The Best European Cities for Backpacking

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Upvote the best cities to backpack in Europe

Backpacking through Europe is a right of passage--and an adventure--that many young adults embark upon. When you're backpacking Europe, there are many different countries, cities, and cultures to explore. Going backpacking in Europe is a great way to burst out of your comfort zone and make important personal discoveries. One of the best ways to become more aware of the world around you is to backpack Europe. Too often, people get stuck in the comfort of their everyday lives. They become focused solely on what is immediately near them, and completely forget about the whole wide world, waiting for them just outside of their backyards.

The historically rich continent of Europe has so many great cities to see and learn from. You may wonder, where should I begin my travels? Visiting a variety of European cities can help give you a better idea of how the rest of the world lives. Each new place that you visit will give you a unique, intangible gift that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. 

 Be sure to vote for your favorite European city to backpack, and feel free to add any countries we may have left out! 

Ranked by
  • London
    London is located in England, and was originally founded by Roman citizens looking to expand their territory. It is a leading global power house in arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research, development, tourism, and transport. Famous landmarks like the London Eye, Big Ben, the Tower of London, and St. Paul's Cathedral are fun, historic places to visit on your backpacking adventure. 
  • Berlin
    Berlin is Germany's capital, as well as its largest city. It is known for being one of the leaders in LGBT-friendly culture, as well as for their cuisine, education, healthcare, and innovative technology. 
  • Lisbon
    Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal, and the 11th most populated urban area in the European Union. It is considered to be a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, and tourism. 
  • Reykjavik
    Reykjavik is the capital and largest city of Iceland. The city grew from a small trading town with no urban development to a center for commerce, population, and government. It is one of the cleanest, greenest cities in the world. 
  • Zagreb
    Zagreb is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It lies 400 feet above sea level, and is home to approximately 800,000 people. It is considered a consolidated city-country in Croatia. 
  • Budapest
    Central Hungary
    Budapest is the capital and largest city of Hungary. It was originally settled by the Celts in 1 A.D., and is now one of the top cities in the world for music, film, theatre, dance, and visual art. Budapest is known best by tourists for their Rain Pubs, which each have their own artistic ambience, and different interesting accommodations, like concerts, film screenings, and live performances. 
  • Barcelona
    Barcelona is the capital city of the Catalonian community in Spain. There are many amazing sites to see in Barcelona, including Antoni Gaudì's Sagrada Famìlia, and the Museu Picasso. 
  • Prague
    Czech Republic
    Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic. It was founded during the Gothic and Renaissance eras, and was the seat for two Holy Roman Emperors. Because Prague suffered very little damage during WWII, the original architecture has been preserved in many of their most popular buildings. 
  • Paris
    Ah, Paris. The City of Love. Located in France, and well-known for it's art museums, macarons, and stinky, delicious cheeses, Paris is a must-visit for anyone backpacking in Europe. There are tons of amazing sights to see, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Pont des Art bridge where lovers write their names on locks and throw the keys into the Seine River.
  • Edinburgh
    Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. It is best known for being the place where J.K. Rowling first sat down to pen Harry Potter in a little coffee shop called the Elephant House. 
  • Copenhagen
    Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, as well as the cultural, economical, and governmental centre of the country. 
  • Kyiv

    Kyiv is the capital and largest city of Ukraine. It is an important industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural centre of Eastern Europe.

  • Madrid
    Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. Although Madrid is very modern, it has managed to preserve the original feel and look of its many historic neighborhoods and streets. It is known for the Bluen Retiro Park, the La Reigna Sofìa museum, the Prado museum, and the Cibeles Palace and Fountain. 
  • St. Petersburg
    Located on the Neva River in Russia, St. Petersburg is lauded as the historical capital and second largest city. It is home to the Hermitage museum, the Mariinsky Theater, and many famous authors, such as Pushkin, Gogol, and Dostoyevsky. 
  • Munich
    Munich is the capital and largest city in the state of Bavaria, located in Germany. It is home to the Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall in the world, as well as Oktoberfest. 
  • Venice
    Venice, Italy is made up of 118 small islands separated by canals. It is known for being one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. Venice is home to many great works of art, St. Mark's Basilica, and the Piazza San Marco. 
  • Ljubljana
  • Florence
    Florence is located in Tuscany, Italy, and is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. It is ranked as one of the top 50 fashion capitals of the world, and is well-known for its beautiful art museums, galleries, and Renaissance monuments. 
  • Athens
    Athens, Greece, is one of the world's oldest cities, and is known as the birthplace of democracy. It is home to the original Olympic Games, and was the first place to employ a center for the arts, education, and philosophical study. Athens is one of the world's leaders in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, culture, education, and tourism.
  • Split, Croatia
  • Naples
    Naples is the capital of the Campania region in Italy. It was originally ruled by Greece, but became Roman territory during the Punic Wars. For decades, Naples held on to their Greek language and history while expanding the city to include traditional Roman villas and baths. Today, Naples is a powerhouse of rich, historical culture. 
  • Rome
    Rome is the capital of Italy, located in the region of Lanzio. Legend has it that Rome was founded by two brothers, Romulus and Remus, who were suckled by a she-wolf and raised to build the city. Rome's history spans a time period of over 14,000 years, and continues to be one of the most culturally significant cities of all time. They are known for their achievements in sports, art, film, and, of course, pizza. The statues and architecture that fill the city are incredibly beautiful, and help shed light on what it was like to live in ancient Rome. 
  • Amsterdam
    Amsterdam is the Dutch capital in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The city is known for their progressive thinking, their active bicycling culture, and their beautiful canals and architecture. 
  • Dublin
    Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Originally a Viking Settlement, Dublin is now home to many art museums, pubs, restaurants, and shops. 
  • Istanbul
    Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey. The most unique thing about Istanbul, is that it is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, with it's commercial and historical side in Europe, and about 1/3 of its population in Asia. The Mahmutpasha Bazaar is a sight to see--it's one of the largest open-air markets in the world, spanning between the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar.