What you need to know
What you need to know
What you need to know
Having the right Europe travel tips can change your whole trip. The exhilarating experience opened my mind to all the possibilities the world held for me, and completely changed the direction my life was heading.
I fell in love with the remarkable sights, cities, and diverse cultures. I wanted to immerse myself in all of them. Even now, years later, no matter what part of the world I am wondering I always have something inside me nudging to me back to travel across Europe more.
EUROPE TRAVEL TIPS AND TRICKS
Now, I have over two years traveling through Europe on countless trips. Along the way, I’ve made mistakes and also learned the dos and donts of backpacking Europe.
I wrote this guide as if I were heading to Europe on one of my first trips. Covering all the backpacking Europe tips that I wish I would have known.
Common Questions About Traveling Europe
Is Europe safe?
I get many emails from people expressing a need to backpacking across Europe, but they’re afraid or nervous. It can be intimidating being so far from home.
My first Europe travel 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 Europe?
It varies on what time of year you are visiting, like the best time to visit Iceland. Winter you need heavy gear which cost a bit more.
How long do you need when traveling Europe?
It depends on your itinerary. Personal, I suggest backpacking Europe as a long as you can. What makes Europe 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 maximum three months because of the Schengen visa laws. (Read How to Plan Your Europe Itinerary)
Which Cities Should I go to?
We will get into some of the best European cities later on in the post. However, I thought I would list some of my personal favorite cities to visit in Europe. I love Rome, Paris, Lisbon, Budapest, Stockholm, and Barcelona. (Read What Makes these the Best European Cities to Visit)
Do I Really Need Travel Insurance?
That is your decision. However, it is always smart to protect yourself that is what travel insurance does. Travel insurance has saved me a lot of money when backpacking Europe and covers me on adventures like running with the bulls or skydiving. (Read Is It Worth It to Buy Travel Insurance)
What Companies Can I Trust?
Good question! With so many companies pulling you left and right trying to get you to book a walking tour, day trip, and sightseeing bus it is hard to know who to trust. I list some of my all time favorite companies in my Europe resources.
I’ve been traveling the world 24/7 for the last 7 years. Along the way I have found some pretty cool places, learned awesome stunning travel tips, and had unforgettable adventures. Helping you travel is my passion.
Curious? Check out these fun facts about me!
COST OF TRAVELING EUROPE
That’s the key question, isn’t it!
How much does it cost to backpack Europe?
It is also a really tough question to answer because everyone travels differently. I typically, budget around 1,500 – 2,000 USD a month in Europe, like if you spent a month in Spain.. Though if you count every penny, you can tour Europe for much less.
Depending on the country and city you are visiting prices vary drastically. Countries like Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland tend to be more expensive.
Likewise, popular tourist cities like Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, and Vienna also cost more than the smaller, lesser known towns and villages. And home to some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Also, keep in mind that Western Europe, in general, is way more expensive than Eastern Europe.
There are so many factors that go into answering the question.
” How much does it cost to Backpack Europe” that I wrote an entire post on the subject.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN TRAVELING EUROPE
Hostels- I have a massive soft spot for hostels. I love the atmosphere the vibrant atmosphere, cheap price,how easy it is to make friends.
Hostels are your cheapest option, and more than likely you will leave will a ton of new friends from all corners of the world. Without a doubt the best place to book hostels online is Hostelworld.
Bear in mind these quick tips when booking backpacker hostels in Europe.
When looking for the cheapest hostels, keep these travel tips in mind.
1- Typically, The average hostel dorm room cost between $25 -$45 a night.
2- Dorm rooms are cheaper. Naturally, private rooms are more expensive.
3- Camping hostels usually give you more space and are also less expensive.
4- Hostel prices go up on the weekends.
5- Location is a big part of this price difference. For example, a hostel in Paris, France is almost double the price of a hostel in Nice, France.
One Europe Travel tips I recommended you follow is 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 traveling through Europe.
Guess what use this link, sign up to Airbnb, and get $35 off your first stay for FREE.
Hotels – Sometimes hostels get old and you need your own space. For hotels I find great deals on tripadvisor. There are a lot of useful resources out there that can help you find the best hotels in Europe. So whether you are searching for the best Salzburgh hotels to the top hostel in Lisbon, it pays to do a little research.
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GETTING AROUND EUROPE
So you have your flight booked and are getting ready to plan your backpacking Europe trip! You might be wondering what the best way to get around Europe is?
I like companies like Busabout and Eurail. By purchasing these tickets, you pay a massive chunk of your travel 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 Europe.
Busabout- A Hop on Hop off bus service popular with backpackers.
Eurail – Train passes that go all around Europe. These passes give you the most freedom! You choose when and where you want to.
G Adventures – Open of the top travel tours company in the world (See why in our Review of G Adventures). Check out my full Gap Adventures Review
Intrepid – Popular tour company, specializing in small group tours.
Contiki- Popular bus tour company around Europe.
Train – You can buy tickets as you go. Depending on how much ground you are covering while exploring the best cities in Europe it could be more expensive or cheaper.
