Hey! I am planning to backpack with a friend through Europe from February - July of 2011. We are planning to visit England, Holland, Portugal, Spain, and France, and then check out Italy and spend some time in Greece. Where are the secret sights/cities/whatever that we shouldn't miss? Any tips?
Thanks to all who respond!
Answer on Westernish Europe Backpack Tour!!!?
The most important thing is to make the trip suit you.
So make a short list of what makes Europe for you. Likely places like London and Paris. If so, do keep them on your list.
Plan 5 days each for London and Paris, 3 days for all other mayor cities, and 2 days for the rest of the cities.
But also spend some time in small towns, villages and national parks. Or in beach resorts if you like that.
Try to mix them, like a few days in a big city and next a few days going to smaller towns or spending time at the beach. And next the next big city. Or in February to early April, go skiing in between cities.
That way the cities do not all blend into one big blur and you get a much more balanced view on Europe.
The best places are not put on internet, but are passed on from one person traveling to the other. Part of the reason is that you can judge whether you have the same likes and dislikes and an other part is that things can change fast and when you find something you like it can be so new that it has no reviews yet.
If you want to use rail passes, it might be best to buy a few one country passes or regio passes, and fly from one area to an other.
As you are likely to be needing a visa for the Schengen area, it might be best to plan England (and maybe Scotland, Wales and Ireland too) in between different Schengen countries. Most people can get visa waiver stamps or visa for 90 days out of each 180 days at most of the Schengen countries and a like period for the common area of the UK and Ireland.
By combining them you could stretch your travels to 6 months, or you can try to have two separate periods in the Schengen countries.
Coming as tourist you can not work in Europe. So you will need to have enough money for your stay. If you are from one of the countries that get a visa waiver stamp, like the USA, Australia or New Zealand, you are likely not need to proof your money as you first come over, but if you keep traveling, back and forth, you are more likely to be asked to proof it. And the people at the border control expect you to use much more money than most people backpacking actually need.
If you have to apply for visa before you come over you will have to proof the money and in itinerary when applying, making traveling in Europe much harder.
You can see what you need in visa in this site.
Just fill out all fields, and it will tell you.
If in doubt, double check with the site of an consulate for one of the Schengen countries in your country, or with one for the UK.