In the summer of 2015 we’ve been on an awesome journey through Europe with an interrail ticket.
With an interrail ticket you can take any train (or ferry) you want (except for trains in your country of residence) for a certain amount of times or days.
[edit: this changed as of april 2017, you now have 1 outbound an 1 inbound ticket included]
For some trains like a high-speed train or a night train you might have to pay an add-on or make a (paid) reservation. The interrail app is very handy to check this.
There are different types of interrail tickets as you can see on their site. We took a 10 in 22 days pass which costed us about €300 each. That is 10 train trips to wherever you want in Europe in a period of 22 days. For non-European residents there is a EU-rail ticket instead of the interrail ticket but that is the basicly same.
First we’ll give you an overview of our journey, later on we’ll go into detail about every stop and finally we’ll write a conclusion about what to do or not to do if you were to go on an interrail trip yourself.
All times are in GMT +1 (Brussels).
This review is personal and at times very detailed but in our opinion that’s the only way to write an honest review about interrail with a lot of tips and tricks.
Table of contents
- Journey details
- 11/07 Herentals – Leuven – Welkenraedt – Aachen – Wuppertal 23:14 – Prague
- 12/07 Prague
- 13/07 Prague
- 14/07 Prague 12:42 – Vienna 16:52
- 15/07 Vienna
- 16/07 Vienna 12:00 – Bratislava 12:59
- 17/07 Bratislava 11:53 – Budapest 14:35
- 18/07 Budapest
- 19/07 Budapest
- 20/07 Budapest 14:45 – Zagreb 20:44 (+bus)
- 21/07 Zagreb
- 22/07 Zagreb 11:05 (+10) – Beograd 17:32 (+90)
- 23/07 Beograd
- 24/07 Beograd 22:05 – Sofia
- 25/07 Sofia 9:27 arrival
- 26/07 Sofia 15:05 – Thessaloniki 22:22 – Peraia
- 27/07 Peraia
- 28/07 Peraia
- 29/07 Peraia – Thessaloniki 10:00 (-1) – Milan 11:15
- 30/07 Milan
- 31/07 Milan 12:23 – Basel 15:54
- 01/08 Bern 13:16 – Ottignies 19:45 – Leuven 20.20
- Interrail conclusion and tricks
11/07 Herentals – Leuven – Welkenraedt – Aachen – Wuppertal 23:14 – Prague
12/07 Prague 09:25
14/07 Prague 12:42 – Vienna 16:52
16/07 Vienna 12:00 – Bratislava 12:59
17/07 Bratislava 11:53 – Budapest 14:35
20/07 Budapest 14:45 – bus – Zagreb 20:44
22/07 Zagreb 11:05 – Beograd 17:32
24/07 Beograd 22:05 – Sofia
25/07 Sofia 9:27
26/07 Sofia 15:05 – Thessalonike 22:22
29/07 Thessalonike 9:00 – Milan 11:15
31/07 Milan 11:23 – Bern 14:23
01/08 Bern 13:16 – Luxembourg 18:04 – Leuven 20:20
You can click on any region of the map to read that part of our journey.
11/07 Herentals – Leuven – Welkenraedt – Aachen – Wuppertal 23:14 – Prague
The start of our journey! We left fully packed, so we each had a backpack of over 10 kg. Looking back we wouldn’t have taken that much luggage as you can just wash your clothes during your trip for around €5 or even for free if you book a house with AirBnB. The first part of the trip went smooth. We used a Go Pass 1 to Aachen (which only costed us 8 euros per person) and from Aachen on we used our Interrail pass. As of april 2017 interrail includes 1 outbound and 1 inbound journey in your country of residence.
We traveled from Wuppertal to Prague in a night train in a normal seat (€6 per person) because beds costs around €90 each. We sat in a compartment of 6 – crammed together – so we didn’t sleep for a minute. As we passed Berlin at 4 am the other passengers left the compartment. Awesome for us, as we could lay down across the 3 chairs and sleep a bit. Luckily for us, we already foresaw this and we slept some more the days before we left.
We do recommend you to sleep extra the days before you leave as you won’t sleep as much as you’d sleep at home when you’re in a train or hotel/hostel with a super outworn pillow. You could also buy a camping pillow!
We arrived in Prague, Czech Republic at half past 9 in the morning. First thing we did was going to the money exchange to get some Czech Koruna (CZK). We exchanged €60 but only received CZK worth €50 because there was a €10 commission. So if you want to exchange money just go to an ATM and get your money there, the fees will probably be much lower. If you’re not European, make sure you check the fees of your bank before you leave!
