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The Backpackers Guide to Europe

After graduating from college, I had the incredible opportunity to backpack through Europe for a month. I traveled through 6 cities in 30 days and had an unforgettable experience. I would highly recommend anyone looking for an adventure to solo travel at least once in their life. In this article, I will share with you what I found as far as price, food, accommodations, nightlife and of course all the sights.

Full disclaimer: I only stayed in hostels, so the prices for accommodations are based on what I found from Hostelworld.com.

Amsterdam

There are a lot of preconceived notions about Amsterdam to westerners, dubbed the mecca of sin and vice. Sure, you can prowl the red-light district or spend your afternoons hazy at a coffee shop but this city has so much more culture and history to offer other than what you would think. Here’s what I found after staying 4 nights in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is all around very expensive. A two-night stay in City Centre during high season can cost you anywhere from 80-150 euros depending on what hostel you stay at and how close to City Centre it is.

e traditional Dutch cuisine wasn’t something I found to be all that enjoyable. To save money I would buy groceries at a local market and use the hostel kitchen to cook.  The accommodations were incredibly nice. You really get what you pay for here. I highly recommend the Flying Pig Downtown; the atmosphere was lively and it was very easy to meet people and make friends. If you’re looking for something a little quieter I would recommend StayOkay, which is about 3 miles outside of City Centre. Here you can rest up from your adventures and get some solid rest.

e nightlife in Amsterdam is all centered around the red-light district. Other than the obvious, there are really good bars and clubs that stay open late and pour cold drinks.

There is so much to see around the city, I highly recommend renting a bike to ensure you see it all. e city is very large, and seeing it on foot could be a bit of a challenge. If you are into museums, the Rijks is a must as well as the Royal Palace.

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Berlin

Berlin has a rich history and mixture of culture. As the capital of Germany, it has seen it all. The hub of the Third Reich saw everything from the Fire at the Reichstag to the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936 to the eventual split of east and West Germany at the Berlin wall. There is much to see and do in this city so I recommend at least 3-5 nights.

Berlin has a very affordable range of housing and food. Given the diversity in the city, you can find a selection of exotic cuisine not native to Germany. My personal

favorite was the Donar Kabab boxes. Filling, easy to eat and very affordable at €3.50.

If you have an appetite for local cuisine I highly suggest trying the currywurst. Excellent on the go and pairs nicely with a cold German lager.

The accommodations in Berlin were very friendly and clean also with a great atmosphere. I stayed 4 nights at the OneEighty hostel in Alexanderplatz. Metro systems are Founded in the 7th century, Prague was by far one of widely available and an excellent way to travel around the city.  There was one conveniently located just 2 minutes from the hostel that we took advantage of.

The nightlife in Berlin is known to be one of the best in Europe. Mainly because it is suitable for all types of partygoers. If you are interested in EDM (Electronic Dance Music), I would highly recommend any of the underground nightclubs Berlin has to o er. Pub crawls are huge here and usually happen every night during high season. is is a great opportunity to discover new bars and clubs as well as meet new people with similar interests.

The sights in Berlin were one of my favorites, mainly because they span decades throughout Germanys rich and controversial history. With a bit of determination, you can see all of the Berlin sights in one day because they are all centrally located. My personal favorites and must-see recommendations are the Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Tower, and the Berlin Dome.

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Prague

Founded in the 7th century, Prague was by far one of my favorite cities. The unique history along with the atmosphere of the city really brings you a quality experience that you won’t forget.

The prices in Prague compared to the rest of the cities I was in was amazing. e Czech Republic is not a part of the EU, therefore, they use their own currency called the Crown where 10 U.S. dollars is equivalent to 224 Czech crowns. To give you some reference, a beer costs anywhere from 15 crowns to 45 crowns. A nice steak dinner cost around 80-120 crowns. For this reason, stayed 5 nights in Prague.

The accommodations in Prague were very decent for the price. Once again, the atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming. Not only in the Hostel but all around Prague. I found the Czech people to be one of the nicest I encountered.

