Backpacking Europe | Everything You need to Know
, those two words conjure up pictures of sipping wine under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, soaking in the sun on a Greek Island, or partying the night away in Berlin.
holds some of the best beaches, historical sites, and coolest cities in the entire world. On top of that holds diverse cultures, amazing cuisine, wine, and beer.
across isn’t just a fantastic experience; it’s a life-changing adventure.
Seriously, the first time I backpacked my outlook on life changed, the path I was headed on changed. changed everything for me, and opened my mind to the exhilarating possibilities the world held for me, and what I wanted out of life.
I fell in love with the remarkable sights, cities, and diverse cultures. I wanted to immerse myself in all of them. When I returned home I couldn’t stop thinking about .
Since that first fateful , I have spent a combined total of over two years and I have visited almost every country in the EU. Heck, I even live in now!
Note About Traveling During Covid-19
We are trying to stay updated with the latest travel restrictions during this crazy time, of the coronavirus, that has hit the tourism industry hard.
But as rules for visiting a destination change quickly, it is important to check with your government websites to see the latest travel restrictions, requirements, and travel advisories.
They will have updated information on the latest covid 19 vaccine, whether or not you need to present a negative covid 19 test.
Travel Plans can change quickly, I’ve had 4 flights canceled, so stay updated with the latest travel advisories before you start booking things in your destination.
Table of Contents
How this Backpacking Europe Guide Will Help You
As much fun as that first was, I made some serious mistakes along the way. Mistakes that cost me time and money.
This guide gives a wide overview of in . Follow along, and I promise that by the time you reach the end you’ll be more equipped for .
Throughout we will cover everything from choosing the best to picking the right . From navigating a to the perks of a .
We will even go over the last COVID 19 rules and restrictions. everything you need to know before your , and everything you need to limit mistakes.
Backpacking Europe Itinerary
Picking your is the first step in planning your . And there are some key questions you need to answer! Mainly which do you want to see the most? Why? Because this will be your cornerstone country and your other choices will be influenced by it.
My key advice, don’t overreach. Be realistic about how places you can see. So if you have three weeks don’t try to fit in fifteen cities across five countries. There’s a good chance you’ll burn out.
But more importantly, you’ll feel so rushed that you’ll miss the things right in front of you. For someone with three weeks , my advice is to pick a cornerstone country, and plan to visit one or two counties next door.
Once you decided on the focus country you can start asking yourself other questions. Is the main city you want to visit Copenhagen, because of the beautiful ? Then maybe start thinking focusing on Scandinavia this .
Next time plan a that focuses on . After all, the Czech Republic has some stunning places to visit. And some great nearby countries.
Here are some of my favorite European Itineraries!
For 3 -4 Weeks
Two to three days in each city.
Route 1 – Western /
, Czech Republic
Route 2 – Mediterranean Sun
Start in Italy
Fly to Greece
Route 3 Barcelona to Paris
Back to Spain
Island hop to Dubrovnik
Route 4 – Off the beaten path
COST OF TRAVELING EUROPE
That’s the key question, isn’t it!
What is a cost of a to ?
It’s a smart question. But I can’t give you an answer. Because there are so many different factors. Are you going to spend your time in a touristy , or head to lesser-known places with ? Are you willing to sleep in a dorm room? Or do you need a fancy hotel?
Most countries in and are in the . But have completely different costs for .
We’re not all the same type of . So it makes sense the cost is different.
So while I can’t say, “you need X amount of money to cover the “; I can give you a roundabout number.
As a , I usually expect to spend around 1,500 – 2,000 USD a month in .
Though if you count every penny, you can reduce your European cost even more.
Depending on the country and city you are visiting prices vary drastically. Countries like Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland tend to be more expensive. (I once paid 35 dollars for three small tacos in Norway).
Likewise, popular tourist cities like Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, and Vienna also cost more than the smaller, lesser-known towns and villages. And some big cities like Berlin and are known for being a haven for .
How much does it cost to travel to western Europe?
The western part of is the most expensive area to to. Even budget travelers should plan on spending $60 – $100 a day while through .
WHERE TO STAY WHEN TRAVELING EUROPE
Choosing where you’re going to stay will have a huge impact on your .
Hostels – Curious about staying in hostels while in ? I am here to help. Throughout my travels, I’ve literally stayed in hundreds of hostels around .
