Europe is great for backpackers; unrestricted travel, great transport links, universal currency (apart from us Brits, we like the queen on our money), the best hostels and a diverse mix of great countries. Here are my top 10 European cities for backpackers and my favourite hostel in each destination.
The USA could be a backpackers dream.
So you want to travel the world but you’re still not quite convinced by this hostel malarki? Well, here are a few reasons to try hostels out and then fall in love with the world of hostelling…
They’re Social Melting Pots.
Unlike hotels where you’re pretty much on your own, hostels are a thriving mass of social opportunity. You are surrounded by a limitless supply of potential new mates who all want to have a good time and meet new people. As soon as you’ve chucked your luggage in your room, you and your room mates are chatting. There is the standard “Hi, I’m Michael, where are you from?” and from then on you’re basically best buds for your time in the hostel.
I’m not sure what the receptionist in a hotel would say if you challenged them to a game of beer pong, hostel staff on the other hand will take you right up on that offer – and probably wipe the floor with you in the process. Hostels are often staffed by students or young people who want to have a good time just as much as you do. They will also have great local knowledge and give you advice on, oh i don’t know – how to bribe the po po when you’re illegally riding motorcycles in Vietnam….possibly.
Usually hostels are in a pretty good location next to transport links or within walking distance of important sites. I can’t think of any hostels I’ve stayed in that are too far away from the main sites of interest or not next to a train station.
Hostels are cheap as chips to stay in and usually have pretty cheap food and drink to go with them! In cities like Paris you can expect to pay around £15 a night – much cheaper than a hotel. However, in Eastern Europe and Asia I’ve paid as little as £4 a night for some pretty decent hostels. I’ve also been informed by travel buddies that bargains can be found in places such as South America, Australia and most of Asia – Basically the whole world – Apart from the Arctic, i don’t know if they have hostels there
Like minded people.
People who love to travel just click. Hostels are full of these people. You can talk for hours about your adventures and share your travel tips with each other. Travelers love it even more when they find out its your first time travelling – because we’re going to dump all our advice on you 🙂
They’re not dirty! (most of them)
I get it – you’re worried about suspect stains on sheets and bed bugs. Some hostels of old were pretty rank to be fair, and of course there’s a few around the world now that leave much to the imagination. However, nowadays, with reviews on hostel websites and TripAdvisor – THEY HAVE TO BE CLEAN – otherwise people just wont book a bed there. The majority of people today book hostels on-line or through apps. On these sites people can see these reviews and cleanliness has its own category! Seriously, hostels nowadays can sometimes be comfier and cleaner than a lot of hotels.
Tech friendly and modern.
Don’t worry – you’ll be able to add a picture of you and your best mate Bruce to your Snapchat story. I’m pretty sure every hostel I’ve ever stayed in has had WiFi and plug sockets – It’s pretty much expected in today’s world.
You’re going to have a romance or two.
If you want to that is. Everyone comes back from travelling with one or two romance stories to tell. A lot of people who travel are single and while on the road people just hook up all over the place. A reputable scientist told me it’s got something to do with being away from home and the time difference affecting the hormones…..
So you’re travelling around the world and you’ve stumbled across a willing mate, congrats! But how the hell do you express your hormonal instincts whilst staying in a room with 10 other people?
Whether you’ve met them during the day when sober or on a night out whilst drunk, it all comes down to logistics. Here are some options for you to consider…..
The shower area is a very good option! Even though it’ll be pretty confined you’ll have that all important privacy. The sound of the shower will mask most noises that come from you or your partner and you’ll come out feeling squeaky clean and refreshed 😉
Risky but worth it. Some hostels have outdoor areas such as roof terraces with sofas, choose a good time (when everyone’s gone to bed) and you’ll have the comfort of the cushions and the romantic backdrop of the stars. It’s down to mother nature whether you get rained on, but don’t let that stop you…
Wait until your dorm is empty.
By far the riskiest option on this list. Someone could walk in at any moment! If you know your room-mates well you could ask them to give you some time but its unlikely you’ll be able to ask everyone in your room. If someone does walk in its going to be mighty awkward for the remainder of your stay 😉
Book a private room.
The safest option on the list, but the one that costs you some dollar. The hostel may have some private rooms that are going to be pretty cheap compared to hotels. If they don’t you could fork out some extra buck for a hotel and experience that o so important comfort, privacy and most importantly – a double bed!
