Welcome to Europe, a diverse continent brimming with history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring iconic landmarks, sampling delicious cuisine, or immersing yourself in local traditions, backpacking through Europe offers an unforgettable adventure.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to plan your trip, save money, and avoid costly pitfalls.

See our Detailed Country Guides

Every country in Europe is a bit different in prices, culture, language, you name it. Below we list all our special country guides that go into detail.

Albania 🇦🇱

Completely underrated, Albania is a paradise for budget traveler. We share our 3 weeks trip - with hostels and natural wonders.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 🇧🇦

Completely underrated, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a paradise for budget traveler. We share our 3 weeks trip - with hostels and natural wonders.

Croatia 🇭🇷

Croatia, the Mediterranean gem, offers something for every traveler. Join our 3-week trip, discovering hostels and natural wonders.

France 🇫🇷

Bonjour Adventure! A bold statement: Paris might be the most boring part about backpacking France. Hop on, there is a lot to see!

Germany 🇩🇪

Prost to epic adventures! Explore medieval castles, vibrant cities, and scenic landscapes as you backpack through Germany's storied history.

Greece 🇬🇷

Greece's ancient ruins, idyllic islands, and Mediterranean cuisine await adventurous backpackers seeking history and sunshine.

Hungary 🇭🇺

Cycle through the picturesque Tokaj wine region, explore the historic castles of Eger, and kayak along the tranquil waters of Lake Balaton.

Italy 🇮🇹

Italy, where foodie dreams come true and ancient wonders await. We explored from the South to the North. Here are our Highlights for you.

Netherlands 🇳🇱

Small country, big culture: Wander through historic streets, admire iconic windmills, and experience the laid-back vibe of the Netherlands.

Norway 🇳🇴

Unreal Beauty of Nature! Hike the famous Lofoten's trails, cruise the never-ending Fjords, and chase the Northern Lights: Our Vanlife Experience.

Poland 🇵🇱

One of our favorite countries in Europe, Poland is completely underrated.

Portugal 🇵🇹

World-Class Hostels, mouthwatering food, charming villages: This is Portugal.

Spain 🇪🇸

Friendly "warning": Once you've tasted Spain, you'll never want to leave! We traveled all over Spain - by Van, Bus, and Train.

Switzerland 🇨🇭

Ski the majestic peaks, hike picture-like trails, and taste the world-famous chocolate and cheese. Pricey? Yes! Worth it? Oh, Yes!

United Kingdom 🇬🇧

The UK is dotted with iconic landmarks. Which one is on your bucket list? We've got them all mapped out for you.

The Ultimate Backpacking Europe Guide: Sassy, Smart, and Savvy

Europe, here we come! It’s all about making the most out of every euro, finding the coolest hostels, and cramming your backpack with memories (not just stuff). We are Europeans here at Hostelgeeks. And we love our continent! It is packed with so much culture, history, adventures, world-famous cities, and nature….and so much more!!

As true Europeans, we will share with you our absolute best stuff. Below we cover the absolute basic questions you might have about backpacking Europe.

Getting Around: Planes, Trains, or Automobiles (Well, Buses)?

Planes: Quick and often cheap (thanks to budget airlines), but you’ll miss the scenic routes.

Trains: Romanticize your journey with panoramic views and comfy seats. Europe’s rail network is extensive, and you’re in for a treat.

Buses: Wallet-friendly, eco-conscious, and surprisingly comfortable. Plus, you get the chance to say, “I’ve truly seen Europe,” even the blurry bits when you nap.

Border Crossing: Imagine strolling through a park, and voila, you’ve stepped into another country. That’s Europe for you. Thanks to the Schengen Agreement, border checks are minimal or non-existent within the zone. Just keep your passport handy for random checks or when hopping in and out of Schengen.

Schengen vs EU: That being said, please keep in mind not all countries in Europe are inside the European Union or even in the Schengen Area. As an example, Cyprus is in the EU but not part of Schengen. Norway is not in the European Union and also does not have the EUR.

Platform for Transport: Omio and Rome2rio are your go-to digital companions, making booking as easy as pie (or should we say, as easy as eating a croissant in Paris). I also highly recommend checking the official train websites of each country. This is the Renfe in Spain, the Deutsche Bahn in Germany, and Tren Italia in Italy, as an example.

