A step by step guide to backpacking Europe the easy way  

From being the birthplace of great french leader Napoleon Bonaparte to historic buildings, haunted castles, majestic snow-clad mountains, and assorted chocolates, Europe has enough reasons to boast of itself as one of the most sought after travel destinations by tourists around the world. Visiting Europe at least once in a lifetime is every mans dream. Every country here is poles apart in terms of landscape, architecture, culture and heritage. To cover all the attractions in a single trip would be difficult as there is so much to do, and so little time. Plan the places to visit depending on the number of days you have. Have a basic plan ready about where to go, what to do and where to stay .This will make the trip easier for you.

When to visit ?

As the country spans over a large latitude and longitude, there isn’t a particular season to recommend. It really depends on which part of the country you want to visit. Each season provides a different ambience and colour to the country. So tourists visit Europe round the year.

But going by the majority we can still give you a basic rule of thumb. The almost perfect summer in Europe attracts extra crowds to the country. So expect longer queues and crowded cities if you plan to visit during this season. If you aren’t a winter person the freezing temperature might restrict your sightseeing plans. The shoulder season during fall would be the best bet in terms of crowd, weather, better deals and undoubtedly the autumn foliage. Also, beware of the short daylight hours when visiting the country in winter season.

Destinations

It is impossible to cover all the major European destinations in a single write-up. But we can still make an attempt.

Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands and Switzerland

Major sight seeing locations of West Europe being Paris and Switzerland - Paris will be crowded in the months of June and August because of trade shows and conventions and Switzerland can be witnessed its full glory during the winters with its majestic snow capped Alps but any season is actually a good time to visit Switzerland.

Eastern Europe: comprises Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia.

Some not-to-miss destinations in Eastern Europe are Budapest (Hungary), Riga (Latvia), Bratislava (Slovakia), Kotor (Montenegro) and Krakow (Poland)

Southern Europe: countries include Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, and Spain.

Major tourist attractions of Southern Europe are Greece, Italy and Spain. Cities like Madrid, Rome and Athens are extremely hot in summer, so visiting them during the cool times of the year would be a great idea.

Northern Europe: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Scandinavian countries are one of the coldest countries of Europe. So pack lot of winter clothes and hiking boots if visiting in the cold season. Finland is one of the best bets of Nordic. The castles, historic monuments and forests of Scotland and Northern Europe are a must-visit. If possible take a glacier tour in Iceland.

Typical cost

The typical cost depends on the season you are visiting and how stringent you are on the budget. However, the average expense of a solo backpacker in Europe is approximately around $70-$100/day in Western Europe and $40-$70/day in Eastern Europe.

Accommodation

If what you are looking for is a comfortable place to lay your head down without asking for additional amenities, then hostels are the best option. Airbnb helps to rent out apartments at a cheaper rate. If you are planning to stay longer, you even get discounts. If travelling solo, the best recommendation would be the Couchsurfing app. Via couchsurfing, you can interact with hosts and they let you share their home for free. Checking the reviews beforehand ensure safety and better comfort level during stay.

Food

Eating and drinking healthy during your trip saves you for the trouble and expense of doctor visit. Utilise the cooking facility available at the hostel. Many hostels include free breakfast which is a good option. Carry protein bars for instant energy while backpacking across the country. Department store cafeterias and institution affiliated cafeterias like ones of university, city hall, churches etc are good choices for budget friendly quick munch. Sharing meals is also a good budget alternative. Something you might not know about Europe is that if you ask for drinking water at a restaurant, they will bring you expensive bottled water unless you specify tap water which is free. And it is safe to drink tap water.

Getting around Europe

Getting around Europe can be expensive if you use cabs. Hop-on hop-off bus for city tour is a good option. Walk around and explore or use public transport. Use rail passes for long distance travel. For shorter distance use point to point tickets. If you want to use mini-cabs, download the app Kabbee to find the best quotes for cab service in London.

Top things to do

We can never list them all, nor can you do it all. These are just a few popular destinations that most tourists choose to visit.


  • Discover the Parisian icon Eiffel tower

  • Experience the city of London

  • Admire Barcelona’s modernista architecture, especially the works of Gaudi

  • Get tickets to an Opera in Vienna

  • Make the best of your Berlin times visiting the Berlin wall, Weltzeituhr (world time) Clock, and Currywurst Museum

  • Tak a rail ride on one of those Euro rails and fall for the beauty of European landscape

  • Hike up the Alps

  • Explore Rome, get a guided tour of the Vatican Museums, take a gondola ride in Venice

  • And enjoy pizza in Naples

  • Watch a Flamenco show in Seville, Spain

  • Sail around the island of Capri

  • Visit Scandinavia for its clean cities, beautiful landscape, medieval architecture and friendly people

  • Enjoy the beauty of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Dettifoss waterfalls in Iceland and don’t miss the Northern Lights

  • Ride the train from Sweden to Copenhagen via Oresund bridge

  • Visit Acropolis, Athens and watch Parthenon up-close

  • Explore the city of Amsterdam on bike

Budget tips


  • Choose hostel accommodations or a bed & bath instead of luxury hotels. Hotel chains like Travelodge and Ibis are good options.

  • Travel during shoulder or off-season and avoid summers

  • Once you arrive at a city, go to the tourist information center for discounts, maps and free events. Try to find Citypass that bundles multiple attractions at a cheaper cost.

  • Minimise the use of cabs. For long distances, consider ride-sharing.

  • Fly with a low-cost airline

  • Consider not withdrawing cash at abroad ATMs as the transaction charges are high. Try using an international credit/debit card.

  • Staying a little far from the downtown can get you cheaper accommodation rates

  • Restrict restaurant meals and take advantage of the cooking facility available at the hostels and rentals

  • Visit the free attractions like museums. Check out free concerts that happen especially from June to August

  • The following free apps might come handy while backpacking across Europe-Airbnb (affordable accommodations), Journey Pro (travel app), National Rail (travel app), WiFi Finder (nearest wifi hotspot), Tripadvisor Offline City Guides (city tour assistant), Google Maps (navigation), Met Office (weather updates)

  • Do your major shopping at cheaper countries

Even a month’s itinerary is not good enough for a complete Euro tour. Select your favorites and you can save the rest for your next Europe trip. Choose the destinations based on your whim, not recommendation because they are ALL equally recommendable !

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