With Christmas and New Years Eve slowly rolling round, I was thinking back to a few years ago, when I had a heavy metal adventure, inter-railing around Europe with a friend.
We had an awesome time and it was a lot of fun. It was the second time I’ve inter-railed Europe… and it won’t be the last.
An inter-rail journey makes for a great adventure.
Here is how we planned a heavy metal Inter Rail adventure, and all the best metal bars we visited along the way.
What is Inter-Rail?
Inter-rail is a name given to a special type of train pass that allows you to use the rail network across Europe. The ticket allows you to make X days of journeys in Y days.
For example, one pass is a 5 days in 15. This means you can spend an entire day making a journey, 5 times, inside 15 days. Which is more than enough for getting started!
Each time you make a journey, you write it on your ticket.
It’s valid for most of Europe and includes the Eurostar, if you are wanting to cross the English Channel.
It’s a great deal, and if you are 27 or under you get an hefty discount on the price of the ticket.
You can see the inter-rail website here. It has the passes and a timetable.
Sometimes it can be worth booking a seat on the train, and for some routes this is mandatory. You main ticket covers the train fare, but booking costs a few extra Euros.
If you are on a long journey, sitting in the luggage car or standing for 8 hours (which we had to do once) really sucks, so splashing a couple of Euros to book a seat is worth it.
How to Plan a Heavy Metal Inter-rail Adventure
It all starts with what you want.
Are you wanting to go between different European metal festivals, or are you just out to party? Maybe a mixture of partying and culture?
If you are travelling to different festivals, your choices for destinations are pre-determined, with some flexibility. If you want to party, you can go anywhere.
Some of my favourite places to check out have been in Eastern Europe – Prague (Czech Republic) and Budapest (Hungary) were both awesome, with Amsterdam (Holland) next followed by Vienna (Austria) and then Brussels (Belgium).
The second trip I did was London (where we started) – Amsterdam – Budapest – Prague – Vienna – Brussels.
I travelled with a friend and we checked out a tonne of cool places.
There are plenty of places on the web that you can find good metal bars.
A Google search for “Metal bar CITY” will bring up reddit and tripadvisor threads with specific recommendations you can check out.
There used to be a website called “The Metal Travel Guide”, which was awesome, but has since been taken down. You can see an archive of it here. It was probably one of the most comprehensive lists of rock and metal bars in the world, it’s a shame it has been taken down.
MetalPubs.com also has extensive listings of rock and metal pubs across the world.
AtlasObscura has big listings of various quirky places to visit.
Here are the heavy metal highlights for each city from my trip, with must see bars and attractions:
Amsterdam has a reputation for being the party capital of Europe and it was our first stop on our journey.
We got on the Eurostar from St Pancreas in London, direct to Amsterdam. Stayed one night and then travelled to Budapest the next day.
We had too many beers in Amsterdam, overslept, missed our train and had to get another one a few hours later.
This was the best place to go for a beer in Amsterdam. With nice beers, they play rock and metal, and have a couple of pool tables upstairs. Like everywhere else in Amsterdam, it’s by the canal and quite scenic.
The aesthetic of the bar is awesome, with suits of armour and a motorbike.
This was also the first time I have ever had someone be sick on me. Gross.[Excalibur Café | Heavy Metal & Hardrock Red Light District Amsterdam](http://www.excaliburcafe.nl)
From Amsterdam, we made the long journey to Budapest. It took most of a day, but was well worth it.
Our plan was to goto a rave (yeah… not very metal, but it is pretty fun) at the Szechenyi Baths and then goto a metal bar for New Years Eve.
The Szechenyi Baths are pretty insane. Outdoor thermal pools. They open them up late, put some lasers and a giant sound system in, put a bar up by the pools and then its party time.[Szechenyi Baths – Szechenyi Spa Baths Budapest – Guide & Booking](http://szechenyispabaths.com/)
The que to get in takes forever, so you might want to check out a local corner shop for a couple of beers while you wait.
The bar uses a cashless wrist pass system, a bit like some metal festivals. You have to get your pass and load it up when you arrive, and you can cash it out when you leave.
Unfortunately, the party finishes after the metro system shuts, so, we had to walk back to the other side of Budapest to get to our flat. Fortunately, Budapest isn’t super big, and you can walk across the city in about an hour or so.
