If you’ve always dreamed of backpacking in Europe but didn’t know where to start or what to pack for Europe, this article is for you.
The following is a list of essential things to include in your packing list for backpacking in Europe and that will help make your trip an unforgettable experience!
Also in this guide, I’ve included some other useful information including when to go backpacking in Europe, top destinations in Europe, backpacking tips, and much more!
BEST MONTHS TO GO BACKPACKING IN EUROPE
Preparing your packing list for backpacking in Europe is an essential step before traveling – but what about the best months to go to Europe?
While it sounds cliché, there’s no such thing as the wrong time to travel to Europe! When it comes to popularity, summer is the peak season – between May and September with August being the hottest.
Bear in mind that, during this period, costs go up as well. However, the overall ambiance and weather are fantastic during these months, and traveling during peak season is definitely worth it.
Spring and fall are the shoulder seasons in Europe (March to May and September to October, respectively). It’s still warm during this period, but there aren’t as many people.
This is my favorite time of year to visit Europe: the weather is nice, the crowds are smaller, and the costs are lower.
On the other hand, the winter in Europe lasts from November to February. Even as far south as Greece, it can get chilly.
That being said, the Christmas period is a magnificent season – you’ll find Christmas markets and festivals all over!
Daylight hours are shorter north of Scandinavia, although this varies greatly depending on location.
THE 5 TOP DESTINATIONS FOR BACKPACKING IN EUROPE
In Europe, there’s simply plenty to see and do when going backpacking and it can become pretty difficult to know where to go. Europeans love their history and enjoy taking visitors on tours through ancient castles, historic ruins, and awe-inspiring cathedrals which date back centuries ago.
Of course, Europe also features some of the best cuisines in the world which can be found at local restaurants or food markets where fresh produce is sold daily – Needless to say, this is also where you’ll be able to save money on food.
Are you ready to go backpacking in Europe? If so, here are some destinations you should definitely consider.
The Netherlands is a small European country located in the northwest of the continent. It borders Belgium and Germany and is the perfect place to explore for a few days. The capital city, Amsterdam, is the largest city and definitely the most fun.
It has been called “the Venice of North Europe” because it has so many waterways that connect lakes, rivers, and canals. In fact, about one-third of Holland’s total area consists of water.
Besides being a tourist destination for its natural beauty and cultural heritage – which includes some world-famous art museums like the Van Gogh Museum – this small country is also a popular place for international residents to live and work.
While it is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, it has an excellent transportation system that makes it very easy to get around.
PARIS & SOUTHERN FRANCE
You’ll never forget the first time you see Paris. It’s a feeling of awe, wonder, and amazement that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. And if you are coming to France for backpacking, there is no better place to start!
Apart from discovering the capital of France, the southern area offers some great cities and landscapes too. Nice is perfect for those who love beaches and architecture with its charming old town set on a peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Marseille has an excellent food scene that emphasizes fresh seafood dishes as well as more exotic cuisines from Africa and Asia. You can also head south to Arles or Avignon where Roman ruins still dominate the landscape today.
Lastly, the beautiful French Riviera stretches all along the Mediterranean coast of Southern France as it follows the curve of the blue sea from Marseille to Menton.
As one of the best backpacking destinations in Europe, you can spend a few days soaking up some sun on any one of its hundreds of beaches along the Cote d’Azur before heading over to Monaco and Monte Carlo for a taste of royalty.
The food, culture, and architecture in Barcelona are a direct reflection of Spain’s rich history. Apart from that, the food is incredible, it has a vibrant nightlife and plenty to do and see. You could even spend the day at the beach if you want a relaxing day after backpacking tirelessly.
As I mentioned above, Barcelona is home to some of Spain’s best food and, if you’re looking for an incredible dining experience, Barcelona has plenty to offer. The city has arguably the best cuisine in Europe and you’ll enjoy Spanish delicacies no matter where you go.
To sum up, backpacking through Barcelona is a great way to get the feel of the city, see some amazing art and architecture, and eat lots of delicious food.
