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How to plan a backpacking trip in Europe for 1 month

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1. Posted by russwongg (Budding Member 15 posts) 1y

Hi everyone,

This is my first backpacking trip that i'll be planning to go for in July. I plan to travel for about 25 days before finally flying to Belgium for Tomorrowland from Barcelona Airport.

I'll be flying from Singapore and our first destination currently is planned for Greece. I would want to dive and spend about 2-3 days at the beach to just relax and then move to Athens to sightsee the temples and area. I have heard that Mykonos is an amazing beach. Is it enough to spend 3 Days in Athens?

Next we plan to fly to Italy and then to France and finally end up at Barcelona. We do not need to go to the main touristy places but what places are considered FUN or exciting or beautiful and worth going (e.g not a small town with nothing to do).

Am i being ambitious if i plan on roughly 25 days for all my destinations? Also, for inter europe flight, is it preferable to book before leaving my home country, or do i book my inter europe flights when i reach my destination. For example, booking my flight from athens to Italy when i'm in athens itself.

If you could use your expertise and introduce me some amazing places that i absolutely should not miss out on please advise me! I will be very very grateful.

P.s. I'm sorry if this post is very jumpy and confusing.

Thanks for your time!!

2. Posted by askgudmundsen (Respected Member 59 posts) 1y

First of all: Drop all that flying!!
Plane tickets gets more expensive the closer to the take off date you get - meaning not to get ripped you need to buy them from home... And that will kill one of the best things with backpacking: The fact that you can plan as you go along... Wanna stay an extra day in Rome - no problem.. Meet somebody who told you about an amazing place? Spend go there instead of where you initially planned...

So my first advise would be skip the planes and go by train and bus instead.. This way you will be able to take the train between your destinations.. Often to no (or very small) extra costs once you got the card...
Europe is a small place, especially when you plan to spend most of you time in Southern Europe... The upsides to the train are plentiful...
-You have more freedom to plan as you go.
-You'll see some of Europe while you travel
-You'll have an easier time to get to meet people on the rail
-You can bring your own alcohol
-Night trains can cut down the cost of hostels

Concerning money I'd focus more on what I have and would be able to spend (after buying the (plane) tickets).. After that figure out how much money you're gonna spend (can't help you with that, never travelled long-time in Europe) and you know for how long you can be away... Most guide books have estimates on daily budgets (e.g. Lonely Planet's Europe and Europe on a shoestring)...

Which brings me to you last question: What to see... I usually get a guidebook/spend time on wiki-travel to find places I wanna visit and write on a piece of paper.. Then put the guidebook at the bottom of you backpack and figure out how to check everything off your list by talking to locals, hostel managers and fellow travellers... And only dig the guidebook up when you're really lost...

When you know how much money you got and what you want to see where (and how much time you need to get around to the different places) odds are that you don't have time fore everything... So start cutting stuff off your wanna-see and wanna-do lists... Leave a couple of days at the end as backup in case you get delayed or stay longer somewhere...

There's many ways to plan a trip - this is my 50 cents... The hardest part is always to actually go.. To for now, just concentrate on getting those plane tickets out of Singapore...

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Feb-2013, at 10:43 by askgudmundsen ]

3. Posted by Andyf (Respected Member 335 posts) 1y

Hi,

Itinerary looks ok to me. Those short hop flights are easy enough and if you're trying to pack in the destinations in a limited time it makes sense to me to do a 1hr flight instead of 15hrs on a train.

3 days in Athens is, to me, plenty to see the big hits.

Italy - the big hits of Rome, Venice, Florence are famous for good reason. Seeing the big sights doesn't necessarily take very long but it's nice to immerse yourself in the places a bit.

But I'd probably suggest if you're doing Paris to do Italy -> Barcelona -> Paris then it's a short train ride to Belgium and you can drop one of the flights.

4. Posted by budgeteurotrip (Budding Member 38 posts) 1y

In my opinion, if you are going to spend some time in greece you should go to italy by ferry and have a complete tour of this wonderful country, starting from South italy, where you can find nice beaches, historical sites and cities, art, culture...whatever you want(60% of world beauties are in italy and it has the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 47 sites)...

