Backpacking Across Europe: Our Itinerary Through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany

This was the first real trip that Luka and I took so it has a real significance in my heart and mind. We decided to backpack, so we bought Interrail passes and we were ready for an adventure!



I planned everything out – not day by day but I researched well what there is to see and do in every city so that our schedule was packed with sightseeing. Still, in the end, we would see whatever we felt like seeing and what we both agreed on.


Looking back now, I am fascinated by everything that we saw and learned in those two weeks. And this is mainly why I decided to write a travelogue; for you to get some ideas if you are planning a trip across Europe or are thinking about what to do with your Interrail passes.

Day 1: MUNICH


At exactly midnight, we took our first train, the night train from Ljubljana to Munich. We had a few hours stop in Munich before our train for Frankfurt left. We decided to walk to the city center and have the first day of sightseeing.


To start our trip right we walked to Marienplatz where the Munich’s town hall, Neues Rathaus stands. Rathaus is one of the most known monuments of this German city built in a Gothic style and with statues of the first four Bavarian kings up by the tower.



Other than the town hall, the square is always brimming with locals and tourists as it is the perfect place to do some sightseeing, shopping, or just to watch the city go by.


We saw the Glockenspiel at noon, which tells a 12 to 15-minute story from the 16th century. To see Glockenspiel, keep your eyes on the clock of the Rathaus every day at 11 AM or noon.


I really liked Munich at first sight so I decided that we should come back sometime when we have more than a few hours, maybe a few days to spend in the city.



After lunch, we boarded a fast train towards Frankfurt where we caught a train to Brussels. We arrived in Belgium late in the evening and headed straight to our hotel to get a good rest before all the sightseeing that we were to do the next day.

Day 2: BRUSSELS


After we woke up, we had a tasty breakfast at the hotel. With our stomachs full, we were ready to start exploring Brussels. It was the first time in the capital of Belgium for both of us so we were excited to see what Brussels has to offer.


First, we took a metro to the Main Square of Brussels where we saw Hôtel de Ville et Maison du Roi. We were fascinated by the grandiosity of the square. I thought it must have been one of the most beautiful city centers I have ever seen.



We had a morning cup of coffee in a bar nearby close to the square where street musicians play. It was delightful to just sit down and watch the life go by. I never have the time in my hometown to stop and listen to people playing on the streets but I realize now that listening to street musicians is one of my favorite parts of exploring a new city.


Various festivals take place in the main square during summer. At the time of our visit, there was a festival of beer and so we tried some special Belgian cherry beer. It was fruity and kind of sweet, but good.


Then, we walked aimlessly through the city center, quite close to the Main Square and accidentally (but also kind of purposefully) bumped into Manneken-Pis.


Manneken-Pis is the symbol of Brussels as the legend says that he saved the city from a big fire by peeing. His statue is still peeing in the center of Brussels.


Fortunately, there was not a big crowd in front of it so we could take some time to get a good look at it. At the time of our visit, Manneken-Pis was wearing a handsome dark blue costume.



Very close to Manneken-Pis we found a great waffles shop and we decided to treat ourselves with a sweet dessert. I got a waffle with strawberries and cream whilst Luka decided to go for a waffle with white chocolate. There are endless combinations of toppings that you can put on your waffle, and make it according to your own taste.


After the waffle break, we decided to see the Museum of Musical Instruments. Musée des Instruments Musique is a unique museum that displays gorgeous instruments from different eras and places around the world. There are numerous museums in the capital of Belgium but we decided to see Musée des Instruments Musique because we never before heard of anything like it.



After MIM, we took a metro to Place du Grand Sablon in the evening. We walked to Notre-Dame du Sablon Church. Église Notre-Dame is one of the grandest cathedrals in Brussels. It is definitely worth your time to stroll around and take a good look at the amazing interior.



Because we were tired after a full day of sightseeing and exploring, we got a Pizza Hut takeout that we ate on the bed back in our hotel. It was a good ending of an eventful day.

Day 3: BRUSSELS


After breakfast, we took a metro to the Atomium, a symbol of science and a transnational symbol of peace. Atomium is one of the most popular attractions in Europe’s capital. We bought some Belgian frites in the park by Atomium and had a bite.



We then decided to see the European Parliament. We noticed that this was the only fairly good looking metro stop in whole Brussels which kind of amused us.


The European Parliament is a grand building but also the only thing worth sightseeing in that part of the city.



In the afternoon, we took a picnic cover and went to Parc du Cinquantenaire where we spent a relaxing but nice afternoon and evening.


Day 4: BRUSSELS and THE HAGUE


We had time in the morning to do some more sightseeing in Brussels before our train leaves. We decided to see the Cathedral of St Michel and St Gudula that took more than 300 years to complete. The cathedral is one of the most important and most impressive monuments in Brussels.



At about noon our train departed for The Hague. In Hague, we stayed in a beautiful hotel close to Scheveningen Beach and so the first thing we did after arriving at the hotel was to walk to the endless beach Scheveningen.


