I'm spending some time in Madrid this summer and plan on backpacking for a few weeks afterward. Most likely for 3 weeks, maybe 4 once I finalize my schedule. I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on a potential travel itinerary? I've never been to Europe/am not sure of the typical flow of travel. I was thinking something along the lines of Spain-> France-> Italy-> Germany->Maybe finish in Amsterdam? I really am not sure of timing/travel/hostels so any tips would be awesome.
if you're staying one month i think it's possible to visit all the countries you've mentioned, 3 weeks won't be enough though, at least if you want to have a real taste of the places you're going to visit!
i don't know if you want some advice on places to visit, but Barcelona, Florence, Venice, Rome, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam are definitely worth a visit. and while you can easily see Venice or Florence in 1-2 days, you'll need at least 3-4 days for the other cities. the south of France offers many beautiful places along the coast that shouldn't be missed too and the Cinqueterre region in Italy is just breathtaking. of course it also depends on whether you prefer to spend time in cities or nature.
of the places mentioned, Italy is the most expensive concerning the hostels. you can find decent hostels from 8-15€ in Spain, 12-15€ in France, Germany and Holland but in Italy the prices are usually higher, especially during the summer. Check HostelWorld, they usually show many hostels ranked and with reviews. I don't know if you know the Couchsurfing community but it is a wonderful way to save some money on accomodation and meet local people that will sometimes show you their place, other times cook for you, or just be a company and offer you a couch, a bed or a space in the floor. if you are open-minded and willing to experience a new way of travelling you should definitely give it a try!
the best way to move from one place to the other is the train in my opinion, although it can be expensive. you should check the eurail option, but sometimes it gets even more expensive with the pass than just buying the ticket. For some lines you can do it far in advance and get discounts. Here are the train websites for each country where you can search for timetables and prices:
another option are the low cost airlines such as Easyjet or Ryanair where you can usually find cheap flights between most of those cities but again the summer isn't the best time to travel cheap in Europe.
i hope i could help you!
Prices of accommodation usually climbs around the beginning of July when the schools are on holiday so maybe June? Book early to get best prices and best rooms.
For cheap flights you need to book them more than four weeks in advance as the prices start to go up as seats fill.
For just 3-4 weeks you are trying to do too much as you could spend all that time in any of those countries.
Maybe Spain along the south of France into Italy? Unless you want to fly everywhere, just spending a few days in each place?