Backpacking across Europe is a dream come true for many adventurous souls. With its diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and rich history, Europe offers a plethora of experiences for the intrepid traveler. But how do people actually backpack across Europe? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of budget travel in Europe, from finding affordable accommodation and transportation to navigating visa requirements and immersing oneself in local culture. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or a first-time traveler, this guide has got you covered. So, let’s get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey across the beautiful continent of Europe!

Planning Your Trip

Determining Your Budget

  • Costs to Consider

    When determining your budget for backpacking across Europe, it’s important to consider all the costs associated with your trip. This includes accommodation, food, transportation, activities, and any other expenses that may arise.

  • Saving Money on Accommodation

    One way to save money on accommodation is by opting for hostels or camping. Hostels are a budget-friendly option that offers shared dorm rooms or private rooms. Many hostels also offer free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and other amenities. Camping is another option that can save you money on accommodation, but it does require some additional expenses for equipment rental or purchase.

  • Transportation Costs

    Transportation costs can add up quickly when backpacking across Europe. To save money on transportation, consider purchasing a rail pass or using budget airlines. A rail pass can provide unlimited train travel within a specific region or across the entire continent. Budget airlines offer discounted flights, but be sure to factor in additional fees for checked luggage and other amenities. Additionally, consider alternative modes of transportation such as buses or carpooling to further reduce costs.

Choosing Your Destinations

When planning your backpacking trip across Europe, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing your destinations. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. Here are some factors to consider when choosing your destinations:

Popular Backpacking Routes in Europe

There are several popular backpacking routes in Europe that offer a mix of culture, history, and outdoor adventure. These routes are a great way to experience multiple destinations in one trip and meet other travelers along the way. Some popular routes include:

  • The “Euro Trip”: This route covers some of the most popular destinations in Western Europe, including Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Barcelona.
  • The “Balkan Trip”: This route takes you through the Balkan region, visiting countries like Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania.
  • The “Trans-Siberian Route”: This route takes you from Moscow to Beijing, passing through Russia, Mongolia, and China.

Off the Beaten Path Destinations

While popular destinations like Paris and Rome are must-sees, there are also many hidden gems throughout Europe that are worth exploring. Some off the beaten path destinations include:

  • Slovenia: This small country in Central Europe is known for its stunning alpine scenery, emerald green lakes, and charming medieval towns.
  • Croatia: With its crystal clear waters, stunning national parks, and historic cities, Croatia is a hidden gem that is quickly becoming a popular destination.
  • Serbia: This often overlooked country in the Balkans is home to vibrant cities, beautiful natural landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage.

Visa Requirements for Backpackers

Before planning your trip, it’s important to research visa requirements for each country you plan to visit. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. It’s important to note that visa requirements can vary depending on the length of your stay and your nationality.

Some popular backpacking destinations in Europe that require a visa include:

  • Russia: Tourists from many countries can obtain a visa on arrival or at an embassy/consulate before traveling.
  • Turkey: Tourists from many countries can obtain a visa on arrival or at an embassy/consulate before traveling.
  • China: Tourists from many countries can obtain a visa on arrival or at an embassy/consulate before traveling.

Overall, when choosing your destinations for your backpacking trip across Europe, it’s important to consider a mix of popular and off the beaten path destinations, as well as visa requirements for each country.

Packing for Your Trip

When it comes to backpacking across Europe on a budget, packing wisely is key. Here are some essential items to consider including in your packing list:

Essential Items to Pack

  • Clothing: Comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing, including a mix of layers for cooler climates and a light rain jacket.
  • Footwear: Sturdy and comfortable shoes or boots for walking and hiking, as well as sandals or flip-flops for warmer weather.
  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and any other personal hygiene items you may need.
  • Electronics: A smartphone or camera, chargers, and any other necessary devices.
  • Travel documents: Passport, driver’s license, credit cards, cash, and any other important documents.
  • Medications and first aid supplies: Any prescription medications you take, as well as a basic first aid kit that includes band-aids, pain relievers, and any other necessary items.

