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Europe Backpacking Packing List: Essentials Guide

Pack the right clothing and toiletries with our essential packing tips for backpacking Europe. Learn what to take for your adventure.

Manuel M.

February 26, 2024

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Planning a backpacking adventure across Europe? Whether you’re exploring the historic streets of Rome, hiking the picturesque Alps, or enjoying the vibrant nightlife of Berlin, packing smartly is critical to a smooth and enjoyable trip.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to pack for your European adventure, from choosing the perfect backpack to essential gear and helpful tips. Have everything you need while on the ground, and even know what to pack for the airplane!

Choose the Ideal Backpack for Your Trip

Get a comfortable backpack for Europe. Source: Pexels

Your backpack is your travel companion, so choosing the right one makes all the difference. The best backpack is made from a durable material but is lightweight and, most importantly, comfortable

This is especially true for those traveling alone and backpackers. Most of the time, you’ll be on the move, discovering new places and most likely using many of the things you have in your backpack. An ideal backpack won’t hold you back and will provide easy access to essential items.

For easy packing, look for backpacks with additional features like multiple compartments, padded shoulder strap support, and adjustable waist belts.

Gear Up for Adventure: Backpacking Essentials for Europe

Let’s begin by covering the essential categories for backpacking around Europe. The most important things to remember are clothing, footwear, hygiene, hydration, electronics, and communication.

Clothing for Every Climate

Europe boasts diverse climates, from the sunny Mediterranean to the chilly Nordic regions. It’s best to pack various clothing so that you can quickly adapt to different temperatures. Layer your clothing and be ready for sudden climate changes.

Choose fabrics that will keep you warm, can dry quickly, and are not too cumbersome to carry while you backpack in Europe. The previously mentioned compartments are the best way to pack your clothes to know which ones to use for each season.

Enjoy Rome with the ideal backpacking list. Source: Pexels

If you know for sure what part of Europe you’ll spend most of your time, then we’ve got the perfect recommendation of what to pack for your backpacking adventure:

Mediterranean Climate:

  • – Lightweight, breathable clothing such as shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and sandals.
  • – Take a hat and sunglasses for sun protection.

Northern Continental Climate:

  • – Layered clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and jackets.
  • – Bring a waterproof jacket and sturdy footwear for rain and colder temperatures.

Alpine Climate:

  • – Warm, insulated clothing such as thermal underwear, fleece jackets, and waterproof pants.
  • – Pack gloves, hats, and scarves for extra warmth.

Northern Scandinavian Climate:

  • – Heavyweight, insulated clothing, including down jackets, thick sweaters, and waterproof boots, are best for this climate.
  • – Don’t forget thermal socks and gloves to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures.

Footwear Adapted to Europe

Comfortable and durable footwear is essential for exploring Europe’s cobblestone streets, rugged trails, and bustling cities. Invest in a pair of sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots for outdoor adventures, and bring along a pair of comfortable sneakers or sandals for urban exploration.

Ensure your shoes are broken before your trip to avoid blisters and discomfort. To make it easier for you, check the table below. Consider what activities you’ll be doing the most in Europe, and that way, you’ll know exactly what to pack.

Best footwear for backpacking Europe:

ActivityAppropriate Footwear
City Sightseeing 🏢Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers are ideal for exploring cities like Paris, London, and Berlin. Choose lightweight, supportive shoes with good cushioning for long days of walking. 
Hiking and Outdoor ⛰️For hiking and outdoor activities in Europe’s scenic landscapes, invest in sturdy hiking boots with ankle support and soles with a good grip. Use waterproof boots to keep your feet dry in wet conditions and rugged terrain.
Beach Relaxation 🏖️Sandals or flip-flops are perfect for relaxing on beaches like Bordeira, Amio or Cala Granadella. Choose waterproof options with comfortable straps and non-slip soles for sandy shores and seaside strolls.
Winter Adventures ☃️In snowy or icy conditions, insulated winter boots with traction soles are essential for staying warm and safe. Look for boots with waterproof materials, insulation, and grip to navigate snowy streets and alpine terrain.
Casual Explorations 🚶‍♀️Casual sneakers or loafers are versatile options for everyday exploring in Europe. Choose breathable materials and supportive designs for comfort during leisurely walks, museum visits, and casual outings.
Outdoor Sports 🥍For outdoor sports such as cycling, running, or tennis, select specialized athletic shoes designed for your activity of choice. Look for features like cushioning, stability, and traction to enhance performance and prevent injuries.
Nightlife and Dancing 💃🏿Comfortable yet stylish shoes are essential for enjoying Europe’s vibrant nightlife and dancing scenes. Opt for fashionable footwear with cushioned insoles and support to keep your feet happy on the dance floor all night long.

