I just finished my solo DIY backpacking trip to Europe (Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland) and it was the best trip ever. Travel dates are from August 31 to September 12, 2019 which has an ideal weather for a Eurotrip. The trip lasted for 2 weeks (14 Days).
Europe can be very expensive if you don’t know how to spend your hard-earned money wisely.
Here’s my DIY complete itinerary that can help you plan your trip and some hacks on how you can spend less.
Please note that my point of origin is Dubai so the total cost will be different from each one of you. But keep in mind that one of the train tickets I purchased was made on the same day (return train ticket from Amsterdam to Brussels) which cost me 5,600 PHP. So, if you plan ahead and book a different inter-country flight which will be mentioned on the tips below, the total cost will still likely be near 70,663 PHP wherever your point of origin is.
BOOKINGS MADE BEFORE DEPARTURE
- Round-trip ticket from Dubai to Prague (no check in luggage) – www.flydubai.com
- Hostel in Prague – Hostel Franz Kafka
- Train from Prague to Berlin hbf – https://www.cd.cz
- Hostel in Berlin – Generator Berlin Mitte
- Flight from Berlin to Amsterdam to Zurich to Prague – www.skyscanner.com (Multi-City)
- Hostel in Amsterdam – Shelter City Christian Hostel
- Swiss Train Ticket (2-way) – https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html
- Hostel in Switzerland – Valley Hostel
- Hostel in Prague – Little Quarter Hostel
Landed in Prague airport at 7AM. Just outside the airport, there’s a machine where you can buy the public transport ticket. You can use your credit card to make a purchase otherwise you have to use Czech coins. If you don’t have their coins (for sure if it’s your first time), you can purchase the ticket through a manned kiosk and pay with Euros. The kiosk is located just after the customs exit. I don’t suggest changing your Euros to Crowns at the airport because they charge too much and the rates are pretty bad. Select the 60min ticket. Do not take a taxi or ask for a private pick-up. Prague old town is very accessible via bus and metro train. Taxi or private pick up will cost you up to 600 Crowns while the bus and train will only cost you 36 Crowns. That’s a massive difference.
Wait for the bus 119 that will take you to the metro green line. The metro station (green line) is called Nadrazi Veleslavin, that’s the last stop so don’t worry you won’t get lost.
Make sure you’re on the platform towards Depo Hostivar.
I got off Staromestska. Walked for about 4 minutes and the Hostel Franz Kafka is just opposite to KFC.
I reached the hostel at 9AM and luckily my bed was ready. Checked-in, left my luggage and started exploring around Prague.
Checked the beautiful streets. No need to take any public transport really. Prague square and old town are really small, and you can go everywhere by foot. I usually walk around any country on the first day to get familiar with the place and to check where I can get food and drinks cheaply.
Purchased a 24-hour public transport ticket. Cost me 110 Crowns. The ticket is valid for Bus, Tram, Funicular and Metro. It’s rare that someone will check your ticket but make sure you punch it using one of the validation machines.
I randomly got on trams and ended up in Terminal Zizkov local flea market. You can either take the metro or tram to get to the market depending on your origin. Google maps will be your best friend. Try to pay a visit, you might find a treasure.
Took another tram on Platform A to the next stop which is Zizkov Television Tower, the tallest building in the city. Walked for about 10 minutes to reach the building. The entrance is 250 Crowns per adult. From the observatory floor, you will see the amazing view of Prague.
After the observatory, I walked towards the tram station but stopped by the nearest Chinese restaurant to have lunch before heading back to the Prague square. Since this is a bit far from the Prague square, prices are relatively low.
FREE TIME at night.
Purchased a 24-hour ticket and travelled my way to Prague Zoological Garden. It is one of the best Zoos in the world and home to 5000 animals. Entrance is 100 Crowns. There is a vineyard and an outdoor restaurant on top of the hill with an amazing view, away from the busy streets of Prague.
Headed to Prague Castle in the evening. Best time to be there to avoid the crowd is after 6PM. Or you can do it before 10AM if you’re an early bird.
