A Salty Destination which leaves a Sweet Taste – Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 8/10

Backpacking around the world is all about seeing as many of the amazing destinations that the world has to offer without having to spend the world doing it. One destination that provides these qualities to the letter is the Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia. This is a sight that will leave the traveller aghast at its beauty without burning a hole in their pocket

The area can be accessed in various ways. It can be visited directly from Uyuni in southern Bolivia on a day trip which will involve a trip to the salt flats and visits to the various salt based attractions in the nearby area. However, the more popular way of visiting is on a trip starting from the deserts of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile on a 3 day jeep trip across barren land, staying in remote accommodation and eventually culminating in watching the sunrise with nothing but salt as far as the eye can see. More than 10,000km2 of it in fact. And around 10 billion tonnes. Impressive. The rest of the day is usually spent taking imaginative photos allowed by the lack of perspective provided by the miles of salt. You can come away with a snap of you climbing out of a wine bottle or strolling into a Pringles tin. Or even eating your mate. The possibilities are endless!

If you like to travel and you want to see unique sights along the way then a trip to the Salar de Uyuni is a must. This is a breathtaking experience and one that every backpacker should include near the top of their top backpacking destinations list. And that’s why we have.

Look here for more backpacking destinations in South America that will take your breath away.

Backpacking in Wonderland – Lake Bled, Slovenia

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 8/10

Backpacking trips allow you to see some amazing things along the way, many of which are totally natural wonders and cost the traveller nothing. Lake Bled is one of these destinations.

A short trip out from the capital Ljubliana, the town immediately stuns you with its beauty, it’s like walking into a fairytale. Based around a glacial lake, the town has developed and become increasingly catered towards the backpacker’s needs, with hostels and restaurants spread around the lake shores. The lake itself is incredibly calm and is surrounded by forests and hills making it a serene environment in which to relax after a hectic travelling schedule throughout other areas of eastern Europe. In the middle of the lake is an island which is home to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, a beautiful church which dominates the top of Bled island. This regularly plays host to weddings, an entirely unique experience for anyone planning on wandering down the aisle. The island can be reached by paddle boats which are rented a various points around the shore, a must for any backpacker worth his salt. The more adventurous might even go for a swim…

Lake Bled is by no means a hive of activity and won’t fill the days for those with ants in their pants, but if you need to rest tired legs and are ready for a break from non-stop travelling on a long backpacking adventure then Bled will provide the perfect surroundings.

Mayan Wonders – Copan, Honduras

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 7/10

Honduras is not always the first destination that appears on a backpacking itinerary, but it is a country that has huge variety and offers great value. From paradise beaches to historic sites there is a great range of activities for the backpacker to sink their teeth into.

Copan spans a couple of categories, offering fantastic historical significance of the Mayan world as well as an array of activities around the outskirts of the city. The city itself is based on the border of Honduras and Guatemala and is more like a small colonial town than a city. It is a very pretty, clean area where travellers can relax and enjoy the surroundings and have a good enough time at that. However, Copan offers so much more, with a short trip out of the main city taking you to the Mayan ruins at Copan Ruinas. These aren’t quite as impressive as those at Tikal in Guatemala but give you a taste of the Mayan history and certainly make the trip worthwhile. If you really get Mayan fever then you can carry on up to Tikal and really savour the full genius of the Mayan people.

However, the brilliance of Copan is in its location, surrounded by hills and valleys which hide huge ranches, coffee plantations and much more. For those yearning for a bit of adventure you can take on one of the many tours available which can include horseback riding across mountains and through rivers, guided tours around coffee plantations or trips to hot springs where you can relax after a long, busy day.

Whatever your reason for going, Copan is a backpacking destination to savour and one that deserves to be near the top of any traveller’s list.

The Natural Destination – Everglades, Florida

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 5/10

The Everglades are a fantastic destination for travellers on their backpacking adventures. They offer a beautiful environment for the visitor to enjoy as well as a huge array of activities.

The main draw of the Everglades is its wildlife, with alligators the star of the show. There are a million and one ways to see this wildlife, whether you want to be adventurous and go it alone or let the pros lead you every step of the way. Guided tours are available around every corner, with your hostel or hotel probably the best place to start. It’s easy to find a great hostel which really gives you the feel of the area, with many tucked away in the rural surroundings and in amongst the wildlife that characterises the destination.

However, the Everglades is best explored on your own, backpack on and map in hand. As it is a National Park it is easy to jump on a bike and pedal around to your hearts content. The routes that are laid out lead you throughout the park and put you in close contact with the wildlife that are the reason most people make the journey.

Whatever your reason for visiting, the Everglades won’t let you down. Incredible proximity to the animal world, beautiful scenery and unlimited exploring opportunities will leave backpackers with a smile on their faces.

