Top 15 Destinations for First-Time Backpackers

Whether you are travelling in a group or flying solo, these destinations are ideal for your first backpacking experience!
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1. Thailand: If you want a really classic backpacking/hostel experience you will definitely find it in Thailand. Thousands of young backpackers are making their way through this country, eating $1 pad thai, celebrating full-moon parties and lounging on its beautiful coast. Not to mention the amount of money you could save backpacking Thailand compared to other countries!

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2. Vietnam: Vietnam is one of the best countries in South East Asia to backpack. You could easily live off of 20$ a day including hostels. One of the reasons some people might prefer backpacking Vietnam over Thailand is the difference in tourists. In Vietnam you can somewhat avoid the crowd of tourists and have a more authentic experience.
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3. Costa Rica: This country is the next big backpacking heaven. Costa Rica is like your adventure-nature-relaxing-hiking-swimming-partying-dream. It has EVERYTHING. You could climb a volcano one day, spend the next surfing or lounging by a pool or playing with monkeys and eating delicious local food. I spent two weeks in Costa Rica on less than 1500 dollars (including my flight) and went ATVing twice, surfing, climbed a volcano, went to 3 national parks!
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4. Peru: Peru is home to some of the best cuisine in South America, a rich cultural history and breathtaking adventures to embark on. Peru is next on my list of countries to backpack. I cannot wait to climb Machu Picchu, explore the amazon rainforest, learn about its history, wander through Lima, hangout with alpacas, and eat some of its best foods (but no guinea pig for me..).
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5. New Zealand: If you’re into things outdoorsy then you’ll be into New Zealand. This country is packed with remarkable hiking trails and outstanding views. You could go kayaking or mountain climbing or enjoy a brew while watching some rugby in Aukland.
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6. Canada: Because it’s the best country in the world? Obviously? Okay, I’m not-so-slightly biased about this one because I am Canadian – but there is still merit to my logic that Canada is a phenomenal place for your first backpacking experience. It’s safe, friendly af, beautiful, there’s poutine, sports, and hiking. You could also adjust your trip to what interests you because there is so much to offer in this amazing country!
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7. Greece: Ahhh Mamma Mia.. there are sooo many reasons why Greece is the best destination to go backpacking. Hoping from island to island, taking in the sun, architecture, tziziki, history and Greek men.. it really doesn’t get better than that. I was honestly depressed after leaving Greece because my life was so amazing. The hostels are more on the expensive side but still way cheaper than you would ever pay for a hotel and they are so worth it. Best two weeks of my life.
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8. Nicaragua: Nicaragua has similar attractions to Costa Rica – the volcanos, beaches, wildlife, and adrenaline packed adventures – its just cheaper and in a different culture. Nicaragua is not as broken-into by backpackers, and English widely spoken at many Bus Stations or Hostels so make sure you brush up on your Spanish! If you want to save some dollars and backpack in Central America then Nicaragua is the place to go!
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9. Spain: Spain is, in my humble opinion, one of the best countries to backpack in Europe. It is so culturally diverse and interesting, there are so many different areas and regions to explore, foods to try, and different experiences that can fit anyones needs. No matter who you are or what you like I’m fairly certain Spain has something for you. You could hangout in the South playing with monkeys on the Rock of Gibraltor or navigate your way through the busy streets of Madrid.
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10. Ireland: Whenever I think of Ireland I always think of P.S. I love you. Irrelevant, I know. Regardless, Ireland is a great location for your first time backpacking. Beer and Cider is cheap aka making friends will be noooo problem. You might even get lucky. Get it? Because it’s Ireland? Okay, not funny. But, seriously, Ireland is amazing. Imagine spending your day hiking along the cliffs of Moher and then going to a pub for some grub and a beer while some local band hit the stage. Now that, is my ideal day.
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11. Portugal: Portugal was my first real solo backpacking experience, and I went during the off-season to top it off. Portugal is less expensive than most of Western Europe, has the coolest hostels and can give you a bit of everything – cultural exposure, coastal life and delightful wines. From North to South of Portugal you will experience something completely different. While travelling Portugal during off-season you can relax and enjoy it’s many sites all to yourself – or if you go during on-season you will be greeted with many other backpackers. I also noticed that a lot of the backpackers I met were in their late 20s-30s. I bit different than your average gap-year scene. It’s definitely a country to consider and worth every minute of your time and money.
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12. Cambodia: Many people who backpack Southeast Asia will say that Cambodia was their favourite destination, and for good reason. Life goes a little slower than most other countries, the views are stunning, the people make you feel like home and everything is even less expensive than other already cheap countries. Definitely do not miss Cambodia when trucking through this beautiful, delicious and culturally rich area!
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13. The Netherlands  I would recommend this country mostly for groups but I’m sure it would be a blast solo own as well. This country is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The architecture is so different, the food is SO tasty (even tastier if you’ve indulged in one of those local brownies). If you want proof of how fun the Netherlands can be you should check out my post from a girls trip we did to Amsterdam in 2014. Did. Not. Disappoint.
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14. Iceland: Ah, Iceland. Where to start? The people are incredibly hospitable. The waterfalls, landscapes and northern lights are unbeatable. Just picture yourself for a minute exploring Reykjavik in the morning with a cup of coffee, going to the Blue Lagoon, and then heading out on an adventure to witness the Northern Lights… Where can I sign up?
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15. Australia: Forget about the spiders and think about the surfer boys and their hot accents. Unless you’re a straight dude reading this. Or anyone else not interested in hot tanned beautiful surfers. Then, think about the food, fun, opportunities (work??), and lifestyle. I have never ever met anyone who has gone to Australia and been like well that was so not worth it. Everyone loves Australia. Why? Because Australia has something for everyone. Just make sure you save enough before going! This place is nat cheap!
Where has been your favourite backpacking adventure?
xx, S
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