5 Itineraries for an Unforgettable 2-Week Europe Backpacking Trip

Are you itching to swap your daily routine for a backpack and a pair of sturdy walking shoes perfect for Europe? If you’ve been dreaming of zigzagging across Europe, soaking in diverse cultures, and indulging in a smorgasbord of cuisines, then you’re in luck.

I’ve got the inside scoop on crafting the ultimate two-week European backpacking adventure that’s sure to leave your wanderlust well and truly satisfied.

I totally understand that planning the perfect itinerary can be as daunting as trying to pronounce some of those tricky European town names. There are SO many cities and towns to choose from… how does one even start?!

I get it, I was in your same boat when I planned out my 3- to 4-month solo backpacking trip through Europe! Using my past experiences, learnings, and blunders, I’ve pieced together five unique itineraries that promise an authentic slice of European life. ALL the legwork done for you!

In this post, I’ll whisk you off on a ‘Best of Italy’ journey that’s more than just your average tourist trail. Get ready to experience Italy like a local, with hidden gems and mouth-watering eats that only those in-the-know can guide you to.

Then, for those who love dramatic coastlines and diverse landscapes, our ‘From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean’ route will tick all the boxes. Imagine dipping your toes in both seas, with a whirlwind of colorful towns, historic landmarks, and lesser-known spots in between.

Stay tuned as we reveal the full details of these itineraries and more, ensuring your 2-week European escapade is nothing short of unforgettable!

Europe Backpacking Route #1: The Classic Itinerary

This classic route gives you the chance to experience Europe’s major cities. Experience the best places for sightseeing, shopping, art, food, and culture, all in just two weeks!

Because of how many major European cities this itinerary features, this also makes it a great option for your first trip to Europe.

London, England (4 days)

Changing of the King's Life Guards - London In One Day Tour

Start with four days in London, where you can see historic and modern side-by-side. Tour the royal sites, like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, before taking in the full panorama atop the London Eye.

Then, spend some time enjoying London’s incredible museums (many of them are free!) and gorgeous gardens.

With any leftover time, spend it doing some truly immersive experiences in London — they’ve got PLENTY of these.

Amsterdam, Netherlands (3 days)

Photos That Will Inspire You To Visit Amsterdam - www.travelswithelle.com

For your second leg, hop across the channel to Amsterdam. Art lovers can enjoy some of the world’s best museums, from the Van Gogh Museum to the staggering Rijksmuseum.

Stroll through the hip neighborhood of Jordaan, enjoy views of Amsterdam’s peculiar narrow houses as you wander along the canals, and maybe even attend an electronic music event at night!

Rent a bike and join the locals in their favorite mode of transportation, pedaling your way to the historic Anne Frank House or the modern EYE Film Institute for a dose of culture.

Don’t forget to explore the bustling Albert Cuyp Market, where you can sample Dutch street food like stroopwafels and herring. For a serene escape, the Vondelpark offers a green oasis perfect for a leisurely picnic or a relaxing boat ride through Amsterdam’s iconic canals.

And if you’re up for a short trip outside the city, the picturesque windmills and charming Dutch houses of Zaanse Schans are just a train ride away.

Paris, France (4 days)

Travel Tips For Paris, France - www.travelswithelle.com
My favorite Eiffel Tower view from the Trocadero!

Your next destination is Paris, also known as the City of Lights! Spend your days admiring the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, people-watching in the Luxembourg Gardens, wandering the old artists’ haunts in Montmartre, and of course, finding the perfect crêpe!

You’ll also want to go further afield to Versailles to see Louis XVI’s fantastical palace. Trust me, this one is so worth the time and effort to get there!

Should you have more time, try to leave Paris to explore a couple of other cities. There are loads of fun places near Paris that you can easily get to by train.

Rome, Italy (3 days)

Colosseum Rome - TravelsWithElle

On your last leg, head to Rome, a city is so steeped in history that you can travel through time just by walking the streets. Start in ancient times at the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, where you’ll see the remains of the once-great Roman Empire.

Then, time travel to the Renaissance period as you explore Michelangelo’s Vatican. Finally, experience the Romantic age at the Spanish Steps and the Villa Borghese.

With the extra time you have, you can dive deeper into Rome’s charming layers by visiting the Pantheon, an architectural marvel that has stood the test of time since antiquity. Don’t miss tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring your return to this eternal city.

For a taste of local life, meander through the energetic yet super charming Trastevere neighborhood, where you can stumble upon artisanal shops and savor authentic Roman cuisine in a quaint trattoria. If you’re keen on uncovering more hidden gems, consider a stroll in the historic Jewish Ghetto, rich in culture and history, and home to some of the best traditional Roman eateries.

And for those who appreciate the offbeat, the Capuchin Crypt offers a macabre yet fascinating look at a series of chapels decorated with the bones of thousands of monks. 

Europe Backpacking Route #2: From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean

If you’re looking for sun, sand, and sea, look no further than the Iberian Peninsula. With some of Europe’s mildest temperatures, Portugal and Spain make the perfect summer destination. This itinerary takes you through the best spots from coast to coast!

