Backpacking the old continent never goes out of style.
During the summer, the hostels teem with life, the Mediterranean shines, the streets full of people enjoy the good weather, and the sunset gives way to long wonderful days.
During the winter, there are Christmas markets, skiing, fewer crowds, and lower prices (Note: May and October are really the best months for backpacking Europe, in my opinion)
I wanted to create a resource page that would help you plan your backpacking trip to Europe with ease.
In this post, you'll find the best resources for planning a trip to Europe backpacking or on a budget, including destination guides, transportation information, and tips for backpacking Europe smartly and cheaply.
Without further ado, here is everything you could possibly want to know about backpacking Europe:
Plan your backpacking trip in Europe
From beautiful Paris, to the smoky cafes of Amsterdam, to Oktoberfest and the beaches of Greece.
There is so much to see in Europe that you will have no problem filling your time or suggesting activities, whether you are going to backpack Europe for a few months or just spend a few weeks there on vacation.
Each country is incredibly different from the next
The first time I went to Europe was backpacking in 2012.
got me hooked Since then, I have visited it every year, taken trips across the continent, and even written a book on trips to Europe.
I am in love with Europe.
There is so much diversity and so many ways to get around and things to do in Europe that I have written this Europe travel guide to help you travel better on your visit.
I know how complicated it can be to figure out rail passes, find hostels, get around and find the best things to do there.
This guide will give you an overview of traveling in Europe and I have written extensive travel guides for each of the countries on the continent so you can travel better, longer and smarter.
So sit back and enjoy this backpacker's guide to Europe.
The 5 best things to see and do in Europe
1. The Greek Islands
2. Travel by train in Europe
3. Lose yourself in Paris
4. Go from city to city
5. Visit the Swiss Alps
Other things to see and do in Europe
1. Go to Amsterdam
The city is much more than coffee shops and red lights.
I love Amsterdam so much that I lived here for a short time in 2006. The cobblestone and brick streets wind around charming canals.
Amsterdam has a vibrant art and music scene and friendly locals willing to help you.
Be sure to head out of the center towards the Jordaan and the Oost, with its wonderful sidewalk cafes.
If you want to have all the information about the city, do not hesitate to consult the best guide to amsterdam.
2. Visit Barcelona
Barcelona is a city that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and could compete with NY for the title of "city that never sleeps". Get ready for late-night dinners and parties until dawn.
Barcelona knows how to have fun. check here all the essential information about Barcelona.
As well as a great dining and night scene, there's a wonderful beach, Gaudí architecture, and history dating back to Roman times.
3. Visit Berlin
Modern Berlin is an energetic destination.
It is one of the most affordable capitals in Europe, with a vibrant music and arts scene and a growing foodie movement. There is a lot of cheap Middle Eastern food.
Be sure to visit the history museum: it is one of the best in the world.
4. Drink beer at Oktoberfest in Munich
Oktoberfest is a must-see for anyone going to or near Germany at the end of September.
There are people from all over the world, lots of beer, excitement, music and wild fun. Seeing thousands of people singing together, toasting and in a party atmosphere makes you feel good about the world. (Or maybe it's just the beer?)
5. Experience in London
Get a taste of English culture in diverse London.
The museums here are some of the best in the world (and free), plus the city offers great food and wonderful pub culture.
Head to Brick Lane for the amazing Sunday food markets. I prefer Paris to London, but there is something sophisticated and fun about London.
Of course, be careful with the pints: London is not a cheap destination.
6. Go through Scandinavia
My favorite region of Europe is Scandinavia. The quality of life here is high, the people beautiful and friendly, the cities clean and historic.
It is true that this part of Europe is not cheap, but there are many ways to reduce your expenses.
Don't let the high prices scare you off. For me the highlights are Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gotland, the Norwegian fjords and Lapland in Finland.
7. Stop in Prague
Prague is a beautiful city with an amazing history. It is a cheap destination and during the weekends it is full of people enjoying the bars, cheap beer and delicious food.
It is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities I have ever seen.
8. Wine and dine on the French Riviera
Have fun in the sun, rub shoulders with the rich and famous, and sail (or watch) gigantic yachts.
You can pretend you're living the high life for a while. Nice is pretty and Monaco is one step away.
