Backpacking Europe ~ G-Extreme Step-By-Step Ultimate Travel Planning Guide

Europe, a fabulous continent, has it all: from its undeniably gorgeous sights and nature to its rich culture and history, delicious cuisine, and the best of all; it’s so easy to get around! An infectious place that will only make you want to explore more!

Traveling from country to country across Europe while backpacking is the dream of many, but how many of us actually get to cross that item off their dreamy bucket list? Planning a backpacking trip can be intimidating and overwhelming at first as it requires research and organization, and it could be the one thing standing between you and the trip of your dreams. But trust me: it’s worth it.

In this blog post, I’m going to break it down for you and give you some tips and tricks that will make your planning process for your next backpacking trip through Europe a little much simpler!

What did you think? That Giorgy aka G-Extreme would leave you with no information on how to best prepare for your next adventure? It’s better if you strap yourselves in Goofballs!

To help with all of your trip planning, I’ve put together an easy guide to budget planning your next Backpacking trip through Europe complete with tips, recommendations about interesting cities to visit as well as giving you itineraries examples! What are you waiting for? Learn the secret on how to set off ready with this in-depth post by starting with the basics:

An easy guide completed of 9 tips to budget travel for your next Europe backpacking trip!

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check before you go anywhere what modifications have taken place to avoid any inconvenience!

#1. WHEN TO BACKPACK EUROPE

Europe is a very versatile continent that will allow you to go from snow-covered northern countries to warmer ones along the Mediterranean coasts making it almost perfect to visit throughout the year. Picking a season to take on your next adventure highly depend on your preferences, but there are a few important things you should always consider beforehand.

First of all, most backpackers travel to Europe during the summer months, especially during the period from May to September, making this the so-called “peak season.” The upside to this is that during these months you will, most of the time, certainly be accompanied by good weather and pleasant temperatures, and all attractions will be open for visitors. The downside, however, lies in the higher costs and crowdedness of the most popular places, as well as means of transportation to move from one country to another.

If you want to take advantage of the good weather, a good compromise could be to travel in the mid-season, between the beginning of April and June, or between September and November. In this period the destinations will surely be less crowded and the prices probably will be cheaper, on the other hand, you might not find all the attractions, restaurants or clubs open, especially in tourist seaside destinations such as the Mediterranean islands. If you decide to travel in the off-season (November to late March), keep in mind that winter in Europe can be very cold so be sure to equip yourself properly!

The low season will allow you to travel more intimately unless you decide to visit typically winter places such as Lapland or the Alps, famous tourist destinations for their scenic snowy landscapes, and prices will generally be lower.

As I said before: Europe is always a lively place full of destinations to discover, you just have to be smart enough to match your preferences with the most strategic periods so maybe avoid ski destinations in the last week of December or the Mediterranean islands in the first week of August as these destinations will surely be super crowded and much more expensive than the rest of the year.

#2. PLAN DESTINATIONS BUT BE FLEXIBLE

Because Europe has a massive amount of beautiful cities and destinations to visit; it is essential to have at least a basic outline of the places you would like to visit, how much time you plan to spend there as well as about the type of accommodation you’re going to stay. Nevertheless, be flexible and open mind!

During my travels I’ve learned that being flexible is key so although I recommend that you have an idea of where you want to go and how to get there, I also recommend that you let yourself be carried away and listen to the travel stories of other backpackers you meet along the way, you never know who you’ll meet on your next adventure! In that case, it may become binding to have too many accommodations or trips booked as it will not allow you to move freely and change plans multiple times based on the latest goodies discovered the dinner before at a downtown bistro.

Remember though that unless you’re traveling during the high season, it’s usually not a problem to book even at the last minute and still find room. Obviously, this depends a lot from place to place and from period, so I recommend you to inform yourself beforehand about what you want to visit and when so as to be prepared for anything.

#3. LOOK UP PRICES AND PLAN A BUDGET

While Europe is not as cheap as Asia or South America, yet if well organized, you can still have a European low-budget backpacking trip.

Websites like Lonely Planet or The Savvy Backpackers provide great resources for getting an overview of prices, hostel availability, and attractions to visit in each country.

One way to save money is to also eat at small local bistros or cook in the hostel while making friends with other travelers. One thing you should avoid doing is having too much cash with you as it could be easily stolen especially if you decide to stay in hostels with shared dorms.

The advantage in Europe is that most countries use the same currency: the euro, making life easier for you because you don’t necessarily have to change currency when you change countries.

