To broaden my horizon , I have decided to go backpack through Europe ( First time might I mention ). I am hoping to spend the maximum of two months and I am going alone so I want to make sure of where I am going and what I will be doing. I don't want to overwhelm you guys with the millions of questions I have so i'll try to narrow them down to the most important ones.
So far (not my finished list, much to add or take out) I have in order : London, Paris, Alps, Florence, Rome , Greece, Venice, Berlin, and to top it off Amsterdam. Should I switch some around for easier traveling? Should I add any places or take any out? Should I add Spain or would I be going off track? I am also hoping to not spend too much time on a train, so if I Should take a open jaw flight to a different place, which of these places would be train worthy and airplane worthy. I'd love to hear your feedback and opinions.
I AM THRILLED !
[ Edit: Edited on Dec 4, 2008, at 3:22 AM by Apark87 ]
If you are planning for two months than I think that you can add Spain. There are a lot of budgetflights available to there. You could take a flight from Paris (or maybe directly from London to Madrid or Barcelona), and than add Paris after Amsterdam. With a open jaw ticket you could then return home instead of returning to London, which usualy is a hassle as the intercontinental flights arrive and depart from Heathrow, and the budgetflights go to one of the other smaller airport. (Eurostar would not be so bad, as you can go from the station to the Airport from there, but it still is quite a distance.) If you really want to save on backtracking see if your airline makes it possible to return from Athens, as that is the most "remote" destination.
Also check how you want to get to Greece. From Italy there are a couple of flights that are cheap. I think the cheapest ones are the Easyjet flights from Milan. But also from Naples and Rome budget flights are possible to and from Athens. However if you go to Greece, at least take the time to visit two of the Islands in addition to Athens. (As you wrote Greece I suspect that you will chose for more destinations.)
If you want to add Spain, a classic is to go to Madrid - (Cordoba) - Sevilla - Granada - (national flight to) Barcelona, and from there it's easy to find a flight to Venice, Florence, Pisa of Rome. There is also the possibility to add Portugal into the mix (e.g Lisbon and Lagos.)
If you skip Spain you can also make so additions in the countries you are already visiting. like Cinque Terre in Italy. (depending on where you go in the Alps, it can make a good connection), also in Italy it would be an idea to add a place on the Amalfi coast, and visit Capri and Pompeii from there. I presume that in your initerary the connection between Venice and Berlin is a flight, you could also add: Innsbruck, Salzburg, (Munich), Prague, Dresden and go by train. All of course depend on the time you have, and want to spend in each place, and if you think you must visit them at all.
That is a lot to try and fit into 2 months. Having said that, I would try and fit in Spain. Cheap airlines like Ryanair will allow you to get around quicker than land and sea transport, so give you more time for sightseeing.
You haven't said when you are going. If say April, start in Spain first as weather will be good. July and August, and to an extent June and the first week in September, lots of people are on holiday and much of Europe is VERY busy, with accommodation and transport running near full.
Beware of petty theft, particularly at tourist spots and on crowded public transport.
Thank you guys for the replies. Very helpful! But another thing that has been bothering me is all these stories of theft. Should I be worried? And is Europe dangerous? Haha btw! I am planning on going maybe early to mid feb to the end of April. This is such a wonderful site haha
You could ask 100 people on this site where they recommend and you'd get 100 different answers! Which is great but not a lot of help. What I'd say to you is this. Just go to the first place you have in mind, have some of your own ideas about where you'd like to go and wing it from there.
You'll meet great people like yourself who are going your way or are on their way back who will influence your decisions. Keep your mind open, a smile on your face and a pen in your hand and you won't go far wrong.
Most of all, enjoy every minute of it because there is NO time like your FIRST time backpacking in Europe.
Have a ball dude!
If you really want to see a country (like Spain, Greece or Italy) you should plan to spent 2-4 weeks in this country. Big cities like Rome, Paris, London, Berlin etc need between 4-7 days. In both cases this is just enough time to make a scratch at the surface. There is so much to see and do in Europe, 2 months will seem like nothing.
IMO it will be a good plan to pick a max. of 3 countries that you explore in depth and spent the rest of the time hopping around. Say, London (5 days) - Berlin (6 days) - Prague (4 days) - Munich (4 days) - Alps (2 weeks) - Italy (3 weeks) - Paris (5 days) - London.
I know it will be very hard to pick, but please do - you'll get more out of your experience that way.
In terms of flying: it can be a good idea to fly into Frankfurt. It is pretty central and flights are sometimes cheaper to Frankfurt than to other places (Rome, London, Paris, Amsterdam). Plus Ryanair serves a small airport (called Frankfurt-Hahn, HHN) 2 hours by bus outside Frankfurt - this is can be the gateway to cheap flights to all over Europe. (Just don't spent more time than necessary in Frankfurt - 1 full day is ample time to see all the sights in this city.)
On a world-wide scale, travelling in Europe is very safe. Of course, just like elsewhere the big cities have their rough spots. The reason a hostel is cheap can be that it is in a bad area - check before you book. Pickpocketing is a real problem, but I rather have my pockets picket than being faced with a punk willing to shoot me with his gun for small change. Watch your back, have a moneybelt and more than one wallet and everything will be fine.
While you will get a lot of warnings about pickpockets, please do not think that travel in Europe is dangerous. I would travel alone in a heartbeat in Europe, which I probably would not do in the U.S. Just use common sense and a money belt and you will be fine.