Europe is one of the most popular destinations for travelers in the world. It is also the most popular backpacker’s destination. This is for many reasons including the wonderful cultures, languages, delectable foods, and easy getting around. No backpacker wants to be in a place that is difficult to get from country to country. With so many things to see and places to visit why not give yourself a break with the travel portion? Western Europe offers a great variety of different cultures. In the north you have lovely landscapes and views around the United Kingdom and Whales. All the way at the bottom, Portugal and Spain are like an entirely different universe. It just goes to show that even though you are on the same continent different countries can have polar opposite experiences. When you are backpacking in Western Europe you will feel immediately as though you have arrived in the most wonderful place in the world. Spend a few weeks getting in touch with other people and also yourself. Take time to relax and enjoy your time, since you work so hard all year at school.
Western Europe travel tips
- Time zones change one hour between England and Spain.
- Some countries are on different electric plugs then others in Western Europe. Make sure to bring the appropriate outlet prongs for the countries you plan to visit.
- Book tickets to concerts in advance.
Places to go in Western Europe
It really depends on what you are looking to get out of this trip. Thinking about where you will want to go is all about how you want to spend your time and if you are traveling with a group, how they want to spend it as well. If you are looking to hit up the major cities then look towards London, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, and Barcelona. If heading into regions where the locals live then think about the English and French countrysides; both a great trip idea. It’s all about when you are heading home what you got to see and if you feel like you saw enough of Western Europe. You can even opt for a mountains only trip or a wine tasting backpacking trip through France and Spain and Portugal. Summer is a great time to grab your bag and go. There are also a lot of festivals and events throughout the area to check out.
What to see in Western Europe
Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium is an annual heavy metal event in June. In July go to Gentse Feesten. This festival is the largest street festival in Europe. In the city of Ghent enjoy the ten day long event with music, food, and activities. While in Belgium take a beer tour. It’s the best way to experience the breweries and in some cases the only way to get in. Taste testing is a must. Great Britain is all about the festivals and concerts in the summer. If you are looking to purchase tickets to any of these events then act quickly. They can go fast and you will want to pre-order anything before going. The Story of London includes walking tours, music, and Tudor river pageants. The City of London Festival takes place from late June to mid July. There are live music venues from a variety of genres. This includes jazz, gospel, rock, pop, and classical. If you visit London in August go to Notting Hill for the Notting Hill Carnival. It falls on the Bank Holiday weekend with a bunch of fun and free activities. This is great for any college student’s wallet. Heading down to France, July and August are full of festivals and events. Giant Labyrinth of the Seven Valleys, located in Nord Pas-de-Calais, holds one of the largest corn mazes in Europe. This tiny village is also great for soaking up some French culture. Accommodations are cheaper then if staying in Paris and the surroundings are quite nice. The Storytelling Festival in Vassivière takes place on a wonderful beach. The event is held for nine days. Spain is all about the cultural events. When you get to Spain get ready for cultural events. The summer is the best time to come for these and when you backpack through Spain make sure to hit up a couple of them. The Festival de los Patios Cordobeses is held in May. There is a competition and streets full of flowers as locals celebrate the pilgrimage of the conquering Virgin of the Linares Sanctuary. For a week at the end of June in Valencia the Hogueras de San Juan celebrates the shortest night of the year. The elements of sun, fire, and water are used a lot in this celebration of nature. Fiestas de Haro in La Rioja is a festival of wine of sorts. There are many activities in all the cities mentioned above as well as some off the beaten path villages. The best part about festival hopping is you get non-stop entertainment for little to nothing in price. And this makes for the best backpacking trip.
How to get there
The train system throughout Western Europe is really the best way to get from point A to point B. Rail Europe and Eurail offer great deals on one-way trains and overnight trains. From the local, slower trains to the faster high-speed trains; it is easy and inexpensive to get from country to country. Before leaving for your trip you might consider purchasing a three country or multi-country pass. This allows you to freely move around Western Europe without waiting in long lines at every train station. When flying into Europe, choose a main city to start off your trip. Not only will it be more convenient, but also cheaper since flights from the US to Europe are usually cheaper from major city to major city. Once there you can opt to take the trains or a cheap flight.