And I have a massive soft spot for hostels. I love the atmosphere the vibrant atmosphere, cheap price, and how easy it is to make friends. Yes, sometimes they are noisy,
The is the cheapest option for a . It’s also the easiest place to make new friends from all corners of the world.
The best place to book hostels online is Hostelworld.
Bear in mind these quick tips when booking hostels in .
When looking for the cheapest hostels, keep these in mind.
1- Typically, The average dorm room cost between $25 -$45 a night.
2- The bigger the Dorm room the cheaper the price. Naturally, private rooms are more expensive.
3- Camping hostels usually give you more space and are also less expensive. But are bare bones.
4- prices go up on the weekends.
5- Location is a big part of this price difference. For example, a in Paris, France is almost double the price of a in Nice, France.
One tip I recommended you follow is to book your hostels early. I have slept on the street a few times because I waited until the last minute and everything was full.
Airbnb – Airbnb has taken the accommodation world by storm. It is a fantastic option when through .
Hotels – Sometimes hostels get old and you need your own space. For hotels, I find great deals on Booking.com There are a lot of useful resources out there that can help you find the best hotels in . So whether you’re looking for the most romantic Salzburg hotels or the quaint hotel in the old downtown, it pays to do a little research.
GETTING AROUND EUROPE
So you have your flight booked and are getting ready to plan your ! You might be wondering what the best way to get around is?
I like companies like Busabout and . By purchasing these tickets, you pay a massive chunk of your expenses before you even leave home. You’ll only need money for subways, trams, or day trips.
Most big cities offer day passes on their public transportation. These are some of the cheapest ways to get around .
Busabout- A Hop on Hop off bus service popular with backpackers.
– These are passes that go all around . These passes give you the most freedom! Plus, is my favorite way to get around when I .
G Adventures – Open of the top tours company in the world. Check out my full Gap Adventures Review
Intrepid – Popular tour company, specializing in small group tours.
Contiki- Popular bus tour company around .
– You can buy tickets as you go. Depending on how much ground you are covering while exploring the best cities in it could be more expensive or cheaper.
There are many cheap ways to save money through . If you know the right companies.
Is Europe Safe to Travel?
Yes! is safe to . The media does a good job of making people scared to to . But I have never had a problem in . I’ve never been robbed or threatened. And not once have I felt in physical danger. That being said, there are areas to avoid anywhere you go, so do your homework. And here are some simple European tips to help you stay safe!
- Book our Hostels and Hotels Early
- Copy Your Documents and Store Them in a Digital Vault
- Utilize Apps
- Never Carry Everything in One Place
- Beware of Scammers, Use a Money Belt or Money Wallet
- Have an Emergency Cash Stash
- Research Places to Avoid
- Tell Your Bank Your Leaving
- Arrive at New Places When It’s Daylight
What are the Latest Covid Rules for Traveling in Europe
It’d be awesome if I could give you a straight answer.
But by the time I wrote down the latest rules they would be obsolete, they are changing that fast. Luckily, cases are getting lower in the EU, and because of that many countries are starting to relax restrictions.
Always check if the country you are to requires a negative test (even after being vaccinated).
Also, if you have a layover make sure you don’t need a negative test to change planes. Seriously! I had a find that was denied boarding, because she had a two-hour layover in AMS, and the airport required a negative test for the layover.
The best website to see the current restrictions is Re-open EU.
BEST CITIES TO VISIT WHEN BACKPACKING EUROPE
Rome’s my favorite city to visit when . In all fairness, Rome doesn’t have the best nightlife, and it isn’t the most -friendly. But what Rome has in spades is a charm, history, food, and personality. Ancient ruins site amid the modern buildings, 2,000 fountains are peppered throughout the city and small square, dimly lit streets echo the sounds of busy cafes and restaurants.
I’m passionately in love with the eternal city. It’s one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the world. If you’re a history buff, Rome is your mecca. But even if you just have a passing interest in history, Rome is worth visiting; from the food to gelato, to the yellow party , good memories await you in Rome.
I once met a who said “I just got robbed in Barcelona and lost everything….. and it’s still my favorite city in . In one sentence; he told me everything I needed to know, and Barcelona became my next destination.
