Post college backpacking trip through Europe

Stop 1: Budapest, Hungary

“Hungary for an adventure”

Where to go

Budapest, Hungary

How to get there

If flying, use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. If you are coming from a surrounding country I recommend using FlixBus which I will be posting about soon! While in the city I recommend mostly walking because there is so much to see. When it is too far to walk, take the metro…it is safe, fast and cheap!

What to see

I would stay at Hopstel Hostel. Fairly close to downtown & has an amazing atmosphere. Take two steps out of your door and you are in a square of the biggest multi tap craft beer bar & gastro-garden in Hungary! Rooms are only $30 a night! If you’re looking for affordable and convenient this place is for you.

You definitely should checkout Gellert Hill which has a spectacular view of the city!

Walk down Vaci Street which has a ton of outside authentic restaurants, high end shopping, and live music.

Budapest is famous for its thermal baths and there are many to choose from. I recommend the Szechenyi Baths. Go on a weekday for cheaper prices! Make sure to bring water sandals if you have them to stay clean.

For a cheap dinner, grab a Gyro from one of the stands and take it to one of the bridges on the Danube River. You can sit on the edge of it watching the sunset!

Hungarian food is very unique, I recommend trying an authentic meal at least once..very tasty!

Venture to the other side of the Dunabe River (Buda side) and you will find many historical sites, the Buda Castle, incredible views of the city, & Dracula’s Castle! You can see a ton of stuff for free…the tours aren’t necessary if you are traveling on a budget.

Viszlát Budapest you were a city to remember. Ahoj Prague!

Stop 2: Prague, Czech Republic

“Czeching it all out”

Where to go

Prague, Czech Republic

How to get there

If coming from Budapest use Flix Bus tickets are around $25 if you book a couple months in advance. You will get off at Florenc station which is very close to downtown.

What to see

Stay at Hostel Orange . This is in Wischmester Square with lots to do and close to all big attractions. It has clean beds, free coffee, bar crawls, and other festivities during your stay. We stayed for 3 nights in Prague but we wish we would’ve stayed for 4.

Go to Old Town Square, it has magnificent historical buildings. Dinner is rather expensive in the square but you can easily eat on a side street for a much more reasonable price.

Spend at least a half day on the other side of the river. There you will find the Prague castle which is beautiful. Checkout the Letna beer garden while over there!

While District 1 in Prague is the most popular, take some time exploring the other areas of the city.

Budget tip: Water is more expensive than beer at most restaurants. Pack a water bottle for the day!

If you are into European football, go to Dubliner Irish Pub to watch a game! There are TVs on all sides and it’s a great atmosphere. We watched Manchester City vs Arsenal and the pub was full.

Sbohem Prague! Hallo Salzburg!

Stop 3: Salzburg, Austria

Where to go

Salzburg, Australia

How to get there

If following my route, take FlixBus again. Buy your tickets in advance! The cool thing about this ride is it had a connection where we switched half way through and boarded a European train. It was very nice and a romantic way to travel across the countries.

What to see

Stay at Yoho hostel. This is the nicest hostel I’ve been to so far. They offer free lockers for your stuff, coffee in the morning, salad bar during happy hour, and a free shot of an Austrian liquor upon your arrival! The rooms and bathrooms are very clean as well.

Spend at least a day walking around downtown Salzburg. There are a ton of shops and outside restaurants.

One of my favorite parts about the city is how everyone rides bikes! I did not end up doing it, but renting a bike would be a great way to see the city as well.

Mirabell garden is a beautiful place to walk through while you’re there. Great place to take pictures as well and it’s free to go to!

Along the side of the river in town there is a grassy bank. Grab a bottle of wine and watch the sunset one of the days you’re there.

I would definitely take a day trip ton St. Gilgen and the Wolfgangsee lake. To get there from Salzburg get on bus 150 at the bus stop in town. It is about a 40 minute drive and is truly beautiful. You can rent a little boat for $20 an hour and go around the lake which was well worth it. Go swimming in the cool water and float on your back, looking up at the mountains and blue sky around you.

