In 2020 more of us think about visiting those less crowded locations than perhaps our usual destinations we think to venture to. Autumn is the perfect time to Interrail, sure this year is somewhat different, but the high heatwaves of summer have past, fewer crowds, lower prices, and you'll experience dramatic autumnal beauty all from the comfort of the train. Here we have put together some tried & tested less crowed and perhaps lesser known destinations to many, all well connected by rail and traveling with an Interrail Pass.
DISCOVER HIDDEN WONDERS OF GERMANY
Berlin & Munich are very much two favorite destinations for those with an Interrail Pass. However, how about trying something new and away from the crowds try seeking out the smaller cities and lesser known towns bypassing Germany's well known big cities. With over 5,400 train stations and 41,315 km's of rail, no-where is off limits with an Interrail Pass in Germany.
Situated just over an hour from Frankfurt lies the small Rhine town of Bacharach.
You'll be amazed by the views on the train from Frankfurt as you whizz up the Rhine and then arrive in the heart of this small quiet Rhineland town. As autumn approaches the colors of the vineyards transition to golden brown and orange tones that overlook Bacharach from all angles which is sure to make beautiful photos. Go for a hike around the vineyards, enjoy local German wine & cuisine in one of the many restaurants situated in the town. You can even stay in a castle named Stahleck Castle that is 12th-century fortified castle now used as a youth hostel that over looks the Rhine.
Dresden nicknamed the Florence on the Elbe and capital of the eastern German state of Saxony, the city is celebrated for it's art museums and classic architecture of its reconstructed old town. The city is alive with university life, grand palaces and cathedrals.Dresden's mixture of art, history, culture, and its position on the river, combined with its lasting beauty and things both new and rediscovered, adds to Dresden, which is constantly reinventing itself. Reaching Dresden is easy with regular trains that are two hours from Berlin.
Check out Visit Dresden for more information
Saxon Switzerland National Park
Those seeking nature close to the city life can easily travel the one hour hop from Dresden by rail to Saxon Switzerland National Park or the more adventurous can across the border to Czech Republic then spend a day or two hiking at the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Both Germany and Czech Republic sharing the national park. With mystical landscape of pine forests, deep valleys, and stunning rock tower formations you will almost certainly be surprised and fall for this special place in Germany & Czech Republic.
Check out Visit Saxon Switzerland or Visit Czech Switzerland for more information
Freiburg am Breisgau
Take a train down to the depths of Germany and arrive in the vibrant university town of Freiburg in southwestern Germany. Freiburg regards itself as one of the birthplaces of the environmental movement. Freiburg‘s sustainability process began as far back as the 1970s Freiburg is widely considered the single best city for sustainable urban development. The town acts as a gateway to Germany's famous Black Forest an impressive 160km in length and 50km wide you will find no shortage of hiking trails or small villages to visit. Freiburg is around 3 hours from Berlin. Freiburg is one of Germany's sunniest cities and come early Autumn locals are still enjoying outdoor life try hiring a bike and enjoy some of the many trails in and around Freiburg under the mild autumn weather in this part of Germany.
Check out visit Visit Freiburg for more information here
Check out visit Black Forest for more information here
With excellent rail connections from Germany, Switzerland can be easily reached by rail. With stunning nature & mountains all connected by modern and scenic rail routes Switzerland will give lasting memories on any Interrail adventure. Enjoy the nature or enjoy the small cities of Basel or Bern.
Basel lies in the heart of Europe, on both banks of the Rhine. The Swiss city is the center of the idyllic border triangle of France, Germany and Switzerland. Basel is Switzerland's cultural capital museum and art lovers will not be left disappointed by the amount on offer in a relatively small city of Basel.
Autumn is the perfect time to visit as locals enjoy the last warm rays of sunshine at the outdoor bars along the Rhine. Every hostel & hotel in Basel offers a free Basel Card which gives you free transportation in Basel and 50% off at various attractions and cycle hire around the city. You can also walk or cycle and within 20 mins you can be over the border In France or Germany finding a restaurant to dine in and beating the Swiss restaurant prices in Basel.
Check out VisitBasel for more information
Just over an hour from Basel visit beautiful Thun and find yourself in this idyllic Swiss town of lakeside castles & snow capped mountains. Thun situated over looking three mountains around Lake Thun, the Stockhorn, Niesen and Niederhorn, which all form a popular hiking locations and leisure areas. All the mountains around Lake Thun have mountain railways access offering some beautiful scenery from the train.
By autumn it is still possible to go swimming, surfing, kayaking, or SUP boarding it can all be done on Lake Thun. Take an evening swim and watch the sunset over the Bernese Alps leaving golden yellow & orange glows on the mountain tops.
Check out more water activities in and around Lake Thun here
Check out MySwitzerland for more information on Thun.
Italy's a country that can be discovered all seasons, but Interrailing in autumn creates a feeling of living like a local in many towns and cities.The beach towns of southern Italy are much quieter with mainly locals enjoying the quietness under the mild autumn sunshine. Up north the mountains offer perfect crisp and cool hiking conditions, and harvest festivals in Tuscany will have something for foodies. If the winter weather arrives early, there's lots to do indoors.
Many people don't know that Palermo in Sicily can be traveled to by train.
Besides the obvious little issue of Sicily being separated from the Italian mainland by a body of water.. In this case the train travels on the ferry at no additional cost to the Interrail Pass holder. Those up for an epic adventure can board the sleeper train in Milan that departs at 20:00 and arrives into Palermo - Sicily the following day at 8:00pm in the evening. This train adventure will leave you stunned by the dramatic changing of landscapes from north to south of Italy, wake up in the morning to views of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea as the trains rolls towards Calabria. This journey is about the leisurely comfort of train travel and the window scenery and not the time spent traveling.
