Europe is a destination every aspiring backpacker wants to visit. After all, it has it all – scenic vistas to soothe your nerves, thriving nightlife to boost you up, historical landmarks full of character and charm, bustling cities brimming with lively crowds, undiscovered off-the-beaten paths and of course, the delicious food that is hard to beat. When you have decided to traverse the old continent, you have to ask yourself the most important question. Where to go in Europe? Because… It is HUGE with a plethora of unique cities and towns. Backpacking Europe would be great if a backpacker gives it at least 4 weeks to uncover and explore the beautiful and quaint European places.
Let’s start off with a few tips for backpacking Europe.
Best Ways To Travel Through Europe
Before you head out to travel through the trails, make sure you know what’s in store for you. Never underestimate the power of seasons and weather patterns. Avoid high seasons at all costs. In peak summertime, states in the Balkans such as Slovenia and Albania offer the best and secluded routes for backpackers. To visit the popular countries such as Spain, Italy, and Greece, wait for the crowds to thin and opt for fall to traverse the cities. Winter means lots of frosty days and snow, but it also brings the joy of skiing, New Year’s, and Christmas festivities. As spring blooms, visit the Nordic destinations as well as France and England.
Spend a few bucks and get travel insurance because it will surely be worth the money if anything happens to you on the road. When it comes to packing, spare yourself severe backaches and pack lightly. Saving money is always great, so keep an eye out for freebies, deals and stay at cheap hostels and eat as a local does. You can also consider camping out on the grounds which will cut your accommodation cost by more than half. For commuting, take trains, buses, and budget flights. If you don’t mind paddling through the streets, renting a bike is also a great and cost-effective option.
Europe has about 44 countries; each packed with intricate details and unique landmarks. Give Europe a fair chance, and don’t rush your backpacking trip.
Must-Visit Destinations When Backpacking Through Europe
As you’re planning on backpacking Europe, add the following places to your bucket list.
Encircled by crumbling walls from the medieval era, Krakow is a city in Southern Poland that will remind you of hometowns in Disney movies. Krakow has Gothic buildings, Renaissance elements and beguiling plazas that will immerse the backpacker in historical charm. Visit Rynek Glówny, the main square of the city that was built in the 13th century.
Even though centuries have passed, the district still retains its olde-worlde charisma. The square is full of cafes, eateries, and vendors. You will also come across a plethora of pigeons and gorgeous horse-drawn carriages. Not only Krakow is beautiful, but it is also quite affordable! If you are planning a backpacking trip to Europe, add Krakow to your itinerary.
Ikaria is a tranquil island in Greece surrounded by the Aegean Sea. It is named after Icarus, the son of Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth in Greek mythology. Backpackers who want to satisfy their wanderlust cravings will immediately fall in love with the isle. The ambiance is laid back and relaxed, where one can simply lie down on one of the secluded beaches to unwind under the sun.
The sounds of surfs and scent of salty breeze only add to its serenity. When it comes to nightlife, the dwellers are no less than nocturnal creatures. And of course, it is noted for its ‘Panagiria’, traditional feasts that last throughout the days.
How can you miss Amsterdam when you are backpacking through the European cities? The capital of Netherlands is noted for its cordial ambiance, cultural heritage, the beautiful network of waterways that has earned it a nickname of ‘the Venice of the North’, gabled houses and splendid facades from the 17th-century Golden Age. For a backpacker on a budget, it is a rather inexpensive city. There are numerous biking trails throughout the city on which you can easily cycle away.
Some of the top places to visit in Amsterdam are Anne Frank Huis, Van Gogh Museum, the Brown Cafe in Medieval Centre and Red Light District, and Dam Square. Make sure to traverse the canals and shop at the outdoor markets. Have picnics at Vondelpark, stay at hostels and shared dorms, meet new people from all over the world and make friends and memories for life.
