Category Archives: Europe

Backpacking Europe trip – Eurotrip!

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?
photo of the ceiling in Prague Czech Republic
Adventures through 10 countries, in Europe. Prague in the Czech Republic was one of my favorite cities!

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…
I started my Eurotrip in Sweden. Stockholm is nearly surrounded by water, so a boat photo was a must
Stockholm is nearly surrounded by water, so a boat photo was a must

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!
Jumping in Helsinki
Jumping in Helsinki
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.
This photo looks like Moscow but it's actually Tallinn, Estonia
This photo looks like Moscow but it’s actually Tallinn, Estonia
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.
Riga's architecture is fascinating; notice the huge faces on the buildings
Riga’s architecture is fascinating; notice the huge faces on the buildings

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!

Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw, Poland
Heads rolling in Krakow
Heads rolling in Krakow

I loved Prague – I had high expectations and it met them. I could have spent weeks exploring there. It was magical!

Jets opening day (American football) - I searched the entire city for a bar that might have the game on. Finding American football on a backpacking Europe itinerary is challenging! Success!
Jets opening day (American football) – I searched the entire city for a bar that might have the game on. Success!
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!
Prague has fairytale architecture! It was a highlight of my backpacking Europe trip
Prague has fairytale architecture

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!
Prost! Everyone's thirsty at Octoberfest!
Prost! Everyone’s thirsty at Octoberfest!
Octoberfest in Munich - great addition to my backpacking Europe trip
I went to opening weekend of Octoberfest. The people, the outfits – everything at Octoberfest is so much fun!

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!

Crete's beautiful water. Beautiful!
Crete’s beautiful water. My Eurotrip almost ended here – I didn’t want to leave!
Crete sunset
Nearly every afternoon had an impressive sunset like this in Crete

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!

The water at the beaches in Crete was sooo beautiful!
The water at the beaches in Crete was sooo beautiful!

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 with iconic blue rooftops - it's more honeymoon vibe than backpacking Europe itinerary
Santorini – with iconic blue rooftops
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.
hotel view, on island of Ios in Greece - backpacking Europe trip
View from my hotel in on the island of Ios in Greece. Underrated island!

Add history to your backpacking Europe trip – Athens!

Then historic Athens. There’s so much history here, I could have spent way more time.
Historic Athens sunset
Historic Athens

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.
me in Budapest - highlight of any backpacking Europe trip
Budapest is underrated – loved it there! Definitely a highlight of my Europe backpacking trip
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!
plane window view from my backpacking Europe adventure
Flight home sweet home. It was quite the 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!

map to plan your backpacking Europe trip

Here’s a currency converter to help you plan.

The title Eurotrip refers to the film about backpacking Europe. Loved it!

England vs UK vs Great Britain

England vs UK vs Great Britain

Do England, the United Kingdom, and Great Britain, all refer to the same place?  What’s the difference between the UK and Great Britain and English, and what’s included in each? Is the UK and Great Britain the same? What’s the Is Scotland a country?

5 minute video on UK, Great Britain, England

Let’s start with the answer in a 5-minute video that breaks these down. I’ve also highlighted some quick answers below that.

You’ll understand the answer your initial question in the first 30-seconds. This clip does a great job with the natural follow-up questions.

For example, why is the Queen is on Canadian currency? Where do Belize and the Cayman Islands fit in?  Enjoy!

what's the difference between england vs uk vs great britain
image from below CGPGrey video

Next let’s summarize what we learned here. England vs UK vs Great Britain

Here’s a quick breakdown:


England contains about 80% of the population of the UK.

Great Britain
  • The term Great Britain includes England, Wales and Scotland.
  • Great Britain is a geographical term referring to the island on which the greater parts of England, Wales and Scotland are situated.
  • GB is also a legal one referring to those three territories considered together.
  • Great Britain is the largest island of the British Isles, which is most of the UK but not all.
Did you know: Where does the name Great Britain come from?

The name GB originates from the Latin ‘Britannia’, the ‘Great’ being introduced to distinguish it from Little Britain, which was the French province later called Bretagne, or Brittany.

The United Kingdom
  • United Kingdom includes Great Britain (England, Scotland, & Wales), plus Northern Ireland.
  • The full name of the UK is actually “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
  • It defines the area represented in the UK Parliament and for which that Parliament normally makes laws.
  • Northern Ireland and multiple small islands from each country in the region are part of the UK but not part of GB.

So you now you know the difference between England vs UK vs GB, but that still leaves some unanswered questions.

Why is the Queen on Canadian money??

Commonwealth realm
  • The Commonwealth realm are countries who were formerly British colonies.
  • This term includes the United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, in addition to Belize, Bahamas, Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent.
  • These are independent sovereign nations, but recognize the monarchy as head of state.
  • The official name is the Commonwealth Realm.
British territories
  • British territories are different than those above in that they’re not independent (formerly known as “Crown Colonies”).
  • These territories are not part of the UK but they’re under the UK’s jurisdiction. These include Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and more.
  • The full name is British Overseas Territories.
  • British” doesn’t mean you’re from Great Britain. All of the above countries are British, even though they have different nationalities. The vast majority aren’t in Great Britain.
  • Technically, British are citizens or natives of the United KingdomCrown Dependencies (Gibraltar, Jersey, Isle of Man), British Overseas Territories, and their descendants.

My head is spinning…

Here’s a helpful diagram:

The Crown explained


England vs UK vs Great Britain

Sources –  CGPGrey‘s informative video clip (above), various Wiki links.

CGPGrey‘s Youtube page and blog have a wealth of tremendous video explainers on other topics as well – I strongly recommend!