There’s a big wide world out there and many first-time backpackers can’t wait to get out and explore each and every corner of it. That first trip away from home will always linger in your memories – for better or for worse!
But! It’s important not to run before you can walk. Instead of losing yourself in a desert or up a mountain somewhere – before you’ve even ever had a taste of adventure – consider the following 15 destinations for first-time backpackers.
All are accessible, with many opportunities for adventure and meeting fantastic new people. A trip to these destinations will certainly set you up for future adventures and provide a plethora of great experiences and memories.
Scotland may not be on the top of the list for armchair adventurers but it’s a fantastic country to explore. From buzzing cultural cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow to quaint villages and homely country pubs, it’s a country of stark differences. The North Coast 500 is great for road trippers. Glencoe offers spectacular views and Loch Ness is a must for monster hunters, while the rugged west coast is fantastic for seafood, remote islands and the famous Harry Potter steam train. Don’t forget to try haggis, neeps and tatties, washed down with some of the best whisky in the world!
The Emerald Isle is home to beautiful landscapes, rolling hills, jagged mountains and some of the liveliest towns and cities (Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Galway and Limerick) in the world. It’s well worth doing a tour of the country, by any means you wish. Road trips are great, but you could also walk and camp around the country – there’s always a farmer willing to let you kip in their field! The Wicklow Mountains just outside of Dublin are excellent for outdoorsy types and the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland is stunning.
The land down under is an amazing place to start your travels and the country is more or less set up for backpackers. Organized tours, excellent hostels and transport links across the country allow thousands of likeminded people to seek adventure in Oz and travel buddies are never far away. The landscape offers golden coasts, scorching deserts, vibrant rainforests and much more. It’s easy to get a working holiday visa for Australia, so why not spend a year or two working and travelling?
Like Oz, New Zealand is an adventurer’s paradise. The stunning landscape is the stuff of legends and offers backpackers a huge range of adrenaline pumping activities, such as bungee jumping, skydiving and ice trekking on glaciers. With English as the native language, it’s easy to get around and there are great options for accommodation and travel.
Southeast Asia is one of the most popular destinations for first-time backpackers, with Thailand among the most popular country to visit. From the buzzing city of Bangkok to the magical Khao Sok national park, there’s something for everyone. At times you’ll feel a million miles away from home, but there are many likeminded backpackers in the same boat as you!
Vietnam is another popular destination for first-time backpackers on a budget and this cultural hotbed doesn’t disappoint. Packed with ancient sites and temples, and stunning scenery, it’s a great country to explore by motorcycle if you’re feeling brave. For non-riders, buses will take you where ever you need to be.
The sprawling metropolis is well worth a visit and despite its size, is fairly easy to get around. There’s loads to see and do, from haggling at the Grand Bazaar, to enjoying a shisha and a cup of tea on one of the many rooftop terraces, the call to prayer echoing in the background. The city also serves as a great base to explore the many sites around the country, from wild Olympos to breathtaking Cappadocia.
The Cities of the Blue Danube
The stunning cities of the Blue Danube are great destinations for first-time backpackers, with easy transport links and great accommodation options, as well as friendly, mostly English-speaking locals. Start in romantic Vienna, before winding down to Bratislava and finally Budapest. Each city is vastly different from the other, offering a huge variety of things to do.
Excellent train links make exploring the Italy’s hotspots a breeze, though road trippers will appreciate the stunning scenery on offer, especially on the coast roads. From rustic Tuscany, to frivolous Venice and down to ancient Rome, it’s a country of variety. The Amalfi Coast is a must see and it’d be a crime not to sample freshly cooked seafood spaghetti while you’re there! Alternatively, the lakes and mountains in the north of the country are excellent for nature lovers.
Starting in Barcelona, exploring the Pyrenees and dipping into Pamplona before hitting the beach – north Spain has got it all. Barcelona is simply stunning, with beaches, history and culture aplenty, as well as great tapas! Buses and trains will take you wherever you need to go, but a road trip through the mountains is worth considering.
Germany’s vibrant capital is certainly worth a visit for any first-time backpacker. The friendly city offers a great night life, a treasure trove of art galleries and museums and one of the coolest vibes of any city on earth. Raw and beautiful, a traveller could walk the streets all day, taking in amazing street art, before grabbing a mouthwatering Berlin Döner Kebab and a local beer.
Poland is naturally stunning with cities that merge history and culture, while moving with the times. Wrocław, Krakow, Łódź, Gdansk and Warszawa are all excellent cities to visit, with great hostels and transport links. Nature lovers can head to Zakopane in the Tatra mountains and take in the spectacular views. Wherever you visit, sample the local Wódka and Pierogi!
The land of ice and fire may not be the cheapest place to visit, but it has so much to offer. Nature lovers will find a paradise among the volcanoes, lagoons and moody coastlines. The capital, Reykjavík, is a great place to start and has a nice vibe, but the best attractions lay out in the wild. For lone star travellers, a road trip around the island, camping in some of the many well-equipped sites along the way can be a fantastic adventure.
South America is becoming an increasingly popular destination for first-time backpackers, and as the country moves with the times it’s clear to see why. The country is home to many epic sites, such as Machu Picchu – and well-organized tours are easy to arrange. With mountains, rainforests and beaches, there’s something for everyone.
Sticking with South America, Argentina is perhaps the most accessible country on the continent. The city of Buenos Aires is effortlessly cool, with a great vibe and some awesome hostels. Great food and drink aplenty, plus a vibrant nightlife and an array of cultural activities – you may be tempted to not leave the city. However, it’s well worth heading south to Tierra del Fuego (the end of the world) and the lake districts, for out of this world scenery and hiking, plus wineries, horse riding and penguins!