We then bought a metro ticket and went to our hotel. The system of public transportation in every country in (eastern) Europe is very much alike, you buy a ticket in advance and put it in some machine right before or while you’re on your ride. The hotel was nice and we could see that the locals were trying their best to speak English. Make sure you print or screenshot the directions from the station to your hotel or hostel before you leave your previous destination.
You probably won’t have internet or have to pay a lot for it. How to get (free) internet in Europe?
- Buy a prepaid sim card with data for €5 – €15. You could always make a hotspot for your laptop if you want internet there.
- Some public places or stores do have free wifi. We were lucky there was a shopping centre in the station with free wifi.
- McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants are almost always near in big cities and offer free WiFi!
We left our luggage at the hotel and asked for a map of the city. We took the tram to the city centre and had a decent lunch. The rest of the day we did a bit of sightseeing in the vibrant city.
We stayed a whole day in Prague so we took our map again and marked some more spots we wanted to visit. We went into the city and did a bit of shopping and some sightseeing. The city has a lot of nice parks and squares like the Wenceslas square as seen below. We didn’t really follow a route. We just randomly visited places we marked on our map but it was fun to do.
14/07 Prague 12:42 – Vienna 16:52
We checked out and went to the station at 11 o’clock because walking around in a city at 30 degrees celcius with a backpack ain’t that comfortable. Katrijn did a bit of shopping in the central station while I guarded our luggage.
We asked if we needed to make a reservation for the train but the lady behind the desk told us not to. We nearly missed our train because Katrijn was on a real shopping spree. Luckily we still found a spot! Many passengers had to stand in the aisle. We had no more food so when we arrived in Vienna we went to Spar to get some food and drinks.
When we arrived at hotel Attaché 15 minutes later, we used the wifi to look up things to do the next day. Later that evening we went to a nice pizzeria called Margareta at the Margaretenplatz which we found by checking FourSquare.
After that we went to a really cosy bar called WerkzeugH in the Schönbrunnerstraße. I would really recommend this place to anyone visiting Vienna who’s after a cozy drinking experience.
Vienna was one of the nicest, and definitely the cleanest city we visited during the whole trip. A lot of old big buildings and some nice views. We tried to be tourists as much as possible and visited all of the famous buildings, squares and parks. The botanical gardens are really nice and in the burggarten we rested on the grass for an hour or two.
If you intent to go to the museum quarter you have to go to the cupcakes place as their cupcakes are just heavenly. When we passed the Rathauspark around 6pm we saw there was a film festival with lots of food and drink stalls so that’s where we spend the rest of our evening. A must do when you’re in Vienna during summer. We’re not 100% certain that it happens here every year though. A really cosy atmosphere and lots of delicious things to try.
16/07 Vienna 12:00 – Bratislava 12:59
The train from Vienna to Bratislava was short and comfortable. We were smart enough to take the wrong train as there are two different trains going from Vienna to Bratislava and the one we were on wasn’t going to the main train station. The station chef wasn’t that fluent in English, but he explained us – as good as he could – that we needed to take bus number 93 to get to the centre, so that’s what we did.
We checked in at our hostel (Freddy next to Mercury), which was only open for the second day so there was no wifi yet and they were still kind of decorating it when we arrived. We went to their other hostel (as they have 2) to get some wifi and book something for in Budapest the day after.
After that we went into town and had lunch there. We strolled a bit through the city and had dinner until it was time to take a shower and go to a pub crawl as we planned to meet our a Mexican and Slovakian friends from Erasmus there.
We then realized how poorly the bus network was to get back because there were some construction works and the main busses and trams weren’t operating. 30 mins late we arrived in the pub, but we had a great night afterwards and met lots of interesting people from all over the world so be sure to check out this pub crawl or another one if you’re looking for some fun and new friends.
17/07 Bratislava 11:53 – Budapest 14:35
A bit of a hangover later we checked out and went to the station. It was another hot day so we bought enough water for the train. I went to 7(!) different desks and none of them could tell us in English if we needed a reservation or not. Not because of their knowledge, but just their lack of English. We sat on a nicely air-conditioned train in front of two friendly Brazilian girls and had a relaxing journey which didn’t seem 3 hours at all.
When we arrived in Budapest we took the tram to our hostel and a not-so-enthusiastic guy behind his desk told us to wait for him so he could grab some sheets. We then followed him to our room and were surprised to enter a room with 7 beds because we ordered a private double room but he assured us no one would join us during the 3 days.
