Looking for advice on “top 10 cheapest cities in Europe”

  • 11 December 2022
  • 16 replies
  • 656 views

Hi, so I’m starting to plan my first interrail with my friends and we were thinking about following the “top 10 cheapest cities in Europe” (10 Cheapest Cities in Europe | Interrail.eu) between 4th and 18th of june. 

However, I started to read some topics here in the comunity and from what I understand flixbus is not included in the interrail pass and there isn’t a lot of trains in this route, is that right?

From what I have been reading and searching it’s an easy route untill Budapest, but after that there isn’t a lot of trains. Could you guys suggest other countries to visit? I already went to France, Italy and Belgium so I would like to meet other places. 

Thank you in advance. 


16 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Bom dia! First time I see this and it likely comes from ages ago-some towns I would not call cheap anymore-but perhaps on a same level as PT is nowadays: average/medium (Zagreb/Hrvatska). In general it is likely better to mention whole countries-prices really do not differ that much in 1 country-except for accomm. in touristy-or not places. OTOH however some touristy places may offer far more cheap hoStelbeds as other towns with only HTLs as such. Important for young bekpekkers! As a rough rule east-EUR is the cheaper part, North (Scandinavia)+Swiss the much more expensive and mid-EUR in between. South EUR is slightly below average-PT probably still the cheapest among that (as I guess you know best about what it cost there).

FLIXbus-the green long-dist buses are of course OUT of any pass. IT MAY-with some luck with planning and laying your trust on their hands, be possible that doing it all on these green coaches may work out an odd € less as all by train. But the good news is that all these towns CAN be reached by train-they all have estacao/stations, but not all connections will be very good. BUT there are currently NO trains  over the borders of the new countries that once were Yugoslavija-and a very, very few only In those.

As PT is an outer corner of EUR you could think of booking yourself on a cheap flite for either going out or coming back=that avoids the very long trip along the very same rails via FR-ES-and the utmost cumbersome need to RES on RENFE in ES-in the end it may even save money! WIZZair is like the RYAN of East-EUR and offers many of these flites.

Also search for Qs/posts of alex can of GB-he has put long Qs about cheap travel in east-Eur and those answers are very fit for you too!

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Unfortunately IMHO there are no cheap cities anymore, only expensive and less expensive.

One option to keeping cost down for a couple or group is to find a few bases and stay in apartments to share costs and eat at will. You can then do day trips to nearby cities (say 1.5 hours each way). For example you can stay in Vienna (or nearby) and visit Prague, Bratislava, Graz and Salzburg using your IR pass. Then onto Budapest, or Prague.

Another option would be Munich for Bavarian cities and Vienna.

I also agree with Mcadv that using low cost airlines for getting there and back is a great option. However you should also consider flying into A and flying back from B so you are not forced into a circular route. 

We planned two routes in 2022, one flying to Sicily and then up through Italy, via Brenner pass to Nuremberg then back to the UK. The second was planned as fly to Nice,then Venice, Vienna and finally a flight back from Prague. Avoids the costly TGV/Eurostar res fees.

Userlevel 7
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Bon, the flying lobby has had it’s say again on this railforum. 🙄

Before the community can come up some suggestions, we need a little bit more information.

Where will you be leaving from? Do you want to visit only cities or do you want to mix it with nature and a more active holiday rather than just doing 10 city trips after each other? Do you see the trip itself as a journey (and don’t you mind to take long trains) or do you like the most efficient way from A to B?

I would advice you in any way to not try to do them all if you only have two weeks time. You’ll barely have the time to visit all of them properly, and you’ll just restrict yourselves to the absolute touristic clichés of the cities and the inside of the trains.

Trains in the Balkans, Romania and Bulgaria have lower standards than the European average, but it’s quite adventurous. Slovenia and Croatia are quite okay to do by train.

Rail interconnections between the ex-Yugoslav countries is a difficult point, (probably related to the recent political in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia) but not impossible in summer, especially combined with the occasional bus. But very adventurous, don’t plan any tight connections what so ever ;).

Some in this community have done it, and gladly help you out with suggestions!

I can definitely recommend Slovenia to visit. Small but interesting and a geographically quite diverse country. Defintely worth a couple of days, especially the mountains in the Julian Alps!