Interrail Pass vs. DIY: Got a case of wanderlust with a side of indecisiveness? The Interrail Pass is your golden ticket to flexibility and adventure. Prefer a meticulously planned itinerary? DIY might save you some euros. Personally, I recommend doing this on your own. It will be much cheaper and gives you more flexibility. With Interrail many terms and conditions apply. in Review - Exploring Europe and USA by Bus - Is it actually cheaper?

Hostel Culture in Europe – You’ll love it!

Hostels will be your best friend when backpacking in Europe. They are everywhere and in almost any color. This isn’t just about finding a place to crash for the night; it’s about embracing a lifestyle, a community of wanderers, dreamers, and adventurers all converging under a single roof.

Okay, this might sound a bit much, but actually: it is true! Once you slept in a hostel in Europe and made life-time friends, there is no way back.

It is the hostel where you meet fellow backpackers from around the globe, swap stories, and maybe even join forces for a day of exploration. Imagine walking into a hostel in Rome, where the vibe is as warm as the Italian sun, and you end up learning to make authentic pasta with new friends from three different continents.

Why Hostels Rule the Roost for Budget Travelers in Europe:

  1. Sharing is Caring: Hostels embody the spirit of community. You share spaces, stories, and sometimes, even your meals. This isn’t just about splitting costs; it’s about enriching your travel experience by sharing moments with fellow wanderers.
  2. A Melting Pot of Cultures: Imagine waking up to a symphony of languages every morning. Hostels bring together travelers from every corner of the globe. You’ll learn about different cultures not from a book, but from the firsthand tales of your roommates. It’s like globetrotting without leaving your dorm room.
  3. Embrace the Simple Life: Hostels help you shed the layers of everyday luxury and get back to the basics. Goodbye, prince/princess syndrome; hello, real, raw adventure! It’s about living humbly, enjoying the simple pleasures, and discovering that happiness isn’t tied to material comforts.
HOPESTEL Secret Garden Napoli Dorm
HOPESTEL Secret Garden Napoli Dorm, Naples

Prices for Hostels in Europe

Understanding hostel prices is crucial for mapping out your expenses. Hostel prices in Europe can vary widely depending on several factors, including the location, time of year, and the amenities offered. Here’s a general overview to help you gauge how much you might be spending on accommodation:

Western Europe

  • Cities like Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Zurich are on the pricier side, with dorm beds typically ranging from €25 to €60 per night. Private rooms can push the budget further, often costing upwards of €120 per night.

Central Europe

  • In cities like Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, travelers can find more moderate prices. Dormitory beds in these regions usually range from €15 to €40 per night, while private rooms can be found for €60 to €150 per night.

Southern Europe

  • Destinations in Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal offer a mix of prices, but generally, you can expect dorm beds to be around €20 to €40 per night. Private rooms in these countries might cost between €60 and €120 per night, with prices in tourist-heavy cities like Rome, Barcelona, or Athens being on the higher end.

Eastern Europe

  • Countries like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltic States are among the most budget-friendly, with dormitory beds often available for €10 to €25 per night. Private rooms can be quite affordable too, usually ranging from €30 to €70 per night.


  • In Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, the cost of living is higher, and so are hostel prices. Expect dorm beds to range from €30 to €60 per night, and private rooms can easily cost over €140 per night, especially in cities like Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Helsinki.

Where to find & book Hostels in Europe?

Discovering and booking the ideal hostel in Europe is straightforward with the right resources. Whether you’re after a chic, eco-friendly spot or a cozy, budget-friendly bed, here’s where to look:

Hostelgeeks: Curated Quality

Hostelgeeks is your go-to for finding exceptional hostels. We feature a collection of 5 Star Hostels, each handpicked for outstanding qualities in design, sustainability, and vibe. While we do not offer direct bookings, it’s the perfect starting point for identifying top-notch stays. Compare and Save

For the best deals, compares prices across different booking sites. It’s an excellent tool for budget travelers, showcasing a broad spectrum of hostels and helping you find where to book at the lowest price.

Booking Platforms: Hostelworld &

Finalize your stay using Hostelworld or, both offering extensive listings, user reviews, and secure booking. Hostelworld specializes in hostels, featuring an easy-to-use app for bookings on the move., known for its wide range of accommodations, also includes many hostels, with its app offering flexible reservations and travel guides.

Ecomama one of the best hostels in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Currency & Money: Euros and Beyond

Not all that glitters in Europe is Euro. Countries that are within the European Union but do not have the EUR are:

  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Sweden

Card or Cash? You can use Credit Cards almost anywhere in Europe. However, it is very confusing. In the Netherlands and Germany, Cash is King. In Stockholm (Sweden), you will find many card-only restaurants. My advice: keep both options nearby. Always a bit cash and the card as well.

