Backpacking Through Europe – Then and Now

Backpacking thru Europe: Then and Now. Tips from when I backpacked during college and what I what do now as an adult. Includes my itinerary or route.

 As I mention fairly often, in 2008 I backpacked through Europe with a good friend of mine.

Pre-trip with our backpacks
With Jill

Now that I am older and have more financial resources (aka a job), I thought it’d be fun to dream about how I would do it differently. Here we go:


The Flight

Then: Air India in Economy to London

Now: Focus more of air miles since I’m all about those points! I’d also consider flying Icelandair for a free layover in Iceland. Economy Comfort (or Business) would be preferred since even from the US East Coast it’s still a bit of a flight


Transportation between cities

Then: A mixture of trains, planes, and buses

Now: The same – Europe has a great rail system and many budget airlines


London, UK

Then: Hostel near Piccadilly Circus

Now: A hotel in a less touristy area. There are tons of good options from old school to modern and trendy. The Mondrian London looks groovy and their award winning Danelyan cocktail bar has many drinks I’d love to try.


Then: Walking tours, seeing a show on the West End

Now: London is a great city to walk around. I’d love to see another show on the West End (maybe something about to hit Broadway) as well as the Globe. The British Museum is supposed to be incredible – and the Tate Modern and National Gallery could be great stops as well.

Shakespeare's Globe
We stopped at the Globe but weren’t able to see a show

Bristol, UK

Then: A visit to the adorable town of Bristol, which is where Bristol University is and a friend of Jill’s sister, which is how we ended up there

Now: Check out another part of England – Bath or Brighton, perhaps?


Dublin, Ireland

Then: A stay in a hostel with bed bugs (yikes!)

Now: We have friends who live outside of Dublin so we’d stay with them or in a hotel in Dublin and travel to visit them


Then: The Guinness Storehouse and lots of drinking

Guinness StorehouseNow: The same. We both have fond memories of the Guinness Storehouse. Adam also talks about the most delicious Guinness he’s ever had at a bar near the Storehouse so we would adventure to find it!


Tour of Ireland – Blarney Stone, Cliffs of Moher

Then: Shamrocker Adventures tour of Southern Ireland

Outside in IrelandNow: The Ireland tour was GORGEOUS but I’d love to see Scotland, where my cousin lives in Glasgow. Renting a car and doing a tour that includes Edinburgh would be scenic and fun.


Paris, France

Then: Hostel in Montmartre

Sacre-Coeur in Paris

Now: Paris is one of my favorite cities. I love the architecture, the atmosphere, the food. I’d love to stay in Montmartre again – a hilly neighborhood once inhabited by artists or a hotel with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower

Then: Day trip to Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre-Coeur

Now: I’d add a tour of the Catacombs to the list as well as many delicious dinners and wine. Perhaps a trip to Champagne, France as well?


Brussels, Belgium

Then: Food tour filled with frites, waffles, chocolate and beer

With a waffle in Brussels, BelgiumNow: Brussels was a bit disappointing to me. Next time I’d go to Bruges, Ghent or even Spa – where spas were invented!


Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam canalThen: Enjoying the coffee shops, as well as learning about the city through walking tours and the Anne Frank Museum.

Now: I’d love to go when the tulips are in bloom (generally March-May), as well as get out of the city a bit. In Amsterdam, I’d love to do a canal boat cruise and learn more about the architecture.


Hamburg, Germany

Then: A stay with a relative of Jill’s

Now: Hamburg is a very nice city but I’d love to check out other areas of Germany – perhaps Frankfurt


Berlin, Germany

Berlin, GermanyThen: Bike tour and lots of learning about the history of Berlin and Germany

Bike tour of Berlin
Bike tour of Berlin

Now: Berlin is an incredible city to me – constantly changing and reinventing itself. I’d love to see how it’s changed and learn more about what the city went through during WWII


Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech RepublicThen: Gorgeous architecture, a black light show and a bar crawl

Now: Another stunning city. I’d take in more of the architecture. The Prague Castle is supposed to have gorgeous views of the city.


Vienna, Austria

Then: A weird museum and not much else I remember – I didn’t particularly like Vienna

Now: I’d go to Salzburg or to Switzerland


Venice, Italy

Then: A quick day while waiting for the next train.

Now: I’d love to spend more time in this canal filled city. It can be quite touristy so I’d try to venture out of those areas.


Florence, Italy

Then: A stay outside of the city with gorgeous views. A wine tasting, delicious gelato, shopping and art.

Florence, ItalyNow: I’d probably stay inside the city so I could see more of it. The Hotel Villa Cora is stunning – it looks like the Palace of Versailles. Lots of gelato is a must (Grom is famous for it), as well as pasta and all the other delicious Italian food.

Day trip to Pisa
Day trip to Pisa

Rome, Italy

Then: All the famous sites, a tour of the Vatican and smelly subway rides

Now: This time I’d go inside the Coliseum and I’d do a guided tour to learn more about all the history



CroatiaThen: One of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been. At the time, it was starting to become a popular tourist destination mostly with Europeans but also with celebrities.

Now: I would go back for sure or over to Greece which is also quite beautiful


 Places I’d Add:

Spain, for sure. I’ve heard amazing things about Barcelona and would love to check out the country, which we missed the last time.

Nice, France and Southern France would be another place to add.

Cinque Terre – I’ve heard is quite touristy now but is supposed to be gorgeous


Where would you recommend?


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Backpacking thru Europe: Then and Now. Tips from when I backpacked during college and what I what do now as an adult. Includes my itinerary or route. Backpacking thru Europe: Then and Now. Tips from when I backpacked during college and what I what do now as an adult. Includes my itinerary or route.


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