From making new friends to gaining confidence on your own, backpacking has many benefits. Nothing beats having the ability and confidence to plan, budget and execute a trip. Pushing yourself beyond your limits to experience seeing some of the world is arguably one of the most important things to do when you are young, so these tried and tested routes are a great starting point for any first-time solo traveller planning your first budget trip.
The France and Spain route
You can kick off your trip in the French capital, wander along the seine, go up the Eiffel Tower at sunset and get a taste of the centuries of history at your fingertips. You can start with a donation-based walking tour (usually suggested between €5-10) to get a taste of highlights of Paris history. Then stop off at Galleries Laffeyette for some luxury (window) shopping and breathtaking interiors - don’t forget to head up to the top floor for a view across Paris.
Next, take a 2-hour 30-minute train to Bordeaux, the wine capital of France. You can truly experience the history, manufacturing and taste of wine at La Cité du Vin , an interactive wine museum and you can taste fresh local foods at Les Halles Bacalan . For a magical interactive experience, visit Les Bassins des Luminères , a World War Two submarine base reimagined as the largest digital art centre in France which is host to inspiring displays.
A 3-hour train from Bordeaux, you’ll find the fairytale-esque city of Carcassone. Home to Cité de Carcassonne , a medieval citadel, with outstanding historical tours of the castle, beautiful views of the far-off Pyrenees (as pictured above) and a wealth of beautiful photo spots. This is the ideal spot to live out your fairytale dreams while exploring the history of the castle and citadel.
From Carcassonne, you can reach Barcelona in 5 hours by bus. Here, you can let loose, and party the night away in some of the best techno clubs in Europe. Make sure to visit Razzmatazz and INPUT for the best techno and don’t forget to try some of the coolest bars in Europe - starting with Dow Jones . Make sure to not miss the Moco Museum or Barcelona Cable Car for insane views across the city.
The Central Europe route
Start off on a high in Budapest with the Buda Castle Funicular , a cable car transporting you from the bank of the Danube to Buda Castle. Although it only takes minutes, the funicular is a fun experience which offers epic views and easy access to the castle. Then visit the Hungarian National Gallery, and Central Market Hall and don’t forget a nighttime boat trip to experience the impressive views along the Danube - these can range from a dinner cruise to, a Hungarian wine-tasting cruise or a wild booze cruise.
Heading North of the Danube to Vienna, you can find incredible architecture, delicious food and an insane history. Start with a visit to the famous, Schönbrunn Palace , and discover the history of the city with a walking tour from the Hofburg. For the art lover, the Albertina is a must-visit with a wealth of incredible art to goggle at in awe. Be sure to get lunch at Café Central, famous for having hosted a number of famous names including Trotsky and Freud, I loved the Vegane Wiener Krautfleckerl. Finally, if visiting between 1st July and 3rd September, look up the Music Film Festival for free open-air sowings of musical highlights every evening at the Rathausplatz.
Next, take a walk along the Vltava River, experience the magical atmosphere of the Charles River and visit Prague's narrowest alleyway, so narrow that it uses a traffic light system for people going in different directions. With relatively affordable prices and bussing nightlife, Prague is well known as the ultimate budget backpacker destination.
Finally, take a 4.5-hour train to Berlin where you can try your luck at gaining entry into one of the most hyped techno clubs in the world, Berghain . Make sure to check the Instagram account @berghainlinelive for updated information on the status of the line to ensure that you arrive at the right time. Outside of incognito nighttime adventures, don’t miss a walking tour to discover the wartime history of Berlin and make sure to visit Museum Island for some of the most incredible museums in Europe.