The Essential Backpacker's Guide to Europe – Part 5

Published: 07/25/2014

We have reached the final instalment of our five-part guide to backpacking across Europe. It has been an exciting adventure as we've travelled to northern France, Germany, Poland, Greece, Italy, and a handful of other countries. The final leg of our journey will take us to southern France and Spain.

If you haven't read the first four parts of this series, we urge you to do so. If nothing else, at least read part one. In that post you will find helpful tips that will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable backpacking trip. Now, onward to southern France and Spain!

Southern France

In northern France, we concentrated on historic sites like Mont Saint-Michel and the Palace of Versailles. Southern France is all about the Riviera and the Mediterranean coast. One of the first things we recommend after entering from Switzerland is to head south along the coast to Monaco. Although Monaco is an independent state, its influence on southern France is undeniable. It is a place for big dreams and big opportunities.

You should also make a point of seeing Marseille. It is considered the hub of southern France. You might want to check out the Dordogne Valley for some great hiking and the French Riviera if you are into the beach scene. Be sure to travel through the Basque region on your way to Spain. It is one of the most unique areas in all of France.


Our final destination in Spain will be Madrid, where you can catch a flight back to the UK. That means your best bet is to either travel along the Mediterranean coast on the country's east side, or concentrate on the west side at the border of Portugal. The tourists tend to follow the Mediterranean coast. That's what we'll do as well.

A good first destination after crossing into northern Spain is the famous city of Pamplona. If you time it just right, you could run with the bulls. Zaragoza is another good option as you make your way south-east towards Barcelona. From Barcelona just follow the coastline down to Cartegna.

Valencia is another good city to visit as you head down the coast. Valencia is a modern resort town with a lot of incredible modern architecture. It is almost like the Sydney of Spain.

When you leave the southern coast, you will be heading north-west towards Madrid. Trekkers will especially appreciate the Sierra Nevada and Sierra Morena regions of central Spain. From there it is up to Madrid and then back home to the UK. Should you decide to follow the border with Portugal instead, a good place to stop in the south is Seville.

We have certainly covered a lot of ground in this five-part series – you will too if you follow the route we've laid out. Backpacking across Europe is an experience unlike anything else you have ever tried. It is a great way to spend your gap year or see Europe with your family without spending a lot of money. Enjoy!

Posted in: Europe Backpacking
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