#4. TRAVELING AROUND WITH NO EXTRA ATM OR EXCHANGE FEES 

In big cities, you can pay almost anywhere with a credit card without needing to have too much cash on you, and there is no shortage of ATMs so if you need to, you can easily withdraw money everywhere in Europe.

Speaking of saving money over fees, one solution would be to have a credit card with low transaction rates so that if you need to withdraw it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Do your research at home before embarking on your European adventure and make sure to call your bank letting them know where you are heading in order to avoid a hold on your account while you are starting using them in Europe.

Even though is $5 for every withdrawal, those fees will sum up over time whether you are on a long-term backpacking trip through Europe or on a budget.

Another thing to absolutely avoid? Currency Exchanges. Not only the exchange rate is notoriously terrible but they charge you a lot of fees. So please, be aware and get enough local currency for each destination beforehand, or wait until you get back to your bank to exchange.

#5. DECIDE THE CHEAPEST WAY TO TRAVEL IN EUROPE

Traveling in Europe by train

As I’ve mentioned earlier: moving around Europe is quite easy and traveling by train is arguably the perfect way to tour Europe. In fact, the train is a quick and practical way and offers the possibility to reach even the smallest towns while enjoying spectacular views and landscapes.

There are several options to get combined tickets that will allow you to travel at low prices on multiple routes such as Eurail or Interrail. Eurail Pass is valid for a certain amount of time and will allow you to take certain trains if a seat is available.

I wouldn’t say Eurail pass is the best option when it comes to train options because local trains (depending on the country you are in) could turn out quite inexpensive and easy to book last minute.

On the other hand, not looking only at the financial side, you can also have the opportunity to meet local people!

Bus travel in Europe

The bus is another convenient and inexpensive option. Companies such as Flixibus, MegaBus, or OuiBus offer affordable travel to various destinations. The only downside to traveling is that both, train and bus, are slow for long-distance traveling and sometimes get delayed due to traffic.

Flying between Countries in Europe

In that case, you can find amazing airplane ticket deals for long-distance travel: a cheaper but less eco-friendly option is to use low-cost airlines such as EasyJet or Ryanair. If you choose to fly with these companies, pay attention to the location of the departure airports, as low-cost airlines often depart from secondary airports that are less easy to reach. An example is the airport of Milan Bergamo, not always easy to reach by public transport, but from which many low-cost flights depart.

Also, keep in mind that even though budget airlines are great options they charge for EVERYTHING so be smart about your baggage.

#6. FIND CHEAP PLACES TO STAY IN EUROPE

As for accommodation, there is no shortage of places to stay: from 5-star hotels to hostels to Airbnb, etc…  You can use websites like Lonely Planet and Hostel Bookers to find out more about the prices and availability.

If you want to truly experience something a little more adventurous and at the same time experience the local’s culture while saving tons of money you can try Couchsurfing. Many locals provide their couches for free to travelers passing through. Although it’s not for everyone, it’s definitely a marvelous way to get to know some locals who can recommend all the less touristy gems in the area!

Check out this post to find out my trouble-free experience while staying in hostels.

Hey Goofball! Make sure you have a place to stay the first few nights and all the details that you can provide to the Immigration Officers. Some countries will often require that you know where you are staying before allowing you to enter the country.

#7. KNOWING YOUR VISA ALLOWANCE

Have you ever heard of the Schengen Area? It’s made up of 26 European countries that have adopted a common visa policy and act as though there are no borders. In simple terms, this means that you can freely move around Europe without being really checked.

However, for citizens of many non-euro countries, you might get familiar with which countries are part of the European Union, but specifically the Schengen Area. As an American, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealander, you are allowed 90 days in a 180-day period to stay in the Schengen Area.

This doesn’t mean you have to leave Europe entirely after 90 days, but rather you will need to skip on over to a non-Schengen country. For instance, Croatia is part of the European Union but it is not part of Schengen (neither is Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, or the UK). Therefore you get a 6-month visa on arrival instead of the 90 day maximum of Schengen countries.

Make sure you do your own research on visa allowance in order to avoid unpleasant surprises during your trip. It all depends on the countries you plan to visit, and where you are from!

Hey Goofball! Keep in mind that your passport must be valid for the entirety of your trip. Indeed, your passport should be valid for 6 months past the end of your trip. Other than this remember to make a few copies of it and lock your passport in the accommodations locker’s room.

#8. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN LOCAL CULTURE

When traveling, it is always important to respect and understand the local cultures you will encounter along your trip.

Having an idea before you leave of what you might encounter is essential to avoid being taken by surprise, in fact in Europe you will meet people who are known to be more open and friendly and others who are more formal and reserved.