Tips for Packing Light

  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space.
  • Pack your shoes in a separate bag or use packing cubes to keep them organized.
  • Bring a small daypack for daily excursions.
  • Take advantage of laundry facilities along the way to avoid packing too many clothes.
  • Use travel-sized toiletries to save space.

Medications and First Aid Supplies

  • Bring a copy of your prescription medication information.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance that includes medical coverage.
  • Pack any necessary over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers or antihistamines.
  • Bring a basic first aid kit that includes band-aids, gauze, and any other necessary items.
  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency services in the countries you will be visiting.

Navigating Europe as a Backpacker

Key takeaway: When backpacking across Europe on a budget, it’s important to consider all the costs associated with your trip, including accommodation, food, transportation, activities, and any other expenses that may arise. To save money on accommodation, consider opting for hostels or camping. To save money on transportation, consider purchasing a rail pass or using budget airlines. When choosing your destinations, consider a mix of popular and off the beaten path destinations, as well as visa requirements for each country. Pack wisely, with essential items such as clothing, footwear, toiletries, electronics, and medications. To stay safe, be aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables safe, avoid distractions, and be prepared. Meeting other backpackers is an essential aspect of enhancing your backpacking experience in Europe, and there are many ways to do so, including by joining tours and activities, visiting museums and art galleries, and participating in traditions and celebrations. Finally, staying connected while traveling is essential, and there are various options available for travelers to stay connected while on the go, including using technology to plan your trip, capturing memories with photography and video, and staying connected with friends and family.

Finding Accommodation

Backpacking across Europe can be an exciting adventure, but finding affordable accommodation can be a challenge. Here are some options to consider:

  • Hostels

Hostels are a popular choice for budget travelers in Europe. They offer dorm-style rooms, private rooms, and shared bathrooms. Hostels often have a common room where guests can socialize and meet other travelers. Some hostels also offer free breakfast and dinner, and they often have tours and activities that you can book. Hostels can be found in most European cities and towns, and they are a great way to meet other travelers and make new friends.

  • Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a free platform that connects travelers with locals who are willing to host them. It’s a great way to experience the local culture and get an insider’s perspective on the city. Couchsurfing hosts offer a place to stay, but it’s important to note that they are not obligated to provide food or transportation. To use Couchsurfing, you’ll need to create a profile and request to stay with a host in the city you’re visiting. You can also request to be a host yourself and offer your couch to travelers visiting your city.

  • House Sitting

House sitting is another option for budget travelers in Europe. Many homeowners leave their homes unoccupied for extended periods of time and are looking for someone to take care of their pets and property while they’re away. House sitting websites connect homeowners with travelers who are willing to take care of their homes in exchange for free accommodation. This can be a great way to experience living like a local and get to know the city from a different perspective.


  • Buses and Trains

Backpacking across Europe is a great way to explore the continent, but getting around can be daunting, especially if you’re on a tight budget. One of the most popular ways to get around Europe is by bus and train. Buses and trains are reliable, affordable, and offer a comfortable way to travel long distances. Many companies offer passes that allow unlimited travel for a set period of time, making it a cost-effective option for backpackers. Some of the most popular bus and train companies include FlixBus, Eurolines, and Deutsche Bahn.

  • Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is another budget-friendly option for backpackers looking to explore Europe. Hitchhiking is free, and it’s a great way to meet locals and other travelers. However, it can be a bit risky, and it’s important to take precautions such as hitchhiking during daylight hours and letting someone know where you’re going. Some popular hitchhiking spots include highway rest stops, gas stations, and truck stops.

  • Cycling

Cycling is a great way to explore Europe, especially if you’re looking for a more adventurous and active way to travel. Cycling is a great way to explore Europe’s scenic countryside and historic cities. It’s also a cost-effective way to travel, as you can save money on transportation and accommodation. There are many cycling routes across Europe, including the EuroVelo network, which connects 15 European countries and offers over 90,000 km of cycling routes. Cycling is a great way to experience Europe’s culture and nature while getting some exercise and fresh air.

