The author on a staircase in Europe

Backpacking Europe: The Ultimate Guide

👉 Jump to: How to Plan a Backpacking Trip | Where to Go | When to Go | Itineraries | Tips | Organized Tours | What to Pack | FAQs

Backpacking Europe is at the top of many bucket lists. But how exactly do you start planning such a big trip with so many variables?

In my travels, I’ve had the opportunity to go backpacking through Europe a few times. Every time I’ve gone, I’ve traveled a little longer, immersed myself deeper, and really taken the time to find out what makes each European destination tick.

So take it from me, whether you’re headed to see Spain’s sunny Costa del Sol or exploring the many things to do in Budapest, planning a backpacking trip through Europe doesn’t have to be daunting.

To help with all of your trip planning, I’ve put together everything you need to know in this comprehensive backpacking Europe guide.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

How to Plan a Europe Backpacking Trip (in 10 Steps)

City landscape of the Parliament and the bridge over the Danube in Budapest, Hungary, Europe at sunset.
Budapest, Hungary at sunset.

Step #1 – Buy an Awesome Backpack

A backpack is the most important purchase for any backpacker’s trip through Europe (I mean, they don’t call it “backpacking Europe” for nothing).

We won’t spend a lot of time talking about which bag to buy here, but it’s an important purchase that you need to get right, so check out our detailed guide to the best backpacks for Europe.

Or, if you’re lazy and just want to snap up our top pick for the best overall bag, you can just order a Backpacker by Salkan and know you’ve got what we think is the best backpack currently on the market (see our full Backpacker by Salkan review here).

Step #2 – Decide Where to Go

So, where to? Deciding where to travel in Europe will depend on a variety of factors.

First, think about the places that are calling your name. Where have you always wanted to travel? If you’re a little unsure, then do a deep dive into your favorite travel blogs, wink wink.

Then, consider your general budget. How much are you willing to spend in total?

Europe is a vastly diverse continent in both culture and price, so deciding where to go will depend on what you want to see and how much you’re willing to spend.

Step #3 – Look Up Prices and Plan a Budget

Rome's Coliseum at night with colorful blurred traffic lights.
Rome’s Coliseum at night

When you’ve decided on a destination, or have narrowed it down to a couple of top prospects, look up exact prices for your destination and plan a detailed backpacking budget for Europe using our budget planner.

Know how much hostels, hotels, flights, and food generally cost, and make sure to factor in extras like alcohol, souvenirs, and activities.

Step #4 – Pick Your Travel Dates

Now that you have a budget to keep in mind, pick your travel dates accordingly.

In fact, I recommend you look up prices and pick your travel dates at the same time, as these two factors will influence each other.

Picking your time of the year to visit Europe will drastically influence your trip budget. Prices tend to spike during tourism high seasons, so keep that in mind as you pick your dates.

It’s always a good tip to try and plan during the shoulder season in your destination, but we’ll get more into that further down.

Step #5 – Book Airfare

The author with her friend parasailing in Croatia
Though I wouldn’t use parasailing in Croatia as your main form of transportation, it sure is fun!

The next step is booking your plane ticket.

There are a few websites that are great for looking up plane prices, but I recommend both Googling flights to your destination and using Skyscanner.

Skyscanner will help you figure out the best dates (or months) in which to fly if there are secondary airports that are cheaper to fly into than the major ones, and the most cost-effective airlines to fly with.

Unless you have loyalty to a specific airline, it’s best to do broad searches for your flights.

Once you’ve decided on an airline but before you actually book, sign up for that airline’s rewards program. Collecting points can have big payoffs down the road! For more tips on airfare, check out this 3-step process to getting cheap international flights.

👉 Pro Tip: Flight delays are common in Europe. But under EU rules, if your flight is delayed more than 3 hours, you can file for compensation. AirHelp is a convenient service that can take care of that paperwork for you.

Step #6 – Research Cheap Accommodation

These days, there are so many cheap accommodation options in Europe for backpackers – hotels, hostels, Airbnb’s, actual B&B’s, camping, homestays, couchsurfing…

And which option you decide to go with totally depends on your personal style and budget. If you’re on the fence about hostels vs hotels, then recommend looking up a few options in your destination and seeing which one you’re most comfortable with.

