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Looking for a Europe backpacking route?
For a continent as large and as diverse as Europe, the sky is really the limit. Creating a backpacking itinerary is no easy task especially if you have limited time and budget.
You can check out how to create an itinerary step by step here.
For a detailed Europe Trip Planner guide, click here.
In this post, I will share two unique Europe backpacking itinerary ideas for you to choose from. The numbers in brackets are days you can spend for reference. Do feel free to add or subtract based on your overall timeline.
#1 Frankfurt (2) → Munich(3)→ Füssen (2)→ Verona(2)→ Venice (4)→ Florence (4)→ Amalfi(3)→ Positano (1)→Pompeii (3)→ Rome (7)
This itinerary starts in Frankfurt, Germany and ends in Rome. The itinerary is relatively easy to travel as train and bus connectivity is quite good across this entire region. In Italy, during peak seasons you may need to reserve trains, especially overnight ones in advance but they can easily be done online or purchased from the train stations itself.
Your journey will begin in Frankfurt where you can spend two or three days exploring the modern and old architecture that fills this city. I always found Frankfurt a rather strange city, but it’s definitely got an interesting vibe to it. Next, you will head south towards Munich and spend a few days in the Bavarian capital, sampling beer, local festivals and Dachau (concentration camp) along with the excellent shopping centres.
You can also make a quick stop in Nuremberg if time permits on your way to Munich. Next, you will stop by at Füssen, from where you can take day trips to Zugspitze (Germany’s highest peak) or the Neuschwanstein Castle (Disney logo is based on this). Füssen is also an excellent base for exploring hikes in this region.
From here you will head to Verona, the city where Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, and enjoy the small town Italian life for a day or two. Venice, is about two hours away on a scenic train ride, and do I need to sell Venice to you? Take as much time as you need, but do remember Venice is an incredibly crowded and expensive city, even during off-season so do plan and budget your time accordingly.
From here you will head further south to Florence, the Tuscan city home to beautiful Renaissance art and architecture. After a historical journey, you will hit the Italian coast with movie-like, picturesque (also expensive) coastal towns such as the Amalfi and Positano. This region is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, and if you travel during warmer months, makes for an excellent time to visit.
You will finish your trip in Rome, and fly out after your share of majestic history, art, culture and food. This itinerary is suitable for those who would like a mix of mountains and beach, along with a heavy dose of history, culture and great food. Needless to say, this is also an itinerary that fits really well for couple travellers or families.
If you have some extra time at hand, you can also fly from Rome to Portugal and spend a few days in Lisbon, Porto and Algarve.
#2 Warsaw (3)→ Krakow(3) → Budapest(4)→ Zagreb(3)→ Sarajevo(3)→Dubrovnik(4)→Athens(4)→Santorini(3) → Rhodes(2)→ Creta(2)
This itinerary takes you across the most beautiful spots all the way from eastern Europe to southern Europe. For beach and history lovers, who would like to explore a more off-beat track at a cheaper cost than the other itineraries, this one is a stunner.
You will start your trip from Warsaw, the capital of Poland, where you will spend time immersed in the amazing history and nightlife that this city brings. Next, you will head to Krakow, where you will experience one of the largest and most beautiful city squares in Europe, complete with horse-driven carriages. You can also take some time to visit Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp that makes for an informative day trip.
From Krakow, you will head by train to Budapest where you will take time exploring the two parts of the cities, thermal baths and eating and drinking like a Hungarian. This is one of those cities in Europe that is equally breathtaking at night as it is during the day. The ancient ruin pubs are also a must-visit.
From here, you will go to Zagreb and start exploring the city with Austro-Hungarian architecture. From Zagreb, you can head to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina where you will take some time to explore this off-beat cit set amongst the Dinaric Alps. You can also stop along the way to Zagreb if you would like to break your travel time a bit.
Next on this itinerary is Dubrovnik which is south of Croatia. Again, made famous by Game of Thrones and a ridiculously beautiful city, if you are a coastal city lover, you would love this place. Spend a few days lazing around and slowly exploring the region, especially if you travel during peak season when crowds can be overwhelming and prices expensive.
After Dubrovnik, you will take a flight to Athens where you will start exploring Greece. I have also included a choice of Greek islands that you can explore for 2-3 days each, and are easily reachable either by short flights or boats from Athens. Once you’ve had your share of history and culture in Athens, head to one of the various beautiful islands in Greece, including Santorini, Rhodes, Creta, Mykonos and more. The islands you pick of course depends on your budget and type of travel.
Planning Resources & Links
In this section, you can find all the links you need to plan and book every step of your travel journey. You can always search for more options, but I have carefully selected the most trusted and loved providers in this section, to save you time and effort in conducting this research yourself.
Booking Flights to Europe
The first step of your trip will no doubt start here. Before you can jump into planning the rest of your trip, you need to find and book the best possible return flights.
Here’s the only platforms I suggest for you, no matter where you live.
A multi purpose flight search and booking platform. The biggest advantage this platform offers is the Kiwi guarantee. This means if your flight gets delayed, postponed or cancelled, Kiwi provides you either an alternative flight or refund the cost of the flight. I don’t know any other provider that offers such a guarantee.
A popular flight search engine, when you can’t find what you need on Kiwi, you should check Skyscanner. A very handy tool is the ‘Everywhere’ function which shows you the best deals across the globe for your chosen month. This function is also available on Kiwi under ‘Anywhere’ function.