Housing numerous museums and concert halls, Riga, the capital of Latvia. sprawls beside River Daugava. While the Gothic steeples may intimidate you at first glance, the vivid nature of the city will soon envelop you. On your backpacking adventure to Riga, you will come across all kinds of interesting museums, churches, and cultural landmarks such as House of the Black Heads, Art Museum Riga Borse, St. Peter’s Church, Riga Cathedral, Riga Castle, The Cat House, and the Three Brothers.
To stock up on fresh goodies and scrumptious snacks, head over to Riga Central Market where you will have a chance to polish your haggling skills. Right next to Riga is Jurmala; blessed with sun-drenched beaches and forests dotted with blueberries. It is a nice escape if you want to quiet break.
The port city in Northern Spain, Bilbao is renowned for its quirky monuments. The beautiful mountain scenery that rings the whole city only increases the bizarreness. The eye-catching city is most noted for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. The museum with its otherworldly metallic artifacts and exhibits is akin to an alien spaceship.
Other notable sites include Museo de Bellas Artes that has exhibits from different periods like Gothic and Renaissance eras, Arkeologi Museo, a museum in the old town with artifacts as old as 40,000 years old! One of the gems of Bilbao is the old town, Casco Viejo, with its bucolic streets that date back to the 14th century.
If you are thinking of traveling to Portugal for a backpacking venture, then make a beeline for Porto. The city has been blazing a tourism trail in recent times with more and more visitors dropping in to enjoy the pristine beaches, delicious Mediterranean food, and vibrant nightlife. Porto is the second-biggest city with some serious culture and heritage for you to enjoy.
Also, the exciting nightlife of Porto will make you want to stay there for a very long time. Cross the arched Luís I Bridge, gaze at the ornate Clérigos Church, and buy some books at the historical Lello Bookstore.
The capital of Hungary is one of the most popular destinations in the world. Connected by the 19th-century Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Budapest somehow remains an affordable city for a backpacker.
There are buildings screaming of flamboyance and history, an unparalleled nightlife, the quaint old town with spectacular sites, museums brimming with awe-inspiring exhibit sand, of course, a handful of intricately-designed churches and palaces. Enjoy thermal baths at a bathhouse in Gellért Hill & Tabán and feel utterly rejuvenated, travel back in time as you walk around the Royal Palace and indulge in exotic cuisine.
Overshadowed by its dark history and crumbling grandeur, Nuremberg is in the federal state of Bavaria straddling Munich and Frankfurt. Check out the medieval gem called Imperial Castle of Nuremberg boasting royal facades, immaculate gardens, and fortification offering panoramas of the city. If you are visiting during the Christmas season, you must go to Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt which is held annually in the Hauptmarkt.
The old town of Nuremberg will give you a whimsical adventure. As you walk down the cobblestoned streets, look at the pretty timber-framed houses, small balconies adorned with fresh blooms and traditional markets, and you will feel intense homely vibes in a completely foreign place.
While Paris is the most-loved city of France, Nice will surely steal your heart as well. Sitting on the pebbled coast, Nice is an amalgamation of artistic heritage, sun-kissed shores, classical magnificence, and lively crowds. Here you can soak up in the sun at one of the many sandy beaches, learn the elite history of the city, and enjoy hearty meals. Hop on a cycle and ride through Promenade des Anglais, buy some fresh flowers and food at Cours Saleya Markets, explore the many museums and climb to the top of the Castle of Nice.
Brighton is a seaside resort town with quite a wild reputation. Let yourself be awed by the Royal Pavilion which has been deemed unimpressive and too Chinese by Queen Elizabeth. Enjoy thrilling rides and sweet candy floss at Brighton Pier, an Edwardian pier turned into a fair. Also, check out of the recent attractions of Brighton while backpacking Europe; i360 Tower, a 162 m observation tower sitting across the sea.
As you backpack through Europe, you will come across innumerable gems – some hidden, some exposed and flaunting. Take your time and enjoy the European quest.