Food and Drink

Budget-Friendly Food Options

When traveling on a budget, it’s essential to find affordable options for food and drink. Thankfully, Europe offers a wide range of cost-effective dining options for backpackers. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Pizzerias: Italy is famous for its pizza, and you can find delicious pies at affordable prices throughout the country. Many pizzerias offer lunch specials or budget-friendly options like personal-sized pizzas.
  • Tapas Bars: Spain is known for its vibrant tapas scene, where you can sample a variety of small dishes at a low cost. Look for bars that offer a “menu del dia” or daily menu, which typically includes a starter, main course, dessert, and drink for a fixed price.
  • Falafel Shops: In many cities across Europe, you can find falafel shops that offer delicious and affordable Middle Eastern fare. These shops often have a fast-food vibe and are a great option for a quick, cheap meal.

Street Food and Food Markets

Another way to save money on food is by exploring the local street food scene and food markets. Many European cities have vibrant street food cultures, with vendors offering everything from sausages and pretzels to crepes and kebabs. You can also find food markets where you can sample a variety of local dishes at once. Here are some to check out:

  • La Boqueria: This famous food market in Barcelona, Spain, offers a wide range of fresh produce, seafood, and meat. You can also find vendors selling delicious Spanish treats like churros and paella.
  • Marché d’Aligre: Located in Paris, France, this market offers a variety of fresh produce, meat, and seafood. Be sure to try some of the local cheeses and baked goods while you’re there.
  • Naschmarkt: Vienna’s largest open-air market offers a variety of international foods, from fresh produce to spices and sweets. You can also find coffee shops and restaurants nearby to grab a meal.

Local Bars and Pubs

If you’re looking for a place to grab a drink on a budget, consider checking out local bars and pubs. Many European cities have affordable options for beer, wine, and cocktails. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Beer Gardens: Germany is famous for its beer gardens, where you can enjoy a cold beer in a relaxed outdoor setting. Look for “biergarten” signs to find a local spot.
  • Wine Bars: In Italy, you can find affordable wine bars that offer a variety of local wines. Many wine bars also serve delicious Italian snacks, like bruschetta or olives.
  • Dive Bars: If you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere, consider checking out a local dive bar. These spots often have a more relaxed vibe and are a great place to meet other travelers.

Safety and Security

  • Staying Safe in Cities

When backpacking through European cities, it’s important to take safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some tips for staying safe in cities:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for anything unusual or suspicious.
  • Keep your valuables safe: Keep your valuables such as passports, money, and credit cards in a safe place, such as a hotel safe or a secure backpack.
  • Travel during daylight hours: Try to travel during daylight hours, especially when using public transportation.
  • Dress appropriately: Dress appropriately for the occasion and the location. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying designer bags, as this can attract unwanted attention.

  • Traveling Solo vs. with a Group

Backpacking through Europe can be done both solo and with a group. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Solo travel: Traveling solo allows for more flexibility and independence. It’s easier to meet other travelers and locals, and there’s more freedom to explore at your own pace. However, solo travel can also be isolating at times, and it’s important to take extra precautions to stay safe.
  • Group travel: Traveling with a group can provide a sense of security and camaraderie. It’s easier to navigate unfamiliar cities and make arrangements, such as booking accommodations or transportation. However, group travel can be more expensive and less flexible than solo travel.

  • Dealing with Pickpockets

Pickpocketing is a common problem in many European cities, especially in tourist areas. Here are some tips for dealing with pickpockets:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Keep an eye out for anyone who seems suspicious or is loitering around tourist attractions.
  • Keep your valuables safe: Keep your valuables in a secure place, such as a money belt or a backpack with a secure closure.
  • Avoid distraction: Be wary of anyone who tries to distract you, such as by asking for directions or offering a gift.
  • Be prepared: If you’re the victim of a pickpocket, try to remain calm and call the police immediately. Keep a copy of your passport and important documents in a safe place, just in case.