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

@mcadv and @Yorkie seem to be not understand that Interrail is a pass for train travelers and not for frequent flyers.

on topic: Fully agree with @BrendanDB: why squeezing 10 cities into 2 weeks? 
Avoid Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia if you are traveling by Interrail as it is not worth it - bad connections (or no connections). Better to head east from Budapest - there are frequent connections to Romania and there you can see many beautiful places - Sighisoara, Sibiu, Cluj… also the Black sea can be nice in summer if you want to have some parties. From Bulgaria you’ve to ways to Bulgaria or take the summer only couchette from Bucuresti to Istanbul. From Istanbul you could then make your way back home via Sofia, Craiova.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

@mcadv and @Yorkie seem to be not understand that Interrail is a pass for train travelers and not for frequent flyers.

on topic: Fully agree with @BrendanDB: why squeezing 10 cities into 2 weeks? 
Avoid Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia if you are traveling by Interrail as it is not worth it - bad connections (or no connections). Better to head east from Budapest - there are frequent connections to Romania and there you can see many beautiful places - Sighisoara, Sibiu, Cluj… also the Black sea can be nice in summer if you want to have some parties. From Bulgaria you’ve to ways to Bulgaria or take the summer only couchette from Bucuresti to Istanbul. From Istanbul you could then make your way back home via Sofia, Craiova.

Let me be clear, IMHO an Interrail pass is whatever suits the individual. Nowhere is it sold as you cannot blend it with other modes of transport as suits you.

I find that getting from the UK to a start point by air, for well under 100 euro each, is time and cost effective. The same could apply for people in countries like Portugal that doesn’t have a short rail access to the European network. Not least, if you are on a flexi pass it allows you at least 2 extra days in the network.

Are you suggesting that somebody taking a cruise should only use ferries to get to their departure point?

OOI after many tears of cruising I see my use of IR as simply a land cruise. I am not a backpacker or hosteller but I enjoy touring and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of IR and travel first class and ideally with a continuous pass. I do not worry whether I break even on any particular day, just that the full cost of the pass is the best for my needs, even if I could have booked individual journeys at a lower price.

At no time have I suggested not to use the IR pass, nor that rail travel isn’t a suitable adventure in itself, nor if you want to pay as you go there is anything wrong with that.

One final point on flying - the plane will still fly whether I am on it or there is an empty seat, so I am flying without adding any extra carbons.

Userlevel 7
Badge +7

Let me be clear, IMHO an Interrail pass is whatever suits the individual. Nowhere is it sold as you cannot blend it with other modes of transport as suits you.

I find that getting from the UK to a start point by air, for well under 100 euro each, is time and cost effective. The same could apply for people in countries like Portugal that doesn’t have a short rail access to the European network. Not least, if you are on a flexi pass it allows you at least 2 extra days in the network.

Are you suggesting that somebody taking a cruise should only use ferries to get to their departure point?

OOI after many tears of cruising I see my use of IR as simply a land cruise. I am not a backpacker or hosteller but I enjoy touring and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of IR and travel first class and ideally with a continuous pass. I do not worry whether I break even on any particular day, just that the full cost of the pass is the best for my needs, even if I could have booked individual journeys at a lower price.

At no time have I suggested not to use the IR pass, nor that rail travel isn’t a suitable adventure in itself, nor if you want to pay as you go there is anything wrong with that.

One final point on flying - the plane will still fly whether I am on it or there is an empty seat, so I am flying without adding any extra carbons.

Still a bit further off topic, but that final point is complete nonsense.

By buying a airplane ticket, you are directly instructing the airline to fly. If nobody bought a ticket, the airline would not fly.

If nobody put fuel in their car, oil companies would stop making it.

If nobody used fossil fuel power, the electricity companies would stop generating it.

In general we should take responsibility for your own actions. Stop blaming others for it, or hide behind very obvious platitudes and generalisations...

We don’t know yet where the original poster is leaving from. The person does have a very clear intent to interrail and ask for very broad suggestions for which countries they could visit. So why wouldn’t we suggest for an interrail all the way, like a land cruise as you say? Plenty of options out of the open for them, other than the cheap cities. They only visited France, Italy and Belgium.