MILOS & SIFNOS ISLAND
Both Greek islands are known to be some of the most beautiful places in Greece. First and foremost, the beaches in Sifnos are undeniably some of the most stunning ones in Europe, and spending a few days here will always be a good decision.
Secondly, Milos Island is a hidden gem to visit for all types of travelers.
The great advantage of Milos and Sifnos is that it’s easily reachable from Athens by ferry or plane and when you arrive you can enjoy its stunning beaches.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. It has a romantic setting on both sides of the Danube River and its many bridges are especially picturesque at night when they’re illuminated with lights.
Budapest is also an affordable city that offers plenty to do in terms of museums, galleries, historic buildings including Buda Castle and so much more.
Budapest offers visitors an unforgettable experience for all their senses. From the delicious cuisine to their rich culture – it’s impossible not to fall in love with this place!
TIPS FOR BACKPACKING IN EUROPE
The diversity of cultures and scenery throughout Europe is stunning. Experience a city as big as New York or a village as tiny as the one you grew up in, all within an hour’s drive of each other.
Countless points of interest surround you, with beaches to swim at any time of year, ski slopes in winter, golf courses in summer or maybe just stroll along the beach if it’s too chilly.
The old continent purely offers everything from huge cities to unspoiled villages. Of course, your backpacking in Europe checklist is important. But before going, let’s go through the important tips for backpacking in Europe.
PICK THE RIGHT SEASON
If you’re thinking of going on vacation during the peak summer season, consider heading east – the Balkan coastline, Slovenian mountains, and Greek islands are all amazing places and are more affordable than other European destinations.
Head for the Mediterranean in the fall when tourist traffic tapers off. The famous coasts and islands of southern Europe are less crowded this time of year, while Spain and Italy come into their own.
Wintertime is a season of world-class skiing and big New Year parties.
Springtime is when it’s worth traveling to the northern parts of Europe such as the Netherlands, Scandinavia, France, the United Kingdom, and Dublin Ireland where you’ll find long days and cheaper costs.
In smaller towns in Ireland such as Limerick, you might encounter a bit of rain, which can turn an ordinary trip into a much more romantic one, without the crowds.
STAY IN AFFORDABLE HOTELS
Accommodation is one of the most important expenditures to consider when planning a trip to Europe, but it doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. In fact, despite the fact that many European countries are more expensive, the hostel system ensures that there is always a low-cost alternative available – and some of them are really amazing.
Homestays may frequently provide you with a greater value for money than hotels, so they’re another option to explore.
The principle of backpacking was born to travel cheap and this is certainly possible in Europe despite the costs.
DON’T HESITATE TO TAKE THE TRAIN
By train, you’ll enjoy the richness of Europe at street level. Plus, if you sleep on the train overnight and make your longest journeys overnight, you’ll save money on accommodation expenses.
Most nations can be visited with a Eurail pass that covers most of Europe.
Take a few basic safety measures to stay safe. It’s not a good idea to walk around with an obviously pricey camera or smartphone out in the open, and keep your eyes on your luggage at all times (and your hands, if necessary).
Europe is not a risky continent, however, pickpockets are frequent in big cities and popular tourist attractions.
In hostels and on trains, always keep an eye open when possible; if you’re taking an overnight train, padlocking your bags to the luggage rack increases the chance they’ll be there when you get up. It’s also a good idea to make a photocopy of your passport and store it somewhere online.
27 ITEMS TO ADD TO YOUR PACKING LIST FOR EUROPE
Europe is the perfect place to go backpacking for all ages. Whether you are looking for an adventure, want to learn about cultures and customs, or just need a change of scenery, the old continent has it all.
It’s no wonder that it attracts over 700 million visitors each year—it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth!
But before you go off half-cocked with your packing list full of items you think you will need only to find they are unavailable in Europe (and thus leaving them behind), take some time out and prepare yourself by reading this article.
Here are 27 things I recommend adding to your packing list for backpacking in Europe!