Walked around Prague to get the shots that I needed. Make sure you visit the Colloredo-Mansfield palace where almost no one visits. You can take your Instagram photos to the next level here. And of course the Astronomical Clock.
I also checked out the Piss Sculpture, Charles Bridge viewing deck and the John Lennon wall on this day. They’re very close to each other.
Checked-out the Hostel and went to the main train station. Took Staromestska metro train (platform 1). Got off Muzeum station then changed to the Red line. The main train station is at the Hlavni Nadrazi which is only 1 station away from Muzeum.
Make sure to check the digital boards to see which platform your train to Berlin is. There is no gate or checkpoint, you can go directly to the train. Your ticket will be randomly checked inside the train by a train staff.
My ticket cost 27 Euros for 2nd class. Booked it through bahn.com. I booked mine 1 month earlier, but you can get cheaper fare if you book it way more advance. Travel time was 2.5 hours. Make sure to book Prague to Berlin hbf.
Arrived in Berlin at 2:43PM.
There is a tram stop just outside the Berlin train station. Took the tram to berlin City Center. Price is 2.80 Euros valid for 2 hours. You can either purchase the ticket from the tram stop or inside the tram itself. Tram number is M5 and you should get off at Berlin Oranienburger Street Station where the Generator Berlin Mitte Hostel is just 20 steps away.
Checked-in then headed out to explore the city.
Make sure you check Berliner Dome and Fernsehturm. They’re all walking distance from the hostel. Nightlife is very much alive in Berlin. You can grab a beer or a glass of wine for 3.5 Euros before heading back to the Hostel.
Went to see Checkpoint Charlie, best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. I also went to the Holocaust Memorial. You can take the U metro station (Alt-Mariendorf Platform) and the Checkpoint is at the 4th stop. Then the memorial can be reached by foot from the Checkpoint. You are allowed to walk through them but please remember to respect the place and don’t do unnecessary things like taking a selfie or stepping on top of any of them.
Explored the rest of the city by foot. Saw this amazing café. This is basically a FREE TIME. Make sure you try their currywurst. It’s a german sausage in special sauce with some curry powder, served with fries and mayo. Trust me it’s really good. And it’s best with beer. Cost is 6.5 Euros.
Took a train to the airport. Walked to S Hackescher Markt train station. Purchased ABC zone ticket. Cost is 3.40 EUR and will take you straight to the airport. Again, ticket checking is really random but make sure you get one and make sure it’s for ABC zone. It’ll take almost an hour to reach Berlin Schonefeld Airport.
Departed Berlin, Germany at 4:00PM.
Arrived in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 5:30PM.
At the arrival area, you can buy the ticket from a machine and will cost you 6.30 Euros. The train will take you straight to Amsterdam Centraal.
Checked in at Shelter City Hostel which is a 10-min walk from the train station.
Wandered around on the first day as usual.
Visited Zaanse Schans wind mills via bus. You can take bus 391 from Amsterdam Centraal station and the last stop will be Zaanse Schans wind mills. Took about 40 minutes. Place was beautiful, something you only see in movies. You can take the same bus going back to the main city. 12 Euros for a return ride.
Purchased a roundtrip ticket to Brussels. Ticket is 100 Euros, 2-way, but you can get a cheaper one when you buy in advance. Mine cost a lot because I bought it on the same day since Brussels wasn’t really part of the plan.
Arrived in Brussels Centraal station at 2:30PM. It was really late since I missed the 9:30AM train. So make sure to get to the train station early as intervals become 2 hours after 9:00AM.
Bought a Belgian waffle, mussels and the best beer in the world. Explored the old town and their beautiful streets and old structures. If you can get to Brussels early, don’t miss Atomium and Manneken Pis.I didn’t get a chance to see them since I arrived late and had to catch the train going back to Amsterdam.
Took the train from Amsterdam Airport for flight to Switzerland. My flight was 7:50AM so I left the Hostel at 5:00AM.
Arrived at Zurich Airport in Switzerland at 9:30AM.
