Europe is in many ways the perfect backpacking destination.Thousands of years of history and a huge array of experiences packed into an area around the size of the USA. Why spend a year’s savings on transatlantic flights when you can buy an InterRail pass and head off to the continent for a couple of months? Get your backpacker insurance and head to our favourite destinations.
Istanbul - Turkey
Straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey is unlike any other European country, and there a huge amount to recommend it, not least the salt flats of Lake Tuz. But sprawling, seductive Istanbul takes top honours. There are few finer sights than that of the wide Bosphorus cutting though the city of minarets and office blocks, separating Asia and Europe. Visit the awe-inspiring and operational Blue Mosque then head underground to the Basilica Cistern, where the inhabitants of Constantinople drew their water, complete with huge Roman statue heads which were used to keep the structure from collapsing in some sort of ancient bodge. Then head to Beyoglu for superb nightlife.
Budapest - Hungary
Hit Budapest in the summer and you’ll wonder why any other city bothers. Already one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the Hungarian capital comes into its own when the sun shines and the famous ‘Ruin Pubs’ emerge. But maybe emerge is the wrong word, as they are set up in the courtyards of empty houses with no external signage whatsoever. Keep your ear to the ground and enjoy a night out like no other. But it’s not all about partying; Budapest is incredibly historic, having been a key centre of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and having experienced Communist rule in its recent past.
Interlaken – Switzerland
While Hungary and Turkey are havens of affordability, Switzerland can give your wallet a hammering. So make your time there count. Interlaken is the place to go for experiences that revolve around adrenaline rather than alcohol or history. With paragliding, rafting, snowboarding, ice climbing and canyoning on offer you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained while you psyche yourself up to bungy jump off a glacier. Nothing will happen to you, but visit Columbus Direct and make sure you’ve got good cover or you might not be able to join in the fun.
Eivissa – Ibiza, Spain
Some TV shows have made Ibiza look like the ninth ring of hell. The truth could not be further from the truth, unless you’re stuck in San Antonio with no money and no friends. The Balearic island happens to be immensely beautiful, and with gorgeous beaches and plenty of rural retreats it isn’t just clubbers who should pay a visit. But if you are a clubber, then prepare for perfection. The array of DJing talent on show every summer is peerless and the clubs match the quality of those that play them. Stay close to the picturesque walled Old Town with its amazing food, drink and party scene. Warning: it’s not cheap, but it is worth it.
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