BEST ELECTRONICS TO BRING WHEN BACKPACKING IN EUROPE
Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to block out noise and enjoy music or movies without being disturbed by the noise around.
The ability to block out the noise of the plane, train, or bus environment allows one to relax and unwind while listening to their favorite music.
Many airlines now offer complimentary inflight entertainment, but having your own headphones will guarantee peace and quiet so you don’t have to hear the cabin noises during takeoff and landing. This is also very useful for watching movies on long flights!
The Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones are some of the best on the market with premium features like 30-hour battery life, superior call quality, multi-device pairing abilities, and, lastly, industry-leading noise-cancellation quality.
MOBILE HOTSPOT ROUTER
When it comes to traveling around Europe, one of the most essential things is your internet connection.
That’s why I highly recommend getting Glocalme, the world’s first GPS + Wi-Fi enabled SIM card that will let you stay connected with friends and family even when you’re on the other side of the globe. It’s simple to use and makes traveling easier than ever.
Whether you’re on the bus traveling from one country to another or want to avoid the hassle of buying a new sim card in each country where you’re going, a mobile hotspot router is exactly the accessory you need to add to your Europe packing list.
POWER BANK (MUST-HAVE EUROPE PACKING LIST ITEM)
Taking a power bank on your travels is simply essential. You might not think you’ll need one until you’re stranded in the airport or the city with a dead phone, laptop, tablet, or camera-then it’s too late! Have peace of mind that your devices will be charged when you need them most.
The best one you can get is the Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAh. It’s a premium portable charger that can power up your laptop, your tablet, and your mobile phone on the go.
You will get 5.5 charges for a Samsung phone and 6.2 charges for an iPhone. Needless to say, that’s some serious travel gear to take with you. Did I mention it’s lightweight with a great design? Check it out now!
It’s important to pack universal plug adapters when you are traveling internationally. They vary between countries but type C is generally the one that they use in Europe – apart from the UK, so it’s best to be prepared beforehand.
Bringing a travel adapter that will allow you to plug your devices into the wall wherever you’re heading to. This way, you won’t have any issues with running out of battery juice when you’re far away from home!
The EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter is my personal favorite and I bring it everywhere I go. It’s very affordable, you can charge 6 devices at a time, and it’s equipped with overheating protection. It’s also compact enough to pack in your backpack without compromising any precious space.
YOUR CAMERA & LENSES
You need to make sure to take your camera and lenses when you’re traveling, not only to bring fantastic memories of your trip back home but also to shoot great photos to share on social media with friends and family.
Sure, smartphones nowadays take great photos but it’s simply not comparable to a DSLR camera quality.
Of course, apart from the camera and the lenses, don’t forget your essential camera accessories when going on a backpacking tour around Europe.
Related Article: Best Cameras For Blogging
KINDLE EBOOK READER
Reading books on your Kindle is a great way to pass time when going on an adventure flying or on the train without being burdened by the weight of your old paperbacks.
It’s easier to take with you on vacation, pack in your bag if you’re commuting, and store neatly wherever you please for all those times when you just need to curl up with a good book!
Also, Kindles are now waterproof and you’ll be able to read your favorite while taking a bath at your hotel after a long day of traveling. All things considered, your Kindle is one of the most essential items to add to your packing list for backpacking in Europe.
YOUR TABLET OR LAPTOP
Nowadays, you can use your tablet to do pretty much anything – search for the best places to go, take great photos, and even work online, just like a laptop. But also read books, watch movies, listen to music and so much more.
Taking your tablet or your laptop with you when traveling to the old continent will add some weight to your backpack but it will be very useful, especially if you’re a digital nomad working and traveling.
Many European cities have free WiFi all around and that will help you get connected at all times. That is, needless to say, a great reason to include your tablet or laptop on your Europe packing list.
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
Some people might think that they’re immune to the perils of data loss, but in reality, it can happen to anyone. Sudden system corruption or a lost laptop are just two examples of things that could result in your data being lost forever if you don’t have an external hard drive for travel.