Short on cash? Here are two ways to get free backpacker accommodation in Europe:

  • First, consider house sitting in exchange for accommodation. Trusted Housesitters typically have the most inventory of house-sitting websites in Europe.
  • Or, if you are ok staying a bit longer in each destination, consider getting a hostel job in exchange for free room and board. World Packers is a great resource for finding and applying to the latest openings.
My Pick
From $39/year (with promo code)
If you’re looking to snag a casual job abroad, then I recommend Worldpackers. They have jobs all over the world in a variety of work fields!

Step #7 – Research Transportation

View of bikes parked in Amsterdam
Bikes are the most common form of transportation in Amsterdam

The next thing to look up is transportation at your destination.

Research local transit systems, buses, trains, and budget airlines. Get a general feel for how to get from Point A to Point B, and how much each of these modes cost.

The beauty of backpacking in Europe is that there is an excellent public transit system in most countries. There are planes, trains, and automobiles, and taking transport is safe and won’t break the bank either.

Before you take off on your backpacking travel adventure, it’s also a good plan to know exactly how you’re going to get from the airport to your accommodation.

👉 Pro tip: Europe has the world’s best train network, so consider purchasing a Eurail pass and exploring Europe the traditional backpacker way!

Step #8 – Double Check Your Visas

The author on a boat ride in Croatia
Taking a boat ride near Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ever heard of the Schengen area?

It’s a zone of 27 European countries that act as though there are no borders. This means that you can move freely between them without a passport, and there is no border control.

However, for citizens of many non-euro countries, including Americans, Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, there is a visa rule that you can only stay in the Schengen area for 90 out of every 180 days.

This doesn’t mean you need to leave Europe entirely after 90 days, but rather that you’ll need to skip on over to a non-Schengen country after you’ve used up your visa.

Step #9 – Learn Some Key Phrases

Did you know that there are 24 official languages in the European Union?

It’s true, and it sounds super daunting.

While no one will expect you to learn the official language of every country you visit, it definitely helps to at least have the basics of the local tongue wherever you go.

Of course, you should be able to find someone who speaks English pretty much everywhere in Europe, especially when it comes to the tourism industry. But, as you stray away from the major cities in a country where English isn’t the first language, you’ll have to get by in the local tongue.

Sure, you can practice your miming skills to your heart’s content, but at the end of the day, learning some key phrases will help a lot.

Personally, I use a language learning platform and then make a cheat sheet with a few key phrases on it for myself. That way, I can reference them whenever I want without flipping through a giant book or scrambling on my phone.

👉 Pro Tip: Save a ton of money by signing up for a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and then downloading phrasebooks and language guides as you switch countries (there are many in Amazon’s library!). Or, if you’re more of an audio learner, you can do the same thing with audiobooks by signing up for Audible.

Step #10 – Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

While backpacking Europe is generally pretty safe, you never know when something will happen.

Whether your stuff gets stolen, you have an accident, or you have to cancel your trip due to an emergency at home, it’s smart to have a plan to fall back on.

If travel insurance is part of your plan, you can get a quote in minutes from World Nomads, a company I’ve personally used in the past.

Where to Go Backpacking in Europe

A serene image of Dubrovnik's main square in the old town, a top place for where to go backpacking Europe
Dubrovnik’s main square

No matter where your backpacking Europe adventure takes you, you’re going to have an awesome time.

That said, not every country in Europe is created equal, and which ones you choose to visit will depend on your travel style, interests, and budget.

To help you get a feel, here’s an overview of some of our picks for the best places to backpack in Europe:

Backpacking in Spain

Three men play guitar in front of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
I snapped this photo of three men playing guitar in front of the Alhambra on my very first night in Granada

Spain is one of the most popular countries to go backpacking in Europe, and for good reason.

Each Spanish destination is chock-full of incredible history, architecture, and sexy Spanish culture. I guarantee, no matter how long you choose to backpack in Spain or what’s on your Spain itinerary, you’ll never run out of things to see.

While traveling in Spain, I recommend getting off the main tourist trail of Madrid and Barcelona and canvassing a bit more of the country.

Cities such as Granada, Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, and San Sebastian have so much to offer and will give you a different view of Spanish life.

However, keep in mind that Spain very much beats to its own drummer in many ways.

First of all, don’t expect to stick with your normal sleeping patterns while there. Spanish customs mean eating dinner around 10 or 11 pm and partying is usually an all-night affair.

Not to mention, many Spanish cities still uphold the idea of a Siesta – where shops, restaurants, and businesses close down in the middle of the day to allow people to go home, take a nap, or hang out with their families.

Backpacking in Portugal

Image of a yellow streetcar in Lisbon, Portugal
I just had to snap this photo of the iconic yellow streetcar in Lisbon

If you love incredible landscapes, world-class ocean views, and fair prices, then Portugal is definitely one of the best places you’ll want to visit while backpacking in Europe.

Lisbon is one of those big cities that will keep you entranced with its bohemian feel, while Porto will keep you extremely well-fed – make sure you order Bacalhau and a Francesinha sandwich while you’re there.

I also recommend getting out of the cities and checking out what the countryside has to offer.

Portugal has nearly 1800 kilometers of coastline to check out, so depending on when you visit Portugal you’ll find some of the best surf in the world. Portugal’s top destinations also feature incredible valleys, castles, and vineyards.

Backpacking in Germany

The city of Hamburg, Germany from a high vantage point
The city of Hamburg, Germany

Historically speaking, Germany has been a country of many faces and iterations.

But today, Germany prides itself on being one of the most culturally relevant and historically-minded countries on the continent.

While there, you’ll find no shortage of poignant museums, castles, forests, and historical sites. Oh, and some of the most decadent food and beer ever.

In cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, you’ll also find a very hoppin’ party scene. Like Spain, the Germans have a thing for partying all night long (or all day long, if you prefer).

Backpacking in Croatia

The author on top of a fortress in Hvar, Croatia
Me sitting on top of a fortress in Hvar, Croatia

Cobblestone streets and beautiful nature is the name of the game in Croatia.

Situated just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia will have you sailing the seas, hiking on cliffs, soaking up history, savoring small towns on the shore, and swimming under waterfalls.

While here, some great spots to check out are Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, Zagreb, Krka National Park, and Plitvice National Park.

Check out my list of the Best Things to do in Croatia for inspiration, and use my mega Croatia 10 Day Itinerary to plan your trip.

Just keep in mind that a lot of the activities here are only open seasonally, so the best time to visit Croatia is between Spring and Fall.

Plus, Croatia can be quite budget-friendly. However, since joining the Schengen Area in 2023, prices have risen in the country. Make sure you do research with the latest information for an accurate gauge of prices.

Backpacking in Scandinavia

Colorful houses in Trondheim Norway, Scandinavia

If you’re interested in mind-blowing fjords, Northern Lights, colorful fisherman villages, artistic cities, and some of the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet, then planning a backpacking trip through Norway, Finland, and Sweden is for you.

Of course, Scandinavia is infamously one of the most expensive European regions, which makes doing this route not the best for those traveling Europe on a budget.

That said, if you do hit the ground running in Scandinavia, then know you’re in for a treat.

Backpacking in the Balkans

A sweeping landscape of lush greenery in Albania, the Balkans

Generally consisting of Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and North Macedonia, the Balkans is a rich, yet somewhat underrated, region of Europe.

With the breakup of Yugoslavia and the wars that came after, travel to the Balkans was pretty much impossible from 1991 through the early 2000s.

However, with faces pointed towards the sun, the Balkans are making a comeback, and tourism here is officially on the rise. That said, you could still travel here any time of year and not have to deal with the hoards of tourists you’d encounter elsewhere.

Plus, the Balkans is undoubtedly more cost-effective than almost anywhere else in Europe – it’s perfect if you’re traveling Europe on a budget.

Backpacking in the Baltics

View of the old city in Tallinn. Estonia

Another perfect region if you’re traveling Europe on a budget, the Baltics primarily consists of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – countries that are brimming with fairy-tale cities, music festivals, palaces, and millennia of history.

But don’t let that generalization fool you; while the Baltics are usually lumped together, these three countries have very unique identities.

Given the northern geography of the Baltics, your best bet is to visit between late spring and early fall.

