Backpacking has become increasingly popular among young travelers, and for good reason. It gives you the freedom to visit a handful of countries in a short amount of time, it encourages light packing (say goodbye to lugging around that roller bag), and it’s sure to land you in some amazing places that you might not have seen otherwise. And on top of all that, backpacking is one of the most inexpensive ways to see the world.
Between low-cost hostel stays and train tickets, you’ll save money while having one of the most enriching experiences of your life. We’ve done our research and have determined what we believe to be the top six best backpacking trips in the world. The best news? StudentUniverse offers tours throughout all the regions listed here, so pick your favorite itinerary below and start planning!
1. London to Amsterdam
The Lineup: London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Munich, Heidelberg/Rhine Valley, Amsterdam
Modes of Transportation: Train
Route Highlights: Eiffel Tower, Seine River, the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, Boboli Gardens, the Duomo, Venice’s Grand Canal, Red Light District
2. Rome to London
The Lineup: Rome, Viareggio (Tuscany), Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bruges, London
Modes of Transportation: Train, public bus, metro
Route Highlights: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Cinque Terre, Piazzale Michelangelo, Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, Budapest Thermal Baths, Auschwitz, Prague Castle, Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Anne Frank’s House, Van Gogh Museum, Red Light District
3. London to Istanbul
The Lineup: London, Paris, Lausanne, Zermatt, Chur, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Sighisoara, Brasov, Bucharest, Veliko Tarnovo, Sofia, Plovdiv, Istanbul
Modes of Transportation: Train
Route Highlights: Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Gardens, Lake Geneva, Swiss Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau concentration camp, Buda Castle, thermal baths in Budapest, The Black Church, the Palace of Parliament, Church of the Nativity, Alexander Nevski church, the Grand Bazaar, Aya Sofya
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA
4. San José to Playa del Carmen
Duration: 33 days
The Lineup: San José, La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Ometepe, Granada, Poneloya, Suchitoto, Concepción de Ataco, Copán, Antigua, Panajachel/Lake Atitlán, RÍo Dulce/Flores, Tikal/San Ignacio, Caye Caulker, Playa del Carmen
Modes of Transportation: Local bus, boat, van, taxi, ferry
Route Highlights: Planeterra-supported homestay experience, group salsa dancing lessons, guided tour of Tikal, orientation walks in Granada and Antigua, kayaking, ziplining, Arenal Volcano hike, Monteverde Reserve and rainforests, Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua, El Imposible National Park, Mayan ruins of Copán, Lake Atitlán, Chocón-Machacas Natural Reserve, the Belize Reef
5. Lima to Rio de Janeiro
The Lineup: Lima, Paracas/Nazca, Arequipa/Colca Canyon, Cusco/Ollantaytambo/Inca Trail, Puno/Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Sucre/Potosi, Uyuni/Salt Flats, San Pedro de Atacama/Salta, Buenos Aires, Colonia/Montevideo, Iguassu Falls/Paraty/Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro
Modes of Transportation: Public bus, train, hiking, plane, 4×4 truck, ferry
Route Highlights: Pachamanca ceremony, Colca Canyon excursion, Nazca Lines, El Misti Volcano. guided tour of Machu Picchu, 4-day Inca Trail hike, Lake Titicaca excursion, Uros Floating Islands, Uyuni Salt Flats excursion, Atacama Desert, Iguassu Falls, Estancia stay, Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer
6. Auckland to Wellington
The Lineup: Auckland, Raglan, Rotorua/Maori Village, Lake Taupo and surrounding national parks, Wellington
Modes of Transportation: Private bus
Route Highlights: Maritime Museum, conservation farm, sea kayaking, surf lessons, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Tongariro Alpine Crossing: volcanic range and remote hot springs, Te Papa Museum
These are our top picks for backpacking routes around the world, BUT if you’d like to see more itineraries, we’ve got plenty to choose from. Check out our interactive map of backpacking itineraries or browse even more tours on our website. Happy travels!
And as always, don’t forget to visit StudentUniverse any time you need to book a flight, hotel/hostel, rail pass or tour. Your wallet will thank you and we’ll have you on your next adventure in no time!