Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Wed October 28 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | October 28, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Europe: What Backpackers Should Know Before They Go

    Europe: What Backpackers Should Know Before They Go

    PHOTO: From famous tourist attractions to hidden gems, Europe will have something for everyone! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    Europe is often the first place new backpackers go on their first adventure, and rightly so — it’s a great introduction to new cultures, full of unreal food and incredibly simple to get around. Below is everything you need to know before you hit the road:

    Europe Visa Requirements: You are free to travel throughout the Schengen area for up to 90 days without a visa.

    Note: The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at national boundaries.

    U.K. Visa Requirements: You are free to travel throughout the United Kingdom for up to six months without a visa.

    Travel For Extended Time: After your 90 days is up, travel outside of the Schengen area for three months to countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and the United Kingdom. After this time, you may re-enter the Schengen area for another 90 days.

    Schengen Travel Days Calculator

    Cheapest destinations you’ll want to visit:

    • Berlin, Germany

    • Krakow, Poland

    • Prague, Czech Republic

    • Budapest, Hungary

    • Olympos, Turkey

    • Lagos, Portugal

    • High Tatras, Solvakia

    • Belgrade, Serbia

    • Sibiu, Romania

    Most expensive destinations (but worth it):

    • United Kingdom (this one I’m impartial to but it has to be listed)

    • Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland)

    • Switzerland

    • The Netherlands

    • France

    • Italy

    • Belgium

    • Spain

    Hidden Gems:

    • High Tatras, Slovakia

    • Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

    • Naples, Italy

    • Menaggio, Italy

    • San Sebastian, Spain

    • Sagres, Portugal

    • Plovdiv, Bulgaria

    • Kotor, Montenergro

    • Belgrade, Serbia

    • Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

    • Galway, Ireland

    Typical Costs:

    Prices range depending on where you are, but a general rule of thumb is to plan on budgeting between €50-€70 a day for Western Europe and around €30-€50 a day for Eastern Europe.

    Things to take into account when budgeting your trip for Europe:

    • Accommodation: Prices are higher on weekends.

    • Food: Street vendors can be cheaper than buying your own meal.

    • Sightseeing/Attractions: You can get discounts with student cards.

    • Public Transportation: Buy in bulk for better prices.

    • Festivals/Unexpected costs: Plan accordingly, choose your battles.

    Note: Your best bet is to use for the most realistic costs.

    Top Festivals:

    • March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland

    • May 31, Fortarock, Nijmegen, Netherlands

    • June 24-28: Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, England

    • June 29: La Batalla del Vino, Haro, Spain

    • July 4-6: Eurockeennes Festival, France

    • July 2-9: The Garden Festival, Tisno, Croatia

    • July 6-14: San Fermin (aka: Running of the Bulls), Pamplona, Spain

    • July 9-12: Exit Festival, Petrovaradin, Serbia

    • July 16-19: Benicassim, Benicassim, Spain

    • July 24-26: Tomorrowland, Belgium

    • August 11-18 (every other year): Boom Festival, Portugal

    • End of August: La Tomatina, Valencia, Spain

    • September 19-October 4: Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

    • Other festivals: Festival Hopper

    European Transit:

    • Boats: Blueline Ferries

    • Buses: MegabusNational ExpressSimple ExpressWestbusStudent Agency Bus (If you’re a student, you can get ridiculously cheap bus tickets across Europe) 

    • Carpooling:,

    • Trains: Eurail, TGV

    • Flights: RyanairEasyjetWizz AirTransavia

    3-Month European Route:

    Depending on your time, budget and what you want to see, your route possibilities are endless. However, below are some options you can play with for a standard route through Europe:

    MAP: A typical route taken by fellow travelers across Europe.

    Dublin, Ireland > London, U.K. > Paris, France > Bruges or Brussels, Belgium > Amsterdam, Netherlands > Berlin, Germany > Prague, Czech Republic > Krakow, Poland > Budapest, Hungary > Vienna, Austria > Switzerland (Including: Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Zurich) > Italy (including: Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, Naples, Amalfi Coast) > back to France (including: Monaco, Nice) > Spain (including: Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Granada, San Sebastian) > Portugal (Including: the Algarve, Sintra, Lisbon, Porto)

    If you don’t want to plan everything by yourself and would prefer to go with a more flexible tour, check out Busabout (more relaxed vibe) or Topdeck (more about the party).

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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