Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Backpacking Europe and not sure what to see and do
Notices

Backpacking Europe and not sure what to see and do

Reply

Sep 2nd, 2013, 02:38 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 9
Backpacking Europe and not sure what to see and do

Basically, I am planning on backpacking through Europe for about about five weeks this Dec-Jan and I don't really have anything I want to do. I think I have the cities pinned down that I am going to, but then again I have no idea what I am doing and basically picked the major cities. I figure I can go off to the smaller towns from the major city for a day trip. They are as follows:

Dublin -- London -- Paris -- Brussels -- Rotterdam -- Amsterdam -- Cologne -- Strasbourg -- Munich -- Prague

(Rotterdam will mainly be a quick stop, I have a friend who lives there)
(Might throw one more city in there)

As stated above, I really don't have anything I want to see. I want to see some of the touristy stuff, but other than that I don't know what to see/do. I would rather experience the city itself (history/culture/food) than spend my time going to all the major tourist spots.

Open to any suggestions and comments.
im_out_of_here is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 02:56 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,722
0. What is your budget? Where are you flying from/to? Does that five weeks include travel time to/from Europe?

1. Your questions are probbaly better asked on the Lonely Planet Thorntree as there are more ackpackers"/"flashpackers" there than here. And they can point you towards the better hostels.

2. You're wanting to do ten cities in 5 weeks. Allowing a day (you won't need that much time most of the time but it's best to budget for it) of travel between cities gives you three days in each city. Fortunately you're hitting on Improvisor's "Three Day Rule" so he won't pester you about that; however, others will tell you that you're trying to do too much in too little time and to just pick five cities.

3. It's going to be COLD. So pack accordingly and be prepared to do laundry a few times.

4. Without knowing what you like and don't like, I am not going to offer suggestions on what to see or do.
sparkchaser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 02:59 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,848
Cologne for the small beers i guess? I think I would drop this city as not in the same league as the others.

It's winter, which means the days will be short and cold. Christmas day; more or less the whole of Europe closes down so you need somewhere interesting to enjoy that. London has a few things on for free but they need booking early
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 03:39 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,722
OP, I'd plan your trip around a Christmas destination and a New Year's destination and then see what cities best fit in.
sparkchaser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 05:27 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 100
There may be some Christmas markets in or near the cities you are visiting.

Why don't you read up on Europe and what there is to do then pick the cities you want to visit. Go to the bookstore and start skimminng through all the travel guides. Reading trip reports is also really helpful. Find some things you would like to do then build an itinerary from from there.
nubbyrose is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 06:08 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,228
"Basically, I am planning on backpacking through Europe for about about five weeks this Dec-Jan and I don't really have anything I want to do."

Your honesty is admirable. But I think you realize too that the trip really doesn't make sense if you have to hunt down and kill reasons to go. Maybe it would be wise to stash your trip funds away safely and postpone the travel while you read up on what might interest you in Europe. You might find yourself drawn to some of Europe's major cities but not to others. You might want to try a hike in the Dolomites or the Alps, or bike one of the river valleys, or do any number of outdoor things you might do between April and October when you'll have more daylight hours and options (and if you're solo-backpacking with the idea of meeting other travelers, you'll meet a lot more independent travelers during those warmer months, for sure.)
Russ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 06:32 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 100
In some places the history, culture, food is the touristy stuff. Lots of overlap in those categories.

My daughter was in Germany for a month Dec 2010/jan 2011 after college graduation. She went skiing, Christmas market, thermal baths, train to Paris. That was a very bad winter that year. She enjoyed her trip
nubbyrose is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 06:38 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,722
That was a cold Winter. I remember several days of -20 temperatures.
sparkchaser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 06:44 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,644
You need to do some research on each city to see what is most important for you to see/do there. Seeing a lot of street life will be difficult due to the weather (outdoor cafes closed and people staying insides more). There is a lot to do indoors, with cultural activities at their height - but hours for many sights will be shorter due to the much shorter daylight hours.
nytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 07:25 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 3,955
I can't figure out why you are going if you don't know anything you want to do or see. Surely you have something in mind. I agree that you should just try to get to know the culture and enjoy the scene and not spend the whole trip trying to see everything. You can't see it all and will have a miserable, exhausting time running around like a maniac.

The Christmas markets in Strasbourg are reported to be excellent (we are visiting this year). The cathedral there is also worth visiting as is La Petite France.

I could spend the whole time in Paris but you might enjoy the Catacombs and climbing the towers of Notre Dame. Maybe a concert at Sainte Chappelle? It is gorgeous and intimate. If you like Impressionistic art then Musee d'Orsay, L'Orangerie and Musee Marmottan. Musee Rodin is another favorite. Sacre Coeur is also beautiful and unique. You might enjoy the Bastille area, Canal St Martin and Oberkampf areas. (Younger crowd in that area.)

