Hi everyone, I'm a 22 year old who will be backpacking Europe for 3 months beginning in April. Obviously I will be doing tons of sightseeing and exploring historic sights, but I'm also looking for a couple of getaway spots where rest and relaxation is the goal. Just wondering where some of your favourite spots are to rejuvenate on a lengthy trip. It can be anywhere! Cheers and Happy New Year!
Rick, If you're heading as far south as Greece, you can almost make the whole country an R&R stop. ; ) When I went to Greece, my friend and I would decide over breakfast whether or not it was a ruins, museum, or beach day. Every day was a cafe sitting day. We worked on perfecting the art of cafe sitting. ; ) Today, I really also enjoy walking in the highlands. It's a beautiful spot and you can walk during the day and come back to a B&B and drink whisky or have an ale with a nice pub meal. If you're lucky there will be some traditional music. The walks can be up the hills, around the lochs, or on the beach. Pam
Thanks for the responses guys. Pam, Greece is definitely a spot I've been looking hard at. When you went did you mainly do island hopping or were there many mainland spots you visited as well? And judging by your tips, I hope I can also master the R&R as you have! I'm getting excited just reading about it! Tom, I start in Amsterdam and move through Belgium and Paris before heading down to Nice, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Lagos and Sevilla. I'm then flying up to Stockholm and moving south through Eastern Europe. I meet up with a friend around Budapest and we're looking for a 3 week (approximate) getaway away from the big cities. Whether it be on a beach or hiking, I'm pretty flexible. As of right now, Greece and Croatia are two countries I'm strongly looking at, but I just want to hear what people on the forums have enjoyed in the past.
At 22, I'm sure you have loads of energy, & it's great that you are aware you may need a vacation from your travels at some point. Long term travel can wear you out, not just physically, but mentally. I found it very helpful to toss in a "free day" after every 5 or 6 days of planned out sightseeing. It doesn't have to be a special destination, just an extra day tacked on at the beginning or end of one of your planned stops, be that a big city, beach or small mountain village. It helps you to have a day that is not agenda-driven. You can use it however you need to. Whether it's washing your clothing at the laundromat, napping on a beach, sampling Belgian ale at a bar, or sitting all day in a Paris park reading a book, it's good to have those relaxing days added in there. If you constantly keep up a frantic pace until you meet up with your buddy halfway through the trip, your mind can get overloaded & your experiences start to run together. Being tired can also make you cranky which is never a good thing when you are traveling with a friend as even the best of friends can start becoming annoyed with each other if they are together 24/7. Also, you may want to consult with your friend about what ideas he may have for 'a vacation from your vacation'. Come to some sort of compromise ahead of time.
Where are you going and what do you find relaxing?
And watch the Schogen visa requirement -- it is 90 days, not three months.
For Belgium at your age, I would say base yourself out of one of the major university cities (Ghent or Leuven), get a hold of a bicycle, and pedal away outside of the cities. The Flemish countryside is extremely heavy on ambiance. OK, maybe that's not exactly restful, but it will definitely help clear your mind. Or, grab a blanket and a book, and lie around in one of the city parks (Ghent's is larger and nicer). PS- The Oude Markt in Leuven might be the single best young person, tourist-free hang out spot in Belgium, if not Europe as a whole. On a rain-free night when the university in session, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else at your age.
A few years ago during a 3 mo. trip thru Europe, we stayed in Tropea, Calabria, Italy for 5 glorious, laid back days, just what we needed in the middle of our go, go , go trip. It is a beautiful medieval perched town with absolutely fabulous beaches. We stayed at La Residenza il Baronne, and wonderful Rosa is learning English ( at least a basic knowledge of Italian would be helpful this far south). Enjoy your trip!
I think anywhere outside of the big cities is a great break. We're more into mountains and hiking than beaches, so anyplace with an Alp in it works for us. When I see people posting itineraries that only include big cities ("I want to see London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, and Rome in 2 weeks") it makes my head spin. I love the big cities, but I love getting out of them even more.
Hi Rick. It looks like Greece will be at the end of your travels in Europe. I don't know if you can have many days in Greece. A Greek island can be a good place for relaxing. I liked being at the island Naxos. It is in approximately the center of the Kykladic (Cycladic) islands. Fly from the Athens airport to the airport on Naxos. I especially liked the interior of Naxos. And beaches at the west side of Naxos are very peaceful, if not too many people are there. A bus goes from the Ferry boat dock at Naxos town to the beaches. One or two of those beaches have camping sites. Will you bring a small tent ?
And, a small island of Croatia is desirable, it began being open to the public in about the year 1988. I could tell you the name of that island, tomorrow. Transportation to that island from a major transportation hub in Croatia is easy and not expensive. And I would plan for a day of rest, one day each week, in the entire trip.
My personal favorites that were the most relaxing in no particular order: 1. sitting on a beach in Nice 2. hiking the Cinque Terre 3. going to the baths in Baden-Baden 4. taking a swim in the Adriatic off of Dubrovink, Croatia coastline. 5. strolling the English Garden in Munich 6. taking a nap while lying in the square in Siena (warm sun on our faces) - just finished some nice gelato. 7. having a few beers at the end of a nice (but rainy) hike on the Mannelichen trail up in the Berner Oberland Alps. 8. sitting in the surprisingly quiet square on Ile de Citie in Paris and watching boys play bacci ball. 9. the cruise down the Grand Canal in Venice at night via the water taxi. 10. Endless numbers of cafes with countless glasses of wine.
I backpacked and did youth hostels and inexpensive Bed and Breakfasts when I was your age. If you are flexible in your plans, you might just finds places along the way that you want to spend more time and others you want to see and leave. On one of two trips to Europe when I was your age, we were flexible and had a chance to choose if we wanted to stay or move on. We had a plane ticket to Paris and our plane ticket home from Rome. When we got to one of our favorite places we said "if it rains we will move on", it finally rained and we moved on; but, it didn't rain for 7 beautiful days. Another trip in and out of Amsterdam was all pre planned, so we had to keep moving.
Since Croatia is being considered, go to Lokrum (spell?) Island. About a 20 minute boat ride from Dubrovnik, it is a quiet botanical island with beautiful beaches and peacocks roaming. Rent a lounge chair and chill. Also, in Budapest, spend an afternoon at one of the heated spas/pools and watch the chess players.
Thank you everyone very much for your insight!
I think my wife & I would like to go on a trip with Amy from Madison. What a great list.
HaHa! Thanks Tom. Apparently being lazy on vacation is something I am quite talented at! :) join me anytime!