My brother and I are first-time backpackers. We are traveling throughout western Europe for one month (June) and we're trying to iron out our plans. He and I are 21 and 19, respectively, and on a limited budget.
Our three main countries will be France, Spain, and Italy. Because we are going to hit the main tourist traps (ex. Paris, Madrid, and Rome), we are looking for some smaller, yet still beautiful, towns where we can relax a bit.
I'm interested in walking along the peaceful countryside of France and Italy, but I'm not sure where I'll have easy access to such towns since I'm traveling with a Eurailpass. The same goes for southern Spain, along the coast.
Any suggestions for cozy, yet fun and accessible towns would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'd love to hear of must-see places in all of these three countries - but specifically around the Loire Valley and Provence in France.
Thank you for any help!
first: I would be careful calling Rome,Paris n Madrid tourist traps. Some people wont like that. Its the same when I say your town is a tourist trap. You wouldnt like it either.. But of course there are lots of tourist traps ( not only there.. ;( ) and you may need some experience to come along without getting pissed by tourist traps.
Secondly, a EURail pass is great!! At least in France and Italy you can go anywhere by train and if you just hop on a smaller train you are going to see nice places far away fom big cities.
Theres one route i did with a railpass in france: Bordeaux-Foix (you have to change some trains to come there but they´ll help you at the stations) Foix is a small village in the pyrenees with a nice castle etc... ..after spending one night there (outside) we headed to Andorra (you have to take a bus but its not far, couple of km´s), a really small country between france and spain. There you can go hiking (skiing in winter) and shopping as it is a tax free heaven too. After spending 3 days there we went on to barcelona.
In Spain, the railway system is not that big as in I and F but at least all big cities are more or less good connected.
If you want to see nice beaches go to Portugal..
The following website is great to plan all your journeys:
have a nice trip ! Cheers, Moritz
My friend and I both traveled Europe last summer for 10 weeks and we too were both 20 years old. I will tell you a one month trip is great, but it will leave you hurting for more.
Contrary to the other reply you had, you are right about France and Madrid and Rome as Toursit traps, but at the same time they can not be missed. On the same note, if you only have time for one place in Spain I suggest you forget about Madrid and go directly to Barcelona. This had to be one of the best places for fun, girls, beaches, and an all around amazing time.
I will make one more suggestion for Italy. If you like natural landscape and smaller towns, I suggest you go to a place called Cinque Terre. The translation of that is "Five Towns". It is a string of small towns amoungst the cliffs on the North Western portion of Italy right on the ocean. It was so beautiful here, with a walking path that connected all five towns. Each day my buddy and I would travel to the next town, and enjoy its beaches and caves. Not many people know of this place, but it is becoming more popular. You will be hard pressed to find it on a map, but it is very near to the port town of Genova. You are going to have a great time man, but the best advice I can give you is to make a few plans of where you want to go, put into your backpack and forget about it. Trust your instincts and listen to other travelers, it will be the time of your life.
I agree with Scott about going to Barcelona. It is a really fun place to go with lots to see and do (you can easily spend a week there), great shopping (beware of pickpockets on La Rhamblas), excellent transportation in the city, is reletively inexpensive too. Stay (sleep) in the old town, b/c it's less expensive and has more character.
Spain is the ultimate place to go to be ruled by spontaneity.
If you want to go to an off-the-beaten-track town to chill for a while in Spain, I would suggest just pointing your finger on a map in the south of Spain along the Mediterranean Sea. You can cheaply rent an appartment for a week. Lots of people do this in Seville. My friends and I did this and I did not regret it one bit. We used the travel agent in the Barcelona train station and she hooked us up perfectly, which was great because our Spanish was virtually non-existant. The further south you go in Spain, the cheaper it is to live. Food, especially, is less expensive and you can cook in your kitchen and buy food in the local grocery store or at vendors on the streets. They take a siesta in the mid-morning to noon so either go early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening to shop. Lots of places are open late. The rest of the time- just chill, relax on the beach, collect shells, get a tan, wander around, whatever. It's a vacation, afterall. . . .. You don't need to rush around like a chicken with your head cut off- at least not the entire time! You might not want to take a full 2 weeks in Spain- maybe for a month do 5 days in Barcelona and 5 in the south would be good. On the way down you could spend an afternoon wandering around Valencia or something. Then over to Italy or up to France.
Any way you do it, I'm sure it is bound to be a good trip! Have fun!