Top 10 Backpacking Destinations in Europe
From the snow-covered peaks of the Alps in winter to the contemporary sounds of summer music festivals, Europe has so much to offer the budget traveller all year round. You can pack an enormous amount into a backpacking trip around Europe but it pays to make a few preparations in advance to make sure you really get the most out of your trip. If you plan to travel by rail, it can be worthwhile buying a multi-country rail ticket in advance and investigating specialised travel insurance for backpackers is highly recommended. If you are planning a backpacking trip in Europe soon and would like some inspiration to help refine your plans, read on for a countdown of the continent's top ten destinations.
Undoubtedly one of the most visited cities in Europe, Paris has long been a favourite of young travellers looking for romance and culture. Visit the world-famous Eiffel Tower and watch the sunset from the mesmerising Sacré-Coeur Basilica. No matter how long you plan to stay, it is well worth learning a little French as, although most Parisians speak English, they will be far more welcoming if you at least try to speak the language. For an insight into historically fascinating Eastern Europe, Budapest is a fantastic city in which to spend a few days. Away from the tourist centres around St. Stephen's Basilica and the Royal Castle, English is not always widely spoken.
In travelling circles, Amsterdam has become synonymous with liberalism and hedonism, however, there is much more to the city. The architecture is stunning and a boat trip along the city's many waterways is a memorable experience. Visit Anne Frank's house for a sobering but informative insight into the experience behind the famous diary or browse the masterpieces at the Van Gogh museum. One of the most relaxing and enjoyable ways in which to spend the summer months is hopping between the Greek Islands. If you plan to visit the big resorts, it pays to book ahead but if you prefer spontaneous travel, local fishermen are often willing to transport you between islands. Highlights include the stunning Cephalonia and Santorini.
Although popular for city breaks and family holidays, Ireland has been somewhat overlooked by the backpacking community, despite having a uniquely fascinating history and a well-developed hostel network. From the bright lights of Temple Bar to the serene wilderness of the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland has something for everyone and those prepared to spend the time exploring it will be heartily rewarded. Despite the proliferation of 'Irish pubs' in almost all countries of the world, nothing beats an evening of Guinness and conversation in a real Irish bar surrounded by real Irish people. Since many parts of Ireland are fairly remote, do ensure that your travel insurance for backpackers is fully up to date to assist with any costs should you need rescuing.
If you like to combine beautiful beaches, culture and good food, Barcelona is a must for your European backpacking adventure. The proud Catalan people will happily point you in the direction of their city's famous landmarks, such as the famously unfinished La Sagrada Familia. If you like to party, Barcelona will not disappoint, but be warned that the Spanish don't do anything by halves. Most nightclubs will only start filling up around midnight and be prepared to dance to the latest tunes until the sun comes up. If you're looking for a destination with a difference, Montenegro is well worth adding to your itinerary. Lying across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, this small nation is only starting to open up to tourists and you will find the locals welcoming. The Ostrog Monastery carved into the hills is a spectacular sight and the Skadar Lake is the perfect spot to revive your travel-weary mind and body. When choosing travel insurance for backpackers, do remember to check that all the countries you plan to visit are included.
Despite its increasing popularity with stag and hen parties, Prague has much to offer the independent traveller willing to explore further afield than the pubs and clubs. The old town square is a convenient landmark by which to orientate yourself and the Charles Bridge and castle are well worth a visit. Next on the list is Istanbul, the meeting of two continents and an ideal city for backpackers that want to explore different cultures as you will find a diverse mixture of communities living side-by-side here. The 17th century Blue Mosque creates a stunning addition to the city's skyline and helps ensure you never get lost when wandering among the city's labyrinthine streets.
The final entry in this European top ten is the Swedish city of Stockholm, arguably one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world. Built on 14 islands and connected by a series of 57 bridges, the fresh air and abundance of green space create the atmosphere of a much smaller town. Stockholm effortlessly combines all the modern amenities of city life with a laid back pace of living that will captivate any visitor. Wherever you plan to visit on your European adventure, try to learn a few words in the local language before you go and make sure to take out sufficient travel insurance for backpackers prior to your departure. No matter how active or relaxing you want your trip to be, Europe really does have something for everyone.