No need to convince people to do what you won't do yourself voluntarily!

In general I have the feeling you guys gravely underestimate the clear will and concern there is among younger generations about the future of our climate and environment. By making small decisions like going for an interrail for their holidays, they try to minimise their impact they have on this planet. Of course they ask for tips, tricks and hints. Especially from Portugal Interrail can seem an insurmountable quest, if you’re not well-travelled by train. Why not try to guide them without resorting to easy, obvious and impactful solutions like taking planes?

Anyway, on topic:

@sandrafmc Where did you go already in France, Belgium and Italy? The more we know, the better we can inspire you for a proper itinerary. Plenty of possibilities to do a creative route over land and sea by interrail.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

I think everybody knows where to find cheap flights if they want to and there’s no need to advertise this here. But about train routes it can be different because there are often options which are not shown on the timetable (e.g. because they are slower but in the end they can be more convenient). 

I am suggesting that people shouldn’t take at all cruises because it is ruining cities and destroying the environment. Local people don’t profit at all from this kind of tourism (or maybe you think increased rents for locals are something positive?).

“One final point on flying - the plane will still fly whether I am on it or there is an empty seat, so I am flying without adding any extra carbons.” What a completely wrong point… seems you don’t understand economics. A plane is only flying if there is demand. A lot of this demand is generated through cheap, highly subsidized fares, which lead people to stupid weekend trips they wouldn’t make otherwise. If people don’t use the planes, they will not fly anymore after some time… ask Levels airline, if you don’t believe. This is especially true about low cost carriers, because they don’t care about their slots like national airlines. If there is no demand for a route, they just cancel it. So your opinion about this is wrong. 
And beside using planes and cruise ships are by far the most harmful means of transport for the environment. 

Userlevel 7
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That final point is a platitude @Yorkie, which I didn't expect of your usual high-quality posts.

By buying a ticket, you are directly instructing the airline to fly. If nobody bought a ticket, the airline would not fly.

If nobody put fuel in their car, oil companies would stop making it.

If nobody used fossil fuel power, the electricity companies would stop generating it.

If you turn it around: when there’s more demand for long distance international train travel, those little and few Portuguese-Spanish train connections might improve - to the joy of everyone in this community?

We shouldn't be afraid to take responsibility for our own actions. Stop convincing others to do what you won't do yourself voluntarily.

The original poster has a clear intent of interrailing and asks very broad suggestions, and states the countries they've visited before. We do not know where they are starting from. Maybe it's not even Portugal? Why should we not guide them and to do an interrail all the way, like a land cruise as you say, on an interrail forum? Helping them find a very nice itinerary for their planned holidays, without stating the obvious "Oh you should take a plane" is what where here for on this community! Train travel can be needlessly complicated and overwhelming when planning as a newbie, especially in Iberia.

In general, I have the feeling that you guys also gravely underestimate the concern of younger generations for the climate and environment. They really don't expect the message to go fly on a rail forum… By interrailing they make the small decision to try to have a holiday that is as not that impactfull as flying would be. They're doing their bit, why not support them it's such a nice thing to do!

Anyway @sandrafmc back on-topic, where did you go exactly already in France, Italy and Belgium? I think I have some ideas for a route over land and sea towards East-Europe (if you leave from Portugal). But it will be difficult to avoid those countries :)

 

Userlevel 7
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I think it is laudable that people take their responsibilities seriously, and as soon as we all have unlimited funds, a multiple choice of high speed rail journeys to reach our target destination and with adequate capacity and unlimited time I will indeed take the train.

Unfortunately the UK only has one rail route out with very limited capacity, and Portugal and Spain are in a similar situation. From my house to arriving in France or Belgium takes 2 lengthy train journeys, a significant reservation fee if pass seats are available, a 2 to 3 hour transfer in London for E* check-in and at least one night extra in a transit hotel. If pass seats are not available then the cost for E* at decent times can be over £100. 

As for not appreciating the fact that no demand will stop the airlines operating - get real. Ryanair and Easyjet (to name but 2) are in business to run profitable businesses and will continue to do so for years to come. Ryanair are even on record as saying they could even operate at zero fares with all the extras they receive (Seats/luggage/on board sales etc).

