Figuring out a 2 month backpacking route around Europe can some times be a challenge. Two months is quite a bit of time. You might not realize it, but you can see a lot in that amount of time. It’s important to know that there isn’t a “right way” to choose a backpacking route. You first need to determine, for yourself, what kind of trip you want. Would you rather spend more time getting to know a few European countries, or get a little taste of many European countries? Both ways is completely fine. Disregard those posts from others on travel forums telling you you’re crazy for having an ambitious itinerary. I mean, it’s your trip, after all. Not theirs. Either way, deciding what kind of trip you want is essential to planning your backpacking route.
When I first started planning my backpacking trip through Europe, I found a really good map of Europe and started looking at all the countries and cities that I wanted to visit. I circled all the cities that I wanted to go to. By the time I finished, I pretty much had circled all the major cities in Europe. I’m serious. (I had more than 25 cities circled ranging from Ireland to Greece!)
I figured out that if I wanted to realistically go to more than 25 cities, I would have to limit my stay to 1-3 days in each city (4 days in the big cities) in order to cover every city I wanted to visit. I’m sure my family and friends thought I was crazy for trying to cram in that many places. I know people online did. (I posted my travel plans online in hope for some positive feedback. I pretty much got the opposite.)
People kept telling me that I wouldn’t be able to experience each city in 2-3 days, and that I should shorten my itinerary in order to spend more time in fewer places because you “can’t really get a feel for each city” in that short amount of time. I also read about how I would end up wasting too much time traveling if I only spent about 1-3 days in each place, and that it’s “just not worth it”.
Well, this trip was something I was so determined to make happen. I refused to listen to any negativity! After traveling to close to 30 European cities in 49 days, I’m proof that it is possible, and definitely worth it. I had an absolute incredible time, despite my jam packed route. Below is a map of my backpacking route through Europe that I completed in under 2 months.
Map Note: (Purple: Plane, Blue: Train, Yellow: Bus)
Note: The days on the right were the actual amount of time I spent sightseeing and experiencing each city, after traveling to the city and getting settled in each hostel.
Day 0: Flight to London! (left in the evening)
Day 1-4: London, England: 3 1/2 days (arrived at 8:05am!, also included a day trip to East Grinstead to visit my sister’s friend)
Day 5: Dublin, Ireland: 1 day (arrived early morning)
Day 6-7: Galway/Doolin/Cliffs of Moher, Ireland: 2 days (left Dublin early in the morning, and returned the following afternoon)
Day 7-9: Barcelona, Spain: 2 days (arrived at night on Day 7)
Day 10-13: Paris, France: 4 days (included a day trip to Versailles)
Day 14-15: Athens, Greece: 2 days (arrived in the morning)
Day 16-18: Santorini, Greece: 3 days (arrived early on Day 16 and left in the evening on day 18)
Day 19-21: Rome, Italy: 3 days (included a day trip to the beach about an hour away by train. Layover in Athens on Night 18, and arrived in Rome late morning on Day 19)
Day 22-23: Florence, Italy: 2 days (included 1/2 day trip to Pisa)
Day 24-26: Venice, Italy: 3 days
Day 27-28: Milan, Italy/Bern, Switzerland: 2 day (Bern via a required stop in Milan, Italy: 7 hour wait, so walked around the city, and then arrived in Bern late in the evening)
Day 27: Interlaken, Switzerland: 1 Day
Day 28-30: Lauterbrunnen: 3 days (Also visited: Mürren,Wengen, Gimmelwald, Grindelwald, Grund, Männlichen, and Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe!)
Day 30-31: Interlaken, Switzerland: 1 day (arrived in Interlaken at night as a stop over before my sister and I parted ways the following morning)
Day 31: Lucerne: 1/2 day (Started my solo Trip! Golden Pass (scenic) train ride from Interlaken to Lucerne.)
Day 31-32: Zurich: 1 1/2 days (arrived in late afternoon on Day 31, Night train to Vienna)
Day 33-35: Vienna, Austria: 2 days
Day 35: Salzburg, Austria: 1 day
Day 35-37: Munich, Germany: 2 days (included a day trip to Dachau Concentration Camp outside Munich, arrived late on Day 35 – travel day)
Day 37: Salzburg, Austria: 1 day (yeah, things didn’t quite go according to plan after Munich, so I ended up back in Salzburg! I was glad, though, because the first time I went to Salzburg it was pouring rain! It’s a gorgeous city when’s it’s sunny out!
Day 37-39: Prague, Czech Republic: 1 day (arrived late on Day 37, left early on Day 39)
Day 39-41: Budapest, Hungry: 2 days (arrived late on Day 39)
Day 41-44: Krakow, Poland: 2 days (arrived late on Day 41, left early on Day 44)
Day 44: Berlin, Germany: 1 day (I wanted to stay in Berlin longer, but because of logistics, time and amount of money I had left, I wasn’t able to; overnight train to Paris)
Day 45: Paris, France: 1 day
Day 45-46: Bruges: 1 day (arrived late on Day 45)
Day 46-47: Brussels, Belgium: 2 days
Day 47-48: Amsterdam: 1 day (arrived late on Day 47)
Day 49: London Airport – Flew Home!
As you can probably see by the map and itinerary above, I didn’t necessarily take the most efficient route (time wise at least). I’ll explain why… The first part of my trip I went with my younger sister, and that part I planned ahead of time. All of the plane tickets, and hostels for the first part of my trip, were completely booked before I even left home. I booked the flights the way you see above based solely on the price factor. Taking those routes just happened to be the cheapest at the time. (I mainly used Ryan Air, and Easy Jet for my flights in Europe. I used Skyscanner as my search engine to find the cheapest flight first, and then I purchased online through the airline.)
The second part of my trip started after the Swiss Alps, which was when my sister went back home, and I continued on the remainder of my backpacking trip solo. I hadn’t booked any hostels, planes, or trains in advance for the second part of my trip. I had places in mind that I wanted to travel to, but that was it. I wanted to give myself “travel freedom”, as I like to call it. Meaning that I wasn’t committed to being in specific locations on specific dates. I was free to travel how and where I wanted.
Traveling that way definitely had it’s ups and downs, but it’s an adventure, which is why I did it! Since I hadn’t booked the second half of my trip, I ended up traveling based on which route was available, cheapest, and as time efficient as I could manage. For those same reasons, I ended up almost stuck without a hostel in Munich because the overnight train to Budapest was completely full (which forced me to change my overall travel plans), ended up getting on a wrong train after a train change somewhere between Salzburg and Prague, and backtracking to a couple cities I’d already been to!
Overall, I wouldn’t change anything about my trip. Well, on second thought, maybe I would. You learn so much while you travel, that I’ll definitely take the experiences I had while backpacking around Europe, and use them to improve my next backpacking trip. But regardless, it was an amazing trip, and I have absolutely NO REGRETS!
Hopefully this post gave you some ideas that you can use towards planning your 2 month backpacking route. Whichever route you decide, just know that during the summer months you can’t go wrong. People are traveling both clockwise and counterclockwise, and the hostels are always busy. If you pick the places you are most interested in seeing, you’ll have an amazing time, regardless of your route!
(Tip: Travel with the warm weather!)
Need any advice about planning your backpacking route? I’d be more than happy to help!