As it was September, the beach was completely empty and we could have it more or less to ourselves. We ran, spun, walked, and laughed across the beach. I had so much fun and this must be one of my favorite memories looking back now.



Even though it started raining in the late afternoon we decided to see the Peace Palace since we were only staying in Hague for one day. Peace Palace was as majestic and grand as is the ideal of peace from which it originated.



Take a guided tour of the palace to see the interior and learn about international collaboration that contributed to the making of the beautiful gardens and the architecture of the palace. Note, however, that tours must be booked in advance.


In the evening we visited our first coffee shop in the Netherlands just to feel the vibe of the country.

Day 5: THE HAGUE and AMSTERDAM



Luka and I had the most amazing luck as our only day in The Hague was Prince’s Day which meant a grand ceremony would take place in front of King’s Palace in the center of Hague.



It was already quite crowded when we got to the center of the city in the morning. People were very cheerful as this is one of the most important days for the locals and the country and people from all around gather in Hague to welcome their prince.


In the afternoon after lunch, we departed for Amsterdam where we stayed in a hostel to have a piece of the true backpacking experience. We slept in a big room with 12 other people, which was a real adventure but we also swore we would never do it again because it was crowded at all times.


Before the night fell, we decided to take a walk to Dam Square. We walked through Bloemenmarkt and by many romantic canals and bridges.



When we got to Dam it was already somber so we just sat down for a couple of minutes and enjoyed the moment. We returned through one part of the Red Light District in Amsterdam so that we got a taste of some of the most known Amsterdam secrets right on our first day.

Day 6: AMSTERDAM


In the morning of Day 6 and right after breakfast, we walked to Red Light District to see it in sunlight. We also walked by Oude Kerk (Old Church) which is where men went to ask for forgiveness after their Red Light District adventure.



After seeing Oude Kerk it only felt right to visit Nieuwe Kerk as well. The New Church is located on Dam Square and is no longer a church but hosts performances, cultural events, royal weddings and temporary exhibits.



Spot the majestic Royal Palace of Amsterdam by the church that was built in the 17th century.



After grasping life at Dam Square we went looking at the meetup point for our pre-paid boat cruise on River Amstel. There are many different Dutch companies offering boat tours but we chose the Friendship Company and were glad.



Amsterdam canal belt is a picture-perfect vision of Amsterdam. You can cruise in style with a glass of cocktail in your hands. The guide told us all the funniest truths and secrets about Amsterdam and it was nice to hear local legends, most of which cannot be found in printed guides.



In the evening, we planned a visit to the Anne Frank Museum in the center of the city. I have read Anne’s diary and were eager to see the place where she and her family lived during those horrible years.


The museum fascinated me, as it is very informative but also moving and touchy. Usually, there is a long queue in front of the doors to the museum so it is best to visit early in the morning or late before the closing hours.

Day 7: AMSTERDAM


On our third day in Amsterdam Luka and I decided to have a day like true locals so we rented bikes. We got them for 24 hours so we had plenty of time to explore the Dutch capital.


We first drove to Bloemenmarkt which was crazy hard to find this time. Bloemenmarkt is the best place to buy tulip tubers. Besides tulips, you can also buy other souvenirs such as wood tulip magnets or wooden tulips as your home table décor.



After lunch, we visited Leidseplein Square, where people are entertained by street musicians and performers. Leidseplein is located in the southern part of Amsterdam and is the center for nightlife and shopping.


Then, we drove to the nearby Vondelpark, a big green oasis in the center of Amsterdam. It is a beautiful place to chill and breathe in some fresh air. Don’t miss the unique sculptures and fountains that make the park picture perfect.



From Vondelpark, we cycled aimlessly by the canals and breathed in the beauty. The bridges and canals are really something in Amsterdam.



In the evening, we turned to the Red Light District again to visit the Museum of Prostitution. It is one of a kind and it tells the story of prostitutes behind the red windows. The museum also includes a special red light window in which you can sit or stand to see how a prostitute feels while working.



The museum gives you some perspective on the hard work of a prostitute and helps you understand. When we came out of the museum, we lingered some more in the district just observing how life works around there.


A complete opposite of the Red Light District is the romantic Magere Brug bridge, the bridge of love. The legend says that the bridge was built by two sisters who were separated by River Amstel. In order to reconnect their houses, they ordered a bridge to be built. Now, if lovers kiss underneath it, it brings them eternal love.



Day 8: AMSTERDAM and GRONINGEN


We still had our bikes the next morning so we cycled to Museumplein which is home to Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Rijksmuseum. We decided to visit the Stedelijk Museum because I am fascinated by contemporary art.



After our visit to the Stedelijk Museum, we got together with my friend from high school that now studies in Amsterdam. The gathering was lovely and reminiscent of the passing high school.


We took a FlixBus to Groningen to visit another one of my friends from high school. She introduced us to her friends and before we knew, we were off to karaoke bars. We had a fun night in Groningen as the town has a good nightclub scene.