While you can absolutely travel here in the winter, the weather tends to get extreme and can turn on a dime.

Plus, the number of tourists to this region is lower than in other places in Europe, so you’ll have no trouble traveling here during the high season.

Backpacking in Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia's Old Town at Night lit up
Tbilisi, Georgia’s Old Town

Looking for a great emerging destination that’ll knock your socks off?

Well, you’re in luck, because Georgia earned the number #1 slot on our Top 30 Emerging Destinations of 2020.

With a population of less than 4 million, Georgia may be a small country, but what it lacks in size it makes up in charm and the sheer amount of things to do.

While there, soak up the natural beauty of the Caucasus mountains, take in all that Tbilisi’s Old Town has to offer, and drink some vino in the place where it was invented.

That’s right – wine was invented in Georgia.

As if you needed another reason to go.

Getting to Georgia from mainland Europe usually requires a flight, but Ryan Air and Wizz Air both fly there, so it can be done cheaply. Note that adding a side trip from Georgia to Armenia is a great way to explore more of the up-and-coming Caucasus region.

To help you plan your Georgia trip, check out this full Georgia itinerary for 3 – 14 days of travel!

Backpacking Eastern Europe

White, green, and gold building in Ukraine

Consisting of countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Turkey, backpacking Eastern Europe is going to be a very different experience than your standard Western Europe trip.

As much of Eastern Europe was once Yugoslavia or under Soviet rule, the architecture, historical sites, culture, and attitudes of this region reflect that.

Additionally, partially due to the fact that tourism in Eastern Europe isn’t as prominent as in the West, prices for pretty much everything are a lot cheaper.

For these reasons, Eastern Europe is the perfect place to go if you’re traveling Europe on a budget.

READ NEXT: Is Ukraine Safe for Travel?

Backpacking Central Europe

The author holding a wine glass in Prague
Me sampling the wine selection in Prague

To be honest, exactly defining Eastern vs Central Europe depends on what map you’re looking at.

But, for the sake of organization, let’s define central Europe as being Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Hungary.

The middle ground of the continent, these countries are also in the middle when it comes to price. In central Europe, you can have as luxurious an experience as you want or as basic an experience as you want, and if you’re traveling Europe on a budget, that’s glorious news.

However, you need to know that not all of these countries use the Euro as currency. For example, while still in the EU, the Czech Republic uses the Czech Koruna, and they won’t accept Euros for payment.

When I first arrived there, I naively tried to pay for goods with Euros and was told straight up that there was no way they would accept them.

Just do your research before you get to your destination and you’ll be fine.

Backpacking Ireland & The United Kingdom

The Stonehenge on the author's background in the United Kingdom
Me at Stonehenge in the United Kingdom

If you’re looking for a couple of easy countries to backpack though, and have a larger budget to play with, then I highly recommend backpacking Ireland and the United Kingdom.

There are plenty of hostels and other accommodation options scattered throughout the countries, the train and bus systems are super easy to figure out, and there really is no limit on all the things you can do and see.

While there, visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, listen to some traditional music in Galway, take a political history tour in Belfast, visit one of Scotland’s many lakes or castles, stroll around Cosmopolitan London, and visit the quaint towns of the English countryside.

For more, check out our Ireland travel tips or this one week Ireland itinerary! For the UK, check out our United Kingdom travel guides.

When to Backpack Europe

While the warmer months are more popular, it is possible to go backpacking in Europe year-round.

When deciding when to go to Europe, remember that each season has its advantages and disadvantages.

So let’s break down what it is like backpacking Europe in each of the four seasons:

Backpacking Europe in Winter

Magdeburg Christmas market in Germany at night. With ferris wheel and Christmas tree.
Magdeburg Christmas Market in Germany

There are so many perks to backpacking Europe in Winter, as not only do plenty of destinations turn into Winter Wonderlands, prices tend to drop and there are a lot of great festivals.

For a lot of countries, winter is also the low tourism season, meaning you’ll probably be able to get better deals on things like airfare, hotels, and excursions.

Many countries such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have excellent, picturesque, Christmas markets. So order up a cup of gluhwein and peruse the many great shops on display.

