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I still feel a tingle of excitement at the possibility of breaking out a European map, marking a relaxing train route, grabbing my backpack, and simply going on an adventure. Seriously. Backpacking Europe is the best.
How about you? Do you plan to backpack for 2 weeks in Europe? Excellent. Backpacking Europe is almost a rite of passage for new and excited travelers. You’ll taste diverse and amazing food, see art that’s glorified in history books, walk along crumbling castle walls, and take photos of the same natural beauties you’ve seen in millions of travel magazines.
Honestly, you could stay in Europe for a month and still not see and do it all. It’s an impossible feat. Point blank.
2 weeks in Europe is a nice amount of time to see a couple of countries and cities, and share great stories with your friends and family.
Furthermore, if it’s your first international solo trip, then starting with a 2 week adventure prevents you from feeling too overwhelmed or homesick. It’s the perfect amount of time.
But where to go? What to do? What to see?
14 days in Europe Itinerary: Quick Overview
What do I mean? It’s so easy to think you’ll “see everything” with two weeks on your hands. You’ll keep adding and adding destinations to your itinerary without a second thought. And I’m here to break your heart.
Sorry folks, if you want to cover all corners of Europe, from the northern islands of Scotland to the glorious port cities of Croatia, then I have bad news for you.
It won’t happen.
Famous traveler Rick Steves says his in book Europe Through the Backdoor that it is better to travel slowly. Not rush. Take it all in. Why is it so important to take your time even with 2 weeks in Europe?
First, it’s physically impossible to cover so much ground in 2 weeks. You’ll literally stare at the inside of planes and trains for the majority of your backpacking trip. And who wants to do that? It’s a huge waste of time.
Furthermore, costs soar a lot higher when you’re attempting to cover too many cities and countries on a single trip. Those train tickets aren’t free, ya know.
You’ll have to exercise patience and limit to yourself to a handful of countries. Easier said than done, I know.
Transportation & Getting Around
In this 2 weeks in Europe itinerary, I focused being able to connect to cities by strictly utilizing the many trains and buses that cut across the continent.
Now I understand that it’s totally possible to jet from country to country using Europe’s budget airlines. The prices are definitely right, and I’m kinda jealous of the many options Europeans have available at their fingertips.
However, like many other travelers, I can’t ignore the horrible ways planes contribute to climate change.
Since plane is, well, the only option for American, Canadian, and Australian visitors, I wanted to do an itinerary that keeps people on the ground upon arriving in Europe to reduce further damage to the environment.
No shame intended, I promise. I just think being aware of your emissions as a traveler is very important.
As for the trains, Europe’s public transportation system is fantastic. I’ve never had a bad experience using trains in multiple countries. They’re clean and timely.
You’re able to connect all the cities in this itinerary strictly using high speed trains, as well as regional trains and buses.
A word of advice: do reservations ahead of time. I know having pre-purchased ticket kills spontaneity, but I think the benefits of already having your tickets outweigh the cons.
2 weeks in Europe Itinerary: Where Should I Go?
If you plan ahead and do your research, the attached itinerary can be successfully completed in 15 days.
I know, I know, it’s a little above the 14 day limit, but you’re more than welcome to adjust the time spent in each destination, as well as entirely eliminate a city that doesn’t appeal to you.
Lonely Planet’s Comprehensive Guide to Europe can assist you with finding specific sites, restaurants, tours, etc. in all of these fantastic cities! You’ll want to do whatever appeals to your interests most. This is your trip, after all.
Without a doubt, Paris is one of those cities that immediately spring to mind whenever travelers think of Europe. And it’s a good starting point for anyone wanting to backpack for 2 weeks in Europe.
Paris is also a very easy destination for visitors coming from the United States or Canada. Charles de Gaulle airport is home to a seemingly endless number of international flights.