Not Just Wine Country – Mendoza, Argentina

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 7/10

Mendoza is a great base for the backpacker searching for adventure. Not only is a beautiful destination in its own right, but it is situated on the eastern side of the Andes making it a perfect lift off point for journeys into the mountains.

The city is most famous for its wine making and this is an easy and affordable trip for travellers to take on, with tours abundant and varying in their price and quality. These often involve tours around various vineyards and wineries with other destinations included depending on the trip you select. This could include an insight into the making of olive oil or a look at a whiskey distillery. Pick carefully, the quality varies dramatically.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what Mendoza has to offer the backpacker though. It is a top destination for those in search of adventure, with mountaineering, rafting and horseback riding amongst the activities available. A trip out to Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the western hemisphere) provides breathtaking scenery and can be combined with any of these activities. Come winter the area also turns into a haven for skiers, with fantastic slopes on offer in amongst the Andes.
And to round off any of these activities you can always return to the city for the classic Argentinian experience, a huge steak and a bottle of red wine bought directly from the vineyard. Backpacking paradise!

Share your own experiences in the comments, this is just the tip of the iceberg i’m sure!

And here’s more backpacking spots in Europe to explore.

It’s also always useful to have the guide on hand: Argentina Lonely Planet Guide

Cultural Backpacking! – Bratislava, Slovakia

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 5/10

Located on the Danube, Slovakia’s capital city is a cultural epicentre with universities, museums and theatres amongst the many attractions. Backpackers often flock there as part of an Interrail trip throughout Europe. This method offers train travel throughout the continent for great value and has a variety of different tickets, whether you’re after unlimited travel for a month or a certain amount of journeys in a week. This method makes it extremely easy to move throughout the continent quickly and efficiently, seeing a huge amount of destinations in a short period of time. Bratislava is in an ideal spot when on this kind of journey, situated smack bang in the centre of Eastern Europe.

It also boasts great weather, with guaranteed hot and dry summers if you want the ideal getaway when the English summers let you down! And if the cultural centres aren’t for you or you need some down time after a lot of exploring then the food and drink on offer will provide suitable distraction as well as great value. Slovakian beer lives up to the best and if you’re into your classic eastern European stews and dumplings then you’ll be a happy camper!

If all else fails and none of these things make you happy then don’t worry, round every corner there’s a model cow beautifully decorated! It sounds crazy, and you’ll have to see it to believe it, but it adds another feature to a location that is undoubtedly a top backpacking destination. Zivelli!

Happy Backpackers – Koh Phangan, Thailand

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 8/10

Koh Phangan is a backpacker’s dream and hoards of travellers flock there every month for beautiful beaches, white sands and full moon parties. It is a destination whose popularity has rocketed since it featured in The Beach and is becoming more and more accessible due to cheaper flights and great value when you arrive.

Koh Phangan is an exaggerated version of the rest of Thailand, constantly becoming more and more reliant on tourism. The whole island is built towards the needs of the backpacking population with hostels on every corner and restaurants and internet cafes sprawling along every street. A tasty dish of Pad Thai for dinner at less than 50p keeps those thrifty travellers happy!

This allows visitors to spend their money on the regular beach raves that take place on Haad Rin almost every night, drinking down Sangsom like it’s water and dancing the night away. As the sun comes up the next morning it’s not uncommon for the beach to still be strewn with the last partygoers, as well as a few stray flip flops!

However, this is not why the destination is such a draw for tourists from all over the world. That reason is the same as it always has been – it is a tropical paradise. The white sands, crystal clear sea and roasting sun are as prominent now as they ever have been and this is all a backpacker could ask for.

Waterfall Heaven – Iguazu Falls

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 8/10

Backpacking trips are often linked to doing things on the cheap, whether that’s staying in hostels, eating sandwiches for days or wearing the same pants for weeks on end. This, though, doesn’t stop travellers seeing the most incredible sights the world has to offer, and Iguazu undoubtedly ‘falls’ into this category (sorry!)

It is a backpacker’s delight, inexpensive but breathtaking scenery and easily accessible to even the laziest of travellers. Its position as a top backpacking destination was confirmed when it was shortlisted as a candidate to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and it remains on course to make the final selection.

The falls can be viewed from Brazil and Argentina, both offering different perspectives of an incredible destination. The Brazilian side provides a spectacular overview of the vast length of the falls whilst the Argentinian side allows the visitor to get much nearer, almost getting close enough to dip your toe in the water (which you actually can if you take on the boat trip on offer – make sure you take a spare set of clothes!). The combination of these two visits (which only take a day each) provides the backpacker with an all encompassing experience of a sight difficult to match across the globe.

As if it couldn’t get any better, the whole area is teeming with hostels desperate to get attract the weary traveller, some even equipped with swimming pools to relax in after a long day exploring! Everything about Iguazu Falls is stunning, from the breathtaking sight itself to the amenities on offer for the backpacker. Certainly a destination not to be missed.