The room was not so clean and the sheets on the beds were kind of brown-grey’ish but at least the sheets he gave us to put above these were clean. We left our luggage in the hostel and as it was around 35 degrees Celsius we wanted to swim. Well I wanted to swim and Katrijn had to swim so she asked our host for a good place to swim. He showed us that their was a little island in the Danube where you could swim.
When we finally arrived there it seemed to be a bit pricey as it was 6PM already and it was still around €20 for the both of us to enter for 2-3 hours, but we went in anyways. After all I’m glad we did. Still it would’ve been nicer to have spend a whole day there.
The island is called Margaret Island and is easily reachable by tram 4 and 6 as they both stop at the entrance of the island.
At night there is a nice light and music show by a fountain. During the day the fountain still follows the music, but there is no light show. A new ‘show’ starts at each hour. When we came back to our hostel at half past 9 SPAR was still open so we went there to grab some food and a bottle of rosé wine which we finished later that night on our terrace.
Something you must visit in Budapest is the Vásárcsarnok market. It’s quite touristic but there’s really delicious authentic food like lángos. You must try them! It’s some kind of pastry (comparable to flatbread mixed with doughnuts or something like that) and then they top it with whatever you want: olives, tomato, cucumber, salami, cheese, yoghurt, feta,.. Just about anything you want, but very similar to pizza toppings. The most used combination is sour cream, grated cheese and garlic as seen below.
There is also a famous spa which we visited but not actually used as it was quite expensive. We climbed a bit of a hill and had another walk through the city (this time the eastern part). We sat quite long in a small park and then headed to the chain bridge to go to the western part again and visit the cathedral and the heroes square.
The tram took us back to our hostel and we went to a cozy bar next to it and drank quite a few Borsodi with lemon which was really refreshing after a hot day; Borsodi is a commonly drunk beer in Hungary.
We wanted to follow a walking tour but Katrijn woke up a bit to late so we decided to do it by ourselves. We went to Castle hill which is a small city on top of a hill with a nice castle et cetera. The lunch there which was really cheap, just like everything in Budapest by the way. Even though it was all very cheap we managed to spend all of our Hungarian money so we wanted to get some more but none of the ATM’s on top of the hill were working.
We went back to our hostel to get some cash there and as we were there we took a quick nap in our room as well. Later that evening we went to Margeret island again to enjoy the fountain show I mentioned earlier and we finished the day with a few drinks in one of the bars there. While we sat there at least 142 runners ran past us so if you’re up for a run be sure to come here and try the 5.3km track around the island.
20/07 Budapest 14:45 – Zagreb 20:44 (+bus)
The next morning we went to Spar again and bought all kinds of snacks and drinks so we had something to nibble on and drink on the train. As we went to the metro station we bought 2 slices of pizza (not even €0,50 each) to spend our last Hungarian money. When we arrived at the station we saw that there was a Spar there as well.. sucks we carried the stuff all for nothing.
We tend to go to the stations 1 or 2 hours early to make our reservations but this time there was a huge queue in front of us (I had number 212 and they were helping number 86). A nice lady told us there was another counter around the corner so we went there and waited for 2 minutes for the lady to tell us that the reservation was closed already for the day.
We went to the train so we could try to get a seat. As soon as we entered we became overwhelmed by the heat. No air conditioning and we had a 6 hour trip ahead. Luckily we managed to get 2 seats next to eachother. But two minutes before the train left (after 15 minutes of nervously looking around if anyone would come and claim his seats) two girls shoved their tickets under our noses.
The train seemed to be quite full but then we saw 2 chairs, one behind the other with backpacks on them. When we addressed the girls about their belongings they were mourning but eventually they moved them and changed seats to sit next to each other. In other words: they were traveling together and claimed (without a reservation) four seats in a train were people were sitting in the aisle. Our advice:
- Make sure you to ask people if seats are free.
- Don’t be mean and take extra seats if there are people standing in the aisle!
Anyways, the train was waaaaay to hot (sweat dripping from everyone’s faces) because the air conditioning wasn’t working. After about 3 hours the train guard came running through the train yelling “Train stop, bus now”. We had no idea what happened but just like everyone else we grabbed our bags and obeyed the order. We thought we had to hop trains to get onto a train with a working air conditioning, but unfortunately we had to get onto a bus.. And trust us a bus without air conditioning is even worse than a train without..
