Top 10 Backpacker Destinations

Backpacking around the world is one of the most eye-opening and fulfilling journeys that you will ever experience. If you're taking a gap year (or two) or just going on an extended holiday, let Marco Polo inspire you with our pick of the Top 10 Backpacking Destinations:


10. India

  • © DuMont Photo Archive / Georg Knoll

India is known as the place of discovery and cultural diversity. There are many peaceful temples and places of worship but there are also many lively festivals and bustling markets. An ideal destination in India is Varkala, which is perfect for backpackers looking for relaxation and beautiful scenery. There are a number of beaches in Varkala for example Papanasam Beach, which is renowned for its natural mineral springs. It is also home to popular historical sites such as the ancient Vishnu temple, Varkala lighthouse, Ponnumthurut Island and the Varkala tunnel. With its combination of rocky cliffs, sea food, water sports, swimming and sunset walks, there is more than enough for backpackers to enjoy!


9. The Netherlands

  • © Dumont Photo Archive / Rainer Kiedrowski

Amsterdam is the home of numerous sight-seeing wonders; the famous museums, historic bridges, art galleries, and beautiful winding canals. The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most popular, which showcases some of his most famous work and is certainly not to be missed. Another popular place to visit is The Anne Frank House, which has now developed into a memorial site and is a very interesting and touching place to visit. Amsterdam is not only renowned for its famous sightseeing destinations – it is host to many “coffeeshops” which are actually marijuana cafes. Thousands of tourists flock to Amsterdam every year to embrace the open-minded culture of the city and of course to see the tulips! If Amsterdam isn’t your cup of tea then another amazing place to visit in The Netherlands is Rotterdam, which is a beautiful city notorious for its architectural genius. 

» Read more about Amsterdam on a Budget
» Read more about Amsterdam


8. Ireland

  • © / dancingqueen

Ireland has some of the best backpacking experiences including trendy markets, art galleries, historical monuments, famous pubs and breath-taking castles. One of the best places to visit in Ireland is Boyne Valley, which is home to some of the most significant historical sites. It holds enormous ancient passage tombs, which are even older than Stonehenge in England and provide an unforgettable experience. Ireland is also renowned for its traditional pubs such as McCarthy’s, EJ Morrissey’s and Clancy’s, which are all authentic, charming and heart-warming. Alternatively, if you go on the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl you will be welcomed by classic Irish music at every stop and walk in the same footsteps as famous Irish legacies. Another great experience for backpackers is the Paddywagon Tour, which offers bus tours to visitors who plan on travelling across the Emerald Isle. All of the tour guides are local citizens with an insider’s view on Ireland’s culture.


» Read more about Ireland


7. Italy

  • © / smach

Whether it’s cruising the canals in Venice, visiting the historical ruins of Rome or relaxing on the pontoons of Lake Garda, Italy entices backpackers in every way possible. Backpacking in Italy is the best way to experience its unique culture, countryside and history - it is just begging to be explored. A trip to Italy would not be complete without visiting Rome, its Eternal City, which packs in thousands of years of ancient history. The famous Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Temple of Julius Caesar are all sites not to be missed!


» Read more about Italy

» Read more about Rome on a budget

» Read more about Venice on a budget


6. Greece

  • © / Ljupco

The most popular Greek islands to visit are Rhodes, Kos, Corfu, Zante and Crete, which all have picturesque beaches and quaint villages as well as ancient monuments and archaeological sites. The island of Hydra is a really interesting destination to visit as no cars or motorcycles are allowed by law so you may feel like you’ve gone back in time! It is a peaceful and friendly place with sand dunes, wild flowers, natural harbours and a great sense of wilderness. A truly unique experience! 


» Read more about Greece


5. Thailand

  • © / Sa-nga-Chotikapakorn

In Thailand there is something for everyone – whether you’re seeking adventure, the nightlife or just to relax and sightsee. Go rock climbing on the rugged cliffs of Krabi, try open water diving or embark on a trekking or river trip if you love to be adventurous! If partying is your thing then you won’t be disappointed with Thailand’s nightlife, there are endless classy clubs in Bangkok, many cheap Thai bars and also popular music-filled beaches! If you prefer the quiet life then look no further than the South of Thailand’s tropical paradise. The beaches are out of this world with fine white sand, crystal clear water and more shades of blue in the surroundings than you can imagine! The bustling markets, Buddhist temples and elephant rides also make Thailand such a big attraction for backpackers!


» Read more about Thailand


4. Australia

  • © / Kiwimatze

Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are the hotspot destinations to travel to in Australia. In Sydney you can sunbathe on its longest beach, Cronulla Beach, tour the Sydney Opera House or see the underwater world at the Sydney Aquarium. There are lots of outdoor adventures in Sydney too which include: rock climbing, nature walks, waterfalls, hot springs and star gazing. Alternatively, Frazer Island is less popular but an equally fantastic place to visit in Australia with its striking beauty, sand cliffs, perfectly-clear creeks, white sandy beaches and freshwater lakes. It is also the only place in the world where rainforests still grow on sand dunes at over 200 metres tall! All of this plus hot weather all year round – what more could a visitor ask for?


» Read more about Austrailia


3. North America

  • © / Mimi88

New York is one of the most popular destinations to visit in North America and it is also a great backpacking destination as there is so much to visit in one city. The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Central Park and Ground Zero all contribute towards the vast popularity of the city that never sleeps. Another great place to visit in North America is Los Angeles - the city of opportunity and dreams. There are countless places to visit on a budget as well as unique experiences that will make this trip stand out from the rest. Get star struck on the Hollywood Boulevard, have a good night out on Sunset Boulevard, get up close to the Hollywood Sign and even watch your favourite shows being recorded. Los Angeles is an enchanting place that will leave you feeling enthusiastic and positive about achieving your own dreams!


» Read more about North America


2. New Zealand

  • © / sebwar2004

Backpacking in New Zealand is a diverse, enriching and adventurous experience. New Zealand is sometimes labelled as ‘heaven on earth’ as it is pure, authentic and thought to be a very spiritual place. The scenery speaks for itself; the mountain ranges are out of this world and the spectacular views leave many visitors in a daze. There are many outdoor activities to get involved in too but typically New Zealand is known for its quietness, peacefulness and its big secret – the key to finding yourself.


» Read more about New Zealand


1. Fiji

  • © DuMont Photo Archive / Fred Krüger

There are growing numbers of travellers visiting Fiji every year but it still remains just short of the list for the top backpacking destinations. However it is a backpacker’s paradise with over 300 islands to explore and countless picturesque beaches. There are hostels located throughout the country, which makes Fiji really easy to travel around too. On the Yasawa Islands you will find some of the best lagoons and pristine beaches in the world. You can swim through the ancient lime stone caves, go snorkelling or go scuba diving – each experience will be unique from anything you have experienced before!


Written by Bryony Whitlock


Have any comments? Tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides, tell us on Facebook or email us

    © 2015 Marco Polo Travel Publishing | Pinewood | Chineham Business Park | Crockford Lane | Chineham | Basingstoke | RG24 8AL | Great Britain