Culture and Etiquette

  • Respecting Local Customs

When traveling to a foreign country, it is important to respect the local customs and traditions. In Europe, this can include refraining from using your left hand to eat with, as this is considered impolite in some countries. It is also customary to greet others with a handshake, and to use formal titles such as “Professor” or “Doctor” when addressing someone with that title.

  • Language Barriers

Language barriers can be a challenge when backpacking across Europe, but there are ways to overcome them. Learning basic phrases in the local language, such as “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you,” can go a long way in showing respect for the local culture. In addition, many Europeans speak English as a second language, so it may be possible to communicate with them in English.

  • Dress Codes

In some European countries, there are specific dress codes that should be followed in certain situations. For example, in some churches and cathedrals, it is required to cover your shoulders and knees. It is also important to research the dress code for any formal events or restaurants that you plan to attend while in Europe.

By being aware of and respecting local customs, language barriers, and dress codes, backpackers can have a more authentic and enjoyable experience while exploring Europe on a budget.

Enhancing Your Backpacking Experience

Meeting Other Backpackers

Meeting other backpackers is an essential aspect of enhancing your backpacking experience in Europe. By connecting with fellow travelers, you can share experiences, make new friends, and learn about different cultures. Here are some ways to meet other backpackers during your European adventure:

Hostels and Meeting Fellow Travelers

Hostels are an excellent place to meet other backpackers as they offer affordable accommodation and a social atmosphere. Many hostels have common areas where travelers can relax, eat, and socialize. Hostels also often organize events and activities, such as pub crawls, city tours, and game nights, which are great opportunities to meet other travelers. Additionally, many hostels offer free breakfast, allowing you to start your day with new friends.

Attending Events and Festivals

Europe is home to numerous events and festivals that attract backpackers from around the world. These events provide an opportunity to experience local culture, sample traditional food, and meet other travelers who share your interests. Some popular events include music festivals, food festivals, and cultural celebrations. For example, the Tomatina Festival in Spain, the Carnival of Venice in Italy, and the Rio Carnival in Brazil are just a few of the many events that attract backpackers each year.

Joining Tours and Activities

Joining tours and activities is another great way to meet other backpackers. Many tour operators offer group tours that cater to backpackers, allowing you to explore popular destinations with like-minded travelers. Group tours are an excellent way to meet new people, share travel experiences, and make lasting friendships. Additionally, many tour operators offer specialized activities, such as hiking, kayaking, and skiing, which are perfect for adventurous backpackers looking to meet others who share their interests.

Exploring Local Culture

When backpacking across Europe, one of the most rewarding experiences is immersing yourself in the local culture. By doing so, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the region’s history, customs, and traditions. Here are some ways to explore local culture while on a budget:

Visiting Museums and Art Galleries

Europe is home to some of the world’s most renowned museums and art galleries, and many of them offer free admission or charge a nominal fee. The Louvre in Paris, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg are just a few examples. By visiting these institutions, you can learn about the region’s history, art, and culture, without breaking the bank.

Trying Local Cuisine

Food is an essential part of any culture, and trying local cuisine is a great way to immerse yourself in the local way of life. Street markets, food trucks, and local cafes are often the best places to try authentic dishes at affordable prices. In Italy, try a slice of pizza from a local pizzeria, or in Spain, sample some tapas at a local bar. Don’t be afraid to try new things, as you never know what hidden gems you might discover.

Participating in Traditions and Celebrations

Europe is home to a rich tapestry of traditions and celebrations, and participating in these events is a great way to connect with the local community. From Carnival in Venice to Christmas markets in Germany, there are plenty of opportunities to join in the fun. Many festivals and celebrations are free or low-cost, making them accessible to backpackers on a budget. By participating in these events, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the region’s history and customs, while also creating lasting memories.