9. Enjoy the outdoors in Interlaken
Located in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, Interlaken is a great place to relax with a good walk, hot chocolate and outdoor sports.
It is a good alternative to all the cities and museums that you see constantly. Interlaken is also a popular party destination for backpackers and other young travelers.
10. Explore Rome
This thriving, historic city has amazing food and nightlife.
Plus, with its little streets to wander through (you can't walk two meters without stumbling into a ruin), Rome is a history buff's dream. Visit the Trastevere area for a taste of “local” Rome and chill bars.
It is my favorite area of the city.
11. Hike through the Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre are my favorite part of Italy. These five beautiful cliffside villages are situated near warm waters and beautiful olive groves and vineyards.
You'll find some wonderful and strenuous hikes in these hills. If you want a real challenge, take trail #8. Or just walk along the coast for something less difficult.
12. See Krakow
Krakow looks like something out of a medieval postcard. It is even prettier than Prague. It is a modern and youthful city, as it is the center of education in Poland.
There are a lot of college students here. Most travelers come to party here (vodka is cheap), but try to enjoy the city's history and food, as well as the bars.
The Auschwitz concentration camp is also nearby.
13. Visit the ruin bars of Budapest
The coolest nightlife in all of Europe is in Budapest.
These bars are built on abandoned buildings and lots and feature art installations and funky décor. They are awesome, fun and great places to meet the locals.
People of all ages come here. If you skip these bars, you miss out on one of the most unique things in the city.
14. Explore Cornwall
The best part of England is outside of London, and unfortunately not many people make it out of it.
Head west to the Cornish area for cheaper prices, friendlier people, more natural beauty, great walks, rolling hills, small towns and generally what you think of 'traditional England'.
15. Walk the Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage route that stretches from France to Spain.
It is an 800 km path that winds through incredible terrain and often takes more than a month to complete. Of course, you can walk a stretch if you don't have time.
16. Throw tomatoes during La Tomatina in Buñol, Spain
My favorite fiesta, by far, is this gigantic food fight that takes place on the last Wednesday of August in Buñol, Spain.
For about an hour, everyone is throwing tomatoes at each other and the streets are ankle-deep in tomato juice.
Afterwards, everyone goes down to the river, cleans up and heads to the town square to drink sangria and listen to music.
17. Find something other than Dracula in Romania
Not many people visit Romania, but this off-the-beaten-path Eastern European country has undiscovered medieval cities, beautiful Black Sea beaches and incredible excursions, all at rock-bottom prices.
I spent $30 a day and got to see the country without any of the Western and Central European crowds.
18. Drink a good whiskey on Islay
Whiskey has a long history on Islay. It has been made there since the 16th century, first in backyards and then, starting in the 19th century, in large distilleries.
Over the years, the island's whiskey came to be considered a specialty and was used to flavor many other blends on the mainland.
My visit here was amazing and even if you don't like whiskey there are lots of good hikes and walks on this magnificent island.
19. Explore Iceland
Iceland is a magical country.
You'll find majestic waterfalls and hidden hot springs around every corner, with panoramic views like nowhere else in the world.
Price to travel around Europe, how much does it cost?
Accommodation – If you want to find a cheap place to stay in Europe, you're in luck!
Accommodation prices vary, and with my help, you can find the perfect place to stay, for the right price.
Hostel dorms cost between 18-40 USD (20-45 EUR) per night, depending on the size of the room and the popularity of the hostel.
I stayed in a 6-bed dormitory in Berlin for EUR15 (USD17), while the same would have cost me around EUR32 (USD36) in Paris.
A room in Paris will cost on the higher end and a cheaper room in Athens will cost on the lower end.
Camps cost between EUR 9-15 (USD 10-17) per night per person for a tent.
In Eastern Europe, hostel dormitories cost between EUR 6-15 (USD 7-18) per night, depending on the size of the dormitory and the popularity of the hostel.
The further east you go, the cheaper it will be. You can pay around 27-55 EUR (31-62 USD) per night for a private room for two people.
In Scandinavia, hostel dormitories cost between EUR 22-42 (USD 25-48), while private rooms cost EUR 70-85 (USD 79-96).
Budget hotel rooms start at around EUR 60 (USD 68).
Most hostels offer free sheets and WiFi, and many offer free breakfast, but it's important to check the specific websites for exact amenities.