It’s always a good idea to know a few basic words like “thank you” or “please” in the local language, and the locals will appreciate the effort! Worry not though, in most places you go, you will find someone who speaks English!

If you know my character, you know it makes me a classic traveler who everywhere I go must at least know how to interact with the locals. “Hello” and “thank you”, these two words are fundamental and a must for me to be able to integrate with the locals.

Keep in mind that there are always super fun and interesting events taking place in Europe, especially during the summertime!

From Oktoberfest in Germany to Saint Patrick’s day in Ireland to music festivals such as Sziget in Budapest are just a few examples of the spectacular festivals you could attend while visiting Europe.

Obviously, if you intend to attend a specific event you will have to plan your movements in advance so as to be in the right place at the right time. A possibility that I personally had never considered until I was told about it is to travel around Europe participating in all the summer music festivals moving from city to city according to the concerts and openings.

#9. SAFETY FIRST

While Europe is mostly very safe, you never know when something will happen nevertheless there are always people out there ready to get the naive tourist. Watch out for your pockets in big cities, and be wary of people trying to distract you.

Remember to always wear a smile and confidence, not only do you look beautiful, but they will go a long way while traveling solo!

Speaking of safety, have you ever heard of Travel Insurance? That this that a lot of people don’t have but you really shouldn’t underestimate how big of a change to have it as a plan to fall back on. Whether your belongings get stolen, you happen to have an accident, or due to an emergency back home you have to cancel your trip, this protects you against losing time and money.

One of the most popular names in travel insurance for backpackers in Europe is World Nomads. Do not forget to check out also this helpful site which allows you to easily compare travel insurance policies from hundreds of providers.

WHERE TO GO BACKPACKING IN EUROPE

It doesn’t matter where your backpacking Europe adventure takes you, you are going to end up having a blast! In case something might not end up the way you planned to or went completely wrong, laugh it off, go with the flow, and do not forget to enjoy your time! It’s most likely going to be one of the most epic trips of your life anyways!

Depending on your travel style, interest, and budget Europe will find destinations for every taste and I can assure you, Europe will not disappoint you.

Got it right here, just to have an overview of some of my favorite picks for the best backpacking trip in some of Europe’s Most Iconic Cities:

1. Backpacking in the Netherlands

Open-mind speaking, the Netherlands has been a country of many political improvements’ concerning human rights and the legalization of sex work and cannabis.

Therefore it’s called the liberal country of the modern world.

While there, you’ll find no shortage of poignant museums, castles, forests, and historical sites. Oh, it has also a mesmerizing artistic heritage, beautiful scenery, and super friendly locals!

In cities such as Amsterdam, even though is one of Europe’s smaller towns, it has a magical atmosphere which it’s basically made for backpackers. With a population of less than 1 million, Amsterdam may be a small city, but what it lacks in size it makes up in charm and the sheer amount of things to do.

2. Backpacking in Denmark

What comes to your mind if I mention the second happiest and one of the most colorful cities in the world?

Well yes, Copenhagen which is known for its warm, joyous atmosphere; it’s a city that’s full to the brim with culture and history, it’s also a city that has a bustling and trendy nightlife.

Copenhagen’s cuisine and panoramic natural scenes are also not to be missed. Simply put, it’s a place where you can never run out of things to do. Here are the 10 top things to do while you’re on a visit to Copenhagen, Denmark for inspiration.

3. Backpacking in Germany

Where would you like to go if you want to know the true and cruelest story of all time? Of course, Germany has been a country of many faces and iterations.

Even though of its past, Germany changed itself into one of the most culturally relevant and historically minded countries on the continent. Especially concerning Berlin, the capital.

While there, Berlin is hands-down one of the coolest cities in Europe, characterized by its vibrant and youthful atmosphere, it is considered a cultural and creative hub. The city is well known for its dazzling nightlife and dynamic street art scene.

It is also home to an amazing wealth of history with over 180 museums, three UNESCO World Heritage Sites not to mention World War II artifacts, and art galleries scattered throughout the city.

4. Backpacking in Spain

Meets the budget-friendly country whit the kindest people in Europe… Spain!

Although Barcelona may seem like the capital of Spain is NOT, but still remain a special jewel of Spain. It’s a city that stands out and has its own distinct flavor.

Not only does it have astonishing architecture, but it’s also home to some of the best modern art, including works by Dali and Gaudi. Some of the most impressive attractions in Barcelona include the Sagrada Família and the Gothic Quarter.

Barcelona is also known for its beautiful beaches that give it its Mediterranean atmosphere as well as its delicious and diverse cuisine!

