For this sample packing list for backpacking Europe, we’ve planned an itinerary that includes: Rome, Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Budapest, Prague, Berlin, and London. You can use these guidelines whether you’re backpacking or on vacation.
Use this page for inspiration for a multi-stop trip and just add or replace your destinations. You can find tips for individual countries here!
This is a five part series. You can find the other seasonal packing list by clicking the thumbnails below and you’ll find the introductory guide here. Note: even if you’re NOT backpacking, these tips are still relevant to any trip.
Read PART ONE of this series and visit each seasonal packing list for more tips:
SPRING | SUMMER | AUTUMN | WINTER
Backpacking in Europe: Summer
While the weather varies from city to city, these tips will help you determine the 12 key pieces you need for backpacking Europe in the summer.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for summer travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Summer
- Top Summer Dresses Perfect for Europe
- Lightweight Jackets for Easy Layers
- Best Walking Shoes for Europe’s Cobblestone Streets
If you need packing tips for another time of year, read The Ultimate Backpacking Packing List for Europe.
EUROPE CLOTHING STYLE
In general day-to-day European style is more dressy than American style. This DOES NOT mean business clothing. Think dressy top (or the type of top you’d wear to work) plus nice jeans (dark colors are always a good choice).
Slim or Skinny fit jeans are the preferred denim option. If that’s not your thing, having tailored denim always makes for a smart appearance no matter what the pant style. For example, hemming the leg length so there’s not an excess fabric at the bottom.
Tip: ankle jeans are an easier way to get this look without a trip to the tailor.
But in other cities, like Zurich and Amsterdam, there’s a more relaxed view on fashion. You can feel free to use artistic license when it comes to your wardrobe.
In ultra-chic cities like Paris and London, two of the major fashion capitals of the world, style is a way of life.
As with most destinations, practical sense applies. Leave the beachwear on the beach because it doesn’t translate well to streetwear in the city.
The same goes for gym wear; unless you’re actually headed to the gym, don’t dress in your gym attire as the locals will instantly recognize you as a tourist for the lack of effort that has been put into your wardrobe. Don’t wear leggings as pants!
Tip: The secret to packing light is to create the perfect travel capsule wardrobe which can easily fit into your backpack with the help of packing cubes to compress your clothing!
Sample Packing List for Backpacking Europe in Summer
T-shirt | V-Neck | Button-Up | Blouse | Ribbed Dress | Dress | Jeans | Shorts | Raincoat | Sweater | Shirtdress | T Shirt | Sandals | Flats | Hat | Backpack
2-3 DRESSES (OR SKIRTS)
Dresses are extremely versatile for travel. Read our ultimate guide to dresses for travel!
The longer length of a maxi dress is not only modest and can be worn inside religious sites like the Vatican, but provides protection on windy days. The dress can be worn with a cardigan or jacket on cooler days.
A dress with sleeves is cooler than pants in the summer. The long sleeves will add modesty in some destinations as well as warmth. Short or midi styles in light fabrics are perfect for hot days.
Slim-fit jeans offer a modern, contemporary style and look great teamed with ankle booties. In general, slim or skinny fit jeans are the preferred denim option.
If that’s not your thing, having tailored denim always makes for a smart appearance no matter what the pant style. For example, hemming the leg length so there’s not an excess fabric at the bottom.
In general, dark denim such as a dark blue is recommended over light denim. Depending on where you are traveling to in Europe, jeans might either be essential for cool weather or unnecessary for the heat.
If you want to wear shorts for warmer destinations, dressier material creates a loose, sophisticated look, which is appropriate for a wider age group. If you don’t like shorts, pack an extra set of trousers or pants like these.
Leggings are comfortable with their stretchy waistband and fabric and can be paired with virtually anything. Black is the best color to use as your base.
Leggings are an essential if you’re backpacking in Europe any time of year because you can layer then under your jeans, skirts, or dresses if you’ll be experiencing changes in weather. Just don’t wear them as pants! Check out the best leggings for women who travel.
Depending on where you’re traveling, plan to layer your clothing for the weather. Even in the summer cold weather can still be expected in some parts of Europe. However, you have to check the weather forecast in advance (weather.com) in order to make the best clothing choices.
In general, it’s advisable to pack a selection of varying length tops when backpacking in Europe in summer. Avoid t-shirts (unless they’re a nice quality like these) and opt for dressier tops instead.