Hygiene and Hydration

Pack essential hygiene items to stay fresh during your travels and water to stay hydrated.

Toiletries are handy for the long-haul, where you have long flights, during layovers, long train travels, and even when you’re out camping in the beautiful Swiss Alps. We recommend taking the following:

  • ·         Shampoo
  • ·         Conditioner
  • ·         Body wash
  • ·         Toothpaste
  • ·         A compact towel

Remember to bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially during outdoor activities and in warmer weather. See the recommended amount of water you should drink daily, depending on what you plan to do in Europe:

  • 1. City Sightseeing: Drink 8–10 ounces of water every 1–2 hours. 
  • 2. Hiking and Outdoor Adventures: Consume 16–32 ounces of water per hour.
  • 3. Beach Relaxation: Aim for 8–10 ounces of water every hour.
  • 4. Formal Occasions: Stay hydrated with at least 64–80 ounces of water daily.
  • 5. Winter Adventures: Drink 8–10 ounces of water per hour.
  • 6. Casual Explorations: Hydrate with 8–10 ounces of water every 1–2 hours.
  • 7. Outdoor Sports: Aim for 16–32 ounces of water per hour of exercise.
  • 8. Nightlife and Dancing: Drink 8–10 ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed.

Electronics Essentials

When you travel, you must keep your smartphone and other devices charged, but outlets in different countries may vary in size and form, and the voltage might not be the same as back. Even the chargers for iPhones are different!

Consider taking the following electronics to keep your battery going: regulate the voltage to protect your devices.

Electronic EssentialWhy You Should Take It
Portable Power BankKeep your devices charged on the go with a portable power bank. Ideal for long days of sightseeing or outdoor adventures where access to power outlets may be limited.
Universal Travel AdapterA universal travel adapter allows you to charge your devices in different countries with varying plug types. Ensure you stay connected and powered up wherever you go.
Charging CablesPack charging cables for your smartphone, camera, and other electronic devices. Be prepared to recharge your devices whenever needed, especially during long days of walking and exploring.
Lightweight CameraWhile smartphones offer great photo quality, a lightweight camera with a high-quality lens can capture stunning images of your travels. Perfect for capturing memories and landscapes in greater detail.
HeadsetsHeadsets are essential for enjoying music, podcasts, or movies while traveling. They provide entertainment during long journeys and offer privacy in crowded spaces.

Communication

Stay connected with friends and family back home and easily navigate unfamiliar cities using options like Holafly’s eSIM cards for Europe.

But what is an eSIM? To make it short it’s a new virtual SIM with which you can connect faster and more efficiently while traveling!

We recommend you pack the digital SIM card when backpacking Europe because it avoids the hassle of exchanging your SIM card every time you arrive in a new country.

These convenient options provide reliable internet access wherever you go, allowing you to stay connected, share your experiences, and access essential travel information on the fly.

With an eSIM, like Holaflys, you’ll receive:

  • –       Unlimited data and 500 MB daily for hotspot!📱
  • –       Plans that you can customize for any number of days 🗓
  •       Connect as soon as you land 🛬
  •       Avoid roaming charges 🧾
  •       Get a 4G/5G connected 📶
  • –       24/7 customer service available 📞

Tips on What to Bring When Backpacking for Europe

If it’s your first time backpacking, packing for Europe can be daunting, but with these helpful tips, you’ll be prepared for any adventure that comes your way. 

Consider the Time of the Year

Europe experiences distinct seasons, so consider the weather and climate of your destination when packing. Check average temperatures and weather forecasts to pack appropriate clothing and gear for your trip.

