I have all of May off (4 weeks) and I want to go to Europe but since I've never been there I can't make a decision as to where to go! There are too many great options. So I thought maybe you guys could help. Here's what you should know:
-I'll be flying from Montreal, Canada
-Budget around 3000$ including flight. Last time I checked there were still flights around 1000$ or slightly under, depending on the destination, so that leaves about 2000$ for all the rest, but the cheaper the better!
-I'd prefer to fly back from the same airport I'll fly into since one RT ticket is cheaper than two one-way tickets
-I have no problem sleeping in dorms and on overnight buses/trains to save on the lodging
-I'm not a fan of all-inclusives/big resorts/organized trips/cruise ships
-I'm more of a backpack kind of traveler, but I do enjoy some level of comfort (obviously!)
-I like diving/snorkeling
-I want my trip to include some beach time but I also enjoy sightseeing, hiking, exploring cities, visiting museums and cultural/historical sites, shopping in markets, eating local food and drinking good wine/beer/whatever it is that people drink over there.
-I don't want to rent a car (I'm not even sure if I'm allowed to drive in Europe?)
Here's the ideas I've had so far:
1) Follow the Mediterranean coast from Barcelona to South of France (with a detour to Toulouse because I know people there) and maybe Italy (and then fly back to BCN I guess?). Or start further South in Spain (Malaga for instance) and make my way up to South of France, or the other way around (keeping in mind that I have to go back to my starting point)
2) Tour Italy
3) Fly to Athens and then to Skiathos right away where I have family. Stay in Skiathos for 1 week or so, then go to I-don't-know-where for 2 weeks-ish and finish with a few days in Athens. The in-between Skiathos and Athens is bogging me because I feel like touring the Greek islands is very expensive and very...well...''touristy'', and I don't know if the mainland is worth visiting (I'm sure it's beautiful, just not sure that's what I'm looking for). I was thinking about maybe going to Turkey but I don't want to go there alone which implies going on an organized tour, which could be fine, but then again, can I go from Skiathos to Turkey? And if yes, how much would that be?
4) Fly into Athens, stay there to visit for a few days, then off to Skiathos for a week, then hop on a train through the Balkans and back down to Athens
I know there's a lot of elements in my post. Hopefully some of you will be able to make sense out of it and make helpful suggestions!
Thanks in advance!