The next day, we were slightly under the weather, waking up at 1pm or so (which seems crazy considering I woke up at 4am today without an alarm, tried to sleep, failed, got out of bed at 5.30 and started writing at 6am).
Definitely something to book in advance, it sells out every year.
Rocktogon and New Years Eve
There was a cool metal bar in town called the Rocktogon.
It’s a great pub and we spent New Years Eve watching and dancing along to an awesome AC/DC covers band that were playing.
With a moody interior and local original and covers bands playing, it’s perfect for a beer and some heavy metal.
Metalheads Love Cats
Who doesn’t love cats?
Budapest also has a pretty cool Cat Cafe. You can have a coffee and hang out with a Maine Coon, it’s pretty awesome.
It’s the purrfect way to have some peace and quiet after partying for a few days.
Where to Stay
We rented a holiday flat for a few days from… I can’t remember where from. But there are quite a few around. We paid the guy and he posted the keys to the UK before we left.
When we left the flat, we put the keys back through the letter box.
Hungarians tend to favour a very firm mattress compared to people from the UK, so firm it almost felt like wood.
What You Need to Know about Budapest
Wisely staying out of the Eurozone, Hungary uses the Hungarian Florin (HGF) as their currency.
Budapest has a small subway / metro system with a handful of lines, that is easy to get around on, but closes early.
Prague is another place with a reputation for being a town you can party in.
When we made our trip, it also had the biggest nightclub in Europe. The club is kinda fun, but in my opinion, not really worth it. It’s a stereotypical nightclub that plays crap music too loud.
Fortunately, Prague has plenty to keep you amused.
It is crazy cheap. Food and drink are all super cheap. We stayed in a 5* hotel without breaking the bank (admittedly drinks were much more expensive here than the rest of Prague).
The Best of Kutna Hora
Kutna Hora is about 60 minutes by train from Prague itself. It has a couple of awesome places to check out and makes for a great day trip from Prague.
We bought a separate ticket from our inter-rail pass – it’s not worth using the pass on such a short trip, and the train is cheap, it was about €8 or so.
The Bone Church / Sedlec Ossuary
This is a must visit destination for you. It is a church, literally built from bones.
Gruesome, but totally metal. It’s so metal, Dethklok would probably shoot a music video there.
It gets pretty busy and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Prague, so you’ll want to get there early in the day. There are several coaches of people turning up at a time to see the church.[Sedlec Ossuary – The Church of Bones](https://sedlecossuary.com/)
[Sedlec Ossuary – Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedlec_Ossuary)
After you’ve seen the church… you might want to get a beer:
Dacicky Beer Hall
Kutna Hora also has an awesome Medieval drinking hall, called Dacicky Beer Hall.
It has a medieval sort of theme to it, with the decor taking you back to a time of knights and princesses, with great food and really nice beer.
It’s also insanely cheap. I had a 3 course meal, several beers and a shot of vodka for about £15.
It’s about a 1 hour walk from the Sedlec Ossuary.
Open fire, brick floor, long wooden benches adorned with weapons and flags; this is a great restaurant to go spend a few hours in.[Restaurace Dačický](https://www.dacicky.com/?lang=en)
[Dacicky beer hall in Kutna Hora](http://www.outsideprague.com/kutna_hora/dacicky_beer_hall.html)
While doing some googling to find the links for this, it turns out that Kutna Hora has a tonne of cool stuff to see, including an old mine and a medieval festival; so I’ll be going back there sometime: [Czech Republic – Royal Silvering of Kutná Hora](http://www.czechtourism.com/e/royal-silvering-kutna-hora/)
Battalion Comic Book Bar
This place is pretty cool. It’s a bar done up in a comic book theme, covered in art by the comic book artist Kaja Saudek.
As far as atmosphere goes, this place is hard to beat. Pricey by Prague standards, but pretty reasonable by UK standards, it won’t break the bank.
Europeans like to party late, and in the winter this place opens at 8pm and shuts at 7am.
Where to Stay in Prague
We stayed at the Corinthian, which is a beautiful 5* hotel. Getting to the hotel by metro felt a bit dodgy the first time we went (the area, initially looks a bit rough for a nice hotel), but it was fine.
Comfy hotel with an unlimited buffet breakfast. I think I ate my body weight in food every morning we stayed there.[5 Star hotels in Prague | Luxury Hotel Prague | Corinthia Hotel Prague](https://www.corinthia.com/en/hotels/prague)
What You Need to Know About Prague
The metro system is pretty easy to navigate (by London standards), but it does shut early compared to the pubs and clubs, so plan your trip accordingly.
