I backpacked across six cities and four countries in Europe last year, including Berlin and Zurich.
I booked two Airbnbs in the suburbs to save money, and the towns surprised me.
These small towns felt like hidden gems. And if I wasn't on a budget, I never would have seen them.
When I planned my two-week backpacking trip through six European cities across four countries in October 2022, the last thing I expected was to be blown away by my budget bookings.
Berlin, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Milan, and Zurich were the destinations on my itinerary. For most of these stops, I booked accommodations within city limits. But to save some money, I stayed in two Airbnbs about an hour outside of Berlin and Zurich by train.
My hotel was a 20-minute walk from the train station. Sure, it would have been easier to wake up in Berlin. But to my surprise, I enjoyed starting and ending each day with a relaxing walk through a place I'd never heard of, where I spotted the occasional backpacker among mostly locals. I thought it was a peaceful town with charming cobblestone streets. And if I hadn't been traveling on a budget, I probably never would have visited it.
When I left Germany with stays in Vienna and three Italian cities ahead of me, I was already looking forward to my final accommodation several nights later in Switzerland.
My last stop in Europe was Zurich, and I slept in a tiny wine-barrel home in a small village named Roggwil for two nights for $400.
Rogwill rests in the rolling hills of Switzerland, and to me, it had the most striking scenes of the entire trip. On my final night in Europe, I took an unplanned hike in the area and caught a gorgeous sunset over the village. It was an epic ending to my two-week adventure, and like in Neustrelitz, I couldn't help thinking if I hadn't booked that specific Airbnb, I never would have seen it.
I expected nothing more than a place to sleep in these towns, so I was pleasantly surprised to find they felt like hidden gems. Neustrelitz and Rogwill were relaxing counterparts to my travels in Berlin and Zurich.
Next time I backpack through Europe, I'll find more accommodations in small towns to experience the quiet, slower pace of suburban life while photographing landscapes in less-visited areas of the continent — and save some money.
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