Paris shuts down late Christmas Eve afternoon but is not totally dead and is waking back up by Christmas Day afternoon.

London...also great to visit. The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War rooms, The British Museum. It's been too long since I was there to help much with London but I loved the city.

I envy you getting to do this at your age. I was in my early 30s by the time I got to Europe for the first trip. Enjoy the time there....I think you will enjoy it but I would have a "loose" plan for every city.
denisea is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 08:51 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 9
Thank you everyone for your replies! It was late when I decided to write the post and I was a bit tired, so I might have left out some details. But I really do appreciate everyone still taking my post seriously.

But, I guess I should have stated that I am going as kind of a "I need to get out of here..." trip. As far as my interests, I have many, but I still don't have anything I particularly I want to see based on those interests. I do love being outside and hikes/biking and all that, but basically I just want to explore.

@sparkchaser - One of the things I was worried about was if I was still trying to do too much despite abiding by the 3/3.5 day rule and the fact I will only be in Rotterdam for a day/night. I am willing to alter my itinerary, nothing is set in stone for me right now. As far as what to do, that is basically why I put the post up, I am completely open since I really don't have anything I particularly want to see.

@Russ - Yeah, I am aware of the off-season time I am going (cold and less travelers), but this is when I have the time and I am also going to try and plan a trip in the summer of 2014 (not Europe). I am currently getting ready to go enter Grad school and I have a little bit under six weeks between when school ends and starts. I just want to go and get out there, not really killing reasons to go, but I want to travel but have nothing I particularly want to see.

@nubbyrose - Very true, just wasn't sure what to put and I thought I'd give a little insight as to what I was looking for. Which well, didn't really help in the end, haha.

@denisea - I wish I was still young too, hahaha. I am 30 and going on my first real backpacking expedition by myself, starting grad school next year and trying to get some travel in before. I'm going mainly looking for an adventure, I do have interests obviously, I just don't have anything specific I want to see. London is mainly to hang out with a friend of mine and I have been to London before and did all the tourist stuff then, so I don't really have to do the tourist stuff. Thanks for the suggestions on that though. Thanks for the Paris recs.
im_out_of_here is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 09:00 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,634
If going by train as I suspect check out these superb IMO sites to help plan that portion: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - download the latter's free and superb European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of rail itineraries in each coungtry, maps, etc (http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id2.html).

Consider taking overnight trains to save travel time and money on a hotel or hostel and investigate some kind of railpass if doing all of that by train.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 09:17 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 100
Why don't you include some of the Mediterranean countries to mix it up a little more. Milder winters as well.
nubbyrose is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 09:24 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 100
Spark chaser- yes it was bad. She arrived in Frankfurt from the US and took the train to Cologne where she was staying in a University apartment with a German girlfriend. The train got stuck in the snow. Everyone had to get off and walk. she had a five mile walk at midnight to the apartment. Her girlfriend met her half way. Then they went out to the bars. She was exhausted and it took her days to recover.
nubbyrose is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 09:33 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 100
If you are interested in WWII - there are probably many sights in and near the places you are going to.

In Munich there is a Third Reich tour. Many other sights and tours (Dachau) around that area.
nubbyrose is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 10:25 AM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 9
@PalenQ - Thanks, I'll look into those sites and night traveling, didn't think about night traveling to tell you the truth.

@nubbyrose - Yeah, WWII would be some of the stuff I would like to see. Since I don't have anything I really want to see, I am planning the locations first and then once I have the itinerary concrete, I was going to figure out the sights to see. I was thinking of doing Mediterranean countries, but I figured I was so far north that I should stay up there. Also, I went to Italy a few years ago and I think I can say I experienced a very healthy portion of it and don't feel the need to go back right now. Which is also why I am not sure if I should go south.
im_out_of_here is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 10:25 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,722
In Munich there is a Third Reich tour. Many other sights and tours (Dachau) around that area.

There is?
sparkchaser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 10:28 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,722
In Munich there is a Third Reich tour. Many other sights and tours (Dachau) around that area.

There is?
sparkchaser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2013, 11:28 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,644
Don;t know how much hiking and biking you can do in northern europe in midwinter. It will be cold and there is a good possibiity of ice, sleet and snow. Certainly doens;t mean you can't go outside - or do winter sports - but I don;t know how to bike in ice or snow.

Are you sure you don;t want to consider some time in southern Spain/Portugal etc - so you can do more outdoorsy things?
nytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:03 AM.