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2 months backpacking Europe itinerary - advice, suggestions, and critique

I am planning a solo trip backpacking Europe for 5 months, 2 1/2 of which I will be wwoofing; however, this post is only about the 11 weeks of traveling I will be doing. I plan on flying into Portugal where I will wwoof for about 5 weeks. From there I plan on heading to London to start my trip. I would greatly appreciate critique and advice on my travel plans as well as budget!

Fly into London, UK (5days)
Fly into Paris, France (5days)
Train to Lyon (3days)
Train to Avignon (3days)
Train to Marseille (3days)
Train to Nice (3days)
Train to Milan, Italy (2days)
Train to Cinque Terre (2days)
Train to Florence (3days) with stop in Pisa on way (1/2 day)
Train to Rome (5days)
Train to Naples (4days)
fly to Athens, Greece (2-3days)
Island hop Mykanos and Santorini (1 week)
Fly to Bologna, Italy (2days)
Train to Venice (2days)
Train to Interlaken, Switzerland (3days)
Train to Lucerne (2days)
Train to Zurich (1day)
Train to Munich, Germany (3 days)
Train to Nuremberg (2days)
Train to Leipzig (2days)
Train to Dresden (2days)
Train to Berlin (5days)

I plan on ending in early July right after the high season kicks off in Europe. My budget is $70 per day, obviously some countries are slightly less and some more. From what I have heard I heard that $70 a day is pretty decent.For 11 weeks at $70 per day I plan to have $5500. I will also be purchasing the global eurail pass 3 month unlimited for $1200 due to the number of trains I will be taking. My rountrip ticket is expected to be around $1100. My total time in destinations is just over 10 weeks and I plan to allocate the remaining 5 days for expected travel time. Is this a realistic amount of travel time? After the 11 weeks of traveling I plan on using my last 1 week of unlimited train rides to get to my next wwoof destination where I will be for another 5 weeks or 1 1/2 months.

I would love to get advice on my itinerary regarding other places I shoud visit along my trip and if it is doable. I would also love to know if my budget of $70 a day is doable? I have a friend in London, have family in Greece, and have friends in Switzerland that could also provide housing. I am really looking for overall advice on how I can save money to maximize my time in Europe. I will be traveling just after the high season when crowds are disappearing and prices are cheaper and while the weather is still nice. Ultimately I'm looking to have the best time I possible can while in Europe and all advice on anything is greatly appreciated!

Posted by
3387 posts

First of all, backpacking is a great way to see Europe! My husband and I used to spend entire summers backpacking all over Europe when we were younger, pre kids. You'll love it!
My first thought on your trip is that you will need to be careful of the Schengen Zone limits on the length of time you can stay in Europe as a tourist. There is a 90 day limit within every 180 day period. Most people combine a visit with countries outside of the Schengen Zone if they wish to stay in Europe longer than 90 days. A good country for this is England, which has a 6 month limit for tourists. Overstay your 90 days in the Schengen Zone and you will face fines, at best.
Other than that, your $70 per day is tight, but you can do it. Hostels are more expensive than you might think but if you stay in the dorm rooms you should be able to afford both lodging and food. Another option might be couchsurfing...there is a pretty good network for this out there. Check out People have various levels of comfort with this but it's worth taking a look at. Airbnb also has cheap options for staying in people's homes. I've done this quite a few times and have had great experiences. The wwoofing option looks amazing...I've never heard of it before so had to google it - brilliant! Looks like something to try in the future!

Posted by
11057 posts

You absolutely need to get a visa for this. As France is your first POE in the Schengen Zone, consult the French Embassy to the U.S. (assuming you are American?) for details. If it is anything like Italy, you can apply no more than 90 days before travel, but give yourself at least 60 days for them to issue the visa. You need to make an appointment to appear at a consulate and the appointment can be hard to get, so something to do before you buy tickets....

Posted by
32103 posts

In addition to a Schengen Visa, you'll need to address the issue of a Visa for your work in Portugal. This from the WWOOF information pages and specifically the question on what Visa will be needed.....

"To get the best information please contact your friendly embassy, if you are an EU citizen there is no obligation to ask for visa. WWOOF can unfortunately not provide any assistance to gain visas. We do not write invitation letters."

Many countries are tightening up the regulations on work by foreigners (even unpaid work), so it's something you'll need to look into.

