The only window of opportunity my friend and I have of backpacking across Europe is in January and February (4 to 6 weeks). We've read what has been published in Rick's latest book about unavailability of certain hostels, etc., but would like to hear from someone who has actually done this. We will be using all modes of transportation except car, and want to start in Greece and end up in London.
Last Jan I was skiing in Switzerland and headed for Italy by rail afterward. I booked a hotel with only a couple of days notice in central Florence and found good weather and no crowds. I was traveling solo and was actually a little lonely one time in an almost empty restaurant. No lines at the Museums. Next I headed north to Lake Como. The weather was colder and it was snowing when I arrived in Varenna. I hiked down to one of Ricks hotel picks and got an inexpensive room. The area is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. I hiked all over the town taking photos. The down side is that it was to cold to do the ferry across the lake,etc. I plan to be back again in Jan & Feb! Enjoy
Sue, go to Europe, but be warned that Greece is not enjoyable during the winter. When there is any snow, tourists are advised to not go to Delphi, because the path on a hill is slippery. In January and February most of the islands of Greece at the Aegean Sea can have cold wind and rain, but being at Crete in January or February could be satisfactory. But the ferry boats probably do not go to islands during the winter months. Fly to Crete from Athens (Olympic Airways). In Italy, I would not want to be at a lake in northern Italy during the winter, and most of the hotels at those lakes are closed in January and February, but there is some scenic beauty at the lakes in the winter : the Alps mountains are covered with snow. I think visiting Salzburg in Austria can be pleasant during the winter, even when snow is falling from the sky. If you need inexpensive overnight accomodations, in Salzburg try Institute St. Sebastian (if it is still there. I was there in 2001).
Not sure what you are asking here.
By backpacking across, do you mean just hiking and camping? Or do you mean hostel and train?
Are you looking for places to actually backpack? Or do you just mean low-budget travel and accomodations?
Do you want mountains and ski hut to hut? Or are you looking for beaches?
yes, Greece is very windy during winter.
If you plan to go to Crete be aware that the boats might not leave if it's too windy. I got stuck for 4 days on Creete a few years ago. The boat didn't leave and we had to go by plane. More expensive, but we had to catch a flight to US.
Also there are not many tourist in greec during winter, pretty quiet, but easier to visit, no lines at museums or rent car.
About hostels, I think the best is to go and check them on line. There are 2 sites I use, hostels.com and hostelworld.com See if you can book a room in advance. Some of them have a website. you can fin it by typing dirrectly on google the name of the hostel.