After about 40 minutes we arrived at the other train which was a bit colder but still well over 25 degrees celcius. People were just hanging out of the train to get some fresh air, as you can see below.
When we finally arrived in Zagreb we took the tram to go to our place. It was the first time ever we used AirBnB, but it was awesome. We requested the room only 2 days in advance but Melita and Boris were happy to rent it to us. When we arrived at the stop our host Melita was there, waiting for us! She told us to follow her into her apartment.
The place was called “A sweet chocolate story” because every room had a little chocolate story inside. After a little welcome gift (chocolate off course ???? ) she showed us around while Boris was fixing the wifi and handed us the keys. When we asked them if there was a supermarket near their place which was still open – as it was 22.30 already – they even walked us there.
We had a great talk with them. Melita is fluent in English & Boris understands everything but sometimes can’t find the right words but he really tries! Then our ways separated at Billa. Billa is a very famous supermarket in Eastern Europe which is not too expensive. We havn’t seen Melita and Boris afterwards, but we could always contact them via Whatsapp if we felt the need to.
We did our laundry which is another huge advantage of AirBnB. We used it 3 times because it couldn’t all fit in at once. The day before Melita gave us a map with 2 walking routes so we decided to do one of these. We chose the pink route which walked us through the old city in 60 minutes.
We passed the cathedral, the most colorful street in Zagreb with lots of bars and restaurants, saint Marcel’s church and we used the funicular (a cute elevator, very comparable to the ones you use when you go skiing, which costs €0,50). After that we did a bit of shopping and took the tram back.
As you already know after reading the Budapest part Katrijn loves swimming, especially when it’s as hot. So (as usual) she asked Melita the day before if there was any swimming pool around. Melita told us that there is a huge lake not too far from the city. As it was 40 degrees celsius, we took the tram and spend the rest of the evening at lake Jarun and finished it with homemade pizza and some wine.
That night we had to make a hard decision. Should we head further east to countries we hadn’t visited yet and take a plane back west afterwards or should we turn around and head back west and visit Italy, France etc. which we already visited lots of times.
22/07 Zagreb 11:05 (+10) – Beograd 17:32 (+90)
We decided to go further east so we searched for the cheapest plane going from Eastern Europe to Western Europe. We ended up booking Thessalonike – Milan 7 days later. The only issue was that there was only one train during the day going east. As we wanted to see as much as possible, we had to leave in a rush during the morning.
We tried contacting Melita and Boris, but I guess they were still asleep when we wanted to leave so we left the key under the doormat and send them some messages. We still feel a little bad about that as they were really nice to us and we couldn’t properly say goodbye and hand them the key ourselves.
If you’re going to Zagreb make sure to check out “A sweet chocolate story” by Melita and Boris on AirBnB as it’s really cosy and the hosts are great!
We made it to the train station at 9am to make a reservation for the train to Beograd / Belgrade. The lady behind the desk assured us we didn’t need a reservation for this train and that it was too late to make one if we wanted anyways.
We went to our platform and saw about hundred people waiting there. Our stomach shrank. To our delight there was another train on our platform (which was leaving for Budapest). When that one left the train station, we were more or less the only people still sitting there.
There is no general board with arriving trains in the station. So when the train to Zürich arrived 10 minutes before our train on the same track as our ticket said, we got a little bit nervous (well, Katrijn got nervous ;)). But when that train arrived we noticed a small paper on the first 2 wagons saying that those wagons were going to Beograd. We hurried to a railway guard and he assured us that it was our train. Those 2 wagons were our whole train. All of a sudden those few people on the platform seemed to be a lot..
We rushed onto the train and managed to get two seats. For a while. Because after a few minutes 3 guys and a (pregnant) lady from London claimed their reserved seat, as Yentl was sitting on one of theirs. We asked the Mexican girl sitting next to Katrijn if she wanted to move to a free seat 2 rows down the aisle. Good thing we both speak some Spanish!
It seemed to be a nice and cool train, but after an hour or so it wasn’t that cold in there anymore. There were only a few small windows that could be opened and the air conditioning seemed to have failed on us. People were sweating a lot. A lot, as in the water dripping from their faces. Especially the pregnant lady sitting with us was having a hard time.
We had a nice conversation with her and her travel companions but decided then to try and see if the air conditioning in the restaurant worked. What a great idea that was! We ordered two beers and sat there for an hour or two until we had to get back to our seats for border controls. So if you’re ever in a train without air conditioning go and find that bar or restaurant on the train!