The Towel wall.
This neat little trick is your last resort if you have no other option but your dorm. This only works on the lower bunk so if you’re on a top bunk your destined to have no sex. You can hang a towel from the upper bunk as a kind of curtain to give at least some privacy! Make sure its secured well, otherwise you’ll be exposed mid flow! It’s unlikely you’ll win any awards for best room mate, but hey, you had sex!
These websites will open up travelling opportunities that you never thought possible! They are and essential weapon in a travellers arsenal for finding great deals and satisfying that ever-present wanderlust.
Kayak ExploreNot too bothered where you go and just want to get away? Simply tap in the dates you want to travel and Kayak Explore will display a world map with little boxes telling you the cheapest flights to every destination on your selected dates. Have a scroll around and you will find some ridiculously cheap flights to places you hadn’t thought to travel to before now! Some gems I found were; London – Oslo £20 return and London- Rome £35 return. You cant go wrong.
BlaBlaCarGetting from one place to another while travelling can often be a drain on your funds. BlaBlaCar can help! If someone is driving to where you want to go you can purchase a seat in their car along with other travellers. This is great in two respects; one it can be dirt cheap, and two, the people who you share your car with can come from all walks of life and you can meet some great characters.
HostelworldThis is my go to site for accommodation when I’m travelling. Hostels are by far the cheapest accommodation around the world as well as the best for travellers. Hostelworld has the best hostels listed in every part of the world you can think of. Booking through these guys means you save a lot of money, meaning you can travel for longer!
Holiday PiratesMy first reaction when my friend showed me this website was; “Is this legal?!!” What Holiday Pirates does is search out error fairs. This means that when airlines accidentally put flights on-line for cheaper than they should be (sometimes 10% of the price) holiday pirates picks this up and lets you know! London to Cancun for £200 return? Take my money.
Air BnbOn this site people open up their homes to guests and allow them to stay for a small fee. It’s a completely different way of doing things as you’ll be staying with locals in their own houses. These are often a lot cheaper than hotels and even sometimes hostels. Sure you don’t get the sociable side of hostels but you can have great time with your hosts who will know all the best local spots to go to. The review system also means you wont be getting a crazy cat lady as your host.
I’ts the part they don’t tell you about…
We’ve all been there, I’ve been there countless times.
There you are having the best time with your new found friends in a foreign land. You’ve met them over a pint of beer, on a walking tour or in the hostel lobby. If you met these people back home they would probably become some of your closest friends.
You’ve known them for a few days, a few hours or even a few minutes, but you’re exploring cites together, getting drunk together and creating memories that you wont forget in a jiffy.
You’re experiencing the best aspect of travelling; being completely free and sharing it with the coolest people you could wish for.
Then its over.
Just like that.
You’re travelling onto Budapest and they’re going to Berlin.
You exchange numbers and add them of Facebook. However, deep down you know that unfortunately you’re probably never going to see them again. Your paths may cross in future. But for now, its goodbye.
You feel empty.
No matter how much you have traveled, It’s the one part of it all that you cant quite get used to – and i don’t think you ever can.
It’s especially hard to say goodbye to travel friends because you’ve met in a moment where your completely free, exploring the world. You become fiends with them through a shared interest; travelling! You’re like minded people who identify with each other and its rare to find people with such similar interests. Then when you go travelling, pretty much everyone you meet shares these interests with you! You throw caution to the wind and trust people straight away only knowing their name and what country they’re from.
Even though you don’t get used to it, you come to terms with it and realize its part of travelling. Travelling, and hostels especially, are like one big revolving door; when one awesome set of mates leave, another bunch will pop out of no where to have an awesome time with.
Its bitter sweet, but its the way it has to be, it’s also the best way for it to be. You’ve met these people, you’ve had the best of times together and you’ve said goodbye as the best of friends. Memories have been made that will stay with you for the rest of your life. You’ve said your goodbyes.
However, you know that if you were to ever meet again…it would be like you saw each other yesterday.
So it turns out Vienna is famous for museums, churches and the opera – who knew! I certainly didn’t when I booked a 3 night vacation to the city. These 3 attractions are great and attract millions, but not really my thing you see. So I was a little apprehensive if I’d have anything to do! However, I can safely say that there is so much more to Vienna! I actually had a blast and Vienna has entered as one of my favourite European cities…and all without visiting one museum or the opera.