And Barcelona doesn’t disappoint. Since that , I’ve visited Barcelona multiple times – and I’ve never gotten robbed – and on every visit, I get more and more charmed by the cities vibe, beaches, and magical fountain, and of course, sangria.
One of the coolest things about Barcelona – actually the whole of Spain – is that seems to flow backward. It’s not uncommon to eat dinner at midnight. Nightlife gets started around 2 – 3 a.m. And people sleep until noon. It’s a wild-time vortex that I love.
The city has great cathedrals, a fantastic waterfront area, cool secret bars, and scenic hills. It is a budget-friendly Spanish city, especially if you do some research on the cheap things to do in Barcelona.
I have never met anyone who hates . This European city is clean, cheap, and has a fantastic nightlife. (There are great party hostels in ).
is on the border between eastern and and isn’t on the Euro. This makes a hotspot because the city is cheap!
is a picturesque city one of the best places to visit in . The old city is picturesque and filled with history. For backpackers, there’s great nightlife, including a 4 story club. ‘s also budget-friendly for . The city is beautiful enough that just wandering around and getting lost is satisfying. This scenic city lands in my top 5 cities to visit in .
You could easily spend 3 days in and not run out of things to do.
Amsterdam… was nothing like I expected. This has a small-town feel, is completely clean, and has stunning canals. Amsterdam has a lot to see in do, apart from smoking the green, and the red light district. in Amsterdam is a crazy mixture of bikes, trams, buses, and trains, making it hard to cross the street, especially if you’re in an impaired state.
From epic parties to scenic canals, getting bored in Amsterdam is impossible.
Ah, what can I say about the city of lights that hasn’t been said a million times? More than the art and the iconic effiel tower, I fell in love with the outdoor cafes, stunning architecture, and off-the-beaten-track sites. there are a lot of unusual things to do in Paris. Every inch of the city of lights is captivating. And it’s a place every should see once in their life.
The cities are also in a prime location and there are a lot of day trips from Paris.
As an added bonus it is easy to find a from the USA to Paris.
Bordering and Asia, Istanbul often gets looked over by people . But that is a huge mistake. Istanbul is a hodgepodge of and the Middle East. On one hand, there are hectic markets, world-renowned mosaics, and middle eastern cuisine. On the other hand, the atmosphere and vibe feel more like similar to the Mediterranean.
The first time I went to Istanbul was mere happenstance – I was running out of money and needed to duck out of the Euro Zone – within a day I was in love. Since then I’ve been back 5 times. And I still can’t get enough of the city.
If you’re curious about in the Middle East, Istanbul is the perfect introduction.
Berlin is famous among those . It’s famous for its club scene, and its cheap prices – although Berlin is getting more expensive. Berlin has something for everyone. Into history, well you have the remains of the berlin wall, and enough WWII history to last a lifetime.
Looking for nightlife, Berlin has some of the best clubs in the world but also has a handful of quirky bars.
Also, you will find the best kebabs in the world in Berlin, and as backpackers, kebabs are your best friend. Berlin is one of the best cities in .
Venice is perhaps the most iconic city in . And that title comes with a price, as Venice is the most touristy city in . But while this confusing maze of alleyways and canals, that some call a city, is touristy, I still love it. Yes, Venice is crowded, hot, and overpriced, but it’s also breathtaking.
The best thing to do in Venice is wandering around and get lost, and trust me; you will get lost. This is one main reason why it’s in the top ten European destinations.
Bruges is a pristine example medieval city. Known not only for its stunning old city but for also amazing chocolate and french fries. There are some fun free walking tours of Bruges.
When looking to to the best , it would be a shame if you missed this city when through .
ADVENTURES WHEN BACKPACKING EUROPE
Now you are aware of the top cities when through , but what about all the adventures? This list includes European adventures that will get your blood pumping, but also adventures that are a little tamer for the less crazy among us.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
Yea, this isn’t a tame adventure. Running with the Bulls is an incredibly intense experience. That being said, it is the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had, and it is a major highlight travels.
I would do it again in a heartbeat, and if you are looking to test your limits, this is the adventure for you. Just make sure you know how to run with the bulls and survive.
Note: Save some money by staying in San Sebastian, which is just a cheap away.
When I think of the 5 days I spent at Oktoberfest when I was , three words come to mind: wild, crazy, and hazy. No can prepare you from the madness that is Oktoberfest. This is the world’s largest beer festival, and it is one hell of a time.