At 1:18PM, I took the train from Zurich Airport to Lauterbrunnen. Roundtrip ticket was 64 Swiss Francs. Travel time was 2.5 hours with 3 different trains. The tutorial on how to get cheap Swiss train ticket (can be up to 70% off) will be available here soon.
Make sure you sit on the left side (all 3 trains) for the best view when headed to Lauterbrunnen and right side of course when heading back to Zurich.
Arrived in Lauterbrunnen at 4:00PM.
Checked-in at Valley Hostel which is just a 4-minute walk from the train station.
Everything closes really early including restaurants and stores so just wander around while there’s still sunlight. Best time to take photos of the waterfall at this time before sunset so take this opportunity.
Checked the landscapes and had some amazing photos taken. Place was out of this world. Trekked to Gimmelwald for almost 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a cable car but will cost you 12 Francs 2-way. But as what I mentioned on my other posts, I love taking the off-beaten path. And the view during the trek is not to miss.
Had my morning coffee at the coffee shop near Lauterbrunnen train station then got on the train at 12:02PM. My flight from Zurich to Prague was at 5:55PM. Remember the travel time is 2.5 hours so make sure you have enough time to catch your flight and check in online if you must.
Arrived in Prague at 7:15PM. Took bus and metro train again to the Little Quarter Hostel. Just had dinner at McDonalds then went straight to bed for an early flight the next day.
Woke up at 5:00AM for my departure flight to Dubai.
Arrived back to Dubai at 4:10PM.
-End of the Trip-
BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES
|Roundtrip ticket from Dubai to Prague||500||7,121|
|Hostel in Prague||265||3,774|
|Train from Prague to Berlin hbf||110||1,566|
|Hostel in Berlin||360||5,127|
|Flight from Berlin to Amsterdam to Zurich to Prague||1,022||14,556|
|Hostel in Amsterdam||560||7,976|
|Train from Amsterdam to Brussels (2-way)||400||5,697|
|Switzerland Train Ticket (2-way)||244||3,475|
|Hostel in Switzerland||245||3,489|
|Second Hostel in Prague||62||882|
|Other Expenses (food, sim card, passes and other local public transportation)||1200||17,000|
TIPS AND REMINDERS
- Bring Euros with you.
- In Prague, don’t change Euros at the airport. When you reach the old town, look for exchange centers that offer 0% commission with rate that’s close to 25 Crowns per Euro. So, before you give your money, ask first how much the total converted amount will be. I found the best one at the end of Charles Bridge on the right (heading the Prague Palace).
- You can use credit card pretty much everywhere in Prague.
- Make sure you always stamp your bus, tram and metro tickets.
- Always walk few meters away from the City Center to find cheap restaurants.
- If you don’t like their local food, and craving for some rice (coz we’re Asian), you can go to Palladium mall and get Asian food from the food court which are cheaper than restaurants outside. I had the Thai shrimp fried rice and a soda.
- When buying a sim card, the normal price should be 300 to 350 Crowns with 3GB of data which you can use all over Schengen territory. I found the cheapest one from the store behind Starbucks near Malostranske Namesti tram station.
- Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium use Type E power plug while Switzerland uses Type J.
- 3 Days are enough for Prague and also 3 Days in Berlin.
- I highly suggest booking the flight: Berlin to Amsterdam then Brussels to Swiss. Meaning you only need to purchase a 1-way train ticket from Amsterdam to Brussels and so you can spend more days there in Brussels.
- If you’re visiting Netherlands on April, make sure to check out Tulips farms.
- Don’t ever take photos of the girls behind the glass windows along the Red Light District.
- Bring some biscuits and cup noodles with you if you want to save loads of money in Switzerland. Everything is expensive there. Otherwise there is a Coop grocery store near the Lauterbrunenn train station where you can buy stuff to cook at the hostel.
- Please note that most properties in Europe don’t have airconditioning unit. So if you’re going there during summer, look for ones with AC. They provide electric fan, though.
- European countries don’t have dipper or bidet so a wet tissue will be really handy (for us Asians).