Day 9: GRONINGEN


In the morning, we walked to the city center to get some coffee. Then, my friend lead us to the buzzing Main Market Square. Close to the square, there is Martin’s Chuch (Martinkerk); a lovely brick built Romanesque-Gothic basilica.



We climbed up the tower of the church, Martinitoren, that was built in 1482 and is 96 meters tall. The top of the tower offers amazing views over the Main Market Square.



After Martinitoren, our friend took us to see the University of Groningen, where she studied. The University of Groningen was founded in 1614 and has extensive grounds that are definitely worth exploring.


We walked to Noorderplantsoen, the city’s main public park. The park is laid out in the style of an English garden. Noorderplantsoen is the perfect place to chill and relax or escape from a busy day.



We spent the afternoon and evening hanging out with some friends.


If we had some more time, we would visit the Groninger Museum of modern and contemporary art from local and international artists. Well, we must leave something for the next time we visit the Netherlands.

Day 10: UTRECHT


After breakfast, we got on a train to Amsterdam from where we headed to Utrecht, yet another charming Dutch town.


We arrived at Utrecht in the afternoon and first strolled around the town by the romantic canals. The canals reminded us of Amsterdam except that Utrecht is much smaller than the Dutch capital.



In the city center, there is the Dom Tower, which is likely the most recognizable building in Utrecht. It is a freestanding bell tower today but it was originally built to accompany the nearby St Martin’s Cathedral.


The St Martin’s Cathedral not only has a beautiful exterior but also a memorable interior. The building resembles the style of the classic Gothic architecture that is so prevalent in France. Don’t miss out on the beautiful gardens inside of the cathedral.



The streets in the center of Utrecht were buzzing with people and music so we decided to rest for the evening and enjoy a drink. We knew we had an early morning the next day so we headed to bed quite early.


Day 11: UTRECHT to BERLIN


We woke up at 6 AM in the morning because we had a long way to Berlin ahead of us. We got on a train to Amsterdam and then from Amsterdam, we took a train to Berlin.


We arrived in Berlin in the evening and before we learned how to get to our hotel, it was already dark outside. Therefore, we gladly just found something for dinner nearby the hotel and went to bed.


Day 12: BERLIN


Berlin is a city that holds many stories on the surface for us to see and explore; stories of East and West Berlin, stories of the past, present, and future intertwined.


We first visited the Berlin Wall Memorial, which gives a moving insight into the division of Berlin. It features a large open-air exhibition with historical audio materials and pictures and a visitor’s center.



Close to the Berlin Wall Memorial is the Check Point Charli that was one of the most famous crossing points between the East and the West side of Germany. Today it is a well-known tourist sport where it is obligatory you take a photo. The place still looks exactly like it did during the cold war.



After getting to know the past, we headed to the East Side Gallery to see what the past, present, and future look like together.



For every street art lover, East Side Gallery is one of the best places to visit in the world. More than 100 paintings by artists all over the world can be found on the Berlin Wall. At once, East Side Gallery is also a symbol of freedom painted on the important sight of Berlin’s history.



I think we spent a few hours looking at the paintings and reading the messages that the authors left on the walls but you could easily spend a day in the East Side Gallery.



We had a traditional Berliner Currywurst after the sightseeing East Side Gallery. The currywurst is a signature fast food dish of the city.


Octoberfest was taking place at Alexanderplatz in Berlin when we were visiting so we decided to take part in festivities of this special German celebration.



In the evening, we scheduled a visit to the Reichstag Building, where the parliament sits today. The entrance is free of charge but it is mandatory to book your visit in advance. You should book yours for at least two weeks or so in advance.


We decided to take a night tour to see the night views from the beautiful Glass Dome. It was a spectacular night filled with wonderful sights and memorable panorama.



Day 13: BERLIN


After some delicious breakfast in a café near our hotel, we first headed to The Brandenburg Gate which is a neoclassical monument in the city center and should be on top of your sightseeing list for Berlin.



The gate is a symbol of separation between East and West Berlin and is one of the most significant landmarks in the city. This historical spot also brings wonderful photo opportunities.


We strolled through the nature of the Tiergarten Park and were thrilled as the park is humongous and beautiful. It is the perfect place for a picnic, for long or short walks, and you can even rent a boat in the park.



Right by the park, there is the Berlin Zoo which was a must-go for us as Luka is a huge fan of animals and I promised him to visit at least one on our trip across Europe. The Berlin Zoo is huge (one of the biggest in Europe) and full of interesting and exotic animals.



After the zoo, we took our journal and situated in front of the Reichstag Building on Platz der Republik. It was time for us to write in the impressions from our trip and to talk about what we liked best. Platz der Republik is a wonderful place to relax with a memorable view of the Reichstag Building.



Just before sunset, we visited the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin dedicated to the murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial is an open space structure so you are free to walk around it. Please respect the memorial and its cause. Keep quiet around the memorial and don’t climb or jump off stones.



Filled with beautiful memories, we departed for Ljubljana the next day. One of our first trips was behind us and it was definitely one of the most memorable ones.


XX, Ajda

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