They want their planes operating round the clock, not sat on the ground, so they simply change schedules to routings that operate at high occupancy levels.


So until the rail systems in the UK really do catch up with the price and convenience of flying over the channel I will continue to use them for my convenience, as will many others.

As another point has anybody compared the carbons of somebody doing a 10000km Interrail jaunt with somebody taking a plane to save maybe 2000 km of that rail journey?

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

Ryanair could only operate at zero fares because they are highly subsidized.. They pay no taxes on fuel, they get subsidies from regional governments etc. … And by paying their crew (except pilots) low salaries… or do you think from lets say 30 euro for a flight through half of Europe they could be profitable?

Yes, check out Wiebe Wakker (on twitter, maybe he has also a website) for example with his journey overland to Dubai where he made a good comparison of the emissions. Even with a lot of the route being diesel hauled trains, he was wasting way less CO2 than by plane.
And flying is not only about CO2… there are some other even more harmful emissions from planes.

Just one fact about Ryanair, which is so environmental friendly according to you: “In 2018, Ryanair became the first airline and the only non-coal-power plant to be among the 10 companies with the highest amount of CO2 emissions in the EU.”
And about subsidies you can find a lot of information if you do a quick google search.

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

Ryanair could only operate at zero fares because they are highly subsidized.. They pay no taxes on fuel, they get subsidies from regional governments etc. … And by paying their crew (except pilots) low salaries… or do you think from lets say 30 euro for a flight through half of Europe they could be profitable?

Yes, check out Wiebe Wakker (on twitter, maybe he has also a website) for example with his journey overland to Dubai where he made a good comparison of the emissions. Even with a lot of the route being diesel hauled trains, he was wasting way less CO2 than by plane.
And flying is not only about CO2… there are some other even more harmful emissions from planes.

Just one fact about Ryanair, which is so environmental friendly according to you: “In 2018, Ryanair became the first airline and the only non-coal-power plant to be among the 10 companies with the highest amount of CO2 emissions in the EU.”
And about subsidies you can find a lot of information if you do a quick google search.

Shall we just agree to differ, or shall we continue to argue points that we can do bugger all to force change as individuals?

Let’s face it as long as governments and companies play at environmental concerns whilst billions of voters want a good standard of living, as seen in the ads on all Media streams, nothing any individual does will make one iota of a difference.

 

@sandrafmc Where did you go already in France, Belgium and Italy? The more we know, the better we can inspire you for a proper itinerary. Plenty of possibilities to do a creative route over land and sea by interrail.

 

Hi! Thanks for your help. So I went to Paris and Annecy in France, Belgium I went to Brussels and in Italy I visited Milan. I forget to say that I also I have been to Prague and Vienna. It’s not like I would mind to repeat any city, but since I can’t travel often I would prefer to get to know new places! But I’m open to any suggestion :)

Bon, the flying lobby has had it’s say again on this railforum. 🙄

Before the community can come up some suggestions, we need a little bit more information.

Where will you be leaving from? Do you want to visit only cities or do you want to mix it with nature and a more active holiday rather than just doing 10 city trips after each other? Do you see the trip itself as a journey (and don’t you mind to take long trains) or do you like the most efficient way from A to B?

I would advice you in any way to not try to do them all if you only have two weeks time. You’ll barely have the time to visit all of them properly, and you’ll just restrict yourselves to the absolute touristic clichés of the cities and the inside of the trains.

Trains in the Balkans, Romania and Bulgaria have lower standards than the European average, but it’s quite adventurous. Slovenia and Croatia are quite okay to do by train.

Rail interconnections between the ex-Yugoslav countries is a difficult point, (probably related to the recent political in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia) but not impossible in summer, especially combined with the occasional bus. But very adventurous, don’t plan any tight connections what so ever ;).

Some in this community have done it, and gladly help you out with suggestions!

I can definitely recommend Slovenia to visit. Small but interesting and a geographically quite diverse country. Defintely worth a couple of days, especially the mountains in the Julian Alps!

Thank you! So, yes we are going from Portugal and we don’t mind also seeing some nature, even tho we really like history and architecture so we would also like to get to know some cities. So yes, we don’t need to actually go to 10 cities in 15 days, but as I said we don’t get to travel much so we are trying to get to know as much as possible. And when it comes to journey it’s also a mix: we like the journey itself, specially by train, but we really want to know and explore new places.