Outdoor Adventures

Exploring the great outdoors is one of the most rewarding experiences while backpacking across Europe. The continent offers a wide range of outdoor activities that cater to various interests and skill levels. From hiking and trekking to beach activities and skiing, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the best outdoor adventures to add to your itinerary:

  • Hiking and Trekking: Europe is home to some of the most stunning landscapes and natural wonders, and the best way to experience them is by hiking and trekking. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are plenty of trails to choose from. Popular hiking destinations include the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Balkans, and the Scottish Highlands.
  • Beach Activities: Europe has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and there’s no better way to enjoy them than by participating in beach activities. From swimming and sunbathing to surfing and kayaking, there’s something for everyone. Some of the best beach destinations include the Mediterranean coast, the Atlantic coast, and the Black Sea coast.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding: Winter sports enthusiasts will love skiing and snowboarding in Europe’s top ski resorts. From the Swiss Alps to the French Pyrenees, there are plenty of places to hit the slopes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier, there are plenty of options to suit your skill level.

Technology and Staying Connected

  • Staying Connected While Traveling
    While backpacking across Europe, staying connected is essential to keep in touch with friends and family, plan your next destination, and document your trip. Fortunately, there are various options available for travelers to stay connected while on the go.
  • Using Technology to Plan Your Trip
    There are several travel apps and websites that can help you plan your trip and find the best deals on accommodation, transportation, and activities. Some popular travel apps include Airbnb,, Skyscanner, and TripAdvisor. These apps allow you to compare prices, read reviews, and book accommodation and transportation directly from your phone.
  • Capturing Memories with Photography and Video
    Backpacking across Europe is an exciting experience, and capturing memories is an essential part of the journey. Photography and video are great ways to capture your experiences and share them with others. Social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube have become popular among travelers, allowing them to share their adventures with friends and family and inspire others to travel.


1. What is backpacking across Europe?

Backpacking across Europe is a popular way for budget-conscious travelers to explore the continent. It involves carrying a backpack and traveling from place to place, often staying in hostels or camping. This type of travel allows for a more flexible and immersive experience, as travelers can choose their own destinations and itineraries.

2. How do I plan a backpacking trip across Europe?

Planning a backpacking trip across Europe involves several key steps. First, decide on a budget and create a rough itinerary. Research transportation options, such as budget airlines and trains, and book accommodations in advance. It’s also important to research visa requirements and travel insurance options. Additionally, pack light and choose essential items for your trip.

3. How much does backpacking across Europe cost?

The cost of backpacking across Europe can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the length of the trip, the destinations visited, and the type of accommodations chosen. On average, travelers can expect to spend around $50-70 per day, although this can be higher or lower depending on individual circumstances.

4. What are the best ways to get around Europe while backpacking?

There are several ways to get around Europe while backpacking, including flying, taking trains, and using buses. Budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet offer cheap flights between many European cities, while trains and buses provide a more scenic and environmentally-friendly option. Additionally, many cities have public transportation systems that are easy to use and affordable.

5. Where are the best places to visit while backpacking across Europe?

There are countless amazing places to visit while backpacking across Europe, from bustling cities like Paris and Rome to stunning natural landscapes like the Swiss Alps and the Norwegian fjords. Some popular destinations for backpackers include Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Berlin, while others may choose to explore less-touristy areas like the Balkans or Eastern Europe.

6. How do I find accommodations while backpacking across Europe?

There are many options for accommodations while backpacking across Europe, including hostels, camping, and staying with locals through homestay programs. Hostels are a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers, as they offer cheap shared rooms and often have social spaces for meeting other travelers. Camping is another affordable option, although it may require more equipment and planning. Homestay programs allow travelers to experience a more authentic and immersive experience by staying with local families.

7. What should I pack for a backpacking trip across Europe?

When packing for a backpacking trip across Europe, it’s important to pack light and choose essential items. A good backpack, comfortable walking shoes, and a guidebook are all must-haves. It’s also a good idea to bring a power adapter for charging electronic devices, as well as a small first-aid kit and any necessary medications. Clothing should be lightweight and easy to wash and dry, and travelers may want to bring a raincoat or umbrella for unpredictable weather.

ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BACKPACKING AROUND EUROPE | what it costs, budget travel tips, how to find hostels

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