This is a double whammy. Not only do you get to visit Munich, another one of my top , but you also get to have a beer adventure at the same time.
I mean Munich can get messy during Oktoberfest, even the best drinkers might need an Oktoberfest Guide.
One of my favorite ways to get around is by driving. I did this a lot on the Mongol Rally, even without a clutch.
The roads are nice, and in some places, you don’t even have speed limits – looking at you Germany.
Driving, hitchhiking, or rideshares are all ways you can backpack through , rent a car, and make your own journey. . So throw away the , load up your
Another one of my highlights and an exceptional place to relax. You can spend a week sailing up and down the stunning Dalmatian coast with a group of other backpackers. You can read my full Sail Croatia Review. Croatia Sailing was one of my favorite tours in .
It was full of good people, stunning destinations, and adventure. The Datamation Coast is the most beautiful coast I have seen while .
One of the most impressive mountain ranges in the world, the Alps border France, Italy, and Switzerland.
They are worth visiting for the view alone when across .
Of course, there are many adventures to be had here as well, and they range from ultra mild to extreme.
SAILING THE GREEK ISLANDS
Relax on the beach, rent a quad bike and explore, or jump on a sailboat.
The Greek islands are beautiful and have something for everyone. Don’t miss them when through .
Tip – My favorite Islands are Santorini, Ios, and Crete. I have a lot of that can help you plan the perfect to Greece.
One of the top adventure festivals in , La Tomatina, might be the most significant food fight in the world.
The whole city turns into a mess as thousands of people spend the day throwing tomatoes at one another.
Sadly, I have never been to a music festival in , but I hear nothing but great things about them.
CLIMB MT. OLYMPUS
This two-day climb is easy enough that you only have to be moderately in good shape to make the ascent.
The landscape is beautiful, and you can’t help but imagine Greek mythological gods gazing down on you as you slowly trod up to the heights of Olympus.
Pro Tip – There is a halfway up the mountain, so you don’t need a tent or camping gear.
RAFT PUB CRAWL
A lot of travelers go on pub crawls, but not a lot of them do it by rafting down a river and stopping at bars along the way.
This can be done in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and is an adventure that shouldn’t be missed.
SNOWBOARDING AND SKIING
If skiing and snowboarding are your things, then countries like Austria have some great places to shred the slopes.
However, if rushing down a mountain with pieces of wood and plastic strapped to your feet doesn’t sound like fun don’t worry there are some breath-taking resorts when you spend winter in Austria that offer much more than just skiing.
Common Questions About Traveling Europe
I get many emails from people expressing a need to across , but they’re afraid or nervous. It can be intimidating being so far from home.
My first tip is just to do it! Don’t worry you will be fine. I have never once felt threatened, scared, or nervous.
When to visit ?
It varies on what time of year you are visiting. Winter, you need heavy gear which costs a bit more.
How long do you need when to ?
It depends on your . Personally, I suggest as long as you can. What makes unique is the vast amount of different cultures and countries crammed into such a small space. I would say minimum you need a couple of weeks, and a maximum of three months because of the laws. ( Read How to Plan Your )
Which Cities Should I go to?
Above we talk about some of the best cities in . However, if I had to narrow it down to my top five favorites it would be
- Bonus: The Copenhagen is also one of my favorites.
Do I Really Need ?
That is your decision. However, it is always smart to protect yourself that is what does. has saved me a lot of money when and covers me on adventures like running with the bulls or skydiving. ( Read Is It Worth It to Buy )
What Companies Can I Trust?
Good question! With so many companies pulling you left and right trying to get you to book a , day , and sightseeing bus it is hard to know who to trust. I list some of my all-time favorite companies in my resources.
What is the best transport method for ?
That depends on the person. Some will want to use a by or bus – or even hitchhike. like Ryan Air. Others will want to
My personal favorite way to is by . passes can be a great resource for getting around . As long as you do some research and make sure that the pass makes sense, rather than buying tickets on the go.
Another cool way to get around is Busabout, which is a bus company that does loops around .
Why should you to with a water bottle?
The water in is completely safe to drink. I recommend with a water bottle to save money and limit your environmental impact.
About This SIte
Hi! I’m Stephen Schreck! A travel addict, wordsmith, and shutterbug.
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