I’m really excited about Croatia and Slovenia so glad to know it’s possible :)

@mcadv and @Yorkie seem to be not understand that Interrail is a pass for train travelers and not for frequent flyers.

on topic: Fully agree with @BrendanDB: why squeezing 10 cities into 2 weeks? 
Avoid Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia if you are traveling by Interrail as it is not worth it - bad connections (or no connections). Better to head east from Budapest - there are frequent connections to Romania and there you can see many beautiful places - Sighisoara, Sibiu, Cluj… also the Black sea can be nice in summer if you want to have some parties. From Bulgaria you’ve to ways to Bulgaria or take the summer only couchette from Bucuresti to Istanbul. From Istanbul you could then make your way back home via Sofia, Craiova.

Thank you for help! I understand your point, but I also understand what @mcadv and @Yorkie are saying. From what I know it’s quite difficult to leave Portugal by train, specially taking in consideration that we don’t have that much time. But again, I’m open to any ideas! 

Thank you for you suggestions! Istambul is one of my dreams so it would be amazing if I could add it to the itinerary. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +10

@mcadv and @Yorkie seem to be not understand that Interrail is a pass for train travelers and not for frequent flyers.

on topic: Fully agree with @BrendanDB: why squeezing 10 cities into 2 weeks? 
Avoid Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia if you are traveling by Interrail as it is not worth it - bad connections (or no connections). Better to head east from Budapest - there are frequent connections to Romania and there you can see many beautiful places - Sighisoara, Sibiu, Cluj… also the Black sea can be nice in summer if you want to have some parties. From Bulgaria you’ve to ways to Bulgaria or take the summer only couchette from Bucuresti to Istanbul. From Istanbul you could then make your way back home via Sofia, Craiova.

Thank you for help! I understand your point, but I also understand what @mcadv and @Yorkie are saying. From what I know it’s quite difficult to leave Portugal by train, specially taking in consideration that we don’t have that much time. But again, I’m open to any ideas! 

Thank you for you suggestions! Istambul is one of my dreams so it would be amazing if I could add it to the itinerary. 

IMHO Istanbul (and to be honest much beyond Budapest is not for a first time Interrailer. The routings and frequency of the trains across borders are limited and often involve long waits for connections and often long detours. You also need supreme self-confidence in the face of adversity. In this part of the world I found that unless you really like basic towns with maybe one museum and 20 local shops you have to travel relatively long distances to the next sizeable town. I accept that you will see some lovely scenery and occasionally a gem but Mid Europe (Italy/Alps/Austria/Germany)  has all that in abundance and reliable, frequent trains between towns and cities.

OOI Istanbul is a fantastic experience but I believe a real ***** to get to and then back by train.

If you want new experiences on a journey from Portugal then consider cities such as Barcelona, Nice, Bologna, Verona, Venice, Vienna (or Salzburg and LInz), Budapest/Bratislava, Munich (or any Bavarian city inc Nuremberg and Regensberg. Obviously there are many other nearby stops with lesser known names, but still a fantastic experience. 

Userlevel 7
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Other options on the route suggested just above are Nîmes and Avignon, smaller, but quite impressive cities if you're into culture, architecture and history. 

The route @Yorkie describes is a very good option. I think there are two other options: One west of the Pyrénées, leading you via the Basque country into France. Opening up cities like Dax, Pau, Toulouse, Carcassonne, maybe Bordeaux before branching on the route mentioned above.

 I think there's also  an (overnight) ferry from Barcelona taking you to Genua or Cittavecchia (close to Rome) and maybe some other Italian destinations. I think you can score a discount from the ferries with your pass. From Genua e.g.  you have easy acces to many northern Italian cities, all with good rail accessibility. If you decide to head to Slovenia there's two options from the north. A route via Austria, Villach a bit north of the Julian Alps, before heading south again, via Jesenice to Ljubljana. Another is south via Trieste, with rare but some connections to Ljubljana. 

Or you can Venture into the Alps, going to Switzerland or Austria. Plenty of choice! Like the suggestion of @Yorkie

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