A Step-by-Step Guide to Backpacking Europe (2024)

A Step-by-Step Guide to Backpacking Europe

We’ve gathered the best tips into this Europe backpacking guide to assist you with preparing for your dream trip!

Many travelers’ dream trips include a stopover in Europe when backpacking. But where do you even begin organizing a big trip with so many unknowns?

Organizing a backpacking vacation through Europe doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to sunny Costa del Sol in Spain or exploring beautiful Budapest, this guide has you covered!

How To Plan A Europe Backpacking Trip

Step 1: Getting the Perfect Bag

A bag is the most vital part of backpacking your way through Europe. It contains all of your essentials – usually the bare minimum you need for a basic daily routine. 

You must choose one that is sturdy yet lightweight. Something easy to carry everywhere that can withstand extreme conditions. Backpacking your way through Europe requires you to move around a lot. Oftentimes, you’ll practically be dragging your backpack along with you everywhere you go.

It is better to do a bit of research on the different kinds of backpacks available and pick one that fits your frame and one that you won’t have a problem carrying for long periods of time. I recommend trying these on inside a store first, in order to get a sense of how it will feel on your back.

Step 2: Choose a Destination

Numerous variables will influence where you choose to backpack in Europe.

Consider the locations that are calling you first. Where has your dream destination always been? Maybe you’ve been scrolling through your phone and across different travel blogs and there are destinations you are repeatedly being drawn to.

Then, think about your overall budget. What overall budget is easy for you to work with?

The decision of where to travel in Europe will vary based on what you wish to see and how much money you want to spend because the continent is so diverse in terms of culture and cost.

Read more: 5 Fairytale Towns In Europe That Should Be On Your Bucket List

Step 3: Research Costs and Create a Budget

Research the prices you find online for your trip. and create a thorough travel budget for Europe, utilizing online budget planners. Once you’ve decided on a destination or have reduced your options to a few top contenders, you’re ready for the next step.

Understand the typical costs of hotels or hostels, flying expenses (read our guide on how to find cheap flights), and meals. Be sure to account for the extra cash you need for leisure and any tours you want to take.

Read more: Europe Travel Tips: 10 Things You Need to Know

Step 4: Schedule and Manage Your Itinerary

Choose your travel dates based on your budget. If you’re not as worried about ideal weather and you have a limited budget, you’ll want to travel in the shoulder or low season.

Planning during your destination’s shoulder season is, more often than not, a great idea, but we’ll cover more on that below.

Read more: Packing List for Europe (Fits in a Carry-on)

Step 5: Schedule a Flight

Next up, you’ll want to purchase your flight. There are specific websites to find cheap flights, but I suggest you also use Google flights.

This will give you an idea of the most cost-effective airline to fly with, the ideal time to travel, and any other nearby airport options.

For your flights, it’s preferable to do extensive research unless you have airline loyalty. Before making a reservation, apply for the airline’s rewards program. The benefits of earning points can be substantial in the future.

Read more: How to Find Cheap Flights to Anywhere

A Step-by-Step Guide to Backpacking Europe

Step 6: Find Inexpensive Lodging

Nowadays, there are many affordable lodging options for travelers in Europe, including hotels, hostels, Airbnbs, bed-and-breakfasts, camping, homestays, housesitting and Couchsurfing.

The choice you make entirely relies on your preferences and budget. We advise researching a few possibilities in your target place to determine which one you feel most at ease with.

Low on funds? Below are two ways to get free hostel lodging in Europe:

  1. Start by thinking about house-sitting as a substitute for accommodation. We use TrustedHousesitters.
  2. If that doesn’t work for you, and you don’t mind spending a little more time in each place, think about working at a hostel as a trade-in for free space and meals.

Step 7: Explore Transportation Options

Moving onto your options for transportation, here are some crucial things to know.

Look at regional transportation options, including trains, buses, and low-cost flights. Get a broad idea of how to travel from A to B and how much it will cost for all of those options.

Before departing on your trip, be sure you have a clear plan for getting from the airport to where you’re staying.

Read more: The Essential Guide to Train Travel in Europe

Step 8: Visas

Does Schengen sound familiar? It’s a region of more than 20 European countries that don’t recognize international boundaries. This implies that border control doesn’t exist here and that you can travel freely within these countries from internal borders sans a passport.

However, suppose you are a citizen of one of the numerous non-European countries, such as Australians, Americans, Canadians, or New Zealanders. In that case, you are only permitted to stay 90 out of every 180 days in the entire Schengen area.

This does not imply that you must leave Europe completely after meeting those 90 days, only that you must move on to a non-Schengen country once your visa has expired.

Step 9: Study a Few Key Phrases

Were you aware of The European Union has 24 official languages?

Anyone can benefit from having a rudimentary understanding of the local language of any place they travel to. No one expects you to master the official language of every country you visit.

It’s not uncommon to locate an English-speaking individual wherever in Europe, particularly in the tourism sector. However, will need to communicate in the local language as you venture to smaller towns where English isn’t spoken as widely.

Making notes with a few important expressions on them is beneficial. As a result, you are more familiar with them and can refer to them whenever you need to without having to go through a large book or fiddle with your phone.