After a long and way too hot journey we arrived at 8 o’clock in Belgrade / Beograd. We got some cash at the ATM (remember not to go to the exchange desk for small amounts) and searched for our bed&breakfast.
Even though we took print screens from every crossroa, we managed to get lost because of the street names. In Serbia they use the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (which looks different) so we must’ve missed somewhere.
Thanks to good old McDonald we could use our Google Maps, so at half past 8 we finally arrived at our B&B. On our way there we decided to stay a day longer in Belgrade / Beograd. When we arrived we asked for another day and it was even cheaper because it didn’t go via booking.com. Great. €27,6 for 2 nights with breakfast.
The guy running the place was a Serbian guy who moved to Australia when he was 7 and then came back to run this B&B in his parental house. A really nice guy and we do recommend his (awesomely cheap) B&B (even though there is no air conditioning right now but just a fan in every room)! He assured us air conditioning would come anytime soon, but as it’s some heritage property there was some paper work to do to get it done.
He gave us a map and marked two nice restaurants on it for us. We went to the 3 heads. I’ve eaten a chicken fillet that was wrapped in a hamburger somehow and was heavenly good (check the pic below!). And once again, cheap. We would definitely recommend the place for some authentic Serbian food. The place is called Tri šišera and is located in Skadarska 29 (Gaspodar Jevremova). Their logo is a 3. You’ll see that their place is really crowded. We went there on a Wednesday at half past 9 and there was only one table for 2 outside which wasn’t occupied or reserved.
That night I didn’t sleep a lot because of the combination of the heat and the fan we had in our room. When we arrived in the kitchen that morning, Miloš asked us what we wanted to eat (after all his place was called bed&breakfast belgrade). We told him to surprise us and he came back with some pastry with apricot and cinnamon/chocolate flavours. Delicious!
He told us lots of stories (yes he’s a real talker and he’s got lots of interesting stories to tell as he’s lived in Australia, Serbia and New Zealand) and gave us the advice to go swim. Guess who was happy.. 😉
We decided to go for a swim at Ada ciganlija. We took bus 37 which was really hot and without air conditioning. Arriving there felt like arriving at a beach in Benidorm.. Lots and lots of people (during summer 200.000 – 300.000 a day according to Wikipedia). There were quite a few nice bars and restaurants and above all it’s free to visit!
We came back at 6.30pm and went to Walters. The place looked like a glorified kebab. But I guess that’s just about right, seeing we paid 1025 Serbian Dinar for the two of us, which is about €8..
Later that night we went back to the B&B and made our reservations for Sofia.
24/07 Beograd 22:05 – Sofia
In Belgrade there is a nice walking tour which starts at 11am and lasts for about 2 to 3 hours. In summer there’s one at 4pm and Miloš told us that it would be better to follow that one as it would be really hot between 11 and 2pm. The tours start at the republic square but more on that later.
As we said earlier Miloš’ Bed and Breakfast is very recommended as he’s a really nice host who loves to talk and help. We could leave our luggage at his place so we could stroll a bit around town by ourselves. As it was noon it was very hot with temperatures rising well over 40°C in the sun.
We walked quite slow because of that heat and by 4 we went to the ‘horse’ statue at the republic square. Milia was standing behind the statue and she welcomed all the tourists. I guess there were about 40 tourists taking the free tour. It’s completely free, all she asks is that if you liked the tour that you could give her whatever you think the tour was worth.She took us to some nice places, told us a lot of stories and even let us taste the famous Rakia! All free! Definitely a must do. Actually I do recommend doing a walking tour in every city you visit.
Find out more tricks in How to save money during your citytrip.
When we returned to our hostel Miloš even let us take a shower and use towels even though we already checked out around 7 hours before that. Once again: Great guy!
Yentl checked his social media (whilst on the free wifi) and saw that he received a tweet from some random guy he didn’t know.
They had a few tweets going back and forth and it seemed that the night before there has been a huge theft in the train that we would be taking later that day. Wallets, smartphones, passports,.. it all got stolen, even from underneath people’s pillows. Good thing we were warned.
We went to the station and had a little snack.
This time we had a reservation so we went to our seats. There were 2 girls, one guy our age and an older guy sitting there already. 5 minutes later another guy our age entered and he claimed the seat he reserved. Seemed that the older man had no reservation and he didn’t plan on moving. After about 5-10 minutes of arguing, he finally left. We had a chat with the guy from London and the other 3 interrail’ers from Norway. We informed them about the tweets and we agreed that there should be at least one person awake at all times.