Secret travel spot: walk about a mile up past the town towards Salzburg until you come to a pullover spot for cars. Here you will see a sign for Furschee lake. It will take you on a pretty difficult hike through the forest until you come to a clearing. Follow the signs as you go. You will walk through valleys and little villages, it’s almost like a free tour of the sound of music! To get back to Salzburg take bus 150 at a bus stop in the town by the lake, Mondale.

Depending on the date you’re traveling, there is sometimes music in the Kurpark downtown Salzburg. There is yummy food stands, great music, and relaxing vibes.

Last but not least, try the Schnitzel of course!

Stop 4: Munich, Germany

Where to go

Munich, Germany

How to get there

Again, if following my route I recommend flix bus. It is not too long of a bus ride and very affordable, my ride was $10! The flix bus stop in Salzburg is difficult to find…when entering the train station go all the way through out the back to a side street and there is a small sign saying flix bus where it will pull over. Ask around for help if you can’t find it!

What to see

I 100% recommend staying at Wombats hostel. It is in a great location, cleanest hostel I’ve been too, lively bar with happy hour deals, and so much more! I was in a 8 bed mixed dorm and met people from London, Canada, Austria, and China…it was so interesting!

Spend a while at the English gardens. It is a huge and beautiful park in the middle of the city. You can find live music playing, different beer gardens, swimming areas, and people surfing in the river…yes surfing!

We went on a brewery tour while in Munich which we enjoyed. If you are interested in learning about how beer is brewed and the whole process I’d recommend. My favorite part was at the end when we went to the top floor and had homemade pretzels, beer dip, and got to taste Germany’s finest beers with a great view and awesome company. Beer really is more than a drink in Germany I learned a lot about how it has influenced their history and culture. If you are interested book one through Expedia for a better deal!

One of Germany’s biggest attractions is the Neuschwanstein Castle. I would recommend going and here’s how to do it:

1. Go in the early morning!!! We got there around 1pm and it was WAY too crowded with tourists.

2. Don’t go through a tour to get there. If you’re traveling with more than yourself you can buy a train ticket to Fussen for 25 euros, for every additional passenger it’s 6 euros so for 2 people it would only be 31 euros, 15 each for there and back…great deal!

3. There’s an option of going inside the castle once you’re there….I’ve heard from others it’s not worth it to pay but if you’re very interested I’d say do it. You need to book it in advance though so be prepared for that!

It truly has spectacular views, it was magical! Travel fact: The castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom!

Check out the Hofbrauhaus for an afternoon. They have 1 liter beers, huge pretzels, and live music!

If you like to shop, you’ll love Munich. We walked down several main streets that had dozens of big stores and smaller shops.

Munich is a huge city with lots to offer, my number one recommendation is plan out your trip and what you want to do before hand because it can get overwhelming. Oh, and drink lots and lots of beer!

Stop 5: Luzern, Switzerland

Where to go

Luzern, Switzerland

How to get there

If following my route, check available times for Flixbus or take the train for 25 euros.

For getting around in Luzern I suggest either a visitors pass or to buy day passes for the bus system. These are about $7 for the day so purchase them if you’re jumping around a lot.

What to see

Stay at this Air bnb! It is in Obernau about 15 min bus ride away from downtown Luzern and we loved it! This was the first time we have been in a private room before in someone else’s home, and it was great. The family was so welcoming and nice we loved the conversations we had. We had our own balcony which has a spectacular view of the mountains.

If you’re up for a 10 hour strenuous hike, try to climb Mt. Pilatus. We left too late in the day so only made it to the halfway marker which I still would definitely recommend.

Checkout the Chapel bridge and the history behind it, super pretty and interesting!

Luzern lake is breathtaking so spend some time walking around it, there is also a place for swimming if you’re interested.

Switzerland is SO expensive. We actually haven’t eaten out once yet. For every meal we go to a grocery store (Coop is my favorite) and cook at the Airbnb . This has actually been one of my favorite parts because the view from our place is so amazing!

Looking for coffee in Switzerland and don’t want to spend $8?! Hard for me to say this but….go to McDonald’s, you’ll get that $2 coffee you know and love.