I do, however, recommend having Google Translate available on your phone.

How To Plan A Europe Backpacking Trip

Step 10: Protect Yourself

While traveling in Europe on a budget is generally safe, unexpected events can happen anytime.

It’s wise to have a backup strategy in place in case something goes wrong, whether it’s a break-in, an accident, or having to withdraw from your visit because of a problem at home.

You can feel safer when you have travel insurance before you go on your trip. Never forget to research potential insurance providers before selecting one. You can quickly compare travel insurance plans offered by thousands of suppliers online.

Europe Backpacking Destinations

You will have a blast wherever your backpacking experience in Europe takes you.

However, not all European countries are made equal. So, your decision regarding which country to plan your vacation in will rely on your traveling preferences, interests, and financial constraints.

Here’s a summary of a few of our top recommendations for where to backpack in Europe.

Backpacking in Spain

For a good reason, Spain is considered a well-liked European destination for backpackers.

Regardless of how long you decide to backpack through Spain, there are always new things to discover because every region is packed with amazing history, architecture, and attractive Spanish culture.

We advise tourists visiting Spain to venture beyond the popular tourist destinations of Barcelona and Madrid and explore a bit more of the country.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Backpacking Europe

A fresh perspective on Spanish culture may be found in cities like Granada, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao, and San Sebastian. These cities have a lot to offer.

But bear in mind that Spain follows its laws and culture in many respects.

Firstly, don’t anticipate maintaining your regular sleeping schedule while there. Due to Spanish norms, dinner is typically eaten at around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., and parties typically last all night.

In addition, many Spanish communities continue to practice siestas, during which stores, restaurants, and other businesses close during the day to let customers go home, nap, or spend time with their families.

Backpacking in Portugal

Portugal is undoubtedly among the top destinations you should visit while traveling in Europe if you appreciate amazing scenery, top-notch ocean views, and reasonable rates.

Even though Porto will keep you very well-fed, get a Francesinha and a Bacalhau sandwich during your time there. Lisbon is a large city that captivates you with its bohemian vibe.

Additionally, we advise leaving the towns and exploring the quieter areas too.

Portugal’s over 1800 km of coastline, which features a few of the world’s best surf, along with its amazing landscapes, castles, and wineries, are worth exploring.

Read more: How to Visit Lisbon, Portugal on a Budget

Backpacking in Germany

Germany has had several different identities throughout its history. However, now, Germany has changed to become one of the most historically aware and culturally relevant countries in Europe.

Many museums, castles, woodlands, and historical locations exist. And, of course, the most excellent food and beer ever!

There is also a thriving party culture in cities like Hamburg and Berlin. The Germans, like the Spanish, tend to stay up late partying.

Read more: Visiting Lake Eibsee & Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany

A Step-by-Step Guide to Backpacking Europe

Backpacking in Croatia

Croatia is known for its gorgeous scenery and cobblestone alleys.

Croatia, located directly opposite the Adriatic Sea from Italy, will take you cruising the seas, trekking along cliffs, learning about history, enjoying little coastal villages, and swimming in waterfalls.

Split, Zagreb, Krka National Park, and Plitvice National Park are excellent places to visit while you’re here.

It’s better to visit between Spring and Fall because many events are only available during those times of the year.

Additionally, Croatia is relatively affordable. So, it seems that it has recently emerged as among the most sought-after destinations in Europe.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Backpacking Europe

Read more: 10 Safest Cities in Europe for Solo Female Travelers

Backpacking in Scandinavia

Suppose you’re interested in stunning fjords, the Northern Lights, vibrant fishing villages, imaginative cities, and some of the most welcoming locals you’ll ever meet. In that case, preparing a backpacking trip through Norway, Finland, or Sweden will grant you the great experiences you’ve desired.

Indeed, Scandinavia is famed for being among the costliest parts of Europe, so taking this route is not recommended for individuals on a tight budget.

Read more: Where to Stay in Norway (The Best Hotels & Locations)

Backpacking in Eastern Europe

Backpacking through Eastern Europe, which is made up of countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, and Moldova will be considerably different from a typical vacation to Western Europe.

Because a lot of Eastern Europe used to be a part of Yugoslavia or was governed by the Soviet Union, this region’s architecture, historical landmarks, culture, and mindsets are influenced by it.

Additionally, prices are far lower for almost everything, partly because tourism is less popular in this part of Europe than in the West.

The East of Europe is the ideal destination if you’re traveling in Europe on a tight budget.

Europe Backpacking Destinations

Backpacking in Central Europe

In all honesty, how you describe Eastern and Central Europe on a map varies. However, let’s specify central Europe to include Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Hungary to make it more organized.

These countries are at the center of the pricing spectrum. If you’re exploring Europe on a tight budget, whether you’ll be able to have a lavish or a basic experience depends entirely on where you are in central Europe.

Plan Your Trip

After traveling consistently for over 13 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust Visitors Coverage, which we’ve used for the past 10 years.

Let us book your trip! Looking for a Travel Advisor to help you plan your trip? Contact us here for more information!

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Guide to Backpacking Europe

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