Rooms for two people start at 27 EUR (31 USD) per night in a 2-star hotel.
These hotels have amenities such as breakfast, private bathroom and WiFi.
You can also turn to Airbnb throughout Europe. You can find shared rooms from 10 EUR (11 USD) per night and entire houses (including studios) from 24 EUR (27 USD)
Meal – Finding places to eat within your budget is easier than you think.
Throughout Western Europe you can find small shops where you can get sandwiches, pizza slices or sausages for between 4 and 7 euros.
These shops are most often found at train stations, bus stations and in the main pedestrian areas.
These small sandwich shops offer cheap food alternatives that can get you eating on 9-15 EUR (10-17 USD) a day.
Restaurant meals cost around 13-25 EUR (15-28 USD) for a main course and a drink.
Food is much cheaper in the east than in the west. Even if you eat out for all your meals, you can get by for as little as 9 EUR (10 USD) a day.
You can cook your own food for about 65 EUR (74 USD) a week
If you go out to eat, do it at noon and ask for the fixed price menu (two or three course menu).
Restaurants offer this set menu during lunch, and with prices between EUR 10-20 (USD 11-23), it is a much better deal than the normal dinner menu.
You can also get affordable lunches at outdoor markets.
Many European cities have huge fresh food markets all over the city.
If you want to save a lot of money on meals, head to one of the markets, grab some cheese, wine, bread, meats, or whatever, and head to the park for a picnic. (Or grab a snack for later!).
You'll see the locals do the same, and it's one of the cheapest ways to get a real taste of the local food
Activities – The wine tours will be the most expensive activity, with a price of about 90 EUR (102 USD) per day.
Climbing the Eiffel Tower will cost between EUR 7-17 (USD 8-19) and visiting the Palace and Gardens of Versailles will cost EUR 25 (USD 28). The Tower of London costs about 28 EUR (32 USD).
Bike tours and river cruises can cost between EUR 24-40 (USD 27-45).
Most museums and tours start at around EUR14/USD16 (cheaper of course in the East). Full-day excursions cost between EUR 35-100 (USD 40-114).
Prices vary drastically by country, so it's hard to give a good overall cost. See country information for more details.
Suggested Budgets for Backpacking Europe
Travel prices in Europe vary greatly depending on how far north, east, south, or west you travel.
If you stick to the cheap accommodation, meals, and tours listed here and ignore all my money-saving tips, you'll need about $75 a day in Western Europe, $45 in Eastern Europe, and about $100 in Scandinavia.
These figures reflect a traveler who stays in hostels, does not cook, eats mostly cheap food, drinks and visits many attractions. This is the typical budget for a backpacker. You're not going to have a great time, but you're not going to miss anything either.
However, if you get hold of tourist cards and rail passes, avoid flights, occasionally couchsurf, and cook a few meals, you can travel much cheaper.
In Western Europe, you can spend between USD 50 and USD 60 per day. In Eastern Europe, which is already cheap, putting my advice into practice, you can travel with about 35 USD a day.
In Scandinavia, there are so few ways to save that the cheapest you can do is around $70 a day.
If you couchsurf every day (or even camp), cook all meals, don't drink, and see a minimum of sights, you could tour Western Europe on $35 a day,
Eastern Europe with 20 USD and Scandinavia with 50 USD. To do this you would have to take a train or bus or hitchhike everywhere, skip most museums and limit the frequency of outings
In general, the suggested daily budget for Europe is 40-70 EUR / 42-75 USD.
Europe Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Country guides have more specific information, but here are some general tips to help you travel Europe on a budget:
- Picnic – This continent has a lot of little shops where you can buy pre-made sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Buy some food, eat al fresco and watch the city go by. It's a much nicer and cheaper way to eat.
- couchsurfing – Hostels can add up very quickly. If you don't have any friends you can stay with, consider using the service couchsurfing that allows you to get in touch with people in the area who will allow you to stay with them for free.
- Eat local and cheap – Don't you like to go on a picnic? It's okay, there are other ways to save money on food. Eat at the local sandwich shops, pizzerias, Maoz, Wok to Walks, outdoor hawkers and the like. If you avoid restaurants and eat at many of the local "take-out" places, you will be able to try the local cuisine for a much cheaper price.