I can’t travel without my WD Elements External Hard Drive and I recommend getting your hands on one, too, so you know you’ll always have a copy of your files stored in case something happens.
It’s affordable, it’s reliable, you can transfer your data very quickly, and it even has a beautiful design while offering up to 4TB of memory. This is simply one of the best external hard drives on the market.
YOUR NORMAL BACKPACKING ESSENTIALS
Backpacking is the perfect opportunity to explore the world around you. With the best bag for backpacking in Europe, you’ll be able to carry everything you need with you on your journey whether it’s just for a weekend or 2 months long.
I mentioned the NOMATIC Travel Backpack Water Resistant 30L a million times before as it’s by far my favorite of them all.
It’s comfortable, it looks modern and professional, and it has the compartments and space to keep everything well organized for a trip abroad.
Apart from that, it has 20 different pockets and you’ll be able to store pretty much anything you can think of. When you go backpacking around Europe, you definitely need a comfortable backpack and this is the one you should give a go.
Related Article: Best Travel Backpacks For Men & Women
EARPLUGS & A SLEEP MASK
Whether you’re planning to travel by train, by bus, or backpacking through countries with tons of tourists, having earplugs and a sleep mask will help you sleep peacefully. Backpacking can be exhausting and you should be well-rested for your trip!
The MZOO sleep eye mask and the Loop noise reduction earplugs are your best friends. These will help make sure that noise and light don’t disturb you during your nap on the plane or in the hotel room. Plus, they’ll give relief from any noise or bright lights when you’re trying to get some shut-eye after exploring all day long.
If you are looking for a travel hack to make packing easier, try packing cubes. They are like little suitcases that can be compressed and neatly fit into your luggage to keep everything organized.
Packing cubes will save you time by keeping your clothes wrinkle-free and easy to find compared to a normal backpack.
The best packing cubes for backpacking are the BAGAIL 8 Set Packing Cubes. They come with a 12-month warranty and are made from high-quality materials to protect your belongings.
They’re also lightweight and made for easy organization so you can travel light and efficiently.
Lastly, they are available in multiple colors to please everyone and to fit even in the best travel backpack for Europe.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re traveling and it is so much easier in Europe since tap water is drinkable pretty much everywhere. You’ll save a ton of plastic, will always have some water ready to take your vitamins or medications, and will also save some money.
The Brita Plastic Water Filter Bottle is the one that I will always recommend when backpacking. I am a huge fan of this reusable water bottle because it’s better for the environment, it saves on cost and it helps keep you healthy.
It also has a filter to remove any bacteria as well as a very practical incorporated straw inside.
Rain jackets can help you when traveling around Europe and are some of the most overlooked items. A rain jacket is one of those things that we wish we never needed, but it’s a necessity for many people and occasions.
If you’re backpacking through Europe on a budget, you’re probably going to pick the low season, and who says low season in Europe says rainy days.
As far as a quality rain jacket goes, the Columbia Men’s Watertight Jacket is the most comfortable, durable, and waterproof accessory you can get. Columbia has built a strong reputation over the years and this rain jacket is exactly what you need in your packing list for backpacking in Europe.
AIR COMPRESSION SOCKS
Air compression socks can be essential for traveling. If you’re looking to take a flight, there are some items that you’ll have to pack beforehand, but one thing that people often overlook is their own socks.
Air compression socks are designed to help your legs feel less tired and swollen by reducing the accumulation of fluids in your feet, which could lead to pain or discomfort during long travels. And this is exactly where the Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks excel.
With over 65,000 positive reviews on Amazon, their modern and unique style, and the comfortable and durable material, you simply can’t go wrong with one pair of these on your flight to Europe.
What could happen if you don’t bring along a padlock? You might find yourself without one when you want to secure your items, which is the last thing you want whilst traveling!
Having a good padlock can protect your belongings and ensure they stay safe whether you keep your items in your hotel room, at the train station, or anywhere else.
