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First time traveller,torn between eastern EU capitals/Balkan

Travel Forums Europe First time traveller,torn between eastern EU capitals/Balkan

1. Posted by Nikon1149 (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y

Hi, I am a 21yr male in Bristol, looking to finally flex my culture muscle after a few years of itching for my first experience of the rest of the world!

I really wanted to do india or southeast asia for my first travel as I just wanted as big a culture shock as possible to be honest, but it has materialised that a lot of people I know will be heading to Serbia for exit festival this year so I have purchased my festi ticket and return flight (from budapest).

Now me and 2 freinds will be looking to spend between 7 and 10 days in europe beforehard, with the whole trip climaxing at the 4 day EXIT festival on the fantasic location of the petrovaridan fortress on edge of the Danube river in Novi Sad.

Needless to say I am supremely excited! There is still a reasonably long wait though, with the festival being 9th - 12th June.

Anyway, i'd really appreciate some advise from a helpful traveller out there with experience in eastern europe and the balkans. I have a full trip planned out which starts in Berlin and ends in Serbia, i'll give you some details. All of these prices I have already varified and found some great deals with easyjet, ryan air and the superb Europa Spezial deal from DB Bahn german rail company.

Outgoing flight from Bristol to Berlin - 23 GBP (25 EU)

Return flight from Budapest to Bristol - 23 GBP (25 EU)

Train journey from Berlin to Vienna with
a 48 hour stopover in Prague included in price - 29 EU (!!!)

Train from Vienna to Budapest - 19 EU

Train from Budapest to Belgrade - 25 EU (return for journey back to Budapest for flight home)

Travel from Belgrade to festival - 20 EU (return)

Festival ticket - 78 GBP (85 EU)

Total - 228 EU (Just over 200 GBP)

I know, the current exhange rates are shocking aren't they.

However, after a short scare where I thought the Bahn rail ticket I planned was no longer available (it is still available though), I mentally scrapped the entire Idea and began thinking about a balkans trip instead of starting in berlin and working south. There main advantage of this is the far cheaper prices when staying out of the EU zone and capitals in general. I have made no plans for this type of journey and would love some advise on where to go for someone of my age who would like to meet other travellers and have some good party times but also get some good exposure to culture and beautiful scenery/landscapes. I'd also like some advise on hostels and how much I should expect to pay for one. I'm not fussy about having a nice one but I also don't want them to be crap either!!

So Final Thoughts/Questions -

My situation is being torn between having my heart set on the already seemingly great itinary I already planned out and REALLY wanting to see Vienna in particular, and on the other side spending a lot less money and possibly getting just as good culture, scenery, history in Balkans but I just dont know anything about the locations! I am uneduacted as far as Balkans travel goes and don't know how good/bad it is. I am also VERY budget concsious and would like to either minimize cost as much as possible, or use the same budget for more time, or live to a higher standard during my stay. In this sense I think the balkans seems the far more attractive option.

What are prices like in the capitals I mentioned? What kind of daily budget should I expect with a hostel included?

What are the prices like in Balkans area? Croatia? Serbia? Bulgaria? Montenegro? Are they all outside of EU currency? What kind of daily budget?

Any recommendations of locations in the Balkans? My only vague plans are for Sofia, Dubrovnik, Belgrade.

Is it easy enough to get cheap hostels in the Balkans places mentioned?

Will I be likely to encounter other travellers my age in Balkans?

I'd also like some opinion on the itinary already mentioned. Does it seem like a good idea?

Lastly, any good guidebook recommendations? I looked at the lonely planet for the Balkans but it had bad reviews on Amazon.

Many thanks in advance guys.

2. Posted by Nikon1149 (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y

Hi, firstly sorry about the duplicate thread and also as an afterthought.

People will probably want to know my budget and I didn't include it because its flexible but I thought I should probably at least include an estimate.

So I was thinking 600 GBP? Does that sound like wishful thinking? Considering I totalled 200 GBP for all the travelling and festival ticket that leaves me with 400 GBP for spending and hostels. That leaves between 30-40 pounds daily budget. Wishful thinking or reasonable to a money concsious student used to budgeting?

3. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 7y

Ok, two comments on your first itinerary...

Train from Budapest to Belgrade - 25 EU (return for journey back to Budapest for flight home)

Travel from Belgrade to festival - 20 EU (return)

Unless that is planned for time reasons, it seems somewhat daft, because Novi Sad (where Exit is) is between Budapest and Belgrade, and served by direct trains. Going to Belgrade twice seems like unnecessary doubling back to my mind.

And:

will be looking to spend between 7 and 10 days in europe beforehard,

If i'm reading your post correctly, you are planning on Bristol-Berlin-Prague-Vienna-Budapest-Belgrade (plus travel) in 7-10days before you get to EXIT. That works out at less than 2days in each, even ignoring travel times. To me, that seems madness, as you won't actually get to see much of anywhere. Each of the cities you list deserve longer (3-4days each, ideally longer). I understand that on the first trip you want to see lots, but... Having said that, with a bit of will power and planning, it IS certainly possible.

Any recommendations of locations in the Balkans? My only vague plans are for Sofia, Dubrovnik, Belgrade.

Is it easy enough to get cheap hostels in the Balkans places mentioned?

Will I be likely to encounter other travellers my age in Balkans?

It is reasonably easy, but in much of the Balkans, the hostel network is still fairly under developed and they can be few and quite small. Thus especially around that time (you won't be the only people, for example, who go to Belgrade as well as EXIT), you might find it trickier.

Yes, you will encounter younger travellers of your age around the Balkans, though not in as large a number as some other places. Oddly, you will probably experience a surprising number of British backpackers as well.

Dubrovnik and Belgrade are both definitely worth a visit. Sofia to me is more so-so. But Bulgaria in general is an interesting place to go. I would say Plovdiv is a nicer city than Sofia, and some of the smaller places like Veliko Tarnavo are amazing. The Croatian coast north from Dubrovnik (and including the many islands such as Korcula and Hvar) is great. Sarajevo and Mostar are both very worthwhile, as are some other Bosnian places though you won't meet as many travellers there. Macedonia and Montenegro both have some fantastic sites as well, but again, not so many other backpackers/ravellers if that is something you particularly want.

That leaves between 30-40 pounds daily budget.

After travel and festival tickets? Providing you avoid the major tourist rip-offs and don't go mad, you should be laughing!!