As we didn’t sleep much the night before, we slept first but after an hour or 2 Chris woke up Yentl. He showed Yentl that one of the guys in the aisle was going through a backpack but that it didn’t seem his. We didn’t want to act paranoia so we said nothing. Chris told me that some guy in aisle had been spying on us every now and then, checking if our eyes were closed and that he seemed to be knowing all the train guards as well.
Yentl got a weird feeling in his stomach. A bit of a combination of fear, anger and excitement actually. He didn’t plan on sleeping after that moment anymore, so he told Chris that he and the others could sleep. Only thing we did change, is that we turned on the lights.
When the 5 others were sleeping Yentl noticed the guy in the aisle spying on us as well. Feeling a bit heroic, he wanted to catch him redhanded. He pretended to be asleep and sneaked every now and then to see what was going on in the aisle.
The adrenaline made sure he wouldn’t sleep. It wasn’t long before there was a guy standing in front of our (closed) door. 2 minutes later another guy come to him and they changed places. Guess who..? The guy who didn’t want to leave the seat earlier. They must’ve all been involved in the theft from the night before! And it would’ve been easier for them to steal when one of them is inside the couchette. So that’s probably why he didn’t want to leave.
Anyways.. They switched places and 5 minutes after that a woman switched with him. The girl entered our cabinet an hour before to ask how the lights work, but apparently she doesn’t have a seat either..
Chris told Yentl his theory earlier. He thought that they would try to open the door as silently as possible and pull the bags in the aisle to search for valuables there and finally slide the bags back in.
Another 10 minutes later they were all 3 standing in front of our door. Suddenly Chris woke up as we just stopped and he needed to go to the toilet. As he got out of our cabinet we saw 2 of them jumping of the train and running as fast as they could, carrying 4 plastic bags. 2 minutes later they returned. Empty handed. The train left again when they got on. The next stop they all got of as that was the last stop in Bulgaria.
When we arrived in Sofia we found out more wallets and smartphones got stolen that night. And a few days later another guy told us that often they use sleeping gas as well so always try to lock your door if you can or attach an (invisible) rope to your belongings so you wake up if they try to grab or steal them.
25/07 Sofia 9:27 arrival
We arrived in Sofia an hour late and we were very tired. The station looked like a ruin, but at least they were working there so it’ll look nicer if you ever visit it. When we finally found our way to the main hall a guy started talking to us, he had a little “Official Sofia Information Guide” card hanging around his neck which looked fake and worn out.
We asked him were we could find an ATM, but he insisted on showing us the way. After that, he made a reservation for us and finally he even helped us buying our tram tickets. That’s when we were wrong. He stood in front of Yentl when he bought our tram tickets with our money so he could easily take our change from the counter.
He then asked for money for his ‘services’. Yentl grabbed our money as swiftly as he could but still gave him 4 dinars which is around €2. 4 dinars equals a small meal in Sofia. The guy wasn’t happy with those 4 dinars and asked for 40! We told him that we did not ask him to guide us around and that he didn’t ask for money, so he could f*** off. He told us we were bad tourists and left.
We took the tram to our hostel and checked in. We had a nice room with a private shower so the first thing we did was taking a shower after that night train. After that we went into town and actually just followed our iPhone maps app that shows the biggest buildings with an icon.
Yentl kind of made a route in his head and we followed that. We had a beer at a cosy bar we passed. 15 minutes after we left the bar, Katrijn noticed that she forgot her iPhone so we had to rush back. Luckily the waitress found and returned it! After that run, we didn’t feel like walking around anymore so we went to a pizzeria for dinner.
26/07 Sofia 15:05 – Thessaloniki 22:22 – Peraia
The next morning we tried to check out but the owner of the hostel wasn’t there and the other employees didn’t understand a word of English. The problem was that we wanted to leave our luggage at the hostel as we didn’t finish our tour the day earlier and we wanted to finish it. After a phone call to the owner we could leave our luggage in her office and get into town. We visited some nice places like the cathedral and the Russian church.
When we finished our tour we went back to the hostel but noticed that we left some stuff at our room. Once again a phone call was made and we could get it from the room. We went to the station and tried to ignore our beloved tourist guides.
Our train was nicely air conditioned and we met some nice people on that train (a Greek guy, a guy from Netherlands and a Canadian woman). Funny thing is that they all lived in Belgium for some time..
