Best places to visit when backpacking Europe

After three treks to Europe, I came home with more than just colorful stamps in my passport.

I learned to appreciation the European lifestyle, the war torn battleground of my grandparent's generation, and the opulent art that defies time and endures. 

Here are the places that stole my heart:

Riomaggiore, Italy

Riomaggiore, Italy
A calm and vibrant coastal town that hugs the hillside and provides spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. This romantic villa is the perfect place for a romantic stroll, the Via dell'Amore (the way of love), is path that provides unmatched views of the Sea. $$$


Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia 
Take a boat trip to nearby Lockrum Island, sunbath, walk the Old Wall, swim in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea and eat Gelado for breakfast. This sunny paradise will leave you with tanned skin and some money in your pocketbook. It gets hot in the summer, so make sure to book a room with A/C. $$

Korcula, Croatia

Korcula, Croatia
Okay, Croatia is so good, it makes the list twice (What? Even Mothers have their favorites). One of Croatia's many islands, Korcula is an ancient Venetian town, hosting two rare ancient Venetian winged lion sculptures, clean water and small town charm. A chic place to enjoy the sun and take it easy. $$


Simisrhamn, Sweden
Simisrhamn, Sweden
Once a fisherman's village, today Simisrhamn is a popular Summer retreat. The brightly painted cottages, viking markings and views of the Baltic Sea are the perfect backdrop for a peaceful bike ride.
$$$$

Brugge, Belgium
Brugge, Belgium
Climb the Clock Tower, eat the best chocolate in the world, rent a bike, take a boat tour, and enjoy some beer in a pub established in 1515. This charmer will steal your heart and pocket book. $$$$ - Brugge Hostel Recommended: St. Christopher's

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands
A hot spot for art and culture, Amsterdam is a great place to visit. Make sure to visit the Rembrandt Museum, Van Gogh Museum, and Ann Frank House. Stroll the picturesque canals, take a boat tour, visit the Red Light District and CoffeeShops if you fancy. Amsterdam is a budget buster that is worth every penny. $$$$

Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk, Poland
Try to visit the town during the annual St. Dominic's Fair, held in the Summer. The streets are alive with lively performances, vendors selling a host of interesting objects and activities abound for the whole family. Take refuge in St. Mary's Church if the heat and crowds get to be too much. Almost all churches in Poland are free to the public. $$

Inverness, Scotland

Inverness, Scotland
This Highland gem is well situated for a variety of activities and tastes.  Take a boat ride on the Loch Ness and search for the Loch Ness Monster, tour the Clan Grant Castle, visit Culloden Battlefield and ancient Standing Stones. $$$

Nothern Ireland Coast


Northern Ireland
Take a day trip to the Northern Irish Coast, cross the bridge at Carrick Rede  and marvel at the view. Sample some whiskey at Bushmill's Distillery (the oldest distillery in the world), check out the unique rock formations on the Giant's Causeway. But, don't plan on leaving Belfast without taking an eye opening Black Taxi Tour. If you have some time, go and visit the Queen's University Botanical Gardens.  $$$ - Belfast Hostel Recommend: Vagabonds 

Dublin, Ireland


Dublin, Ireland
So much to do, so little time! Dublin is a lively city that knows how to have a good time. This well worn path is worth the trip. Visit the Temple Bar Region, tour the Guinness Storehouse, see the Book of Kells, and enjoy this friendly, vibrant city. $$$

Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain
The perfect mix of Spanish and Moorish culture. Enjoy the music, Hookah bars, cured meats, and of course the famous Alhambra. Oh right, and it feels like perpetual Summer...if your into that kinda thing. $$

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There you have it! My personal list of favorite European destinations for 2013. I tried to include destinations that keep the costs down (or were well worth the extra dough).

Honorable mention: Barcelona, London, Venice, Bath, Avignon, Seville and Segovia. Places that swell my heart in memory, but have a well worn path left for any tourist to follow.

Spread the love, world travellers!  Where do you recommend?

All images & content by: Elizabeth Aley
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