Eurotrip travel blog! I traveled for 2 months through 10 countries in eastern and central Europe; it was quite the adventure! I’ll share how to plan a backpacking Europe trip itinerary. In the meantime, here’s a quick photo tour of adventures from my trip.
Backpacking Europe itinerary:
Sweden -> Finland -> Estonia -> Latvia -> Lithuania -> Poland -> Prague Czech -> Munich Germany -> Greece (5 islands!) -> Budapest Hungary.
I wasn’t planning on backpacking through Europe for two months. I had stopped working a couple of weeks before, and decided I wanted to take a trip before starting a new job. But where to go?
1. Choosing countries for your Europe backpacking trip itinerary
To plan your trip, start with countries that you’re most excited to visit. You’ll want to plan around these.
The Baltics intrigued me – the trio of former Soviet Union countries that border the Baltic Sea. I had only planned to travel for a 2-3 week trip to the Baltics – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – but loved it and kept extending my trip. I’d never been to any of those countries, and didn’t know anyone that had been to any of them either. Imagine visiting a place that wasn’t even a country when you were born. Fascinating!
Why visit the Baltics for a Europe backpacking trip?
I also chose the Baltics for 3 reasons. Firstly, they’re harder to get to in a short trip. Cities like London and Paris often have cheap quick flights for a short trip. Secondly, they’re farther, so I’m unlikely to be passing through anytime. This is ideal for a Europe backpacking trip, because it’s a rare time when you can explore. Finally, they’re less expensive than the top western cities like Vienna.
It’s the same rationale I used to choose Southeast Asia for my first backpacking trip.
2. Find a flight nearby to start your Europe backpacking trip
Next, plan how to get to those target countries. If you don’t already live in Europe, find an inexpensive flight that gets you either directly there or nearby.
To get into that region I flew into…
Stockholm, Sweden! Coincidently, I have friends in Sweden that I met on my southeast Asia trip. I stayed with a friend that I had last seen while snorkeling with whale sharks in the Philippines. Click that link to see what that was like.
Tip: cheapest flight to Europe might not be to your target countries.
Keep in mind that the cheapest flight might not be directly to the country of interest. However, there may be flights to nearby countries.
3. Map out the countries in Europe to backpack through
Then I hopped a $37 flight to Helsinki for a quick stop in Finland. I met up with another friend that I met on my Asia trip – we had last connected for a few nights in Beijing. Five years later, reunion in Helsinki, Finland!
I didn’t actually realize how close Finland was to Estonia. I took a 90-minute ferry Tallinn, Estonia. It’s so easy to get to, and thus you can feel the influence of so many Fins coming to visit.
4. Backpack through Europe in your countries. Loved the Baltics!
I loooooved Tallinn! There was just something about it that I was drawn to – I explain in more detail (with photos like this one below) in future posts.
Then I took buses to Riga in Latvia and then to Vilnius in Lithuania. It was so easy to get from city to city via bus (thanks Lux Express!). The Baltics are so interesting, with impressive architecture in each country.
5. Find nearby countries in Europe of interest
Thus far I chose the Baltics to visit, and found a cheap flight to get there in nearby Scandinavia. Next, determine where you’d like to visit for your second target countries. For this one, the limitation is that it needs to be nearby the first one.
Prague tops my list for a backpacking Europe trip!
Prague is amazing. The architecture, the vibe, just everything about it makes you want to visit.
6. Consider stopping in interesting countries on your route
To get to Prague I’d have to navigate there from Vilnius. I was planning to meet friends in Prague, but since I was passing through Poland anyway, I budgeted a 1-day stop in Warsaw and another in Krakow on the way over. I still need much more time in Poland, but it was on the way so I got about 24 hours in each.
I’d prefer to visit each city for a week, if I had the time. However, this approach allowed me a sampler. Sure, it’s not enough. But you can change anything along the way. It’s your backpacking Europe trip!
I loved Prague – I had high expectations and it met them. I could have spent weeks exploring there. It was magical!
At that point of my backpacking Europe trip, I was (surprisingly) getting a little tired of old medieval cities. Prague is amazing, but towards the end I was ready to switch it up. I was craving something different – nature, wildlife, or a beach. Hello Greece!
Tip: consider buses and trains to get to countries
It was expensive to fly out of Prague for some reason, but really cheap from Munich. I needed a few hours of WiFi to catch up on things anyway, so I hopped a bus that morning and headed to Germany. It just happened to be the first days of Octoberfest!
I arrived in Munich on that Saturday, just in time for the opening weekend of Octoberfest. I spent 2 days meeting new wonderful people dressed up like these (above). Then spent a day exploring Munich before hopping a flight to Crete.
Add Island hopping in Greece to your backpacking Europe itinerary
I like to add balance to my trip. Finally, my backpacking Europe trip includes some sun, warm weather, and beaches. I was craving all three!
I actually couldn’t even locate Crete on a map before I went, but I figured once I get to Greece I could island hop. Crete was much larger than I thought – nearly 6 hours from end to end, but so worth it. Beautiful beaches, affordable lodging, delicious food. I’m so glad I went!
Meet up with friends doing their backpacking Europe trip
While I was in Crete, my friend Cho was in Mykonos, so we met up in the middle in Santorini. A year earlier we sat next to each other at the same job, and there we were on separate trips meeting up on the other side of the world. So much fun!
Santorini’s famous for epic sunsets, and the views live up to the hype. Towards the end I met a new friend, so he joined my adventure as I continued on to the underrated island of Ios. Then Mykonos and Paros.
I went to 5 islands in Greece, each with a slightly different personality than the last.
Note, ios is pronounced EEE-OSE.
Add history to your backpacking Europe trip – Athens!
Then historic Athens. There’s so much history here, I could have spent way more time.
Finish your backpacking Europe itinerary with someplace awesome
As you get toward the end of your trip, you’ll want to think about flights home. Ideally you’ll want to find a cheap flight home from someplace that’s on your list to visit.
I finished my trip in Budapest, meeting up with some new friends that I met on the small island of Ios.
Budapest turned out to be one of my favorite destinations of my trip. It rained nearly every moment of every day, yes I still loved it. I can’t even imagine how much I’d enjoy it if it was remotely nice weather.
It’s always wonderful to finish your Europe backpacking trip with someplace amazing.
I’ll be posting about every one of the places I’ve mentioned, with stories, highlights, and photography of my experiences. It was quite the backpacking Europe trip adventure!
Start a travel goal while backpacking Europe
If you’ve been following my adventures you’ll know I have this crazy travel goal to visit 50 countries by age 50. And this backpacking Europe trip of 10 countries was a nice teaser of each on. I want to go back to all of them and experience more!
If you don’t have one yet, this is an excellent time to start!