The part about this stop that I loved the most was the interactions I had with the family we stayed with. They gave helpful tips, asked how my day was whenever I got home, offered homemade meals, and I learned some German from one of their daughters! Always cherish the people you meet along your journey.

Stop 6: Interlaken, Switzerland

Where to go

Interlaken, Switzerland

How to get there

If you have decided to get the Swiss pass, catch a train to Interlaken. If you don’t have a pass it will be around 30 Euros from Luzern.

Getting around Interlaken: Depending on where you are staying you should get a travel pass card when you pay the tourist tax that allows you to ride the buses for free. It also gives you discounts on a bunch of attractions including cable cars in Interlaken.

What to see

I stayed in this Airbnb in Beatenberg which is about a 25 min bus ride up the mountain from Interlaken. It was absolutely beautiful. I would walk out of my door and to my left I saw a grassy mountain side with cows grazing, and to my right I saw the Swiss Alps mountain range with the aqua blue lake below. I also loved the quaint street we were on. We would get fresh eggs in the morning, would see children riding their bikes to school, and we were right across the street from a tourist office that helped us whenever we had any questions!

The great thing about staying in Beatenberg is you’re right by all the hikes in the area! We hiked right from our place up to the the top of Niederhorn which I highly recommend.

Depending on how long you’re staying go to Lauterbrennan or Grindewald for the day. We went to Grindelwald and loved it! My favorite hike there was up to Baregg. This took around 6 hours and it was worth every minute.

For an easier hike you could take the bus from Interlaken West to Iseltwald and hike to the Giessbach Waterfall. It was more of a long walk than a hike, but still beautiful. This was probably the tallest waterfall I’ve ever seen. We went when it was raining out and it was perfect because throughout the walk you’re mostly covered by a canopy of trees.

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate and cheese so if you’re interested there are many tastings and tours to choose from. Just look at the tourist office for a brochure and sign up!

There are a ton of different places you can paraglide. I didn’t end up going here, but I’ve gone in Colorado and LOVED it. I think that in the Swiss Alps it would be incredible.

Downtown Interlaken there are many shops and restaurants. Spend some time strolling the streets and maybe buying some souvenirs!

Switzerland is SO expensive. Checkout my Post on how to save money while here and how we stayed here for a week spending under $50 a day with food, accommodation, and transportation!

Switzerland is incredible to say the least and Beatenberg will always have my heart. It was so peaceful and beautiful I definitely will need to return someday.

Stop 7: Crete, Greece

Where to go

Crete, Greece

How to get there

I would say that the cheapest flights into Greece are Athens or Crete airports so start your Greek Island hopping adventure at one of these two destinations. I flew EasyJet which I found to be affordable.

Getting around the island: The island is much bigger than we anticipated. I recommend that if there is a way for you to rent a car (get your international license) you would save money and see the most on the island. Adam and I used the bus system to get from city to city which was not that bad (1 hour rides $5 & 3 hour rides $15). While in Heraklion there is a free public bus that takes you around the city.

What to see

Like I said, Crete is very large with a lot to offer so do your research on what you are interested in. The west coast has Chania (old historic city), the Samaria Gorge, and beautiful beaches. As you move east, there is the huge city of Heraklion, Malia (party town), and more beautiful beaches. I would recommend flying into Chania airport and staying there for while, then going to Heraklion for a few nights to see the city, and after take the ferry out from Heraklion to another island. Malia is pretty far to the east coast so I would only recommend going there if you’re looking for a “Cancun party vacation.”

While in Chania: Stay at this AirBnb it was literally steps away from the downtown square by the port, had everything we needed, and the host was very accommodating. My favorite city square on the Island was Chania’s, it was right on the water and had tons of narrow streets with little shops and cafes. The port has a long walk way out into the water, grab some drinks and a snack and watch the sunset out on the end of it.

There are many tours to choose from, I would book through Elafonissis Travels and go to Elafonisi Beach. It was the most incredible beach I have ever seen by far. If you want to hike through the longest gorge in Europe I would also book through Elafonissos Travel and hike the Samaria Gorge. It is 16 km long so it would be quite the hike to go through the gorge and back again. Included in your tour you are provided with a boat once you hike through to take you back.