Paris, however, might overwhelm visitors with its intense hustle and bustle. Trust me, Paris isn’t the cute sweet town in postcards, but the capital’s vibrancy will exceed all expectations in other ways. These 10 essential tips for visiting Paris will prepare you.
Suggested Length of Time: 3 Days
Personally, I think you should spend at least 3 days exploring Paris. Firstly, if you’re coming to Europe from far away, you’ll have wicked jet lag on your first day and might not be able to fully appreciate France’s capital for that reason.
Having 3 days in Paris is plenty. You should be able to see the most famous sites, while also having time to do a quick afternoon trip to nearby Versailles.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
After Paris, spend 2 days in Amsterdam and fall in love with the adorable canals. Seriously, the canals are among my favorite sites in all of Europe.
Not to mention, Amsterdam’s history is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Go to the Anne Frank House to learn about one girl’s dream to be a famous writer, a dream that was only accomplished after her unfair murder at the hands of the Nazi Regime.
Suggested Length of Time: 2 Days
2 days in Amsterdam is plenty of time to see the most important attractions. Is it better to have more time? Sure, but 2 days will do in a pinch.
Although I highly recommend coming back to Amsterdam, due to the many great day trips and trendy neighborhoods, 48 hours is perfect for the sake of this two week itinerary. You’ll be able to see all the major sites without rushing around too much.
Next on our “2 Weeks Backpacking in Europe” Itinerary, we’ll take a train to Germany’s capital city: Berlin.
Berlin is immensely popular among travelers for several reasons. First of all, it’s relatively affordable in comparison to other big European cities such as Paris and Amsterdam. You’ll find tons of great backpacking hostels at reasonable rates.
Not to mention, Berlin’s history tours are the best that I’ve ever taken in Europe. You can even take a bike tour throughout the capital as you learn everything.
Berlin’s recent history is tough, no doubt about it, but as a whole, Germany is learning from its past and moving forward into the future. And if you like art museums? You’ll fall in love with Berlin’s Museum Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Suggested Length of Time: 3 Days
Although I think you’d be fine spending 2 days in Berlin, 3 days gives you enough time to see all the major attractions, as well as squeeze in a day trip to Potsdam if you’re feeling ambitious.
You can’t visit Germany and skip over Munich, nestled in the heart of Bavaria, which is the “Germany of Postcards.” You can easily reach Munich by taking the high speed train from Berlin.
In Munich, you’ll want to go to all the delightful beer gardens, which is a ton of fun, especially in the summer months. As you know, Munich’s most well-known for its legendary Oktoberfest, but it’s easy to sample Germany’s fine beers any time of the year.
Furthermore, you’ll want to take a walk around the Old Town and see all the majestic views especially from the top of St. Peter’s Church.
Suggested Length of Time: 2 Days
Like Amsterdam, 2 days is plenty of time to spend in Munich and see all the major attractions. Munich is fairly compact for a big city. The metro system goes absolutely everywhere, so you’ll have zero issues getting around on your own.
Okay, now, I wanted to add a smaller city to the list. Salzburg is a dreamy and fun Austrian destination that was made famous in “The Sound of Music.”
Not to mention, this place is Mozart’s home, so music lovers will instantly fall in love with Salzburg.
However, my favorite thing to do in Salzburg was visiting the Hohensalzburg or fortress that looks over the city and Alps. You could stare out at the mountains on a clear day for hours and not feel bored.
- Hostel Recommendation: YoHo International Youth Hostel, from $29/night on Booking.com or TripAdvisor.com
Suggested Length of Time: 1 Day
Personally, I only think you need one day in Salzburg for the purposes of this itinerary although 2 days in Salzburg allows you to see everything. Salzburg’s Old and New Towns are in easy walking distance of each other. Not to mention, most of the attractions can be seen in a day.
Next we’re off to Austria’s absolutely stunning capital city: Vienna.
Vienna is known as one of the most livable cities in the world. And visiting here? I can see why people love Vienna so, so much.