Be sure to also consider medical insurance, and what the consequences might be if you're injured on the job. This from WWOOF website......

"Check with your regular insurance company. We don't have any insurance partners that we recommend but we are aware that WWOOFers often use (list provided on the website)."

Unfortunately, these are the realities of the bureaucratic world we live in these days.

Posted by
31511 posts

If you try to do all that using the Schengen provisions only, you will be ILLEGAL before you get to Nice, even if we exclude the working visa considerations of wwof.

You must get a work visa, and follow its restrictions carefully.

You cannot do the trip you have in mind without the proper visas, which is an expensive, hard and slow process.

Posted by
11613 posts

It cannot be overemphasized, violating the Schengen rules can add €500 to your trip, AT BEST. AND, as stated, many countries are not permitting in-kind payment for work without a work visa.

I would advise you to shorten your trip to less than 90 days in the Schengen Zone, plus some time in England.

Posted by
15273 posts

Hi Matthew -
Good to see an enthusiastic backpacker here!
The other have already covered work permits and Schengen limits so I won't mention those. I'm curious why you're choosing not to schedule all of your Italian destinations together versus breaking those up with the week in Greece?

I think you'll find $70 a day to be a bit of a challenge depending on what you want to do/see in each location and what the exchange rate ends up to be at this time next year. Hostels in some of the cities may end up to cost more than you might think, and some attraction fees can be pricey.

I plan on ending in early July right after the high season kicks off in Europe.

I will be traveling just after the high season when crowds are disappearing and prices are cheaper and while the weather is still nice.

I'm a little confused here: you're ending your trip in early July so you must be starting your 5 months in February? So your 11-week schedule above begins in mid April? That would be shoulder season and edging into high season by June; crowds will be starting to build rather than winding down. Shoulder is a good season to capitalize on some more advantageous rates but I wouldn't expect a lack of bodies to contend with. For instance, I've been to a good amount of the Italian cities on your list in May and can promise you that they'll be PLENTY busy: R.S. members have been scrambling to make May reservations in the CT for months now.

Or am I getting this all backwards somehow?

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks you all so much for replying! I was unaware of the schegen zone and the 90 day limit I would have and due to this fact I plan to first fly to either Canada or Costa Rica and wwoof for 5 weeks. After this I plan to fly to London to begin my 11 week tour of Europe. This will help eliminate the need for any work visas and long stay visas. Katy, I do plan to start in mid April, but in your opinion should I start earlier? I am flexible with my starting date but i would love to swim in the beach in Greece and Nice at least, so the weather would have permitting. Also, what would be limited with my $70 budget per day? Thanks again!

Posted by
3387 posts

Your budget completely depends on what you want to do and what is important to you.
For some people, lodging is important and they will spend a good deal of their $$ on this. For others it's meals.
Some places and countries will be more expensive than others but will be balanced out by the cheaper locations. Greece will be cheap, Switzerland will be shockingly expensive. You'll need more than $70 per day. A pizza literally costs $40. A plain sandwich with a drink will be anywhere from $10 - $15 or more. Good thing you have friends there!
Big museums in Europe run anywhere from $10 - 25 for an adult admission. The smaller ones vary greatly.
Like I said, you can do it but with your budget you will need to make choices and you won't be able to do everything you may want to do.

Posted by
32103 posts


Regard WWOOF work in Canada, you may want to have a look at this.....

Working in Canada (even if unpaid) is something that CBSA officers will ask about when entering the country, and if they don't like your answers, they may simply escort you back across the border (if travelling by land) or book you on the next flight to your point of origin.

If you're younger this may not be a concern, but also be aware that if you've had any "brushes with the law", that can also be a reason for exclusion from Canada.

Again, we live in a very bureaucratic world these days so doing your homework in advance can avoid problems.

Good luck!

Posted by
14208 posts


I am going to assume you will get the Schengen time constraint issue, as has been pointed out correctly to you, in order. Then if you are really on a shoe string to low budget travel, drop Switzerland...plain and simple.

Posted by
6113 posts

The more expensive countries/places in Europe are London, Italy, Santorini, Switzerland and Scandinavia, so to make your dollar go further, spend less time in these places and more time in others. e.g. in Greece, try the Ionian Islands or the Cyclades - much cheaper and less touristy than Santorini. Cheaper places: Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and parts of Portugal.

School holidays start in some parts of Europe in mid June, when prices will rise dramatically.