There are many cheap ways to save money backpacking through Europe. If you know the right companies.
SAFETY TIPS AND TRICKS
Overall there are a lot more dangerous places in the world than Europe. I’ve never had one problem (knock on wood), and I have spent over a year of my life traveling through Europe.
Why? Am I just lucky?
Not at all. I’ve just learned how to protect, and care for my valuables, in such a way that I do it naturally, and stress-free.
Let’s talk about some of the Europe safety tips I have learned over the year that let me travel stress-free without stressing out ever 2 seconds about if my passport it safe.
Book Hostels and Hotels Early
Book you hostels ahead of time. I have met a lot of people (myself included) that struggle with this at first.
I felt I would lose some excitement and spontaneity by knowing exactly where and when I would arrive somewhere.
However, you’re feeling of safety plummets to zero after getting to your destination to find every hostel full and you have to spend the night outside in the cold, sleeping on a bench or at an airport. You learn quickly that it’s not a bad idea to book your hostel at least two nights in advance.
In major cities, you might want to book at least a week in advance.
Booking your hostels in advance is just smart.
Copy Your Documents
Always have backup copies of your bank/credit cards and other important documents. I suggest making three.
1-Keep one set hidden in your backpack.
2-Give one set to a family member at home.
3-Store an electronic set on the cloud or email.
Copies of your important documents will make life easier in the event that they become lost or stolen, and these copies will also help verify your identity when trying to replace them. Another good idea is to store important phone numbers.
Also email them to yourself, and a trusted family member of friend. You can also save copies to your phone but I suggest have a lock on your phone that will wipe if clean if to many attempts are made. This is added security in case your phone is stolen.
We live in a world of apps.
I bet I could find an app to scratch my back if I wanted to.
There are some good travel apps.
You can find apps that let you plan your itinerary, like Trip it, to apps that translate languages for you like Google Translate.
These great tools for new and veteran travelers alike.
Don’t Carry Everything With You
I always carry one credit/debit card and a photo ID (never carry your passport if you plan on drinking) in my money belt and leave the rest in the hostel.
Likewise, when going out at night, take enough cash out with you so that you don’t have to go to an ATM unless it’s an emergency.
Watch Out For Scams
Beware of scammers around tourist spots. Scammers flock to main tourist attractions especially in big cities. Scammers are persistent and while they don’t mean you any physical harm, they do want to hurt your bank account.
If someone is trying to lure you into making a deal that’s too good to be true, guess what? It is!
Also, never sign a petition that gives any personal information including your personal email. Don’t entertain strangers that are trying to sell jewelry they just found or relics of old.
These are a few of the scams I have seen in Europe.
The best way to deal with scammers is just to say, “No, thank you”, and if they persist ignore them.
It is not rude to ignore someone who is trying to take advantage of you.
It is important to remember that not everyone wants to scam you, but it your gut is telling you not to do something, don’t.
Use a money belt
You need a money belt! Money belts are extremely good at three things.
1-Your important documents are safe.
2-Your documents are nice, neat, and organized.
3-Your documents are easily retrievable.
I was once traveling with someone who didn’t have a money belt.
A few days into their travels, they had dropped their debt card and I.D into the crowd of thousands at a summer solstice party at Stonehenge (they were never seen again).
That hurts! Not only is it a huge hassle to replace these items and cancel out the lost ones, but it also takes away from your precious travel time.
Honestly. I hardly wear my money belt anymore. I just have it in my daypack that never leaves my side. Money Belts are good to keep your documents organized, and if you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you can always put it on.
Carry Emergency Cash
Always have enough cash tucked safely away so that if necessary, you could live for a couple of days. This has saved me more than once when I have had problems with my debit and credit cards.
Extra cash always gives you relief that if something happens you will be ok.
Know What Areas to Avoid
I was in Athens, Greece when they were having the bad forest fires that crept up to the city (There are a lot of fires around the city, it is one of the interesting facts about Athens).
I was also in London during the riots of 2010, and in Egypt during the protest.
Was I nervous? No, not really. Why?
Because I knew exactly what areas to avoid.
If I am nervous about being in a country talk to people who live there.
People who work at hostels are great (It is one of the top jobs to travel) for this. They will let you know what areas to avoid.
Tell Your Bank You Are Leaving
Let your bank and credit card company know you are leaving.
I have seen banks and credit card companies shut down people’s spending power after a couple of weeks because they are unsure about all the foreign transactions.
It is much easier to let your companies know that you are leaving the country and how long you will be gone. This ensures that you will have nothing to worry about.
Arrive During the Day
No matter what method of travel you are using, picking an arrival time during the day will make you feel a lot safer.
While I have never felt unsafe traveling at night, it is intimidating to arrive in a strange city at an ungodly hour.
I also try to take long journeys on buses or trains at night to save on accommodations with the added bonus that you also usually arrive sometimes in the morning.
Beware: train and bus stations are not as safe as airports, so you want to keep an eye open for pickpockets and scammers.
WHAT TO EAT WHEN TRAVELING EUROPE
The food section will be brief simply because that expense is entirely up to you.