On the flip side, keep in mind that some activities close down in the winter months – something to keep in mind if you have specific bucket list items.

Backpacking Europe in Spring

View of the author in front of a church in France
Visiting Paris in April was the perfect time of year

Ah, backpacking Europe in spring is such a romantic notion. The flowers are in full bloom, the weather is nice but not too hot, and tourists have yet to descend.

For these reasons, Spring is the perfect time to backpack Europe, no matter where you want to travel.

If you get the chance, I recommend going to a tulip festival while visiting Northern Europe in Spring. I went to one at Groot-Bijgaarden Castle just outside of Brussels and it was magical!

Backpacking Europe in Summer

Castle of the Moors and Pena Palace at Sintra, Portugal.
Castle of the Moors and Pena Palace at Sintra, Portugal

Sure, backpacking Europe in the summer may be a fun concept — the weather is nice and hot, nature is lush, and heading to an ocean or lake is an everyday experience.

However, summer is undoubtedly the most popular time to visit Europe – effectively turning it into a continent of chaos.

Not only are prices the highest in summer, but you’ll also have to contend with millions of other tourists trying all the best activities, using transit, and cramming up the beaches.

Not to mention, southern Europe can get crazy hot in the summer.

It’s not so much fun when ALL you want to do is hang out in the ocean or literally become that cup of gelato you’re eating to stay cool.

That said, if you do want to backpack Europe in the summer, then I recommend heading to a lesser-visited region such as the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Georgia, Armenia, or the Baltics.

Backpacking Europe in Fall

Colorful rows of crops behind a small town in Germany. Fall setting.
A small town in Germany.

Like Spring, Fall is another great time to go backpacking in Europe. From late September through early December, the tourism rates go down, and with them go the prices.

While Southern Europe may still be quite hot through September and October, the weather is usually quite right elsewhere, and you’ll get some great photo opportunities with the changing leaves.

Backpacking Itineraries for Europe

Ready to get into the nitty-gritty of planning your EuroTrip?

I’ve curated some incredible European backpacking itineraries, based on how long you have to travel (1 week, 2 weeks, or 1 month).

Let’s dive in:

1-Week Backpacking Europe Itinerary

Rows of lopsided houses in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Rows of lopsided houses in Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you have just one week to go backpacking through Europe, then I recommend taking it slow. Pick one country that you really want to visit, and do it justice.

Jumping around and packing too much into your itinerary will just stress you out and leave you not truly appreciating your destination as well as you could have.

For these reasons, pick a smaller country such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, or Portugal, and choose a few top experiences you want to have there.

READ NEXT: Top 17 Things to do in Ghent, Belgium

2-Week Backpacking Europe Itinerary

View of the author in front of the gate of Guinness Brewery
Me in front of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Two weeks is a great taster to backpacking Europe.

In this amount of time, you can pick a couple of countries or a region, and get a pretty good feel for it.

If you have two weeks, then there are a few ways you can plan your trip:

  • Do a City-Hop: If you have a few bucket-list cities you want to cross off your list (assuming you’re not on a shoestring budget), then choose a few cities and hop between them. Consider a trip through London, Paris, and Barcelona. Or Prague, Budapest, and Vienna.
  • Pick a Region: My second trip to Europe was a two-week jaunt around Ireland and the UK, and it was a great introduction to the region. Other regions where this would work well are Belgium and the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, or Hungary and Austria.
  • Choose a Larger Country: Two weeks is a great amount of time to backpack a larger country. Countries that would be perfect for this include Spain, France, Norway, Italy, Romania, Ukraine, or Greece.

1-month Backpacking Europe Itinerary – Western Europe

Ghent, Belgium at night. Photo of the river, a bridge, and old buildings all lit up.
Ghent, Belgium at night

While one-month backpacking Western Europe sounds like a long time, in such a diverse continent you’re still going to have to prioritize where you want to go.

Although Europe is small, there are still long distances to cover between many of the popular big cities. So if you really want to see the Eiffel Tower, you might have to skip Santorini for example (unless you want to fly).

I recommend picking a larger region to travel through and giving your favorite countries at least a week.