Some of the cities you’ll be visiting can get very hot. Ensure that you choose tops that are cool in light, breathable fabrics such as linen.
Short sleeve or sleeveless tops could work as either a base for your outfits or to be worn alone on warmer days. You can team them with any bottom or use them to layer for the cooler days.
Make sure to bring at least one dressy top. The design of this top will act as a focal piece for your wardrobe. The higher-quality material will ensure that you have a dressier option if you need it.
Even in the summer, you should travel with two pieces of outerwear that can be worn alone or layered for cooler weather. Remember, not all destinations are hot and sunny during this time of year and it can still be rainy and gray in places like Ireland in summer.
A V-neck cardigan is a comfortable and appropriate item to wear alone or layered over a dress or t-shirt when you need added warmth.
A military jacket, denim jacket, (faux) leather jacket, or trench coat are essential to keep you warm and dry in cooler temperatures. Pick a neutral color so you can wear it with anything. These are lightweight raincoats.
It’s essential to have appropriate footwear when backpacking in Europe. You need shoes that are comfortable for walking for long periods, that are durable, waterproof, and stylish. Your footwear depends on your planned activities and personal preference.
One unexpected issue that many travelers discover once they get to Europe are the cobblestone streets.
While great to look at, stone streets aren’t always the easiest to walk on and can make for sore feet even if you don’t normally have discomfort. Depending on the city, these streets can also be hilly, slippery when wet, and uneven.
In addition, we all love to dress up, but avoid heels because they’ll leave you feeling uncomfortable. Opt for wedges if you must bring a heel. Do include one pair of shoes and one outfit that can be worn for dining out or experiencing the local nightlife.
Popular shoe options include (click each item below for suggested styles):
- Ankle Boots for spring and autumn
- Ballet Flats to dress up or for warm weather
- Waterproof Boots for rain and snow
- Comfortable Sightseeing shoes for year round visits
- Cute Comfortable Summer Sandals
Read this post about the how to choose the best walking shoes for Europe.
If the weather forecast calls for hot temperatures, choose a pair of cute and comfortable sandals that suits your personal style and color preferences. Sandals with a strap and buckle for extra stability, in leather or elastic, are preferable. Don’t wear beach sandals or flip flops.
Closed, flat shoes give your foot added support. Slip-on sneakers or canvas espadrilles are comfortable for walking. They are cooler than ankle booties and will not leave your feet hot and sweaty. They are also easy to get on and off and are practical for traveling and day-time excursions.
These comfortable walking shoes are popular sightseeing shoes for Europe. Try closed, flat, lace-up shoes like brogues or boat shoes. Ankle boots are ideal for cold weather. Find out why.
For dressier shoes, bring cute and comfortable ballet flats. Instead of stilettos, wedges are the heel of choice.
Follow these tips on how to choose shoes for travel. Remember, three pairs is the magic number!
EXTRAS AND ACCESSORIES
Umbrella: Don’t be caught off-guard; carry a travel size umbrella inside your handbag in case you get caught in an unexpected rain shower.
Sun Hat: It will help shield your eyes from the sun, add style, and hide bad hair days!
Sunglasses: Make sure your eyes are protected with quality sunglasses with UV protection.
Scarf: Scarves are the perfect accessory for adding warmth and a touch of color and personality to an otherwise neutral outfit. Pick scarves in your preferred colors and patterns. I love these easy-to-wear infinity scarves.
Purse: Choose a crossbody purse or cute purse backpack.
Sun protection: Sunblock, sunglasses, hat, lipcare, etc. (If you forget these items, you can buy them at your destination.)
For individual countries, please refer to the corresponding packing list for Europe including advice directly from locals found here: TFG’s Europe Packing Lists.
Weather for Europe in Summer
This is a brief summary of the summer weather for the cities we’ve chosen for our sample backpacking Europe itinerary: Rome, Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Budapest, Prague, Berlin, and London.
For the most accurate forecast during your exact travel dates, visit weather.com.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Rome, which is situated on the west coast of Italy. The city has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Not only is the weather warm and sunny with relatively low rainfall, there are many cultural attractions and an energy about the city that makes it such a popular tourist destination.
The average high temperatures during the summer season are 27-30°C / 81-86°F and average lows are between 15-20°C / 59-68°F.
Get more tips in the Italy Packing List.