Withdrawing Money: Local ATMs are your best bet for getting the local currency. Just watch out for those sneaky fees and choose “withdraw in the local currency” option. This highly depends on your own bank, and I cannot do any reliable generic answer. Please check with your bank and your country before heading over.

Very generically speaking, it is not worth it to get local currency of your destination in your own country before travelling. That’s a thing of the past, I’d argue.

Visas & Schengen Shenanigans

Most countries residences get 90 days in the Schengen buffet, savor it. Step out of this zone, and the clock resets.

Non-Schengen Countries: The UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, and Croatia invite you to extend your European escapade beyond Schengen.

Stay Duration in Non-Schengen: It varies, but most offer 90 days in a 180-day period. Always check the specific country’s rules to avoid being an accidental overstayer.

Again here, you need to check for your own nationality and visa requirements. We like to do a quick check with

Which countries are not included in the Schengen zone?

  1. United Kingdom (Note: The UK has left the EU and was never part of the Schengen Zone.)
  2. Ireland (EU member state but not part of the Schengen Agreement.)
  3. Cyprus (EU member state, legally obliged to join the Schengen Area in the future.)
  4. Bulgaria (EU member state, legally obliged to join the Schengen Area in the future.)
  5. Romania (EU member state, legally obliged to join the Schengen Area in the future.)
  6. Croatia (EU member state, joined Schengen in January 2023, so it’s now part of Schengen.)
  7. Turkey (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  8. Serbia (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  9. North Macedonia (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  10. Albania (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  11. Bosnia and Herzegovina (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  12. Montenegro (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  13. Kosovo (Not universally recognized as an independent state and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  14. Belarus (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  15. Ukraine (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  16. Moldova (Not an EU member and not part of the Schengen Zone.)
  17. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein are not EU members but are part of the Schengen Area.

Please note, the status of countries in relation to the Schengen Zone can change due to ongoing political agreements and expansions of the zone. Always check the latest information before planning your trip.

Food: A Culinary Crusade

From the pizza heavens of Italy to the tapas trails of Spain, every country boasts a must-try dish. Don’t just eat; explore with your taste buds. Okay, here is a fun list of cheap eats in Europe you have to try. At least, this is what we consider must eats per country:

Here’s a cool, concise list of must-try local foods across various countries in Europe:

  1. Italy: Pizza Napoletana
  2. Spain: Paella
  3. France: Croissant
  4. Germany: Currywurst
  5. Greece: Moussaka
  6. Portugal: Pastel de Nata
  7. Turkey: Kebab
  8. United Kingdom: Fish and Chips
  9. Ireland: Irish Stew
  10. Netherlands: Stroopwafel
  11. Belgium: Belgian Waffles
  12. Switzerland: Fondue
  13. Austria: Wiener Schnitzel
  14. Poland: Pierogi
  15. Czech Republic: Trdelník
  16. Hungary: Goulash
  17. Sweden: Meatballs
  18. Norway: Fårikål (Lamb and Cabbage Stew)
  19. Denmark: Smørrebrød
  20. Finland: Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Pie)

Each of these dishes offers a taste of the country’s culinary essence and is a must-try for food enthusiasts exploring Europe.

Vegan/Vegetarian options: Most countries in Europe have lots of Veg Options, even of their national dish. Do not let people tell you “in country x it is so hard to be veg!”

Touch down: The Homemade Paella!
Touch down: The Homemade Paella!

Local Laws you should not

Here’s an expanded list of laws and things to avoid when backpacking Europe. Read them carefully and avoid these things. It can save you a lot of trouble.

