Solo Interrail through Central Europe
In summer 2022, I traveled by train for 31 days. I visited 7 countries and 13 different cities in the Central European region.
What motivated me to do this trip?
My main motivation for this trip was that I wanted to get to know our “European neighbours”, to the East of Germany. Growing up, we usually went to Italy, France or Spain for a vacation but rarely to Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia. I wanted to educate myself about the region, get to know its culture, its diversity of languages, the food and the people.
What was the travel route?
Green dots marked where I visited friends
The route started in Berlin, marked by the red point. From there, I headed into Poland, first stop was Poznan, after which I went to Krakow in the South of Poland. From there, I did a hike over the Tatra mountains from the Polish to the Slovak side of the mountains. I stayed with a friend in Slovakia with her family, then took the bus to Budapest. Next up was Vienna, which was only 3h away from Budapest. I then escaped from big cities to cute little Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital and the nature in the Northwest of the country. Lastly I went to Split on the Croatian coast via Zagreb. From there, my last country on the itinerary was Bosnia, which I reached via bus from Split.
How does the Interrail Ticket work?
During a 50% discount week in May, I bought a 2-month unlimited Interrail pass which allowed me to hop on any train in Europe. The Interrail app was easy enough to use. I could search for the train connections that I wanted to take and generate my train tickets, also shortly before departure. Sometimes I needed to book seating reservations. I occasionally used buses where train was the less convenient option.
Did it feel safe?
I never felt unsafe. Even though I traveled alone, I was never lonely. There were always people around which I met during walking tours or in hostels. I also visited friends in various locations. Maria in her hometown in Slovakia, Andy in Vienna, Mislav and Anthea in Croatia. This added to the “authenticity” of those places, knowing someone who is from there or has lived there for a while.
What was the mode of traveling?
I traveled solo, which allowed me to be flexible and spontaneous. At the beginning of the trip I had a rough route in my head, but had only booked the first 4 nights in hostels. The right mix, or “golden middle” for me was to spend somewhere around 3-5 days in each location or country. This allowed me to visit a variety of places, whilst still maintaining a sustainable pace.
What was the overall cost?
Central European places are cheaper, on average, than living costs in Germany but also not by a lot. Especially those countries which have the Euro as currency (Slovenia, Slovakia) were not that different in living costs. In total, I spent 1900 Euros for the entire month-long trip. The breakdown is: Accommodation: 380, Food: 620, Other (interrail ticket, bus tickets, museums etc.): 890.
What was the food like?
Food culture in Central Europe didn’t overwhelm me (I tried about 16 different types of cabbage stews and dumplings), apart from a few exceptions. Krakow was excellent for good & international food for decent prices, and Croatia had great mediterranean cuisine with lots of seafood which I love.
A few photographic impressions from the trip below.
Poland: Poznań, Kraków
See separate post about how I hiked from Poland to Slovakia over Mt. Rysy (2500m) here: https://www.celineli.com/2022/Tatra-Hike.html
Slovakia: Banská Štiavnica
Hungary: Budapest, Visegrad
Slovenia: Ljubljana, Bled, Bohinj
Croatia: Zagreb, Split
Bosnia: Počitelj, Mostar