Where is the cheapest place for backpackers

The 20 best backpacker destinations for shorter trips

Last updated on October 15, 2020

Do you only have your annual vacation available?

It's a shame, but not so bad, with the right travel destination you can still have a successful backpacker trip. But you should have three weeks, especially for long-haul destinations (consider: at least 12 - 20 hours to get there and back, jet lag, etc.). If you only have very little time, you should think about a pure city break.

What makes a good backpacker destination for a shorter trip?

  • Short distances and easy transport: You don't have a lot of time and you don't want to spend it mainly on the bus, 14h bus trips every few days are not great. Ergo, smaller (not too small) / medium-sized countries or compact parts of the country, or theoretically large countries with very cheap domestic flights, are the best choice.
  • Not too long or expensive travel: New Zealand, for example, is great but a bad choice here. Min. 48h arrival and return trip together will steal 4 days of vacation, it's not worth it. A journey of more than 12 hours is actually not recommended.
  • Costs: self-explanatory, always an important topic, especially for backpackers. It should be noted, however, that European destinations are often more expensive in terms of accommodation, food, etc., but because of the significantly lower travel costs, they can end up being cheaper or similar in the end. Therefore, it is essential to offset: € 500 higher flight costs, e.g. for 3 weeks, mean that you have to spend € 23 more per day in Europe. Of course, the longer your trip, the more likely a long-haul destination with low cost of living will pay off. See also the list of the cheapest backpacking countries.
  • No stressful visa (either without or to buy when entering the country. An e-visa would also be possible.)
  • Weather: of course you want to be there when the weather is good. Not all destinations are suitable for every season, including those listed below, of course.


In addition, the criteria that are always relevant for backpacker trips:

  • tourist infrastructure
  • many highlights & sights
  • much variety
  • as safe and cheap as possible


And here they are (sorted by continent):





Why: It's not small, but most of the attractions are along a compact route from Wroclaw via Krakow and Warsaw to Gdansk. Lots of history and culture, High Tatras, Baltic Sea beaches and very cheap. It is not for nothing that it is very popular with non-European backpackers.

-> More about backpacking in Eastern Europe


Slovenia, Dalmatia (Croatia) + Montenegro

Why: Compact, still reasonably priced and with a great coastline. Krka and Durmitor national parks are also a must. Julian Alps, Bled and Bohinj Lake. Want even cheaper? Albania, but also much more rustic.

-> More about backpacking in Eastern Europe



Why: Small but not too small, lots of history, Pindos & Olymp mountains and nowhere is island hopping as good as in the Aegean.

-> More about backpacking in Eastern Europe


Andalusia (Spain)

Why: Super varied. Mediterranean coast, Sierra Nevada, the only desert in Europe, relics of the Moors, vibrant cities.

-> More about backpacking in Western Europe



Why: Small and compact. Lisbon, Algarve and the westernmost point of continental Europe. Cheaper than Spain. The natural paradise of the Azores can be built in easily and cheaply (RyanAir from Lisbon).

-> More about backpacking in Western Europe



Why: Small but grandiose landscape. Northern lights (aurora borealis). Perfectly suited for a complete circumnavigation by campervan road trip on the Ringstrasse.

Arrival: Non-Stop with Icelandair Air to Reykjavik (approx. 4 hours)

Travel guide: Michael Müller, Stefan Loose, Lonely Planet or travel know-how; + Rother hiking guide


Sicily & Malta

Why: Roman & Greek ruins, food, beaches, active volcanoes. Hiking & diving. A ferry connection makes linking the two easy.

Arrival: Non-stop with Ryanair to Catania, Palermo or Malta (approx. 3 hours)

Travel guide: Michael Müller, Lonely Planet or Reise Know-how; + Hiking guide



Why: Compact, Caucasus Mountains, Black Sea beaches, lonely monasteries. Cheap. But you have to forego a bit of comfort and convenience.

Arrival: Non-Stop with Wizz Air to Kutaisi (approx. 4 hours)

Travel guide: Stefan Loose, Reise Know-how or Trescher; plus Rother hiking guide


Middle East & North Africa


Why: Very cheap to get to with Ryanair. Islamic culture & architecture, Roman ruins, Sahara and Atlas Mountains. Safest country in the region and Africa's best rail network. Only Tunisia is smaller, but less variety and no mountains.

Arrival: Non-stop with Ryanair to Marrakech (approx. 4 hours)

Travel guide: Reise Know-how, Stefan Loose or Lonely Planet; + Rother hiking guide Morocco


Israel + Jordan

Why: Full to the brim with religious sites, Roman ruins etc .. Desert dreams in Petra, Wadi Rum and Masada. Diving in the Red Sea. Parties and nightlife in Tel Aviv. If you like, you can also take the Sinai Peninsula with you easily and without a visa - diving there is even better.

-> More about backpacking in the Middle East



Sri Lanka

Why: Beaches, national parks with safari opportunities, cultural diversity. Diving + surfing. Compact & cheap. Easier and more convenient than India.

-> to the backpacker guide for Sri Lanka



Why: The best, cheapest and easiest to organize trekking in the world. Many parts of the country are difficult to access, but almost everything noteworthy apart from the mountains is concentrated in the compact region between Kathmandu and Pokhara.

-> More about backpacking in Nepal



Why: The backpacking classic. Unbeatable price-performance ratio (especially away from the tourist strongholds). Some of the best beaches in the world. Nightlife in Bangkok. Inexpensive diving and brilliant food. Sleeper trains and very cheap domestic flights put the distances into perspective.

-> to the backpacker guide for Thailand


Malaysian Peninsula & Singapore

Why: Multi-cultural, beaches, diving, food paradise, metropolises and rainforest in a compact region with good infrastructure and cheap buses.

-> to the backpacker guide for Malaysia


South Korea

Why: Interesting culture, cold war in the DMZ, hyper-modern Seoul, many islands and national parks. Not overrun by tourists, compact and good transportation system. Favorable for a developed country. Easily connected to Japan by fast ferry or a visa-free detour to Beijing.

Arrival: Non-stop with Lufthansa, Asiana or Korean to Seoul (approx. 10 hours)

Travel guide: Dumont, Lonely Planet or Rough Guide

-> more about backpacking in East Asia

North America

Las Vegas, Grand Canyon & Southern California

Why: Infinite variety. Gambling in Vegas, deserts and national parks, beaches in California, mountains of the Sierra Nevada, mega-city Los Angeles. The distances are still within limits for North American conditions (e.g. LA - Vegas 5 hours). The best with a rental car or camper, but there are also cheap long-distance buses and flights.

-> more about backpacking on the west coast of North America


Central America & Caribbean


Why: time travel after 1959. Hardly any comparable country left. Great beaches and colonial architecture.

-> More about backpacking in the Caribbean


Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico)

Why: Gigantic Mayan ruins. Swim with whale sharks, snorkel, and dive. Super tasty mexican food. Not super cheap but still affordable.

-> to the backpacker guide for Mexico


South America


Why: Small size is the exception in South America. Galapagos Islands. Amazon rainforest, Andes, surfing. Inexpensive (with the exception of the Galapagos).

-> to the backpacker guide for Ecuador


Africa southern of the Sahara


Why: Safe, compact circuit of attractions and good infrastructure by African standards. Lots of options for trekking, safaris and natural attractions for affordable money. Unfortunately, the mountain gorillas are not one of them.

Arrival: Brussels Airlines to Entebbe (approx. 10h)

Travel guide: Bradt, Reise Know-how or Iwanowski; plus trekking in East Africa.

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