Pros and Cons of Traveling Eastern Europe

By Maria Khazova

For those of you going to Europe for a second or third time or for someone just trying to explore it off the beaten path, traveling the Eastern countries is probably the best place to start. To be clear, Eastern Europe technically includes Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Belarus, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia, underlined being the ones I have personally traveled. While they are not all the same, and cant all be simply generalized in the same pros and cons, the ones I will mention in this article are ones I’ve found across the board. While they may not all apply to you or your experiences, I think it’s a nice way to prepare you for traveling all of these beautiful countries.

Here are the pro and cons of traveling Eastern Europe!

Pros

#1 Landscapes

First and foremost, Eastern Europe has some of the MOST beautiful landscapes in the world. While it has less monuments and skyscrapers, the national parks, beaches and mountains are some of the most breathtaking I have ever seen. Some of my personal favorites are Lake Bled in Slovenia, Croatia’s Natural Parks (Plitvice, Krka), Kotor in Montenegro, and pretty much any of the beaches on the South East coast.

#2 The History

Eastern Europe holds some of the oldest buildings, castles, and churches in the world. Whether you are a history buff or just an admirer of beautiful architecture, Eastern Europe will not dissapoint. Some of these include the Dubrovnik Cathedral in Croatia(12th Century), City of Plodgiv Bulgaria (4000 BC), City of Zadar Croatia (900 BC), Prague Castle (9th Century), and Castle of San Giovanni in Kotor Montenegro(6th Century).

#3 Cheap EVERYTHING

Eastern Europe is very inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe, especially if you are coming from tourist favorites London and Paris. If you do it right and don’t get sucked into tourist traps you can find three course meals at nice restaurants for around 6-7 euros. Alcohol is also really cheap at local pubs and grocery stores.

If you are planning a trip to Eastern Europe it makes a lot of sense to go through several countries because traveling across them is really cheap. I have been on two separate month long trips through Eastern Europe, one of the northern countries and one traveling the south. On average a train ticket from one country to another cost around 15 euros, sometimes as little as 7 and at most around 25. This goes hand in hand with some of the coolest and least expensive hostels in Europe.

#4 Best Nightlight+Locals

The nightlife in Eastern Europe stands untouched. Not only is it home to some of the biggest and craziest clubs in the world, people in Eastern Europe just know how to have a good time. Not only is it acceptable to drink pretty much at anytime of the day, clubs will be filled until 5/6 in the morning whether it is a Monday or a Saturday. This holds true for southeastern countries such as Croatia, all the way up to Czech Republic (beware of the Green Fairy Absinthe). If you are traveling the Northern regions, Budapest, Hungary) has some of the BEST party hostels in the world (Grandio and Retox, to name a few). You can ask anyone even a little familiar with European nightlife and they will no doubt tell you about one of the craziest nights of their life in one of these hostels. Aside from the party culture, Eastern Europe also just has some of the nicest and down to earth people you’ll ever meet.

Eastern Europe is beautiful, inexpensive, less touristy and an all around amazing time. However there are a few downfalls that go along with traveling countries that have not adopted the Western culture most of us are accustomed to. While these downfalls should not deter anyone from traveling, they are definitely important to remember and look out for.

Cons

#1 Transportation is extremely unreliable

While Eastern Europe is cheap to travel, it certainly balances out its low prices with inconvenience. Whether it’s a city bus or a train to your next destination, all forms of transport are all equally unreliable. These inconveniences include, buses being extremely late (or not showing up at all), no bathrooms on 4+ hour commutes, uncomfortable seating and buses meant to be 2 hours in travel time turning into 8. You are more than likely to experience at least one if not all of these inconveniences when bussing through Eastern Europe.

Also, while some cities are starting to use services such as Uber and other fixed-price taxi systems, a lot of the taxi services in Eastern Europe can be very shady and over charge. So if you need to take a taxi, I recommend having your hostel/hotel call you one or requesting an Uber when you can.

#2 Language Barriers

Some Eastern European cities such as Riga, Latvia, Ljubljana Slovenia, and Dubrovnik, Croatia have adopted English very well, but some cities have not. This is not so much a con but a culture shock for a lot of people who are used to being able to speak English freely in every country they travel. You can still almost always find an English speaker near by but it might take a little longer. It’s important to not get frustrated when this happens and respect the culture of these countries in choosing to honor their native languages.

#3 It’s the Bermuda triangle if you ever want to leave

Not only is the transportation extremely unreliable, once you are ready to actually leave eastern Europe it seems impossible. Not only do they not have as many big airports, but flights to your chosen destination don’t necessarily leave everyday and are extremely expensive. Your best bet is to troll SkyScanner until you find the best deal. It will more often than not be out of a different country than when you want to leave from and on a later day than you planned but it comes with the territory.

I recommend starting in Southern Eastern Europe and work your way up because the closer you are to countries like Sweden, the cheaper the flights will be (especially if you are flying out of Europe.)

The good definitely outweighs the bad when traveling Eastern Europe. There is so much to see and you will probably go home and find that not many people have seen or will ever see most of these countries. Just make sure to learn how to say the city names before bragging about it back home (Ljubljana is a mouthful).

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