We’ve crunched down the average weather conditions throughout Europe below for you to get an idea of what you should expect and pack for your backpacking getaway.

1. Spring (March to May):

  •    – Milder temperatures, occasional rain showers, and budding foliage.
  •    – Average temperatures range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F).

2. Summer (June to August):

  •    – Warm to hot temperatures, abundant sunshine, and minimal rainfall.
  •    – Average temperatures range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F).

3. Autumn (September to November):

  •    – Cooler temperatures, changing foliage colors, and increased rainfall.
  •    – Average temperatures range from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F) initially, cooling down to 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F) by November.

4. Winter (December to February):

  •    – Varies widely by region, with cold temperatures, snowfall, and icy conditions in Northern and Eastern Europe.
  •    – Average temperatures range from below freezing to 10°C (14°F to 50°F) in Northern Europe, and 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F) in Southern Europe.

Consider the Destination You Are Traveling To

When backpacking throughout Europe, knowing your destination’s cultural norms, activities, and attractions is crucial to pack accordingly.

Regardless, if you’re exploring historic landmarks, enjoying outdoor adventures, or indulging in the local gastronomy, your Europe backpacking packing list has to consider a few tips and tricks:

  • Local weather and seasonal conditions
  • Will I spend more time indoors or outdoors?
  • Are there cultural restrictions or traditions regarding clothing?
  • Is there easy access to food and water in rural areas just as urban?
  • Be ready for sudden changes in the weather
  • Always have ID, visas, and permits

Use Packing Cubes

Maximize space and stay organized by using packing cubes to compartmentalize your luggage. Pack similar items together to streamline your packing process and make finding what you need on-the-go easier.

Divide and organize your backpack wisely, knowing what you need easier and quicker access to and what makes up most of your bulk. On average, a backpacking packing list is distributed like this:

  • 1. Clothing: 40%
  • 2. Gear and Equipment: 20%
  • 3. Toiletries and Personal Care: 15%
  • 4. Electronics: 10%
  • 5. Miscellaneous: 15%

Pack Light and Use Laundry on the Go

Traveling with a heavy backpack can be exhausting, so pack light and consider minimalist packing. The best way to avoid having to take too much luggage is to take advantage of laundry facilities at hostels, hotels, or laundromats.

Cotton and polyester clothing are very forgiving and effortless to clean. Don’t worry about staining your shirt or pants while street-eating. With a few coins and a laundry mat nearby, you’ll be able to freshen up your clothes and lighten your load.

Keep an open mind, be flexible, and be respectful of local traditions and customs as you begin your European experience. Make experiences that will endure a lifetime by embracing the unexpected and savoring every moment.

Is your European journey packed and ready to go? With Holafly’s dependable eSIMs and pocket WiFi, you can stay connected and effortlessly explore. Hassle and chip-free, the digital SIM card give one less thing to worry about. With unlimited data and even data sharing, you won’t miss a thing.

Enjoy your trips to the fullest and make memories that will last a lifetime with easy ways to stay connected while on the road. 

FAQ about What to Take Backpacking in Europe

What do you need for backpacking through Europe?

For backpacking through Europe, essentials include a sturdy backpack, versatile clothing, comfortable footwear, essential toiletries, electronics, and communication tools like eSIMs or pocket WiFi for staying connected on the go.

What should I pack for 7 weeks in Europe?

For a 7-week trip to Europe, pack enough clothing for a week and plan to do laundry regularly. Bring versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched, along with essential toiletries, electronics, and travel essentials.

How to pack for 3 months in Europe?

Packing for a 3-month trip to Europe requires careful planning and organization. Pack lightweight, versatile clothing, plan to do laundry regularly, and prioritize essential items like toiletries, electronics, and communication tools for staying connected.

How do I pack a backpack for 2 weeks in Europe?

For a 2-week trip to Europe, pack light and focus on essentials. Bring enough clothing for a week, and plan to do laundry halfway through your journey. Pack versatile pieces that can be layered mixed, and matched, along with essential toiletries, electronics, and travel essentials.

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