- camping in a garden – A very good specific camping service is Campspacethat allows you to pitch a tent in someone's garden for free or for a nominal fee (around 4-10 euros). This is a new service that started in 2010, but every day more people sign up. All garden owners have profiles indicating what services and facilities they offer.
- take the bus – Cheap bus companies such as flix bus it can take you all over the continent cheaply. It's not glamorous, but for tickets from 5 EUR (6 USD) you can't complain
- Get a rail pass – Eurail passes They have saved me hundreds of dollars when I have traveled there. If you travel far and across many countries, they are a great deal.
- Take the free tours of the city – One of the great things about Europe is that you can find free walking tours in major cities. They can be a great way to see the city's sights, learn about the history, and get your bearings without spending any money.
- plan accordingly – Transportation can consume your budget. Traveling costs money. A good way to save money is to avoid moving in strange directions. Move in a straight line, and avoid turning around so you don't pay too much for transportation.
- fly cheap – If you know where you are going and the train does not work for you, try to book flights in advance. You can often get roundtrip fares for as little as EUR5 (USD6) on many of the discount airlines that fly across Europe, such as Ryanair or Easyjet.
- drink less – Those 5 EUR (6 USD) beers really add up. Go to happy hour or choose when you party. Hostel bars are a good place to get cheap drinks or buy alcohol from the supermarket. Partying across the continent will destroy your bank balance in no time.
- Get a city tourist card – Local tourist offices issue a tourist card for all its attractions, visits and restaurants. This card gives you free admission and substantial discounts on all attractions and visits in a city, free local public transport (a great advantage) and discounts in some restaurants and shopping centers. They save a lot of money. If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, get one of these cards.
- Have an ISIC card – To save between 20 and 50% on the cost of admission to museums and other tourist attractions, make sure you present a valid student card. In ISIC it is usually accepted in places where the foreign student card is not accepted.
- carpool – If you are flexible with your schedule, use the shared transport service BlaBlaCar and take trips with local people between cities (or countries). I used this service in Switzerland and not only did I save a lot of money, but I was able to meet interesting people and learn about the local culture and life. The drivers are verified and it's perfectly safe (although sometimes the trips don't show up, so you have to be flexible).
Where to stay in Europe
Looking for the best hostel in Europe? Take a look at this list of favorites (and for an even deeper selection of favourites, visit our specific city and country guides to find even more options)
- the bulldog (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Central Station (kyiv, Ukraine)
- city backpackers (Stockholm, Sweden)
- Euphoria Hostel (Tallinn, Estonia)
- The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Francescos (Ios, Greece)
- Gallery Hostel (Porto, Portugal)
- Hostel Generator (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Hostel Generator (Dublin, Ireland)
- Goodnight Hostel (Lisbon Portugal)
- Greg and Tom's Party Hostel (Krakow, Poland)
- Blues Hostel (Bratislava, Slovakia)
- Mostel Hostel (Sofia, Bulgaria)
- Kabul (Barcelona, Spain)
- Kismet Dao (Brasov, Romania)
- Ostello Archi Rossi (Florence, Italy)
- Skull (Stockholm, Sweden)
- Snuffel Backpackers Hostel (Bruges, Belgium)
- hostel sophie (Prague, Czech Republic)
- San Cristobal Inn (Barcelona, Spain)
- Tallinn Backpackers (Tallinn, Estonia)
- wombats (Berlin Germany)
- wombats (Vienna, Austria)
- The yellow (Rome Italy)
For my favorite hostel suggestions, here is a list of the 20 best hostels in Europe
How to get around Europe
A fundamental part of backpacking Europe is choosing how you are going to travel to your next destination.
Transport around most European cities by tram, metro or local bus usually costs less than EUR 2 (USD 2.30) for a one-way ticket. Intercity transportation varies a lot.
Here's a breakdown of each option:
low cost airlines – Low-cost airlines are so prolific that competition helps keep prices low.
You can often find tickets as low as 5 EUR (6 USD) round trip Companies like Transavia, EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz and Vueling offer incredibly cheap flights all over Europe
Book at least a month in advance to get great deals.
Make sure the airport they are flying to is not too far out of your way (transportation from the secondary airport sometimes negates the savings of using the low cost airline itself)
Also, keep in mind that you will have to pay to check your luggage on these cheap flights.