Another amazing platform I discovered recently, aimed at students under 26, but functional for people of any age.
Booking Flights within Europe
If you plan on flying from Spain to let’s say Greece, you probably need a fast flight connection. Flights within Europe, especially the non-budget carriers, can be $100-$200 more expensive than the budget carriers mentioned below.
The only catch with booking these flights is the ‘compulsory online check-in’, ‘limited luggage (usually 10kg and specific dimensions) and overall crappy service.
But, hey, if you can find a connection across the continent for $50 return, and you don’t mind the above mentioned discomforting elements, definitely consider these carriers.
I have also added a link for checking the appropriate connection since all these carriers fly into limited (often special) airports in the country.
By far the cheapest, and most well-connected flight, this should be your first search option for booking flights within Europe.
A new carrier, popular for connections to Eastern Europe. If you are planning to hit eastern Europe, this is definitely worth checking out.
Useful Link: Destination Checker
Flying to over 100 destinations, this is another cheap flight provider worth checking out for connections.
Useful Link: Destination Checker
An excellent way to explore Europe, is by train. You may choose to travel solely by train or combine it with flights, buses or rentals. In this section, I will take you through some different ways in which you can travel with a train.
The best place to start planning, searching and booking for individual connections all across Europe.
Rail Europe also sells Eurail passes (that we’ll cover in detail later), sometimes they may run discounts, but other times it may be cheaper to buy it at the Eurail website directly.
This is also an excellent site to find more information on country-specific regional trains, high speed trains and reservation policies, which may differ from one place to another, and is often difficult to find on local train websites.
Another good alternative to plan trains, buses and routes across Europe is GoEuro. The advantage this platform has over others is that it offers a comparison between flights, buses and trains, telling you the best option to get from point A to B.
A Eurail pass, as a non-EU resident, allows you to travel for a specified period of time to a specified number of cities, in the Schengen zone at a predetermined bundled price.
You can shop the pass that fits your need online. Some of the various types of passes include: individual country passes, multi-country passes and global country passes.
If you are a solo or a budget traveller, an excellent way to plan your trip is with buses. It will take you longer than it would with a high speed train or flight, but you may save a lot of money especially during peak season travel.
The advantage of bus travel is that it is a) cheaper than trains on average, b) needs less planning in advance, as buses are often available upto a few weeks earlier as well.
My favourite and most comfortable bus service I have come across, Flixbus is my go-to bus planning and booking service. They also offer a 5-trip pass for $114 that is valid across all their bus routes, provided you don’t circle back to where you started.
If you book early enough (at least a month in advance), you may even find one-way tickets for $5-$10 and this is also an excellent way to take day trips, on an impulse!
I also love that Flixbus offers a WIFI (free) and drinks (paid) service onboard, which makes it a lot more relaxing to travel by bus during long distances.
The best and most convenient platform to look for hostels in Europe, if you can’t find it on Hostel World, you most likely won’t find it elsewhere. I also love that you can book most hostels with a very nominal fee to hold you reservation, although cancellation policies depend entirely on the hostel.
The top hostel chains I recommend in Europe are:
St.Christopher’s Inn: Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bruges, Copenhagen, Interlaken, Prague, London, Edinburg.
PLUS Hostels: Berlin, Prague, Florence
Wombats: Vienna, London, Berlin, Munich, Budapest
A platform I very often use to find hotels, guest apartments, luxury hotels, et al. Booking is the largest online travel aggregator and one where you can almost always start your search.
Another popular option to explore a region, is through the shared rentals platform called Airbnb. If you book far ahead, you can access beautiful private apartments in city centres for a cheaper price than a hotel. Airbnb also offers shared apartments, where you are expected to share the space with other guests or local hosts.
You can use this first time travel credit of $40 when you book your first Airbnb stay.
Another popular way for solo travellers to travel, practically for free is to use couchsurfing. As the name suggests, you are offered a couch or an extra bed by a local host for free.
It is a network to meet other like minded locals and save money while travelling. For solo travelers, I would advise to carefully review and vet out the hosts you do stay with.
The only insurance I recommend and use when I am traveling solo is the World Nomads Travel Insurance.
It is easy to get a quote, to redeem online and has one of the most flexible travel insurance policies I have come across.
You can also check out my Europe Trip Planner guide for a detailed framework for planning a Europe trip.
You will also find the following posts helpful for planning your perfect backpacking trip across European countries:
- 3 Sample Two Week European Itinerary ideas
- How to create a Europe Trip Itinerary Step by Step + 5 Sample 1 Week Itinerary Ideas
- Top 10 Cheapest Countries To Visit in Europe (and around) in 2019
- 5 Must-Have Items On Your Packing List for Europe
- The Ultimate Travel Europe For Cheap Guide
- 5 Top Hostel Chains And Essential Tips For Booking Hostels in Europe
- Backpacking Europe – 4 Cities To Travel Under $40 a Day
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Shruti’s a digital marketer by day and ninja travel blogger by night. Two years ago, she left her post-MBA life in India to chase some new adventures and now calls Germany home. On this website she shares her tips on how to travel smarter, cheaper and longer. When she’s not working or blogging, she is out exploring new places, mastering yoga challenges or sipping masala chai while scrolling through Instagram.