You can always grab fresh bread and cheese to save money and only spend $15 a day on food while backpacking through Europe.
The bread and cheese is a delicious meal and only cost a couple dollars.
If you are going to restaurants three times a day, you can expect to spend $25-$40 a day on food.
However, I recommend a mixture, eat bread and cheese, and cook your own meals a lot, but also go out to eat a few times a week.
By doing this, your average cost of food should be $15-$25 a day on food.
PARTYING IN EUROPE
I won’t lie to you, partying in Europe is awesome, and Europe is massive on the backpacker’s party culture.
In almost every hostel you can find a bar, a group of people playing cards while drinking their own wine, or others going on a nightly pub crawl.
While I like my nights out, trust me, getting lost in the insane parties of Europe will drain your bank account faster than anything.
This is an important Europe Travel Tip: Drink less. I promise you will be able to travel longer, and enjoy your travels without having nasty hangovers.
BEST CITIES TO VISIT WHEN BACKPACKING EUROPE
I am passionately in love with the eternal city. Rome has so many ruins, such good food, and the people are amazing. When it comes to cities one Europe travel tip, I suggest you do ‘go to Rome.’ It’s one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the world.
It isn’t the cheapest country in Europe, but if you know how to travel Italy on a budget, it isn’t too bad. Walks of Italy also has some fantastic walking tours of Rome.
I once met a backpacker who had just come from Barcelona In one sentence; he told me that he had gotten robbed while he was there. In the next, he said it was still his favorite city. That immediately made the city soar to the top of my list of cities to visit while backpacking Europe, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The food, atmosphere, fountains of the cities are magical.
There are a lot of cheap things to do in Barcelona. The city has great cathedrals, fantastic waterfront area, cool secret bars, and scenic hills. I fell in love with this Spanish city.
I have never met anyone who hates Budapest. It is clean, cheap, and has a fantastic nightlife.(There are great party hostels in Budapest). The country is on the border between eastern and western Europe and isn’t on the Euro. Budapest is incredibly cheap.
I personally think Budapest is one of the best cities in Eastern Europe. Budapest is a must when backpacking through Europe.
Prague is a picturesque city one of best places to visit in Europe. It has a charming town square and a larger than life castle. For the central city in Europe, it is also cheap.
Next, to Venice, I think it is the perfect city to wander around and get lost in when traveling Europe.
You could easily spend 3 day in Prague and not run out of things to do.
Amsterdam was nothing like I expected. The city has a small town feel, is completely clean, and full of fun activities like riding bikes up and down the canals is a highlight anyone should have when backpacking Europe.
At night the city comes alive with parties and pub crawls, both or which are aweseome bachelor party ideas. Amsterdam is scenic and beautiful city to explore in the daylight and a wild and crazy party at night.
Ah, the city of lights. I have found that people either love or hate Paris. Honestly, it took me a couple of visits to warm up to the city, but now I have fallen in love with the city.
There are such amazing and unusual things to do in Paris. Plus the outdoor cafes are tempting, plentiful, and overflowing with great food. Even on a cloudy day, Paris is beautiful.
Another perk are the day trips from Paris.
The first time I went to Istanbul was merely because I was running out of money and needed to duck out of the Euro Zone. When I arrived,
Berlin is the whole package. It is a cheap city with a lot of history and fun, 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 backpacking cities in Europe.
Venice is a city of alleyways and canals. While a lot of people hate how touristy Venice has become, I still find it a fantastic city. Venice at sunset is stunning. 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 is in the top ten European destinations.
Bruges is a beautiful example medieval city, with good chocolate and french fries. There are great free walking tours of Bruges.
When looking to travel to the best European Cities, it would be a shame if you missed this city when backpacking through Europe. Many of these cities are the Top 5 European Cities For the First Time Backpacker
ADVENTURES WHEN BACKPACKING EUROPE
Now you are aware of the top cities when backpacking through Europe, but what about all the adventures? This list includes European adventures that will get your blood pumping, but also adventures that are a little more tame for the less crazy among us.
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS
Yea, this isn’t a tame adventures. Running with the Bulls is an incredibly intense experience. That being said, it is the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever , and it is a major highlight Europe 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.
When I think of my 5 days I spent at Oktoberfest when I was backpacking Europe, three words come to mind: wild, crazy, and hazy. 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 European Cities, 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 Europe 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.
Driving, hitchhiking, or ride shares are all ways you can backpack through Europe. Plus, it is easy to rent a car in Europe.
Another one of my travel highlights and an exceptional place to relax. You can spend a week sailing up and the 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 Europe.
It was full of good people, stunning destinations, and adventure. The Datamation Coast is most beautiful coast I have seen while backpacking Europe.
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 traveling across Europe.
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. This is a good tips whether you Europe, or exploring Seattle Beaches.
The Greek islands are beautiful and have something for everyone. Don’t miss them when backpacking through Europe.
Europe Travel Tip – My favorite Islands are Santorini, Ios, and Crete.
One of the top adventure festivals in Europe, 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 Europe, 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 hostel 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 is your thing, 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.
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