Some sample regions for a great 1-month Western European backing itinerary include:

  • Portugal, Spain, and France
  • Norway, Sweden, and Finland
  • Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany
  • Switzerland, Italy, and Spain

1-month Backpacking Europe Itinerary – Eastern Europe

Bratislava, Slovakia in summertime. Pale beige buildings with a church steeple.
Bratislava, Slovakia in summertime

If you have one month to Backpack Eastern Europe, then you certainly have a lot of ground to cover!

That said, backpacking Eastern Europe for a month will cost you significantly less than backpacking Western Europe for a month.

Yet, with only 4 weeks at your disposal, I still recommend only picking a few countries in a region and doing them justice.

Here are a few sample itineraries for a great 1-month backpacking trip through Eastern Europe:

  • Croatia, Serbia, Albania, and Slovenia
  • Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine
  • Greece, Turkey, and Georgia
  • Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary

Tips for Traveling Europe on a Budget

Tip #1 – Flashpack Using Budget Airlines

While there is still something romantic about taking a train across Europe, the beauty of backpacking through Europe is that there are plenty of budget airlines for you to use to whip around the continent quickly and cheaply.

Sure, it’ll cost you an arm and a leg if you want to check a bag, but chances are it’ll still be less than if you chose a standard airline.

Not to mention, if you play your cards right and are flexible with your dates, sales on budget airlines mean you can get flights for just $10-20 bucks (especially if you don’t wait to book last minute).

For real.

On that note, if you’re looking at other modes of public transportation, then I recommend checking out individual train tickets or bus passes.

While a month-long Eurail pass is definitely a way to ride in style, it’s debatable if it’s actually a bargain as, unless you use it every couple of days, you’re probably not going to get any bang for your buck.

Tip #2 – Cook for Yourself

closeup of a young man holding a typical spanish seafood paella in the paellera, the paella pan

In general, eating out in Europe isn’t cheap – or, it’s certainly not as cheap as in Asia or Central America.

So, to help you travel through Europe on a budget, I highly recommend staying at accommodations where you can cook like a local.

Of course, cooking abroad looks different for everybody.

You might find you’re more comfortable cooking in an Airbnb rather than a hostel, or maybe Couchsurfing is where it’s at for you.

Tip #3 – Stay at Hostels with Free Breakfasts

Our Pick

If you’re wondering how to book a hostel, then look no further than Hostelworld. They have a worldwide selection of hostels, each rated and reviewed by real travelers.

Speaking of food, if you stay at hostels, prioritize booking ones that serve a free breakfast.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s not every day you can find a cheap hostel that has a filling continental breakfast.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth it or that you can’t stuff your face with half a loaf of bread before you head out on a long day exploring.

If you’re truly backpacking through Europe on a budget, then this is the way to go. Hostels are safe, clean, and one of the cheapest ways to backpack Europe.

Tip #4 – Stay Away From the Tourist Restaurants

The author eating on a restaurant in Europe
Me eating at a restaurant in Mljet Island, Croatia

Still on the subject of food and beverage, despite eating hostel food and cooking in, it’s inevitable that you’re going to be eating out from time to time. After all, part of the fun of exploring Europe is that each region has its own unique things to eat and drink (side note: check out this great guide to the best European drinks and see how many you can check off on your Euro trip).

For a greater cultural experience that’ll help you backpack through Europe on a budget, try to stay away from the tourist hot spots.

Nix the chain restaurants and, if you’re a little unsure, then read the online reviews of the establishment before you go.

Tip #5 – Plan Your Destinations Based on Price

As mentioned many times above, the prices of each European destination are not equal and, if you’re traveling Europe on a budget, then you’re going to want to keep this in mind.

No matter where you go in Europe, you’re going to find something amazing – whether that’s great scenery, friendly people, or a bohemian town.

So, knowing this, choose destinations that are a little easier on the wallet.

Remember, you can always visit the more pricey places once you’re not traveling Europe on a budget.

Plus, the pricier destinations tend to be the tourist traps anyway…

Tip #6 – Make Sure to Use Public Transportation Passes

A London Underground sign outside The Houses of Parliament in the UK.

If I’ve learned anything in my travels, it’s that a public transportation pass, no matter what city I’m in, always pays for itself.

