Europe is an exciting melting pot of culture, architecture, cuisine, fashion, and history. Whatever your style, at any given time you can enjoy famous cities, quaint towns, picturesque rivers and canals, countryside vineyards, and a variety of festivals giving you unforgettable memories of your trips. However, backpacking through Europe is no easy task. Especially if you’re on a budget.
If you’re not careful, you can easily spend a fortune on your big Eurotrip, and still wonder whether you even saw the best of Europe.
Around Europe, there’s a variety of culture, food and places to soak yourself in. Backpacking gives you the ease of travel, as well as less burden on your shoulders (literally!) as you wander freely around the continent. Even if your trip lasts a month like mine, you won’t even feel like it’s too long.
We are travelers: travelers who actually experience the culture of the country they visit, who let themselves be drawn to the unknown and who are not afraid to follow the white rabbit, which will inevitably led to special connections and to experience situations that will be unique and that we will then claim as our own exclusively.
And while this is all very romantic and true for the most part – you need to leave space for the unexpected when you travel (and in life in general, for that matter) in order for it to become magical. To avoid this, we have compiled a list of our best tips for backpacking through Europe to make sure your trip is awesome. Here are the tips and tricks for backpacking around Europe.
Here are the list you need to prepare before traveling or backpacking in Europe.
Get Travel Insurance
Don’t risk traveling without travel insurance just to save money. If something happens to you on the road, you want to be prepared.
Visit Cheaper European Countries
Staying too long in popular European destinations can get expensive. Instead, share the love and visit cheaper, but equally beautiful European countries like Estonia, Hungary, Croatia, or Czech Republic.
Avoid Backpacking Through Europe During High Season
Summertime is the worst time to be backpacking through Europe, as it is super crowded and expensive. Instead, travel during the shoulder or off season as crowds are smaller and accommodations are almost 40-50% cheaper.
If you must travel during the summer months, we highly recommend booking accommodations in advance.
Understand the realities of different seasons. Sure, winter sounds like a magical time to visit, but it is highly impractical for travelers too. For one thing, winter clothes are bulky and they’ll take up lots of space in your backpack. If you don’t pack smart and pack light, you might end up feeling miserable. Be extra careful about this especially if you’ve never experienced winter before. On top of that, in winter, daylight is shorter plus your energy gets sapped up faster.
Bring your sense of adventure and spontaneity
Times will get tough, especially if you’re travelling solo. Travel mishaps happen all the time, and you just have to learn how to roll with it. Otherwise, you’d just find yourself getting more and more upset with each adversity that comes your way. Anyway, it’s honestly a good learning opportunity – you learn to be more optimistic, to be able to let things go, to be more independent, to toughen up, and so much more.
Get a good backpack
A backpack is not something you want to scrimp on. A cheap one will be subjected to quick wear and tear and will not provide proper support for your back.
Bring an iPad if you have one
An iPad or a tablet is useful for researching about places and making bookings for flights and accommodations. It’s also a great entertainment device to pass the time by watching movies, reading books or playing games
Make offline Google Maps
Download an offline map of the city before you head out. Take some time to star the places you’re planning to visit too, so you don’t waste precious data finding locations.
Keep a notebook to record phrases in various languages
While many Europeans have a pretty good command of English in general, it’s also good to know the basics in the various languages. This is especially so when you’re travelling to less touristy regions. It would also serve you well when Google Translate isn’t working.
Don’t go overboard when it comes to packing. Remember that as a backpacker, you should keep it light.
Watch out for scams and potential dangers
You can save yourself a lot of money by researching common tourist traps and scams for your destination before you go. Need an example? Sitting down and having a cup of coffee in a coffee shop in Italy can cost you over €10. If you had done your research ahead of time, you would have known that you should take your coffee to go or stand up to avoid the crazy fees.
Decide which SIM Card suits you best
Alternatively, you can buy one for each country as you hop around, which may be cheaper if you’re staying for a longer duration at each place. It’s all about what’s most convenient for you, or how much you want to save.
Use Ryanair for cheap flights within the continent
With European budget airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet or Norwegian Air, you can easily fly anywhere in Europe for close to nothing! For example, we flew from Rome to Amsterdam for only €17 last summer!
Avoid Staying Directly in the City Center
Save money by not staying directly in the city center. Instead, book accommodations that are within walking distance or a short bus ride to the city center.