Nightlife here is that of legends. The locals say the true Prague doesn’t come out until after dark. I can vouch for this statement. e clubs and bars are always open serving cheap, cold, pivo. It was very common to be out until sunrise.

The sights in Prague are plentiful; the city sits along the Vltava and is full of hills and valleys making walking sometimes di cult. For this, I recommend the tram system Prague o ers, which is the most efficient way to get around this large city. e obvious must-see is St. Vitus Cathedral but I also found that just wondering around city center getting lost is just as rewarding.

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Venice

Venice, Italy is best known for its canals and gondolas was a city I didn’t plan to visit but looking back, was one of my favorite cities on the trip. The city has a very coastal feel to it even given its dense population and urban development. Seagulls swarming overhead and the salty smell of the ocean lingering around every corner give you a sense of tranquility.

Venice can be expensive, it’s not uncommon to go for a €20 lunch that consists of only a small plate of pasta and a glass of wine. I would indulge every now and then but you are usually hard-pressed to nd time to sit and eat, just too much to see. For this reason, Kabab sandwiches were my go-to. Venice is a small city so I recommend only 2-3 nights here.

Accommodations within the city of Venice were pretty expensive so I chose to stay in the town of Mestre which was located just outside the city limits one block from the train station. I found this very convenient because anytime I wanted to go into the city I would just take a 10-minute train ride and boom I was there.

The nightlife was a little non-existent in the city of Mestre and in all seriousness the city is a bit dangerous at night. For this reason, I stayed in the hostel at night which was stocked with a full bar and plenty of like-minded travelers to hang out with.

If you are tired of the city I suggest visiting the Lido beach. It’s about an hour and a half ferry ride from Venice but it’s great for laying out in the Italian sun and relaxing.

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Florence

Florence is incredibly rich in history it’s almost overwhelming. The city centre is full of old buildings and culture you can spend days there and not see everything. For this, I recommend at least 4 nights. This will also give you an opportunity to see the Tuscan countryside and maybe indulge in horseback riding or a winery tour.

Florence can be quite expensive but fortunately for me, I have family who lives there so they showed me the local spots which made the experience all the more enjoyable.

The food and wine were probably the best I had in Europe. Proper Florentine dishes consisting of mellow cheeses and bistecca (steak) paired with a smooth Cortebladi is a perfect way to finish off a day of sightseeing in Tuscany.

Accommodations were plentiful but definitely book in advance. During this part of the trip, I stayed with relatives for the most part but I did get to venture away on my last day. I found a 500-year-old monastery that was converted into a hostel just about 30 minutes outside of the city centre right on the mountain side of Florence. For an escape of all the noises of the city, I highly recommend Ostello del Bigallo.

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Rome

This Ancient city was the reason I came to Europe in the first place. Ever since I was young I was always infatuated with the history and origins of the city. From conception to modern day, this city has been at the center of must-see travel destinations. I recommend at least 5 nights here. There is so much to see and do, this city can be a bit overwhelming but as long as you have time you will get the full Roman experience.

Rome was priced right along part of the other bigger European cities. Not much sticker shock here as I expected to pay a bit more. Rome is where I really got to indulge in proper Italian cuisine and even some ancient Roman delicacies from one of their many bakeries around the city.

The nightlife in Rome was so diverse, each bar or club offered something incredibly different from the last. For the full experience, I recommend visiting Shari Vari and Voodoo. Of course, the sights here were by far the best in all of Europe in my opinion. Walking around the ancient Fora Romano and up to the Colosseum was a sobering experience. At night visiting Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps brought the city into a whole different light that was great to see.

I hope you enjoyed this and I encourage you all reading to someday travel the world. I will leave you with a quote from someone I looked up to with a great deal of respect and admiration.

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I hope you enjoyed this and I encourage you all reading to someday travel the world, I will leave you with a quote from someone I looked up too with a great deal of respect and admiration.

 

 

 

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