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2 months Europe Itinerary

I am a female solo backpacker and I have 61 days in Europe. (December and January)
This is a rough plan on where I want to visit. I am trying to see if it's feasible cus it looks a bit too rush to me, but I don't know which place to eliminate that the route could make more sense. Could you guys give me suggestions on whether I should take out any cities or spend less/more time.


Lisbon (3 days)

Seville, Barcelona (6 days)

Lyon, Paris (6 days)

Luxembourg (2 days)

Brussels (2 days)

Amsterdam (3 days)

UK for Christmas and New Year (11 days)

Berlin, Munich (6 days)

Krakow, Warsaw (5 days)

Minsk (3 days)

Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn (8 days)

Helsinki, Rovaniemi (6 days)

For transportation between cities, I will mostly use overnight buses or trains to save time. Feel free to give me any advice. The only things fixed are the flight ticket in and out of Europe and Christmas/New Year in the UK.

Thank you so much!!!

Posted by
1544 posts

grid_bear - First order of business what you should do is obtain a copy of the Rick Steves' guide book (Backpacking In Europe For The 21st Century) or (The Savvy Backpacker's Guide to Europe on a Budget: Advice on Trip Planning, Packing, Hostels & Lodging, Transportation & More!) by James Feess.

Since you said the flight tickets are set so according to your itinerary, are you flying into Lisbon and flying out of Helsinki? If you are not flying out of Helsinki then I would take away Minsk, Riga and Helsinki altogether from itinerary.

You can replace them with Budapest, Prague and Vienna.

Posted by
3 posts

I am flying out of Helsinki.

Right now I think I am taking out Belgium, Luxembourg from the first half and Germany from the second half.

Flying to Warsaw right after UK.
Would it be better then?

Posted by
1544 posts

Yes that can be an option. As i look on the map, I see that cities like Budapest, Prague are not too far from Warsaw. You ever considered those cities as add ons after visiting Warsaw?

Posted by
1544 posts

grid_bear - Consider this itinerary as the best geographical order moving from city to city for your 2 months in Europe. You can calculate the number of days to allocate to each city.

Lisbon, Portugal

Seville, Spain

Lyon or Paris, France

Amsterdam, Netherlands (You can stay in city of Haarlem 20 minutes from Amsterdam by train)

Ghent, Belgium

London, UK

Warsaw and Krakow , Poland

Budapest, Hungary

Prague, Czech Republic

Copenhagen, Denmark

Stockholm, Sweden

Helsinki, Finland

Posted by
7161 posts

It is a busy trip. I have been to nearly all the places you plan to see (all except Minsk and Finland).

I suggest while in Brussels spend a day going to Brugges, which is not that far from Brussels. Otherwise, skip Brussels entirely.

You have significant travel between some of your cities. Lisbon and Portugal are great places to visit, but travel from Lisbon to Seville may not be so easy. A few years ago, I explored this and found the rail connections to be very poor. Your might consider saving Portugal for another trip, when you can do Porto and the Douro River Valley.

Seville is wonderful and deserved a 3 day minimum. You might start in Seville and spend four days there and four in Barcelona. Add another day to Paris.

Also, we loved Lyon, France and Provence, but you might skip Lyon, since you won't have time to visit Provence and the South of France that much. Instead consider taking the high speed train from Barcelona directly to Paris.

While in Luxembourg, try to visit the city of Viaden, it is worth half a day.

With 11 days in the UK, clearly London deserves some time. Consider some day trips to Canterbury, Cambridge, Winchester, Oxford, Stonehenge/Salisbury or Bath. You won't have time for all. I forgot, if you love Shakespeare, then Stratford Upon Avon is a must.

Berlin and Munich deserve more than 3 days each. I haven't been to Minsk, but my Son has been there and enjoyed it, but it is a bit out of your way. Consider spending your Minsk time in Berlin and Munich. Also, from Munich most people take a trip down to Garmisch and Fussen to see castles or go up on the Zugspitze (highest mountain in Germany).

It will be Winter and going to northern Europe, you may encounter snow.

We did the Baltic States on a guided tour after doing Russia and loved them all. Plan on two days for each country minimum.
You will be close to St. Petersburg, Russia. You could spend several days there. I know you don't plan to visit Russia. It does require a visa, but the city is amazing.

Take care while traveling alone. Be sure to avoid some of the seeder places in inner cities at night. Europe is relatively safe, but there are places that require caution or to be avoided altogether.

Pickpocketing is a huge threat in places like Barcelona and Paris, so take precautions. I wear a money belt in those cities.

Posted by
25509 posts

I'm retired and am currently able to take summer-long trips each year. I think you're trying to cover too many really major destinations over too much territory in the time you have.

Every time I change cities I figure it costs me at least half a day of sightseeing time (packing up, checking out, traveling to the train station or airport, sitting on the train or plane, getting to my new hotel, checking in, etc.). If the two cities are far apart (and you have some very long distances), the transfer may take 3/4 of a day or longer. In theory, your idea of using overnight trains and buses will help with this. In actuality, that option may not always exist. Even when it does, you may find the experience exhausting and decide you don't want to keep repeating it. The last overnight train I took led to absolutely zero sleep and left me feeling off-kilter for more than 24 hours, so instead of losing half a day or so, I lost a full day of productive sightseeing time.

