The difficulty with planning your itinerary backpacking through Europe is not just the fact that it is a pretty big place to tackle in a few weeks or months, but also the fact that it is incredibly diverse. Both in terms of climate and culture (and affordability, too). I’m an avid reader of GoodByeDeutschland website and I’m aware of the importance of planning.
Seeing a few capitals is obviously essential, but how many do you take on: five, ten, fifteen?! Plus traveling to and staying in cities is expensive. The best approach is to work out an itinerary based on your budget and how much time you’ve got, and remember that you can probably afford about three days at the beach for each day spent in a capital city!
Switzerland. A small country with plenty to see. From the stunning lakes to the world-famous jazz festival to the exclusive ski resorts. Ok, so not somewhere to spend a week, but definitely worth hopping over the border for a few days and checking it out.
Berlin. It’s hard to believe Berlin’s background when you visit. It’s now a cosmopolitan cultural hub with plenty of museums and galleries to keep you busy in the day, and a particularly decadent nightlife to keep you amused after hours.
Croatia. Utterly perfect beaches and islands, a perfect European climate and cultural hubs and World Heritage sites like Dubrovnik. Plus it’s slightly off the beaten track and easy to find yourself somewhere to properly chill out for a few days and Croatia (away from the cities) is one of Europe’s cheapest countries where the people still understand how to feed a crowd for pennies.
Cote d’Azur. Or “the blue coast”. Paris may have the romance and the ‘must-see sites’, but France’s Cote d’Azur is where most Parisians decamp to for their summer breaks. Stunning beaches, beautiful people and amazing seafood.
London. Guaranteed to be one of the more expensive parts of your backpacking Europe travels, but if you come to Europe you need to check out London. Plenty of tourist sites to tick off (Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds and the Tower of London), but also some great markets and shopping, and a night out in London is guaranteed to be memorable. While you’re in the UK, do try and get out of London too though, there’s a lot more to the UK – and you’ll find that you’re spending a lot less…
North Spain. The three northern cities of San Sebastian, Bilbao and Santander all lie on the same stretch of coast and all have a reputation for partying hard (nothing really starts before midnight), and for great food – including the ubiquitous tapas. So fill up on food and then party the night away, before picking your spot to watch the sun come up.
Amsterdam. Holland’s infamous party town has more to offer those backpacking Europe than its cafes and 24 hour part vibe. It is also a truly stunning city, with romantic canals and striking architecture. Maybe pencil in a bit longer than you thought and get under the skin of one of Europe’s most famous cities.
Football. Europe is mad about football (soccer), and it really is the meaning of life for many Europeans! The biggest leagues are Seria A (Italy) and The Premiership (England), but most countries have competitive leagues so get to a game – you’ll be guaranteed an exciting and passionate afternoon out…
Atlantic Coast. If tranquil beaches and warm water aren’t your things, then Europe’s Atlantic coast has plenty of more lively options. With world-class surf beaches and plenty of party-mad beach towns, France, Spain, and Portugal all have hundreds of miles of stunning coastline to explore.
Scandinavia. Proof that high taxes don’t equate to a bad mood! Scandinavians countries have a high standard of living, fantastic amenities and a refreshing outlook on life. Copenhagen is recommended, but there are plenty of other highlights too.
The Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Sea is responsible for southern Europe’s great climate and – at nearly 1000 miles long – there are plenty of Mediterranean beaches to choose from! During the summer you could be anywhere in the world – idyllic tranquil beaches and whitewashed houses – and during the winter it can be a generally warm and pleasant haven. From the Greek Islands through to windswept windsurfing Mecca Tarifa, there’s plenty to choose from (Although beware the ‘Costa’s’ which are a package tour hell!).
Skiing. With literally hundreds of resorts to choose from, skiing in Europe can be as cheap or expensive as you like: from St Moritz in the Swiss Alps (credit card required), through to Bansko in Bulgaria (on the cheap) there’s great skiing to be had, and of course the après ski is almost as important as your time on the slopes…
Athens. With some of the world’s most important and breathtaking historical sites and some great museums to back them up, Athens is an essential place to stop off. As an aside, the nightlife’s not bad either!
Having a successful backpacking Europe trip requires planning. If you try and take in too many sites and too much culture then you’ll end up thinking that Buckingham Palace was in Belgium! Remember that there are 50 very different countries, and work out what you really want out of your trip and focus on that. Wherever you decide to head, there’s no doubt that you will have truly memorable and mind-expanding time backpacking Europe so: enjoy!