Planning short interrailing routes

So you want to go interrailing…

Ideally we’d all travel Europe for months on end, but for most of us limited to 2 weeks off work, we have to plan a bit more carefully. So how do you balance your desire to see everything in Europe with the 14 days of travel time that you’ve realistically got? Let’s take a look at how to plan short interrailing routes while making the most of your trip.

Pick a region

Realistically, in 1-2 weeks you’re not going to be able to see everything in Europe. Because of this, it makes sense to restrict yourself to a smaller area where the distances between cities are going to be smaller. Remember, not all of Europe is blessed with high speed trains, so it can take a lot longer than you expect to get from place to place.

If you want to make the most of your budget as well as your time, why not go for Eastern Europe? In one to two weeks you can tick off some of Europe’s most interesting cities – Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Krakow and more – for less than you’d think.

If you want to visit the culture spots of Western Europe, try to pick one or two countries so that you don’t have to spend so long travelling – for example Portugal and Spain, or France and Germany. If you try to cram them all in, not only will it get very expensive very quickly, you’ll also throw the balance of travelling time vs. city time way off. By just picking a few cities or countries and staying a couple of nights in each you’ll actually get a decent amount of time for all that nightlife, culture and amazing food. You can save up the rest for your next trip. Looking for tips on how to plan a longer trip? Check out our top tips for your first time Interrailing!

Routes to inspire you:

Think about Travel Time

Leading on from this, you need to think about travel time when you plan your short interrailing route. There’s absolutely no point trying to travel from Serbia to Spain in a day – unless you plan on flying there! 30 hours on a bus might not sound that bad now, but you’ll be kicking yourself when you’re wasting your whole week with no air-con and a broken toilet…

Remember, trains are limited, especially in Eastern Europe, where you might only find one or two trains a day. We like to think of ourselves as the interrailing experts, but we’re all limited by timetables in the end. If there’s no train, you can’t do that journey, no matter how hard you try!

This is why the best way to pick your destinations is to sit down with a map. If it crosses multiple countries and borders, why not swap for somewhere nearer – you’ll thank yourself later when you’ve arrived. Just in time for a nice cold beer…

Appreciate the journey

Half the joy of interrailing is to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. You don’t want to be stressing about multiple changes and long waits. Take the stress off and make life easy for yourself with shorter, less complicated journeys. You’ll be way more likely to appreciate the scenery and make friends if you’re relaxed.

Embrace night travel too – this is your best friend for short journeys. Night trains, with their comfy couchettes, give you a decent night’s sleep as well as carrying you stress-free to your next destination and maximising your time there. Compartments are a great place to meet new friends who might just be staying near you… If the idea of travelling overnight worries you, take a look at our vlog about night trains – here you’ll find all the information you need about sleepers. For a complete guide to rail travel in Europe, check out our trains guide – we’ve tried to cover almost everything you might need to know!

Itineraries with short/overnight journeys:

interrailing routes

Take a look at our trips for inspiration

Using the tips above, a custom route can be a great solution for short interrailing routes. We can put together a bespoke package for any duration which maximises your time in each destination and offers great value.

Interrailing routes

If you’re still stuck for where to start with your route planning, why not take a look at some of our shorter packages for inspiration. These will give you an idea of the distances it’s possible to cover in the time.

The Iron Curtain is one of our most popular routes, and a perfect example of how much you can fit into a week with some careful planning. Or, if you’ve got a little bit longer, check out the Islandbound or Whole Hog 2-week packages.

There’s no excuse – get planning your short break in Europe now! We even have a trip builder tool so that you can work out exactly how to maximise your time!


Interrailing can be a great solution for short breaks – for further advice and information, check out our most popular trips, or get in touch with us – we’re always glad to talk over your requirements! We also offer group Interrail tours from 8 days – an awesome way to tick off as much as you can in a short space of time.

Next Read:

Interrail Reservations Made Easy

How will Brexit affect Interrail travel in Europe?

Here’s why you need to backpack Eastern Europe


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