Summer is peak season in most of Europe when travelers from across the globe head to the EU for clear skies, warm weather, great food, and blue waters. Europe’s greatest cities come alive during the summer months with an abundance of festivals and outdoor markets to explore.
Whether you’re a traveler, looking to stick to a classic European backpacking route or venture into cities that are off the beaten tourist track, these 8 destinations are worth considering. They all offer delicious dining options, and reasonable accommodation prices, and are accessible by train from other large cities and travel hubs across Europe. Pack a carry-on-sized bag, book a one-way ticket, some comfortable shoes, and a decent camera to embark on the Euro railing trip of a lifetime.
8 Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, a landlocked country in Central Europe. The Czech Republic borders Austria, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia, making it easily accessible by train from almost anywhere in Europe.
Prague is a popular destination for backpackers in Europe because of its beautiful architecture, exciting nightlife, and relatively low prices. Prague is 46% more affordable than Amsterdam and 88% more affordable than Paris.
7 Bratislava, Slovakia
From Prague, it’s just a short train ride to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. Located in Central Europe, Slovakia is between Hungary and Austria, on the Danube River. It’s a quieter city than some touristy capitals in Western Europe, offering a more authentic glimpse of local European life.
Roam the old streets, visit historic Bratislava Castle, see Michael’s Gate, or check out the Blue Church. Top foods to try in Slovakia include kapustnica (cabbage soup) and bryndzové pirohy (potato dumplings).
6 Milan, Italy
Many backpackers strive to explore Rome while inter-railing around Europe, but in most cases, Milan is a better addition to your itinerary. Located further north in Italy, Milan sits at the crossroads of several European countries, including Switzerland, France, and Lichtenstein. Since it’s so easily accessible, it’s the perfect Italian city to add to any backpacking route. Milan offers travelers exceptional shopping, incredible Gothic architecture, and a taste of northern Italian cuisine.
5 Bordeaux, France
While most travelers are flocking to Paris, backpackers who love being surrounded by vineyards and public gardens will find Bordeaux a refreshing change from other destinations on their Euro trip. Bordeaux is in the southwest of France and is a famous wine region, responsible for producing nearly 15% of the country’s wine annually. Bordeaux is easy to access when flying into France. It’s just over two hours direct from Paris by train, with multiple departures daily.
4 Belgrade, Serbia
Serbia is a country in Eastern Europe that is slowly gaining popularity in the backpacking community but is not yet overrun by tourists. Its capital city, Belgrade, is known as the city that never sleeps, with lots of exciting clubs and music playing through the night around town.
Besides the jaw-dropping architecture in Belgrade, travelers will fall in love with the local cuisine. Top Serbian dishes to try while visiting include Sarma and Ćevapi. Sarma contains mincemeat, rice, and pickled cabbage while Ćevapi are grilled minced meats, formed in a sausage shape with chopped onions.
3 Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark is one of the most accessible Scandinavian cities for travelers backpacking across Europe. Not only is Copenhagen connected to the Swedish city of Malmö with the Öresund Bridge, but it’s easy to reach by train from Germany as well. From Hamburg, it takes around five hours by train to reach Copenhagen, allowing travelers to start their journey into Sweden and Norway after exploring Western Europe.
One of the most iconic areas of Copenhagen is Nyhavn, the 17th-century waterfront harbor district with colorful homes, bars, and cafés. Adventurous travelers should spend an evening at Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s amusement park.
2 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is a classic backpacking stop on any Euro trip because it’s so accessible from many cities in Western Europe. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and in 2019, received 8.84 million tourists, ranking it among the most popular cities in the world.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Amsterdam, from budget hostels to mid-range and high-end hotels. Amsterdam’s artistic history is one of its highlights, so visitors should check out the many museums, including the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.
1 Gothenburg, Sweden
Although Gothenburg isn’t as easy to get to as some other cities in Europe, it’s well worth the additional time on the train. Gothenburg is located on Sweden’s west coast and offers a walkable city center with historic architecture and a vast selection of restaurants.
Sweden has a reputation for being costly, which may deter some backpackers from adding it to their travel itineraries. However, Gothenburg is 11% cheaper than the Swedish capital of Stockholm, making it more accessible to a range of budgets.