A central Europe backpacking route guide to Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Salzburg, Prague, and Budapest.
As a lover of old-school European cities, I have fallen in love with the architecture and shared culture of Central Europe. Dutch tulips, German pretzels and lederhosen, Austrian classical music, and so much more await a backpacking trip to these alluring cities. To top it off, most of these places are easily able to be traveled on a budget!
I would recommend a minimum of 3 weeks to backpack this route, but stay even longer if you can. Each city can be optimized in about 2-4 days, the only exception being Salzburg at a day or two.
Amsterdam->Berlin: 6 hours by train
Berlin->Munich: 4 hours by train
Munich->Salzburg: 2 hours by bus (day trip)
Munich->Prague: 5 hours by bus
Prague->Budapest: 9 hours by train
Oh the ambiance of Amsterdam…the infamous legal marijuana, red light district, and bar crawls. To some travelers (cough cough, me in my first visits to the city) this is everything you could want to experience in a place. But luckily, there is also more to the story, as the city holds a rich and haunting history, full of unique activities. However, keep in mind Amsterdam is a bit more expensive in terms of other cities.
Expected Budget per Day: €40-€50
Where to Stay
As always hostels are my go-to accommodation, and there are a bunch of options in Amsterdam. Hostelworld is the app I always book through, as you can filter your results based on the features that are most important to you (i.e. distance to city center, ratings, etc.). Personally, I love StayOkay Amsterdam Vondelpark (there are a couple in different StayOkay spots throughout the city), as the location is amazing and the cleanliness has
always been on point. Here are some other great options:
Things to Do
Note the very important difference between coffee shops and cafes here- coffee shops are places to hang out and engage in some extra-curricular activities, while cafes are a traditional place to grab a cup of coffee.
A canal tour is one of the best ways to really see a city, but especially Amsterdam. I’ve done a private tour with wine and cheese, but also a budget tour by Lovers, which was super informational! Either way, I’d do the tour at sunset, as it’s the perfect time to relax, have a beer, and see everyone biking home or heading to dinner.
Anne Frank House
This experience was a very humbling experience and a unique way to learn more about the cold history of Amsterdam and Anne Frank’s experience. If this is an activity you are interested in, make sure you get your tickets in advance, as they can be hard to get (especially during high tourism).
Bike in Vondelpark
Biking around Amsterdam’s Vondelpark is a great way to “escape” the city and see Amsterdam’s largest park. Take a bottle of wine and cheese (can you tell I like wine and cheese?) and have a picnic in the park with the locals. If you stay at StayOkay in Vondelpark, you can rent a bike directly from the hostel! Word to the wise, I recommend biking in Vondelpark rather than the city as it is not a place for tourists…and I learned that after almost getting run over…twice.
The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch National museum dedicated to Dutch history and art from hundreds of years ago to today. Among other amazing and notable artists, the Rijksmuseum has an extensive collection of pieces by Van Gogh. The Rijksmuseum is located in Amsterdam South and is near the Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, so you can hit a bunch in one day. Tickets for the Rijksmuseum run at €19, those 18 and under can get in for free.
The Heineken Experience is a brewery tour of the oldest Heineken brew house, right in the heart of Amsterdam. Tickets come with a tour, beer tasting, and two pints at the rooftop bar.
Tickets at the door cost €21, but you can save €3 when booking online.
Hit a Microbrewery
Brouwerij ‘t IJ is an artisan brewery in one of Amsterdam’s last remaining windmills. There is a large beer garden and small tours available in the brewery. Brouwerij ‘t IJis in East Amsterdam and can be accessed via the public transportation and Centraal Station.
What to Eat
Waffle with Nutella and Strawberries