In a few months, the oldest of our cousins children aka the ‘next generation’, is taking to the open road and going travelling! I am so proud!
She is heading to Europe for a number of months over the summer so I thought I would put together a few options and insights for her adventure.
She is already set on the Inter-rail option; which upon further investigation is by far a better option than flying. Although flying can seem cheap with the so-called ‘budget airlines’, it is inflexible and booking last-minute can be expensive. Through time, we have started to appreciate the flexibility concept especially when travelling. There is nothing worse than finding a place you really love and having to leave too soon due to flight commitments. Also if you look at a single flight being on average £60 incl luggage, then 253 euros for 7 days travel within a period of a month is excellent value. The real bonus is the fact that you can also use the service in over 30 countries! WOW!
Courtesy of http://www.trainmountain.co.uk/inter-rail-passes/
The only problem with the pass is the limit of 7 days travel, as essentially this means you are limited to stay in a specific part of Europe. From the UK taking a trip to the marvel that is Stockholm or the beautiful Greek Islands or even Portugal is slightly impractical. The only way around it would be to take internal flight’s also (very doable).
Ok so I have out together our recommendations:
Since we live in the UK there is no reason for her to use the pass to explore this beautiful country, but I do seriously recommend the UK to any international travellers.
London – Paris via Eurostar.
Paris – As one of Europe’s most iconic cities, Paris is a rite of passage for every traveller. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and one that provides a unique experience upon every visit. Hailed as the city of love, falling in love with the city is very easy. From its iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame and Champs Elysees, to its smaller winding streets littered with the fresh smell of varied cuisine. There is nothing like exploring the winding streets south of the Seine on a glorious summer morning, with the smell of fresh croissants and bread fuelling the air. Magnificent! Paris also holds a transfixing civilised feel during the evening that will captivate even the most distinguished traveller.
Paris – Geneva (3.5 hours)
Geneva is the gateway to the Swiss Alps and simply picture perfect, set just upon one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. Geneva offers a blend of French and Swiss culture, yet its true beauty and draw revolves around the lake itself. There are parks and green space galore, however we always found that trips to the nearby mountains simply divine. This is a city that encapsulates the outdoor adventurous lifestyle, however can be pretty expensive.
Geneva – Venice (7 hours)
Heading straight through the heart of the Alps on a train would be an experience in itself and immersing oneself in the view would be notable in any travel journal. However heading into Italy, Venice is another true wonder of Europe. I was personally not that interested in Venice initially, but upon visiting I soon changed my mind. Venice is a wanderers paradise, and getting lost in the small winding streets was just incredible. Trips on the canals are a must, as are trips out to the eclectic islands such as to Lido and Burano. With a multitude of Italian culture, cuisine, historical landmarks, shopping and experiences around every corner – Venice is a city to get lost in. I would happily return here and wander the canals again, it’s simply stunning.
Venice – Zagreb via Ljubljana (10 hours)
This is a difficult one as we have not been to Slovenia, however due to the pass restrictions I am not sure that any time here is possible. Croatia however as you all know was a complete wonder to us recently, and exploring it in more detail is essential to any traveller. We have not been to Zagreb, but have heard many good things, here also you could take busses or other trains to the coast, the mountains and/ or national parks. Split and Dubrovnik were just sensational and the Croatian islands really ignited our wanderlust. You should take your time in Croatia and really lap up the Mediterranean culture and friendly local spirit.
Zagreb – Vienna (6 hours)
Back ‘in land’ to savour the beauty of the Austrian capital Vienna. A capital city that houses some of the most artistic legacies, shaped by former residents such as Mozart, Beethoven and Freud. The city is full of culture and history, with the Imperial palaces being a substantial draw. Culturally and musically it is also rated as one of the richest in the world. Traveling the city on the old tram is essential and I have to say that Austrians are marvellous people to spark up a conversation with. Vienna is also ideally situated for more outdoor exploits such as the eastern Alps and the Danube river that flows directly through the city.
Vienna – Prague (4 hours)
Since it is so close to Vienna, Prague offers a mixed central European experience for the diverse traveller. A barrage of gothic architecture, historic churches and one of Europe’s most infamous nightlife scenes make Prague a big draw. Prague is renowned for being an ‘anything goes’ type of city, where by you have such an eclectic range of activities available that its near on impossible to get bored. On top of this, the city itself is very picturesque and beautiful to explore on foot or tram, with the old market square and clock being two of countless highlights. If you time it correctly the German market’s on the centre offer a huge variety of foods, from traditional bratwurst and dumplings. One of our highlights was visiting a beer house in town and having a hearty traditional meal with a range of local ales and beers.
Prague – Krokow (10 hours)
I struggled here to find the next location, as Budapest means diverting back through Vienna, whilst Amsterdam is a huge push through the entirety of Germany. So I am plumping for Krakow, which again is known for its melting pot of culture. Krakow is renowned for its Medieval architecture and Jewish quarter, which we have heard are marvels to explore. The city is also known for its nightlife, which a huge tourist industry for cheap food and alcohol. The outskirts offer two main draws, a huge National park/Nature reserve and the haunting but essential Nazi Concentration camp Auschwitz, which is on our list of bucket list experiences.
Cheap flight back home! This allows exploration of eight if Europe’s essential countries, but definitely misses some also.
As such I’ll document our Ultimate Route below:
- London – Paris
- Paris – Dijon (we recently spent some time in the Burgundy region if France and absolutely loved it!
- Dijon – Bern (Bern is probably our favourite city in Switzerland)
- Bern – Lake Como (The most iconic of the European lakes)
- Lake Como – Venice
- Venice – Ljubljana (We have never visited
- Ljubljana – Zagreb
- Zagreb – Split
- Split – Dubrovnik
- Debrovnik – Budvar (We do not know anyone who has explored Montenegro so that’s a draw in itself!)
- Budvar – Tirana (same is said for Albania)
- Turana – Athens (oh Athens is a marvel of history)
- Athens – Exploration of Greek Islands (unfortunately we could lose ourselves for months here!)
- Greek Islands – Istanbul (A true cultural experience)
- Istanbul – Flight home
We realise that a number of European cities are excluded from the list mainly due to the route and we just can’t leave without also listing them
- Already explored – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Tallinn, Stockholm, Munich
- Not yet explored – Florence, Budapest, Bucharest and Kiev
I hope this provides some inspiration and wanderlust.