest part of your trip.
That’s why we’ve made a list of our favourite European cities that are easy to reach on interrail routes.
London to Paris, France
France is often the first stop for travellers journeying from the UK. That’s thanks in no small to geographically being the entrance to western Europe. Of course, a trip to France isn’t complete without taking in the sights of Paris.
You can travel on an interrail Europe route using the Eurostar from London St Pancras station to Paris, with the journey taking around two and a half hours.
Once you get to Paris, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to sights and activities. A few of our must-sees are the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Arc de Triomphe. Popular areas to explore include Le Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Près, and Canal Saint-Martin.
If you’re travelling with a family (or if you’re still a big kid at heart), you can reach Disneyland Paris in around half an hour by rail. If you’re staying a little longer, take a trip down the River Seine. Immerse yourself in French culture and sample as many French foods and wines as you can!
London to Munich, Germany
If Munich is your first stop from London, there are a few different interrail routes you can take. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to change trains a few times, depending on your route.
As the distance between the two cities is over 500 miles, there are plenty of opportunities to stop off at other European destinations on the way. From London St Pancras, you can take the Eurostar to Paris or Brussels and then travel to Frankfurt before journeying to Munich.
Once you reach Bavaria’s capital, there’s lots to see and do. This ranges from ancient castles straight out of fairytale books to museums, historical tours, and picturesque parks.
Munich is well known for its beer, being home to some of the largest breweries in Germany. If you’re travelling in October, you won’t want to miss the city’s annual Oktoberfest celebrations.
London to Zagreb, Croatia
Located between central and eastern Europe, Croatia is a destination on many travellers’ wish lists. Thanks to the interrail Europe routes, it’s easier than ever to get there from London.
If you’re coming from outside London, the best route is to travel to Euston before heading to St Pancras and onwards to Paris. From here, you can travel through Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia to reach Zagreb.
Zagreb is a visually stunning city. It’s complete with neo-gothic architecture, medieval churches, and some of the brightest rooftops in Europe. For foodies, check out the local outdoor farmers' markets to eat with the locals and sample some of Croatia's delicacies.
London to Belgrade, Serbia
There are multiple interrail Europe routes from London to Belgrade. However, the most direct follows the same path as Zagreb.
Serbia is next door to Croatia, so you can simply jump on a train from Zagreb to Belgrade. The trip from London St Pancras is a long one, so be sure to plan stops in other European cities en route.
When you get to Belgrade, you’ll be greeted by one of the greenest cities in Europe. It features over 60 parks and picnic areas located in the capital alone.
A must-see here is the Belgrade Fortress. Built in 279 BC, it sits on the confluence of the Saba and Danube rivers. It was also the first cultural monument declared in Serbia after World War II.
Belgrade is a magnet for fans of Brutalist architecture. There are also plenty of churches and museums to visit, if history is more your thing.
London to Sofia, Bulgaria
Europe interrailing routes can take you pretty much anywhere in Europe, in any order you like. However, the most direct route to Sofia from London is the same as the above-mentioned route to Belgrade.
Like every other interrail Europe route, you’ll start at St Pancras International, which can be accessed easily from all over the UK.
As the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia has a rich history and offers plenty to see and do for any traveller. The city’s landmarks showcase the diverse cultures that have left their mark here, with Greek, Soviet, Roman, and Ottoman architecture featuring across the skyline.
If you’re visiting in the summer, a trip to Sofia wouldn’t be complete without heading to Golden Sands Beach.
London to Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey is the farthest east you can travel on European interrailing routes, but that shouldn’t stop you from hopping on the train in London to get there.
Whether you’ve travelled to Euston from Birmingham New Street or Manchester Piccadilly, it’s just a short trip to London St Pancras. From there, you can get the Eurostar to France before journeying further into Europe to reach Istanbul.
The city of Istanbul has become an increasingly popular destination in recent years, offering cultural experiences with something for everyone. From food tours to Turkish massages, there’s plenty of things to do. This includes boat trips to palaces, mosques, and historical sites, which are ideal for cultural trips.
One place you don’t want to miss is the Basilica Cistern, the largest of hundreds of ancient cisterns located underneath the city.
Starting your interrail Europe route with Avanti
No matter when you’re travelling, it’s never too early to start planning your interrail routes through Europe.
Your first stop will almost always be London when leaving the UK, as this is the gateway to rail travel across the Channel. Getting here is easy from anywhere in the country, with routes available from all major cities.
Here are some of the journey times you can expect when you travel with Avanti West Coast to London Euston, which is just a short hop from St Pancras International:
Birmingham to Euston: Approximately an hour and a half on a direct route
Manchester to Euston: Approximately two hours on a direct route
Liverpool Lime Street to Euston: Approximately two hours and 20 minutes on a direct route
Edinburgh to Euston: Approximately six hours on a direct route
You can also book a train journey for stations and services that aren’t run by Avanti West Coast:
Bristol to Euston: Just over two hours with one change at Paddington
Leicester to London St Pancras: Anywhere between an hour and a half and two hours
Sheffield to London St Pancras: Anywhere between two hours and two and a half hours
It’s always a good idea to book rail travel in advance to take advantage of early bird savings. With Avanti West Coast, you can book many of our fares up to 12 weeks before you travel. Thanks to this, you’ll have plenty of time to plan the rest of your European interrailing routes.
What’s more, you can access your tickets, journey times and travel information from the handy Avanti app. Download it for free today!