Paris is, of course, the beautiful French city known for its culture, fine food and wine, haute couture, and all things fashion. The city has a temperate oceanic climate with warm summers and cold winters. Rainfall is moderate and steady year-round; rain showers are not uncommon.
When visiting Paris, it’s important to pack clothing for fine dining and dressing up as well as comfortable clothes for walking and sightseeing.
The summer weather is warm with average temperatures in the mid 20’s°C / upper 60’s°F and above; however, there can be heat waves that rise up to 30°C / 86°F and higher, and thunderstorms can occur unexpectedly.
Get more tips in the Paris Packing List.
The largest city in Switzerland has a picturesque countryside, breathtaking architecture, great cuisine, and cosmopolitan nightlife. With the beautiful Lake Zurich, forests, and the Alps just 30 kilometers north of the city, there are many reasons to want to visit.
Zurich experiences relatively mild climates and is characterized by its warm, mild summer and a very cold winter. Summer average highs are 21-24°C / 70-75°F and lows are 10-11°C / 50-52°F, especially during the evenings.
Get more tips in the Zurich Packing List.
Amsterdam is known to be a particularly rainy city (Europe’s 4th rainiest). It’s charming, beautiful, and filled with cobblestoned streets, flowers, and canals.
The summer seasons reflects average highs of 22°C / 72°F and lows from 11-13°C / 52-55°F. The weather is not particularly hot; however, it’s pleasant and comfortable. Temperatures drop in the evenings, so you’ll need to bring items that can keep you warm.
Get more tips in the Amsterdam Packing List.
Barcelona enjoys a Mediterranean climate of hot summers and mild winters. The city is beautiful and filled with museums and celebrated art. With its glorious beaches, sunshine, and constant celebrations and festivals, the infectious energy of the city will enchant you.
Summer is the most popular time to visit. There’s plenty of sunshine and hot temperatures with highs around 28°C / 82°F and cooler evenings. The highest temperature ever experienced in the city was 38°C / 100°F.
Get more tips in the Spain Packing List.
The beautiful capital of Hungary is filled with historical legacy, museums, and impressive architecture that consists of baroque, neoclassical, and nouveau buildings. The city experiences a continental climate with moderate rainfall and temperatures that are cold enough to support a fixed period of snow each year.
Summers in Budapest can get quite warm, with average temperatures of 24°C / 75°F. The average low is 14°C / 57°F. Throughout summer, there is the possibility for rainfall, so keep your umbrella handy.
Get more tips in the Budapest Packing List.
The Czech capital is a bohemian-style city, rich with history and celebrated architecture. Prague’s climate is continental, with clearly defined seasons, hot and rainy summers, and cold winters. Spring and autumn have unpredictable weather.
Summers are warm with daily highs averaging in the mid to low 20s°C / 70s°F, with long hours of sunshine and moderate rainfall; however, the nights are still chilly.
Get more tips in the Prague Packing List.
The German capital is a beautiful, vibrant city known for fashion, design, music, and art. The city experiences a temperate, continental climate and receives all four seasons with warm summers, cold winters, and moderate rainfall.
The summer season sees average highs in the low 20s°C / 70s°F with moderate rainfall and longer hours of sunshine and heat.
Get more tips with this Germany packing list.
One of the most visited and celebrated cities, London is rich with history, architecture, art, museums, and trendy cafes. London experiences a temperate maritime climate with four seasons and no extremes.
Summers are unpredictable. While there are long days of light, the city can experience continuous chilly days of rainfall, especially during late summer, which can see short but frequent thunderstorms. The average high is 22°C / 72°F and the average low is 13°C / 55°F.
Get more tips in the London Packing List.
Read PART ONE of this series and visit each seasonal packing list for more tips:
SPRING | SUMMER | AUTUMN | WINTER
Find out what to pack for backpacking in Europe year-round:
Click here to view other Backpacking Packing Lists for Europe.
Additional Travel Resources for Europe:
- Backpack Vs Suitcase: Which is Right for My Trip to Europe?
- Ultimate Guide to The Best Travel Purse for Europe
- Money Belts and Anti-Theft Travel Accessories
- 10-Step Packing Guide for Europe
- What to Wear in Europe: Packing List for Every Destination
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Now that you know what to wear when backpacking in Europe in summer, please comment with your own travel essentials. Don’t forget to share the love on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!