Traveling to Europe and Need Advice!

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 12, 2011 5:42 AM GMT
    Hi Guys. I will be backpacking in Europe for the first time from June 8th to June 23rd. I have already purchased my airfare in and out of Belgium, but have absolutely no idea what to do, where to stay, which cities or countries to visit, etc... Do any of you know about youth hostels, good European travel sites, friends who would be willing to have a visitor for a day or two? I have no set plans yet and would greatly appreciate any advice you can give. I just finished college so my trip is going to be very low budget. I'm just looking to meet some great people and have fun as my last trip before I start school again for 4 more years. Again, thanks in advance for any ideas you can give me!
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    May 12, 2011 6:26 AM GMT
    Without knowing your interests, I can only offer generalized recommendations.
    If you've never been to Europe, hit the big cities-- London, Paris, and Amsterdam. I'd recommend Berlin, Prague, and Barcelona, too. You probably don't want to do all three, given your limited timeframe.
    I haven't backpacked in Europe in years so the places I liked may not be around or might be dumps now. Without someone else offering first-hand account of some good hostels, spend a few bucks and buy a guide book that covers the places you want to visit. Lonely Planet and Let's Go! are pretty good ones geared for young adults. In addition to hostel reviews, they'll give you maps, tips for dining, help with finding out about nightlife, and tips on travel sites.

    Are you interested in historic sites? WWII battlefields? Art museums? Nightlife? Hanging out in a different culture? Shopping? Seeing festivals?
  • Poolboy44

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    May 12, 2011 11:41 AM GMT
    Hit up Barcelona. It's got lots of things to see during the day, a beach if you feel like relaxing (that is if you can stand the people trying to sell you beer and massages all over the beach), and the night scene is pretty amazing too. Just try not to stay in an area called Raval, it's kinda sketchy, and it's huge for pick pocketing so be careful with that. Still worth the trip.

    I'd hit up Amsterdam, that's a pretty sweet place. I loved it there when I was there for 4 days; but 4 days was enough for me.

    Paris and Rome were pretty nice, big spot to hit up so you can look there.

    Venice was nice but not too much to do except wander around the cool canals and eat AMAZING italian food.

    If you can get up to the Basque country in Spain it's really beautiful and a cool place to explore. 3 days in San Sebastian and Bilbao is nice.

    Ireland's a pretty cool place to hit up as well. Dublin, Galway and Cork/Blarney would probably be the places I'd send you there.

    I can't really say where else to visit because I haven't been there but London seemed like a nice place to go. I've heard amazing things about Prague and about Istanbul. Have fun!!!


    ****(Look into a Eurorail pass if you want to travel via train, and if you book flights be VERY VERY careful with Ryanair because although they are cheap the make their money off of fees they'll charge you for overweight luggage or even "oversized" carry ons; which I've seen happen even when they are not really overweight!)
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    May 12, 2011 11:56 AM GMT
    Regarding places to stay, you should check out http://www.couchsurfing.org/. It may sound sketchy, but I know people who swear by it. Essentially people put their couches/extra beds up for people to crash upon in various cities. It's a great way to get to know some local people and really experience the country. It is really safe, as they have that as one of their top priorities.

    It's a pretty sweet community and you could possibly save money by surfing.

    Have lots of fun and take lots of pictures BUT don't be glued to the view screen of your camera because you'll miss out on drinking in the beauty with your own eyes.
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    May 12, 2011 1:12 PM GMT
    Wherevere you finally decide to go, READ, READ, and Read more about their histories and culture, whether books, e-books or websites. It will make your trip a lot richer if you can place sites in their historical context. Gosh, that sounds like something a stuffy teacher would advise you. I rreally don't mean like you have to cram like for final exams, but I think if you get a smattering of context your trip will be more fun for you.
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    May 12, 2011 1:47 PM GMT
    If you are on a low budget, you might be best to avoid Western Europe, or at least the major cities (although you can find some very reasonable hostels e.g. the Young and Happy Hostel in Paris on rue Mouffetard for less than 30€ a night). But if you can comfortably do 60-80€ a day, then you should be fine for France and Italy.

    Otherwise, head over to Eastern Europe, Central Europe (especially Prague in Czech Republic) and down to Sicily. Are you going to buy the Eurail pass? What languages do you speak and are you hoping to just get by with English?

    I second the CouchSurfing suggestion although I've never used it. However, check out Interpals.net for European penpals for the country you're going to. It's free to register, and you can ask people your age about their country and what would perhaps be the best places to visit. Best of all, they may even offer for you to stay with them or to show you around ;)

    Bon voyage !
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    May 12, 2011 5:53 PM GMT
    Buy the Eyewitness Travel Guides for whatever countries and cities you'll be travelling through. They're the best I've ever seen. They provide you with all the info you need to know.