We arrived late in Thessalonike. I guess it was around 11.15pm. We booked a room close to the airport because the flight on Wednesday would be early. Too bad that meant the train station was about 40km from our room. Normally we would’ve taken the bus which costs about €2, but as we needed to check in before 12 we took a taxi which costed us around €55!
We arrived minutes before midnight and had a late dinner at the beach. Not just at the beach but like 2 meters from the water! It was super romantic and if we recall correctly the bill was only €11 for the 2 of us. Awesome!
We went to a bakery early in the morning. We don’t even dare the write down the prices as you would all think we mistyped. Let’s just say it was cheap. After breakfast we decided to not do a thing that day and just go to the beach. We loved it! Peraia has one of the nicest beaches around Thessalonike and it is not that touristic.
Even though the temperature was way too high for Yentl (the highest I’ve seen at the thermometer was 44°C) the water was just right. We think we’ve been more in the water than on the beach. We had dinner in a pizzeria in Peraia. That pizzeria was actually the only restaurant where they could speak English and they had wifi so that was another huge plus.
We finished the night in a bar named ‘Guest’ which was the place to be according to trip advisor. As you can see below the sunset is very nice in Thessalonike!
Tourist day! We went to the bakery from the day before and the lady was very friendly once again. We took the boat to Thessalonike which costs €2.20 for students or €2.70 for adults. You can find their timetable here.
We arrived 45 minutes later and first thing we visited was the white tower. Free audio tour and entrance for students.
After that we followed a walking tour that you can find at thessalonikiinfoguide.com. It takes you through the city in about 3 hours and is nicely documented. We took screenshots in advance but we suggest you to just open the webpages in your browser and don’t close them!
There are 2 parts of the tour so make sure to open them both. We wanted to take the boat back at 6 o’clock. The boat arrived about 20 minutes late so don’t think you missed it if you arrive 2 minutes late.
When we arrived back at Peraia we grabbed our swimming gear and went to the sea for a nice evening swim. Yentl found it awesome, but in Katrijn her opinion the water was a little cold at 7pm.
We had dinner in a typical Greek restaurant, which looks like a pita place. It was crowded every night and there were only 2 waitresses for the 20 tables so be sure to tip the hard working ladies if you go there!
29/07 Peraia – Thessaloniki 10:00 (-1) – Milan 11:15
Our plane was leaving at 10am local time (9am GMT) so we had to get up early as we needed to take 2 busses to get there. Our alarm woke us at 6am, we went to the bakery a final time and got on the bus to IKEA (according to Google Maps). We thought IKEA was the name of the stop, but we actually had to get off at the IKEA store.
When we arrived at the airport 20 minutes and one bus later we found out that Greek people can be very rude and impatient at times. Some old Greek lady managed to pass us because she couldn’t wait for 5 seconds while we grabbed our backpacks from the floor to move those 20 inches.
After a nice flight to Milan (a RyanAir flight which was actually 20 minutes early!), we took the bus to the central station (45 minutes – €5). TerraVision busses are waiting for you in front of the airport every 15-20 minutes so you don’t need to make a reservation like we first wanted to do.
When we arrived at the central station we went to our second AirBnB reservation. We walked but that didn’t seem like a good idea as sweat was dripping of our faces once again. The owner of the place – Lara – wasn’t there, but her brother showed us around. His English wasn’t very good, but he tried very hard. We took a shower and went to the supermarket.
After an ice cream we took the tram to explore the city a bit. One of our friends (Dieter) send us a route we had to follow. He’s been on an Erasmus adventure in Milan so he knows the place inside out.
One of the last stops on his list was Ostello Bello, a youth hostel that has a nice bar to drink something. We ordered 2 beers and it turned out to be €8. Thing is that when you order for more than €4 after 7pm you can eat from their buffet for free! To bad we couldn’t go to the restaurant he recommended us.
We didn’t finish the entire trip the day before so after we did a bit of shopping, we finished our tour. As we only left our apartment at 1pm so when our trip was done it was almost time for dinner. We returned to our apartment and grabbed a bottle of wine we placed in the fridge and took the tram for the first time. The only problem was that we didn’t have a ticket and that we didn’t know how to pay for it..
We asked an Italian girl and she told us that we didn’t have to pay because they never check. 15 minutes later we were standing next to the tram with the inspectors next to us. Great. A €35 fine per person.. Good thing Yentl loves to discuss, so after 30 minutes they gave up and told us to buy a ticket next time. They explained us that you can only buy tickets at the metro stations, so if you’re walking in Milan and see that you can go underground for a subway that’s where you can buy your tickets at the vending machine!
