For anyone yearning for some adventure, a backpacking trip in Europe can scratch that travel itch. Backpacking is also often more cost-effective and flexible than taking a regular vacation, since you can stay in affordable hostels and easily carry all your belongings with you.
If you’re not sure where exactly you should go, we’ve got you covered.
Here are a few of the best backpacking destinations in Europe:
Packed with culture at every turn, Rome is a popular destination for many backpackers. Majestic structures such as the Colosseum and the Imperial Forum serve as marks of the artistry of ancient Rome from as early as the Roman Kingdom to the later Roman Empire. Rome is also home to Vatican City, the Catholic city-state where the pope resides. You can’t miss the complex beauty of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica while you’re there.
If you don’t mind crowds, you can visit in the summer, when most tourists are around. However, many people agree that September through November and April through June are better seasons, as there are fewer tourists and the weather is in a nice middle ground—though you should expect some rain in the fall. For the cheapest prices on places to stay and the least people, the colder winter is the time to go.
Check out our Italy travel guide for more!
The capital of Hungary has a rich history you can delve into as you walk around the city and visit the art museums at the Royal Palace. A must-see experience is eating at the kerts dotted around the city. Kerts, or ruin pubs, came about when people began opening makeshift bars in abandoned spaces around the city. Attracting the youth, kerts quickly gained traction and are now some of most interesting places to eat and drink in Budapest. Their origins have given them a unique, multifaceted style borne from repurposing décor and furnishings, though they’re now often a bit more polished.
Another benefit of Budapest is that staying there is relatively affordable, with plenty of hostels around the Pest side of the city that excel in hospitality. Some of them even host party events that will keep you up well into the night. Just make sure you have everything you need for your trip, and you should have no problem exploring the area and finding a place to rest at the end of the day.
Krakow is a great choice when it comes to budget backpacking. With hostel prices hovering around ten bucks a night on average, you won’t have to struggle to stretch your dollar here. The Rynek Główny (main square) at the center of the city is home to the Historical Museum of Krakow, where you can learn about the city’s past from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries. You can also see St. Mary’s Basilica, which was built in the Polish Gothic style of architecture and has served as the design basis for Polish churches abroad.
In addition to these, Wawel Castle and its art museum, home of Smok Wawelski, the fire-breathing dragon, are visitor favorites. Furthermore, the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp isn’t far from Krakow. You can get there by bus, train, or taxi to learn more about what happened there and to pay your respects.
There are hundreds of great cities and towns to visit when traveling around Europe as a backpacker, but these three are definite favorites. Got any questions, feedback, or other top backpacking destinations to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!