Backpacks and Train Tracks: Our Month in Europe


From the end of April to the end of May of 2016, my wife and I spent four weeks backpacking around Europe. We visited thirteen different cities across the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The Destinations

I snapped some photos and wrote down some of my thoughts throughout our entire trip. We spent an average of two or three days per destination, which was just about the bare minimum time it takes to really experience any destination. Nonetheless, it was an adventure of a lifetime!

Along with photos and notes, each individual post includes links to any lodging, restaurants, or leisurely activities we had the pleasure of experiencing.

Frequently Asked Questions

I've received some frequently asked questions about our trip, so I've decided to share them here. I'll try to keep this updated as much as possible as they keep coming in.

What was your favorite city and why?

So, if we are going to define "city" as a vast urban area, then Florence wins. The architecture was beautiful, the people were youthful and energetic, and its history as the hub of the Italian Renaissance made it particularly interesting. Also, my favorite meal of the entire trip was in Florence: Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, or Florentine steak!

However, if I had to pick my favorite destination during our trip, I'd have to say Cinque Terre. It was the only place on our itinerary that I considered one of my "bucket list" visits. I've seen some really beautiful places in my life, but there are few I can recall being as gorgeous as the scenery surrounding Cinque Terre.

How much money did you budget for each day?

Unlike the typical Euro-trip, usually done by college students or fresh graduates, we were fortunate enough to have an average budget of $180 USD a day, not including intra-city transportation and lodging costs.

Did you book your train tickets in advance or at each city?

For all of our intra-city transportation, we booked through Rail Europe. Rather than book our tickets prior to arriving in Europe, we decided to book as we went. It's definitely not the most cost-effective approach, but it gave us the flexibility to change our plans on the fly.

For example, the original plan was to fly from Milan to Prague. However, we realized how much time and energy it would take to go all the way to Prague from Milan, then back to Amsterdam from Prague. All things considered, we decided to cut Prague out and add Lauterbrunnen, Lucerne, and Frankfurt. No knock on Prague (as I've never visited), but I'm very glad we were able to visit Switzerland and Germany instead!

Another example, we were supposed to spend more time in Venice than we actually did. However, we decided to change our plans to include Florence. If we had stuck to our original plan, I could have missed out on my favorite city on our trip!

Did you book your lodging in advance?

Similar to my answer above, we chose to be flexible here. We only booked our lodging (and train tickets) two cities in advanced. For example, we booked our bed and breakfast in Cinque Terre while we were in Marseille. On average, this meant booking our lodging 4-5 days in advanced.

Again, since we aren't college students, we were fortunate enough to book lodging in bed and breakfasts or 3-star hotels. Not the most cost-effective, but it led to a really comfortable experience. We did all our booking through Expedia and Air BnB.

What did you pack?

I wrote an article prior to our trip about my packing list for four weeks in Europe.

How many days did you spend in each city?

We spent either two or three nights in each destination depending on how much we wanted to see. Two nights in one city gave us at least one full day to explore, while three nights allowed us two full days.

Nights in each destination:
  • London: 3
  • Paris: 3
  • Marseille: 2
  • Nice: 2
  • Cinque Terre: 3
  • Rome: 3
  • Florence: 2
  • Venice: 2
  • Milan: 3
  • Lauterbrunnen: 2
  • Lucerne: 1
  • Frankfurt am Main: 2
  • Amsterdam: 2

I felt quite comfortable with the amount of time we spent in Marseille, Nice, Venice, Milan, and Frankfurt. However, I'd really like to return to London, Paris, Cinque Terre, and Florence to spend more time!

Pack Up and Go!

For anyone contemplating a backpacking trip to Europe, I highly recommend it. It's relatively easy to get around, it isn't as much of a culture shock (for Americans), and theres a bit of something for everyone in terms of sight and scenery.

If you have any questions about any of the cities we visited, or about the trip in general, please feel free to leave a comment!

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