When we finally arrived at the Basilica San Lorenzo we went to a place called Rosso Pomodoro which Dieter recommended us. It had awesome pizzas and yes we love pizza. ????
We finished the night like most students in Milan. We sat next to the river and had a bottle of wine and some bites. The river flows next to the Porta Ticinese. Another option is to drink something at the Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore where there will be lots of students talking and drinking as well.
31/07 Milan 12:23 – Basel 15:54
We went to the train station early because we had no reservation for this last part of our interrail journey. The guy behind the desk told us that we were in the wrong station. Great. We didn’t check the subway map and got off in the wrong station. Nevertheless we could take a train to another station in Milan where the expo was going on. We sat there for about an hour and then had a train from Milan Expo directly to Basel.
When we were looking for a hostel the day before we tried to find something as cheap as possible, but that seemed kind of impossible. The cheapest thing was €50 for 2 persons in a dorm for 8 persons. This was however our last stop and we didn’t sleep in a dorm yet so we thought why not..
When we arrived in Basel we followed the directions the website gave us and after 5 minutes of walking we stood at the reception of Basel Backpack. It seemed like a nice place and the owner was very friendly and helpful. He even gave us a free ticket for public transportation for 2 days. When we later checked at the ticket machine we found out that one of these tickets would otherwise cost about €25. We basically had a free stay in the hostel!
We left our luggage at the ‘yellow room’ in the lockers and went downstairs again. The owner gave us 2 really nice maps (maps with different routes on it; a cultural one, an historical one,…) and recommended us to follow the red touristic route. We don’t know if we were tired or just plain confused but we managed to end up following a combination of different routes so in the end we just had a personal tour.
Basel was very expensive, especially the food was so expensive we ended up in the slums to eat a pita which costed €11 a piece. In restaurants the cheapest things we found were all well over €25, even for starters.
Luckily for us we arrived July 31st and August 1st is the national day in Switzerland. There were lots of things to do and see on the streets and at 11pm there were fireworks above the Rhine.
01/08 Bern 13:16 – Ottignies 19:45 – Leuven 20.20
Every song has an ending..
Luckily for us the owner told us the day before to do some shopping, as almost every supermarket was closed for the national holiday. Otherwise it would’ve been hard to get breakfast. We had a smooth trip from Basel to Belgium and we even never saw a single train guard on this 7 hour during trip. Katrijn her grandparents were happy to pick us up at the train station and we were glad but at the same time disappointed it was all done.
We had a great time during these 3 weeks of Interrail and it’s a journey we will never forget. Interrail was very relaxing because we could change our plans very last minute because of all the information online. Without a smartphone we think it would be more stressful because you’d have to plan everything in advance.
Interrail conclusion and tricks
- Depending on your own way of traveling and your company plan your whole trip before you leave or just go from one destination to another. We had a rough idea of what we wanted to see, but in the end we only made a reservation for our first stop (Prague) and then checked what trains were the best for us. For us personally, the best means not too long and departure/arrival at decent hours. At first we thought we’d take night trains a lot more, but as we both didn’t sleep on the first one we chose for day trains afterwards.
- Make your reservations if you want to sit on the train, as it’s no guarantee. We always had a seat but we saw lots of people standing in the aisle.
- Don’t leave your luggage unattended and attach it to your arm if you’re going to sleep in a shared compartment.
- Take a tablet or small laptop with you for (easier) reservations because of the bigger screen.
- Screenshot the directions from the station to your hotel or hostel.. before you leave the previous destination as you maybe won’t have internet.
Hint: Do this on your tablet for more details and street names.
- If needed go to a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s or a public place like a library for free wifi so you’re able to book an accommodation or use Google Maps, for example.
- The standard iPhone maps app works great even without internet (you need to load the map first with internet so it can cache your neighbourhood – so open the maps app when you’re on the hotels Wifi and you’re all set).
- If you’re ever in a train without air conditioning go and find that bar or restaurant on the train as it’s way cooler there!
- Use AirBnB to book something with a washing machine during your trip so you can wash your clothes for free and enjoy all the luxury AirBnB has to offer!
Join Airbnb with this link to save $25 on your first booking and help us a bit.. 😉
- Tell “station guides” that you do not want to pay them and don’t let them take the change of you when you pay for something like a train reservation.
- Leave some space in your luggage for souvenirs and perhaps new (cheap!) clothes.
- If you’re doubting or have any questions let us know in the comments below!