It costs about 25-39 EUR (28-44 USD) for a checked bag. If you wait to pay for your luggage at the boarding gate, you will end up paying almost double
buses – Buses are not as comfortable as European trains, although some lines have great amenities (such as spacious seats and Wi-Fi). They also take much longer than trains.
Buses are also not the most efficient way to travel across the continent, but they are certainly reliable and safe, and they cost the least.
You can find last-minute trips for as little as 5 EUR (6 USD). A route from Berlin to Munich costs around 25 EUR (28 USD), while from Paris to Bordeaux costs 13 EUR (15 USD). Longer routes, like the one from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, start at around 56 EUR (64 USD)
trains – Traveling by train is a great way to see Europe, although sometimes it is not the most cost-effective or efficient.
Most European rail companies allow customers to buy tickets online in advance, which is recommended for the fastest or most popular trains, such as the TGV in France and the Deutsche Bahn in Germany.
The prices of intercity trains vary a lot from one country to another and depending on whether you take the slow train or the high-speed train
For example, a high-speed train from Berlin to Munich costs about EUR 190 (USD 216), from Bordeaux to Paris about EUR 95 (USD 108) and from Madrid to Barcelona about EUR 150 (USD 170).
Non-high-speed trains and other intercity lines are much cheaper, usually costing between 40 and 50% of the price of high-speed trains.
Intercity trains from Eastern Europe usually cost between 45-100 EUR (51-114 USD) if you book the ticket last minute. Short 2-3 hour train journeys within countries cost around 27 EUR (31 USD)
You may also consider getting a EuRail pass, which allows travelers to explore Europe through a set number of stops in a specified period of time.
These passes are for the entire continent, for a specific country or for a region
Shared rides/Carpooling – If your schedule is flexible, use a car sharing service and take trips with local people between cities (or countries).
Drivers are verified and perfectly safe. BlaBlaCar is the most popular.
Doing autostop – Hitchhiking in Europe is very safe, but it is not for everyone.
Hitchhiking is quite common across the continent, and I have met several travelers who have done it (I myself traveled this way in Bulgaria and Iceland).
Some countries are very understanding (Romania, Iceland, Germany), while others may require a little more time (Italy, Spain) HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking information.
When to go to Europe
There is no wrong time to visit Europe The high season is summer, when Europe gets very crowded.
Prices also increase during this time.
But the atmosphere and weather in general are great during this time, so it's still worth visiting during high season.
Low season is spring and fall (March to May and September to October, respectively).
It's still hot at this time, but there aren't as many crowds and prices are cheaper.
This is my favorite time to visit Europe: the weather is good, there are less people and the prices are lower
Winter goes from November to February. It's cold, even to the south (like Greece). Instead, the Christmas season is fantastic: you'll find Christmas markets and festivals galore! However, daylight hours are shorter in the north, especially in Scandinavia.
How to be safe in Europe
Due to the terrorist attacks and riots that have taken place across Europe and continued media coverage, I am often asked if it is safe to travel to Europe.
Europe is no more dangerous (probably even less) than anywhere else in the world.
Europe is very safe for backpacking or solo travel, but there are scams and petty crimes to watch out for. Keep your things in crowded places and be careful with people who offer you things. (Read about these 14 major travel scams to avoid.)
Always trust your instinct. If a taxi driver seems suspicious, stop the taxi and get out of it.
If the hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. You have every right to remove yourself from the situation. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
Send your itinerary to your loved ones so they know where you are.
And remember, if you wouldn't do it at home, don't do it here.
The most important advice I can offer you is to take out good travel insurance.
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellation. It is complete protection in case something goes wrong and also with a discount 20%.
I never go on a trip without it as I have had to use it a few times in the past.
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I am a passionate traveler with an innate desire to discover the world. To date, I have had the privilege of visiting 31 countries and most of them have left an indelible mark.
During my travels, I have gained valuable knowledge on how to travel efficiently. I have perfected itinerary planning, accommodation selection, and making the most of each experience. I am proud to share my tips and tricks with you so that you can enjoy hassle-free and unforgettable trips.
On this blog, you'll find a carefully curated selection of destinations, practical tips, and honest reviews of hotels and tourist attractions. My goal is to inspire you and provide you with useful resources so that you can plan your own adventures with confidence and peace of mind.
May travel fill you with joy and open you up to new possibilities!