Stay in Hostels With Free Breakfast
Use Hostelworld to compare hostel prices and quality In terms of accommodation, Hostelworld is every backpacker’s go-to website when looking for cheap places to stay at. It allows you to find a place within your budget and read the reviews before booking. On top of that, there’s easy cancellation available.
Save money by staying in a cheap hostel that includes breakfast! Why not kill two birds with one stone?
Avoid to stay in a private room in a hostel. Private rooms in hostels are always more expensive than a private room at a budget hotel or Airbnb rental
Plan Your Trip Around the First or Last Sunday in the Month
In most European countries all state museums are free either on the first or last Sunday of the month. By visiting Florence on the first Sunday of the month, we saved over $100 in museum fees.
When You Have Arrived In Uerope
Share Your Journey With a Stranger
You can easily and cheaply get where you want to go by carpooling with locals already heading in your direction. The best and most active ride sharing program in Europe is called BlaBlaCar.
Rent a Bike
Rentals are cheap, and bike lanes are plentiful and wider than most pedestrian sidewalks, so why not save money while you’re improving your health. Some cities, like Vienna, even have free bike rental programs!
Take the train
All this negativity. Man, backpacking is supposed to be a beautiful experience and beauty is exactly what you’re going to see from your train window. From Mediterranean olive groves, to alpine forests all the way to spiralling mountain routes that pass shining sapphire lakes. Europe provides an ever changing and unforgettable landscape.
Don’t Get the Eurail Pass
Skip the pass, save money and take buses instead!
Eat like a local
This is a lesson all travellers must learn. Sure, everyone knows that France and Italy have arguably the best cuisine in the world and Spanish tapas is to die for, but there are far too many places beside that get a bad rep.
A backpacking budget needn’t be a hindrance either. If you shun tourist traps to eat and drink with the locals, you’ll find plenty of foodie experiences that won’t break the bank. Treat yourself to small portions but big flavours with a tapas dish or two in Spain; relish the world’s favourite cuisine at an Italian trattoria; or discover the art form of the open sandwich with smørrebrød in Denmark. Don’t skip breakfast, either – an oven-fresh croissant or calorie-jammed “full English” are not to be missed.
Get stuck into the local cuisine everywhere you go. Hearty and rustic German dishes like pork knuckle are fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth incredible, and go great with the beer. Austrian schnitzel is beautiful, especially with tangerine sauce. And eastern European peasant food, like roast pork and bread dumplings are simply gorgeous. Same goes with Britain; get stuck into a few meat pies and you won’t be sorry. Wherever you are, avoid McDonald’s.
Go under the radar
If you’re looking for Europe’s charm without the crowds, you’ll want to consider straying from the well-worn routes. Some of our favourite under-the-radar towns include Olomouc in the Czech Republic, a pint-sized Prague with less people and more charm (and cobblestones), and Berat, a gorgeous Albanian town where row after row of Ottoman buildings loom down at you from the sides of a steep valley.
Allow yourself the odd splurge
If you’re mostly staying in dorms, splash out on the odd private hostel room or boutique hotel; swing by a speakeasy for cocktails in Paris; gorge yourself on pasta in Rome; and allow yourself a day of watersports in Croatia.
Renting a car works out cheaper than an InterRail ticket
This can’t be right, surely? Well, as surprising as it is, get yourself a smaller budget car and the total cost is still likely to be less than your InterRail pass, especially if you’re over the age of 26. Even better if you travel in a pair or group. The only problem is you can’t really relax behind the wheel and the roads, for the most part, provide far inferior views when compared to the train.
The surf is excellent
Yeah, it’s not just California and Australia that have the sick surf spots. If you fancy a lesson in riding the waves on your next backpacking trip, check out the South West of France, the Costa Verde or Costa De La Luz in Spain and Nazaré in Portugal.
Look into Camping
There are plenty of campgrounds in Europe, and a good number of them are close to popular European cities. Camping is a great way to cut your accommodation expenses by more than half, especially in popular, expensive cities.
Countries like Germany and the Netherlands are great places to hitchhike, while in countries like Austria or France you will probably grow old before someone picks you up.
Bring your walking boots
Even if you’re not big into hiking, you’ll be hard pressed not to at least try a little ramble. The mountains in Europe are beautiful – incredibly so. Spain’s lush peaks in the Picos de Europa, the green alpine and snowy cones of Austria and the legendary Mount Olympus in Greece. You’ll be missing out if you don’t have at least a look.
Avoid Eating in Touristy Areas
In those areas, you pay twice as much as you would if you were three streets over.