The first thing you should do before preparing your packing list for backpacking in Europe is to make sure to pack a quality padlock – it’s important!
COPY OF YOUR PASSPORT & DOCUMENTS
A passport is necessary when traveling, and we all know that. But making a copy of it and taking it everywhere you go and keeping another copy at your hotel is a wise choice.
Pickpockets can be everywhere and you wouldn’t be the first one to get your documents taken from you.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance is a must-have for any traveler, no matter the length or destination of your trip. There are many different types of policies available to protect you from medical expenses, lost luggage, and canceled flights all while granting you peace of mind.
Regardless of what type of policy you choose, make sure to do your research and pick a company that’s been in business for a while and has received positive reviews from its clients.
My personal pick is World Nomads Travel Insurance and I simply can’t travel without it anymore. They’ve got me covered in all situations abroad – lost luggage, missed flights, medical emergencies, and much more.
As we mentioned previously, it isn’t uncommon to find pickpockets in some popular tourist attractions in Europe.
For this reason, a money belt will allow you to explore different countries without worrying about being robbed. It’s easy to use and a great investment in your future adventures.
All things considered, a money belt is simply one of the best items you can add to your Europe packing list.
Sure, you may have the best travel backpack for Europe, but having an extra layer of safety is definitely a good choice.
ESSENTIAL CLOTHES TO PACK FOR BACKPACKING
COMFORTABLE HIKING SHOES
Hiking shoes are a must-have if you’re traveling and planning to go up the mountains like the Alps or the Dolomites. With these, you’ll be able to walk on any terrain, from grass to gravel or even mud without feeling the ground beneath your feet.
Hiking shoes are also waterproof and lightweight, which is essential for a comfortable walking experience.
With over 20,000 positive reviews and some durable materials that will make them last forever, the Merrell hiking shoes are your safest bet. They’re lightweight, numerous colors are available, and the price is great for such great quality shoes.
In plain words, you simply can’t travel to Europe with comfortable hiking shoes and you can’t go wrong with Merrell in your backpacking in Europe checklist.
It’s important to protect your eyes when you’re traveling, especially during the summer when the UV rays are at their strongest. One of the most important ways to do this is by wearing sunglasses.
Sunglasses can shield your eyes from the sun, as well as UV rays and glare which protects your eyes from getting overly dry and uncomfortable. It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses with polarized lenses, which will cut out reflections!
While they’re not a must-essential item to add to your Europe packing list, I highly recommend taking a pair with you in order to avoid unpleasant surprises like dry eyes or headaches.
Needless to say, you should always pack more than one t-shirt for your next trip. You never know what the weather will be like in Europe and it’s always good to prepare for the worst.
Pack 3 or 4 t-shirts to make sure that you’re prepared for your next vacation, and don’t forget to pack some short and long jeans too!
You see, countries in Europe have very different weather and it can change from very hot to very cold in the same month. For instance, Southern Italy can be very hot in April – but Iceland or Norway will still be very cold for this time of the year.
SHORTS & SKIRTS
Women often face the question of what to wear when traveling. It’s not always easy to find the perfect balance between comfort and style, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
But bringing comfortable shorts and skirts is always a great idea when going to Europe.
Europeans are fashionable but you can’t always look your best when backpacking, therefore, choosing your most comfortable pieces of clothes and storing them in your packing cubes is the best choice you can make.
TOILETRIES TO PACK WHEN BACKPACKING
Backpacking is a fantastic way to explore the world. We all know that it’s one of the best ways to travel if you want to see things up close and personal – but what should you pack when you go?
These are the toiletries you should include in your Europe packing list.
Sunscreen can be your best friend in times of need. It has been proven that people who live in warmer climates and go out to the beach or spend a lot of time in the sun are more likely to get skin cancer.
To prevent this, it’s important to wear sunscreen when you’re constantly exposed to ultraviolet rays from sun exposure. In order to stay safe, put on some SPF 30 which will protect you from harmful UVB rays and even UVA ones too.
The EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen is the best sunscreen you could ever get and will protect you everywhere you go. It’s clear so you won’t get that white sunscreen layer, it’s strong enough for any activity, beach, or mountain that is, and you’ll stay away from potential issues on your skin.
In plain words, adding sunscreen to your packing list for Europe is one of the best things you can do for your skin and health.
SHAMPOO AND BODY WASH
You might say, I can find shampoo and body wash at the hotel where I’ll stay, why should I pack those?
Well, you just have to remember that it’s not always easy to find things you’re used to, so it’s important to pack some of your favorite necessities for your trip.
If you’re going camping, you will need your shampoo and your soap to take a shower and feel refreshed. That being said, choose some travel-sized containers that will help you get through the airport or on the road to make your life easier.
With the pandemic still striking in some countries in Europe, it goes without saying that hand sanitizer is one of the most important items to add to your packing list in Europe in 2021.
Purell hand sanitizer is your safest bet when it comes to killing germs and bacteria. Purell is also the brand trusted by professionals in hospitals and I simply recommend bringing some with you.
MINI FIRST AID KIT
A first aid kit is definitely an item to bring with you. However, first aid kits are usually bulky and take up lots of space – for this reason, the mini version of it is your best choice for backpacking.
The Johnson and Johnson first aid kit is the most complete and affordable first aid kit that you can get. It contains everything you need to keep you out of trouble, from slight headaches to unexpected injuries on your travels.
With 110 pieces, it’s one of these items you should definitely add to your backpacking in Europe checklist.
Taking medication while traveling is a good idea for many reasons, but here are the most important ones. The first one is because you may have a headache or stomach issues while traveling and that’s simply one element that will ruin your day.
Secondly, if you have food poisoning while traveling solo, you might simply not have the energy to go out and buy Electrolytes for the lost water, and having your medication kit can be lifesaving.
To help you anywhere you go on your travels, TravelPakRx has brought one of the most useful packs to the market with its basic travel medication kit.
It has Acetaminophen, Bismuth, Diphenhydramine, Loperamide, Meclizine, and Electrolytes to help in all situations from normal migraines to food poisoning and more.
WHAT NOT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR EUROPE PACKING LIST
Of course, you want to pack as light as possible and leave everything unnecessary at home – anything that weighs you down and doesn’t offer any additional benefits for your trip is a waste of space and weight.
Here are some of the items that I do not recommend taking with you.
The best way to avoid carrying too many heavy books is to store them in a backpack in your car or at home and take them with you when you travel. You’ll be able to read more than one book and won’t have to worry about taking up space in your luggage, which will free up room for other items!
TOWELS AND BULKY CLOTHES
You should never take your big towels with you on a backpacking trip. You need to be able to pack light at all times so you don’t have to worry about lugging around heavy clothes. And trust me, your hotel will more than likely provide them for no additional cost.
TOO MUCH MAKE-UP
One of the best tips to all the ladies that are preparing their packing list for backpacking in Europe is not to carry too much makeup. Of course, the basics are important like foundation and concealer, but all the other unnecessary items will be better off back home.
You just don’t want to add weight to the wrong items, even when going with the best bag for backpacking in Europe.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!
- BOOKING.COM – search and book accommodation worldwide
- SKYSCANNER – compare and book cheap flights to anywhere
- VIATOR – find tickets, tours, and experiences around the world
- BOOKAWAY – book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance
- RENTAL CARS – search all rental cars in your next destination
- GROUP TRIPS – join one of my epic small group trips
- TRAVEL INSURANCE – purchase World Nomads travel insurance
- TRAVEL MONEY CARD – get a Wise card today for free
Looking for more? Check out my Travel Resources page for further help with your trip planning!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions at all please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
THANKS FOR READING
Hey friend, thanks for reading this guide!
Please know this post may contain affiliate links. When making a purchase through one of my links, I earn a small kickback at no extra cost to you and it’s a big help to keep the site up and running. Rest assured, I only promote products and services that I personally use and recommend.