Portugal (4-5 days)

Jeronimos Monastery - Things To Do In Lisbon Portugal

Start your journey in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, a sunny port city full of endearing streets and wide-open squares. Get lost in the Alfama neighborhood, and sightsee from aboard one of the city’s famous trams. Then, head to the other side of the city for the gorgeous Gothic architecture of the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery.

After tasting your way through Lisbon (we trust you’ve eaten as much seafood as you can by now), you can start making your way to Spain.

On your way to Spain, head south where you can stopover in the Algarve. Known for incredible surfing and picturesque beaches, towns like Faro and Albufeira make a perfect day trip between destinations.

Spain (6-7 days)

Seville, Spain - www.travelswithelle.com

Your first stop in Spain will be sun-drenched Seville, the capital of Andalusia that just shouts romance! Once part of the Islamic Empire, see the Arab influence at the Royal Alcazar, which dates back to 1170. Even the gorgeous Seville Cathedral carries remnants of its Arab past; the bell tower is a repurposed minaret.

Next, move north to the capital, Madrid. The most decadent of Spain’s cities, Madrid is the heart of the monarchy. Walk in their footsteps at the Royal Palace, Prado Museum and the Plaza Mayor. Finish off each day by searching for the best tapas in town.

From there, it’s time to hit the Mediterranean coast with a stop in Barcelona. This eclectic city is known for its hometown architect, Antoni Gaudí. See examples of his work all over town, from the still-unfinished Sagrada Família, to the colorful Parc Güell, and the eye-catching mansions of Eixample.

Park Guell Barcelona
Park GuellAntoni Gaudi Barcelona architecture

France (3 days)

Extend your trip a few days by heading into France! No, we don’t mean Paris. Since you’ll be along the coast, you can keep this coastal energy going by exploring southern France.

For reference, the largest cities of southern France are Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice and Montpellier.

Go village-hopping along the Riviera before settling in Nice, where you can enjoy the Old Town, and rub shoulders with the jet-setters in Monaco.

Europe Backpacking Route #3: Hopping the Iron Curtain

If you’ve already done the major ‘must-do’ cities of Europe and are looking to go more off-the-beaten-path, we invite you to explore more of Central and Eastern Europe with this expansive itinerary.

As you hop across the former Iron Curtain, you’ll see gorgeous architecture, cosmopolitan cities, and historic castles. This is also a great trip for those on a budget, as Eastern Europe is still much cheaper than Western Europe!

Berlin, Germany (4 days)

Start in Berlin, where you can still see the remnants of the Berlin Wall, get a taste of the art and music scene that’s made the city such an up-and-coming city, and journey through history at the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag before venturing out into Berlin’s bustling café culture.

Beyond the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, make time for the Topography of Terror and the lesser-known Stasi Museum to gain a deeper understanding of Berlin’s complex past.

Now when it comes to Berlin’s café culture, step off the beaten path and into the neighborhood of Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. Here you’ll find cozy spots like Café Kotti or the eclectic Five Elephant, where the coffee is as rich as the local character. If you’re a foodie, Markthalle Neun hosts a popular Street Food Thursday event that’s a must-visit for a taste of international and local flavors.

Berlin’s also the place to be for night owls, with some of the best nightlife on the continent!

Trust me when I tell you — you will have NO shortage of things to do in Berlin over 4 days.

Prague, Czech Republic (3-4 days)

Prague, Czech Republic

Perhaps the most fairytale city in Europe, Prague will transport you to another world.

Start in the Old Town Square, where you can get a glimpse at the mesmerizing Astronomical Clock. Then get lost among the alleyways as you head for the famous Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.

But don’t stop there—Prague has much more to enchant you beyond its iconic landmarks. Climb up to the tranquil Petřín Hill for panoramic views of the city, and if you’re feeling whimsical, visit the mirror maze or the Petřín Lookout Tower, reminiscent of a mini Eiffel Tower.

Staying Fit Abroad - Travels With Elle
Exploring Prague on foot, happy to have stumbled on such a beautiful park!

Literature buffs will enjoy a stop at the Kafka Museum to delve into the life of one of Prague’s most famous literary figures.

Beer enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to sample some of the Czech Republic’s world-renowned beers at a local brewery or beer garden.

If time allows, consider a day trip to the bewitching bone chapel in Kutná Hora or the picturesque town of Český Krumlov. Both are just a short journey from Prague and offer a glimpse into the Czech Republic’s rich history and architectural beauty!

Krakow, Poland (3 days)

wawel castle krakow - www.travelswithelle.com

Move on to Poland, where you’ll visit another city straight out of a storybook, Kraków. Much of the city’s architecture dates back to the Middle Ages, like the picturesque Market Square, the stone towers of Waweł Castle, and the well-preserved Jewish Quarter.

And if you’re up for a heavy dose of history, you can also take a day trip to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, for a sobering look at more modern history. I did this day trip and while it was very sad to see, I am so grateful for all that I learned and got to witness there. Highly recommend!

