Hostels at the Limits of the Eurail Network
Stretching across diverse countries, cultures and landscapes, Europe has so much to offer backpackers that it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge deciding where to start! Combined with a Eurail pass, hostelling can offer travelers the flexibility and freedom to really experience Europe – whether it be north, south, east or west.
For the rail traveler, the beauty of the Eurail network is that it reaches much further afield than just the big cities. It gives backpackers the opportunity to leave the beaten track far behind and explore the very limits of the continent, from Scandinavia to the tip of southern Italy.
The North – Gnarp
Home to old-fashioned fishing towns, wooden houses and crystal clear waters, the Bothnian Coast on Sweden’s eastern seaboard offers a stunning glimpse of Scandinavia. The train winds it way north along the coast towards Sundsvall and the nearby small town of Gnarp, where there’s heaps of skiing, golf and (of course) fishing available all year round.
Surrounded by four lakes and the peaceful countryside at the edge of Gnarp, Hostel Berggarden is a traditional Swedish inn that provides great value accommodation for travelers and backpackers. There are also cheap, home-cooked meals available at the hostel’s pub and restaurant.
East to Balaton
East of Budapest, the town of Balaton sits on the largest lake in central Europe in the midst of Hungary’s beautiful, unspoiled scenery. The Hullam Hostel has an idyllic setting that few other hostels in Europe can match – right beside the water, and on the doorstep of all the water sports, hiking and cycling on offer. The hostel itself has cheap, comfortable dorms, along with a sociable bar, games room and barbecue area at the edge of the lake. In addition, they host regular events for their guests, from traditional Hungarian dinners to wine tasting in the local area.
West at Lagos
On the western extreme of the European rail network, lies the Portuguese town of Lagos, renowned for its nightlife more than its scenic Atlantic coast. With its vibrant clubs, spectacular beaches and relatively low cost of living (compared with much of Europe), Lagos makes a great backpacking destination. Carlos House Hostel is in the perfect spot for travelers exploring the town – just a short walk from the nightlife district, it’s also right near the ocean and enjoys fantastic views from the sunny roof terrace.
Siracusa in the South
In the very south of Europe, you can get off the train and hop over into Sicily, before continuing on to picturesque Siracusa on the captivating Ionian coast. Rich in Mediterranean charm and heritage, the city was originally settled by the ancient Greeks, and it remains an important historic destination today. Both the baroque Old Town – with its beautiful cathedral – and the nearby archeological park at Pantalica, are within easy reach of Lol Hostel which sits in the heart of Siracusa. Combining all the attractions of a traditional backpackers’ hostel – friendly, intimate and an excellent location – with smart, newly-renovated accommodation (including free WIFI), it makes a great base in the southern city.
Whether it’s north, south, east or west, the four corners of the Eurail network have great adventures – and great hostels – for backpackers exploring Europe. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, train travel in Europe puts a world of culture, nightlife and ancient history at your fingertips.