Personally, if you’re a big fan of castles and art museums, then Vienna is a city almost created to meet your interests.
For example, the most popular attraction is Schönbrunn Palace, which is the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers. It’s easy to spend hours roaming the colorful and extensive gardens. Not to mention, the audio tour is one of the best I’ve ever experienced on my many trips to Europe.
Suggested Length of Time: 2 Days
I recommend 2 days for your visit to Vienna. While it’s true Vienna is expensive, there is so much to see and do in this city that it wouldn’t be right to only spend 24 hours.
I’m technically breaking my own rule adding Budapest to the list. After all, 15 days is slightly longer than 2 weeks.
However, as you guys know, Budapest is one of my favorite European cities, and I think it would be criminal to miss out on everything the Hungarian capital offers backpackers.
Seriously, the stunning Parliament building, Danube River Cruises, Fisherman’s Bastion, the incredible spas, and affordable (yet fantastic) foods are all great reasons to come to Budapest if you plan to backpack for 2 weeks in Europe.
Suggested Length of Time: 2 Days
For this itinerary, having 2 days in Budapest should be plenty of time to experience a “taste” of the city’s atmosphere. Budapest is very walkable. Not to mention, you’ll want to have at least two hours to soak in the glorious hot thermal bathes, washing away the stresses of traveling for so long, haha.
Other Tips for Backpacking Europe in 2 Weeks
With the exception of a jammed itinerary, I wanted to add a couple final practical tips for when you backpack for 2 weeks in Europe.
These simple suggestions will help ensure a great time and prevent any major mishaps from coming your way.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Don’t go to Europe without purchasing a travel insurance policy. It’s not paranoia. It’s responsible traveling. You need to spend a little extra money to take care of yourself.
While several European countries have outstanding medical care, going to the doctor or hospital is expensive for non-residents. You don’t want to ditch buying a policy and then rely on luck for not falling sick on your trip.
A travel insurance policy will protect your health and finances. While you’ll still pay cash for a doctor’s visit, your insurance company will reimburse you at a later time. I always use World Nomads, and have never had an issue with them. Their prices are reasonable, too.
Have Back-Up Payment Plans
Don’t go to Europe with only one credit card! You’re setting yourself up for a mini-disaster on the road.
I’m not saying you’ll necessarily get robbed or have all your cards hacked, but it’s still important to have a back-up plan at all times. I would keep one credit card deeply hidden in the pockets of your suitcase or backpack. Having a spare is simply a smart move.
Let Your Bank Know ALL Destinations
Plan to backpack for 2 weeks in Europe? Then you must inform your bank about everywhere you’re planning to go on your trip.
If not, then your bank might block your transactions to prevent fraud. You don’t want to be stranded in another country without the ability to access money. So call your bank. It’s important.
Don’t Overpack on Clothes and Shoes
Confession time: I’m a chronic over packer. Actually, I need to repack a few times before leaving for any trip. Otherwise I bring way too many clothes that I won’t wear.
You especially don’t want to overpack when you plan to backpack for 2 weeks in Europe. Think about it. 2 weeks is a long time to lug around useless stuff.
I recommend using packing cubes to prevent overpacking. Not to mention, these cubes will help keep you clothes, shoes, and souvenirs organized.
Take Lots of Photographs & Still Enjoy the Moment
Last but not least, you need to take a lot of wonderful photos and still allow yourself to feel the moment.
My favorite camera to take to Europe is my reliable Canon Rebel, which is a perfect starter DSLR. Take a couple pictures and then put the camera away. You don’t need Instagram open 24/7, do you? I didn’t think so!
Ultimately, when you backpack for 2 weeks in Europe, you want both the photographic memories and the real memories of looking at the Eiffel Tower or seeing the sun rise on Charles Bridge.
I hope you feel ready to backpack for 2 weeks in Europe. You’ll have an incredible time. I bet by the end of your trip, you’ll be as addicted as I am to amazing European vacations. Have fun!