From Krakow to Istanbul to Zagreb to Prague, and all of the lovely places in between. Anyone interested? I’m planning on going backpacking next Summer some time, and would like to cover this territory roughly, but I’m open to suggestion. Anyone know how long I should give this kind of journey? Also, if you have any general suggestions in general feel free. I’m 19 and from the UK by the way.
Hey, I have covered some of this ground, though not all of it and a lot is still on my wish list. Do you plan on starting in Krakow and finishing in Istanbul, or do you plan to loop back around and end in Prague?
If it was me, I’d be wanting to do it one way only. There are some long/uncomfortable journeys I wouldn’t want to have to do twice over, for example the train from Bulgaria to Turkey includes a boarder crossing at something like 3.00am, fun times with passport control!
My tips would be not to buy an inter rail pass, trains and buses are super cheap in Eastern Europe.
Go to Budapest and allow for more time there than you would expect. Almost everyone I met there said they wanted to stay there longer, or they had extended their stay. There is something about that city!
Don’t’ just city hop, get out into the countryside, trains and buses do serve country villages and to really get into the middle of no where, check out what the hostels/tourist info in the city offer.
Beware of prices in Slovenia and Slovakia, they are more akin to Western Europe. Croatia isn’t too far behind, though I’d say Dalmatia is more expensive than the north of the country.
It’s difficult to advise past this without knowing more about your specific interests and where else you want to visit, especially with regard to a time frame.
Plus if it was me, I’d keep going after Istanbul, Turkey is an amazing country, some seriously stunning landscapes, beautiful coastlines, delicious foods, some of the nicest local people I’ve ever met, and to top it off, it’s cheap! Have a look at my Turkey photo album if you’re not sure, it could very well persuade you to keep going!
Heya, I was actually considering flying to Istanbul and making my way up the Balkans into Central/Eastern Europe as an alternative - might be better time-wise. Your pictures are pretty exquisite. I suppose if I fly directly to Istanbul I could probably take day / overnight trips out to interesting locations…hmm…so many possibilities! Thanks for the info, it clicks with what I want out of a trip like this; cheap and off the beaten track :)
You could do a round trip in Turkey.
I’d say Cappadoccia is an absolute must, it was the highlight for me. A lot of people fly from Istanbul to one of the nearby airports (or vice versa), I took a bus to Ankara and from there took the overnight train back to Istanbul - something like 40 quid, sleeper tickets so accommodation and transport in one.
Selcuck and Pamukkale are relatively close to one another. Selcuck is on the door step of the Ephesus ruins which are amazing, and Pamukkale has the white chalk travertines with more ancient ruins (though no where near as spectacular) up at the top.
I’d say pick your coastal area carefully. We ended up near Fethiye and Oludeniz and it was awwul, British package holiday makers everywhere, menus in English… and there was even pork on cafe menus!!! After that we headed to Kas and it was much nicer down there. You may find the Black Sea coast to be the best beach get-away from package holiday makers though.
Other places I’d want to visit if/when I go back would be Olympos to stay in one of the tree houses, fire mountain/Chimera/Yanartas and Troy/Gallipoli.
Their bus system is AMAZING, there are 3 members of staff on each, 1 driver, one person who oversees when people are getting on and off, and if they have luggage etc. and another staff member who serves teas, coffees, snacks. I even ended up being served ice cream on one journey after the guy bought a load from the service station at one stop. All of this is included in your bus ticket price too. Many of the buses have TV’s and headsets, it’s luxury travel.
The Ottogars (bus stations) are usually on the edge of towns, the norm would be to take a dolmus (mini bus) from there into the centre, though this differs. In Bursa I remember getting a proper local bus like the bendy buses in London. The people at the Ottogars will jump for joy when they see you with your backpack and try and sell you the long distance bus tickets like their life depends on it. Use this to your advantage. If you know more than one bus line serves the route… get bartering! It’s the culture to do it in Turkey and I found the sales people (markets, shops, Ottogars, you name it) to be some of the most characteristic and funny people. Some of the stuff they come out with is pure genius.
Eh, this is making me want to go back now!
ETA: If you want cheap and off the beaten track, I’ve heard Albania is perfect. It’s on my ‘to visit’ list so I can’t speak of it from personal experience I’m afraid, perhaps something to look into?
Beware of the coastal resorts in Bulgaria, again package holiday central. Inland is beautiful, Plovdiv is supposed to be nicer than Sofia. I’ve been to a few of the ski resorts and they still hold their typical Bulgarian feel - and this is coming from someone who used to be taken on summer beach holidays in Bulgaria back in the late 80’s/early 90’s… before the mass tourism moved in!
Argh that’s annoying >.> my post didn’t upload. Anyways, thank you so much for your advice, it sounds like Turkey really had a big impact on you. I’ll definitely consider spending a bit more time there on my trip, but I’m also determined to explore a large amount of Eastern Europe too :) I hear you on the package holidays…it’s pretty irritating, and I’ll be doing my research on where to go and where not to go before I visit. Thanks again!
No worries. Let us know some of the destinations you want to visit in Eastern Europe once you have a better idea and we can give you more tips on places you’ll definitely be visiting!