backpacking-europe

Europe is a fantastic place to travel to on a budget and there are also plenty of upmarket hostels if you can’t quite bring yourself to stick to low-budget shared dormitory offerings. Below are our top 3 cities to visit for a cultured trip on a shoestring. All three are backpacker friendly, easy to navigate and have plenty of free attractions to visit, plus a good selection of traditional hostels, as well as some more usual ones if you’re feeling a little adventurous!

Berlin

A fascinating city to visit, especially if you have an interest in WWII, Berlin has a great choice of architectural and historical sites of interest. Even if you aren’t too into your history there are some great galleries to visit and free walking tours run each day from a meeting spot next to the Brandenburg Gate. There’s a busy nightlife scene too, with some amazing club locations including an old underground station! The metro is extremely efficient and easy to use and buses and trams also operate in the city making it a breeze to travel in.

Must see
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe –Visitors are free to wander through this haunting architectural memorial dedicated to victims of the holocaust, constructed from over 2,000 concrete slabs
Berliner Dom – The stunning domes of the Berlin Cathedral attract thousands of visitors every year. Even if you don’t want to look inside, the building itself is worth a visit
The Berlin Wall – You can’t visit Berlin and not seek out the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Dedicated tours can give you a full history, but you can just as easily locate the remaining sections on a map

Must eat
Currywurst is a local delicacy and a good option for a cheap evening meal. Pair the chopped sausage meat smothered in ketchup and curry powder with Sauerkraut for a delicious dinner on the go.

Prague

A favourite with stag parties, Prague is a real cultural gem not just a great drinking destination. The city is divided into two parts by the Vltava River – the cobbled hillside of the Old Town houses Prague Castle, whilst the other side has a great selection of shops and bars. You can choose to travel by tram or metro, but it is just as easy to get around on foot – just be wary of pickpockets when out and about. Prague is a particularly good place to visit in spring and summer when the surrounding landscape is sunny and beautifully green.

Must see
The view from Charles Bridge – the main bridge into Old Town, it provides a stunning view along the river and of the majestic rooftops of the old baroque buildings in the Old Town
The Petrin Tower – dubbed the mini Eiffel Tower, the Petrin Tower is at the top of the hill overlooking the Old Town. Catch the hillside Funicular to the top (a novelty in itself) to be rewarded with some breath-taking views of the city
The Astronomical Clock – a hit with tourists, the clock is built into the Prague Town Hall and puts on a charming mechanical display of the apostles each hour which regularly attracts crowds

Must eat
Try the traditional dish of goulash – a hearty stew flavoured with paprika and served with dumplings which is washed down particularly with one of the Czech Republic’s famed selection of beers.

Backpacking-budapest

Budapest

Budapest is a wonderfully varied city with a great array of attractions and very friendly locals, and its famed ‘ruin pubs’ – bars transformed from derelict buildings – have become a popular part of the city’s nightlife. The River Danube runs through the centre of this busy capital and trams are the easiest way to get around, but if the weather is good it’s just as pleasant to walk or cycle. The leafy Margaret Island, with its medieval ruins, also makes a peaceful afternoon get away from the bustle of the town.

Must see
The view from Castle Hill – This does require a fair bit of walking, but the view from the top is worth it and there are plenty of smaller viewpoints to stop at along the way
Stop by the Széchenyi Baths – Don your swimming gear and relax in the historic outdoor City Baths, a regular pastime with locals, and take in the grand surroundings of the largest bathhouse in Budapest
Walk the Fisherman’s Bastion – Partly destroyed during WWII, the now restored Bastion runs along the Buda bank and provides some amazing panoramic views across the Danube and Margaret Island

Must eat
Sample the Hungarian speciality of Dobos cake, a sweet but dry cake that is available in most bakeries and supermarkets. Also try the Apricot Palinka, a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy which makes a warming after dinner drink.

To help you reminisce on your backpacking adventures why not record your favourite European destinations with a personalised European Traveller Map from Map Marketing. It’s the perfect way to remember your favourite holidays!

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