5. Backpacking in Hungary

Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the south, Croatia and Slovenia to the southwest, and Austria to the west.

Speaking of one of its most known and beautiful cities, Budapest is indeed a stunning city that’s known for its rich historic landmarks, gorgeous architecture, and its relaxed, laid-back energy.

What are you waiting for? There are so many things to do and see in this sophisticated city, and in this article, I have compiled a list of the top things you can visit and do in Budapest, Hungary.

6. Backpacking in Portugal

What if you are a person who loves incredible landscapes? Also passionate about world-class ocean views? Then, for sure, Portugal is one of the best places you’ll want to visit while backpacking in Europe.

Although Portugal is tucked in the corner of Europe and is most often overshadowed by countries like England and France, it’s home to one of the world’s most charming and vibrant cities in the world: Porto. It’s a fascinating city with an authentic identity and culture and it’s the perfect destination for a city break – make sure you order Bacalhau and a Francesinha sandwich while you’re there!

I also recommend getting out of the cities and checking out what the countryside has to offer.

For more, check out the best things to do in Porto, Portugal!

7. Backpacking in the Czech Republic

Prague is one of those cities that welcomes and envelops you making you feel at home; with its welcoming atmosphere, its alluring baroque architecture, and its delicious food, you’ll feel like you fit right in.

If you’re a beer enthusiast, Prague’s got the best beer for you!

Some of the main attractions include the Prague Astronomical Clock, the Old Town Square, and the Vlatava river. It also holds some awesome annual events such as the Bohemian Carnevale and the Czech beer festival.

8. Backpacking in Italy

Italy is a tourists’ favorite for so many reasons; it has culture, history, food, wine, lakes, beaches, mountains, ancient ruins – and the list goes on! It’s a country that makes you fall in love and it deserves all the hype!

It has many gems and one of those is Florence, a city you should visit at least once in your life. Florence is known as the cradle of the arts; it’s one of the most cultural and historical cities in the world with amazing architecture and gorgeous views!

This is not all it has to offer though, Florence is also a great place for shopping and it has one of the oldest gelato shops in the world! It will transport you to an entirely different world!

9. Backpacking in Greece

Greece has a fascinating history and archaeological ruins. You can either go for knowing the history or for relaxing and doing island hopping in the Mediterranean around Greece’s islands.

Why not backpacking at one of the oldest and richest cities in the world?

Athens is known for being at the forefront of early civilization, labeled as the birthplace of democracy and home to some of the most famous philosophers. However, there’s so much more to Athens than just history!

It’s also a place with buzzing nightlife, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and amazing beaches! There’s always something in Athens for everyone, so here are the top 10 things you can do when you visit. 

10. Backpacking in Belgium

Often overlooked by travelers, Brussels is a city that has it all and deserves a once-in-a-lifetime visit.

It’s home to unique Flemish art, beautiful parks, exquisite buildings, and the famed Belgian waffles and chocolate.

The Grand Place is a must-see in Prague; a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998, it’s the city’s central square and it’s known as one of the most historically significant places in the world. But there are for sure more beautiful things to discover in this city for sure.. for example, the food as well!

Brussels is also a city that’s buzzing with activities all the time such as the Jazz Marathon, La Fête de la Musique, and the Comic Strip Festival.

BACKPACKING ITINERARIES FOR EUROPE

Ready to get into the nitty-gritty of planning your EuroTrip?

Here, I’ve curated an incredible possible European backpacking itinerary that can help you have some direction when planning your next trip!

Of course, you can adjust the destinations according to your preferences and based on how long you have to travel (1 week, 2 weeks, or 1 month):

  • Dublin, Ireland: 2 days
  • London, UK: 3 days
  • Paris, France: 3 days
  • Brussels, Belgium: 2 days
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands: 3 days
  • Berlin, Germany: 4 days
  • Prague, Czech: 2 days
  • Vienna, Austria: 2 days
  • Budapest, Hungary: 3 days
  • Zagreb, Croatia: 2 days
  • Rome, Italy: 4 days
  • Zurich, Switzerland: 2 days
  • Barcelona, Spain: 3 days

This is just one example, a good compromise between the number of stops and travel time!

Planning a backpacking trip in Europe can seem intimidating but fear not! This is why Giorgy aka G-Extreme took over by showing you with this guide, how you can easily organize your next adventure of a lifetime! 

Was this guide helpful for planning your backpacking trip in Europe? Share it in the comment below and let us know where did you head to as well!

 

Read More: Travel Maldives on a Budget