Even if you plan on walking a lot to your destination, which is perhaps the number one way to save money on transportation, you’ll more than likely end up using your transportation pass more than you think.


Tip #7 – Work as You Travel

We live in an age of digital nomads, hostels that are always looking for helpers, and farmers probably need a little extra help. If you’re taking an extended backpacking through Europe trip, then making a little dough on the road can’t hurt.

One great way to make some cash on the road is to consider working in a hostel.

Tip #8 – Visit Museums and Galleries With no Entrance Fee

Museum in front of pond in Seville, Spain

Did you know that in many European capital cities, there are days of the week when museums and galleries waive the entrance fee?

Well, it’s true, and this is one of the top ways to enjoy the sites while traveling through Europe on a budget.

Sundays are usually the day of free entry but research this in whatever destination you’re heading to and be prepared.

Tip #9 – Avoid Currency Exchanges

Have you been dreaming of exchanging your hard-earned cash for less money due to a terrible exchange rate?

Yeah, me neither.

Currency exchanges are notoriously terrible for charging you way above the going exchange rate and will put a wrench into your plans if you’re traveling Europe on a budget.

For this reason, one thing to consider when planning is to get enough local currency for each destination beforehand or wait until you get back to your bank to exchange.

Tip #10 – Use a Credit Card with No ATM Fees

Speaking of money, do some research on popular credit cards in your home country that doesn’t charge foreign ATM fees.

Even if it’s $5 a pop, those fees will add up over time, especially if you’re taking a longer trip backpacking Europe or if you’re pinching pennies.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to research the best credit card option for you.

Tip #11 – Find Alternative Accommodation

Mystical night landscape, in the foreground hike, campfire and tent

Long gone are the days when you need to stay in a fancy hotel or BNB in order to go backpacking through Europe. Today, we have so many options that make traveling to Europe on a budget a breeze.

Here are some of the more popular alternative accommodation options:

  • 🛋️ Stay for free by Couchsurfing: As it eludes to in the name, is a service where you stay on someone’s couch or in their spare room for free, in the name of making friends and being social. Couchsurfing has been popular for decades and, while there are some horror stories out there, it is still a relatively safe accommodation option. In couchsurfing, all the hosts and guests are vetted and, like Airbnb, everyone gets a review and a rating at the end of the stay.
  • 🐈 Exchange Pet Care for Accommodation with House Sitting – House sitting is a great way to save a ton of money and see Europe through a local’s eyes. Check out our Ultimate Guide to House Sitting to learn how to get set up, or browse available house sits at Trusted Housesitters now.
  • 👉 Use to Find Deals: is an awesome resource for people who still want to stay in a hotel or hostel, but do so as budget-friendly as possible. On Booking, you can sort hotels by price and amenities, and even get bonuses if you regularly use the service.
  • Camp: There are thousands of campgrounds scattered across Europe, all of varying quality and price. For a close-to-nature, cheap way to travel, look into getting a tent, sleeping bag, and pillow, and curl up under the stars.
My Pick
Trusted Housesitters
Getting free accommodation in Europe is made easy with Trusted Housesitters. If you’ve ever wanted to live like a local and take care of someone’s pets and property at the same time, then this may be for you!

The Best Organized Tours in Europe

If you’re a little hesitant to backpack Europe completely on your own, then keep in mind that there are plenty of short tours you can take intermittently throughout your trip.

Personally, no matter if I’m on a two-week trip or a two-month trip, I always try to book at least one short tour along the way to break up the routine.

Here are a few of the most highly-rated tours from great tour companies around Europe:

Tour #1 – Andalusia with Costa del Sol and Toledo

This six-day tour will take you from Madrid through Spain’s stunning Andalusia region.

Traveling by coach with a guide, the tour company will take you through Caceres, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, Ronda, and Toledo. Not to mention, you’ll get to see Granada’s crown jewel – the Alhambra.

Tour #2 – 3-Day South Italy Tour From Rome

While just a short tour, this will take you through the Italian region of Campania from Rome to Sorrento.

Along the way, you’ll visit Naples, Pompeii, and the Sorrentine Coast. It’s a perfect taster!

