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1. Posted by ujkle (Budding Member 42 posts) 11y

Sorry, this is a pretty general question, but I thought I would ask: does anyone have any tips or recommendations for travelling around Eastern Europe?

A friend and I are looking to go in July/August/September next year. We're sort of interested in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, and maybe Latvia & Lithuania, if we have the time and the funds. Personally, I'd really like to go to Moldova (Moldovia) if I get the chance, but I've heard it's kind of hard to get entry.

2. Posted by coldwarspy (Travel Guru 1108 posts) 11y

Hye Nicole!

Eastern euro is the best part of europe to travel...I have been several times to Romania and lived in Hungary last summer and been thru most bits except the Balkans and Moldova.

Moldova is notoriously hard to get Visas for. Where in particular to want to go? U have 2-3 months you can see quit abit.

My favourite places are the Transylvanian region of Romania and the Baltic cities – Tallinn, Riga, And Vilnius. St Petersburg is a must see as well.

And if you stay in the south and plan on goin to Georgia (thru Turkey) then Istanbul is, besides New York, The greatest city I have ever been to. In Bulgaria I have only been to Varna… and not so great – a seaside casino and resort town on the black sea.

I took a trip last year from Berlin to Istanbul for 5 weeks and had an amazing time. Poland is a must see – go to Torun in the west and Krakow is a beautiful city too. Warsaw – ahh not so great to see. In Eastern Slovak is one of the largest Castles in Europe. Spissky Hrad in the village of Spisky Nova (I think??) near Levoca in the east of the country.

Hope this helps. I can give detailed advice on Budapest as well.

3. Posted by ujkle (Budding Member 42 posts) 11y

Thanks for the reply!

The only place I'm definite about is Hungary - I really want to go to Budapest, and I think I can crash with a friend there, which would be awesome. Istanbul sounds great, although I have to admit I forgot it was so nearby. I think I need to look at a map again, hey, but Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia are looking probable.

Is it possible to cover the whole area by train and bus, or would we need to book flights between some areas? I'll probably be starting off in England, so I'd imagine we'd have to get a flight in but I don't really know. Also I'm a bit worried about the language situation; I figure it would be handy to learn a bit of Russian, but is there anything else I should try and study in the meantime?

4. Posted by coldwarspy (Travel Guru 1108 posts) 11y

Ah cool! i lived in Budapest for 2 months this summer past. The castle hill on the Buda side is amaizing at nite - the bridges lit up and the river is great. Even during the day the best views of the city are from the Hill. At nite check out the river heading east on the Pest side - theres a beautiful new fire/water display with a pyramid structure that u can climb and see nice views of the city.

What type of nitelife u lookin for? Go to Zentendrie (sp) near Budapest, its a very nice old town. If u are there in August - the Island Festival is great too.

I mentioned Istanbul because u wanted to go to Georgia. As far as I can see - u hav 2 routes to Georgia - Ukraine or Turkey, and I would suggest Turkey, via Istanbul.

Is it possible to cover the whole area by train and bus, or would we need to book flights between some areas

Trains are GREAT for the entire Danube area, but when u get to the Baltics, Buses are better. Turkey - not sure as Ive only been to Istanbul via Varna by Bus.

probably be starting off in England, so I'd imagine we'd have to get a flight in but I don't really know.

London is the best hub. Flights to Budapest as well as Newcastle on budget airlines. Check ryanair or easyjet.

Besides the Baltics, Budapest is the only hub for easyjet/ryanair. Lubjana, Slovenia (sp) may have better deals fron London and is a great city too. Not far from Budapest.

this help?

5. Posted by Qokoon (Budding Member 27 posts) 11y

I had the opportunity to travel 3 Eastern European countries this past summer: Hungary, Czech Republik, and Poland

Budapest is amazing to visit, things there are pretty affordable and the people are very nice and do the best they can to give good service, the Baths are amazing...the famous baths there are the Gellert baths however there are others that are cheaper. From there it is pretty easy to move from country to country by train. if you are planning on getting the eurail pass i would suggest you do it before you leave to europe since the passes over there are more expensive. If not then the train tickets are very affordable once you get there. Just go to the train station and purchase your tickets once you arrive to the city, make sure you metion (if you are under 25) that you are under 25, since they give youth discounts. Also if you decide to travel by train, I would suggest you do so during the night time, that way you save time and money by not going to a hostel. You travel throughout the night and arrive the following morning to the other country. Out of the 3 countries Poland was the cheapest I visited, Krakow is an amazing city, and to get to places near by it is very easy and affordable, the extermination camp is just an hour and half away. Prague is beautiful, you might consider going there if you get the chance.
In Budapest I stayed in a hostel called Caterina Hostel, it is a very clean and cozy hostel.. It has breakfast included and it is very centralized.... If you purchase shuttle tickets from the airport to the city, we were lucky to have been take directly to the hostel, I dont know if they usually do that or if the driver liked us. However I do know of people who have just taken regular buses and metro to there. The shuttle was not expensive.

Hope this helps, have fun! Eastern Europe is the best part of Europe in my opinion... It is super cheap!

6. Posted by ujkle (Budding Member 42 posts) 11y

Thanks guys, that's very helpful! Budapest sounds like it'll be great - I'd love to go to some festival-type events while I was there, so the Island Festival might be a goer. :D

I didn't realise I'd be eligible for a student discount... have to buy the Eurorail Ticket while I'm still in Australia and under 25. I've done the overnight trip thing before, but it was in Peru on a bus with no toilets or anything in the middle of Summer (we didn't really think it through.) I think there'd be at least a bit more room on a train. :)

7. Posted by coldwarspy (Travel Guru 1108 posts) 11y

hey ya, but im not sure if eurorail covers any countries east of hungary - check on that first

8. Posted by AlexT (Respected Member 245 posts) 11y

I believe they do have passes which cover the eastern european countries and ones which cover bordering countries... no sure exactly which countries though

9. Posted by Qokoon (Budding Member 27 posts) 11y

Just go to an STA travel office, or to the offices of the Eurail, or any travel agency for that matter and they will show you the different packages and they have booklets with the time tables for train departures and arrivals as well as a detailed map of where the trains go in the back.

10. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 11y

as well as a detailed map of where the trains go in the back.

The map in the back sure isn't detailed, and isn't even fully accurate in allot of places (or last years wasn't, at least)

Be aware that travel in Eastern Europe is generally very cheap, so a pass won't neccessarrily be the best vale for money either. And in some parts, trains are infrequent, non existent or don't make sense to really use.

The standard Eurail passes don't cover Eastern Europe (although you can get add ons - the Czech excursion which is any border to Prague to any border is a favorite. There is now a Balkan pass, an Eastern Euro pass (only 4 EE countries plus Austria) and a handful of regional passes which are essentially 2 countries (Romania and Hungary, and Austria or Hungary plus Slovenia and Croatia), but whether any of them actually work out financially, i don't know.