While in Heraklion: Plan to do some shopping at the markets throughout the city. In the mornings the narrow market streets are lined with fresh caught fish, handmade jewelry, and fruits & vegetables. Spend most of your time in the square where you will find some historical monuments. Take a walk down to the port and watch the sunset, see some more historical buildings, and look at the sailboats coming in from a day of fishing on the Mediterranean Sea.

Fun fact: Many restaurants in Heraklion bring you authentic alcohol and a little dessert as a present after you eat!

While in Malia: Stay at this AirBnb which is again, steps away from the Main Street and a 5 minute walk to the beach. It also had a clean bathroom, porch, and comfortable beds. Spend at least a day on the beach, there are tons of restaurants right on the water, beautiful views, and lots of water sports. For dinner, I loved Old Town Malia which had more of an authentic Greece feel to it. Downtown Malia there are tons of bars and clubs open all night so there is a lot to do.

Adam and I did not know too much about Crete before we left for our trip so we planned on learning as we traveled. We made some mistakes that we would’ve done differently if we had been before. Lucky for you, I have written those in this Post so YOU can have the perfect trip to Crete!

Crete has a lot of culture, history, and beauty….I am excited to keep exploring more of the Greek islands!

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Stop 8: Santorini, Greece

Where to go

Santorini, Greece

How to get there

If coming from Crete or another Greek island take a ferry…book in advance for cheaper prices!

For getting around Santorini, use the local bus system. The most expensive ride is about $3 one way. You also can walk a lot, the island is fairly small.

What to see

For cheaper accommodation I recommend staying in Perissa which is located on the beach. There are many restaurants and things to do, plus you’re only a short bus ride away from Fira and Oia (classic white caved cities you’re wanting to visit).

Perissa was great because it had a beautiful beach and you could use the sun chairs and umbrellas for free if you bought something from the restaurants….great way to spend a day relaxing away from all the tourists.

Definitely spend at least one day exploring Fira. It truly is so unique and interesting, being right on the edge of the mountain with endless views of the Mediterranean Sea and the other islands.

Spend some time in Oia (reminded me of a more expensive Fira). I recommend going early in the morning to avoid the crowds. It is known for its spectacular sunsets so if you aren’t afraid of all the tourists, grab a bottle of wine and head to one of the best spots in the world to watch the sun go down.

We didn’t get a chance to do this but I think it would’ve been fun….another traveler told me about how they walked from Fira to Oia which takes around 5 hours.

We went on an all day excursion that brought us on a boat to the volcano, hot springs, an island with an occupancy of 200 people, and Oia to watch the sunset. It was about $40 each and was all day long. If you are interested in seeing any of these sites I’d recommend getting a package like this one. It is a bit crowded and fast paced but you get the most for your dollar and your time.

Again, eat as many Gyros as you can they are amazing I had one for at least one meal a day….only $3!!

Travel tip: Oia is pronounced “e-ya”

If you are staying in Perissa on a Tuesday night go to Cyclades restaurant. They have live Greek music at night!

Greek dish I recommend: moussaka reminded me of lasagna..very yummy 😋

Santorini was so beautiful and special and I will definitely miss its spectacular views, but I am ready to explore a new place! Athens here we come!

Stop 9: Barcelona, Spain

Where to go

Barcelona, Spain

How to get there

I was coming from Athens, Greece so I took a flight. If coming from a country closer to Spain I recommend a train….book early online for better prices!

Getting around Barcelona: we walked almost everywhere we went which was great because then you can see a lot of the city and places you wouldn’t see if you took transportation.

We rented bikes for a day for about $10 which I highly recommend. The city is huge and there is so much to see which can be hard when you only have a few days.

What to see

We stayed at Hostel New York which was in a perfect location right in the Gothic District. We could walk to many of the main attractions and right from our doorstep there were restaurants and shopping. However, it wasn’t the cleanest hostel, and there weren’t many common areas to meet other travelers. The location and free breakfast made up for this though.

There are many cathedrals to choose from in Barcelona. My favorite one was the Barcelona Cathedral because of its detail and beauty. It was $7 to enter and it truly was an incredible experience.

Definitely go see the Sagrada Familia. It was the most magnificent piece of architecture I’ve ever seen. Everyday more details are added and I can’t wait to see it someday in the future when it is complete! You have to pay to go inside which I recommend if you are interested and have the money.

Obviously you should go see Park Guell while in Barcelona. We went on the day we rented bikes because it is a ways away from where we were staying. Currently I don’t think it’s worth it to pay to go in because of all the construction going on. You can see a lot from the free parts of the park.

Some other travelers recommend we go to the Bunkers del Carmel while we were in Barcelona and we loved it! There are two high points in the city the Bunkers and Tibidado. I have only been to the Bunkers to watch the sunset and it was a beautiful view of the city and I loved the historical aspect too. You could read about what happened there, look at old photographs, and videos. I recommend purchasing one of these BEARZ Outdoor Beach Blanket/Compact Pocket Blanket 55″x60″, Waterproof Ground Cover, Sand Proof Picnic Mat for Travel, Hiking, Camping, Festivals – Durable Tarp w/Corner Pockets, Loops & Bag (Blue) to use while travelibg and have a nice picnic while up there. To get to the top take the v17 bus to toro de la rovira and then hike up. The bus is about $3.

Spend some time at the beach. Lots of activities going on and great beach side places to get some good food. There also are many people walking around selling drinks and beach blankets, the repeated tune of “cervesa, agua, 5 euro” will be stuck with you all night. (LOL)

My favorite restaurant was Milk which had amazing tapas and drinks!

I feel like I’ve said this numerous times but for real Barcelona is my new favorite city! I absolutely loved wandering around the old streets and the historical cathedrals. Definitely make Barcelona a number 1 stop on your next Europe trip.

Stop 10: Girona, Spain

Where to go

Girona, Spain

How to get there

Coming from Barcelona it is about a 30 minute train ride for around $15.

Getting around Girona: you can walk everywhere or there is a local bus if you want to go further than the main downtown area.

What to see

While most travelers go to Girona as a day trip I recommend staying for at least 2 days. It is small but was one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever been to.

Stay at this Airbnb It literally could not be in a better location and depending on the season it is between $30-$50 a night. It has a full kitchen and a porch looking out right onto the cobblestone, historic streets.

While we were there we saw a lot of tour groups walking through the city which would be an option to see the main historical monuments. Lucky for me, Adam knows some Girona history himself so I had my own personal tour guide for the day that was free!

The Girona Cathedral and Jewish Quarter were my favorite parts of the city. You begin walking from right downtown through cobblestone streets, past 600 year old cathedrals and you truly do feel like you’re in season 6 of Game of Thrones!

I recommend getting up early to start your day of exploring the city. Like I mentioned, there are many tour groups which you will want to avoid.

Our first night we went to a Girona soccer game which was so much fun! It was so cool to watch and see how much passion the fans had for the game, it reminded me of being at a Badger game! Take the L11bus from downtown to get to the game. (We missed the bus and actually ended up running 40 minutes to get there, talk about dedicated Girona fans!)

For $2 you can walk through the Arab Baths which were super cool and interesting to learn about.

My favorite part about traveling is finding a place I never thought I’d go to or even knew about! Girona is one of those places and will make you feel that you’ve traveled through time, it was incredible.

Stop 11: Montpellier, France

Where to go

Montpellier, France

How to get there

Through eurolines we booked a bus from Girona, Spain for about $20. You also could take a high speed train to save on time, depending on where you’re coming from.

Getting around Montpellier: we mostly walked like we do in most cities. There also is the tram that runs through the city that is very reasonably priced.

What to see

We stayed at this Airbnb which (like usual) was amazing! Within 5 minutes walking you could reach the main square, the tram, famous shopping street, great night life, and more! It also had a great kitchen with all the supplies you need. There was a pull out couch for a bed but for the price we didn’t mind at all.