You'll need to check every potential travel leg to see whether overnight transportation is actually available. For night trains, dig all the way down to see the intermediate stops the train makes. Even if you are able to sleep on the train, you may wake up every time it stops.

You list many pairs of cities; if you can't or don't take an overnight train or bus, there will be a half-day lost on those moves as well as on the moves between countries. So the 6 days you list for Lyon and Paris probably become 5 days after you lose 1/2 day on the way to Lyon and another 1/2 day on the way to Paris. The same with Seville and Barcelona.

Another concern I have is that except for the last few stops you have a long series of very large cities, cities chock full of places to see. You can easily run yourself ragged in places like those when you have so little time in each city. And urban areas are intense places to be. Especially on a trip of this length, I think it's really important to spend some time in smaller cities and/or villages and/or rural areas (though maybe not rural areas in mid-winter). You can get those experiences via day-trips from your primary destinations, but you have to allow extra time to make that possible. There's no room for day-trips in the original schedule.

In planning a winter trip you need to keep in mind how very short the days will be, especially in northern Europe. Some sights may keep much more limited hours than in the summer, which will make for less-productive days.

In terms of specifics:

  • I think nearly everyone would agree that Brussels and Luxembourg are not as interesting as most of your other targets.

  • Ground-transportation links between Portugal and Spain are surpisingly poor. There are no direct trains between Lisbon and Seville. The overnight train between Lisbon and Madrid takes over 11 hours. After connecting in Madrid you'd get to Seville at about 12:30 PM, so you'd lose half a day despite the misery of a night on a train. That train stops 10 times [begin edit] after midnight and {end edit] before reaching Madrid. Each stop brings braking and station noise.

  • Are you sure you want to go to northern Germany, Poland, Belarus, Finland and the Baltics in the winter? Cold, wet, dark... I suggest going to and checking actual, day-by-day historical January weather stats for some of those destinations for the last few years so you know what you may run into.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for all of your advice!!! It helps a lot.

I am very aware of the cold weather in winter, especially in the Baltics, Belarus and Finland. It won’t be a huge problem as long as the main attractions or restaurants are opened, even if they have shorter hours. Even though it gonna be very cold, I simply want to see and experience the winter side of Europe. Thank you for reminding me to have a look on the weather, looks like in general, 19/20 winter in Europe is gonna be colder than average... and I will definitely make contingency plans as the weather issues will influence transport schedules.

Now, I am taking out Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland from the first half.
Split Germany in 2 halves with UK in the middle cus I already have plans during Christmas and New Year in the UK.

So right now the updated itinerary looks like:

Portugal: Lisbon(3 days)

Spain: Seville, Barcelona (7 days)

France: Lyon, Paris (7 days)

Germany: Berlin/Munich (4 days)

UK for Christmas and New Year (11 days)

Germany: Berlin/Munich (4 days)

Poland: Krakow, Warsaw (7 days)

Belarus: Minsk (3 days)

The Baltics: Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn (8 days)

Finland: Helsinki, trip up north for the Aurora (7 days)

Would it be a little bit less packed?
Thank you again!

Posted by
25509 posts

It does feel a bit better, but it's still capital-city-dense. Of course, those are the places with the big, indoor attractions you may need in the winter.

To my mind there is much, much more to do in Berlin than in Munich. Berlin has not only more huge museums, but also a very large number of 20th century history sites where one can spend hours each. Then again, I am especially interested in the WWII and Cold War periods, so I gravitate to that sort of stuff. Still, other people on the forum have made the same comment about time needed in Berlin vs. Munich. If you don't plan side-trips from Munich, I think you could perhaps reduce that city by one day and apply it to one of your other destinations.

I assume when you write "days" you actually mean "nights". Starting the trip with just 3 nights in Lisbon after an overnight flight gives you only two real, reasonably non-jetlagged, days in the city. I would want more there.

Your first three stops (and I think more Seville/Barcelona than Lisbon) are your best shot at pleasant-to-be-outdoors weather. If the weather's good, I think it's easy to fill 3 (probably even 4) full days in Seville, and a side-trip to Cordoba is very highly recommended, which makes Seville a 4-full-day minimum for me (5 days better).

Barcelona is a place where you have to buy a lot of your sightseeing tickets in advance to avoid ugly lines and sell-outs, and often they are timed, so it's difficult to cram a lot of indoor sightseeing into just a few days. If you plan to see a bunch of the modenista sites or enjoy art museums, you'll be glad to have at least 4 full days. I had 9 days in the city in 2016 and didn't get to all the museums I wanted to see, though I did cover all the modernista sites currently open.

Lyon is a large city with a lot of varied indoor attractions, including the excellent Resistance Museum and Museum of Textiles (usually not my thing, but very interesting). I'm sure you know that you could easily spend 2 weeks in Paris and leave much of the city untouched.