  1. Italy: Don’t buy fake designer goods from street vendors; it’s illegal and can result in fines.
  2. Spain: Avoid wearing swimsuits or going shirtless away from beach areas in cities like Barcelona; fines can be imposed. Drinking in public is also forbidden.
  3. France: Refrain from taking photos of police officers or military personnel without permission.
  4. Germany: It’s illegal to perform the Nazi salute, and doing so can lead to arrest and fines.
  5. Greece: Respect archaeological sites by not taking rocks or artifacts as souvenirs—it’s against the law.
  6. Portugal: Don’t smoke in public places like restaurants and bars; strict smoking laws are in place.
  7. Netherlands: While cannabis is decriminalized, consuming it outside designated areas (coffee shops) can get you in trouble.
  8. Czech Republic: Drinking alcohol in public places is generally prohibited and can result in fines.
  9. Austria: Jaywalking is taken seriously; wait for the green pedestrian light.
  10. Switzerland: Nighttime noise is frowned upon. Avoid loud activities after 10 PM to not disturb the peace.
  11. Belgium: Public intoxication is not only frowned upon but can also lead to being detained.
  12. Sweden: While you’re free to roam and enjoy the great outdoors, including fishing in the vast lakes, remember that specific rules apply for fishing in certain areas, and a fishing license may be required. Always check local regulations to respect this unique right responsibly.
  13. Denmark: Biking Etiquette: In Denmark, bicycles are king. While exploring the bike-friendly cities, remember to signal your turns and avoid biking in pedestrian-only zones. Not adhering to biking rules can not only upset locals but also lead to fines.
  14. Hungary: Taking photos of people without their consent is illegal and can result in fines.
  15. Poland: Don’t drink alcohol in public spaces. It’s illegal outside of designated areas and can lead to fines.
  16. United Kingdom: The British take queuing very seriously. Whether it’s waiting for a bus, in a shop, or at tourist attractions, jumping the queue is considered very rude and can attract disapproving looks and comments.
  17. Ireland: Littering in public places can attract on-the-spot fines.
  18. Norway: Don’t feed the pigeons in public spaces; some cities impose fines for doing so.
  19. Finland: Carrying and using pepper spray without a valid license is illegal.
  20. Latvia: Smoking in children’s playgrounds and public transport stops is prohibited.

These examples highlight the importance of being aware of local laws and customs to avoid penalties and ensure a smooth, enjoyable travel experience in Europe.

Piazza San Marco in Venice: It's forbidden to have a Picnic here...
Piazza San Marco in Venice: It’s forbidden to have a Picnic here…

Sim Cards for Backpacking Europe

When traveling across Europe, staying connected is crucial for navigating, making hostel bookings, and staying in touch with new friends and family back home. The choice between buying local SIM cards or opting for a European eSIM depends on various factors, including the length of your stay, the countries you’re visiting, and your data needs. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

Local SIM Cards


  • Cost-Effective for Longer Stays: If you’re spending a significant amount of time in one country, a local SIM can be cheaper for local calls and data.
  • Wide Availability: SIM cards are readily available at airports, convenience stores, and kiosks.
  • No Compatibility Issues: Almost all unlocked smartphones are compatible with local SIM cards.


  • Multiple SIMs Needed for Multiple Countries: If your trip involves several countries, you may need to buy and swap out multiple SIM cards.
  • Initial Setup: Each new SIM comes with its setup process and number, which can be a hassle to manage.

European eSIM


  • Convenience: eSIMs can be purchased and activated digitally, eliminating the need for physical SIM swapping.
  • Multi-Country Use: Many eSIM plans offer coverage in multiple European countries, making them ideal for border-hopping travelers.
  • Keep Your Original Number: You can maintain your original SIM for calls and texts while using the eSIM for data.


  • Device Compatibility: Not all smartphones support eSIM technology, so you’ll need to check if your device is compatible.
  • Potentially Higher Costs: Depending on your data needs and the provider, eSIM plans can be more expensive than local SIMs, especially for shorter stays.

Always compare plans ahead of time and consider your smartphone’s capabilities and your specific travel needs to make the best decision for staying connected throughout your European adventure.

Need an eSIM Card for Traveling?

Get your eSIM Card with instantly online. It is easy to set up and cheap! Read our review of Airalo here.

No more searching for mobile stores. Get your eSIM Card for now and enjoy it instantly after landing in your new destination.

Get your eSIM Card now

Need an eSIM Card for Traveling?

Fun Facts about Europe

Here are some unique and less obvious fun facts about Europe for the curious backpacker. We think you will love these. We leave them here for you for a smile or to impress your hostel mates with random fun facts:

1. Home of the World’s Smallest Country: Vatican City, nestled in the heart of Rome, Italy, holds the title for the world’s smallest country, covering just 44 hectares. It’s a must-visit for its rich art and history, all within walking distance of a hostel stay in Rome.

2. Europe’s Borderless Trees: In Belgium and the Netherlands, you can find Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau, where the border is so complicated it runs through streets, houses, and even restaurants. In some cases, the nationality of a dining room and kitchen can differ, showcasing Europe’s fascinating approach to borders and coexistence.

