Although traveling through Eastern Europe isn’t the blast to the past that it used to be, backpacking through the region can still be a folkloric experience. After all, even though the Soviet Union is long gone, there are still traces of the communist regime that dots the region. One of the best ways to experience the entirety of the area is to spend a couple of weeks hopping around various countries. The area is quite small, about a quarter of the size of the United States. It’s worth getting to know this historical part of Europe. Here are some of the best ways to travel through it.
Hop on the railroad
Jumping on a train to get around the capital cities of the old Eastern Bloc is one of our favorite ways to travel. Train travel is great anyway, but it’s especially impressive in Eastern Europe. Often times, the night trains actually date back to the Soviet Union, so they’re definitely on the rustic side of things. At the same time, riding on these trains, while also saving you money on a night at a hotel, means you get to experience a piece of history. The trains are also extremely economical: an overnight train from Belgrade to Budapest will cost you about $20. Just a word of warning: make sure to bring your own toilet paper as it is not always provided.
Head into the Carpool Lane
Car sharing is a very popular way of traveling through Europe, especially through the east. Because of the existence of the Schengen zone, you don’t need a passport to go through the countries. Instead, it is very normal to breeze through country borders in the same way as you’d cross the street. Our favorite site is called BlaBla car. Based in France but operational throughout Europe, you can book a seat in someone’s car for very little money. Seats should be booked about a week in advance, but you can usually find someone going at least near where you would like to go.
Ready for Takeoff
Flying is by far the most comfortable way to go if you want to travel through Eastern Europe quickly. Flights take between one and three hours throughout the region, and budget carriers such as Wizz Air and Easy Jet will get you where you need to go for good prices, though the comfort level is limited. If you book far enough ahead, you can get between countries for less than $50. However, be aware of last-minute bookings, they will almost never be of good value. Airports in Eastern Europe are well connected to the city center through subways or buses, so you don’t need to worry about getting overcharged by a local cab driver.
Pull on Those Hiking Boots
A more extreme way of traveling through Eastern Europe would be to walk. Realistically, you won’t cover more than one country in a couple of weeks of walking, but you’ll get a very thorough understanding of the different regions and get to meet all sorts of people. The Czech Republic is an excellent option for beginning hikers. A small country with a wide variety of landscapes and incredible history, it’s accessible to everyone. We recommend traveling in this manner during the spring, as winters in the east can get very cold and snowy, and uncomfortably hot in the summer.
No matter how to choose to travel in Eastern Europe, the most important thing is for you to have fun on your trip, talk to as many people as possible, and see as much as you can without burning out. Happy travels!