Spend a day shopping and walking up and down Rue De La Loge. There are high end stores you have heard of but also many stores that were unique.

Have dinner in one of the many bustling side streets or squares that Montpellier offers. There is some of the best food I’ve ever had!

Travel tip: not many people speak English here and almost none of the menus are in English. Adam and I found this frightening at first but we decided to just start asking for the most popular dish and we never were disappointed, I recommend trying it!

Montpellier is known for having mostly college kids so you will have no shortage of night life! 💃🏻

Take an afternoon and go see the main historical monuments. Place de la Comedie, Porte Du Peyrou, & the Montpellier Cathedral were some of my favorites!

If you’re here for more than a day I recommend going to Saint Guilhem Le Desert. The most affordable way to get there from downtown Montpellier is to take the tram to Mosson and then bus 308. Only about an 80 minute trip in total. The beautiful village is over 1,200 years old and only about 250 people live there, most of whom are artists.

I’ve found that a lot of the public parks in Europe have free ping pong tables, including Montpellier. I recommend bringing these Champion Sports Anywhere Table Tennis: Ping Pong Paddles, Balls, and Portable Net & Post Set To Go if you like playing, great way to spend some time in a city park!

I will admit, Montpellier was not a place I researched much or was not a number 1 place I wanted to visit. It was more of a place I was going between Spain and Paris, but I loved it! There were far less tourists than other destinations I’ve been and it was a beautiful, vintage city.

Stop 13: Paris, France

Where to go

Paris, France

How to get there

We took an 11 hour bus ride overnight from Montpellier. This saved us a lot of money because of how cheap the bus ride was plus saving a night of accommodation by sleeping on the bus. I will admit that the bus stopped every couple hours for a break so we didn’t get the best sleep, but if you’re on a budget this was a great form of transportation.

Getting around Paris: Like always, we walked almost everywhere. Sometimes are walks were 2 hours long but we saw so much of the city this way that it was totally worth it. There were a few times at night and to the airport that we took the metro which was easy to navigate and around $2 each for one ride.

What to see

I highly recommend this Airbnb. It was VERY small but it was also really well made and organized. A small couch pulled out to a really comfortable bed. There was a little table with foldable chairs you could pull out to eat on, and the kitchen had everything you needed. It is located in between the red light district and Montmartre. The two men that own it are also very helpful and super nice, I truly fell in love with this tiny home in Paris!

Montmartre was one of my favorite parts of the city. I recommend watching the sunset on the steps of the Sacre-Coeur and then going out to eat at one of the cute French restaurants nearby. Some of them even have French guitarists playing inside!

My number 1 recommendation is to go to the Eiffel Tower at night to watch the sunset. Obviously bring some cheese, bread, and wine. When the lights come on as the sun sets at 8pm you’ll feel the true magic of Paris.

Go to the Lourve!!! It was absolutely incredible. We stayed for a little over 4 hours and barely scratched the surface…did you know it would take 100 days straight to see everything there if you spent just 30 seconds on each piece?! Budget tip: if in college bring your student ID and you’ll get a discount!

Le Marais is a really cool district to wander through. It is just north of Notre-Dame and the Seine. There are lots of restaurants and shops to choose from. As you make your way towards the river there also is my favorite restaurant, Le Paradis. I usually don’t give my recommendation on what to order because we all like different food, but the avocado wrap is SO good we went back twice so I could get it. They also have happy hour at 4:30 if you’re interested in drinks!

When we first arrived in Paris we saw so many people walking around with baguettes in their arms. This may sound like a cliche, but let me tell you, the baguettes in Paris are to die for! We would get at least one a day and eat the entire thing plain, doesn’t even need any butter or jam. Purely delicious.

Paris is the last stop on our life adventure and I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. As I am sitting here, looking at the Eiffel Tower, writing this post, wine in hand, I look back on all of our destinations and realize how they all have changed me. The world is a beautiful place, it has so many opportunities, and it also makes me appreciate where I come from and my home. This definitely won’t be my last time traveling and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure!

I hope you can use my information on this website to go on an adventure of your own. I am always available to help you on your journey so always feel free to reach out. Happy traveling!