5. Posted by russwongg (Budding Member 15 posts) 1y

Hi everyone, i have just updated my new plan and destinations. Please advise me if it makes sense or are good places thanks :) :)

Currently, i will fly to Athens and then spend around 2-3 days touring the city before moving over to the islands crete/ios/kos (not sure if i should include mykonos, any tips on how i should choose my islands?). This will probably add up to about a week in Greece before taking a boat to Italy.

It seems that boats from the greece islands do not go to Sicily. I would love to visit Catania, Palermo and Mt etna, but if the boats do not service there, i will boat down to Bari then fly/train to Naples, Salerno (mt vesuvius), Amalfi coast and probably spend around 5 days there.

Next i will travel to Rome, Umbria and Abruzzo (as i heard Umbria and Abruzzo are GEMS) following that i will go to tuscany/florence (still deciding which will be nicer) and then to either Cinque terre or Pisa.

All of this will probably span 2- 2.5 weeks

After italy, i am thinking of going to Nice then Marseilles and finally to Barcelona as my flight is from barcelona so i can't do italy -> barce -> paris :(

Would love to visit paris but don't think i can fit it into my schedule.

Is this obtainable and are there areas that i should fly instead of train as it seems that my schedule is super packed

6. Posted by mariha2912 (Budding Member 68 posts) 1y

Your Grreek islands plan doesn't makes sense.Time to go back on drawiing board.
In case you wonder why, try to answer this...
How you plan to connect among those islands and are you aware how long that takes/

7. Posted by hannahk_x (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

I agree with Mariha2912, Greece isn't great internal flights. Even very popular tourist destinations i.e. Zakynthos has extremely tiny airport. You have to use buses and boats to get to most places within Greece. Buses can be extremely time consuming.

8. Posted by russwongg (Budding Member 15 posts) 1y

How should I plan my Greek Islands? This is one part which I'm completely lost. How would you recommend I plan my Greek Islands?

One island that I definitely want to visit is Kos.As it seems to be the best aamongst them all.

I had the opinion that i could easily boar beyween islands

9. Posted by mariha2912 (Budding Member 68 posts) 1y

Greek Islands are teamed together into group of islands. Generaly speaking, ferries connect islands on the same group with mainland but ferries among different island groups are nearly non existent. In summer season there are more ferries added for tourism purposes, but still it is not as easy to move around different groups of islands. Ios is located on Cyclades, Kos on Dodecannese and Crete, well, Crete is Crete. Ferry traveling is time consuming too. For example -I hope you have look on a map!- Ios is the closer to Athens area from those islands you mention. It still takes a good 4-7 hours to reach Ios in a ferry, depending on ferry type and specific route. Last time I went Kos to Piraeus on May 2011, ferry ride lasted 14 hours. Kos has an airport, so you can always fly there from Athens. You could visit one more island at the vinicity I guess such as Nysiros, Chalki, Symi or even Rhodes, but yout time is limited. Most importantly, I am not sure what you mean "Kos is the best among them" . What exactly you plan to see/do on the islands?

In order to connect to Italy on a ferry, you have to look on western Greece. Still no Sicily, only Barri, Angona and Brindici and Venice. The only islnad with such connection is Corfu on Ionian sea as north-west as it gets, and not convenient to your other destinations.

I am not sure how in depth have you research those destinations. What is the point to spend less than a full day on whichever island even if it was possible to connect dots? Crete is huge in comparison to the other islands you mention. Even your whole week is not enough for Crete. 4 nights/3 full days is a bare minimum to sample a bit of what a small island has to offer on my opinion.

10. Posted by mariha2912 (Budding Member 68 posts) 1y

I want to add that as far as ferry schedules are officialy announced, they'll appear in www.gtp.gr . Till then, you may want to have a look on www.openseas.gr and research past dates. This might give you an idea of what services were available last summer, but of course no guarandees they'll apply next summer. Although not 100% accurate, I think Thomas Cook Island Hopping guidebook is a good start for beginers on Greek Islands too. It will give you an idea of how ferry system works.