In Palermo everywhere you look their is a photo opportunity from small streets
to markets crammed with fresh fruits and vegetables of the Mediterranean, not
to mention Palermo is a foodies paradise from the Sicilian ice cream sandwiches to the large Arancini balls. Street food is a big deal in Palermo the food is fresh, cheap, plentiful and will not leave you disappointed. If the food wasn't enough the Arab-Norman sun-kissed looking architecture of Palermo is something entirely different to the norms of Europe with each building having its own story to tell.
Just one hour from Palermo by train you can find yourself in Cefalù. In the height
of summer the town is jammed with tourists but September & October the
town enjoys much quieter pace of life waiting to be explored, bars and restaurants that over look the sea become less crowded. Some of the locals will say that bathing weather has past already, but with water temperatures still at 22c and the average day temperature of 19c the conditions for swimming at the beach are more than idea. You can also take a small hike up to La Rocca for stunning views right across Sicily.
Plan to spend a day in Cefalù explore the many winding streets, seek out its medieval past, enjoy a dip at the beach.
Check out Visit Sicily for more information.
SEEK OUT THE LESSER KNOWN CROATIA
Interrail your way to the lesser known Croatia. Zagreb situated in the north west of Croatia with International train connections to Munich, Ljubljana, Vienna, and Budapest. Zagreb is easily accessible by train and worth a 2 to 3 day visit.
September and sometimes into October locals of Zagreb continue to enjoy the sunshine as the heatwaves of high summer have past and the city makes the most of the mild sun of early autumn with outdoor life still in full swing.
Check out Visit Zagreb for more information.
Plitvice Lake - Croatia
When city life gets too much try visiting one of Croatia's beautiful national park's - Plitvice Lakes situated in the central northern part of Croatia. The national park is known for its 16 crystal clean terraced lakes, connected by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. The national park has some stunning hiking trials and is worthy of a two day visit. The closest rail line to Plitvice Lakes national parks is found 5.2 km in the small town of Vrhovine with direct rail connections from Croatia's largest cities Zagreb, Split, Zadar and Rijeka. Services run several times a day and a route that guarantees some great window scenery.
Check out Visit Plitvice Lakes for more information.
New for 2020 on the participating Interrail countries Estonia brings the number of Interrail countries to 33. Rail has improved greatly in the last number of years with most trains allowing you to take your bike with you at no extra cost. One fifth of Estonia is forest or a National Parks anyone visiting Estonia will find themselves quickly surrounded by the unique Estonia nature Estonia also has good connections by rail to Riga to the south and from the north a ferry takes you from Helsinki/Stockholm to Tallinn the ferry fares are discounted to anyone traveling with an Interrail Pass.
Tartu situated 186 km's southeast of Tallinn 2 hours by train and 245 kms northeast of Riga, sits Estonia's second largest city Tartu. Home to one of the nation’s oldest university, and home to the nations booming street art thanks to the reverently young population that makes up the city. Tartu's graffiti, urban art scene and architecture is worth a good two day visit to the city in itself.
Check out Visit Tartu for more information
Lahemaa National Park
Situated in the very north of Estonia and only an hour from Tallinn by train is one of Europe's largest national park's with 1000 km.2 Lahemaa roughly translates from Estonian to " land of bays" It is Estonia's largest and oldest national park. A visit to Lahemaa is perfect for gentle hikes and cycles with plenty of marked out trails on offer and accommodation options in the nearby villages. Hikers can expect to hike through marshes, thick forest, by the sea and raised bogs made up of wild edible berries and unique flora.
Exploring Lithuania couldn't be easier "Interrailing" in Lithuania guarantees to satisfy those eager for adventure and explore the less known sides to Europe.The Lithuanian rail network reaches most of the country and connects easily connects to neighboring Poland.
While being the capital of Lithuania, the city is still very much on the lesser known side to Interrail travel, and the city does not receive the crowds of other European cities. In Vilnus you will find the beautiful historic UNESCO Old Town filled with baroque architecture, the old town is made up of pop into shops , small winding streets and kerbside cafes & restaurants.
Just 30 minutes by train From Vilnius lies Trakai a small town squeezed between the two lakes in the middle of scenic Trakai Historical National Park.
Popular as a day trip from Vilnius the castle is Gothic in architecture and is loved by many Lithuanians as place to go for a walk away from the noises of city life.
Autumn is a perfect time to visit this beautiful place to witness the changing landscape in the beautiful colors of autumn foliage.
Check out Visit Lithuania for more information
Step back in time and travel on the gone by era of classic Soviet era trains in Latvia. Getting to Latvia with an Interrail Pass is easy with direct connections to Poland by rail. An Interrail pass gives you a 30% discounted ferry fare from both Germany & Sweden. Booking via Stena Line offer code: EURAIL.
For all the architecture lovers, and photo opportunists Riga will not disappoint. The city made up of stand out-brutal architecture of the Soviet era vs Riga's old Germanic past. Riga's architecture will quickly paint you a story of the city's changing of hands in gone by days of European empires and alliances. Explore Riga to learn its past, see how the future of Latvia looks and do't miss out drinking beautiful Latvian beer. Certainly do not plan to leave Riga without trying Karbonāde which can be found in any good Latvian restaurant!
Gauja National Park
So much of Latvia remains underdeveloped and left completely to its own devices, creating the perfect setting to bring anyone closer to the Latvian nature.
Take a train to Sigulda a one hour ride from Riga, and wonder your way into Gauja National Park the largest and oldest of the national parks in Latvia. The national park is characterized by great biological diversity, caves, sandstone outcrops, cliffs, wildlife and unique natural, cultural and historical monuments such as Turaida castle. The national park is perfect for a day or two hiking.
Check out Magnetic Latvia for more information