We had to make some late night long distance hikes to get back from the town centre to the hotel.
Like Hungary, they are not part of the Eurozone, and their currency is Czech Crowns.
Nationally known as Wien, Vienna is a city with a lot of history. While it is traditional associated with opera and ballet than heavy metal, Vienna is still a city you can have a lot of fun in.
There were two main bars we checked out in Vienna:
BattleAxe Rock and Metal Pub
This place is seriously cool. A far cry from the drive bar, BattleAxe Rock and Metal Pub is done up pretty nice.
There is metal related artwork and album covers all over the walls, and even…
We had a great time when we visited this place. It was kinda quiet (we were there mid week) but the atmosphere was pretty nice.
People in the bar were really approachable, and we talked to a couple there, before crushing them at table football.
I think the barman was bored, so after our table football victory, we ended up doing shots of jaeger miniatures with him, and building a pyramid from the empties.
All in all, a pretty great night out.
The bar itself is tucked away out of sight. Located on what I can only think of describing as a nice alleyway, it is very easy to miss the entrance to the bar (which we did… twice), so keep an eye out.
The BattleAxe is so much fun you can easily spend a night there without feeling like you are missing out on the nightlife.[Battle Axe](http://www.battleaxe.at/)
Philosoph – Bier, Bar, Biest
I have to be honest for a moment… I think this is the second bar we visited. I say I think, because I can’t remember 100%.
It’s a tiny little place.
My main memory of this place is how smokey it was. Some places in Europe don’t (or at least, didn’t at the time), have a public smoking ban, so people were smoking all they wanted in this bar.
It was so smokey, it made my eyes sting.
Worth a visit, the photos on their website look like people no longer smoke in there, so check it out and have a beer:[Philosoph – Start](http://www.philosophwien.at)
What You Need to Know About Vienna
A beautiful city but also the most expensive place we stayed in, Vienna was a lot of fun.
If you want a quiet evening, you can take a couple of hours to walk around at night and just admire the architecture.
Vienna also has an amazing Christmas market, so if you’re intending to travel over the New Year and festive seasons, check that out.
By far the worst place we visited. It’s the only town in Europe (in fact, in anywhere I’ve been), where I have seen people take a shit on the street.
And not just once.
On top of that, some douchecanoe tried to steal my friends suitcase – we were reading a map on the street, and someone walked passed, picking up my friends suitcase! We didn’t realise until some stranger shouted at us from across the street, at which point I turned and ran.
It was pretty dark, so I couldn’t actually see the guy who took the suitcase. But he saw me, and thought I could see him, dropping the suitcase and running himself.
We recovered it and nothing was missing.
Best part of Brussels: We found a nice normal pub with delicious beer, and posted beer mats to our friends in the UK.
Beautiful city, but I don’t think I would visit it again.
Tasty beer, gorgeous architecture and a fun Christmas market were it’s only redeeming features.
Le Cercueil is a coffin themed bar that was actually pretty cool.
Solely lit by neon lights, with coffins lying around for tables (a bit like Garlic and Shots in London), they certainly have the atmosphere dialled in.
It opens around lunchtime and is pretty pricey, but worth a visit for one drink.
Their website doesn’t work, but you can see them on AtlasObscura here.
12 Tips to Have an Awesome Heavy Metal Inter-Rail Adventure Around Europe
- Plan a couple of months ahead. Places book up and it takes time to figure out the logistics.
- Have some music to listen to. Some of the rail journeys can take all day, especially if you have a connection and end up waiting a few hours.
- Take something to do on the train. I like to read and covered Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and A Brief History of Rome by Livy. Check out some other books here.
- Check your data plan on your phone.
- Read the T&C on your inter-rail pass. There are some specific things you have to do in order for your ticket to be valid.
- European trains run on time – don’t be late
- Try not to eat too much delicious Burger King at the train stations
- Pack light. You’ll be living out of a rucksack
- Check times that places open and shut, the days they open and shut, and how transport works. “Normal” times can be very different to back home.
- Print off metro maps and general maps for each city you stay in, before you leave.
- Tell your bank you will be abroad so that they don’t block your card.
- Winter in Europe can get cold as fuck, so take some decent warm clothes.
Embrace the Adventure and Have Fun!