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The Best Backpacking Europe Routes
An adventurous backpacking trip in Europe can be the international trip of a lifetime and one to add to your to-do list. I was on the fence when the idea was presented to me, but it didn’t take long for me to change my mind. Some experienced travelers have promised me that hiking is the only way to go, especially if you are looking for beautiful nature, a cultural melting pot, world famous sites and a whole world of adventures. There are few time constraints when backpacking and unprecedented compared to other ways of travelling. There’s no right or wrong way to hike in Europe, but here’s a sample of our itinerary that worked for us.
Our first stop was Heathrow Airport as it is connected to public transport which will take you safely to some very famous sites. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace and it was even better in person than any photo or video can relay. The Royal Family’s home is as amazing on the outside as it is on the inside. We missed the iconic changing of the guards but I heard it was spectacular. Be sure to add it to your “London to stay list”, along with the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. They too have historical significance and are must-sees on your hike through the city.
Trust me. Paris, known as the city of love is awesome. Take the Eurostar, London Underground to Paris. The mere thought of traveling under the English Channel is incredible. There is so, so much to experience here. How about the one and only Eiffel Tower. My wife and I enjoyed a leisurely picnic (cheese, wine and basic French bread) from the outdoors, but my travel partners paid for a ticket to get a bird’s eye view from the top. Either way, snap a photo or two, because seeing this iconic tower in person was surreal to say the least. We could have stayed on the grass forever but when they came down from the top we were off again to see Notre Dame Cathedral and the artistic district of Montemartre which is home to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The architecture alone is amazing. Whether you appreciate art or not, these monuments will impress you.
It really is the best place to backpack. It is full of ancient history and cultural sites that look like picture postcards, only better. I read about so many places that this Eternal City has to offer and the fact that we experienced it personally was truly captivating. It takes a bit of time to get there, but the train ride is worth it. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so take your time and spend some extra time here, if your schedule allows. One of the must-sees (in fact, they’re all must-sees) is the Colosseum. Wander around, see historic architecture, and step back in time when the Romans sat and watched gladiators fight in this very arena. Then I recommend you visit the Pantheon, the Vatican, to say a prayer and admire Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel. If time permits, head to the Trevi Fountain and toss a few coins for good luck. Tradition dictates that one piece is for love and the other to guarantee that you will return to Rome. I wish I had time to discuss the many different restaurants. Our policy was to eat where the locals live and live by the age-old rule, “When in Rome”, do as the Romans do. We haven’t had a single bad meal.
4. Five Lands
Cinque Terre translates to five small towns on the west coast of Italy that look like a colorful boutique of buildings. The villages are Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola and each is an individual wonder. I don’t speak a word of Italian but that didn’t matter. My senses were able to soak up all the culture and personality offered here. We were amazed by unique natural cliffs in their national park that conveniently surround the five towns. It has to be one of Mother Nature’s best creations. It’s perfect for backpackers who don’t always like to be in the big city crowds. We boarded a train with a day pass that allowed us to ride between these quaint towns as many times as we wanted. You also need to buy a pass to walk around. Staying the night will probably be a good idea. There are a variety of overnight accommodations that offer a comfortable and affordable good night’s sleep. Cinque Terre is a place I might go back to without my backpack next time and stay a bit longer.
Germany is fascinating and never fails to impress me. The sightseeing opportunities and monuments are full of history, architectural marvels and even castles. This European country is unlike any other and the scenery is almost like stepping back in time through an eclectic collection of modern buildings. For example, the famous landmark of the Brandenburg Gate, once a symbol of the division of the country, is not seen as the opposite, unification. The dark granite pillars create a maze of walking tours and are the perfect place to take photos. The most unsettling, yet moving place we visited was the underground museum which showcases the fate of the Jews when the Nazis were in control. Talk about a tough time. But Berlin also has a much lighter and more modern side. There are hip neighborhoods to explore, really nice locals to meet and delicious food to taste. I ordered the vegan food with Vietnamese noodles which was delicious. Next, we strolled down an airport runway that was closed and now open to the public. There’s so much to do and see, but the common denominator of Berlin is that no matter where you go, backpacking or not, the sky’s the limit for sights, sounds, tastes and experiences. incredible.
There’s never enough time to explore all of Europe in one visit, so don’t expect to. But I recommend planning where you want to go and leaving plenty of room for unexpected stops along the way. Europe is one of the most interesting continents in the world, and especially interesting when you pack your best friends and a backpack.
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