Warsaw, like Berlin, is a city with a lot of sights related to WW II. They can be very time-consuming, depending on the depth of your interest. I spent a week there in 2018. Krakow, though smaller, has two time-consuming sights: Auschwitz (a big chunk of the day) and the Schindler Factory (can be a half-day). Advance-purchase of tickets is necessary for those two in the summer; I have no idea what demand is like in the winter. Keep on top of the ticket situation so you don't show up in town and discover you cannot get into Auschwitz and the factory. At the time of my visit you could queue at Auschwitz for same-day tickets, but that was a very long line, and it was totally outdoors, exposed to the elements.

Posted by
4132 posts

A plan can be both feasible (you could do it) and too rushed (not the best plan overall). That is how I feel about your first cut. It is especially deceptive because you have some nice long stretches in one place that is really 2 or 3 places ("Berlin, Munich").

For a two month trip, you really want to vary the pace. You are solo and nimble, so if you want to spend a week bopping around from town to town, 2 nights max, you can. But follow it up with 4 nights, a week. Yeah, a whole week in some great place where you can get to know the neighborhood and sit back and smell the cappuccino.

You are also not accounting for your time accurately. Your 61 days on the ground, by your count, does not include travel time. To be honest with yourself, figure out how many nights you will spend in each place. Want to spend 3 days in Minsk? That's 4 nights, not 3.

Your second cut has similar problems. I can't tell you what to do, but if you do some research and are brutally honest with yourself, you will have a better trip.

Oh heck I will tell you my opinion about a few things.

Lisbon is charming and will not get old for a few days, and you'll probably be jet lagged. More time there. Lyon is another gem that deserves at least 4 nights. I've never been to Berlin, so lucky you but also if I did you all the way there I would want to spend more than 2 days. (it's on my list.)

To thine own self be true, obviously, but I think your plan is a prime candidate for the method of seeing more by seeing less. PS Have an amazing time & congrats on having 2 months for your adventure!

Posted by
613 posts

We made some friends from London who came to Utah every winter to ski. When they got too old to ski, they continued to come to Utah for winter to escape UK's dismal winter weather. Just in case EU winter doesn't turn out to be as much fun as you expect, prepare an optional escape to Italy (great time to visit-- no crowds of tourists).

Visiting cities breaks out into 3 categories of activities 1] cityscape: walking the streets, going into interesting buildings (churches, palaces, etc); 2] culture: food, booze, music, theater: and 3] museums. Your itinerary is heavily loaded on museums because many of your designations are cityscape poor-- Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Munich. Lyon is so boring that its most famous chef, Paul Bocuse, put his restaurant well out of town.

For cityscape, Prague is #1. Then comes London, Rome, Vienna, Barcelona

We've spent more than 200 days touristing France. Alsace is the #1 sight. Drop Lyon, cut back Paris a bit, and do at least 3 in Alsace.

Posted by
7161 posts

Your itinerary is heavily loaded on museums because many of your designations are cityscape poor-- Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Munich. Lyon is so boring that its most famous chef, Paul Bocuse, put his restaurant well out of town.

Sorry, calling Paris cityscape poor is insane. Lyon is an attractive city and viewing it from a hill above the city it is wonderful. Berlin and Munich have sites that are a bit spread out, but not to be sneezed at.
Prague is a great city, but compared to Rome, Florence, Venice, St. Petersburg, NY city, even London it is not superior.

Posted by
797 posts

Two months seems like plenty of time - but it will also take a toll with fatigue. On an adventure like this I would not recommend stopping anywhere for less than 3 nights to give you two full days of touring at a sustainable pace. Hopefully some of your longer stays should include some total "down days."

Note on Germany - The train from Berlin to Warsaw is direct and an easy 6 hours ... Munich probably would require a flight to Warsaw. But Munich is an excellent airport hub. So from France head to Munich for that 4 days, and then head to the UK. UK back to Berlin for 4 days, and then take the train to Warsaw. Krakow is easily reached from Warsaw, but you will probably have to head back to Warsaw to fly on to somewhere else since in my experience Krakow's connections are poor even during the heavily traveled summertime.

You have identified potential locations, so now you need to calculate travel routes/times/costs.

Check out your travel options on:

A dozen of your days on version 2 are already devoted to traveling - 20% of your time. To me that is a lot.

Posted by
3134 posts

I like RJean's itinerary...but, of course, you might have a reason for choosing the other locations. For me RJean's makes sense and is interesting.

Posted by
14208 posts

For Germany.... good that you are choosing Munich and Berlin. Depending on your time, how about adding another place in Germany, Hamburg, Leipzig, or Frankfurt?

Posted by
14208 posts

Krakow would be my choice in Poland too since it has one of the best hostels in Europe, the Greg and Tom, just minutes from the station, Krakow Glowny.

There is also the night train option between Munich and Berlin, I've done that option but only in the summer. Check if some variation of it exists, you may have transfer in Hannover Hbf, which is quite all right since Hannover Hbf has one of bigger food courts among German train stations.

Another night train option you could use (I certainly would) is Munich to Krakow, changing once in Vienna.