3. The Continent of Castles: Europe boasts tens of thousands of castles, each with its own story. Countries like Germany, France, and Scotland are dotted with these historic structures, ranging from rugged ruins to lavish palaces.

4. Public Transport is King: With extensive rail networks, budget airlines, and efficient public transportation systems, getting around Europe is a breeze. Plus, many cities offer transport discounts or special passes for tourists.

5. Hostel Culture Thrives Here: Europe pioneered the hostel movement, offering travelers from all walks of life a place to stay, meet like-minded adventurers, and exchange stories. You’ll find everything from party hostels in Budapest to eco-friendly retreats in the Alps.

6. It’s a Festival Heaven: No matter when you visit, there’s likely a festival happening somewhere on the continent. From Spain’s La Tomatina to Germany’s Oktoberfest, these events are perfect for experiencing Europe’s diverse cultures.

7. Bread Like Nowhere Else: Europe takes its bread seriously, and you’ll find amazing varieties everywhere. Don’t miss out on trying local specialties like French baguettes, Italian ciabatta, or German pretzels.

8. The Northern Lights: For those venturing to Europe’s northern reaches, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) offers one of the most spectacular natural displays. Countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland provide prime viewing spots.

9. More Than 200 Languages Spoken: While traveling across Europe, you’ll encounter an incredible diversity of languages. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, but learning a few phrases in the local language can enhance your experience and connect you more deeply with locals.

10. Europe’s Love for Roundabouts: Did you know that France has more roundabouts than any other country in the world, with about one-third of the world’s total? Europe’s fascination with roundabouts not only makes driving an interesting experience but also reflects the continent’s approach to traffic management and urban planning. As a backpacker, you’ll likely navigate many of these while exploring cities and towns, making it a quirky part of your European adventure.

Seeking the Aurora Borealis is one of the top things to do in Bergen, Norway
Seeking the Aurora Borealis is one of the top things to do in Bergen, Norway

Money-Saving Tips for Backpacking Europe

Travel Off-Peak: Avoid traveling during peak tourist seasons, as prices for accommodation, transportation, and attractions tend to be higher. Consider visiting Europe in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall for more affordable options.

Stay in Hostels: Hostel culture is massive in Europe! You can find all sorts of hostels in even small destinations. You find high-end 5 Star Hostels and crazy-fun party hostels to dirt-cheap places to stay. Here on we make it easy for you to find all the great ones. For prices, compare with It is a price comparison for hostels only.

Cook Your Own Meals: Save money on food by shopping at local markets and grocery stores and cooking your own meals in hostel kitchens. Pack lightweight cooking essentials like a portable stove, utensils, and basic ingredients to prepare simple and affordable meals.

Use Public Transportation: Take advantage of Europe’s efficient public transportation systems, including trains, buses, and metros, to explore cities and travel between countries. Look for multi-day or multi-country rail passes for additional savings.

Free Walking Tours: You will find these tours in any major cities as well as some smaller cities. Join them! They are tip-based, so you pay at the end of the tour whatever you think the tour was worth.

Seek Free Activities: Europe offers a wealth of free attractions and activities, including city walking tours, museum free days, and outdoor adventures. Take advantage of free walking tours offered by local guides, visit parks, gardens, and beaches, and explore historic neighborhoods and landmarks on foot.

Take Advantage of Discounts: Look for discounts and special offers for students, seniors, and youth travelers. Carry a valid student or youth card to access discounts on transportation, attractions, and tours, and consider purchasing city or museum passes for additional savings.

Book in Advance: Save money on accommodation, transportation, and attractions by booking in advance whenever possible. Look for early bird discounts, last-minute deals, and promotional offers on accommodation booking platforms, airline websites, and tour operators.

Travel Light: Pack light to avoid extra baggage fees and transportation costs. Invest in a quality travel backpack or suitcase that meets airline carry-on size requirements, and pack versatile clothing and essentials that can be mixed and matched for different weather conditions and activities.

Stay Flexible: Be flexible with your travel plans and open to spontaneous opportunities and changes. Consider using budget airlines, ride-sharing services, and alternative accommodation options like couchsurfing or house-sitting to save money and meet locals.

Generator Dublin Living Room
Generator Dublin Living Room

Conclusion: Backpacking Europe is an Odyssey

There is good reason why backpacking across Europe is a life-changing experience so many seek. With the right mix of planning and spontaneity, you’re set for an unforgettable journey. Pack light, but bring back heavy memories.

Safe travels!