📚 Related Reading: Matera Italy: The Ultimate Travel Guide (+19 Things to Do)

Tour #3 – 3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Tour

View of Neist Point lighthouse and rocky ocean coastline, Scotland

This small-group tour will take you from Edinburgh and into the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands. You’ll see Scotland’s rugged northwest coast, as well as Glencoe and Loch Ness.

While Scotland is fairly easy to see on your own, there’s nothing like getting the history of the area with a small group and a guide!

What to Pack for a Europe Backpacking Trip

Travel Backpack

Our Pick
The Backpacker by Salkan
You can bring everything you need for a lengthy stay abroad with The Backpacker by Salkan.

This should be obvious, but having a solid bag is super important for backpacking travel within Europe. Fortunately, we’ve written a guide to 5 Top Travel Backpacks for Europe. The number one bag on our list? Backpacker by Salkan – a solid bag that you can’t go wrong with.

Anti-Theft Devices

Our Pick
Travelon Anti-Theft Active Tour Messenger Bag
Keeping your things safe on day trips is made easy with this slash-proof day bag.

While backpacking through Europe it’s best to be prepared for potential theft. Some of my favorite anti-theft devices include this slash-proof day bag, this Pacsafe steel luggage wrap, and, of course, a lock.

Water Bottle

Our Pick
Grayl Geopress
Purify water on the go with the handy Grayl Geopress water bottle.

Clean water is available almost everywhere in Europe, so there’s really no reason to use single-use water bottles. To keep you refreshed and healthy, I recommend bringing along the Grayl Geopress to purify water on the go.

Money Belt

Our Pick
Eagle Creek Money Belt

An RFID-blocking money belt is a must for blocking unauthorized swipes of your credit cards and passport.

For when you just don’t feel comfortable having all your money in one place, an RFID-blocking money belt helps stash away the goods. However, keep in mind that thieves know about money belts, so wear clothing that hides them appropriately and helps protect your precious backpacking budget.

Hanging Toiletry Bag

Next to having something stolen, is there anything worse than walking into a hostel shower and placing your things on that nasty floor? Probably, but for the sake of making my point, it’s still pretty gross.

The good news? This hanging toiletry bag will keep your things suspended and easily accessible.


Speaking of nasty hostel showers, there’s no way you could pay me to walk into one without flip-flops on. Plus, flip-flops double for great beach footwear and one of the most important travel accessories. Win-win.

Comfortable Shoes

Our Pick
Adidas Advantage Shoes

Backpacking Europe means walking a ton. Stay on the move with a pair of ultra-comfy shoes.

04/24/2023 05:58 am GMT

Europe is home to cobblestones galore, so to keep you comfortable and on your feet all day; you’re going to want to invest in some quality footwear.

These sneakers from Adidas are a great women’s option, or these ones are perfect for men.


Our Pick
Universal Power Adapter

You’ll need a power adapter to plug your North American electronics into European outlets.

04/24/2023 05:58 am GMT

Backpacking through Europe means that you should prioritize packing a trusted Universal Power Adapter. Additionally, I always travel with a Kindle, GoPro, and external power bank.

Packing Cubes

Our Pick
Well Traveled Packing Cubes
Compress and organize your clothes with this handy packing cube set by Well Traveled.

If you’ve never used packing cubes before, then trust me when I tell you that they will change your organization game forever.

FAQs About Backpacking Europe

What is the best time of year to go backpacking in Europe?

The best time of year to go backpacking in Europe is from April – June and September – November. Traveling in the spring and fall will allow you to see the best of the continent while avoiding crowds and saving money.

Should I backpack through Europe?

You should backpack through Europe for an epic adventure, to immerse yourself in diverse cultures, eat some of the best food on the planet, and see the world from a unique historical context.

Is 3 months in Europe too long?

Spending three months in Europe is perfect if you’d like to immerse yourself more deeply in a specific location or if you’d like to see quite a few countries. No amount of time in Europe is too long.


That’s it for this mega guide on Backpacking Europe! Be sure to leave any questions in the comments and for additional reading on backpacking on a budget and how to backpack Europe, check out these articles: 5 Tips on How to Travel Cheap in Europe, Best Travel Gift Ideas.

Happy backpacking through Europe!

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