Budapest, Hungary (3-4 days)

Budapest Hungary

Next, trade in Krakòw’s quaint alleyways for the bustling metropolis of Budapest. Experience the unique Hungarian culture by spending a day at the Gellért or Szechényi Baths. The thermal waters will leave you refreshed and ready to explore!

Other can’t-miss stops include the massive Palace of Parliament, and the Central Market Hall, where you can try the best of Hungarian cuisine.

Take a leisurely cruise on the Danube River, particularly enchanting at night when the city lights dance on the water. Make sure to visit the historic Buda Castle, where you can wander through the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum to get a taste of Hungary’s rich past. For a breath of fresh air, the castle’s hilltop location offers panoramic views of the entire city!

Budapest Hungary

Don’t miss the chance to stroll along Andrássy Avenue, Budapest’s answer to the Champs-Élysées. Along this avenue, you’ll find luxury boutiques, theaters, and the Hungarian State Opera House.

For a quirky and memorable evening, visit one of Budapest’s famous ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter. These bars are set in dilapidated pre-war buildings and are filled with eclectic furniture and decor, offering a unique atmosphere that’s quintessentially Budapest.

Finally, if you’re looking to explore a bit further afield, take a half-day trip to the charming town of Szentendre, just a short train ride away. Its cobblestone streets, art galleries, and cafes provide a perfect backdrop to unwind after the hustle and bustle of Budapest.

Europe Backpacking Route #4: Best of Italy

Traveling through Europe makes it easy to hop from country to country, but there’s something to be said for sticking to one. Staying in one country helps you slow down and immerse yourself in the culture, especially in a country with as much to offer as Italy.

In this 2-week itinerary of Italy and Italy alone, head from south to north, experiencing Italy’s best!

Italy (14 days)

Start in the south, in the bustling city of Naples. Use the city as a base to explore breathtaking cliffside towns like Positano and Sorrento, before heading back for some of Italy’s best cuisine. The hometown of pizza, Naples is where you’ll find the world’s best slice. 

Rome is the next stop on your journey. Here you’ll find an amalgamation of history, as discussed in the Classic Itinerary. See everything from Roman ruins to Romantic mansions before you head to Florence.

Roman Forum, Rome Italy

Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and is one of the foremost centers for art and architecture in all of Europe. Marvel at the massive Duomo, and climb to the top for magnificent views. You can also see the best of Renaissance art at the Uffizi and Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s David).

Lastly, hit the canals as you explore the Mediterranean city of Venice. Visit St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll find the decadent Doge’s Palace, and the mysterious Byzantine basilica. Then, enjoy the views as you hop on a vaporetto or a gondola on the Grand Canal.

If you’re itching to visit a few other cities within Italy, I’d highly recommend Bologna (near Milan) and Cinque Terre (along the coast)!

Europe Backpacking Route #5: Storybook Charm From Amsterdam To Colmar

Embark on a memorable two-week journey through some of Europe’s most enchanting destinations! From the canal-lined streets of Amsterdam to the fairytale towns of Strasbourg and Colmar, this itinerary is designed to immerse you in the rich culture, history, and beauty of each city.

Amsterdam, Netherlands (3 days)

Start your adventure in Amsterdam, where you can spend your days admiring masterpieces in the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Cycle around the city like a local, explore the historic Anne Frank House, and enjoy a relaxing canal cruise.

In the evenings, dive into the poppin’ nightlife, or find a cozy café to experience the laid-back Dutch atmosphere.

Bruges, Belgium (2 days)

Photos That Will Inspire You To Visit Bruges, Belgium - www.travelswithelle.com

A short train ride takes you to the medieval city of Bruges. One of my personal favorite cities in Europe!

Spend two days wandering through cobblestone streets, sampling Belgian chocolates, and viewing the city from a boat on its picturesque canals.

Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the Belfry of Bruges for a panoramic view of the city and to visit the historic Markt Square.

Lille, France (3 days)

Lille - Best Day Trips From Paris By Train

Next, head to Lille, a hidden gem in France’s Hauts-de-France region. This city offers a mix of French and Flemish culture, evident in its architecture and cuisine. Spend your days exploring the Palais des Beaux-Arts, strolling through the Vieille Bourse, and enjoying the bustling atmosphere of the Grand Place.

Lille’s markets are perfect for picking up local treats and crafts, and the restaurant/bar scenes are both worth slowing down for!

Paris, France (3 days)

No trip to France is complete without a visit to its capital, Paris. In three days, you can hit the highlights: the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Stroll along the Seine, visit the artists in Montmartre, and enjoy the culinary delights in a Parisian bistro. Save an evening for a show at the Moulin Rouge or a leisurely walk through the Latin Quarter.

Strasbourg and Colmar, France (3 days)

Colmar, France

Conclude your trip in the Alsace region with a stay in Strasbourg, home to the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral. Spend a day exploring the European Parliament and enjoying the blend of French and German culture.

Take a short train ride to Colmar, a town that looks like it’s straight out of a storybook. Dedicate your last two days to exploring Colmar’s colorful half-timbered houses, the charming canals of the “Little Venice” area, and the local markets, where you can sample Alsatian wines and regional specialties like the kugelhopf and tarte flambée.

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Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

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